Newcastle v Chelsea: Our early morning kick off and it did not disappoint. Newcastle had just come off the back of the Tyne-Wearside derby loss to Sunderland and look to have a point to prove against an utterly disappointing Chelsea. Given the side that Jose Mourinho named, Chelsea had no excuses for they way their performance. Newcastle fully deserved the win. Matthieu Debuchy remains a phantom point king, only boosted even more by the added clean sheet. Loic Remy once again proved why his contributions are so vital to Newcastle's success with yet another goal in his already impressive tally. Yohan Cabaye had another stellar performance and continues to show his class from the set piece delivering a wicked delivery for Gourffran's opener. Cisse and Hatem Ben Arfa continue to disappoint however, with both being relegated to the bench. At this point Debuchy, Cabaye, and Remy all look the best options for fantasy purposes from the Newcastle team. As for Chelsea, given their quality, this is only a minor set back. Although I thought Mourinho was a bit harsh in his assessment of the match, his player's did not show up in the fashion that Chelsea fans expected. No need to be too worried however, with Chelsea hosting West Bromwich Albion next game week at home, the likes of Torres, Mata, Hazard, Oscar, Ivanovic, Terry, and Cech all look like promising pick ups.
West Ham v Aston Villa - An utterly dismal and boring performance from both sides. Sam Allardyce's 4-6-0 formation, although working in this instance, is such a blight on the modern game and effectively shuts off all creativity in attack. I know tactics are tactics, but you cannot play more negative football than what the Hammer's have been displaying in recent games. For those of you (like myself) who opted to bring in the exciting youngster Ravel Morrison, he repaid the faith with an amazing ZERO points over 90 minutes. Is it down to Big Sam's formation or was it just an off game? Hard to tell, but frustrating none the less. This game just proves that West Ham's only fantasy asset is Winston Reid, and even then, he's too expensive to bank on the clean sheet consistently. Aston Villa also contributed to this bore encounter, with the only major excitement being generated by a Christian Benteke towering header off the inside of the cross bar. Has Benteke just not found his feet after injury? One would hope, but as it stands, he still looks to need some more games to get back to full match sharpness, I'd avoid for now.
Stoke City v Southampton: We can safely say Asmir Begovic should be given credit for scoring what should be the best "fluke" goal of the season. That goal also tied Begovic for leading scorer of Stoke (which is quite frankly abysmal and laughable in nature). It reminded me of the time Tim Howard accomplished such a feat, scoring from his own clearance a couple seasons back. But that was the last time Stoke were able to find the back of the net and Southampton duly responded to draw level. Again, Stoke's attack just seemed devoid of ideas on how to actually score. One could say at this point, Mark Hughes is hardly an improvement on Tony Pulis. Unless you think Begovic will score again, I'd be avoiding Stoke all together. Southampton meanwhile were unfortunate to get caught out on such an unlikely goal. Jay Rodriguez popped up again for the Saints to score the equalizer and give some food for thought about future investment. Lovren and Boruc were unlucky not to get the clean sheet and win (which would have only furthered their outstanding fantasy run), but Lovren was especially disappointing rewarding those who kept the faith with no phantoms and a Yellow Card. Next week looks promising again for Southampton so no need to get too anxious over this stumble. Boruc, Lovren, Lallana, and Rodriguez look decent shouts although the lack of goals from their strikers is a worrying matter.
Manchester City v Norwich City: Whoa, City were rampant and absolutely ruthless in front of goal, tearing a hapless Norwich side completely to shreds. 7 different goal scorers contributed to an absolute hammering that Chris Houghton may not recover from. There wasn't even a whimper from the Norwich City players who duly accepted their fate and allowed City to simply waltz into their goal. Next week looks extremely promising for City, who had replaced the mis-firing and error strew Joe Hart with Costel Pantilimon, who rewarded the managers faith with the clean sheet (albiet with very, very little work to do in the match). I would assume Pantilimon will keep his place and should be an excellent keeper pick next week against an atrocious Sunderland, especially at his barn door price of just 6.6mil. Any discounts on the likes of Silva, Aguero, Yaya, Nasri, Negredo, Demichelis, and Nasastic should be kept. This could definitely be another monster game for Manchester City given their sensational form. As for Norwich City, they are in trouble and hardly look like they even want to be in the top flight. Fantasy poison the lot of them, avoid and load up with any team against them.
Hull City v Sunderland: What can we say about Sunderland? They are in tatters and Gus Poyet has hardly begun to steady the ship. Two horror tackles, one by the infamously red car prone Cattermole and one by Dossena, left Sunderland down to 9 men before half time. To compound their woes, Westwood went off injured just before half as well leaving Hull City the easy task of brushing the Black Cats aside. Although it didn't go according to plan did it? Hull City eventually won out thanks to a Carlos Cuellar own goal, but not the type of response you'd want from a full side playing 9 men. Hull City certainly missed the creative attacking threat and set piece duty of Robby Brady who only made a brief cameo coming off the back of a hernia operation. Sunderland are looking more and more like relegation fodder and Manchester City are going to have afield day against them unless Poyet can spark some inspiration. The only fantasy asset worth monitoring is the fitness of Robby Brady, who will hopefully be looking to get back to the starting 11 in the next game or so. Otherwise, not much from either side, and of course Sunderland fall into the "Poison" category.
