With the news on Friday that Chelsea forward Diego Costa would serve a 3 match suspension, managers quickly had to identify an alternative. A popular choice was Arsenal man Olivier Giroud, and new Sunderland signing Jermaine Defoe also had his admirers. That wasn’t the only dilemma though; high ownership players Cesc Fabregas and Alexis Sanchez were also predicted to miss out through injury. Those managers on an active Wildcard no doubt planned accordingly; the rest of us probably had to take a points hit to guarantee a decent starting XI.
How did it all pan out then? Well, a good place to start as always is the weekly analysis of the Dreamteam.
The Saturday lunchtime kick-off is normally an avoid-at-all-costs fixture when it comes to selecting a captain, but this week it was Hull taking on Newcastle so I doubt that was an issue for anyone! As it turned out it was an excellent 3-0 away win for the Magpies, and keeper Tim Krul earned himself 9 points and a spot in the team of the week for highest scoring goalie. He is a popular pick this year, and 12.6% of managers were probably very happy; unless he was operating as part of a keeper rotation plan, and had been benched!
Newcastle defender Massadio Haidara joined Krul courtesy of his clean sheet points, an assist and 2 bonus points. Unlike Krul, he fits firmly into the differential category with just a 0.3% ownership stat for a £4.1m outlay. Although Newcastle have a couple of decent fixtures coming up, I couldn’t in all good conscience advise you bring any of their back line in unless you a reckless gambler.
Sunderland players continue to crop up in the weekly dream team on a frequent basis, which is testament to how difficult Gus Poyet has made them to break down. If it’s an attacking full back you’re after, you could do worse than buying Patrick van Aalholt. At £4.2m he played his third league game back from injury and brought in 12 points with a clean sheet, assist and maximum bonus points from the 2-0 home win over a lacklustre Burnley.
His partner in crime joins him in this week’s team. Anthony Reveillere is slightly more expensive at £4.5m but next to nobody owns him so is a superb differential. After 6 weeks out injured, this was his first game back and he delivered 11 points. He replicated van Aalholts contribution in all aspects except bonus points, collecting just the 2 on this occasion.
The astute amongst you had spotted that Arsenal defender Hector Bellerin is currently in favour with Arsene Wenger, and offers a bargain basement route into a decent defence. At just £4.4m he has returned 23 points in his last 3 games since coming into the side. 12 of these were earned this week during the 5-0 annihilation of Aston Villa, with Bellerin scoring the fifth and final goal in the dying minutes. Good news for the 18,258 managers who brought him in prior to kick-off.
Manchester United’s Daley Blind being listed as a midfielder has not helped his attractiveness in this years game. In this, his third game back from injury, he did a splendid job of sitting and protecting his defence. Somewhat surprisingly, he managed to get forward and provided two of the assists in United’s 3-1 win over Leicester. He managed to collect all 3 bonus points to end up on 11 points, and a spot in this week’s midfield.
Also on 11 points was Swansea man Jonjo Shelvey. After sitting out for the last 3 weeks, he returned to the team and scored a surprise winner, as the Swans beat Southampton 1-0 at St Mary’s. And what a strike it was…rightly earning him maximum bonus points. This was only Shelvey’s second of the season, the last one coming away at Chelsea back in September.
Arsenal currently have an embarrassment of riches in midfield now players are returning from injury, and the loss of Sanchez was not a factor during the 5-0 win over Villa. Apart from Ramsey, all of the midfield scored well this week, and in what appears to be a recurring theme this week, it was Mesut Ozil making his first start since getting injured in Gameweek 7 who makes the dreamteam. His 13 points were earned from a clean sheet, an assist, a goal, and 2 bonus points. It is one of those curious coincidences that his last meaningful contribution came in the away fixture at Villa back in Gameweek 5; he scored 13 points as well that week, achieving them in EXACTLY the same manner.
Not to be outdone, his teammate Santi Cazorla joined him in this week’s dreamteam, managing to rack up an excellent 17 points. This was his fourth “double digit” return of the season, with all of them coming in the last 8 weeks. A goal, 2 assists, a clean sheet point and maximum bonus points made those who captained him very happy indeed. I, for one, was very happy indeed…
On any other week, 17 points would normally give you the “Player of the Week” accolade, but Cazorla was outscored by an unlikely source. With the news Bojan was out for the season, Stoke would be in need of goals from elsewhere. Discussions were held on Twitter amongst some us, as to whether Jon Walters would be worth a punt. Some decided to bring him in, and a couple decided to give him the armband. Risk vs Reward. It paid off handsomely; Walters racked up a staggering 19 points in the 3-1 win over QPR. He scored a perfect hat trick, left foot, right foot, header and could actually have scored 21 points. He lost two by getting booked and Stoke conceding.
The Harry Kane bubble shows no sign of bursting, as he scored goals number 9 and 10 in Spurs 3-0 away win over West Brom. Showing a complete disregard for the “Pulis Effect” that is underway at the Hawthorns, Kane tore the Baggies apart. 13 points were racked up after the award of all 3 bonus points. What is quite astonishing is that his 10 goals have all come in the last 13 weeks since he was brought into the team on a permanent basis by Pochettino. Can you afford to ignore a record like that?