28 points! 28! Twenty eight! After a run of 9 straight weeks scoring 60+ we came crashing back down to reality. When Russ Martin is your highest scoring player for the week you know you are in trouble. So with the initial shock over let’s have a (quick) look at how our team performed.
As we predicted both our keepers conceded but Butland’s 2 points actually outscored Hennessey’s 1 so at least we got that right. The 2-1 loss to WBA made it 5 conceded in the last 2 for Butland. It is certainly going to be a tough choice week in week out now between him and Hennessey.
Our back 3 was made up of Martin, Dann and Kolarov. Given their fixtures we certainly weren’t expecting much in the way of clean sheets, and more in terms of threat in front of goal. Unfortunately Kolarov took this a little too literally and decided to nod home a Watford cross into his own net. Thankfully he redeemed himself with an assist to finish on a tolerable 3 points. Dann was part of a Palace back line that got a bit of a spanking from Chelsea. This was made a little more frustrating by our decision to bench Zouma and his 6 points from that same match. So to our only plus point from the back line, Russ Martin. An impressive clean sheet and 6 points against a stuttering Southampton.
The less said about our midfield the better. 6 total points from our 4 ‘stars’. As soon as Mahrez struck that penalty I think the realisation hit that this wasn’t going to be our week. 3 blanks in a row for Mahrez is a minor concern, especially with Spurs away next. As I suspected, the transfer in of Arnautovic was very much a points chase. I’ve never really been his biggest fan from an FPL perspective as he’s a bit of a shit wannabe Ibrahimovic, but with Stoke’s new found attacking mentality he does hold value at a relatively cheap price. Ozil blanked for only the second time in 14 and De Bruyne struggled to get anything going against an organised Watford team.
Up top we gave Vardy the armband. I may have made a bit of a song and dance last week about the amount of transfers out we have seen recently for him but he really isn’t meeting us half way here! Granted he would have had an assist if it wasn’t for the missed pen but with just 1 goal in his last 5 I will finally admit he’s maybe not the best option going forward. With 2 free transfers this week he may or may not be one of those out. Kane and Lukaku faced off against each other with just the 1 assist between them, Lukaku’s lay off for Lennon’s opener. Personally I am a big fan of Kane but that blank made it 60% of his games this season without an attacking return. Certainly food for thought if nothing else. Read on if you want to see me completely ignore that fact and give him the armband this week!
So given our woeful return this week, we dropped out of the top 100k and got beaten in the cup. Given our form prior to this I’m putting it down to a one off but it has led to a couple of big transfers this week. We left ourselves 2 FT’s and with it we have gone for:
Gerard Deulofeu (OUT) – Dimitri Payet (IN)
Jamie Vardy (OUT) – Odion Ighalo (IN)
So in the wise words of Iain Dowie, we are looking for some serious ‘bouncebackability’!
In goal we have both keepers with very strong cases to start but we again go with Jack Butland. Norwich have been performing above expectation this season but they have failed to score in 3 of their last 4 so that is reason enough. Also, call me crazy but I think Villa may score against Palace.
At the back we make one change. Martin drops to the bench whilst we give Zouma the start. With Chelsea finally starting to look a bit more like the team we know, their players are becoming far more appealing. Zouma is in fact the 3rd highest scoring FPL player in the Chelsea ranks and has completed 90 minutes in 10 of the last 11 games. Scott Dann starts. Regardless of the fact I think Palace will concede he has shown a great eye for an attacking return this year. Lastly it’s Kolarov. His own goal aside, he looked a threat going forward and from set pieces so he gets the start. Again, a clean sheet looks unlikely but you just don’t bench Kolarov.
Our midfield has a lot of grovelling to do after last week. New addition Payet looked sharp on his 2nd half cameo against Liverpool and it was enough to persuade us to bring him in. As it stands he has been brought in by 125k of you so far this round but his sub 10% ownership makes him an appealing possible differential at the moment. Arnautovic plays his 2nd game for the Updates XI and considering Norwich have failed to keep a single away clean sheet yet, we would like to think he will get plenty of opportunities to improve on his 7 goals and 3 assists this season. Ozil will return to the Arsenal line up following his rest in the FA Cup and obviously gets the start for us. A tough run for Liverpool, Stoke and Chelsea in his next 3 though. If you have him you play him but if you don’t then I would maybe advise against his transfer in for the time being. Last up is De Bruyne. Not his usual self of late, from an FPL stand point, but he has still done enough to encourage owners of his return to points glory again. The return of Aguero should help him too.
FINALLY we have brought in Odion Ighalo. It has been tempting for weeks but with Vardy’s poor form and difficult upcoming fixtures it’s been tough until now. He may have blanked against City last time round but with returns in 9 of the previous 10 before that I think he looks a safe pick from here, especially with Southampton, Swansea and Newcastle up next. Funnily enough our last 2 players actually scored against their upcoming opponents in the last week. Lukaku in the league cup semi-final against City last week and Kane against Leicester in the FA cup this weekend just gone. Lukaku was considered a doubt following the knock he got scoring that goal but after being rested at the weekend and with Martinez calming those fears, he gets the nod for us. Kane gets the nod and the armband. Leicester may have only conceded 1 in their last 3 but there were enough encouraging signs from the cup tie to suggest chances will be plentiful. Plus I clearly love ignoring my statistics.
So with us now back outside the top 100k, we go again. We have our targets set and although this week looks a tough one from a general fixture stand point we feel we can get back there after this week. And if it goes tits up again we can always lean on the new wildcard before the weekend’s games.
I bloody love a midweek gameweek so enjoy and good luck to all.