In a season that has become somewhat predictable in recent months, gameweek 23 certainly threw up a few surprises. The week got off to a bang with a nine goal thriller at Carrow Road as Liverpool left it late to snatch all three points from Norwich’s grasps. Elsewhere West Ham were able to win a point against title contenders Manchester City, while Swansea were the surprise victors against Everton.
As a result, this week’s top point-scorers make for some interesting reading:
- Roberto Firmino (Liverpool) 18 points– I came so close to transferring this week’s star performer into my team on Saturday morning and oh how I am regretting my decision not to. Despite not being one of the season’s consistent performers, the continuing injuries to Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho have seen the Brazilian deployed increasingly in attacking positions. This is clearly working in his favour as the midfielder has now scored 3 and assisted 1 in the last 3 matches. My concern with Firmino was whether his recent form could be maintained but it would now appear that it can. Liverpool have Leicester, Sunderland and Aston Villa coming up over the next few weeks and all will surely provide Firmino and his team-mates ample opportunity to provide similar point hauls.
- Danny Drinkwater (Leicester) 14 points– With Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez being willed on week after week, the rest of the Leicester team are comparatively free to play without scrutiny. Their best performer this week, however, was the 1% owned Drinkwater who scored his first goal of the season and assisted another in their 3-0 victory against Stoke. At just £4.5 million, the midfielder would have offered great returns to anyone who owned him but it isn’t something I would rely on happening all too often.
- Dele Alli (Tottenham) 13 points– Week after week I try to avoid the temptation of transferring Alli into my team but I will be the first to admit that it is becoming difficult. The Spurs youngster continues to impress, this week scoring a spectacular goal and assisting another in their 3-1 away victory against Crystal Palace. As the weeks go on Alli’s price continues to rise and with Norwich and Watford coming up he will definitely be one to keep watching.
- Andre Ayew (Swansea) 13 points– At times you can feel sorry for Ayew. The midfielder is the clear stand-out in an under-performing Swansea side and is talented enough to play in nearly any Premier League team. Especially since the likes of Gomis have gone off the boil, Ayew has been incredibly important to the squad and was most recently key in their surprising 2-1 victory against Everton. As long as Ayew is in the squad, Swansea have a chance of scoring- especially with West Brom coming up next. The Welsh side just need to hope that the midfielder remains fit and in form for the remainder of the season.
- Enner Valencia (West Ham) 13 points– After missing out on a large chunk of the season through injury, it is not surprising to see that the West Ham striker is owned by less than 1% of people. On paper, many would also not expect the latest gameweek against Manchester City to be his joint top score of the season- alas he was the highest scoring individual of that fixture. The striker has now scored 4 goals in 3 games and looks to have begun some impressive form for the London club. With Payet having also returned from injury, Valencia should continue to get consistent service and at just £5.8 million could be a great differential.
- Branislav Ivanovic (Chelsea) 12 points– Ivanovic has been amongst the most disappointing this season, largely due to Chelsea’s surprisingly poor performances over the opening period of the season. With the current Champions now almost performing like such under Guus Hiddink, many will be considering the inclusion of a number of their players. Ivanovic was amongst Chelsea’s top performers this week, in part thanks to an early sending off for Arsenal, with both a clean sheet and an assist. The Serbian is finally beginning to pay back his hefty price-tag and may be drawing some attention over the next few weeks.
- Sergio Aguero (Manchester City) 12 points– Everyone knows the importance of Aguero to the Man City team, as his performances in recent weeks have demonstrated. The Argentine has now scored 5 goals in 4 games, most recently adding a brace against West Ham to his collection. When injury-free there is no one more dangerous than Aguero and subsequently you would be mad not to at least try to find a way to include him in your team. Manchester City take on Sunderland next in the Premier League so I would expect large numbers of people to both transfer in and captain the striker for gameweek 24.
- Odion Ighalo (Watford) 12 points– Since having Ighalo in my team from week one, he has acclimatised to life in the Premier League even better than expected. Despite going off the boil in recent weeks, the striker came up with the goods once more in Watford’s 2-1 victory against Newcastle. Ighalo has at times been highly underrated but continues to demonstrate his talents. Watford have tough tests ahead of them in the upcoming weeks with Chelsea and Tottenham up first, but Ighalo has already demonstrated that he is capable of scoring against anyone.
- James Milner (Liverpool) 11 points– Milner had his best week to date this week, although that isn’t really saying much. The Liverpool midfielder contributed with a goal and an assist against Norwich, taking his season totals to 3 goals and 5 assists. A combination of his recent score and Liverpool’s upcoming fixtures may lead a few to consider a transfer, but I’m sure the majority will try and find the extra funds for the more impressive Firmino if anyone.
