Fantasy Premier League Notes From The Midweek Cup Matches
All of the Premier League clubs apart from Arsenal, Leicester, Manchester United, Southampton and Spurs were in action last night, with 15 sides playing in the newly-dubbed EFL Cup (League Cup) and Manchester City hosting Romanian side Steaua Bucharest in a Champions League qualifier.
Fplbet user, and now debutant writer, Steven Riley has provided us with his notes from the midweek cup matches with specific attention paid to player performances and team lineups. Essential research for any Fantasy Premier League manager.
Batshuayi stars at Chelsea dispatch Bristol Rovers
Summer signing Michy Batshuayi staked a claim for a starting spot in Antonio Conte’s side, netting two goals in the first half before being denied a hat-trick by the linesman’s flag.
Diego Costa earned a rest after his winner against Watford, along with N’Golo Kante and Thibaut Courtois, while Eden Hazard, John Terry and Oscar made cameos from the bench.
Cesc Fabregas played the full 90 minutes but was unable to command the game after his assist on Saturday and it remains to be seen whether he will play over Nemanja Matic against Burnley.
Batshuayi’s brace makes it three goals and an assist in 114 minutes of football and while the Burnley game may come too soon for the £9.0m man, he could prove an option should Conte adapt a two-man frontline or as a deputy in the wake of an inevitable Costa suspension.
Benteke and Mandanda make debuts
£27m record signing Christian Benteke played for 45 minutes as Crystal Palace defeated League Two Blackpool 2-0.
New goalkeeper Steve Mandanda played the whole match for Alan Pardew’s side but all eyes were on the Belgian striker. A lack of match fitness and substitute goal from Connor Wickham means a start against Bournemouth is far from assured, but Palace have the fixtures to make Benteke (£7.4m) a superb mid-price option.
Captain Scott Dann netted Palace’s opening goal, his first after netting five league goals last season.
Barkley, Lennon and Kone net for Koeman’s Everton
Ross Barkley continued his fine start to the season in Everton’s 4-0 defeat of Yeovil Town, sandwiching a goal between Aaron Lennon’s opener and an Arouna Kone double.
Barkley, whose price has risen to £7.7m, added to his goal and assist to cement himself as one of the prime Everton assets.
Lennon scored Everton’s opener from an unfamiliar right wing-back position where we could see him in again in the continued absence of first-choice Seamus Coleman. Kone’s double is unlikely to have any fantasy bearing with Romelu Lukaku undoubtedly Everton’s top striker.
Notably £4.5m youngster Mason Holgate was substituted on 66 minutes, possibly indicating he will continue in the first team against Stoke after an impressive start.
Sturridge hits brace as Liverpool thrash Burton
England international Daniel Sturridge netted twice from the bench as Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp played a full-strength side against Championship outfit Burton Albion.
Divock Origi and Roberto Firmino scored in the first half, with a Tom Naylor own goal preceding Sturridge’s late flourish.
Sturridge’s goals were well-taken and, while the Burton defence offered little resilience, the £10.0m option showed how deadly he will be provided he can stay fit for a run of games.
Phillipe Coutinho was rested and should be fully fit when Liverpool visit Spurs, while Mane looked electric and full of running despite playing a full 90.
Crouch hits three for Potters
Peter Crouch proved he still has a goalscorer’s instinct with a superbly-taken hat-trick in Stoke’s 4-0 win away to Stevenage, including a bicycle kick.
Crouch failed the find the net in 11 games last season and is unlikely to start in the coming weeks, although it is worth noting he played the full 90 with usual second-choice Joselu failing to come on.
The more exciting contributions from a fantasy perspective came from Marko Arnautovic assisting Crouch’s second, with Joe Allen laying on two more. Both were substituted and their owners will be hoping for a similar showing at Everton.
Second-string Swansea cruise past Peterborough
Youngster Ollie McBurnie scored two and assisted Jay Fulton as a heavily-rotated Swansea side beat Peterborough 3-1.
Jordi Amat was the only remnant from the side that lost 2-0 against Hull on Saturday, and it seems he and budget partner Stephen Kingsley will continue to start after the Spaniard was subbed for Federico Fernandez at half-time.
