Our final glance at the Gameweek gone by hails the consistency of Southampton’s captain after another stand-out display. We also highlight Newcastle’s recent resolve and wonder whether a certain Uruguayan is the one premium forward we simply cannot afford to be without:
A brilliant solo goal against Hull continued Adam Lallana’s stunning start to the season. With an assist and a couple of bonus points also accrued against the Tigers, the Southampton skipper delivered his third set of double figures in the last five Gameweeks – elevating him to third in the midfielder standings, behind Aaron Ramsey and Yaya Toure, on 61 points.
Having drawn blanks in each of the first four fixtures, Lallana was far from Fantasy radars as we focussed on Mauricio Pochettino’s resolute defence as a source of points instead. The subsequent matches, however, have seen Lallana strike an impressive consistency with attacking returns in five of the Saints last seven – including goals at home to Swansea and away to United.
Indeed, the Gameweek 8 Old Trafford match could be key when assessing his potential. Certainly, his last-gasp equaliser sparked the bandwagon into life – prior to that match he was priced at 6.1 but has now risen to 6.8, with over 57,000 new owners already this week; far and away more than any other midfield option.
In a season where consistency has been a real rarity amongst midfield options, Lallana’s ability to produce looks crucial for Fantasy managers and Pochettino alike. As Southampton gear up for a run of matches against Arsenal, Chelsea, City and Spurs in the next six, their defensive potential may well be set to take a short-term dip but Lallana’s 10-point haul at the home of the champions indicates he’s certainly capable of delivering against the odds.
Having struggled in the opening few games, Alan Pardew’s side enter the international break on the back of successive wins over Chelsea and Tottenham. Granted, Tim Krul’s heroics at the Lane bordered on the superhuman and there’s no doubt the visitors were more than a little fortunate, but the Magpies did also keep out Jose Mourinho’s side with a resilient Gameweek 10 performance at St James’ Park, which harvested a 2-0 triumph.
Prior to the Blues match, Pardew’s side looked poor defensively and had conceded in their previous six but a move to 4-4-2 seems to have instilled a little more steel to the Newcastle set-up. With Loic Remy moved from the left of a 4-3-3 into a central position alongside Shola Ameobi, Pardew’s bold decision to drop fan favourites Hatem Ben Arfa and Papiss Cisse has proven a masterstroke, with the work-rate of French pair Moussa Sissoko and Yoan Gouffran out wide keeping compatriot Ben Arfa on the bench.
Both Mike Williamson and Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa have started the last two in central defence and come in at 4.4 in Fantasy Premier League (FPL), though with Mathieu Debuchy suspended for the next league match, fit-again Fabricio Coloccini may return to the centre. That would see Yanga-Mbiwa shifted to right-back to cover for Debuchy, or left-back with Davide Santon switching flanks. It remains to be seen how Pardew approaches his centre-back pairing from there on in.
In addition to the new-found resilience, there are options on offer further up the pitch. Remy’s winner at the Lane taking his tally to seven for the season; with an assist also accrued, he’s played a part in eight of his side’s 15 goals and sits on 58 FPL points, just five behind Olivier Giroud in the forward standings. Yohan Cabaye also gives us an option in midfield, with a goal or assist in four of the last seven Gameweeks. As Pardew’s charges prepare for back-to-back home games with Norwich and West Brom, the duo – at 7.7 and 6.3 – have already picked up plenty new investors already this week as Fantasy managers look for a route into the resurgent Tyneside team.
The Talking Point
In a week where Arsenal and City – the league’s top scoring sides – failed to find the net, Luis Suarez surged up the Fantasy standings with yet another sublime display. Six games back from suspension and the Liverpool talisman is already joint-fourth in the FPL forward standings, serving up four sets of double figures in a series of incredible displays that have seen him average 10.7 points per game.
While Daniel Sturridge had initially kept pace upon his team-mate’s return to the fold, the England striker has offered little evidence of the Uruguayan’s explosive capacity for points. Sturridge may have scored in eight of his 11 appearances but he has managed double figures just once – Suarez, meanwhile, has delivered captaincy hauls of 26, 20, 34 and 32 points, helping save many a Gameweek and more than justifying the extra outlay at 11.9 to Sturridge’s 9.8.
Liverpool’s fixtures may continue to look promising but those Sturridge owners who have remained loyal due to his consistency have been punished severely in recent matches. With Hull, Norwich and West Ham in the next four, it’s no coincidence that Sturridge in the most sold frontman this week, while his strike-partner has received more transfers in than any other forward.
The captaincy issue may have dented Sturridge’s prospects but he’s not the only one to suffer in Suarez’ shadow. United duo Wayne Rooney and Robin Van Persie have risen up the rankings in recent weeks with some steady returns but, in terms of captaincy potential, have served up double figures only twice and three times in 10 appearances respectively.
Only Sergio Aguero has mirrored Suarez’ total of four but the City forward has played 10 times to the Liverpool forward’s six; his blank at Sunderland was the third time the Argentine has failed to produce points – perhaps no coincidence that on two of those occasions, David Silva has been missing from the XI. Indeed, with Silva likely to miss out again ahead of back-to-back home games with Spurs and Swansea, Aguero’s chances of more explosive returns may be a little less enticing.
Suarez may have a Goodison encounter with Everton up next but given his current form, the Toffees will do well to keep him at bay in the first Merseyside derby of the season. The only slight caveat could be fatigue, with Suarez set to return from his World Cup play-off with Uruguay against Jordan, a little over 48-hours prior to the Premier League outing.
Currently sitting in 27% of FPL teams, Suarez is now the highest owned of any premium-priced forward and despite the return to form of United’s duo and Aguero’s strike rate under Manuel Pellegrini, Suarez has quickly shown that, more than any frontman this season, he has the consistency to make or break a Gameweek – going without him over the next few fixtures may be an oversight many a Fantasy campaign could struggle to recover from.