What we learned | Week TwelveWednesday, November 13 2019
Eyes roll. Here we go again…
Jamie Vardy. Goal, assist, 12pts. You’re welcome. Christian Pulisic and Tammy Abraham. Goal and goal. Don’t mention it. Ashley Barnes, goal. My pleasure. Salah, Mane. Goal, goal. Standard. Think nothing of it. Youri Tielemans, assist. No problem. Gerard Deulofeu, another goal (flagged up GW 11). Okay, stop it – this is getting embarrassing...
Unless the Sheffield United defender you added on my advice happened to be George Baldock. In which case, get them in. Kronenbourg. No ice.
Right, what other nuggets can we sift from the shenanigans of GW 12?
Look at the state of those sheets
With a weekend off, it’s time for a period of contemplation to plot our course for the next third of the season.
Let’s start at the back, shall we? It hasn’t been a season for clean sheets. The very best Goalkeepers and Defenders on offer have topped at five. And as they would have to play for Man City, Leicester and Sheffield United it’s clear where the bargains are.
You’ll be sick of me banging on about John Lundstram by now, but he’s the best value 70pts that 41.1% of FPL managers have bagged so far. Only Tammy Abraham is a more popular pick.
Tool up with a Blade or two
He’s a midfielder for a start – and has more goals in him than the three so far, trust me. Get him. Just get him. His And teammates Stevens, Baldock and O’Connell all feature in the Top 10 or so (available at £5.1m, £4.5m and £4.6m).
And after Man United, the Blades have a lovely run of fixtures until 2020.
Make room and save wedge for by dropping City Defenders. With their best Defender and Goalkeeper missing they are this season’s Both Teams To Score (BTTS) bankers.
Leicester’s Soyuncu (at £4.8m) is a cheaper option than fellow back four mates Chilwell, Evans and Pereira too.
Get your Villa in order
Just six teams have scored more goals than Aston Villa. And only City, Chelsea and Liverpool have had more shots on target. So McGinn, Grealish and El Ghazi might well be a more effective £5.8m, £5.9m and £5.5m options than your current Midfield passengers.
And as third choice strikers go, Wesley (at £6m) will get better. But I do like the Burnley three – Wood (£6.2m), Barnes (£6.3m) and Rodriguez (£5.7m) in that order. Only five sides have scored more than Burnley and almost all their goal threat comes from that trio.
But their top points scorer is Dwight McNeil thanks to five assists. Only De Bruyne has more. Double in fact. £16.2m for the pair is a nice compromise.
Check in next Friday for more stats, damn stats and lies.
The International Injury MinefieldMonday, November 11 2019
When the international break arrives, we invariably see a sudden glut of players confined to the treatment room. And, as one of the worlds’ most cosmopolitan leagues, injuries can be difficult to track, but, as always, we will endeavour to do our best throughout the build-up to game week thirteen to give an update, and insight, into the latest player withdrawals:
Tom Heaton (Aston Villa and England)
Potential return-to-play (RTP): Game week thirteen (Newcastle United)
🗣 Manager Dean Smith confirmed that the goalkeeper would miss Sundays’ midlands derby at Molineux due to a muscular problem: "Tom Heaton's been struggling with a calf, so I knew he was going to pull out of the game.”
Ross Barkley (Chelsea and England)
Potential return-to-play (RTP): Ongoing issue. No definitive timeline.
🗣 Barkley has not featured since suffering an ankle injury in week nine. Speaking ahead of the game with Crystal Palace, Frank Lampard revealed. “Ross has got an ongoing issue, so he’s not in the squad tomorrow." And when asked about Barkley's possible involvement for the Three Lions, he said. "It’s a conversation I’ll have with Gareth [Southgate] Steve [Holland], Ross and everyone to see how it pans out for him over the next ten days.”
Adama Traore (Wolverhampton Wanderers and Spain)
Potential return-to-play (RTP): Game week thirteen (AFC Bournemouth)
🗣 Traore completed 90 minutes against Aston Villa on Sunday but released a statement via his personal Twitter account within hours of the final whistle confirming his withdrawal from the national team. “It is a shame not to be in the call of the Spanish Football Federation. I want to thank the coach and the entire coaching staff for the trust. I will continue to work hard so that, God willing, I have the opportunity to be summoned again in future calls.”
Josip Drmić (Norwich City and Switzerland)
Potential return-to-play (RTP): Being assessed.
🗣 The Canaries attacker was introduced as a second-half substitute at Carrow Road on Friday but limped through the closing stages of the game as Daniel Farke had already made three substitutions. The Swiss FA confirmed a day later that Drmic would remain in England “for further medical clarifications” on a muscular injury.
Roberto Pereyra (Watford and Argentina)
Potential return-to-play (RTP): Being assessed.
🗣 Pereyra pulled up on the half-hour mark at Norwich due to an apparent hamstring problem. The attacker had been called up for the upcoming friendly internationals against Brazil and Uruguay which are due to take place in Saudi Arabia and Israel.
