The final international break of 2021 is over and most FPL managers continued to rejoice during Chelsea’s lunchtime domination over Leicester. Reece James and Ben Chilwell started at wing-back once again, although their advanced positioning made them Chelsea’s focal point in attack. However, such is the fickle world of FPL, Cesar Azpilicueta has went from must-have to must-avoid in a matter of weeks.
The form of James and Chilwell is relentless and they, once again, have delivered both a clean sheet and an attacking return. The former Leicester man’s corner was headed home by Antonio Rudiger, before James set up N’Golo Kante to make it 2-0.
Kai Havertz frustrated his owners again, proving ineffective in attack before being replaced in a double substitution for Hakim Ziyech and Christian Pulisic – naturally, both linked up for the third goal.
There was an early fright for the 3pm kick-offs when a blue-ticked Conor Gallagher tweeted that he had tested positive for Covid. However, his many new managers were relieved to discover it was a different Conor Gallagher. The Crystal Palace man was fine to play, providing an assist in their entertaining draw at Burnley.
And it wasn’t the only 3-3, as Newcastle were held at home to Brentford during Eddie Howe’s first match in charge. The much-bought Callum Wilson managed to somehow not get involved, with Ivan Toney finally scoring a goal to match his popularity. It ended a streak of five blanks, on a day when the poor recent form of strikers began to turn around. 12 different front men found the net, although West Ham’s Michail Antonio still couldn’t – now with just one goal from his last six matches.
Although Howe’s Newcastle failed to win, both Steven Gerrard and Dean Smith grabbed opening victories as the new managers of Aston Villa and Norwich. However, despite these headline-grabbing acts, the main story came at Vicarage Road where Man United may be about to seek their own bounce. They were humiliated 4-1 by Watford, with a red card for Harry Maguire thrown in as well.
Not only did Watford goalkeeper Ben Foster have a quiet match, he found time to assist the fourth goal. A Gameweek 11 penalty save, a Gameweek 12 assists – whatever next for the bargain shot stopper?
The day’s eighth and final game took place at Anfield, where Liverpool trounced Arsenal. Trent Alexander-Arnold assisted Sadio Mane’s header, then Diogo Jota pounced on a defensive error to make it 2-0. Mohamed Salah ended his two-game goalless ‘streak’, before Alexander-Arnold laid on another assist to cap things at 4-0.