Manchester City v Everton - Can anybody stop Romelu Lukaku? He has been in excellent form since joining Everton on loan and is seriously asking the question of why Mourinho felt he should be farmed out AGAIN. Manchester City were able to pull the win out despite goings down early with Negredo, Sergio Aguero, and a Tim Howard own goal ending Everton's unbeaten run. One thing is for certain, City's attack remains strong, but huge questions are being asked of their defense. At this point you should be avoiding what used to be a solid backbone with the exception of Kolarov, who remains on free kicks. As for Everton, Leighton Baines and Lukaku should get ample investment after the international break facing Hull City at home.
Cardiff City v Newcastle United - Well we certainly expected Cardiff to be a much tougher side at home, but Newcastle looked dangerous for large stretches of the match. Loic Remy looks a real fantasy assets notching twice after a solid start to life for the Geordies. Yohan Cabaye again was impressive and only narrowly missed out from getting onto the score sheet. Ben Arfa was dropped to the bench and has certainly cooled since his fine showing in the early portion of the season. Cardiff City remain off my radar for fantasy purposes, with Whittingham putting in a disappointing fantasy showing after many showed faith in the midfielder. Cardiff should have more strong performances at home, but unless the match up is tasty, ill be avoiding for the most part.
Liverpool v Crystal Palace - Liverpool have been devastating in the first half of their matches so far this season. No team has scored more goals within the first 20 minutes than Liverpool. Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez are forming a highly effective partnership and those who stuck with both (as many of us did) were handsomely rewarded. Gerrard was tipped in the player picks to get onto the score sheet for the first time this season and he duly delivered from the spot to give Liverpool a 3 goal lead before half. But the worrying thing for Liverpool seems to be the dip in form in the second half, which has been apparent in most of their matches thus far. It was very disappointing for many to see the let down lead to a goal for Crystal Palace and thus a loss of crucial clean sheet points. Against tougher opposition, Liverpool may well find it hard to turn the match if they go down early in the second half. Certainly going to be tough to decide which Pool players to keep and which to drop. Crystal Palace on the other hand look like a team ripe for relegation. Unless Ian Holloway can get his side functioning defensively and get Chamakh onto the score sheet, they will struggle all season. Thus far, no Palace players demand selection for our fantasy teams.
Hull City v Aston Villa - You've probably read this match analysis on EuroSport, but this was a truly dull affair. Hull City obviously missed Robby Brady's deliveries and presence. Tom Huddlestone took over most free kicks in his absence and could possibly be a short term replacement on a goo match up week, but if future matches go the way this one did, you should probably avoid all together. Aston Villa were without the injured Christian Benteke and looked a shadow of their normal selves with the dominating Belgian in the side. I wouldn't get too excited by the Brad Guzan clean sheet (another hat tip to the player picks) as Aston Villa won't come by those often. Until both sides star men come back from injury, your funds are better used elsewhere.
Fulham v Stoke City - Darren Bent climbed off the bench to score the winning goal for Martin Jol's struggling Fulham side. Dimitar Berbativ was rather ineffective but didn't get the support from the midfield that would have helped the Bulgarian find the back of the net. Bent will be one to watch to see if he can nail down a regular starting berth, but as it stands it seems Jol's preferred front two are Berbatov and Ruiz. Stoke are looking in bad shape as they cannot seem to do anything in front of goal. So much has been said about Mark Hughes taking over and injecting new vigor into a boring Pulis side, but without goals, is he really doing much better? This is another dent in what was a strong defensive side over the years and makes me weary of bringing in solid performers such as Asmir Begivic until Stoke prove they can compete week in week out.
Sunderland v Manchester United - Over reaction should be the main headline from this match. Adan Januzaj saved United from another timid performance with two brilliant goals after Sunderland had taken the early lead. The 18 year old is already being tipped for a move to Barca if his new deal falls through with United. But let's take into account he is only 18, scored against the worst team in the league, and has really yet to prove himself at any top level. As for fantasy purposes, if he can nail down a starting berth on the wing, he may be worth a punt week to week. As for Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie, this game seems a one off and I expect both to be back amongst the goals in short time. Sunderland, on the other hand, have again impressed even in defeat. The shackles of Di Canio's reign of suppression seem to be falling off and Gus Poyet is in line to take over. Usually the introduction of a new manager pays immediate dividends and players like Giaccherini and Altidore might be worth the punt (I know I keep rooting for my compatriot and US men's national Jozy to get back to scoring ways).