Christian Pulisic (Chelsea and United States)
Potential return-to-play (RTP): Being assessed. Hopeful for week thirteen (Manchester City)
🗣️ USMNT Head Coach Gregg Berhalter confirmed on Monday that Christian Pulisic would not be joining the squad after he picked up a knock during the win over Crystal Palace. “The only frustration is he comes off with a bit of an injury,” Chelsea boss Frank Lampard said on Saturday. “He was going to be subbed before he scored his goal, he’s got a bit of a hip issue, but I’m hoping it’s not too bad because the way he’s in full flow at the moment is great to see.”
Lloyd Kelly (AFC Bournemouth and England Under-21s)
Potential return-to-play (RTP): Being assessed. No timeline.
🗣️ Kelly has been on the fringes of the first-team squad since his arrival from Bristol City in the summer. The Cherries boss confirmed on Saturday that the 21-year-old has a “thigh problem” which was likely to rule him out of the upcoming internationals against Albania and the Netherlands.
Aaron Connolly (Brighton and Republic of Ireland)
Potential return-to-play (RTP): Hoping to be ready for week thirteen (Leicester City)
🗣️ The Brighton attacker was forced off during Sundays’ defeat at Old Trafford and was sent for further tests on Monday. Ireland manager Mick McCarthy confirmed his withdrawal later that day. "Our team doctor Alan Byrne has spoken to the Brighton medical team and had a look at the scans. The scans have confirmed the groin injury, and Aaron won't be ready for New Zealand and Denmark."
Scott McTominay (Manchester United and Scotland)
Potential return-to-play (RTP): Assessments continue. Expected to be several weeks.
🗣️ Scott McTominay could be sidelined until mid-December following an initial scan which suggests the United midfielder suffered ligament damage against Brighton. "He went over on his ankle. It's a painful one,” revealed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. "I've had one, and I was out for eight weeks. But then again sometimes you're back in two weeks, so I don't know. It looked painful, and he's not one for rolling around."
View from the Boot Room | Week TwelveFriday, November 8 2019
Jamie Vardy is in decent nick – he’s hit 10 for the season, including 7 in the last five - and he loves a goal against (artists formerly known as) Top Four teams.
Leicester have won 5 out of 6 – and the other was away at Liverpool. Arsenal look rudderless. No away wins so far and only 2pts from three matches. Plus, the change of shop steward suggests to me that they are teetering on the edge.
So, load up on Leicester defenders too. And if you’ve got Youri Tielemans in the ranks, pat him on the back and tell him he’s doing a great job.
Manchester City haven’t enjoyed going to Anfield much in recent years.
They’ve only managed one clean sheet since Rodri’s hamstring ping on Champions League duty. And he was hardly the answer at Centre Back. The mobility, pace and poise of Salah and Mane will cause headaches, and Firmino could run amok. Any and all are recommended.
The Ox – or Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to his friends – is worth a nibble at £6.2m too. He looks full of it since his return, hitting 4 in his last five.
Chelsea should push past Palace. Christian Pulisic has forced his feet under the table of late – and his presence might help Tammy Abraham out of his dry spell (just 1 in his previous five). At £7.9m and with Chelsea full of goals (29 so far), he’s worth persisting with.
Speculative Lobs from distance
I’m also tempted to go back in on Anthony Martial. Man United’s No.9 ranked as a midfielder in days gone by would’ve been a stick-on – van Persie… Nistelrooy… Cole… oof! I should coco. But even so, Le Sulk could prove his worth at £7.7m v Brighton.
Burnley should get back to winning ways v West Ham too. Yes, they’ve lost their last three, but they punch their weight at home. And the Hammers are five without a win.
Rodriguez and Barnes are both reasonably priced third choice frontmen (at £5.7m and £6.3m).
Yer man, Jimenez (Wolves) tickles my fancy v Villa too. He’s a bit streaky – currently four in 5, after a run of seven blanks, four in 4 before that. So, might be in an upswing although it’s got 1-1 written all over it.
As has Tottenham v Sheffield United. Blades are unbeaten on t’ road and Spurs haven’t tasted victory in 4. Could easily be five so keep Lundstram on side at the very least.
And with one bloodshot eye on the next couple of months, you could do worse than stock up with another Sheffield United defender. Or two. After Tottenham and Man United, they have a tidy looking run of Wolves, Newcastle, Norwich… then Villa, Brighton and Watford.
More clean sheets than a Chinese laundry. Is that racist? I don’t think so.
Ben is football’s leading injury specialist. The ‘go-to’ guru for big hitters like Sky Sports, ESPN and NBC Sports when they need data. Or the BBC, talkSPORT and the broadsheets when a quote is required. His unique insight has helped provide a better understanding of what is really happening in the treatment rooms.
Johnny is a respected physiotherapist and sports scientist, specialising in football injuries and rehab. Johnny has headed up the medical departments at Chesterfield, Scunthorpe and Notts County. Overseeing everything from player-specific training loads to pre-signing medicals. He has a proven record working with elite athletes in Private Practice and is regularly called upon throughout Europe to deliver presentations on the latest rehab innovations.
Matt's short, unremarkable football career was ended by his own bad driving. His long, distinguished career as a football tipster was ended by his own good advice. Because bookmakers don’t like a winner. First, they closed his accounts. Then his members’ accounts. Then his tipping service. And now they employ him as a consultant. Funny old game.