Our final glance at Gameweek 15 casts an eye over the Canaries’ marauding Dutchman, the Toffees under Roberto Martinez and the hugely underwhelming displays of many premium-priced backlines over the last few Gameweeks:
With a goal, assist and maximum bonus points in the Fantasy Premier League (FPL) game, Leroy Fer rose quickly up the rankings after delivering his biggest points haul of the season in Norwich’s win at West Brom. Shifted from the centre onto the left wing as Chris Hughton looks for ways to adjust his midfield in light of injuries to first-choice wide-men Anthony Pilkington and Robert Snodgrass, the Dutchman’s contribution proved pivotal as the visitors bounced back from their midweek mauling at Anfield.
With three goals, a pair of assists and six bonus points to his name, Fer has now racked up 59 points for the season – joint-tenth for midfielders along with Kevin Mirallas and just ahead of the likes of Paulinho and Yohan Cabaye. Despite this, the Canaries’ summer signing sits in just over 1% of Fantasy teams but with the fixtures smiling kindly on Hughton’s charges, he’s beginning to finally earn a batch of new investors – so far this week, only Eden Hazard has persuaded more Fantasy managers to splash the cash ahead of Chelsea’s home game with Palace.
Priced at a mere 5.8 in FPL, Fer has now played a part in five of the 12 goals Norwich have scored since he made his debut in Gameweek 2 – more than any player for the Norfolk side. Up next, the schedule looks more than prosperous – a home game against Swansea and showdowns with each of the current bottom three in the next five Gameweeks suggest that, if the Canaries are to build on their Hawthorns triumph and climb their way up the table, Fer’s more than likely to have a say in the matter.
Most sides would be happy to emerge relatively unscathed from back-to-back trips to United and Arsenal but Everton under Roberto Martinez are made of sterner stuff. The Toffees heaped pressure on former boss David Moyes by picking up the points at Old Trafford and followed that up by outplaying the Gunners on their own patch for much of Sunday afternoon’s Emirates affair as their season goes from strength to strength under the Spaniard’s guidance.
A record of one defeat all season – away to City – is the most impressive in the top-flight, whilst 14 goals conceded is second only to Arsenal’s 11 against. What’s most impressive is that, schedule-wise, Everton haven’t had it easy by any stretch – they’ve achieved this in spite of going head to head with every other side in the current top seven.
Tim Howard sits at the top of the FPL keeper standings, whilst Seamus Coleman and Phil Jagielka have claimed the top two spots in the defender rankings as a result of a resilience which has already harvested eight clean sheets. Whilst the midfield remains a little underwhelming, Romelu Lukaku has averaged 6.4 points per game up front upon arriving on loan in Gameweek 5 – producing eight goals and three assists in 11 appearances since Jose Mourinho decided he could spend the season on Merseyside. Even fellow loanee Gerard Deulofeu, with two goals and an assist in the last three, is beginning to suggest he may be worthy of a regular role on the right of the front three – if he can oust Kevin Mirallas from the starting XI, a price of 5.4 may just be cheap enough to persuade some to take a punt, despite his classification as a forward.
Up next for the Toffees, there’s plenty reason for optimism. With the “difficult” fixtures behind them, Martinez’ men can brace themselves for three very tempting home games in the next four, as Fulham, Sunderland and Southampton all roll up to Goodison. Factor in trips to Swansea, Stoke and Norwich over the next six and the Merseysiders mid-price assets look poised for considerable investment as Fantasy managers work out just how many Everton players they can factor into their first XI over the festive period.
The Talking Point
The argument for loading up on cheap defensive options could barely be stronger this week. Only two hosts managed to keep a clean sheet over the 10 matches – Palace and Fulham, a pair of sides still stuck in the bottom three and low on Fantasy ownership.
Certainly, the season may have started promisingly for a number of clubs in terms of defensive points, but many of the big-hitters have gone off the boil since. Incredibly, Chelsea, United and Liverpool have all registered just a single clean sheet in the last 10 Gameweeks, while City’s tally of three over the same time frame have all arrived at the Etihad – only once this season have Manuel Pellegrini’s side managed a shut-out on their travels.
After seven clean sheets in the opening 10, Tottenham have also capitulated at the back – the 6-0 defeat at City was part of a run which has seen their backline breached in each the last five and, as the season unfolds, many of the premium-priced defences are failing to justify their valuations. Only Everton and Arsenal have continued to impress at the back and, whilst the Gunners are set for a testing time in the short-term, with games against City and Chelsea, the Toffees’ above-mentioned run of matches merely strengthens their appeal.
Further down the table, Palace have now conceded once from Gameweek 11 onwards and, with Tony Pulis on board, that solidity only seems likely to increase. The likes of Cardiff, Villa, Norwich and Hull all have three home games in the next four (with the Bluebirds looking a superb home/away rotation option with Palace right the way up to Gameweek 27) and, with the majority of sides near the top of the table seemingly incapable of keeping out opponents, opting for a budget backline, with maybe one or even two Toffees, looks a viable short-term tactic until the arrival of our winter wildcards allow us to reassess the lay of the land.