The Good, The Bad, and The Smugly: In a regular series, our writer picks out 3 fantasy picks with contrasting fortunes so far this season.
In an interesting weekend, some mid-range players were among some of the good picks.
Anthony Martial. It was a close-call this week between the star Frenchman and penalty-stopper Pickford, both of whom scored 15 points apiece. Due to this segment taking upcoming fixtures into account, and Martial having more favourable fixtures than the England number one, Anthony’s got the ‘Good’.
Sitting at a price of £7.3 and an incredibly low 2.1% ownership, Martial brought Chelsea fans to their knees last weekend as he helped United turn a 1-0 deficit into what was almost three points for Mou’s men. Unfortunately, due to the poxy brilliance of Barkley, a win for Jose at The Bridge remained a dream.
For a standalone moment of class from a player, Martial’s first goal was exactly that. The build-up was like a game of pinball. Manchester United players desperately hacking at the ball to put it in the net with Chelsea players, just as desperately, trying to hack it away. I don’t think Young knew where he was aiming when he whacked the ball, but whack it he did and after a couple of deflections it ended up in Anthony’s lap.
Martial on the double – can he continue?
It took the French National all of a second to take a sublime touch before firing a composed finish past the Chelsea ‘Keepa’ (Yes, that is about the hundredth joke you’ve heard about Arrizabalaga and no, it wasn’t funny).
Martial’s second was more of a team effort and, I think, one of United’s best goals as a unit this season. A superb touch from Mata and a good pass from Rashford allowed Martial a second goal here.
I question Azpi’s positioning, but not so much as to take away what was a quick-witted finish from the Frenchman. He tucked the ball into the corner of the net as if it was his child after a bedtime story. Kepa was left standing, which always makes the goalscorer look better.
I’m sure a lot of managers will look to bring in Martial this week. His current form can’t be disputed, and with fixtures like Everton (H) and Bournemouth (A) coming up respectively in the next couple of weeks, there are worse shouts out there. I think United will perform well for a stint, so by default Martial should be adding to that somehow. If you’re looking for a risky differential, he’s your man.
Eden Hazard. ”You’re only as good as your last game” is an adage which stays true in football. It only takes one performance to go from hero to zero and this was the case for Hazard last weekend. After being awarded a yellow card, ‘Haz’ picked up a single point this weekend. Not a great return from a player who likes big games. His stats weren’t necessarily awful, as he did create the most chances of any player in the match (6) and kept a pass success rate of 87%.
Coming from a hot start to the season, he was quiet against United. A lot of this was because he was subdued by the right side of United’s defence, the main names being Matic and Young. Matic made a lot of mistakes in the game, but his positioning against Hazard was brilliant. He made it difficult for the latter to make his incisive runs or to link up play as much as he would have wanted.
Young impressive, Hazard not-so
Young also contributed to Eden’s dampened performance by constantly putting pressure on the Belgian, both inside and outside the box. There was one touch of class from Hazard which should have been more, when he released Luiz behind the defence with a lovely backheel. If Luiz had given that ball back to Hazard, it could have been 2-0 and, ultimately, a very different scoreline.
Looking forward to next week, Burnley head to The Bridge. The Clarets have been leaking goals left, right and centre with a total of 17 conceded so far. Only three teams have a worse defence, them being Cardiff, Fulham and Huddersfield. Dyche certainly won’t want his team’s name on par with those three, but it is what it is. As much as I’d like to see the bald-ginger’s defence tighten up, it doesn’t look like this will be the week. Hazard’s blank this GW will surely be enough fuel in the fire for him to score big against Burnley’s not-so-resilient backline.
Fernandinho. The Brazilian veteran put in a very smug performance against Burnley last weekend. Scoring 14 in total, he grabbed a goal, assist, clean sheet and all three bonus points. From a man who generally doesn’t venture forward, that’s not a bad profit.
His first goal, albeit a result of poor defending, was perfectly placed into the top right corner. A good out-swinger from Sane and a shoddy clearing header from Lowton was enough to put it on a plate for Fernandinho, but there was still work to do from there. He lined up the shot and put it out of Hart’s reach.
A strike that would have left Andy Gray with his simple yet sophisticated words; ”What a ‘het’, son”. That is, if he could tear himself away from trying to figure out how the FA had allowed a lineswoman to officiate Arsenal – Leicester. Oh, Andy, you character.
Goals, assists, can he do everything?
Back to the Brazilian, and his assist was something of an easy one. He did make the pass to Mahrez, but I think it’s clear as day that the latter will take all of the credit for that goal. Still, good eye, Fernando.
I don’t usually put much stock in defensive midfielders when it comes to Fantasy, but I feel as if the case for Fernandinho is different. He’s in a free-scoring side and does have a good shot. Based on total points from last season, he (120) compares very well to more expensive, more attacking players such as Ramsey (130), Richarlison (125), Bernardo Silva (112) or Pereyra (81). Maybe Fernandinho is the perfect pick-and-stick budget midfielder?