Adam Le Fondre climbs off the bench to bag a brace against Chelsea. Wayne Rooney scores both United’s goals in a narrow home win over Southampton, Leighton Baines is at the double as Everton see off the Baggies at Goodison, Theo Walcott and Luis Suarez are amongst the goals at the Emirates, while Gareth Bale notches a superb solo equaliser in Tottenham’s draw at Norwich:
Rooney Returns to Form
Dropped to the bench for the previous Gameweek despite scoring the winner in the FA Cup Third Round replay win over West Ham, the former Everton man made his first league start since Gameweek 18 last night. A brace not only stole the limelight from Robin Van Persie, it served a reminder of Rooney’s potential as a real differential, with an ownership of less than 6% compared to the Dutchman’s 45%. While there is no denying that Van Persie is the more consistent of the duo, Rooney hasn’t done too badly – he has now scored or assisted in eight of his 12 starts alongside the former Arsenal man, with last night’s display his fifth set of double figures this season.
Chelsea Midfield Consistency
The Spaniard headed into Chelsea’s trip to Reading having produced attacking returns in 13 of his last 15 starts and was once again at the heart of his side’s attacking endeavours. A goal and assist maintained his relentless run of form and stretched Mata’s lead over the rest of the pack at the top of the FPL midfielder standings – Mata has now produced three sets of double figures in his last six starts, all coming away from home. Frank Lampard also maintained his superb run of form by heading home from a Mata corner and has now scored six in his last seven starts; at 8.5, and with an ownership under 4%, he’s another differential producing the goods right now.
Post-match, Benitez revealed the reason behind his decision to withdraw Mata with just less than 15 minutes remaining:
“He has a problem with his ankle, he needs to see the doctor but we will assess him tomorrow.”
For Demba Ba’s owners, however, last night might just be the final straw. Having been benched for Fernando Torres in Sunday’s FA Cup trip to Brentford, it had looked odds-on he’d be back in the starting line-up but the Senegalese striker was only introduced to the proceedings in the 90th minute as Mata and Lampard racked up the points. So often a constant source of points at former club Newcastle, Ba’s potential under the stewardship of Rafa Benitez is plummeting quicker by the Gameweek.
Super Sub Le Fondre
Adam Le Fondre may not be particularly enamoured with his recent second-half substitute role but it’s clearly working wonders for Reading. Climbing off the bench with 24 minutes left on the clock, his brace rescued a point as the Royals moved out the bottom three – Le Fondre has now scored five times in just 72 minutes over the last three matches, with his goals earning his side seven points over that trio of fixtures. The Reading manager is likely to continue his tactic of starting matches Pavel Pogrebnyak as the lone forward in a 4-4-1-1 and move to 4-4-2 late on, however, with Le Fondre’s ability to make the difference in the latter stages becoming ever more crucial in their bid to avoid the drop.
Baines at the Double
Everton’s marauding left-back stole the show last night with a deadly double condemning West Brom to their fourth defeat in the last five. Baines had racked up goal, maximum bonus and a couple of clean sheets in his three previous matches and maintained his recent superb form to climb to the top of the FPL defender standings on 115 points. Given that he’d produced more than two points in just of the seven games prior to his four-match run, it’s clear that patience is required with Baines – as he demonstrated last night, over the long haul he almost always has a tendency to come good.
Walcott Seems Destined for Right Flank Role
Theo Walcott’s equaliser at home to Liverpool last night maintained an outstanding run of form that rivals Juan Mata in terms of consistency. Since establishing himself in the Gunners first XI in Gameweek 11, Walcott has now scored or assisted in 10 of his subsequent 12 starts – despite the fact that seven of his 20 appearances have arrived off the bench, an average of 6.4 points per game is now third best of any player, with only Van Persie and Mata (both 6.9) managing more. The winger has now scored in three consecutive games – his most prolific spell of the season – and given his continued ability to deliver from out wide, it seems his calls for a central role will prove futile. Olivier Giroud’s display as the lone forward has hardly helped Walcott’s cause, either. The Frenchman had bagged a brace in each of his last two in all competitions and proved instrumental in Arsenal’s comeback, with a goal and assist contribution in the 2-2 draw. Prior to Gameweek 23, Giroud had managed 90 minutes and not a single start in his previous five – suddenly, he looks a different proposition altogether and with confidence flowing, may even be snapped up as alternative Arsenal coverage to Walcott, given his comparatively cheaper price tag.
Bale’s Drought Ends
Slaloming through the Norwich defence before firing home a deserved equaliser, the Welshman returned to scoring ways after a disappointing last few Gameweeks. Bale rolled up to Carrow Road with just a single set of attacking returns in his last five but his superb strike served a reminder of his potential ahead of an enticing trip to off-form West Brom. Bale has now equalled last term’s 10 goal haul and had already exceeded the previous campaign’s total bonus – while he has failed to offer the same sort of consistency as Mata and Walcott, or even Steven Gerrard, Bale is more like a midfield version of Baines – his propensity to rack up points will eventually deliver in the long-term, providing he’s afforded enough patience. With Jermain Defoe misfiring yet again, the Welshman remains the one assured option amongst Andre Villas-Boas’ charges.
Reds Stake a Claim Ahead of Double
With a double Gameweek 26 on the horizon, Liverpool’s Fantasy assets were under the microscope last night. Brendan Rodgers reverted to a 4-3-3 following a recent flirtation with a 4-2-3-1 formation and while Luis Suarez was once again amongst the goals, his owners will be somewhat concerned by a move to the left flank, with Daniel Sturridge handed the central role at the Emirates. Nevertheless, the Uruguayan has now scored or assisted in six of his last seven and is surely set to pick up significant investment for the double, though Sturridge’s assist highlighted his mid-price appeal – coming in at 7.5 in FPL to Suarez’s 10.5, the former Chelsea man looks set for a bandwagon of his own. Somewhat surprisingly, Jordan Henderson has also appeared on Fantasy radars after a goal and assist last night. Priced at just 5.3 in FPL, he has now started four of the last five and has chipped in with an assist against QPR and goal at Norwich across those games; if he continues to nail down a regular role, Henderson’s recent form suggests he may be a real differential route into the Reds’ midfield.
Berbatov a Hamstring Worry
A goal in last night’s win over West Ham maintained a decent run of form for the Bulgarian. Since Bryan Ruiz’s return from a hamstring injury in Gameweek 19, Berbatov has now notched three goals, an assist and six bonus points in seven games from a more advanced role for Fulham – given that he produced no returns whatsoever in the previous six matches without the Costa Rican, the difference is all too apparent. Berbatov is now down to 7.0 in FPL from a season high of 7.6 and while he continues to look decent value, Martin Jol has since revealed he could be a doubt for this weekend’s home clash with former club United
“Dimitar had a problem with his hamstring and hopefully won’t be out for long. It’s not a tear, it’s a minor injury. We’ll have him scanned and see what happens but he might miss the Manchester United game. If we win, people always say Berbatov was good, if we don’t win, it’s different. But he did well today with Hugo.”
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For Gameweek 38
- van Persie
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“I am happy with the way I’ve started, but on the other hand, I should have scored four or five more, so that’s something for me to work on.”Robin Van Persie talks about his early form at United ahead of his first Manchester derby