While the top outfield player was a budget midfielder on loan from Spurs, the day saw the likes of Christian Benteke, Loic Remy and Romelu Lukaku deliver the goals, although the latter blotted his copybook with a missed penalty to deny another sizeable haul for his owners. With clean sheets all round at Carrow Road, there were at least some points on offer from today’s four matches. Here’s the Stock Check from Saturday’s action…
On the Up
Kept out by the Arsenal and City defences, Benteke returned to the scoresheet in in the win at Reading to justify the Fantasy faith shown in him this week. The Belgian has now scored 12 for the season, seven in his last nine starts. With three home matches in the next four, his owners will surely be holding, with yet more investors about to come sniffing.
While Lukaku turned villain by missing a second-half spot-kick, that doesn’t detract from the fact that his opener was his fourth goal in his last three league starts. It could have been so much rosier, of course, but Lukaku’s owners will at least take comfort from the fact he’s maintained his run of goals going into trips to Stoke and West Ham, even if he may have lost penalty duties.
The other Scout Pick forward also delivered, leveling matters at Loftus Road with a smart finish – his third goal in the hoops of QPR. With fixtures strong and motivation for goals and points high, Remy could easily go on justifying his modest 5.8 Fantasy Premier League (FPL) price tag.
Dropped to the bench at Southampton, the loanee from Tottenham was recalled by Harry Redknapp for today’s home clash with Sunderland and rewarded the faith with two assists and a sublime strike for the R’s winner. At 4.4 in the FPL, Townsend could yet earn some attention as a budget fifth midfielder for those favouring three up front.
The Norwich Defence
While the Canaries remain desperate for a cutting edge, defensively, Chris Hughton’s side have rediscovered their resilience. Todays’ shut-out was their third clean sheet in the last five with the likes of Mark Bunn, Russell Martin and Seb Bassong offering strong value in recent weeks with decent fixtures to come.
Having nailed down regular starts in the Saints goal, the Polish stopper has been simmering as a budget keeper option. Today’s first clean sheet in six league starts, coupled with a dramatic late penalty save from Grant Holt, will surely promote him in the thinking of the masses and the hardcore Fantasy manager alike. It’s Liverpool and Chelsea up next, however.
Jason Puncheon and Nathaniel Clyne
Recalled to the Southampton starting lineup against QPR having been benched at Newcastle, it looked as though Puncheon was back in favour, only for him to be dropped to the bench again at Carrow Road today, with Jay Rodriguez handed the start. Puncheon came on at the death and duly gathered a booking to rub salt into the wound for his owners. As for Clyne, there are suggestions that a knock, sustained earlier in the week, kept him on the bench today.
Hauled off on the hour-mark in the defeat to City, it still appeared that N’Zogbia would be a key figure for Villa at the Madjeski today. However, Paul Lambert opted for the assured passing of Barry Bannan, dropping the Frenchman to the bench and casting doubt over his security of starts from here on in.
The Sunderland Defence
Another three goals conceded today mean that Martin O’Neill’s side now having conceded ten in the last five league outings, with four defeats in that spell. Suddenly Simon Mignolet has lost his shine as a choice stopper and with Chelsea and United in the next three, prospects of a return to form rest on next weekend’s home clash with goal-shy Norwich.
Having regained his place on the left-flank in Hughton’s 4-4-2, today his day was cut short by injury, with Wes Hoolahan replacing him on 35 minutes. Neither player has a secure start right now, although the Canaries switch in formation has failed to bring the goals required so a return to the familiar 4-5-1 could be on the cards.