Tottenham v Chelsea - This was certainly a true London derby between a much improved Spurs side and a Mourinho guided Chelsea. The tackles were hard, the play exciting, and the controversy high. If you happened to watch the game, the personal battle between Fernando Torres and Jan Vertonghen was quite hilarious! It looked like two school boys throwing a tantrum on the pitch. The Torres "claw", was probably a bit far, but his second Yellow Card was really nothing much to warrent that action. Needless to say Torres may be facing a lengthy time on the sideline, leaving Et'o and the out of favor Ba as Chelsea's only strikers. It makes you think that Chelsea and Mourinho could have really used Lukaku to be a much more effective physical presence and goal threat. Everton will reap the rewards. For next week, Oscar continues to look a real fantasy treat with Terry probably a safe option for the Chelsea defense. Tottenham continues to impress, even without record forward signing Roberto Soldado failing to find the net yet again. Sigurdsson is turning back into the fantasy force we saw with Swansea. Having seemingly nailed down the starting flank role, Siggy looks to offer his best, be on alert.
Southampton v Crystal Palace - Another solid if not spectacular performance from Southampton. Differential pick Osvaldo got off the mark for the campaign with a cool finish only followed by a fantastic Ricky Lambert freekick. This could be the kick Osvaldo has needed to start a run of form, he may yet again prove to be a good differential. Southampton's defense once again collected the clean sheet. Boruc and Lovren look solid picks, even more so if you have them at discount. Crystal Palace really looked out of sorts and serious improvement in needed if they hope to stay up this season. Why Chamakh didn't pull the trigger and went for the dive is a sad site in the game. Until we see some step up in form, Crystal Palace will be a team to load up against.
Aston Villa v Manchester City - The first major upset of the weekend, and a bit of a shocker from Manchester City. Just as we thought Aston Villa would struggle without Benteke and Manchester City had hit the right form after a few early stumbles, we got this incredible 5 goal match. Yaya Toure continued his justification of selection in your fantasy teams with another goal on the 45min mark. But Villa answered right away in the second half and never looked out of sight even when Dzeko regained the lead. It should really be said that it was more down to Aston Villa's pursuit of City's defense, persistent counters, and never say die attitude that brought them the victory. Manchester City certainly looked out of ideas after Villa leveled through Bacuna. It was there on a plate for Villa and Weimann took it for them. Aston Villa certainly answered the question, "Can they cope without Benteke?" The answer seems to be yes. While Yaya Toure and City's forward line still look good prospects, their defense has continually been called into question. It is safe to say most won't be picking Joe Hart any time soon. This is worrying for Manchester City to be so up and down, but it certainly makes for a much more exciting Premier League season.
Hull City v West Ham United - Not much to love with this one, but R(OB)bie Brady produced another fantasy "Gold" performance. He has retained his spot kick duties and looks like our first "Newly Promoted Stud". He will certainly garner investment most of the season. If you have at discount he may be a "bench keeper" if not an out right starter each week given his current form. But if you are paying full price (like myself) he may be better as a game to game pick up. West Ham continued show signs of quality, but ultimately lack the killer shot. Andy Carrol is sorely missed as not only a physical presence but a major central target. Not much to get excited about from West Ham until then.
Fulham v Cardiff City - Not really a blockbuster match, but an exciting finish none the less. Whittingham continues to take kicks for Cardiff and Caulker may be an interesting prospect in home matches. As for Fulham, Dimitar Berbatov returned to action and Bryan Ruiz came back to score off the bench. But both were unable to stop a worrying slide for Fulham this season. One big question I have is: What is Adel Taraabt doing day to day to justify NOT be selected for the starting 11 each week? He may just be a difficult personality, but his trickery and ball control is definitely needed to inject some life into this Fulham side. Darren Bent playing as the lone striker with Berbatov tuck in the "hole" and Taraabt on the right wing to allow him to cut onto his favored left for a shot sounds like a strong force. With Ruiz coming back and offering alternatives, Fulham certainly shouldn't be in their current predicament. I do believe they will find their feet and justify selection further down the line.
