Written by @CraigHazell – Blame Him
Those of you who have only started the blog this year will be thinking ‘daaamn, this Craig guy is goooooood’. Those of you who read my blogs last year will be thinking ‘Why does Craig think all the new readers are Queen Latifah and why is he so much better at picking players this season?’ Basically it’s been good hasn’t it?! Don’t get used to it.
DEFENDER: ASHLEY WILLIAMS, EVERTON
My defensive pick this week is Ashley Williams. See, I told you! It’s not the most inspiring pick but it’s based purely on statistics. Everton have conceded the least goals in the Premier League with 2 against in 4 games. Williams has played 90 minutes in the 2 most recent of those 4 games, in which the Toffees has conceded how many goals? Zero. He’s 2 for 2. That could of course be a coincidence but clean sheets have been tough to predict so far this season and in times of uncertainty, stick to the stats. Everton have Boro, Bournemouth and Palace before a trickier tie against City but at 5.0m you can put him in the side and stick him on the bench later on without causing much damage to your budget.
MIDFIELDER: MICHAIL ANTONIO, WEST HAM
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. It’s a terrible proverb, written poorly and if we used the same casual stance towards gas safety, we’d all have carbon monoxide poisoning. However, it is a good lead in to me picking exactly the same player as I did last week. It’s not out of laziness, I assure you, it is out of sheer defiance that Michail Antonio is still only 11% picked. Payet’s return to fitness, Antonio’s poor performance when deployed further back and West Ham’s laissez faire approach to defending has created a perfect storm for Antonio to become the most prolific English midfielder this calendar year and long may it continue. This time last year I was badgering you weekly to pick Dele Alli until we finally got his percentage up to 50% and I see this going the same way. By picking him now, you aren’t too late to the party, you’re still one of those early to mid arrivals who can’t yet hide their cheap cider among the other more recognisable brands. While West Ham’s opposition in West Brom aren’t exactly leaky at the back I am not sure they can keep out an attack like Bilic’s men. Another 13 points please Michail.
FORWARD: CHRISTIAN BENTEKE, CRYSTAL PALACE
Last week a lot of strikers came to the fore, as if to audition for Aguero’s spot in your FPL teams. Lukaku, Wilson, Vardy and Kane all found their feet for the season and are all viable options for your striker spot. But with Stoke currently being the worst team in the league, I will be going for Christian Benteke once more. He got off to a scoring start for Palace and was pivotal in their win over Boro. Palace won’t have a better chance to get back to back victories all season and I can’t see them winning a game without Benteke scoring points. Palace have Sunderland next week and by the end of the month, Benteke could feasibly have 4 or 5 goals already. If not, then you’ll probably have reinstated Aguero anyway.
CAPTAIN: ZLATAN, MANCHESTER UNITED
Might seem obvious but it’s going to have to be Zlatan. Obviously, last week the clever pick was Lukaku which many of you had. Many of the rest of us, however, tried to be clever by picking Hazard or others. Rooney has been omitted from the Europa League squad and I would be astonished if Zlatan plays any more minutes than he has to. Ibrahimovic didn’t sign for United to play on a Thursday night and it won’t fire him up as much as Premier League goals and redemption from the Manchester Derby will do. United play Watford on Sunday and I could easily see a 3-1 or 3-2 game and expect Zlatan to continue his goalscoring streak.
OUTSIDER: YANICK BOLASIE, EVERTON
My Gaffer Tapes co-host Ash made the point on this weeks podcast that a player hitting the post is far more useful than them scoring a goal. After I stopped laughing at him, I actually understood what he was saying. Everyone notices the guy who scores a goal, even if they didn’t watch the match. The goal can be a deflected, off the face cross come shot and all we see is 5 points in the bank. The player who hits the post with a much better strike goes largely unnoticed.
So, we all know Romelu Lukaku scored a hat trick last gameweek, only those who watched the full 90 minutes know that Yanick Bolasie absolutely tore apart the Sunderland defence all game. Bolasie’s criticism in the past was his decision making in the final third and his inconsistent delivery. Much like Sadio Mane, he seems to be thriving at a ‘bigger’ club and new management. While the stats say his 1 assist and 7 points is modest, us suckers for punishment who watch Sunderland for an entire match will know he could’ve scored double that at least. He’s 5% picked and a surprising 6.0m. I’d say ‘Don’t Panic, Buy Yanick’. Sorry.