- Steven Naismith (Norwich) 11 points– I for one cheered Naismith’s recent transfer to Norwich as the striker finally stepped out from Lukaku’s shadow. Despite scoring a hat-trick against Chelsea earlier in the season, Naismith always struggled to force his way into the first team. Now, despite playing for a comparatively weaker team, the Scottish international will no doubt play week in week out. While the new arrival will have been disappointed with losing his first game at the club, his goal and assist will be a sign of what is to come. This is the opportunity for Naismith to show what he is capable of and surely one that he will make the most of.
With this week’s top-scorers out the way, here is how my very own “Wokingham Wanderers” performed this week:
Jack Butland (Stoke City) 1 point– Despite Mignolet playing against Norwich, I felt that Butland against Leicester was the better option. Butland had made the most saves and the likes of Mahrez and Vardy were comparatively off the boil. Turns out that avoiding Mignolet was a wise decision but Stoke surprisingly shipped 3 goals, leaving Butland with only a single point.
Seamus Coleman (Everton) 1 point– Coleman was the source of much heartbreak for me this week. Starting from the bench, the defender was not on the pitch to concede Everton’s two goals but was instead brought on as the final substitute with his side trailing 2-1. Coleman had the opportunity on two occasions to score but messed up both- one from right in front of goal. I would not have cared as much had I not had Van Dijk awaiting on my bench to come on with 8 points. That’s just how the cookie crumbles I guess.
Eric Dier (Tottenham) 1 point– Tottenham have a habit of conceding goals in recent times so the inclusion of Dier in my team is more from the standpoint of his goal-scoring capabilities than anything. With Vertonghen scoring in his own net and Dier contributing nothing at the other end, it was another single score for me defensively.
Hector Bellerin (Arsenal) 2 points– When Mertesacker was sent off for Arsenal, the game was always going to go one way. Ultimately only a single goal was to decide the tie but it was enough to limit Bellerin’s point score to 2. With my chosen back three scoring less accumulatively than Van Dijk on my bench, it was a bad week for my defence.
Mesut Ozil (Arsenal) 2 points– Things weren’t much better in midfield. Ozil has been off the boil in recent weeks, with his seemingly never ending run of assists finally being brought to a halt. This week, after being brought down to ten men, Arsenal were always going to struggle and it was too much even for Ozil to overcome.
Georginio Wijnaldum (Newcastle) 2 points-Wijnaldum was who I opted with over Firmino in my midfield and oh what a bad choice it was. While Firmino was at the precipice of scorers this week, Wijnaldum struggled to make any impact in Newcastle’s 2-1 defeat to Watford. The midfielder is the stand-out player in the squad and if anyone is going to come up with the goods in the next few weeks then it is him. That is what I will continue to tell myself anyway.
Dimitri Payet (West Ham) 2 points– Payet is a vital member of the West Ham squad and has continued to show why since his return from injury. While he was not directly involved in either of his side’s goals this week, his skills were certainly on show throughout. Payet is always a threat and while he has scored 2 points for the last couple of gameweeks, it’s only a matter of time before he pops up with another goal.
Riyad Mahrez (Leicester) 6 points– Mahrez began the gameweek on my bench but got brought on in Arnautovic’s absence. Thankfully for me he did, as his assist provided me with a much needed injection of points. His run of games without a goal continues to be a concern, however, and perhaps the time is coming to jump off the Mahrez bandwagon.
Sergio Aguero (Manchester City) (C) 24 points– After transferring Aguero into my team this week, there was only ever one clear captaincy choice. His two goals ultimately only earned City a point but his recent goalscoring run shows that the striker is back with a bang.
Odion Ighalo (Watford) 12 points– As previously mentioned, Ighalo continues to impress. To many he is one of this season’s biggest surprises but I for one knew what he could be capable of from the beginning.
Romelu Lukaku (Everton) 2 points– Against Swansea the expectations of Lukaku were high. Everton, however, lost and Lukaku was unable to find the net despite the often inspired deliveries from Deulofeu. The striker has now gone 4 games without scoring a goal, though admittedly against tough opposition. Fixtures in the upcoming weeks should hopefully be more rewarding.
- Simon Mignolet (Liverpool) 0 points
- Marko Arnautovic (Stoke City) 0 points
- Virgil Van Dijk (Southampton) 8 points
- Aaron Cresswell (West Ham) 1 point