Everton 3 v Liverpool 3 - This couldn't have been a greater kick off to the weekend, a exciting Merseyside derby that surely lived up to the hype. It was back and forth all match, leading to an amazing 6 goals leaving either side with the ability to take all 3pts before the final whistle was blown. Romelu Lukaku continues to make Mourinho look silly for loaning the powerful Belgian out again and he duly returned to the score sheet in dominant fashion. Everton's big worry will be around the fitness of Leighton Baines, with reports that his toe is broken and will require up to 4 weeks on the side lines. Regardless, Everton look primed in attack and returns look good with Mirallas a possible differential pick if you failed to get Lukaku on the barn door. As for the red side of Liverpool, Luis Suarez continues to look absolutely exceptional. His brilliant free kick sent Liverpool into one of their longest dominant spells of the match and he continues to show why he is undroppable. Daniel Sturridge came off the bench to score the vital equalizer at the death, after carrying a niggle on his thigh for a couple weeks. If there was ever evidence that Sturridge is the real deal, then this match proves it. Hull City will have their hands full with SAS next week.
Stoke City 2 v Sunderland 0 - Stoke came away with a typically solid if unspectacular home win over league strugglers Sunderland. Their defense was back to their normal "Stoke" self and produced the clean sheet making those who took the likes of Asmir Begovic very happy (looking at you MO!). Whether or not this was down to the fact they have re-solidified their defense or largely thanks to Wes Brown reducing Sunderland to 10 men (what is going on with Sunderland's players and red cards?) is debatable. Either way I probably wouldn't be looking to cash in with a tricky trip to Everton next week. Even though Adam returned to the score sheet, his attacking returns are far too inconsistent to warrent investment. As for Sunerland, they truly look in trouble. Obviously the win over Manchester City was a one off and they have a long road ahead if they intend to stay up in the top flight. The only shining light is Phil Bardlsey who produced another decent return without the clean sheet, if you have him at 1mil then no need to drop obviously (he said as he kicks himself for NOT getting him in!).
Newcastle 2 v Norwich City 1- After a blistering start that saw the in form Loic Remy net a goal after just 2 minutes and Gouffran adding a second on 38 minutes, Newcastle trailed off allowing Norwich to claw back into the match. It is a bit worrying that Remy seems to disappear in matches, especially after a goal - 10pts is disappointing considering the opposition and potential. Did this drop in energy have anything to do with Cabaye's withdrawl before the 70 minute mark? I think not since Newcastle didn't really start the second half in the same tempo, but he certainly gives Newcastle that edge that they definitely lacked after he departed. But signs look good for Newcastle who have really turned up their performances in recent matches and no need to think they cannot continue that form next week. Also remember that Debuchy is again eligible after serving his 1 match suspension for accumulation. Norwich on the other hand really looked devoid of ideas for much of the match. I think Chris Houghton needs to start taking some responsibility for his teams performances. He looked out of depth of how to change the match, especially after Newcastle's start. Norwich are quickly digging themselves a hole they might not climb back out of.
Hull City 0 v Crystal Palace 1 - Certainly not the result we expected even though it was only Hull City. Having been on decent form throughout the season, it was expected the Tigers would be able to take this one down, however Crystal Palace proved to have a bit more edge to their game in what was honestly more of a bore than anything else. It seems again, Robby Brady was brought back a bit too soon as he exited at half, not that you should be considering him for next week against Liverpool, but we will watch his status. Those who were going to opt for Harper in goal can at least feel good that it was McGreagor that recieved the loss + goal conceeded as he recovered in time to replace the former Newcastle man. Curtis Davies was another hot commodity that failed to produce. We can probably call this lesson learned, Crystal Palace are still going to surprise teams and we should probably only load up against them if they are playing a top side. But take away no credit, Crystal Palace deserved the win in the end, especially being down to 10 men. Barry Bannan scored a rare goal to give Palace their first and only away win of the season, but more importantly a huge 3pts to lift them off the bottom. I wouldn't be looking to either side in the next game week however, not that you were any way!
Fulham 1 v Swansea 2 - Fulham are in trouble, no doubt about that. Their performance again sums up why they are now finding themselves from normal mid table safety to the threat of a relegation scrap. I think it is time to lose Martin Jol, he had some success with the squad in his time, but now Fulham need to arrest the problem or risk bleeding out. Fulham look a shadow of their quality from seasons past and for the third straight match against Swansea, lost at home. The only sparkling light was a rare Scott Parker goal which evened the match just past the 60 minute mark. Jonjo Shelvey took the plaudits as he stepped off the bench to score the winner in what was a typical display of lethargy from Fulham this season. There is light at the end of the tunnel though and I believe Fulham have the quality to pull out of the bottom 5, but it will take a lot of determination and a new set of tactics. Swansea will enjoy the 3pts, especially on the road, as they work to reach the same heights of their first season in the Premier League. However, it seems Wilfred Bony cannot be relied upon for consistent points and thus is better as a spot pick rather than a "hold at discount" player.
