After bragging on about Chelsea’s success last week, the Blues disappointed me with a loss to Newcastle while other teams made up ground, especially the two Manchester clubs who ran over their competition without even trying. Here are the details:
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Newcastle 2 – 0 Chelsea
Chelsea definitely had the better first half in this game but failed to capitalize on their chances. John Terry and Branislav Ivanovic both hit the crossbar and Terry had another shot cleared off the lin. Newcastle made some tactical changes at the half and came out strong in the second. Mathieu Debuchy had a strong game blocking shots, making tackles, and playing with high intensity as he ended up with 15 fantasy points. In the 68th minute, Yoan Gouffran was left unmarked on a free kick and was able to put the ball past Petr Cech. Chelsea fought back and missed a few half-chances but Loic Remy ended the contest with another goal in the 89th minute. This is a cause for worry for Chelsea as they played their best squad and couldn’t come up with a goal or point against Newcastle. The Blues need to regroup with Champions League matches on the horizon and they need to forget about this game as soon as possible. The question will be if Mourinho can motivate these players and keep them in form while he keeps a heavy rotation that doesn’t let the players get into form and stay in it.
Stoke City 1 – 1 Southampton
The beginning of this game was bizarre as Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begovic opened the scoring seconds into the game. Begovic cleared the ball long and the Saints defenders let it bounce, leaving it for Artur Boruc, who was off his line; the ball bounced over him and into the goal. It was just the fourth goal allowed for Southampton this season and it was unfortunate to say the least. The Saints regrouped well and tied the game late in the first half on a Jay Rodriguez header. They had an opportunity to win the game but luck wasn’t on their side and they had to settle for a point, dropping in the standings. Stoke’s point is enough to keep them out of the relegation zone for now but they are awfully close and need to start winning more points at home in close games like these if they wish to stay in the Premier League next season.
Manchester City 7 – 0 Norwich City
This one was never a competition from the start. Manchester City were up by three goals 25 minutes into the game and never let up. The fantasy studs from this game will be too many to name, as there were six different scorers(and an own goal), numerous assists, a clean sheet, and City points everywhere. The big news here despite all the goals was that Joe Hart was on the bench and Costel Pantilimon got the start for City. If you want a cheap goalkeeper that you can potentially keep all season and play every week, this could be your guy. Norwich showed why their players are not popular in the fantasy sphere. Manchester City earn valuable points to stay in the race for the title while Norwich are pushed into the relegation zone.
Fulham 1 – 3 Manchester United
This game started much like the Manchester City one. United were up 3-0 by the 22nd minute with goals from Antonio Valencia, Robin van Persie, and Wayne Rooney. RvP and Rooney both seem to be healthy and in top form and can’t be ignored in fantasy. RvP was one of the best fantasy options last year and despite a rough start to the season, he is back at it again. Despite the positive end result and obvious improvements from United, there is still some cause for concern. Moyes made all his substitutions at half time (there have been reports today that the substitutions were all because of injuries, but I’m not certain if that’s the case) and Fulham then proceeded to pressure and get a goal back. They almost scored more but David de Gea, the crossbar, and lots of luck were all there for United. When you combine that with the fact that Southampton didn’t allow a single chance to Fulham last week and the fact that Manchester struggled against Stoke last time out, you can make a case for Manchester fans to be a bit worried. David Moyes definitely has more work to do, but the three points are a step in the right direction.
Hull City 1 – 0 Sunderland
You would assume Sunderland will build upon their win last week with another impressive display but that was far from the case. The only thing they did was score an own goal(Carlos Cuellar) and get two red cards(Lee Cattermole, Andrea Dossena). Hull City continued their impressive home record and came out with the win. Robbie Brady received a yellow card that absolutely killed his fantasy sheet but fantasy managers who invested in Hull’s defense will enjoy the clean sheet. Note: Hull goalkeeper Allan McGregor is out for six weeks and Steve Harper started in his place.
West Ham 0 – 0 Aston Villa
The low scoring outcome wasn’t too much of a surprise considering how West Ham have played recently but I still expected Christian Benteke to score and was disappointed with his five fantasy points. Despite not scoring, Benteke still looked good. He hit the crossbar and tested Jussi Jaaskelainen late on and if his price falls again, he will once again be a recommended fantasy player to buy low on. West Ham had a few chances themselves but Kevin Nolan missed a great chance to put West Ham ahead. The Hammers have now scored only eight goals in ten games and if things don’t chance, they could be headed in a battle to avoid relegation. Aston Villa are in a similar situation and now that Benteke is healthy again, they need to find their groove and earn some points to avoid the relegation battle.
West Brom 2 – 0 Crystal Palace
West Brom deservedly beat a manager-less Palace side that failed to do anything good. Saido Berahino scored his sixth goal of the season and can now be in the conversation of fantasy choices, but it’s hard to consider someone like him with all of the other great options at the position. West Brom look semi-comfortable in mid-table while Palace are now challenging Sunderland for worst team in the league and sit in last place. They have to change something very quickly or relegation will become unavoidable.
Arsenal 2 – 0 Liverpool
In the game of the weekend, Arsenal outplayed Liverpool in all aspects of the game and deservedly won three points that gave them a five point cushion over anyone else. Arsenal are now looking like serious title contenders and haven’t lost a Premier League game since the first week of the season. Aaron Ramsey scored another fantastic goal and produced a very impressive stat line while Santi Cazorla returned to the fantasy form he was in last season. Liverpool didn’t look impressive in any part of the field and were simply outplayed. Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge failed to create chances and the one chance Suarez got, he blew away (a 1v1 against the keeper that he put wide right of the goal in the 87th minute). The topics of conversation this week will be whether Liverpool could actually contend for a title and if Arsenal can take their form into the Champions League after a loss to Borussia Dortmund last time around.
Everton 0 – 0 Tottenham
In a year where second through eight place are separated by 3 points, it’s easy to see why teams would play rather conservatively in tight matchups such as this one. Tottenham’s heavily criticized defense has been much better than expected this season, with Michael Dawson being the star of the bunch. Hugo Lloris has been decent as well and it showed this game. The question for Spurs is whether they can start creating chances. Roberto Soldado is a good finisher when provided with a chance, but he hasn’t had many of those this year. The new signings are struggling to get anything going and you will start hearing the name André Villas-Boas more often. Everton on the other hand are playing on par with expectations and the signing of Lukaku has been a huge help. Lukaku disappointed fantasy managers this week with negative five points, but he’s been an instrumental part of Everton’s team so far and will continue to be a major piece of the puzzle.
Cardiff 1 – 0 Swansea
The atmosphere at the Welsh derby was as exciting and lively as expected and the game provided plenty of drama and entertainment. Cardiff took the lead in the 62nd minute on a nice Steven Caulker header after a corner kick. Swansea pressured to try to get back into the game but they couldn’t get a goal. Things escalated towards the end as Cardiff’s Fraizer Campbell had a 1 on 1 with Michel Vorm and was tripped by Vorm outside the box. It was an easy red card decision for the referee and Swansea were forced to put an outfield player into goal. From then on, Cardiff just kept the ball away from the Swans and closed out the game 1-0. Swansea defenders weren’t able to get another clean sheet and suffered in the fantasy sheets while Vorm’s red card certainly hurt owners. Michu had another mediocre game and is shaping up to be just that for the season – mediocre. Cardiff still lack a solid fantasy contributor and should be avoided for the time being.
How did your fantasy team do? Did you end up any of the negative point scorers? I ended up with two(Lukaku and Lovren), but I may take this opportunity to keep them at a low price for the future.