Fulham v Manchester United: After a blistering first half that saw Valencia, Robin van Persie, and Wayne Rooney notch in quick fashion for the Champions, Fulham were left shell shocked. But a turn around in the second half saw Fulham strike back with a deflected shot that, forgivingly, was not a Rooney "own goal". While United were dominant for much of the game, they certainly looked like they slacked off in the second half allowing Fulham back into the game. If they are to retain the title, United are going to have to do more and keep the pressure on until the 90 minutes are up. Just look at what Manchester City did to Norwich, a game like that would certainly put the "fear" back into teams that faced United. Next week will be the true test for Arsenal as they face United at Old Trafford. I have already opted to drop Rooney, even at his huge discount, which may have been a big mistake. If United can over turn Arsenal, then their credentials will be on the way to being restored in the title race. I wouldn't rush to barn door the likes of Valencia, but players like RvP, Rooney, and Januzaj will be crucial to United's success against Arsenal. As for Fulham, it's unlikely that any players will persuade you to jump in, so leave them be for the time being.
West Bromwich Albion v Crystal Palace: The big news here was that Amalfitano was passed fit to take his starting place for WBA. Although given the doubt to his starting status many of us opted for Stephan Sessegnon who didn't quite return his investment, but at least provided a vital assist. Not that you would bank on him every week, but Berahino again provided the spark WBA needed and is proving to be a quite capable striker when called upon. McAuley owners were rewarded with a goal just before the full time whistle (Thanks to FFS for the Scout Pick, but alas I didn't listen), but those of you who went the cheaper option in B. Jones were disappointed as the full back went of injured before the first half was over. Not that you want to get in on WBA players at this point, they will be in for a tough match away to Chelsea. Crystal Palace are just out of sorts and looking closer and closer to an average Championship side, rather than one fighting for Premier League survival. The story remains the same, get players facing this abject side.
Arsenal v Liverpool: Well it just wasn't to be was it? I held out so much hope Liverpool were going to get a result here. Not that I think it hurts our over all aim of a top 4 finish as we were never going to win the title this season, but it still hurts given how fantastic we have done this season. Suarez and Sturridge had a quiet match and often found themselves a bit isolated. No need to get too worried, as a dreadful Fulham travel to Anfield next week which bodes well for those who kept the faith with SAS. The only other silver lining is that Simon Mignolet and the Liverpool defense have taken a slight dip in price thanks to the 2-0 loss, allowing us to fit them in for what should be a return to clean sheet points next week. As for Arsenal, they bounced back from the Capitol One Cup loss to Chelsea to cement their status as Premier League leaders with a 5 point gap. The big question is: Can anyone stop Aaron Ramsey? The lad is in sensational form and we cannot stop singing his praises here at the blog. His price is into the premium category but no one could blame you for getting onto the bandwagon. Better late then never. I unfortunately decided to bench Ramsey in favor of Ravel Morrison, which turned out to cost me 21pts, so you can safely bet I won't be doing the same with him even against United. The boy is fixture proof at this point. The other big news is Cazorla's return to scoring ways, although I am not sure you want to get him in away to United. Better to stick with your heavy discounts on Ozil/Ramsey and leave Cazorla and Giroud to be picked up for better match ups.
Everton v Tottenham Hotspur: Two clear penalty appeals waved off by the ref and an unconscious Hugo Lloris finishing out the 90min helped a 0-0 draw actually be somewhat entertaining. Both teams could have leap frogged into second place with the win, but the draw seems a fair result. Lloris continued to show his quality and made many fantasy managers happy he refused to be taken off the pitch, as dangerous as it was to continue playing. This may come back to haunt him as a concussion can be a lengthy healing process and lead to longer term problems, but he should be okay for the visit of Newcastle next week. The big worry is Tottenham's inability to score from open play, highlighted by their big money striker Roberto Soldado's inefficiency in front of goal. At this point, he should be fairly settled into the Premier League having played the majority of Spur's league games so far, but he may need a bit more time before he finds the back of the net on a consistent basis. For the strength of Spur's midfield, there is still a lack of final product and even players like Erik Lamela and Erikson have yet to cement a starting role. Holtby continued t\his starting ways under AVB and offers a rather cheap bench option is nothing else. With Newcastle fresh from their giant slaying, I would be hard pressed to recommend any Spurs players next week. As for Everton, Leighton Baines came through with the clean sheet but has had a drop in his usual phantom point production. The only other concern is the knock Lukaku took as his knee collided with Lloris's head, but I'd assume he will be fin for the visit to Crystal Palace. I'll be looking to have both in my team next week.
Cardiff City v Swansea City: Not what we expected from Swansea City and they were rightfully beaten after a rather lack luster display. Michu will be assessed prior to next week, but after that performance he may not be high on the wish list. The big news is that Swansea will be without their talisman keeper Michel Vorm as he picked up a rather silly Red Card in stoppage time. If you want to take the risk, Tremmel will now deputise, but with other solid options for keeper next week, I advise against such a move. Caulker finally provided Cardiff with a spark leading his side to a solid, if not unremarkable win. Not that you should rush out and grab anyone from this match, but Cardiff proved they can be tough to beat on their day in front fo their home crowd.
I finished the week on 123pts, hopefully enough to get through Round 2 of the Blog Cup! For my team I have currently: Pantilimon, Demichelis, Baines, Sahko, Lallana, Ozil, Ramsey, Silva, Aguero (capt), Suarez, Lukaku. Bench is Barkley/N.Taylor + Fillers but may squeeze in Holtby for Barkley as his starting status has come into question. Quite happy with it but may check on the fitness of Lukaku and Lallana could go for Oscar/Yaya at some point. How did your team do this week? What were the players you brought in on the BD?
Okay well that does it for me and the Monday wrap up! I hope you all enjoyed reading as it is one of my favorite pieces that I am able to do for NMA! Remember it was the 2nd Round of the Blog Cup so look for Mo to announce the cut off and those that advanced later in the week!