Fantasy favourite Gylfi Sigurdsson was rested, while striker Fernando Llorente and midfielder Leroy Fer were afforded substitute appearances and should play at the weekend.
Ighalo unable to prevent shock Watford loss
Last season’s top scorer for Watford, Odion Ighalo, found the net as Watford fell to lowly Gillingham in extra-time.
The Nigerian couldn’t stop Watford losing 2-1 after scoring from the bench, while captain Troy Deeney played the full 90. Both should start against Arsenal.
Encouragingly for his influx of new owners fearing an injury, Etienne Capoue (£4.6m) came on in the 66th minute and will be hoping to add to his two strikes in two games and cement himself as the prime budget midfield option.
West Brom defence crumbles against Northampton
Owners of West Brom defenders may want to be wary after Tony Pulis’ side crashed out on penalties after a 2-2 draw in normal time.
Pulis named a strong defence with Craig Dawson, Jonas Olsson and Gareth McAuley playing the full 90, while Jonny Evans sat out with a knock and Boaz Myhill was rotated in for Ben Foster in goal.
McAuley scored for the second game running and cemented himself as a prime Baggies option alongside Foster, while new signing Brendan Galloway made a debut a left-back but was forced off with injury.
An under the radar option, Matt Phillips provided an assist for McCauley’s goal from a corner, suggesting he could be set for occasional attacking points with the aerial threat of the McAuley and Dawson to aim at.
Manchester City rest stars for Bucharest win
Bar Fabian Delph’s winner, there was little else on show at the Etihad, with Joe Hart’s inclusion in the side dominating the pre-match build up.
For fantasy players it was interesting to note Saturday’s double-goalscorer Nolito only played 60 minutes, being replaced on the hour along with John Stones, suggesting both are in line for a start against West Ham.
Kolarov and Clichy both played a full 90 meaning that predicting the left-back starter is still a lottery with the Serb seemingly holding the edge.
Elsewhere Hart and Toure played the whole match, with neither doing enough to force a start as Pep Guardiola continues to mould his side.
Gradel and Wilson stake a claim at Bournemouth see off The Shrimps
Max Gradel and former Stoke defender Marc Wilson each managed a goal as Bournemouth beat Morecombe 2-1.
Gradel, who managed a goal and five assists in an injury-plagued season, may have done enough to force himself an Eddie Howe side which has only found the net once so far this season.
The rest of the team will probably remain unchanged, with Wilson’s goal unlikely to unseat Steve Cook and Simon Francis while Harry Arter is set to return after serving his ban.
Late Accrington goal sinks weakened Burnley
Burnley should field a largely unchanged side from the one that beat Liverpool when they visit Chelsea after resting most of their key players in a 1-0 extra-time loss to Burnley.
Sam Vokes, who scored against the Reds, was the only player to start both games and was replaced by budget favourite Andre Gray on 67 minutes.
Gray looked lively but fantasy owners will want to keep an eye on suspension news after the striker was charged with misconduct over homophobic posts on Twitter.
Friend injured as Boro bow out
Middlesbrough defender George Friend came off injured as David Nugent’s goal wasn’t enough to stop them losing in extra-time to Fulham.
Cristian Stuani, who scored twice against Sunderland on Sunday, came on for extra time but should regain his place for the visit to West Brom along with Negredo.
Stewart Downing played 120 minutes and may be rested at the weekend, while Viktor Fischer got 80 minutes under his belt fielded in a forward role. Victor Valdes again missed out through injury.
Januzaj hits Sunderland winner against Shrewsbury
Manchester United loanee Adnan Januzaj handed Sunderland boss David Moyes a first win against Shrewsbury with a fine 20-yard strike.
Many have been keen to see what the youngster can produce at the Stadium of Light under Moyes and the £5.5m option provided the goods in the 83rd minute.
Patrick Van Aanholt played the full match but should still be available against Southampton, while £4.0m goalkeeper Jordan Pickford deputised for the injured Vito Mannone.