Rafa’s weakened lineup get turned over by Harry’s boys as Shaun Wright-Phillips returns to haunt the Stamford Bridge regulars. There’s no such shock at Anfield as Luis Suarez fills his boots again, whilst Leighton Baines’ wonder strike inspires an Everton win at St James’ Park…
On the Up
Seemingly everpresent in this article in over recent Gameweeks, Suarez once again delivered the goods for Liverpool, chipping in with his fourth and fifth goals in the last four league matches, whilst providing the assist for Raheem Sterling’s opener. Scoring back-to-back braces for the first time in his Liverpool career, his stock remain buoyant, his ownership and price on the climb. While Suarez has United and Arsenal in the next three, his form is so strong, that’s unlikely to be a factor that will perturb investors.
The skipper goes on delivering: his pair of assists tonight means that Gerrard has now returned in his last six outings. Slowly but surely, Fantasy managers are waking up to his consistency – Gerrard’s ownership is steadily on the rise and his price has climbed to 9.4. Suarez, for just 0.9 more, remains the stronger option by some margin, however.
The 18-year-old operates in a different price bracket to the Liverpool heavy-hitters and, with his opening goal tonight, he delivered his first strike since Gameweek 8. Before this evening’s game, Sterling had just a single assist in his last nine league appearances – form that was beginning to call his value, even at 5.6, into question. They’ll be no such doubts for a while, despite the arrival of Daniel Sturridge.
The Liverpool Defence
A third clean sheet in four games brought Brendan Rodgers’ defence to the fore and with Andre Wisdom back in the side, Fantasy managers will certainly be taking note. The young full-back would surely only be a short-term option with Jose Enrique sidelined and with United and Arsenal to come, the “wisdom” of such a move seems limited.
A stunning thirty-yard free-kick brought Baines’ owners their first major returns since Gameweek 5. Before tonight, the Everton left-back had delivered just two assists in 13 league outings. While the clean sheet was again off the menu, Baines’ strike offered a timely reminder of his qualities ahead of a Gameweek 22 home meeting with Swansea.
There was talk before the game that the Belgian could be dropped back to a deeper role with Darron Gibson sidelined but, with David Moyes drafting in Phil Neville and dropping Victor Anichebe, it’s clear that Fellaini is set for the long-haul in an advanced role. He hardly dazzled but his physical presence played its part, earning the free-kick which was converted by Baines to give Felliani immediate assist returns.
While Demba Ba negotiates his way out of St James’ Park, Cisse is trying to reinstate himself as Newcastle’s hitman. His opening strike tonight was his second in three matches and, with Alan Pardew suggesting prior to the match that Cisse will eventually lead the attack back in a central role, he is gradually coming in from the cold as a Fantasy option.
The QPR Defence
Nobody would have backed the R’s defence for a shutout at Stamford Bridge having witnessed Luis Suarez tear them apart last time out. Rafa’s teamsheet may have played its part in helping Harry Redknapp motivate his side and that factor shouldn’t be underestimated. While Harry will surely bring in plenty of new blood, the likes of Ryan Nelsen may remain a mainstay and could provide strong value if Redknapp can go on inspiring similar performances.
It would be harsh to dent the stock of the players involved when it’s Rafa’s rotation policy that is to blame. Tonight’s decision to rest all three of the players who supported Fernando Torres at Goodison came as a shock – it’s the first time Chelsea have started a league game this season without both Eden Hazard or Juan Mata. With Ashley Cole also preserved, it’s become clear that nobody is safe from an occasional rest. Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised, but that fails to sweeten the pill and introduces an unwelcome variable when considering Chelsea assets. You have to wonder, however, having suffered a shock defeat, whether Rafa will think again when it comes to underestimating opponents with his team selection.
The Spaniard survived Rafa’s rotation cull to lead the attack but drew a blank for the third successive league outing. With Demba Ba in talks and Benitez hinting that a rest for Torres is in his plans, those still clinging to El Nino will surely be fidgeting and considering their options.
His absence from Newcatle’s lineup came as an immediate blow to his Fantasy owners – his pending move to Chelsea may dent his stock further. Having witnessed Rafa’s rotation policy at work tonight, few will relish the prospects of Ba being part of that, regardless of the prospect of improved service.