Arsenal 2 v Southampton 0 - The major talking points will revolve around Artur Boruc's bizzare attempt at trying to be Messi and the petulant shirt tug that lead to a wasteful penalty. But the plaudits should really go to Olivier Giroud who announced himself back into fantasy glory with a well taken brace. Arsenal looked slick and capable from start to finish, only giving Southampton a few decent shouts. Ramsey and Ozil had quiet nights, but they can't score every week right? Arsenal keep marching on towards the title with another impressive win and putting themselves 4pts clear at the top. If they can manage to take points off of the other top rivals (Manchester City and Chelsea) then they have a very good chance of staying top into Christmas. Southampton of course had to come back to earth at some point. However their play was still very admirable against the current league leaders and they did indeed have a couple of dangerous looks. But all their hard work was unfortunately undone by 2 silly mistakes. Lovren was obviously missed as a defensive and attacking threat, we will watch further news to assess his starting ability for next week. However I feel Southampton's rise will still continue and this was simply a match that was going to be out of their reach.
West Ham 0 v Chelsea 3 - Well it was an easy and routine win for Chelsea (tip of the cap to myself hehe!) with Frank Lampard proving he still has what it takes to have a monster fantasy week. Although he won't do it every week, Lampard showed that he is still the big boss when it comes to penalties, even with Hazard on the pitch. Oscar was amoungst the goals again and is effectively keeping Juan Mata out of his favored position. As long as he keeps scoring Mata can expect to only make cameo appearances. I have said it before and I'll say it again, Big Sam's utterly atrocious 4-6-0 system is ineffective and puts his side in an ulitmately negative position that is obviously taking away all attacking threat. Oh how they need a striker, any striker, even if it is just to occupy a defenders thoughts to allow some forward progress from the midfield. At this point, I wouldn't mind seeing West Ham and their negative tactics get the drop.
Manchester City 6 v Tottenham Hotspur 0 - Simply stunning football from the former champions. What can you say? Manchester City completely out gunned Tottenham regardless of having less possession for periods of the match. Sergio Aguero was mesmerizing and deservingly took man of the match plaudits. But slightly bigger news was the emergence of Jesus Navas, who finally got his tally off the mark with 2 brilliantly taken goals. The bottom line is that Manchester City are a destructive force at home, it is just their away form that leaves a lot to be desired. If they can replicate what they have done at home (26 goals in the league at the Etihad), then Manchester City will certainly be on Arsenal's tail if not threatening to overtake the current league leaders. Tottenham on the other hand are looking more and more out of sorts. They conceeded more goals than they had all season in just one match, which is utterly embarassing. But the real concern is their lack of goal production. Something has to be done to shake things up, 100mil is a lot to spend on an attacking force that has yet to score more goals than Fulham. The good news is Spurs have time to pick things back up and we all await for the match in which they hammer a team for 3+ goals.
Cardiff City 2 v Manchester United 2 - Gone are the days that teams lived in fear of the dominance that United once possessed. Under David Moyes United have just not lived up to the standard that Sir Alex Ferguson had set. The big news was that Robin van Persie and Rafeal were both notable absentees. But Wayne Rooney was more than capable of leading the line and honestly should have had a brace to go along with his assist to Evra. Rooney could count himself (and the fantasy managers with him) lucky not to be sent off for a brainless retaliation tackle. Regardless, United should have put the game to bed, but instead allowed Cardiff to come back into it time and time again. United cannot afford to keep dropping points to beatable opposition if they want to retain the title. Cardiff were good value for the draw and certainly didn't deserve to lose. Nothing to get excited about for the fantasy side of things, but Cardiff certainly look more than capable of staying in the top flight having taken 4 points of the Manchester teams respectively.
Obviously we will have the final match, the Midlands derby between West Brom and Villa to follow. I currently sit on 104 pts with Sessegnon to play. Although I should have Demichelis come in for Cissohko's no show which will add a further 11pts to my side. Hoping for a cracking match to help boost my points in a week where those with the balls and brains to take Aguero were well rewarded!
How has your team done so far? Who did you look to bring in on the barn door?