This week’s lineup certainly wouldn’t be the most functional unit the Premier League has ever seen, but we are most concerned with identifying the weekend’s most intriguing performances. The truncated gameweek produced some big talking points, so read on for our take on gameweek 26.
Pepe Reina – total payout 60p; base payout 50p
Aston Villa may feel aggrieved to have come away from Sunday’s game against Spurs with a loss, having conceded a 94th minute goal, but without Pepe Reina at his very best, it would not have been that close. The stopper saved a penalty from Son on the stroke of half-time, only for the Korean to tuck away the rebound; as well as making a further six saves to keep Villa in the game. A good shot-stopper on a bad team is as valuable on SportStack as it is in fantasy football, as shown by Reina’s high base payout and 10 points on FPL.
Jamal Lewis – total payout 59p; base/90min 55p
When Sam Byram went off injured before the half-hour mark on Saturday. Jamal Lewis had the unenviable task of slotting straight into a back line that was under the cosh from an unrelenting Liverpool attack. The young left-back stepped up to the mark admirably. registering 18p from CBIs, and only giving away one foul in his battle with Mo Salah. His remarkable base/min of 0.61 would’ve led to a base payout of 55p had he played 90 minutes. He is a near-certainty to start given Byram’s thigh injury, and Norwich fans will be concerned by Christoph Zimmerman’s hamstring injury, also picked up against Liverpool.
Harry Maguire – total payout 89p; base payout 49p; 1 goal
There is no debate that Harry Maguire shouldn’t have been on the pitch to score United’s second goal on Monday night. In the age of VAR, it is remarkable that he got away with a clear kick to Michy Batshuayi’s nuts; but aside from that, he was imperious at the heart of the Manchester United defence. He registered 30p in payouts from CBIs – the kind of display that would have earned him a place in this team even without scoring a powerful headed goal.
Simon Francis – total payout 64p; base payout 49p; 1 yellow card
It seems a long time ago now that Bournemouth went down 2-1 at Bramall Lane, but it was a gameweek 26 fixture. Even more impressive than Harry Maguire’s 30p from CBIs was Simon Francis making 38p from such actions, as well at 14p from ball recoveries. Those who were long Francis might have sighed when he earned himself a yellow card in the 94th minute to stain an otherwise wonderful performance, but his base payout of 49p in spite of the booking is very impressive. Traders might look at Francis’ CBI payouts here as a signal of where Sheffield United channel their attacks.
Nicolas Pepe – total payout 94p; payout/min 1.04p; 1 goal, 2 assists
Arsenal fans will have been dreaming of Nicolas Pepe producing this sort of display, but it they will likely contain their excitement until he can start to turn out performances like this on a more regular basis. His monstrous 94p total payout makes him SportStack’s highest scorer for the gameweek, with his goal involvement underpinned by a decent base payout of 34p. He had 8p from dribbles, 10p from ball recoveries, and 7p from passes made.
Rodrigo – total payout 84p; base payout 44p; 1 goal
Having highlighted Rodrigo for his excruciatingly poor performance against Spurs in GW25, it is only fair he gets a mention here for scoring 84p, including a goal against West Ham on Wednesday. Of course, West Ham did not exactly put Man City to the sword, as evidenced by Rodri making 23p from passes made (around 185 passes), but it is important to recognise that games like this will occur for City players. Even without the goal, Rodri would’ve made a tasty profit for those buying before or around kick off.
Kevin De Bruyne – total payout 93p; payout/min 1.18p; 1 goal, 1 assist
Kevin De Bruyne’s performance this week is perhaps more impressive than Pepe’s, as he registered a 93p payout despite being subbed for a rest with 11 minutes to go. KDB put on a complete performance, earning payouts from a goal, an assist, a shot on target, drbibles, ball recoveries, CBIs, and 14p from passes – which is impressive, even if it looks average compared to Rodrigo’s numbers.
Steven Bergwijn – total payout 67p; base payout 48p
Tottenham’s new signing has had an excellent start to his career in North London. Having scored the opening goal in Spurs’ 2-0 win over Man City last week, this week he won a penalty and was a constant attacking threat to Villa. He registered four shots on target as well as a couple of dribbles, and contributed on the defensive end as well. With Son out for the foreseeable future, Bergwijn may be relied upon more heavily. Expect Mourinho to continue pushing him into goalscoring positions with Lucas Moura worryingly the most viable centre-forward option now.
Heung-Min Son – total payout 85p; payout/min 0.94p; 2 goals
Son’s fractured arm, sustained in the opening minutes against Aston Villa, is every Spurs fan’s worst nightmare at this point; and his displaying on Sunday, despite his injury, shows just what Tottenham will be missing. Despite missing a penalty on Sunday, he paid out 85p (he would’ve been the highest earner for the weekend had he scored from the spot), with two goals, four shots on target, and some defensive contributions. It will be difficult for Spurs to replicate his goal threat and knack for causing panic in opposition defences.
Shane Long – total payout 15p; base payout -4p
Shane Long has the unfortunate distinction of being the only player to make this week’s lineup for a poor performance. He played 86 minutes against Burnley at the weekend, and produced an appalling -4p base payout. He had almost no defensive involvement and offered nothing going forward. While he and many of his teammates were unable to test Nick Pope in the Burnley goal, Long’s performance here highlights the danger with low-involvement strikers. Strike partner Danny Ings has regularly scored goals and offers far more goal threat. But some strikers do a lot of work further away from the goal, and in extreme cases such as this those that aren’t scoring goals can sustain large losses. In Long’s previous game at Liverpool, he paid out only 16p, conceding six fouls.
Gabriel Jesus – total payout 73p; base payout 48p
This selection for this very attacking team’s centre-forward spot is perhaps an odd one. Jesus had a very decent payout of 73p against West Ham on Wednesday, however he managed it without any goal involvement. Jesus is just the sort of striker we have warned about in the past – his involvement is often low, meaning if he doesn’t score, he will struggle to pay out much. On this occasion though, Jesus did everything BUT score; he had four shots on target, five dribbles and ten ball recoveries. This produced an unusually high base payout for a number 9 of 48p.
Despite this, Jesus should not be immune from criticism. His four shots on goal offered a combined xG of 1.08. The easy conclusion to draw from this is that he should have scored. With strikers of his quality though, as long as he is getting into the right positions, the goals will come.