Anthony O'Shea

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Stag's Take - Gameweek 8

Friday, October 13, 2017


Stag’s Take – Gameweek 8

 

 

Would it really be the first weekend of Premier League action post-international break if I didn’t regale tales about my beloved Republic of Ireland’s pulsating rollercoaster ride in the general direction of the 2018 World Cup in Russia (Go directly to paragraph two if you don’t wish to humour me)? Of course not! Yes indeed, Burnley plus a few Championship stars and a few erratic PL journeymen somehow find themselves in the play-offs against one of Denmark (please), Switzerland (we have a poor record), Croatia, or Italy (we can’t do that again, surely?) – the draw takes place next week. Our gain is the loss of a number of FPL favourites – Aaron Ramsey will not be travelling to the World Cup. His influence in the game on Monday night diminished rapidly once Joe Allen was forced off with a concussion in the first half. Wee Joe is yet to be ruled out of Stoke’s tie with Manchester City this weekend though one would not be shocked if his name was absent from the teamsheet. In defence, Ashley Williams’ rickety start to 2017/18 continued in the red of Wales as he was culpable of indecisiveness in dealing with Claret Jeff Hendrick on the right as he moved to cross to James McClean to plunge a sword through the dragon’s heart in Cardiff. The vision and initiative of Bournemouth’s Harry Arter to dummy the aforementioned low ball as it flew across goal was the single bit of class on display all night – he swears he meant it! A special mention must also go to Brighton’s Shane Duffy for his performance on the night. The titan was front and centre in repelling a slew of Welsh attacks in the early Joe Allen period as well as the siege which followed Ireland’s breakthrough. He made 18 clearances in all on the night, 20 according to some sources.

 

 

Not many players earn the respect of Pep Guardiola to the extent that he christens their whole team in their name. But yes, “The Harry Kane team” as they are now known provided the most entertaining and points-rich performance of Gameweek 7 as they thrashed Huddersfield. The Terriers’ previously solid home defensive record began to be undermined in the 9th minute when Kane struck for the first time. He had a brace and Ben Davies had also added to his ridiculous record going forward this season before 25 minutes had elapsed. That’s 2 goals and 3 assists in 7 Premier League games already this term. Happily for me but to the frustration of many other FPL onlookers, Spurs abandoned their intensity and were happy to accept what they had at that point and Kane’s seemingly inevitable hat-trick never materialised. Sissoko struck late too though that goal was merely a statistic from an FPL point of view. Kane’s 13 goals in September (when you include efforts on international duty) matches the best totals in a calendar month of both Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Only Messi leads Kane in terms of goals scored this calendar year amongst Europe’s top five leagues with the English supremo 38 goals to the good in 2017. What August?

 

 

Elsewhere amongst the Top Six, Kevin De Bruyne’s thunderbolt fired Man City to a great win over his former employers Chelsea in the highlight of Gameweek 7. Antonio Conte voiced his frustrations about his board’s failures in the transfer window during the summer to bolster his side ahead of a title defence and his words certainly rung true as The Blues looked out of options at Stamford Bridge. The injury to Alvaro Morata, which may not have as bad a prognosis as was initially feared, was a huge frustration for many FPL managers. The Spain international was sidelined for the international break though did provide a boost to all worried about his condition with an Instagram captioned “Coffee before training” on Wednesday – perhaps Michy Batshuayi will just have a game or two to prove his worth up front.

 

 

Gameweek 7 also reminded us that knee-jerk moves in response to price changes and early injury news can bite managers hard in all FPL formats. Sergio Aguero’s car crash on the Thursday night of that week was undoubtedly the most dramatic news which caught many off-guard though Phil Jones’ appearance in Manchester United’s starting XI against Palace on the Saturday also elicited a number of curses around the world. Now a fortnight on, both players’ issues may annoy managers again as Jones is yet to be ruled out of United’s visit to Anfield and Aguero looks to be on-track for a much earlier than anticipated return to action.

 

 

Romelu Lukaku, scorer of a late, late goal to salvage FPL points for his throngs of captainers in Gameweek 7, was on the scoresheet for Belgium over the international break and Eden Hazard also provided further glimpses of brilliance for the same side. It seems like a matter of time before we’re all looking to fit “Haz” into our sides along with three elite forwards. I am again seeing people speak about ditching Romelu for other strikers and again to those I plead my opposition. He is just too consistent to ignore this season. His teammate Henrikh Mkhitaryan is also drawing the ire of many managers too though I think he deserves at least one more week before I consider jettisoning him.

 

 

 

Captaincy Corner


 

Harry Kane (Bournemouth H)

 

Harry Kane may not (yet) be out front in the race for the Premier League golden boot this season but, as I have already alluded to, form suggests that the Tottenham ace will soon close the one goal gap to Romelu Lukaku. Kane has had more touches in the box, shots, and attempts on target than any other forward this season so far. The going concern however continues to be he and Spurs’ poor record at Wembley, where Spurs have picked up just 2 points from 3 games and the Englishman is yet to hit the back of the net.

That said, I believe that Spurs’ home issues will come to an end against the Cherries this weekend. Eddie Howe’s men have struggled defensively and even more so on the offence, which will perhaps force them to open themselves up to more Spurs counters by venturing forward. Just a warning that Spurs may be without Christian Eriksen at the national stadium though. The Dane overcame illness to help his national side to the play-offs over the international break and may need a rest ahead of Spurs’ Champions League match with Real Madrid next week given that Dele Alli will be absent through suspension. I don’t think Eriksen being benched will affect Kane too much against this opposition but it’s worth noting.

 

 

Gabriel Jesus (Stoke City H)

 

Like I have worries about Eriksen’s minutes in Gameweek 8, I also have questions about Gabriel Jesus’ likelihood of playing much more than an hour against Stoke on Saturday. However, that doesn’t necessarily throw me off the Brazilian’s bandwagon. Jesus played extensive minutes for his nation over the past weeks, scoring twice against Chile but is likely to start as Sergio Aguero has *just* returned to full training (already!).

If you’re feeling risk-averse but still want a City attacker who will have chances but may be more likely to play the full 90, look towards Raheem Sterling, who has ghosted his way to 5 PL goals off 3.2 shots per game this season. However, the offset to that is that Sterling’s 5 goals in his last 5 PL games have come off just 7 shots on target, a conversion rate which Sterling would not usually be expected to maintain.

 

 

Jamie Vardy (West Brom H)

 

No doubt if you captain Vardy, you’ll have no fingernails left as one of the big-hitters is sure to have racked up a huge return by the time Monday comes, leaving you in need of a big favour from the Englishman.

Vardy has 5 goals so far and would have another if it wasn’t for his poor penalty in Gameweek 6 against Liverpool. Had that gone in we’d all be blinded by his perceived value as a high ranking forward in FPL terms in spite of his lowly price relative to his competitors. Instead, we continue to brush Vardy off as he takes a low number of shots and plays for Leicester, who are really struggling to get going this term. Don’t dismiss Vardy. I think he will be a big talking point in the coming weeks as managers look to rebalance their sides and push money into midfielders. Acting early may earn you a few extra points before the riff-raff join you!

 

 

Follow the entire Rotoworld Premier League team on Twitter: Neal | Steve | Andrew | Sean | Stag (me) | Ben | Galin | Nik |

 

Stag has been providing #FPL Tips since July 2015 and has been a contributor for Rotoworld.com since August 2016. He is a self-proclaimed wannabe fantasy football genius, a student, and die-hard tea enthusiast.

 

 

 








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