Charles N’Zogbia inspires Villa to a precious three points, while United put in a frighteningly efficient shift to neutralise the Everton threat and grab the points via Robin Van Persie’s efforts. Here’s the Stock Check on Sunday’s events…
On the Up
Robin Van Persie
With two consecutive blanks, the Van Persie naysayers were rounding on the Dutchman, fueled by Wayne Rooney’s consistent scoring. Amidst concerns that the Dutchman could be rested with Wednesday’s Madrid tie in mind, we’ve seen sales of Van Persie throughout the week which have even led to a price drop in the Fantasy Premier League (FPL) game. Today’s goal and assist returns, however, instantly stung those who decided to trade him out and underlined his importance, both to United and our Fantasy lineups.
The Brazilian chipped in with a slide rule pass to set Van Persie on his way to United’s second, whilst sealing back-to-back clean sheets at the other end. With Sir Alex Ferguson clearly allowing Everton possession but dropping his side deep to defend with some determination, we could now see Rafael and the United backline begin to find form and start returning a stream of clean sheets. Rested back in Gameweek 24, the Brazilian’s performance today demonstrated just why he has cemented the right-back role this term.
David De Gea
Can we now settle on the Spaniard as an option in goal? De Gea has started the last 11 league matches and, given that he was not rotated ahead of the Champions League clash with Madrid, it appears his position is looking as solid as ever. At 5.5 in the FPL, De Gea offers a cheap route to the United clean sheets which may now start to follow with regularity as they close in on the title. Interestingly, Ben Amos was on the United bench ahead of Anders Lindegaard, and yet the Dane was on the bench for his country in midweek – presumably fit and well: it’s a situation that warrants monitoring.
It seems unlikely that a Villa player can find his way into our midfields but there’s little doubt that N’Zogbia is the leading candidate on offer. The former Wigan man returned a goal and assist in the win over West Ham and has now fetched points in three of his last four outings. It’s clear that Villa’s top-flight status rests on his form and Christian Benteke’s goals.
With Sir Alex Ferguson keen to ensure that his side conceded little ground to Everton, Rooney’s attacking instincts were shackled by a role out on the left flank for the majority of the match. His potential curbed, Rooney was rarely able to threaten in tandem with Van Persie and his owners will surely have been frustrated by the withdrawn role granted to him and the Dutchman’s timely return to form.
Sir Alex Ferguson deployed Phil Jones to snuff out the threat from the Belgian and it proved effective. Dropped deeper towards the end of the match by David Moyes, with Gareth Bale now a hot midfield property, Fellaini may be reluctantly sacrificed by some, with competition in the midfield area so fierce. The fixture list and past experience would suggest that patience with Fellaini will be rewarded, although, having earned an eighth booking of the season, another suspension is now a growing concern.
Forced off on 25 minutes, the Hammers full-back was replaced by Guy Demel who returned to the fold after sitting out the home win over Swansea. This report states that O’Brien has suffered a thigh injury that will see him left at home for treatment while the Hammers squad go out to Dubai for a “warm weather break”. With fortnight before the next league action, it remains to be seen if the injury will put him on the sidelines for the Gameweek 27 fixture with Spurs.