Making sense of a strange and unpredictable Gameweek
What a Gameweek we’ve just witnessed. The events and results were not what many of us managers were expecting and certainly not what most of us would have predicted. I wonder how many of us were feeling the pain and disappointment of seeing our best-laid plans come to nothing after some shock results, surprising under-performances and unlucky injuries.
Unless you were lucky enough to have picked the right combination of players to be in the points, you’ll no doubt be hoping and praying that we don’t have another Gameweek like that again any time soon.
One thing is clear at present. Many teams are yet to find consistency and the current top five sides have all been defeated at least once this season. Newcomers like Hull City and Cardiff have surprised top teams. Plenty of sides have strengthened considerably since last year. Maybe this will mean we’ll see more competitive games and less predictable results than in previous seasons.
But, hey, it’s still early days. So if, like me, you endured a dose of agony this weekend, maybe the best thing we can do is to try to keep things in perspective and remind ourselves there are 33 Gameweeks left to get it right!
But what sense can we make of this unusual Gameweek? Here are a few points to consider that suggest it may have been a one-off.
1. Who could have predicted three big players would get injured?
Aston Villa’s Benteke (his weekend ownership was around 35%) got an unlucky injury early in the match at Norwich when he looked set to continue his goalscoring feats. And then there was the last-minute shock news about injuries to Robin van Persie (46.1%) and Walcott (15.7%), meaning that, for some unlucky managers, they lost both their captain and vice-captain.
2. Who could have predicted so many away wins?
Yes, almost unbelievably six of the ten games ended in away wins. I’m not sure how often that has happened before, but surely it’s unusual. How many of us expected Steve Bruce’s Hull City to sneak a win at Newcastle or Pochettino’s Southampton to play a remarkably strong high-tempo, high-pressing game to nullify and defeat Liverpool? Everton twice came back from a goal behind to surprise West Ham. The other away wins – Aston Villa at Norwich, Tottenham at Cardiff, and Swansea at Crystal Palace – might have been more expected results.
3. Who could have predicted so many goalscoring defenders?
Wow! This season plenty of defenders are getting on the score sheet. This week defenders claimed seven of the 29 Premiership goals and made two assists. And this on a day when none of the top five points scoring strikers were amongst the goals. Surely an unusual event.
Everton’s two-goal Leighton Baines handsomely rewarded his owners with 16 points and further enhances his reputation as a Gareth Bale-like free-kick specialist. Two Arsenal defenders, Mertesecker and Sagna, scored with headers as did Hull City’s Elmohamady and Southampton’s Lovren, whilst Stoke’s Cameron and West Brom’s Ridgewell finished well with their feet. By the way, Manchester United’s Patrice Evra narrowly missed scoring an 8th goal, rattling a great header against the woodwork. I wonder how often we’ll see so many defenders getting in on the goalscoring act?
4. Finally, who could have predicted Manchester United’s clinical derby demolition by neighbours City?
Talk about it not being United’s day. The injury to van Persie (that was kept remarkably quiet until just before kick off) left United impotent up front as City swarmed around and stormed their defence. What a day for Aguero, Toure, and the three N’s (Negredo, Nasri and Navas) to pick to get amongst the points. And what a shame for defenders Kompany and Zabaleta that, after giant performances, they earned only two points apiece after Wayne Rooney scored that wonder free-kick near the end.
Many of us will be glad to see the back of Gameweek 5 and many of us will be hoping that the weekend’s games get us back on track. Football, as we fantasy football managers know only too well can be a cruel game. Fingers crossed we don’t get more Gameweeks like this one!