08 February 2019
PhysioRoom Game Week 26
12.30pm Fulham v Manchester United
Fulham’s mad half-hour four-goal blitz v Brighton a game and a bit ago had some thinking there might be a revival on the cards. But the follow up defeat at Palace make this fixture look less of a winning hand. The Cottagers haven’t taken so much as a point from the Top Six so far this term. And only 2pts from the Top Ten. United got back to winning ways at Leicester, just. That’s three away shut outs on the spin in the Premier League, but there are a few signs of the Solksjaer bandwagon started to slow a little. One of their star-turns should get them through this one with all three points intact though.
Hot Shot – Rashford (MU) looks all grown up these days.
Midfield General – Martial (MU) is due one of those scruffy ones Ole wants.
Case for the Defence – De Gea (MU) is looking worth £5.7m at last.
3pm Crystal Palace v West Ham
Beating Fulham looked more like a disaster averted than the start of anything, although the acquisition of Batshuayi appears to be a shrewd bit of business. With Zaha and Townsend either side, Palace will carry a real threat – if their ‘hit’ days can outnumber their ‘miss’ days between now and the end of the season. West Ham’s draw with Liverpool on Monday provided a timely boost – and their first point in three matches. But their away form makes miserable reading: three defeats on the spin, all to bang average teams (Burnley, Bournemouth and Wolves) and not a single goal to show for it. Not sure I trust either team to win this.
Hot Shot – Batshuayi (CP) could be a wildcard pick for the rest of the season.
Midfield General – Townsend (CP) always has a worldie in him.
Case for the Defence – van Aanholt (CP) is still out-scoring Tripper and Alexander-Arnold.
3pm Huddersfield Town v Arsenal
It would be a shame if Huddersfield turn into whipping boys for the remainder of the season. If the 0-3 defeat to Man City probably confirmed their exit from the top-flight, last weekend’s 0-5 by Chelsea slammed the door behind them. They’ve taken just 1pt from their last 12 and have only scored once in six. It really is desperate stuff. The only way you can see an end to the run is if a team do an ‘Arsenal’. And no one does it better than the Gunners. On form it wouldn’t even be that much of a shock – Arsenal have managed just 2pts from their last seven away trips. They are full of talent and goals, of course. But with their back four in bits, this has the look of a coupon stopper to me.
Hot Shot – Despite his illness, I’ll go with Aubameyang (ARS). Best frontman in the FPL.
Midfield General – Suarez (ARS) is worth as much of a punt as any of them.
Case for the Defence – Kolasinac (ARS) is the most popular pick outside the front two.
3pm Liverpool v Bournemouth
Drawing at home to Leicester and away to West Ham are not quite the drama that they have been painted. Let’s not forget Liverpool have been on the fortunate end of a one-goal victory more than once this season – two shots and one goal at Huddersfield, a last minute squeak at Everton, a penalty at Brighton. You don’t win the league by blasting out the blocks, or dipping for the line – it’s in the hard yards in between. Liverpool’s last two points could be the difference come May. However… dropping points here on the eve of a trip to the resurgent Man United will introduce Jurgen to ‘quietschend pennerzeit’.
Hot Shot – Firmino (LIV) but only because Wilson is injured.
Midfield General – Mane (LIV) is three from three.
Case for the Defence – Robertson (LIV) is the FPL’s top defender.
3pm Southampton v Cardiff
Southampton are on the up. They are unbeaten in five – seven in all comps – and their current form puts them in the Top Eight. But, more importantly, only a six-pointer away from being sucked into the Bottom Three. Cardiff are on the flip side of said match and an away win will see them swap places with the Saints. Points haven’t been easy to come by on the road though. Just the one win and two draws from 12 trips suggests they will have to summon all the current bonhomie on offer to do so. They could leave the south coast with something though – the three teams immediately above Southampton (Brighton, Palace and Newcastle) and the one below (Burnley) shared the points.
Hot Shot – If you are looking for a Forward from these two, have a word with yourself.
Midfield General – Redmond (SOU) has enjoyed his best spell in a while.
