The Fantasy Football transfer window for game week 34 is now closed. Join me in our virtual Fantasy Football world while we watch the games and hope our points rack up. Sit back, relax, enjoy the football and hang-out here with your fellow Fantasy Football managers and chat in real time as the action unfolds. Perhaps everyone else is experiencing the same “Aggghhhh” player difficulties you are, or the same “Yeahhhh” moment as your captain puts the ball into the back of the net? Talking Points is simply a chat area for us Fantasy Football First managers. Tell us about your highs and lows, and get into the match day atmosphere. Get involved.
To help you with your early transfer, these are the expected talking points for this weekend
Chelsea’s lead at the top of the Premier League now stands at only four points and the title race is wide open again after they were well beaten by a resurgent Manchester United at Old Trafford. The Blues’ run-in looks kind though, with home games against Southampton, Middlesbrough, Watford and Sunderland – but a real test to come at Everton.
This was a bitterly disappointing display by Conte’s side but it was only their fifth league defeat of the season. Too many of their big players failed to make an impact, with Hazard nullified and striker Diego Costa falling back into bad old ways.
Conte will be disappointed but his side are still title favourites, with that slender lead but also a favourable remaining programme. You can safely replace your defenders after The Blues have gone 10 Premier League games without keeping a clean sheet for the first time since December 1996 (13 games), but we would advise to keep one of Hazard and Costa.
Jose Mourinho has now recorded at least one league victory against all 34 Premier League clubs he has faced as a manager after his side defeated league leaders Chelsea at Old Trafford. United remain fifth in the league but have two double gameweeks coming as they face Man City (A), Burnley (A), Swansea (H), Arsenal (A), Southampton (A), Spurs (A) and Palace (H) in the next five gameweeks.
Manchester United’s Premier League unbeaten run now stands at 22 matches (W12 D10), the longest within a single season by a team since United themselves in 2010-11 (24). With United still active in the Europa League, Mourinho’s starting line-up raised eyebrows, with Ibrahimovic on the bench and Anthony Martial nowhere to be seen. The pace and movement of their replacements Rashford and Lingard troubled Chelsea throughout the game and with Ibrahimovic now injured, both youngsters could be set for an extended run in the first team.
At the back, nobody seems safe from rotation apart from Bailly, as there is no alternative for the centre back with Rojo, Smalling and Jones all injured. Bringing in anyone else could be hit-or-miss, depending on Jose’s tinkering and United’s further progress in the Europa League.
West Brom slumped to a third straight defeat but remain eighth in the league. The Baggies have a weekend off and then face Leicester (H), Burnley (A), Man City (A), Chelsea (H) and Swansea (A) in the remainder of the season.
West Brom remain on course to equal their highest final league placing since 1981, but their season is in danger of petering out. Of their past seven matches, Tony Pulis’ side have lost five and failed to score in six, with a 3-1 win over Arsenal on 18 March providing their only win and goals during that run.
With less games to play than most teams, a difficult run of fixtures and bad form, this is a suitable time to bid goodbye to your West Brom assets and welcome them again at the start of next season.
West Ham conceded a 90th-minute equaliser to draw with Sunderland. West Ham have thrown away a league-high 22 points from leading positions in the Premier League this season, and look set for a testing season end as they face Everton (H), Stoke (A), Spurs (H), Liverpool (H) and Burnley (A).
West Ham’s problems have stemmed from conceding too many goals, as they have now let in 59 this season – one more than the bottom-placed Black Cats. Manager Slaven Bilic says his side “still have work to do” to make certain of their Premier League status for another year, although the Hammers are now closer to the top eight than they are the bottom three.
Bilic handed Carroll the armband and the forward was a nuisance throughout, finding space in the area from Byram’s cross to inadvertently set up Ayew for the opener. Carroll is undoubtedly a good fantasy option when fit, but this last condition is rarely fulfilled for extended periods. Hang onto him if you believe he can have a strong end to the season, but don’t consider any other Hammers.
Other Talking Points
- Roberto Firmino has now surpassed his Premier League goal tally from last season (10 in 2015-16, 11 in 2016-17). Since the start of last season, the Brazilian has been directly involved in 34 Premier League goals (21 goals, 13 assists), more than any other Liverpool player.
- Christian Eriksen now has more assists than any other player in the Premier League this season (12). He is one of three midfield Spurs options, Dele Alli and Son Heung-min being the other two. The Korean has been directly involved in six goals in his past four Premier League games (five goals, one assist), and is the cheapest of the three, while Dele Alli is the second highest scoring midfielder in the game.
- Harry Kane marked his return from injury with a goal and an assist. He has provided five Premier League assists this season, his best-ever return in a top-flight campaign.
- Townsend has been directly involved in seven Premier League goals this season (three goals, four assists); his best return in a top-flight campaign. Consider him, Zaha or Benteke as Palace coverage for the upcoming games. The Belgian striker has scored 21 Premier League headed goals since his debut in September 2012; only Olivier Giroud (24) has scored more.
- Vardy has been involved in eight goals in his past seven Premier League appearances since Shakespeare’s appointment (six goals, two assists). Vardy remains a good option but with the Foxes now eliminated from the Champion’s League they have nothing left to play for.
- The Everton defence made a significant contribution their eighth straight Premier League victory at Goodison Park. Despite failing to keep a clean sheet, Leighton Baines and Ashley Williams provided assists while Phil Jagielka scored for the third game running.
- Higher up the pitch, Barkley had more touches (90), and attempted more passes in the opposing half (50) than any other player in the game, while Romelu Lukaku scored for a ninth successive home game.
- The Swans have failed to score in four of their past five Premier League games (one goal scored in the other), after finding the back of the net in seven in a row. Llorente barely touched the ball against Watford, while Sigurdsson provided the bright spark but couldn’t convert. You can give both another chance at home against Stoke but if they blank again it’s time to say goodbye.
- Khazri was making his first Sunderland start since October and proved the Black Cats’ main attacking threat. He had more shots (four) and made more key passes (five) than any of his team-mates, while also providing more crosses than the rest of the Sunderland team combined.
- Since his debut in August 2010, Silva has provided 64 Premier League assists – 13 more than any other player. This season however, De Bruyne is the Premier League’s leading assist maker this season, having set up 13 goals. Both will be instrumental if City is to finish strong, as is Sane who has scored in three of his past four Premier League away games. Get one of these three or a revitalised Kun up front. Aguero has scored in each of his past 12 Premier League appearances in the month of April and looks to get back to is best form.
- When Arsenal needed a bit of quality, Sanchez provided it. He opened the scoring and played a part in the build-up to the Gunners’ second goal. The Chilean now has scored more away goals in the Premier League this season than any other player (13). He is also second for direct free-kick goals in the Premier League for Arsenal with only Thierry Henry (12) scoring more than Sanchez (five, level with Robin van Persie).
- Mesut Ozil has scored in two of his past three league games for Arsenal, the same number he’d scored in in his previous 16. Ozil also made four tackles, his joint-most in a Premier League game (last doing so against Man City in December 2015).
- Saints have two games in hand but beware of rotation and motivation, as they have nothing left to play for. Southampton would need a remarkable finish to grab European qualification and, having already passed the 40-point mark deemed enough to avoid relegation, are well clear of the drop. Consider Maya Yoshida or Jack Stephens as cheap defensive options.