Well, that was fun! A terrible game week for most owners, although some were smart enough to transfer in Lambert and Sissoko as well as captain a certain Welshman. For the rest of us, Gameweek 28 was all about damage control and lost opportunities, myself included. Let’s take a look at last week’s games and all have a nice laugh at my team’s pitiful performance.
Fulham 1 – Stoke City 0
The laziest man in the European football once again displayed his talent. Still though, Fulham’s attack remains underwhelming with just four shots on target and a single clear-cut chance. Stoke has now gone nine games without a clean sheet, although they have given up just six shots on target and one clear-cut chance over the last two. Marc Wilson remains a very attractive budget asset and someone I am targeting as a replacement for Guy Demel.
Arsenal 2 – Aston Villa 1
Oh Theo Walcott, why have you forsaken me? In all reality, Walcott was fine this week and was a bit unlucky not to have scored. He had four shots in the box and created four chances. Numbers like that will usually result in points, it just didn’t happen this time. No need to worry though. As for Mr. Cazorla, I see nothing to get too excited about. While it’s perceived he’s been better than past four matches, his shot and chances created numbers are eerily similar to the previous 23. He’s a differential for certain, but the underlying data suggests Walcott remains the better player.
Norwich City 2 – Everton 1
Not sure why, but it seems to me that Marouane Fellaini cannot get any calls in his favor. Yeah, I know he is a lumbering brute who typically fights through contact rather than dropping like he’s been shot, but he deserves protection nonetheless. His manager throwing him under the bus was even more puzzling. Messi would have dropped like a rock after getting his leg gashed as happened to Fellaini, so I’m not sure what Moyes is talking about. I feel that one or both of Moyes and Fellaini are out the door. Truly a shame.
As for the game, Everton is really struggling on the attack right now and they don’t have a solid enough defense to overcome it. Nikica Jelavic hasn’t scored since early December and the Baines-Pienaar partnership has been out of sorts. Fellaini remains a match up nightmare, but he is constantly doubled and bullied and Everton has no other option. Maybe Mirallas can find his form? On the other side, Norwich is a great defensive buy at home and Robert Snodgrass remains a fairly solid budget midfielder.
Queens Park Rangers 0 – Manchester United 2
Old ‘Arry is in trouble now as QPR sit seven points from safety. The problem is that QPR simply cannot score. Man U. was pretty tame offensively, but Rafael’s wonder strike was enough. The big news of course was RVP’s descent into the camera well leaving thousands to contemplate dropping the Dutch striker. For more discussion on this topic, see my Fantasy Forward Buying Guide.
Reading 0 – Wigan 3
With all due apologies to Royal supporters, Reading is awful. They are pretty clearly the worst team in the league and only a ridiculously high conversion rate has kept hope alive. At this point though, I don’t see any of their assets as ownable, especially on the backline. Yes they are cheap, but is £0.1 – £0.2 really worth playing a defender on a team with just three clean sheets all season?
For Wigan, I was wholly disappointed in Shaun Maloney who had recently shown signs of being a valuable asset. One chance created and no shots on goal won’t cut it, even for a £4.9 enabler.
West Bromwich Albion 2 – Sunderland 1
All hail Lukaku! On your knees you insolent fools, this is your new fantasy God!
I have to admit, watching Romelu Lukaku play is very enjoyable for me. He’s a physical freak who simply manhandles most opponents. He has a lot to learn, but it’s scary to think what this kid can do on a better side. Surely Chelsea will give him that opportunity next season?
Also of interest was Stéphane Sessegnon’s performance as a winger. Shifted outside to accommodate both Graham and Fletcher, Sessegnon accounted for eight penalty box touches, four shots (three in the box) and a couple chances created. Sunderland’s attack has been much better the past couple months and the Beninese midfielder deserves closer scrutiny.
Manchester City 2 – Chelsea 0
Only game I bet on this weekend, taking City to win at -135. Needless to say, I was more than a bit perturbed about the penalty, but the subsequent save and near immediate goal were quite the relief. City dominated the game for the most part but needed the introduction of Carlos Tévez to break the gridlock.
For fantasy purposes, it was pretty much status quo. Agüero looked frisky but lacked the end product. Silva created a ton of chances but offered zero goal threat. Yaya was pushed up front which could be of interest should it become commonplace. It was pretty nondescript for the Blues, although I thought Mata was poor and Hazard looked much more dangerous. This has been a somewhat recurring theme the last few gameweeks and also probably requires closer evaluation going forward. Of course, Rafa subbed Hazard out at the hour mark so maybe I don’t know what I am talking about.
Newcastle United 4 – Southampton 2
The underlying stats here don’t support the scoreline. The teams combined for just seven shots on target and four clear-cut chances. Those numbers would typically be associated with two or three goals, not six.
With that said, Newcastle offers several intriguing offensive assets, especially in the midfield (Cabaye, Sissoko and the returning Ben Arfa are all ownable). Gouffran could also be an interesting differential should he show a bit more goal threat. I would steer clear of their backline though as they haven’t stopped anyone for months.
The major news for Southampton was the dropping of Jason Puncheon for the second time in four weeks. Personally, I am not surprised as Rodriguez seems to have endeared himself to Mauricio Pochettino, leaving just two spots for Lallana, Puncheon, Ramirez and Davis. I do expect he will start more than half the time, but folks should be prepared for the occasional rest for the budget midfielder.
Only other item of note was Boruc’s poor showing, allowing a goal on each and every shot faced. I haven’t watched the game to judge his performance, but I have seen three of the four goals and saw nothing that Boruc could have done (goals seen were the penalty, Sissoko’s box run and Cisse’s ridiculous strike from deep). I think Boruc, Clyne and Shaw remain undervalued defensive assets.
West Ham United 2 – Tottenham 3
Mark Noble owners have to be pissed. Not only did he miss out, but the Hammers drew a penalty that surely would have resulted in five points for the defensive midfielder. Besides that, the big news was Jake Livermore’s scintillating seven minutes on the pitch, in which he touched the ball twelve times and completely befuddled the opposition.
Nah, I’m just playing. Obviously, Gareth Bale was the story. His winning goal was exquisite, but fantasy owners should be more impressed with his ten shots and six chances created. Those are underlying numbers that suggest dominance and the former “jinxed” winger should continue to produce. One would like to see a few more shots in the box though, but that’s nit picking.
SoccerSaber’s Team Review
There it is in all it’s glory! Needless to say, I had a vat of red arrows to greet me on Sunday as I fell in all but three of my leagues. Luckily, it is one of these leagues in which I am playing for money. In that league, I did lose some ground on second and third, but still maintain a 24 point lead on second and 101 point lead on third. All-in-all, it could have been a lot worse.
I am very annoyed at Rafael though as I debated taking him instead of Zabaletta for quite awhile. In the end, I think United are more likely to see a blank in GW 29 so I went with the Argentine to save a future transfer. I should note that this is the second time that Rafael has scored in the gameweek in which I debated his selection but ultimately went another route. Irritating.
My plan this week is to get rid of RVP and begin preparations for FA Cup driven blanks in GW 29. My RVP swap has already been made as I’ve pulled in Luis Suárez for at least the next two fixtures. Needless to say, I will be hoping Liverpool doesn’t lay an egg at Wigan. Surely they have goals in them even on the road? Right?
Beyond that, I have several ideas, but nothing concrete other than moving Fellaini after the Reading clash. Of course, I have no idea who I am bringing in as a replacement. Should have lots of options though with the money freed up from the Van Persie transfer. Money in the bank y’all!