While Fantrax EPL only directly involves games from the EPL, the players we all roster play other games outside of the league, believe it or not. Whether it's international matches or domestic and European cup games, other matches can often impact and indicate future EPL performances. In this special feature we cover cup performances, set piece takers, and what they might mean going forward.
European Cup Performances (Pre - GW16)
Result: (3-3 vs Zenit - Russian side)
Real-life Performances: Chelsea continued their mild (mostly defensive) slump in a back and forth tie with Zenit, and conceded 1st in their UCL group to Juventus. Timo Werner was the best player on the pitch for Chelsea scoring twice and assisting Lukaku for a tap in. It wasn't enough though and Zenit equalized in stoppage time. Christensen and Pulisic (off the bench) were the other 2 assisters. The whole back line was pretty poor on the day, particularly Sarr and Christensen. We saw a changed midfield with Reece James and Barkley in the centre and CHO and Saul at wing back. Barkley and Saul were pretty uninspiring, CHO was okay out of his preferred position, and James was solid, but not as useful as out wide. Up top Lukaku returned to the starting XI and played for 75 minutes, continuing to build fitness, and played well, finally getting a goal for the first time since September. Mount had an unusually quiet game next to him, but didn't play poorly. Fantasy Performances: Timo Werner had 31.5 fantasy points and 7.5 ghost points behind his 3 returns. Lukaku had 16.5 and 7.5, Pulisic had 11 and 5 in 25 minutes, Saul had 10.5 (all ghosts), Mount had 8.5, Barkley had 5, Christensen had 4.25 and 3.25, James and Sarr had 3.75 and 9.75, Azpi had 2 and 8, Havertz had 12 and 12 in 15 mins, CHO had -1 with a yellow card.
Looking forward: None of Sarr, Christensen, Saul, or Barkley did themselves any favors in terms of likelihood of further play time. Chelsea do still have a center midfield conundrum with Kova and Kante definitely out and Jorginho and RLC hurt (but available to play according to Tuchel today). If either of the latter 2 end up not being able to, Saul, Barkley, or James could end up in the center mid positions. Rudiger, Thiago Silva, and Alonso all look very likely to start in GW16 after being rested. Reece James looks like a shoe in with limited options, but to be determined which position. The 3 up top are still hard to guess at but Werner is in good form, Lukaku is coming back to health, Mount has started 3 in a row, and before that, CHO was their best attacker. Havertz and Pulisic both did not start in the midweek so perhaps they get the nod, but they don't seem to be Tuchel's first choices either.
Set Pieces: Barkley took 7 corners and Ziyech took 1 corner all with Mount and James on the field. James did take 1 free kick cross and for the past couple games seems to be their preferred option there.
Result: (2-3 vs Napoli - Leicester side)
Real-life Performances: Another poor defensive performance from Leicester let them down again as they fell out of the Europa league. They won the XG battle (1.73 to 1.25) and shot battle (15 to 11) but couldn't convert well enough compared to their opponents. Dewsbury-Hall and Evans were the goal scorers. Like Chelsea, the back line were all pretty poor, particularly Soyuncu and Bertrand. Soyuncu gifted a goal to Napoli with an errant pass to Tielemans. Speaking of the Belgian, Tielemans came back into the side and looked a bit shaky before being subbed off. He tried a lot but not much came off. Ndidi similar. Next to him Dewsbury-Hall was likely Leicester's best player on the night. Maddison had a so-so night but mostly looked out of place on the right hand side. Vardy and Barnes were also pretty poor, not getting much going and missing decent chances. Daka and Albrighton were better when they came on. Fantasy Performances: Evans had 18 fantasy points and 14 ghost points. Dewsbury-Hall had 17 and 7, while Barnes had 7.5. Maddison had 5.5 and Ndidi had 4. Tielemans had 3 in 77 minutes while Albrighton had 3 in 1 minute. Soyuncu and Castagne had 2.75 and 8.75, Bertrand had 0.25 and 6.25, and Vardy had 1.5. Daka had 2.5 in 18 minutes and Soumare had 0 in 13.
