Our final look at Gameweek 9 brings yet another mention for Liverpool’s talismanic Uruguayan, whilst the Hammers’ resilience and the lack of Fantasy impact from the centre of the park also come under our microscope.
A hat-trick against West Brom continued Luis Suarez’ remarkable form since returning from suspension. It’s six goals, two assists and eight bonus points in just four matches for the irrepressible Uruguayan – an average of 11.5 points per game in Fantasy Premier League (FPL) has Fantasy managers scrambling for his signature, with over 67,000 snapping him up on the back of his Baggies performance.
What’s all the more remarkable is that in spite of scoring for the eighth time in nine appearances, Daniel Sturridge has so far been shipped out by more than 30,000 due to his strike partner’s form. Clearly, the search for an explosive captaincy option is key here – Sturridge, for all his outstanding consistency, has managed double figures just once this season, whereas Suarez has already achieved this feat in three of his four appearances.
The move to a front two is also benefitting the Uruguayan. Prior to his suspension towards the latter part of last term, Suarez had managed just one goal and two assists in his final five league matches but Brendan Rodgers seems to have finally struck on the ideal system to tap into his star forward’s full potential. Suarez has registered virtually the same number of shots per game as 2012/13 but with Sturridge alongside him to distract defences, he has had more touches inside the area on average and has been far more efficient in terms of both accuracy and conversion rate with his shooting.
While Sergio Aguero’s form under Manuel Pellegrini may threaten to rival Suarez, the upcoming fixtures are likely to ensure the spotlight remains firmly on the Liverpool forward. Granted, trips to Arsenal and Everton in the next three are far from straightforward but given they have a single clean sheet in the last six and five respectively, Suarez will hold little fear rolling up to the Emirate and Goodison Park. Factor in Fulham, Hull, Norwich and West Ham in the next six and the goal glut looks set to continue as he sets about atoning for those 10 matches spent on the sidelines.
A goalless draw at Swansea continued West Ham’s incredible run of defensive displays on the road. With five away games already under their belt, Sam Allardyce’s side have conceded just once on their travels – only a Robbie Brady spot-kick has managed to beat Jussi Jaaskelainen over those matches, with clean sheets also accrued against Newcastle, Southampton and Tottenham.
As the only two backline options to start every game, Jaaskelainen and Winston Reid hold lofty positions in their respective classifications in FPL – the former is second for keepers on 46 points, whilst Reid’s haul of 45 points is enough to earn him sixth spot in the defenders standings. Having picked up extra points for saves in five of his nine appearances, Jaaskelainen has once again proven a reliable option between the sticks but with the likes of Artur Boruc offering incredible value at a cheaper price, Fantasy managers will, understandably, be reluctant to switch the Saints stopper in spite of a tough run of fixtures on the horizon.
While Reid’s consistency of game time is not in question, Razvan Rat is now back on Fantasy radars after finally establishing himself in the Hammers XI. A favourite in many a pre-season squad, the left-back has now started each of the last five after a gradual introduction to the top-flight by Allardyce – at a mere 4.5, compared to Jaaskelainen’s 5.5 and Reid at 5.1, the Romanian looks set for increased investment over a run which sees the Hammers host Villa, Fulham and Sunderland in the next seven, in addition to trips to Norwich and Palace.
With Andy Carroll still sidelined, Allardyce is likely to continue with the 4-6-0 formation but there’s little doubt that, while his side are offering superb resilience, they have, overall, toiled up top. Eight goals in nine goals highlights their struggles – only Ravel Morrison and Ricardo Vaz Te have scored more than once but with the former a single caution away from a one-match ban and the latter seemingly set for a lengthy spell on the sidelines with a dislocated shoulder, Allardyce will be once again relying on his trusty defence to ensure his side produce the points.
The Talking Point
Our midfields once again proved hugely frustrating this week, with only five players in this classification – Leon Osman, Marko Arnautovic, James Morrison, Andre Schurrle and Mikel Arteta – finding the net. Of those five, just Osman and Schurrle notched from open play, with Morrison and Arteta slotting home spot-kicks and Arnautovic finally showcasing his talents with a superbly-taken free-kick at United handing the Stoke man his first goal of the season.
The premium priced options again let us down – not one midfielder priced at 9.0 or over produced more than three points in the Gameweek. Michu’s inability to find a way past West Ham’s rearguard extended his drought to four league games and despite a highly enticing run of fixtures (Cardiff, Stoke, Fulham, Newcastle, Hull and Norwich in the next seven) the Swansea man has been shipped out of 19,000 teams this week and resultantly dropped in price. The issue is, however, is that few options are stepping up and showing greater consistency, it’s difficult to find a suitable replacement.
Eden Hazard, for example, sits fifth in the midfield standings yet has scored or assisted in just three of the first nine Gameweeks – his Chelsea team-mate Oscar has produced the goods in four yet despite their inconsistency, they, like Michu, also have strong fixtures to follow; as has been the issue all season, patience is proving key here. Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil is another case in point – granted, the German has racked up the returns at home, but away from the Emirates, he has served up a single assist in four attempts.
Whereas the likes of Suarez, Sturridge, Aguero, Olivier Giroud and Wayne Rooney have shown plenty consistency up top, and backlines such as West Ham, Southampton and Spurs have afforded us a greater degree of consistency, the midfield is becoming more erratic as the campaign unfolds. Increasingly, this area looks the likeliest where Fantasy managers can make the difference, with a combination of fixture planning, patience and the occasional differential punt affording us the chance to shake things up and climb the ranks.