Fantasy Premier League 2015/16 game week 37 Review (Part 5 of 5) is a Berbacat special concluding the season’s roundups (because we don’t do GW38 reviews usually) by evaluating Sunderland’s win, the Liverpool/Chelsea draw and Norwich’s hollow victory for GW38 differentials.
Feeling uncomfortable with risk? Grab Hazard. Fancy a punt? Keep your Sunderland defense and field them. Fancy an even bigger punt? Sell Defoe and buy Mbokani.
Norwich 4-2 Watford
Tactical Expectation & Observations
- Contrary to the profligate front line that started against Man United, the Canaries started the game with three forwards for the final home game of the season. Mbokani, Naismith and Redmond started up front with the latter two swapping flanks constantly throughout the contest.
- Nathan Redmond chose the worst possible time to shine, having not score or assist a goal since March. The winger displayed some amazing movement in the Watford box, taking advantage of some extremely passive defending to pop up just beyond the shoulders of Watford’s fullbacks – while this movement is unlikely to beat Everton, I suspect Mbokani will do heaps better based on the two goals he scored here.
- Norwich’s glaring weaknesses lies within their extremely loose guard of the half-space: the space between centerback and fullback. Deeney constantly found space in that region and it won’t be surprising to see Lukaku’s lateral drifts cause the same problems – the Everton Norwich looks like it’s starting to shape up as the “shootout” fixture in GW38 as both Norwich and Everton have produced enough backline errors to make Villa look good.
- The Hornets took the field with a 4-4-2 starting Jurado on the flanks while the prominent duo of Ighalo and Deeney started once again.
- As seen in the past half-year or so, the front two was isolated from the rest of the pack once again. If Flores (for better or worse) doesn’t recruit midfielders that provide late runs into the box, Watford will be just as one-dimensional as last season. Either way, the Ighalo-Deeney pairing doesn’t look like it’ll bypass the Sunderland defense in this form; I’d advise against investing in the WAT/SUN fixture to be the banger.
- A static defense usually covers a lot of area if covering “orders” are communicated well. While the likes of Redmond and Naismith made darting runs among the defense, there was literally ZERO talking done between the defenders until the damage was done; it didn’t help either that Gomes committed the most horrendous of errors to concede the lead, allowing a Redmond near post shot to squirm between his legs.
Dieumerci Mbokani £5.2m FWD
As mentioned earlier, Norwich’s defensive frailties are starting to reach a critical point that is a recipe for a “futsal” score in Gameweek 38. Everton’s set piece weakness (see the Everton review later) paves the way for the likes of Mbokani to take advantage of his supposed aerial prowess; Norwich’s own defensive problems will probably keep the game close enough so that both teams are motivated to chase the win. For those with a third-cheap-striker liability (such as Carroll, hehe), Mbokani is a viable option if you’re looking for a good differential for a final hurrah.
Liverpool 1-1 Chelsea
Tactical Expectation & Observations
- Jurgen Klopp kept to his word as the side that started here was pretty much full strength, with Coutinho, Milner and Lallana complementing Sturridge in attack.
- To take another paraphrased quote from Klopp, “gegenpress was the best playmaker” here, as Matic and Fabregas were constantly targeted to force turnovers in favourable positions. Two things stood in their way until the very end – firstly, Mikel performed with an unexpected calm that dealt with everything in the air and on the deck. Secondly, Hazard dropped deep to defend. You heard me right.
- It’s amazing how a strength is also likely to be a weakness of a certain team; the pressing tempo of the midfield unfortunately faltered against Hazard’s movement, allowing the Belgian to jink past two defenders for his opener against Mignolet. The defenders just didn’t know which way to force Hazard – thankfully WBA doesn’t have dribblers in the calibre of Hazard, but predicting who will start will be a tough ask.
- Guus Hiddink started Obi Mikel in central defense while Baba Rahman took up the left-back spot, shifting Azpilicueta to the right. Bertrand Traore started up top, later to be replaced by academy graduate Abraham.
- Effective exclusively on the counter, Hazard shone while his compatriots faltered spectacularly. Fabregas was caught on the ball too often, Pedro wasted a big chance created by Hazard 1v1 and Traore dropped way too deep during circulation to be of any threat to Liverpool in the final third. It’s highly doubtful if Hazard can bypass the likes of Kante though – worth holding, but definitely not worth selling.
- It’s rather surprising that Baba Rahman didn’t get exploited constantly by Liverpool – as early as the first minute, Sturridge drew a foul on the edge of the Chelsea penalty area that led to the striker constantly drifting to that flank as an isolation tactic until Hazard tracked back to help out. Their perennial weaknesses weren’t curbed; too often, Matic and Fabregas left acres of space for Liverpool’s forwards to work with.
Eden Hazard £10.2m MID
For the form punt, Hazard’s output in GW38 should be only taken on with an optimstic view if you believe that the unstoppable force beats the immovable wall. Whether it was in the aspects of passing, dribbling or shooting, the winger has certainly at the very least taken charge of the ball when in possession.
SELL Liverpool Players
The fixtures on Gameweek 38 and the Europa League Final are 4 days within each other. Based on Klopp’s rotation policy so far, you can bet your bottom dollar that the charismatic coach will rest his top stars for the final – have good subs if you’re overloaded and unwilling to take a hit. If not, there are plenty of midfielders you can pick up with the budget you get from Coutinho/Firmino/Sturridge anyway.
Sunderland 3-0 Everton
Tactical Expectation & Observations
- Twitter has been abuzz with the statistic regarding Sunderland’s lineup being absolutely constant for 7 games in a row now – clearly Sam Allardyce isn’t keen on changing a successful formula.
- Completely contrary to the performance against Chelsea last weekend, managers who have watched Match of the Day would have noted that all 3 of Sunderland’s goals here came via set pieces. In open play, however, Sunderland have been as unimaginative as in recent weeks – locating Defoe is first priority for the Black Cats as everything good about them flows through him at the moment.
- Besides the midfield trio, Lamine Kone also impressed at the back, playing his part in proactively breaking up Everton’s play. The key takeaway from this performance is that they were more than happy to soak up aerial pressure while the match was still a contest – chances are that Deeney and Ighalo will have to find a new dimension in order to breach this defense, which seems unlikely.
- Pennington started at centerback alongside Funes Mori as Everton’s 4-2-3-1 saw difference faces, but with the same mentality unfortunately.
- Circulation was never an issue for the Toffees; their decision in the final third has let them down too many times this season and this game was no different. The only real sign of chemistry in the final third involved Barkley and Cleverley, both lacking a certain Irish fullback to create enough overloads down the right to cause damage. In the end, Everton’s defenders did more damage and realistically, you don’t want to wait for Everton to go 3-0 down before they decide to start playing.
- Joel Robles has run out of places to hide this season after committing two massive gambles in goal and conceded two comical goals as a result. As seen in games without Jagielka, neither Joel, Stones nor Funes Mori were apt enough at organising the backline. As a first hand witness to this fundamental defensive frailty, I can only preach picking up a Norwich attacker if the rest of your squad is set for GW38.
This recommendation would certainly require some justification and here it is:
- Defoe’s runs are the most effective against opposition that press forward during their defensive phase, punishing high lines and high-pressure lineups on the counter and in possession. However, Watford’s back four defend in a deep block while their midfield only does the pressing – something that benefits Borini much more.
- The Watford/Sunderland might not be the highest scoring game as both sides don’t make defensive errors in general (unless you expect another Gomes howler). In fact, at home, I’m expecting Gomes’ minimum-3-saves-a-game performance to keep Defoe and co. at bay.