Our final glance back at Gameweek 17 looks at Tottenham’s back-in-favour forward, Newcastle’s flourishing form and, ahead of trips to City and Chelsea, wonders whether overlooking Luis Suarez as captain is an act of bravery or folly:
Prior to last weekend, he’d been afforded just a single sub appearance over the first 16 Gameweeks by now-departed manager Andre Villas-Boas. By the end of Sunday’s match at St Mary’s, Emmanuel Adebayor made that decision look foolish by bagging a brace in the 3-2 win and leaping onto Fantasy radars as a viable differential over the festive period.
Tim Sherwood’s decision to move to a 4-4-2 formation was telling. Clearly, he was determined to make his mark by going on the offensive and, with the Togo international up top alongside Roberto Soldado, Spurs scored more than twice for the first time all season and helped Sherwood land the job on a permanent basis.
Up next, the north London club are poised for three very favourable home fixtures in the next four. West Brom, Stoke and Palace all roll up to the Lane between Gameweek 18-21, suggesting Sherwood has the opportunity to hit the ground running over the festive period. After the Southampton game, Adebayor stressed he also has a point to prove after being left in the footballing wilderness by his former manager:
“All I can say is thanks to the players, thanks for the new staff for giving me my confidence back. Even when I was not playing, I had a lot of players backing me up and telling me they know how good I am. To get the chance to play again, I don’t want to let them down, I don’t want to let the fans down who believe in me.”
Having also scored in the midweek cup game with West Ham, a record of three goals in two appearances under Sherwood has already persuaded over 32,000 FPL managers to snap up the 7.7 priced forward’s services for the above-mentioned schedule.
There’s no doubt Adebayor can be a frustrating Fantasy asset but sometimes he needs no more than an arm around his shoulder to re-ignite that self-belief. A determination to repay Sherwood’s show of faith and replicate the form that harvested 17 goals and 12 assists just two seasons ago could prove lethal over the next few matches, if his display at St Mary’s is anything to go by.
A visit to Selhurst Park looked a testing trip for Newcastle last weekend. The home side had racked up three successive clean sheets in front of their own fans and, with confidence flourishing under new boss Tony Pulis, had seemed set to pose the Magpies plenty problems – instead, they were undone by a comprehensive performance from the Tyneside team.
Having taken the points at Old Trafford in their previous road trip, Alan Pardew’s side served up their most emphatic display of the season to register a fifth away win in nine attempts. Last season, the Magpies won just twice on the road as injuries and fatigue, brought on by their Europa League campaign, stretched their threadbare squad almost beyond breaking point.
With the schedule a little less manic on Pardew’s charges, Newcastle’s current sixth place position has been thoroughly merited and right through the classifications, they offer us options worthy of consideration. Tim Krul’s heroics between the sticks have now helped his side to six clean sheets, whilst the attacking threat of Mathieu Debuchy finally delivered a first double figure haul of the season against Pulis’ side.
Pardew’s decision to shift from 4-4-2 and move to a 4-2-3-1 at Palace also boosted Yohan Cabaye’s prospects. With Loic Remy a little off form and Shola Ameobi failing to add goal threat, Cabaye benefitted from a more advanced berth and fired his fourth strike of the season – the 6.5 priced midfielder has now scored or assisted in eight of the last 12 and could be set to continue this run if Pardew keeps him further up the field. Up top, Remy’s barren run may have extended to five but the likes of Yoan Gouffran has also chipped in, notching in each of his last four at St James’ Park.
Newcastle now have a run of three home games in four to continue their impressive showings. Granted, visits from Arsenal and City won’t be easy but, having already beaten United, Chelsea and Spurs and taken a point off Liverpool, they are more than capable of going toe-to-toe with the top sides right now and emerging unscathed.
The Talking Point
Almost every week, Luis Suarez’ statistics become more ridiculous. Eight double figures in 12 appearances, 77 points in his last four fixtures, with an average of 12.7 points per game for Liverpool this term. Those who felt a trip to the Lane in Gameweek 16 would diminish his captaincy capabilities were made to pay after he led Spurs a merry dance and exited north London with a 22-point haul. Now, however, he’s set to be severely tested as the Reds brace themselves for back-to-back trips to City and Chelsea – two sides unbeaten in front of their own fans thus far.
Suarez’ pair of difficult fixtures arrive at a time where some of the other armband contenders have more favourable games this coming Boxing Day. Romelu Lukaku welcomes Sunderland to Goodison – yes, the Everton forward has failed to score in four but the Black Cats have Wes Brown suspended and John O’Shea doubtful. Wayne Rooney has three sets of double figures in his last four road trips ahead of United’s trip to Hull, whilst Adebayor is also in the mix at home to the Baggies after his brace on Sunday.
As Fantasy managers are all too aware, though, form has a tendency to trump fixtures and Theo Walcott’s recent Etihad double shows Manuel Pellegrini’s side can be breached in front of their own supporters. City may get the better of the Reds’ porous backline but can we really turn our backs on Suarez when City have just conceded two goals to West Brom and Fulham in the last four? Similarly, Chelsea’s run of two clean sheets in 12 is hardly indicative of a side in the best defensive form. Both home sides will be looking to attack and Liverpool’s pace on the break could prove decisive – overlooking Suarez for the armband may be a viable tactic but one which could quite easily backfire over the festive period.