Tottenham concluded the world's longest fantasy week with a comfortable 2-0 win over Everton tonight and I'm going to take this rare opportunity to state how delighted and proud I am to see my team tied 2nd in the Premier League after 20 games and playing some really great football. We were relegation fodder 3 seasons ago, so it' a remarkable turnaround under Harry Redknapp.
These are the pressure games Spurs would always lose in previous season, but despite missing important players, the team looked comfortable, with Jake Livermore and the returning Michael Dawson both outstanding - a great sign of squad depth (especially with Bassong, Kranjcar, Pienaar, Defoe & Pav on the bench / Dos Santos, Corluka, Huddlestone, King, Gallas, Parker & Sandro injured). I’m 29 years old and for the first time in my life, I'm starting to believe Spurs could mount a challenge for the league title - I honestly didn't think I'd be writing that sentence this decade.
Unsurprisingly from a fantasy point of view it was Tottenham players who led the way, with Benoit Assou-Ekotto the star, scoring the goal that sealed the win and totalling 7 point more than any other player overall this week. I feel very lucky I had him as I very nearly downgraded him to Heitinga to get Bale in over VDV. After a shocking Xmas period I needed that luck and it led to my week ending on 118 points, moving back in to the Top 500. It should be more than enough to qualify for the 5th Round of The Blog Cup - I'll calculate those results next Tuesday, so please check back then.
Manchester City & Liverpool played out the 1st leg of their Carling Cup Semi Final tonight and it was embarrassing to see over 15,000 empty seats for a game of this magnitude. It led to a flat atmosphere from the home fans, but massive respect to Liverpool, as the Scouse faithful packed their end, offered superb support throughout and it seemed to mean more to the Reds players, so I was pleased to see them take a 1-0 lead to Anfield next week. City are having a bit of a blip - Balotelli had 'one of those nights', was subbed before half-time, storming off down the tunnel and they are now missing Kompany & Yaya Toure for a while, so it'll be interesting to see how they deal with it.
Anyway, on to the Week 21 fixtures ...STAND-OUTS
MANCHESTER UTD v Bolton
TOTTENHAM v Wolves
MANCHESTER CITY @ Wigan
The current top 3 face teams in the bottom 5 - no reason to think this won't result in comfortable victories despite hiccups for the Manchester sides, so expect solid attacking points and possible clean sheets.
LIVERPOOL v Stoke
CHELSEA v Sunderland
NEWCASTLE v QPR
ARSENAL @ Swansea
Liverpool have already dropped plenty of points at home this season and Stoke won't be easy an easy game, but tonight will boost them, so the Anfield crowd combined with the craft of Gerrard and Bellamy should be enough to see them through to 3 points. Chelsea face a resurgent Sunderland but again, I just fancy the home side to nick the win, while Newcastle would've been a 'stand-out' recommendation if Tiote and Ba were available, but I still think the Toon at home will have too much for QPR. I wasn't sure whether to include Arsenal in this section as Swansea are excellent at home, but the whole club seems to have been lifted by Thierry Henry's dream return on Monday, so they have just made it.
Aston Villa v Everton
West Brom v Norwich
Blackburn v Fulham
When I look at these 3 games I just see the scoreline '1-1' in my head, so they'll be going down as 3 draws on my coupon this weekend. I wouldn't go out of my way to include too many players from these six sides.
So I'm liking the two Manchester clubs and Spurs followed by Liverpool, Chelsea, Newcastle & Arsenal; as I'm sure you've guessed, that means these team's players dominate my Week 21 player recommendations:
If (like me) you've dropped David De Gea, then I think Tim Krul at home to QPR is the best option for Week 21. This is especially true if you grabbed him below 4.00 on the barndoor, but even if you didn't then 6.65 is still reasonable. If you don't like Krul and didn't drop DDG then you may as well hold on to him and hope he faces Bolton - I don't like any of the other keeper options this week.
The chances are you're holding a fair number of Spurs players from the double week and one to keep is Younes Kaboul if you're holding him at 8ish. He's been the most improved player at White Hart Lane this season, he's dangerous at set pieces, has a cracking shot and with Gallas & King suspended there's no chance of a rest against Wolves. Chris Smalling is fit again and is my preference if you want a Man Utd defender, while Stefan Savic @ 4.61 is the bargain of the week as he should continue in to the center of the Man City defence to replace the suspended Vincent Kompany (as Kolo Toure is now at the African Cup of Nations). (update - I wrote this section about Savic before tonight's game, but despite the fact he was was very poor , I don't see another option for City unless they move Micah Richards in to the middle? Wigan won't be as tough so I think the youngster might keep his place ... lets wait for team news)
Angel Rangel has been back superb since returning from his injury and even though I think Arsenal will sneak the win, I expect him to get some joy down the right flank and pick up some decent attacking points against whichever make-shift left back the Gunners put out. Oriol Romeu should continue in the holding role for Chelsea and is very cheap after his yellow card at Wolves, while David Santon is my pick of the Newcastle defenders, although I want to double check team news on Friday to ensure Ryan Taylor is set to continue in midfield and won't steal his spot. We'll also want to check whether Michael Dawson or the bargain Sebastien Bassong will partner Kaboul as whoever does is an excellent option (update: should be Dawson as he played tonight), and Daniel Ayala remains an excellent filler option to allow you to spend elsewhere.
Silva * (injury doubt)
Van Der Vaart
** Midfield Analysis to follow tomorrow**
** Striker Analysis to follow tomorrow**
That's it for the players - I'll write my midfield and striker analysis on Thursday morning.
The midweek matches may have led to some injuries that are yet to be reported, so please ensure you check back here on Friday for all the important team, injury and suspension news, which should help clarify some of the question marks in my player picks.
As for my own team, it's currently this:
Krul, Santon, Savic, Kaboul, Valencia, Silva, Van Der Vaart, Gerrard, Torres, Adebayor, Aguero
I'm still holding Wes Brown @ 3 in Savic's place and Cabaye @ 7 in Torres' place. To be honest it's unlikely I'll have the guts to keep Fernando and I'd love to get Rooney in, but can't see how unless I downgrade one of midfielders to Ben Arfa and I'm not sure I want to do that. I'll keep Silva at 8 even if he'll miss 1 game. To be honest there are lots of options at this stage, so I'll look at it again in more detail closer to the deadline.
That's prety much it. Please visit the NMA Facebook Page HERE and please follow NMA / us on Twitter:
Let me know how your team is shaping up for Week 21. How did Week 20 go? Are you confident of making it through to the next round of The Blog Cup?