The latest batch of midweek games produced some surprises, some great talking points, and a lot of strong individual performances, particularly in midfield. This week’s lineup sees a couple of players fill in in familiar – but not first-choice – positions. Readers might note a lack of low-scoring performances in the lineup, but sadly aside from the usual whipping boys, there were few really poor performances to speak of.
Emiliano Martinez – total payout 69p; base payout 49p
It’s somehow fitting that the first name mentioned was at the heart of the week’s biggest upset. Liverpool have nothing left to play for, while Arsenal are somewhat on the periphery of the race for Europa League football next season. Perhaps for these reasons, Arsenal grabbing a win at the Emirates shouldn’t be too much of a surprise, but the dynamics we’ve mentioned manifested themselves in surprising ways. Alisson and Van Dijk, two players who have put Liverpool over the edge to make them PL Champion material, made particularly clumsy errors to allow Arsenal to come from behind, but it was largely down to Emiliano Martinez that Arsenal were able to hold on for the win.
Martinez, who has been loaned out for much of his ten years with Arsenal, has been consistently solid since stepping in for Bernd Leno a few weeks ago. Against Liverpool he made eight saves and earned 6p from passes made to register a 49p base payout, the highest of the gameweek.
Aaron Cresswell – total payout 63p; base payout 43p
In the last, but probably most important fixture in the gameweek, West Ham ran riot in the first half at home to Watford. The Hammers took a 3-0 lead into the interval, effectively sealing their Premier League status for next season. While Watford came out for the second half with the bit between their teeth, Aaron Cresswell played a huge part in keeping them at bay. He had a fine base payout of 43p, constituted of a shot on target, eight ball recoveries, nine CBIs and around 50 completed passes.
Cesar Azpilicueta – total payout 62p; base payout 37p
Cesar Azpilicueta has been a regular in our team of the week since lockdown, and he produced another solid performance on Tuesday, albeit against a meek Norwich side. Chelsea were looking to get back on track after losing 3-0 to Sheffield United, and they were persistent in not allowing Norwich to get out of their half. Azpilicueta did well in that respect, with four ball recoveries and ten CBIs to his name, as well as earning 11p for passes made. Due to the personnel available, he fills in at centre-back here, a position he has played plenty of times for Chelsea.
Declan Rice – total payout 74p; base payout 37p; 1 goal
One of the performers of the week was Declan Rice, who earns his second TOTW selection since lockdown. He’s been a high baseline player over the course of the season, and registered his seventh 60p+ performance of the season as West Ham beat Watford. His base payout was again solid at 37p, and he topped off the performance with a wonderful goal. While he is also having to fill in for us as centre-half, his role in West Ham’s midfield has grown and he is becoming a classy all-round operator.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka – total payout 62p; base payout 37p
While Manchester United didn’t have the easiest of times at Selhurst Park, they came away unscathed, keeping a clean sheet by the finest of margins. AWB’s payout of 62p is perhaps reflective of Palace’s reliance on Wilfried Zaha, who lined up on the left of the Palace attack. Nonetheless, Zaha looked in the mood, and Wan-Bissaka did well to keep him quiet (save for a couple of close decisions). Wan-Bissaka secured a base payout of 37p despite earning a first-half yellow card – he had 3p for dribbles, 4p for tackles won, 7p for ball recoveries, 14p for CBis and 8p for passes made.
Wilfred Ndidi – total payout 71p; base payout 46p
Leicester secured European football with a solid win over Sheffield United on Thursday. While a difficult proposition on paper, the Blades looked to be blunted with Wilfred Ndidi controlling the midfield. The Ivorian anchorman was imperious defensively, earning 16p from CBIs, 12p from ball recoveries and 10p from tackles won for an excellent base payout of 46p. Since that game, we have already seen Leicester go to Spurs and lose 3-0, while Ndidi was overrun, showing his importance to this Leicester side.
Tomas Soucek – total payout 61p; 1 goal
Soucek’s inclusion here may seem a little generous on the strength of his performance against Watford, but the Czech midfielder has been vital to West Ham’s revival since lockdown. Few sides have been able to improve their form so convincingly in this recent run of fixtures, but Tomas Soucek has, along with Michail Antonio, led the charge for West Ham. His excellent header against Watford was his third goal since lockdown, and particularly with a lack of other options, we feel this sort of consistency at such a vital time deserves recognition.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg – total payout 64p; base payout 42p
The story for Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg has been rather different. While his midfield partner James Ward-Prowse has been a permanent fixture over the last month, Hojbjerg has been rotated fairly regularly with Oriol Romeu. The Dane was on top form against Brighton, although Saints fans will have disappointed that their side could only manage a draw. Hojbjerg paid out 64p, with 15p from shots on target, 13p from ball recoveries and 13p from passes made. Assuming no big personnel changes over the summer at Southampton, we would expect Hojbjerg to play 90 minutes more regularly when the football is spread out more evenly.
David Silva – total payout 74p; 1 goal, 1 assist
Although it is perhaps being indulged by Pep, this David Silva swansong is fantastic to see. Silva was one of City’s first big signings after the club came into money nearly a decade ago, and while he has been subject to heavier rotation this season, he has played 90 minutes more often than people might have expected in the last few weeks. His performance helped City to secure victory against a plucky Bournemouth side, with the Spaniard opening the scoring early on and assisting Gabriel Jesus’ eventual winning goal later on.
Marcus Rashford – total payout 87p; base payout 37p; 1 goal, 1 assist
The headline performer for GW36+ is undoubtedly Marcus Rashford. He has slowly been finding his feet again on the football pitch after a busy break taking on British politics, and with his performance against Palace it seems fair to say he is back. He scored United’s first by tucking the ball into the bottom corner after tricking two defenders and the goalkeeper with a delightful drag-back, and assisted Anthony Martial on the second with ten minutes to go. While United took time to grow into the game, Rashford was able to produce on both ends, as he earned 10p from shots on target, 4p from dribbles, 8p from ball recoveries and 10p from passes made.
Harry Kane – total payout 59p; base payout 7p; 2 goals
As we mentioned in the introduction, there weren’t many memeable performances to speak of this gameweek. Those who upset the apple cart last week – namely McGoldrick, Trezeguet and Solanke – reverted to type this week. McGoldrick and Trezeguet drew blanks and earned negative base payouts, while Solanke did relatively well against City; teammate Callum Wilson paid out a miserly 16p despite registering an assist, though. We want to avoid beating the horse that is very definitely dead, though, so Harry Kane will partner Marcus Rashford up front.
As England’s talismanic striker, and one of the world’s best in an era where great number 9s are not all that common, it is great to see Kane get on the scoresheet. He had a brace as Tottenham beat Newcastle 3-1, but he struggled to contribute otherwise. He registered a weak base payout of 7p, although this certainly would not have been helped by his yellow card. Kane’s game is far too complete for him to contribute purely on the strength of his goalscoring, but in this fixture, Spurs were up against it and Kane converted the two shots he had. While his base score is poor, he served well anybody who bought him as his payout could’ve been a lot worse.