Dimitar Berbatov produces two goals and an assist as Fulham hold Arsenal in a six-goal thriller at the Emirates. Javier Hernandez mirrors his former team mate’s contribution as United claw back a two-goal deficit to overcome Villa, Marouane Fellaini racks up another double figure return for Everton, Stoke keep yet another home clean sheet, while Santi Cazorla fails at home once again, as Olivier Giroud opens his Emirates scoring account for the Gunners:
Fulham Full of Goals
After just six away games, Fulham have already equalled the total number of goals scored (12) on the road from last season. Dimitar Berbatov’s impact has been undeniably superb, with yesterday’s 3-3 draw at the Emirates maintaining the visitors’ record of remaining unbeaten whenever the Bulgarian has started. Two goals and an assist at the Emirates, with penalty duties also looking in the bag, has helped Berbatov to 47 points (pre-bonus) from his six first starts under Martin Jol – at 7.2, he looks a steal and is clearly capable of producing regardless of Fulham’s opponents. The Cottagers have now found the net 24 times, second only to United this term.
Bryan Ruiz also continued his recent rise to prominence with a pair of assists against the Gunners. The Costa Rican has supplied a constant source of creativity for Jol’s side and now has seven assists and a goal in just eight appearances – only Eden Hazard has provided more assists, with nine to his name thus far. Priced at 5.8 in FPL, Ruiz is proving to be real value – his classification as a forward is likely to see many ignore his talents, though. On that point, it was interesting to here Jol’s opinion on how his two attacking players combine…
“They’re not similar…Bryan is more of an offensive midfield player and Berbatov is a striker, like Robbie Keane who can drop in and try to create things. But today we thought it was good for Berbatov to go into the pockets and try and create space for other people.”
Goals Keep Coming for United
Two goals down at Villa, the league leaders demonstrated their strength in attack, with the half-time introduction of Javier Hernandez for the ineffectual Ashley Young proving crucial. The Mexican’s double and assist for Ron Vlaar’s own goal took his side’s haul to 29 for the season – 11 more than City, though the champions have today’s game with Spurs in hand. Robin Van Persie’s assist for Hernandez’s winner maintained his record of returning attacking points in every start, though it could have been so much more, with the crossbar denying the Dutchman twice. United’s dire defensive displays show little sign of abating, however; Andreas Weimann’s double in yesterday’s 3-2 defeat for Villa means Sir Alex Ferguson’s side have won only three games by more than a single goal thus far.
Post-match, Ferguson admitted Wayne Rooney was subbed off with an ankle problem, which the club will assess today, while the United boss was full of praise for Hernandez, admitting he is practically pencilled in for a start at Norwich next Saturday:
“As I have been saying for the last few weeks, he’s fresh as he had a good summer break and it’s made a difference to him. When he came to us two years ago, that’s what we’re seeing again today and, when you score a hat-trick, you pick yourself. I think he’ll be playing next week. He does his natural thing. He’s fantastic in the penalty box with his movement, his quickness and being in space and that has got him three goals today.”
Cazorla Continues to Frustrate
Having scored just twice in their previous three Gameweeks, Santi Cazorla’s owners were desperate for Arsenal to return to goalscoring form yesterday afternoon. While Arsene Wenger’s side shared the spoils in a six-goal thriller, Cazorla once again failed to produce the goods and has now managed just one assist in his first five home games – form that mirrors that of Tottenham’s Gareth Bale at White Hart Lane. Theo Walcott chipped in with a pair of assists in his first start since Gameweek 1 and continued the superb form that has now yielded eight goals and six assists over 14 appearances in all competitions – if he can keep his role on the right flank, many Fantasy managers will be eyeing up a move for Walcott over the next few Gameweeks, given the Gunners’ superb upcoming schedule. Walcott didn’t get through yesterday’s match unscathed, however, with Wenger confirming post-match that he had suffered a “glute injury”…
“Walcott has a glute muscle problem. We nearly took him off at half-time, he nearly went down, but we left him on. In the end, it got worse. At the moment, he is limping so I do not know whether he will be able to join the national team or not.”
While that could keep interest in Walcott at bay for a while, the one crumb of comfort Cazorla’s owners may take from yesterday’s match is that a missed penalty by Mikel Arteta may increase his chances of taking the next spot-kick – Arsene Wenger revealed post-match:
“Cazorla is second on the list, the No 1 is Arteta. If he doesn’t take it it’s Cazorla, or if Arteta wants to leave it to Cazorla. Cazorla wanted to take the ball. Arteta is No 1 on the priority.”
Olivier Giroud finally turned in a performance that suggests his toils up top may be coming to an end. The summer signing from Montpellier notched in front of his own fans for the first time this season, with a brace taking to his tally to three in seven starts – Giroud has now been selected in the first XI in each of Arsenal’s last five and despite the claims of both Walcott and Lukas Podolski for a role up top, the Frenchman continues to remain in the driving seat. With three homes games (TOT, AVL, SWA) and trips to Villa and Reading in the next six, the 8.4 priced FPL forward may well be a man in demand. Wenger had this to say on his French striker’s performance…
“Giroud had a very good game, he had presence and won the long balls. He is dangerous and starts to have belief in what he is doing. There were a lot of positives in his game today.”
