Apparently we had an election here in the US last night. Since I'm really not qualified to talk much about it other than to relay that nothing much changed in the make-up of our government, I'll leave you to read other web sites for the breakdown of what happened and what it might mean for the US and the world.
Back to the purpose of the blog - fantasy soccer games - it was a pretty wild weekend in which (with the exception of Manchester United) all of the big teams stumbled unexpectedly (except Arsenal who stumbled expectedly). My overall view of the weekend is that this (and by "this" I mean the good teams collectively stinking up the place) happens once or twice a season. I don't think it is particularly indicative of anything other than the fact that the Premier League contains a lot of talent even at the lower end and conditional probability dictates that at least occasionally a series of unlikely things will happen at the same time. It isn't worth trying to predict when such a thing will happen because, statistically, the chances of "Arsenal, Spurs, City, Chelsea, Liverpool, Newcastle, and Everton all dropping points in a single weekend" is just that remote. Time to move on.
In honor of that unpredictability, we're going to do something equally unpredictable and go with a team-by-team lightning round rather than go with full paragraphs on each as I usually do.
Arsenal - This weekend the media finally picked up on the "Vermaelen has slipped badly" storyline because he made it abundantly obvious by giving up the early goal. What they seem to have missed is that Arsenal started regressing the MINUTE Abou Diaby went down with injury. How frightening is it to have your season ride on his presence?
Aston Villa - Welcome back to the goals Gabby Agbonlahor after nearly 30 matches without - with that sort of strike rate, I see a move to Sunderland in the cards in January.
Chelsea - I should have followed my own advice - only when Juan Mata, Eden Hazard and Oscar are all present is the attack really dynamic.
Everton - In honor of the "good Luis Suarez" making an appearance this weekend, the "good Marouane Fellaini" joined him to the disgust of Liverpool supporters and fantasy managers who had dropped him in the wake of few goals and many yellow cards since his early goal explosion.
Fulham - Scored two goals and got a good home draw but still managed to win only mediocre fantasy points with late substitute and Nik's least favorite player Steve Sidwell leading the way. A frustrating bunch to try to pick from in recent weeks.
Liverpool - Luis Suarez's revenge on me for my "just kidding" comment in The Week Ahead - his goal was Bergkamp-ian (perhaps the highest honor I'm able to bestow) and he managed to avoid the negative plays that detracted from his play the week before. If he was this guy all the time, we'd all have him as a team fixture.
Manchester City - OK, this is the one situation from among the weekend's results that is getting really worrisome - there just isn't much to love from City's attack right now.
Manchester United - It's amazing that they can look mediocre while beating Chelsea and Arsenal back-to-back. There are undoubtedly flaws but they've proved they're the class of the league so far and they have room to improve.
Newcastle United - Nice to see Hatem Ben Arfa has woken up from his slumber and at least had a decent fantasy day (9 points) after a month where he COMBINED for 2.5 points.
Norwich City - There were actually lots of fantasy points that came from the Canaries this past weekend and they seemed to have turned the corner from "dreadful" to "adequate". Don't over-react and start investing big but where bargains exist and decent match-ups are presented, they are playable.
Queens Park Rangers - They didn't win a "must win" match but this is more what we expected from a fantasy standpoint regardless of their results - Adel Taarabt, Djibril Cisse, Jose Bosingwa, and a couple of others ranged from very good to not bad fantasy point producers. Let's see if they can keep it going.
Reading - Alex McCarthy at least offers a solid possibility in goal racking up 8 points despite allowing a goal and only getting a draw. Not bad as an option in very limited circumstances.
Southampton - The surprisingly prolific attacking points from early in the season have dipped from exceptional to solid. Owners of Adam Lallana will be watching closely for signs of a further move down the productivity scale.
Stoke City - Geoff Cameron rocked it with 11 points despite the loss but Stoke continues to be a wasteland of fantasy points in the attack that could only look good in comparison to...
Sunderland - ...these guys who have only 12 SOTs ALL SEASON and have gone two consecutive matches without a single shot on target. Given that the opposition has been Stoke City and Aston Villa over those two matches, the only justification for taking a Sunderland attacker at this point is "they can't go the rest of the season without an SOT".
Swansea City - What a hard group to figure. It feels like they've been 3 or 4 different teams already this season. Which one shows up next is almost as hard to predict as when Sunderland's next SOT might arrive.
Tottenham Hotspur- Gareth Bale was solid and Jan Vertonghen was better-than-average but Jermain Defoe has been slipping - could he be tired after playing so much through the first 8 weeks?
West Bromwich Albion - They're giving managers "big club" problems - which forwards will play? Which ones will score? Not something you'd associate with a club that was the classic "yo-yo" club between the Premier League and the Championship not too long ago. Of course, I picked the one (Lukaku) of the three who did nothing.
West Ham United - An unexpectedly strong effort from the Hammers against the defending champs. Jussi was back to his point-getting best but Mark Noble got the midfield points leaving Kevin Nolan as the lone major disappointment.
Wigan Athletic - What a shame that they had four players in double digits and likely no one bought in. Such was the unexpected nature of their clean sheet against Spurs and Ben Watson getting the goal. Would you bet on it happening again this week? I wouldn't.