Case for the Defence – McCarthy (SOU) too. Chance of a sheet here.
3pm Watford v Everton
As under-fire Everton boss Marco Silva returns to his former club he must be wondering whether he jumped from the frying pan into… well, another frying pan. Being a ‘bigger’ club doesn’t mean a lot nowadays. The really big clubs cast them all in the same shadow. It’s greater expectation to fail to live up to. Watford are currently sitting 8th on 34pts and all is well. Everton are a point and a place below and if this doesn’t go well, Silva might only have two more backward shuffles of the gangplank left. They are trips to Cardiff (BIFF!) and Liverpool (POW!). Just three defeats in 17 v teams below them for Watford.
Hot Shot – Deeney’s (WAT) contribution doesn’t readily translate to points. But he is due one.
Midfield General – Sigurdsson or Richarlison (EVE) offer the same hit and miss potential.
Case for the Defence – Holebas (WAT) has been back among the assists. Two in four.
5.30pm Brighton v Burnley
Worrying times for Brighton. Just 6pts from their last ten compared to 16pts from their previous ten. Granted, they’ve had a tough run of home fixtures – including Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool – and all their survival stock is in home points. On the upside, they have only lost at the Amex to the league’s top table teams – and have five of the current Bottom Six to come. But they’re running into a Burnley side that have recaptured that stubborn refusal to do what’s expected of them. A run of six unbeaten (W3 D3) has put them to within 3pts of Brighton. Something that both managers would have queried at Christmas.
Hot Shot – Murray (BRI) saved the day in the cup in midweek and should start.
Midfield General – is March (BRI) really the best on show? Jeez.
Case for the Defence – Duffy (BRI) is Brighton’s most popular FPL player.
1.30pm Tottenham v Leicester City
Tottenham are the invisible team this season. Never once thought of as title contenders, but way too good to let the likes of Chelsea or Man United muscle past them, they just keep plugging away. Not drawing any matches is a good tactic too. Six defeats could be a problem if they didn’t win every other match. Eight out of the last ten, by the way. Missing their two best players supposedly. Leicester looked a better team going toe-to-toe with Liverpool and Man United in their last two than the 1pt from their previous four suggests. Mid-table malaise, perhaps. This looks a game too far.
Hot Shot – Like Leicester, Vardy (LEI) is picking his matches this season. But likes a goal v the big boys.
Midfield General – Son (TOT) could play his way to player of the year, y’know.
Case for the Defence – Tripper (TOT) isn’t playing well, but always has potential at both ends.
4pm Man City v Chelsea
Man City’s recent ‘wobble’ (as I’ve heard it called) adds up to six Premier League wins from seven (ten from 11 in all comps). They looked serious beating Everton and I think they enjoy being in top spot. They have saved some of their most impressive performances for Chelsea in recent seasons – winning their last four head-to-heads without conceding. Chelsea needed that 5-0 win last weekend – and Higuain’s assured brace was just what the director of football ordered. But they are on different territory here. Their last two have ended pointless and goal-less v two far inferior teams.
Hot Shot – Aguero (MC) doesn’t look the player that started the season. But only needs a minute.
Midfield General – Sane (MC) just nudges Sterling on price.
Case for the Defence – Laporte (MC) has even got a goal in him, apparently.
8pm Wolves v Newcastle United
We all love Wolves. They even spoil an FA Cup giant killing in style. The early season spunk has been replaced with a bit of a swagger. They’ve even sussed this goal thing, hitting 15 in their last five (all comps). Aside from losing to Man City and Liverpool (which don’t count for teams outside the Top Six) they’ve only dropped 4pts since November. That’s better than Chelsea and Arsenal and only 2pts worse than Man City. They’re a good side. There, I said it. Newcastle haven’t travelled badly to teams outside the Top Six (D2 D5) and almost got something out of Tottenham. They’ll need similar heroics and a tad more luck here.
Hot Shot – Jimenez (WOL) gets better every week. Three in two.
Midfield General – Five assists in three for Moutinho (WOL).
Case for the Defence – Doherty got two (annoying) FA Cup goals in midweek. A 100-club member.