Anthony O'Shea

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Stag's Take - Gameweek 19

Wednesday, December 20, 2017


Stag’s Take – Gameweek 19

 

 

We have reached the half-way point of the 2017/18 season and with the real title race seemingly sown up the only things at stake are the Champions League spots, the relegation battle, and of course, your fantasy league! I myself rebalanced the books after a horrid Gameweek 17 with a decent return of 65 in Gameweek 18 mostly thanks my half of the Fabulous Four, Coutinho and Mo Salah (captained).

 

There was one surprising result that’s worth looking at. That is Crystal Palace’s unexpectedly comprehensive win over Leicester at The King Power Stadium. I had fancied having a few of Claude Puel’s men in my team for this fixture and was counting myself fortunate that hadn’t acted on that inclination as I watched Palace score their first away goals in 10 attempts and over 90 shots in the PL. Christian Benteke made amends for his ludicrous penalty steal and miss against Bournemouth in the previous gameweek by scoring a header to start the day. That goal will give the striker some much needed confidence given that he had failed to find the net in the league up until that point. He followed that up with an assist by name rather than by form for Zaha’s wonderful goal – the Ivorian again proving his class and FPL pedigree with an eye-catching performance. He had three shots and three key passes against the Foxes which rounds out a five game run where he has had 13 shots and 8 key passes in 5 games of the left wing which have unfortunately yielded just a goal and two assists. It’s unfortunate that Palace’s good run of fixtures is coming to a shuddering halt as Roy Hodgson’s gilded introduction to Selhurst takes a turn with three of the Top 6 coming up in their next six games. On the other side Riyad Mahrez had a quiet day compared to his rent form, highlighting that perhaps Gray is a better use of funds as one needs more consistent returns from a player of Mahrez’s value – one of the Liverpool quartet or one of City’s young wingers being obviously more dependable. In the same price bracket, Paul Pogba has returned from suspension and won the free-kick which Zlatan converted against Bristol City in the Carabao Cup in midweek. However, the Frenchman’s presence was not enough to stopping United bowing out of the competition to Championship opposition – not a good moment for those who were trying to argue that United would have beaten Man City had he been on the field!

 

We are of course entering the most cluttered 10 day period in the season where gameweeks pile up upon each other for fun. That means we have to be aware of rotation more so than usual. Last season the major culprits were José Mourinho and Pep Guardiola, who made five and four changes to their starting line-ups respectively in the two gameweeks a mere day or two either side of Christmas (h/t to Mark Donaldson of ESPN). To Mark’s work I might add that Jurgen Klopp has been much more antsy with his team changes this season compared to last – Liverpool had made more than twice as many changes to their starting XI week on week than any other team up until a few weeks ago. Be braced for disappointment and frustration.

 

You should also be aware of all the news emerging from the Carabao Cup games this week. First and foremost, Alvaro Morata will be suspended for Gameweek 19 after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season in injury time after scoring the winner over Bournemouth. He will now miss the Blues’ challenging visit to Goodison Park. The simple solution to this is remove him but many will be hesitant given that Brighton and Stoke visit Stamford Bridge in Gameweeks 20 and 21. Eden Hazard came on for 30 minutes and was unscathed in that fixture whilst most of the rest of Chelsea’s starting XI were rested.

 

I for one have removed Morata from my team to finally fill the Sky Blue gulf in my team where I had no Man City player for a few weeks, much to my detriment. I have brought in Sergio Aguero as I cannot see him not starting at home to Bournemouth on Saturday afternoon after Gabriel Jesus played a full 120 minutes against Leicester in their drawn out Carabao Cup quarter-final triumph. It was a tight win for a mostly second-string City side. The only other major FPL news from that fixture is that Ilkay Gundogan played the whole contest too. If David Silva has a prolonged absence from the City team then it is he who is likely to be his replacement. He was super effective against Spurs notching up a goal and an assist off three shots and one key pass.

 

Captaincy Corner

 

Sergio Aguero (Bournemouth H)

 

Captain obvious for me is the Argentine mostly because he is almost certainly going to start for the league’s best team against one of the more open defences in the league. Bournemouth again stuck to their principles and refused to park the bus against a top side in the gameweek just gone, conceding four to a rampant Liverpool side. They have now fallen to 16th in the PL table and haven’t won a league game in six attempts. Eddie Howe’s comments after that clash indicate that he doesn’t think a tactical change is necessary and instead he seems to believe his side can mix with the big boys if they perform to their potential:

"We are aware our style can leave us vulnerable and we left ourselves exposed at times. We didn't get our game going and when you don't perform against the top teams, you're going to get punished so it was very disappointing for us."

Aguero may have just 4 goals in 10 games having started 7 and finished just 2, but I think this is the ideal match for him.

A good alternative to Aguero if you can’t afford him is the popular Raheem Sterling, who had the whole night off during the midweek cup game and is undergoing a transformative season under Guardiola at the moment.

 

 

Charlie Austin (Huddersfield H)


After writing off the Terriers as a PL lost cause in last week’s column, they went and thrashed Watford in Gameweek 18 – a form of the commentator’s curse, I suppose? Yet again I’m calling against them this week.

 

Mauricio Pellegrino benched Charlie Austin last week even though the striker had scored twice in three and his side were toothless against Chelsea as a consequence. His impact off the bench was immediate as he had both of the Saints’ shots on target in his half hour cameo, forcing a decent save out of Courtois very soon after joining the action. I can’t see the manager making the same mistake again this weekend. Austin is a clinical striker and has shown that in his position and goalscoring so far this term. He is by far Southampton’s most clinical player and should do well against one of the league’s worst sides on the road. The win over Watford in GW18 was Huddersfield’s first victory in eight away PL games and only West Ham and Stoke have conceded more away goals than Wagner’s side.

Also, if you believe in this sort of stuff, Charlie Austin has scored six times in his last seven games against The Town.

 

Romelu Lukaku (Leicester A)

 

Remember at the start of the season when we thought we would just be leaving the armband on Lukaku and forgetting about it for the rest of the season? Ya… that happened. With Pogba back, chances should be arriving on a platter for the Belgian who has rediscovered his scoring boots in recent weeks. It’s odd to be calling Lukaku a differential pick but he definitely is, especially against a resurgent Leicester side who will be looking to bounce back from the cup loss on penalties to City and of course last weekend’s major blip against Palace.

 

 

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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