Southampton v Swansea City - Adam Lallana ended his goalless drought and produced a fine performance in Saints home win over Swansea. He comes firmly back into our thinking as Southampton again proved to be the inform team currently punching above their weight. Boruc and Lovren produced another fine clean sheet and I am kicking myself for not getting at least one of them in before their prices soared. Be prepared to select Southampton week to week given their current form. As for Swansea, they played long stretches of the match with composure and skill, but lacked decisiveness in front of goal. Certainly Michu has proven he wasn't a one season pony from last year and will duly grace many fantasy teams week in week out. But he may be better in selection in front of his own fans, unless the match up is too good to pass up.
Norwich City v Chelsea - After a positive early goal from Oscar, you'd have thought Chelsea would run away with this match. But not shutting out the game early allowed Norwich City to fight back and nick the tying goal early in the second half. Chelsea then left it late to score twice before final time through an easily stoppable Hazzard shot and a magnificent Willian volley. The biggest surprise from this match was Mourinho's decision to bring forgotten striker Demba Ba back into the starting 11 where he squandered two very good chances to score. The worrying thing here for Chelsea is the lack of goals from their front line, but given the midfield players at their disposal, has been some what over shadowed. We keep thinking Samuel Et'o will get off the mark at some point, but with the threat of rotation, might be a risky bet. A this point, Oscar and Chelsea's back 4 seem the only nailed down starters week to week. Norwich City, for the most part, played their hearts out and it was incredibly unfortunate for them to give up 2 late goals. I think Chris Houghton can turn this slump around but he needs the support and backing of the board. Certainly he needs to get van Wolfswinkle firing if he hopes to retain his post. Nathan Redman continues to be an interesting pick if the match up is right.
West Bromwich Albion v Arsenal - Yet another industrious display by the Midlands boys. If you were offered 4 points against United away and Arsenal at home, you'd jump at the chance. West Brom seem to be clicking and putting up strong performances against tough opposition. Amalfitano continues to be the man to watch and is consistently West Brom's most dangerous player. Arsenal, on the other hand, relied on a very rare Jack Wilshire strike, with Arsene Wenger saying in the post match conference not to expect many more goals from his young midfield talent. A bit odd, but it just might be his way of motivating Wilshire to get onto the score sheet more often. It was a quiet performance from fantasy monsters Ozil, Ramsey, and Giroud, but it is certainly not the time to jump off the bandwagon. Arsenal currently share top spot with Liverpool and there is no need to think they cannot continue in their stellar form.
Tottenham v West Ham - I don't think anyone expected this local derby to go the way it did, least of all the Spurs support. A 3-0 humbling at home to a goal shy West Ham side brought very little fantasy returns for many who opted to select Tottenham players in what was supposed to be a juicy match. Jermain Defoe was selected ahead of Soldado, further frustrating many managers, however given Soldado's lack of production and Defoe's cup scoring run, it wasn't much of a surprise. The big talking point is that Defoe failed to show he should be selected ahead of Soldado, goalless streak not withstanding. This will be a huge wake up call for Tottenham and AVB, I expect a huge response next game week. Big Sam certainly got his tactics right for this one, guiding West Ham through a dominating performance. I wouldn't get too excited about the win, because West Ham will struggle to score 3 goals week to week, but the emergence of Ravel Morrison is certainly one to watch on our fantasy radar. Until we can see Andy Carrol back in action, not much to pick from fantasy wise for West Ham.
Well that wraps up another fantastic week in the Barclays Premier League. I had a bit of a shocking week with a major -7pts coming from Hugo Lloris and a big fat zero from Rooney culminating in only 77pts total. I still occupy a spot in the top 150 places, but will need a big bounce back to get back into e top 100. It seems to be clear that picking the right captain will go a long way to overturning a bad week. It just leaves a poor taste in my mouth though as we now wait 2 weeks until we return to action. How did your team fair this week? What were some talking points from this weekend that you feel we're crucial to your fantasy side?