Another gameweek has come and gone, leaving fantasy managers with just over thirty percent of the season to make hay in their respective mini-leagues. Gameweek 26 will be remembered for Liverpool’s awful start, the Reds surprising rebound, Michael Laudrup’s inexplicable lineup selection, and the diverging fates of the two Manchester powers. Below see my review the gameweek including notes on my own team’s performance. Enjoy!
Tottenham 2 – Newcastle United 1
Fun game to watch. Nouveau Château Unis is one exciting side these days, with an explosive attack and leaky back line making for great viewing. Sissoko and Gouffran have both been very dangerous and one wonders if Ben Arfa can’t make things even better when he returns in a week or two. Oh and Gareth Bale is pretty good.
Chelsea 4 – Wigan 1
Mata didn’t start, annoying his thousands of owners. In his absence, Hazard showed his potential when provided a bit more of the ball. He is a great differential for those chasing teams with Mata. Torres also played well, which probably makes both he and Ba pretty much non-ownable at this point. With that said, a deep Europa run could afford Ba more EPL time as he is cup tied from his time at Newcastle.
Norwich City 0 – Fulham 0
I had this on my DVR for about 5 hours. I chose not to watch it. Hard to see what is all that exciting about a game with five shots. From a fantasy perspective, Norwich’s defense has potential especially at home. Snodgrass still has a bit of value but is overshadowed by others in his price range (namely Puncheon and the aforementioned Sissoko). At this point, Berbatov should be on the chopping block as two shots on target over 6 games isn’t going to get it done.
Stoke City 2 – Reading 1
Stoke’s defense went from underrated to overrated to possibly underrated once more. Marc Wilson especially deserves interest as his 3.9 price has not comparison among legit fantasy options.
Sunderland 0 – Arsenal 1
Arsenal has 34 goals in seven games this season. In the other nineteen, they have just sixteen. To put it simply, they are overrated. With that said, Walcott is almost a must own these days and several other legitimate fantasy options call Emirates home. Plus, they have one of the easiest schedules remaining. Don’t avoid Arsene’s troops simply because they aren’t winning anything of importance anytime soon.
Swansea City 4 – Queens Park Rangers 1
Michu’s first game was brilliant and left many folks in FPL very depressed, including yours truly. Pablo actually showed up as well, although that’s probably more of an aberration based upon the opponent than anything else. Old ‘Arry ain’t too happy these days as QPR continues to give up a ton of chances in games when it actually attempts to score.
Southampton 3 – Manchester City 1
I knew Southampton was playing well and better than most realized, but I never expected this. A win wasn’t out of the question, but a dominant win most certainly was. Rickie Lambert continues to prove he can play at this level and Jason Puncheon continues to be threatening when not using the facilities. City fans shouldn’t worry though because they have the best manager in the English Premier League.
Aston Villa 2 – West Ham United 1
Huge win for Villa as Christian Benteke continues to make a case for bigger glory for larger clubs and in international duties. Andy Carroll was his usual craptastic self, but the guy does at least work hard. This Hammers club is still a tough beat at home, but there’s not too much exciting in Upton Park these days.
Manchester United 2 – Everton 1
No matter what you think of Sir Alex, the guy is never scared of taking a chance. This week, it was a decision to man mark Maruoane Fellaini pretty much everywhere he went. The tactic worked as Fellaini had just one shot on goal and Everton barely threatened David De Gea. This one pretty much wrapped up the title for United, presuming premature celebrations don’t result in any unexpected defeats in the next few weeks.
Liverpool 0 – West Bromwich Albion 2
Wow was this horrible. Poor performance by Liverpool, but some personnel decisions on both side deserve questioning. Jonjo Shelvey was absolutely horrible and probably should be benched for the remainder of the year. Normally solid Glen Johnson looked drunk, while Luis Suarez reverted back to his previous reckless profligacy. Even a soft penalty couldn’t save the Reds from a killer loss to what should have been an over matched foe. Speaking of over matched, why on Earth was Romelu Lukaku not in the lineup from the get go? The man is almost unmarkable right now. That Belgian World Cup team should be pretty fun eh (presuming they qualify, of course)?
Liverpool 5 – Swansea City 0
The gem of the week, at least for me. Sitting down ten on the week to my second place rival, I was resigned to the fact I was losing my league lead. Then, Michael Laudrup came to my rescue. By dropping Michu, he eliminated one of my nearest competitor’s biggest differentials. More importantly though was the reaction of his players who seemed to take the lineup selection as an excuse to not give a damn. Liverpool absolutely destroyed Swansea, accumulated an absurd 35 shots on goal. Thirty-freaking-five!!! Already giddy from the performance, I was provided an unexpected bonus when Mr. Gerrard unselfishly stepped aside and let Daniel Sturridge take the last penalty. This represented a fourteen point swing without counting bonus point possibilities as I own Sturridge and my main competition captained Gerrard. What a break!
My Team Review
Solid week for me across the board. The movement to double up with Sturridge was successful although a bit unlucky due to his absence in the first game. Enrique and Suarez were fantastic obviously and more than made up for poor performances by Fellaini, Mata and Davies. Sagna registered another clean sheet in what should be his penultimate game on my squad. Finally, in the back, Bunn continued his fantastic value with his second consecutive clean sheet and third in five.
The week left me up 27 on second and a comfortable 116 on third. No one else in my league is within 140 points. I have seen green arrows on my overall ranking nine of the last eleven weeks and am now in the top 9,000 overall. Not too bad for a bloke from Chicago.
This week, I have a huge dilemma. My original plan was to move Suarez and Davies out for Aguero and Clichy. Unfortunately, I have no confidence that Clichy is locked on, so that no longer seems prudent. I am going forward with the Suarez > Aguero swap as I remain convinced that Aguero will have a big final third of the season. While Suarez still represents excellent attacking potential, his numbers aren’t better than Sturridge and the premium simply isn’t worth it (see my upcoming forward evaluation post for more details). Thus, Sturridge becomes a season long keeper while the Uruguayan gets shipped out for his fellow South American counterpart. No idea yet what I will do in my back line.
I will have more discussion about transfers and lineup changes in my upcoming Gameweek Preview and Starting XI post.