Looking forward: Soyuncu is on a bad run of form, but looks unlikely to replaced as Vestergaard has been worse in his previous games for the Foxes. Luke Thomas looks likely to start again after a rest and a poor Bertrand showing. With Perez and Lookman out with an illness/COVID, we could see Maddison on the wing again or Albrighton come into the side as one of the few fit senior players who didn't start in the midweek. Daka is the other and he could start given his rest and good performance in GW15 and Vardy a little out of form.
Set Pieces: Maddison had 4 corners and 4 free kick crosses, with Bertrand getting the only other free kick cross. Tielemans did play and didn't take any so it looks like Maddison's likely fully preferred again to him in terms of set pieces. Look out for Albrighton in the lineup at the weekend as he could disturb Maddison's almost monopoly.
Result: (2-1 vs AC Milan - Serie A side)
Real-life Performances: After conceding an early goal to Milan, Klopp's, somewhat rotated, Liverpool side came back, behind goals from Salah and Origi, to cruise to a 100% win record in their UCL group. Mane and Oxlade-Chamberlain both had their shots rebounded for the 2 goals. The second-tier back line played admirably particularly Konate, who keeps pushing for a permanent inclusion in the XI. Neco WIlliams and Tsimikas both proved that they are more than capable backups as well. In the midfield, Oxlade-Chamberlain had a wonderful game as he dribbled and shot often. Minamino was up and down and likely didn't do himself any favors. Mane and Salah were as good as ever (and Mane better than recently) but Origi deserves a special shoutout as he looked a man on a mission and not out of place next to his world-class counterparts. Fantasy Performances: Salah had 18.5 fantasy points and 9.5 ghost points with his goal, Origi 15 and 6 with his, Oxlade-Chamberlain scored10.5 ghosts, Konate had 9.75 and 11.75. Neco Williams had 9 and 11, Minamino had 7.5, Mane 7, Nat Phillips 6 and 8, Tsimikas 5 and 7. Naby Keita returned from injury and had 4 ghosts off the bench.
Looking forward: I expect Klopp to go mostly back to his GW15 XI with Henderson, Fabinho, Thiago, and his back line all coming back in. Henderson was poor in GW15 and Ox could replace him, but likely not as Hendo's the skipper and Klopp trusts him. Konate has played well and could replace Matip, but that's still up in the air. Jota has not trained this week and may need replacing up top. Firmino trained but it may be too soon, so I'd bet on the in-form Origi to come in for him. Ox could also play in the front line, with Mane or Salah shifting to the middle.
Set Pieces: Without Trent and Robbo starting, Tsimikas and Oxlade-Chamberlain split corners (4 and 5) and Ox got their 1 free kick cross.
Result: (1-2 vs RB Leipzig - Bundesliga side)
Real-life Performances: Pep played a strong lineup despite not needing to, and City got a disappointing result. After conceding 2, City found 1 via Mahrez from a pretty Zinchenko cross but it wasn't enough. Walker's red in the 82nd did no help matters. Other than Zinchenko who was okay, the backline was pretty poor, particularly Walker, who got the very unnecessary red. In the mid, KDB was solid and looked to have some of his trademark spark but it only came in patches and he's not quite there yet. I do think it's coming back slowly though. Gundogan had an uncharacteristically bad game and Fernandinho was mediocre at best. Forward, Grealish, Foden, and Mahrez all did not really show much, outside of Mahrez's goal. Foden was injured and replaced by Sterling at the half, but the in-form Englishman was equally uninspiring. Fantasy Performances: Mahrez had 14.5 fantasy points and 5.5 ghost points with his goal, Zinchenko 12.25 and 9.25 with an assist. De Bruyne had 10 ghost points, Foden had 5 in 45 minutes, and Grealish had 4.5 in 90. Ilkay Gundogan and Fernandinho also had 4.5 ghost points, Ake had 3.5 points and 7.5 ghosts, Sterling had 0, Stones had -1 and 3, Walker had -5 and -1 with the red.
