Such is the reach of the Premier League playing population that over the course of the international games over the past week-end (++), all six continents’ qualifiers had at least one Premier League representative. We scan the globe, quite literally, to pick out the FPL players whom had done well and not so well.
We start our round-up 19,000 km in New Zealand, where Burnley new signing Chris Wood scored a hat-trick for New Zealand against Solomon Islands in a 6-1 rout in the first leg. He didn’t even bother to play in the return leg as the Kiwis lie just two games away from the FIFA World Cup. They could of course be playing one of Chile / Argentina / Uruguay in over that two-legged game…
Back to Africa, where Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane both found the net for Egypt and Senegal respectively. Chelsea’s Victor Moses and Leicester new boy Kelechi Iheanacho were also on the score-sheet for Nigeria. Newcastle’s center-back Chancel Mbemba also found the net but more on him later.
In the hotly contested South America qualifiers, Willian and Philippe Coutinho scored for Brazil over two separate games. Interestingly enough for Coutinho, he seemed to have shaken off an injury that kept him out of Liverpool’s first three league game. He now returns to the club knowing that he cannot move to Barcelona for at least another four months.
Many different FPL players did well and scored in the European qualifiers so there is only room to highlight a handful. Top of the pile is Denmark and Spurs’ Christian Eriksen, who had 2 goals and 3 assists over two games, including a superb free-kick against Armenia. Manchester United’s Romelu Lukaku continued his goal-scoring form with four goals in two qualifiers but trust me, every Premier League opponent will be tougher than Gibraltar (he scored a hat-trick). Chelsea’s Eden Hazard also found the net in his first game since returning from injury so could be in-line to start for his club this weekend.
England’s Harry Kane scored twice and Marcus Rashford had a good outing against Slovakia (1 Goal 1 Assist). Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil brushed off a bad start to his club season by scoring twice and providing an assist for the Germans. Ozil is now Germany’s all time assist provider.
Elsewhere, a few others deserving special mentions include Brighton’s Davy Propper, who opened his international account with two goals for the Netherlands against Bulgaria. Liverpool’s Ben Woodward also became Wales’ second youngest ever goal-scorer with a long-range strike against Austria. He has yet to score a Premier League goal for Liverpool. The Northern Ireland FPL trio of Johnny Evans, Chris Brunt and Steven Davis all deserve credit for helping the Ulster-men to their fourth and fifth win in a row.
Magpie Chancel Mbemba hurt himself playing for DR Congo and Swansea’s Jordan Ayew is out with a bout of sickness that hopitalised him back in native Ghana. Otherwise it has been a relatively peaceful week in terms of injuries for FPL managers (Phew!!).
However, it had been a very torrid week for Leicester’s Riyad Mahrez. He apparently missed his nation’s first of two qualifiers to secure a move that did not materialise. When he came back to play for Algeria’s return game against Zambia, they lost (again), eliminating themselves from qualification. Where will he go from now?
Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez bore the brunt of criticisms as Chile fell to two defeats that left their campaign in tatters. Like Mahrez, he failed to secure a move away from the Emirates on deadline day and will return to his club as a man under pressure.
Also returning to their clubs in shock is France’s FPL contingent (Hugo Lloris / Lorient Koscielny /N’golo Kante / Paul Pogba / Oliver Giroud / Alexandre Lacazette) – they were involved in a 0-0 shocker against part-timers Luxembourg.
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