Manchester United v West Bromwich Albion - It was supposed to be a routine win, a solid clean sheet, and ample fantasy returns.. wasn't it? Well, this was certainly the second major upset of the weekend, and one you almost felt is showing a pattern. David Moyes gambled with an odd United side that frustrated many with the omission of Vidic and Patrice Evra. Robin van Persie was inexplicably left out completely (one eye on the Champion's League obviously), which further damaged what was supposed to be a fruitful fantasy match. Wayne Rooney again proved to be a smart fantasy investment, however he was out shadowed by a very dangerous West Brom side. Never looking afraid to attack the reigning champions, West Brom took their chances smartly and effectively. Amalfitano was one I mentioned last week as one to watch, and has again showed some quality returns. Manchester United sit 12th in the table, a shocking position for a team that was so dominant last season. We will wait and see just if David Moyes can turn this around.
Swansea City v Arsenal - What can we say? Arsenal are top of the league and have completely blown the league into whacky world. Can Arsenal really pull off this title run? On current form I think this is very likely. Aaron Ramsey continues to be a BEAST and is now officially a "Blog Favorite". Ozil was kept quite and Giroud continued to impress albiet without a goal. But the Arsenal youngster Gnabry produced a stunning performance with a goal and assist (did you see that backheel??). Theo Walcott will remain on the sidelines for a couple more weeks so Gnabry looks a real differential pick and one to possibly justify short term investment. As it stands now, Ozil/Ramsey and possibly Giroud look solid picks week in week out. Swansea City didn't have a bad game by any means, they continued to play with attack and vigor but were unfortunately undone by an expert Arsenal attack. Ben Davies scored again, a bit aggrieved I didn't spot him sooner before his price shot up. A big shout out to KM for smartly having noticed him early on! Michu will continue to have solid performances with no return and fantastic ones with great returns, No need to stray too far away.
Stoke City v Norwich City - This match definitely didn't follow what many of us here at the blog had predicted would be a solid defensive return from Stoke. With a stuttering Norwich side visiting the Britannia Stadium, investment in Begovic and Shawcross looked good. Form me I wrestled between both Begovic and Boruc, but unfortunately opted for the former. Norwich didn't really create much or overly justify the win, but sometimes these games are needed to kick start a good run of form. Getting that bit of luck can be crucial. Hopefully we will see van Wolfswinkle start to bag some goals (we had such high hopes given his name!). Otherwise not much from each sides attack. I would expect Stoke to regain some sort of the defensive effort that made the Britannia a fortress for so long, so no need to be scared if the match up is right.
Sunderland v Liverpool - Suarez! Suarez! Suarez! He's back and looking sharp. Scored a brace to grab the headlines and the fantasy points, making him an excellent captain for this week. Daniel Sturridge also got back onto the score sheet with a goal and assist, albiet with his hand. Sometimes these goals are missed and are certainly harsh, but that's human error. But the rest of the Liverpool performance was excellent. Solid returns from Gerrard and even Mignolet who allowed a goal. Giaccherini brought some self belief to Sunderland by scoring an uplifting goal early in the second half. Sunderland will certainly turn their current form around, the signs are there. Once a solid manager appointed, it will be interesting to see how Sunderland will respond.
Everton v Newcastle United - Whoa, Lukaku is the real deal. How Mourinho could possibly justify letting this crucial asset go off on loan AGIAN, is beyond me. He continues to dominate in the box with his physical presence and his eye for goal is excellent. Barkley once again sparkled and produced a fine performance to cap off another win for Everton. The only downside to Everton's attacking display, Leighton Baines was left out in the cold with a Yellow Card to boot. Many managers had opted to select him as captain after the double in last weeks match. My thoughts are he will have some spectacular games, generally steady fantasy returns, and the odd "off" match. He will probably be in my team most weeks. Newcastle just seemed lifeless in the first half as Everton bombed 3 goals past their shaky defense. But the second half proved a turning point with a beautiful Cabaye strike and another Loric Remy goal. Debutchy seems to be able to pull out a decent amount of points each week regardless of the fixture and impressed with an assist. Can't seem to drop the guy, but so far he is justifying his selection.
I finished the week on 165pts with a huge boost from Brady, Yaya, Ramsey, Rooney, Suarez (capt), and Sturridge. The trouble is now who to cut from the squad for the next game week. Do they justify selection regardless of fixture? How did you teams fair and who did you look to bring on the BD?