GW16 FPL REVIEW FROM @FANTASYGAFFER
The stars turned out in force for gameweek 16, with the best XI a virtual who’s who of top performers turning in top performances. For Arsenal, Santi Cazorla and Olivier Giroud both hit a brace while Burnley’s Tom Heaton posted the big score for goalkeepers with a clean sheet and a saved penalty. Is Tom Heaton not a star? Following his 15 point performance the Claret’s net minder leads all ‘keepers with 66 points and certainly deserves the mantle. Five clean sheets this season see’s Sean Dyche’s first-choice #1 the best value in fantasy premier league. But Burnley will travel for three of their next four as trips to Spurs, Manchester City and Newcastle is interrupted by a visit from Liverpool. For more on goalkeepers, please read The Crazy World of Fantasy Goalkeepers.
Four midfielders posted double-digit returns this week and they are amoung the best in the game. Eden Hazard (14), Santi Cazorla (14), Juan Mata (14) and Christian Eriksen (13) all hit for at least a goal and an assist with the Arsenal man hitting a brace. Hazard was a popular choice as captain with Cesc Fabregas suspended for a fifth yellow card and Diego Costa having failed to score in the previous three matches. The Belgian playmaker did not disappoint, scoring the opener before assisting on Costa’s goal. Hazard has been one of the best players in all formats of FPL this season. Nearly to a century in the Official league with more than half the season left to play, Hazard has seen positive net transfers in eight consecutive weeks after starting the season with eight on the spin with a negative net. Chelsea’s Christmas program is amoung the easier fixture lists with Stoke (a), West Ham (H), Southampton (a) and Spurs (a) between now and the New Year. The Blues Champions League campaign is on hold until February and 23-year-old is not in danger of missing much time through rotation.
One side where rotation was thought to be an issue was Manchester United. Boasting Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie and Falcao in attack, the Red Devils did not enjoy early success. However, recent weeks have seen a rebirth of van Persie (four goals and two assists in the past four gameweeks) and Rooney (three goals and an assist in his last four outings) while youngster James Wilson continues to stake a claim. With Sergio Aguero set to miss a month or more, a number of managers have elected to make a like-for-like replacement – bringing in the Dutch forward. For all that’s been made of van Persie’s lack of production, he has seven goals in 1258′ and has recorded double-digit points in three of the past four weeks. As Falcao returns to action, Angel Di Maria has hit the trainer’s table. Rooney started in the midfield in against Liverpool with brilliant results and Louis van Gaal could again elect to play a a 3-5-2 in the next two fixtures against Aston Villa (a) and Newcastle (H). RvP is still owned in just 6.3% of sides (Rooney is owned in 19%) and recorded 260+ points in back-to-back seasons 2011/12 and 12/13. While 260 may be out of reach, a double-century is certainly possible for the fantasy superstar.
Even those players who didn’t score returned solid points with Alexis Sanchez picking up a pair of assists (and one bonus point) in Arsenal’s 4-1 win. And, in a week with only five cleansheets, it was the the big name defenders on the top sides who led the way (if you’re willing to look past Andre Wisdom’s 9pts setting the pace this weekend). Chelsea and Manchester City both posted clean sheets and Kompany (2), Clichy (2), and Mangala (3) joined Wisdom (3) and Joleon Lescott (2) in securing bonus point this weekend. And the best discount options at the back, including Burnley’s Kieran Trippier and Ben Mee both earned the 4pt clean sheet as well. And for that, they can thank this man:
While this entire column has been a celebration of the biggest stars being big, it is worth noting that several players have not lived up to expectations in recent weeks (and some didn’t even see the pitch this weekend). The top of the list is a pair of strikers who were early favourites for many EPL fantasy managers, and who still boast robust ownership numbers.
Graziano Pelle did hit a goal a week ago, but that stands as his lone score in the past nine gameweeks. The Italian international is in the midst of a fallow period, scoring two points of fewer in five of the past seven matches culminating in a single point as the Saints were held scoreless by Heaton’s Burnley. Pelle was so good in the opening seven weeks of the season that he still occupies the second spot in the forwards total points table where he trails the recently injured Sergio Aguero and leads Diego Costa by four. And Pelle is still seeing the pitch. West Brom’s Saido Berahino has not recorded a goal or assist in the past seven weeks, has seen his contract dispute turn public and has played just 39′ in the past two matches combined. The young England international is the best Baggie to own in FPL this season, and is arguably their most skilled player, but finds himself riding the pine as Alan Irvine’s side were rescued by Craig Gardner’s first goal of the season on Saturday. The £5.8-rated Berahino is still owned in 16.2% of FPL sides while Pelle (£8.2m) is owned in 24.3%. Both face significant hurdles with the Saints upcoming schedule and Saido’s contract saga leaving both less attractive than their respective points to date would dictate.