Barkley making up for lost time
Last week I talked about how an injury to Tammy Abraham provided an unlikely opportunity for Olivier Giroud, one he took pretty well on Sunday against Everton with an excellent all-round display in leading the line, which was capped off with a well-taken and deserved goal.
But he’s not the only one benefiting from a series of injuries at Stamford Bridge. It’s been an up and down season for Ross Barkley that included that missed penalty at home in the Champions League and a run of 12 games without making an appearance in the league.
With the likes of N’Golo Kante, Christian Pulisic, Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic all out injured, he started at the weekend and put in arguably his best performance of the season, assisting two goals.
Gareth Southgate clearly likes him and would love it if he was getting more minutes at Stamford Bridge. For all England’s embarrassment of riches in some areas, central midfield isn’t necessarily one of them.
If Barkley were to play a fair bit between now and the end of the season ad put in some good performances, Southgate may be tempted to start him at Euro 2020. It’s 7/2 he scores at Aston Villa and 4/6 that he’s named in Southgate’s initial squad of 23.
Martial flying well under the radar
The case of Anthony Martial is a bit different. The former Monaco man would have been a certain starter for Manchester United all season anyway but seems to have enjoyed being the main man with Marcus Rashford out injured.
Not only did he win the Goal of the Month award on Match of the Day for his strike against Watford but his goal against Manchester City at the weekend was the third game in his last four where he scored. Admittedly he’s been helped by the arrival of the highly impressive Bruno Fernandes but he deserves plenty of credit of his own.
That goal on Sunday made it 11 for the season without anyone really noticing and you wouldn’t discount him making it 12 when he goes to Tottenham this Sunday. Against a porous defence fresh from conceding another three at Leipzig, the 7/5 he scores makes appeal.
The goals market that looks wrong
It’s not often that you see a wrong price on Betfair but we may just have found one. 78% of Brighton’s home games this season have had under 2.5 goals as have 61% of Arsenal’s away games this season. Last season the match in Brighton between the two ended 1-1. Brighton are fresh from drawing 0-0 at Wolves while Arsenal just about got over the line with a tight 1-0 win over West Ham.
So with all these stats suggesting a low-scoring match, why is ‘unders’ the outsider at [2.04]? Answers on a postcard.
Ederson feeling the strain
You know it’s not going to be Manchester City’s season when their most reliable player over the last few years is making blunders.
Ederson did remarkably well to recover with a last-ditch tackle on our man Martial after he let the ball roll under his feet from a backpass on Sunday. But he wasn’t so fortunate the second time round, his misjudged throw leading to Scott McTominay’s late goal, the Scot catching Ederson off his line and sealing the win in style. He could also have done a better job of trying to keep out Martial’s effort which led to the first goal.
In truth, that late error probably didn’t make much of a difference given it was so late on but those mistakes are a sign of the strain that City’s Champions League ban for next season is having on everyone at the club.
With Burnley having scored six goals in their last four league matches, Ederson not at his best and Aymeric Laporte out injured again, you can easily make a case for both teams to score at 23/20.
Sidibe set to stay?
Everton’s Djibril Sidibe says he wants to secure a permanent deal at Goodison Park when his loan deal at Monaco ends in June. It would be a good move for Everton to secure the services of the Frenchman, whose strength, pace and positive runs down that right side have added something to Everton’s game.
His run in the side has meant that club captain Seamus Coleman has missed out plenty of late but if Everton are to have greater ambition going forward, they’ll need not one but two classy players in every position.