There were plenty of points to be had yesterday in the first round of Week 10's fixtures as Hazard stepped up to the penalty spot to rescue all 3pts against a rejuvinated QPR side after Oscar's outside foot put them ahead in the first half. Diego Costa looked dangerous at times but obviously lacked the match sharpness required in front of goal after missing 4 games through injury. Although Fabregas continued his stellar season with yet another assist and a healthy 18pt haul, making you wonder if Arsene Wenger is finally regretting his decision not to bring him back to the Emirates... because they have Mesut Ozil (who is coinsidentally out injured).
Speaking of Arsenal, it isn't all doom and gloom, as their Chilean maestro Alexis Sanchez again proved his worth with another man of the match performance for the 3rd week in a row. As with Fabregas going to Chelsea, you wonder if Barcelona could have used Sanchez's blistering pace, trickery, and eye for goal in their subsequent back to back league losses. Those with Callum Chambers were fruitfully rewarded as the former Saint bagged his first Premier League goal after a goal mouth scramble and snagged an assist to boot. They may have left it late against Burnley, but Arsenal seem like they have finally kick on for the season. Atleast until January anyway, when half the squad will be out injured again.
Now the part I wanted to avoid: Liverpool failing to impress yet again. It wasn't hard to see that Newcastle were going to get something from this match after a huge turnaround in their season. Take no credit away from NUFC, they deserved to capitolize on Moreno's defensive mistake. As I sat and watched the match, an impending sense of dread slowly took over with every Red's errant pass, weak tackle, and generally poor link up play that lead to exactly ZERO shots on target in the first half. I am not exactly sure what the current issue is beyond the fact we need Sturridge back and healthy. But it seems to me Brendan Rodgers hasn't been getting his tactics and formations right this season. as Das_Boot mentioned yesterday, Balotelli would benefit from playing with a strike partner, be that Sterling or Borini, as they could exploit the space the Italian opens when he drifts wide or drops deep in search of the ball. It's not time to press the panic button yet, but we will probably need to re-evaluate the fantasy impact that Liverpool will have on our teams until they start producing results again.
Okay, let's take a quick look at Sunday's fixtures:
Obviously most of us will be keenly focused on the much anticipated Manchester derby. One assumes given the squad for squad break down, the men in sky blue will surley take this match at the Etihad. But Man City hasn't been playing like current league champions in recent matches, producing underwhelming performances against CSKA Moskow, West Ham, and Newcastle. You just sense that Man United look poised to take something from this match with the narrative written perfectly for Wayne Rooney to bring the Red Devil's triumph on his return from injury. It will be interesting to see how Di Maria will fair exploiting the spaces at the Etihad. Needless to say, this is a derby, and the Manchester one at that, I couldn't be pressed to predict a result for this one. We will just have to watch!
As for my squad, I had a very excellent score of 126pts on Saturday largely thanks to Hazard, Fabregas, Sanchez and Chambers. With Di Maria to play today, any more points from the former Real Madrid star will be icing on the cake.
This will probably be my last post for the next few game weeks as I embark on my most ambitious trek to date: into the Andes Mountains of southern Chile's Patagonia region. It is time to test my "True Grit" and venture out to the abyss "Into the Wild" style. My tent is tested, sleeping bag rated to 10 degress, stove at the ready, and my mind is clear! Up first, a flight to Punta Arenas to gather my remaining supplies, then a short trip to Puerto Natales as the jump off point for the 8-10 day solo trek through Torres del Paine National Park. If I don't return or get eaten by a puma, I send my best regards!
How has your team performed so far? Who were the players you looked to grab on the Barn Door?