Looking forward: Bernardo Silva, Cancelo, and Rodri were rested completely and look like definites to start in GW16. Dias and Laporte also got rests and should start after a weak defensive showing from Stones. Walker likely starts but Zinchenko could be rewarded with another after Walker's block-headedness. Likely 1 of Gundo or KDB starts as an 8. Further forward, Jesus (if fit), and Sterling look likely to start as they were (partially) rested midweek. Next to them, with Foden potentially out hurt, is likely Grealish but who knows with Pep, maybe we get a KDB false 9 game.
Set Pieces: De Bruyne 4 corners, Foden 2, Gundogan 1, Mahrez 1, Zinchenko 1. KDB 5 free kicks (including 3 shots, 1 on target) and Zinchenko 1 free kick (an inaccurate cross).
Result: (1-1 vs Young Boys - Swiss side)
Real-life Performances: Rangnick rotated his squad completely from his GW15 side and they didn't look particularly impressive against the Young Boys. Old and young backups alike were decent, but do not look close to challenging for starting XI spots, with the possible exceptions of Greenwood and Shaw, and maybe Bailly. Greenwood scored a fantastic volley courtesy of a Shaw cross, and looked lively all game. Shaw came back from injury and looked solid, pushing forward as Rangnick encouraged him to do so. Bailly saved United a few times but it remains to be seen whether Rangnick considers him instead of his more established options. AWB, VDB, and Lingard were okay, but again, nothing special. Fantasy Performances: Greenwood had 18 fantasy points and 9 ghost points, Lingard had 9 and 9, Shaw had 9 and 4, and van de Beek had 8 ghost points. AWB had 7 and 9, Elanga had 6.5, Mata had 6, Amad had 4.5, Matic had 2.5, and Bailly had 2 and 4 with the 1 goal conceded.
Looking forward: As touched on above, Greenwood is challenging for a spot in the preferred XI and it could come at the expense of Sancho or Rashford in GW16. Shaw is gaining fitness and will likely challenge Telles for his starting spot again, but it may be too seen at the weekend. The rested Dalot looks likely to regain his RB spot as AWB failed to impress, as do the other GW15 starters. Varane is back from injury but Maguire and Lindelof look likely to keep their places after a solid showing last weekend.
Set Pieces: Mata had 2 corners and 1 free kick shot (off-target) for all of United's set pieces.
Result: DNP (Too many COVID-19 positives)
Looking forward: Their game was postponed as is their GW16 game at Brighton. Their GW17 game vs Leicester City will also likely be postponed. Rumours are that Son and Lucas among others have COVID-19. If there's lingering effects, we could see some backups like Bergwijn or Lo Celso get a few starts, when Spurs do resume playing. Spurs will likely have 3 double game weeks if not 1 triple game week, so hold on to their assets if you can.
Result: (0-1 vs Dinamo Zagreb - Croatian side)
Real-life Performances: A very rotated Hammers side saw out a rather tedious and lacklustre loss to their Croatian opponent. Fornals, Vlasic, Yarmolenko, Noble, and Kral were the only senior players to start and none of them looked great. Yarmolenko was very poor, Vlasic was mediocre, and Fornals and Noble were decent. Benrahma subbed on at half for Fornals but wasn't much better. Maybe just a matter of the rotated squad. Longelo and Ashby were the youngsters that impressed, but nothing relevant for fantasy purposes. Fantasy Performances: Mark Noble had 8 fantasy points and 8 ghost points, Vlasic had 4 ghost points, Fornals had 2.5 in 45 minutes, and Yarmolenko had 2. Benrahma had 1 ghost point in 45 minutes.
Looking forward: From the normal EPL starters, only Benrahma and Fornals played (and only 45 each). Neither were amazing and look a tossup to start alongside Antonio, Bowen, and probably Lanzini (who's only been okay but part of a winning side in the Prem). Fornals got the nod in GW15, so maybe he's favoured but Benrahma has also played less minutes recently so might get the nod. Elsewhere, Ben Johnson hurt his hamstring last week, so if fit, Cresswell would come back in at LB with Coufal at RB, but more likely Masuauku will slot in at LB or LWB.
Set Pieces: Benrahma and Noble split corners (4 and 2). Benrahma also had 1 free kick cross and Yarmolenko took 2 (including 1 shot on target).
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