Everton’s Flourishing Attack
Similar to Fulham, the Toffees continue to offer a consistent goal threat as the season unfolds; a fact highlighted by our recent Members article. Yesterday’s 2-1 win over Sunderland takes their unbeaten run to eight matches and means David Moyes’ side have found the net at least twice in eight of their 11 fixtures, with Marouane Fellaini once again racking up the points. The Belgian, who was transferred in by over 215,000 Fantasy managers ahead of yesterday’s deadline, bagged a goal and assist to take his FPL tally to 65 points, pre-bonus – just two behind compatriot Eden Hazard at the top of the midfield rankings. Fellaini now has produced double figures in four of his 10 appearances for the Merseysiders, while an assist for Leon Osman continues his recent consistency at Goodison – he has now produced attacking returns in each of his last three home matches. Nikica Jelavic took his tally to the season to five goals – yesterday’s winner was only the second time he has netted at home, though, and priced at 8.5 in FPL to Fellaini’s 7.3, his value as a third forward continues to be overshadowed by the latter’s cheaper midfield talents. David Moyes continued to back Jelavic in his post-match comments, despite his recent faltering form…
“He didn’t have a good game but I can tell you a lot of centre-forwards who don’t have good games and still score goals, and we’ll live with that….You don’t want to take your goalscorers off, especially when you’re a goal down – you want to try to find a way through. We hoped that something might drop to him and I’m sure that goal will help him.”
Elsewhere Moyes confirmed that Belgian Kevin Mirallas will undergo a scan after suffering a hamstring injury which saw him withdrawn after 30 minutes of yesterday’s win…
“It looks as if [Kevin] has maybe got a slight hamstring injury. I don’t think it’s too bad but until it’s been scanned we wouldn’t be able to say what it was. He’ll be disappointed he had to come off, as we were. It was a blow because whenever he got the ball he looked a real threat.”
Kone’s Home Comforts
Wigan’s two-match winning run may have faltered yesterday but the Ivorian continued the strong home performances that earned him a place on the Scout Picks bench. Kone grabbed the Latics’ consolation in the 2-1 defeat at the hands of West Brom – he has started five games at the DW and has played a part in five of Wigan’s eight strikes over those games, with three goals and a couple of assists. In front of his own fans, Kone has averaged six points per start this term – with Reading and QPR two of his next three visitors, the 6.5 priced forward could well continue his impressive home returns.
Baggies go 4-4-2
Steve Clarke’s decision to start Romelu Lukaku alongside Shane Long for the first time this season earned West Brom their first win on the road at the fifth attempt. The Baggies line-up was somewhat frustrating, though, with Clarke clearly determined to utilise his attacking options – all three of the attacking midfield starters in Monday’s win over Southampton all dropped out, with Peter Odemwingie warming the bench in spite of his recent double. James Morrison returned to the first XI after recovering from the niggle that kept him out against the Saints and despite being shifted to the right wing, was amongst the goals again – the 6.2 priced midfielder has now racked up 52 FPL points, only four less than Santi Cazorla.
Post-match, Clarke revealed Ben Foster is a doubt for next weekend’s home clash with Chelsea after undergoing minor groin surgery. Foster’s absence would be a huge blow for the Baggies, having returned four clean sheets in his six appearances at the Hawthorns already – Boaz Myhill deputised yesterday and is on standby to step in again:
“Ben’s okay – he’s had a minor procedure. He’s back, he’s comfortable and we hope he’ll start training early next week – that’s how minor the procedure was. He’s doubtful for the Chelsea game but beyond that we’re hopeful. I still haven’t ruled him out of the Chelsea game yet.”
Yet again, Stoke registered a clean sheet at the Britannia as QPR joined Arsenal, Swansea and Sunderland as the fourth side unable to breach the Potters’ back line. Tony Pulis’ side have conceded just one goal in front of their fans in five matches now, with champions City the only side to find a way past Asmir Begovic. With two home games in the next three (whm, FUL, NEW) plenty of investment in the most resilient home defence will continue over the next few weeks – Begovic has now climbed to the top of the FPL keeper standings on 49 points and while he has now risen to 5.0 in FPL since the end of Gameweek 7, Geoff Cameron, at 4.6, offers an even cheaper route into Pulis’ defence.
Defence Key for Canaries
Yesterday’s goalless draw at Reading stretched Norwich’s unbeaten run to four and, while Chris Hughton’s side may have scored just three times over that period, they have also racked up three clean sheets. The Canaries have also kept out Arsenal and Stoke in recent matches and are growing in resolve as the season unfolds, offering Fantasy managers plenty of cut-price options at the back. Norwich have now accrued four clean sheets this term, with John Ruddy is just two points off Asmir Begovic at the top of the FPL keeper standings; his price remains at 4.5, though games against United and Everton are likely to dim any immediate investment.
Gorkss in Demand
Having scored eight points in the opening eight Gameweeks, Kaspars Gorkss was far from appealing as a Fantasy prospect. Dropping down to 3.9 in FPL, the Latvian’s consistency of starts at the heart of the Reading back-four failed to interest Fantasy managers but a first clean sheet of the season yesterday continued his resurgent Fantasy form. With a goal, assist and four bonus points also accrued over the last three, Gorkss has racked up 22 points from Gameweek 9-11 and has already been snapped up by almost 4,000 since yesterday’s deadline – with clashes against Wigan and Villa in addition to a double Gameweek 16 on the horizon, that price looks set to rise as the bandwagon starts to pick up pace.