Following the most recent international break, attention returned to the Premier League. The usual panic preceded this gameweek, as does any week following international fixtures, as fantasy managers prayed their squad made it through unscathed.
When it came down to the fixtures, there were some surprises at the top of the table. Southampton failed to find the net in their 1-0 home defeat to Stoke but there were bigger shocks to be had with West Brom’s 2-1 home victory against Arsenal and Liverpool’s 4-1 thrashing of Manchester City at the Etihad. The absence of Vincent Kompany from the City squad continues to be telling, but the return of Sergio Aguero will have been exciting news to fantasy managers looking to get him back in their team.
Another of the bigger surprises of the gameweek was Chelsea’s 1-0 home victory against Norwich. Such sentences in usual circumstances would never be uttered but recent Chelsea form meant that any outcome was possible. Had Chelsea lost to Norwich you would have felt Jose Mourinho’s days at Stamford Bridge would be few and far between, but he will still have been disappointed at only scoring a single goal. With Tottenham coming up next week, you would imagine the Chelsea side will only continue to struggle.
- Ross Barkley (Everton) 19 points– With Everton playing against Aston Villa, the result was always going to go one way. The only question would be, how many goals would the Toffees be able to score. After a quiet couple of weeks, Ross Barkley returned to score-sheet not once but twice and even assisted Lukaku with one of his goals. With Bournemouth coming up next, Barkley is surely amongst the favourites to extend his goal tally.
- Roberto Firmino (Liverpool) 15 points– Firmino was one of Liverpool’s new additions going into this season and one of the more exciting members of the squad. The Brazilian has, however, failed to make an impact for his club- that is until now. The midfielder was behind three of Liverpool’s four goals, scoring one himself and assisting two. Having dropped from his original value of £8.5 million to £8 million, Firmino may now be a more tempting proposition under Klopp.
- Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool) 13 points– As arguably Liverpool’s only creative attacking player in recent weeks, Coutinho has been relied on a lot to get goals and thankfully for Liverpool fans he has been providing them. This week he took his tally to four goals in three games and added an assist for extra measure. While some will have already rushed to get him into their team, a slight injury concern may prevent even more doing so.
- Harry Kane (Tottenham) 13 points– Going into this season, there were few under more pressure than Kane to get goals. The Tottenham striker had his breakthrough season last year and many questioned whether he could replicate his form. At £9.5 million this year, many also questioned whether he would be worth his hefty price tag. While the first few gameweeks seemed to confirm the worst fears, Kane is now once more showing his worth with seven goals in four games- two of which he scored this week against West Ham. Tottenham take on Chelsea next gameweek and bearing in mind Kane’s form against London clubs, you would expect his form to continue.
- Andre Ayew (Swansea) 13 points– When Bournemouth took a surprise 2-0 lead within half an hour against Swansea, it looked as if that was that. Ayew played a key role in Swansea’s comeback, however, scoring one and assisting another and earning himself three bonus points in the process.
- Romelu Lukaku (Everton) 12 points– As already said, Everton were always going to score goals against Aston Villa and Lukaku was always going to be the favourite to do just that. His two goals this week took him to four goals in three games and up against Bournemouth next week you’d fancy him to extend it further.
- Erik Pieters (Stoke) 12 points– Owned by less than 0.5% of players, Pieters is certainly this week’s surprise high scorer. With Southampton failing to score against Stoke, an assist to his name and three bonus points, Pieters will have been a great addition to any team. With Stoke having now achieved three clean sheets in the last three gameweeks, Pieters may also be getting more attention from owners over the next few games.
With only one sub available in my team, all hope was resting on my starting eleven simply starting their respective games. While the majority got the memo, the Saido Mane curse meaning that he didn’t start the immediate game after the international break struck once again while Van Gaal also chose to rest Matteo Darmian. It is, however, safe to say that my captain choice was right for the first time in a long while.
Kasper Schmeichel (Leicester) 6 points– Up until this week Leicester had only been able to keep one clean sheet against Crystal Palace. Playing against Newcastle this week, however, I was confident that Schmeichel would be able to do the same and he did exactly that in their 3-0 win.
Aaron Cresswell (West Ham) 0 points– Starting on my bench, I had very little confidence in West Ham keeping a clean sheet against Tottenham without Payet in the team. As Van Gaal chose to rest Darmian, however, Cresswell came into the team to replace one zero score with another.
Hector Bellerin (Arsenal) 0 points– Bellerin was my confident inclusion this week with Arsenal taking on West Brom. Turns out that it was not going to be Arsenal’s day with Arteta scoring an own goal and Santi Cazorla missing a penalty. With Bellerin playing no part in Arsenal’s goal either, it was not a good day at the office for the defender.
Cedric Soares (Southampton) 2 points– Cedric was another that I was confident about including prior to the gameweek- that was assuming that he was included in the starting lineup. Ultimately the game was to be settled by a single goal but it went the wrong way for me to get any decent points.
Saido Mane (Southampton) 1 point– Playing Mane after the international break was always going to be a risk, but one I had very little choice with. As is now somewhat predictable, the midfielder only came on a substitute and did not make any impact in a difficult game for the home side.
Mesut Ozil (Arsenal) 8 points– The proclaimed assist king added to his ever growing tally this week, despite Arsenal losing their game against West Brom. Ozil took his assist tally to eleven for the season and nine in seven games. Everything seems to be going through him these days at Arsenal and you would be foolish not to consider him.
Riyad Mahrez (Leicester) 9 points– After giving up his penalty duty last week to Vardy, many Mahrez owners will have been annoyed with his meagre two point haul. This week it was nearly service as normal as the midfielder got an assist and three bonus points.
Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal) 2 points– With rumours of a rest period coming up, including Sanchez will be a risk. This week Wenger continued to play him but he made little impact. Until he gets the rest he clearly needs, it is difficult to predict the impact he will make in the weeks to come.
Odion Ighalo (Watford) 5 points– Playing against Manchester United, including Ighalo was always slightly risky but was a move that somewhat worked out. Having won the penalty for Watford, his 5 points were a welcome addition.
Romelu Lukaku (Everton) (C) 24 points– With Martial out of action, his transfer out in favour of Lukaku was always the obvious choice. Having Lukaku in my team also made for an obvious captaincy choice and potentially my first right choice of captain all season. His brace continued his goalscoring run and he doesn’t look like stopping any time soon.
Graziano Pelle (Southampton) 1 point– Stoke are always a difficult team to break down but with Southampton being at home I fancied them doing exactly that. Ultimately that was not to be and Pelle’s booking meant that he was left with a single point. The striker is now also suspended for next week and therefore one I am looking to replace.
- Simon Mignolet (Liverpool) 2 points- somewhat predictably conceded a goal against Manchester City.
- Matteo Darmian (Manchester United) 0 points- rested again by Van Gaal. Somewhat difficult to predict when he will and won’t be included in the team.
- Vincent Kompany (Manchester City) 0 points- out injured, hopefully back next week.
- Dimitri Payet (West Ham) 0 points- out injured and looking to transfer out next week.