Footballers are a rare breed – but they are also very vulnerable – an injury or a suspension can often mean that a player who has been overlooked, suddenly finds himself thrust into the spotlight. If he delivers, he can cement his place in the side for many weeks to come and there is little the replaced player can do about it.
However, before we focus on a couple of players for whom opportunity knocks as a result of unforeseen circumstances here’s those all-important goal expectancies ahead of the penultimate round of Premier League fixtures.
West Ham United and Liverpool players are sure to be popular as highlighted in our double gameweek feature, however, there is a good chance that Klopp will try to preserve one or two of his star men after last night’s heroics.
Manchester United visit Carrow Road in the early kick-off and this looks a great opportunity for Ander Herrera to lay claims to a starting spot in the upcoming FA Cup final. Marouane Fellaini has been given a 3 match ban after his altercation with Robert Huth last week, meaning that he will not be available until the Wembley showpiece event against Crystal Palace. Herrera has only started 15 league games but he is a firm favourite with the United fans and if he can add to the 3 goals and 2 assists he has recorded to date, over the next 3 games, he might just do enough to convince Louis van Gaal that he deserves a starting spot against Palace.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has unfortunately been ruled out of Euro 2016 after suffering a knee injury in training. His team-mate Theo Walcott continues to be a peripheral figure for the Gunners, while Raheem Sterling has failed to justify his inflated price-tag after his contentious move from Liverpool to Manchester City.
In contrast Andros Townsend has found a rich vein of form that has seen him contribute 3 goals and 2 assists in his last 6 appearances.
Wins against Aston Villa and Tottenham Hotspur might be enough for Newcastle to preserve their top-flight status. Townsend has completed the full 90 minutes in 5 of his last 6 starts, so will surely be relishing the chance to get at the Villa defence this weekend. The relegated Midlands club are likely to field a 3-man defence, meaning that Townsend could get plenty of space in behind their preferred wing-back (Leandro Bacuna or Keiren Richardson). Helping the Magpies to secure their Premier League status should be a big enough incentive, but the prospect of representing England in France is also an irresistible notion.
Never rule out motivation at this stage of the season!