Now that Jamie Vardy has set the record for consecutive matches with a goal....when will the party end?
The wait is over. Ruud van Nistelrooy's consecutive match scoring record is no more. Jamie Vardy, with his first half goal against Manchester United over the weekend, is now alone in the record books with eleven consecutive matches with a goal scored. It was the first goal that David De Gea and the Red Devils defense had conceded in quite a long time, but it wasn't enough to lead Leicester City to victory, as the match ended in a 1-1 draw.
Now, the striker looks to extend the record and continue to keep the Foxes at the top of the Premier League. That begins this weekend with a trip to Swansea, where their defensive record that would point to them slowing down the goal streak. Next week could be the biggest challenge, as LCFC host Chelsea. With the Blues being away from home, it's very likely that Chelsea will park the bus, which negates Leicester City's best form of attack, which is counter-attacking with pace. It will be a true test of their ability, as Riyad Mahrez and Marc Albrighton will have to find a way to break down the bus and find Vardy.
If Chelsea does not end the streak, then their next three matches will be at Everton, at Liverpool, and hosting Manchester City. It is not likely he will be able to continue the streak through that difficult stretch. In fact, it might be a good idea to sell high after the Swansea match, which is what I will be doing. I believe the new record will be twelve matches, and I will look at re-adding him once that stretch of matches are over.
Speaking of Chelsea....with the favorable upcoming stretch of matches, is it "now or never" for the Blues' fantasy prospects?
15 points through 14 matches. A goal differential of negative 6. A total of 4 points from their last 5 matches. Only one win against a team in the top half of the table on the season.
If the team with those stats was not the defending champion of the Premier League, we would probably be writing them off at this point. But with Chelsea being Chelsea, it's understandably not easy to do. Many of us want to believe that Eden Hazard will turn things around, that their stars will regain their form. But they haven't yet. And with a stretch of matches coming up that includes Bournemouth, Sunderland, and Watford, this is the time to make a charge up the table. The Blues are only five points clear of relegation, and it's highly unlikely they make the drop. However, if they don't take at least 9 of their next 12 points--we can excuse a loss or draw against Leicester--then doubt will start to creep in.
Willian has been the only player who has shown so far that he can produce. However, with the poorer competition that is coming their way, Kurt Zouma and Asmir Begovic are players worth considering as well. Hazard, with his high price tag and poor production, is still a no-play for me. That said, if the upcoming stretch can restore his confidence, I'll reconsider. If it doesn't, he will be off my radar for the remainder of the season, as will the entire team.
When it comes to Newcastle, should we be looking to stack against them until they learn how to defend?
When it comes to losing, nobody does it bigger than Newcastle. With 30 goals allowed this season, they have been trounced more times than not. What is scarier is that, of their 14 goals scored, six of those came in one match!!! In their last two matches, they have allowed a combined eight goals, including five over the weekend to a Crystal Palace side that had scored only three goals in their previous five contests.
When you look at the upcoming seven fixtures for Newcastle, it's easy to wonder if you should simply just start stacking against them every week. That starts with the match against Liverpool this weekend, followed by the Magpies facing Spurs, Everton, Arsenal, and Manchester United during their upcoming stretch as well. Take into mind the lack of time between some of these matches due to the holiday rush, and you have a defense that could become a total dumpster fire before the calendar turns over to 2016.
And speaking of Newcastle's last and next opponents, that leads us to our final two questions.....
Have Crystal Palace righted the ship, or were they just fortunate enough to face Newcastle this weekend?
If you read my picks last week, I was high on Yannick Bolasie. It was partly a hunch and partly the fact that they were facing Newcastle, but I had a great feeling that he was going to get back on track.
And then I didn't start him. In fantasy, or on Draft Kings.
Because I'm an idiot.
That said, hopefully some of you did and were rewarded with his two goal performance--which could have been even more had he gotten a bit luckier on a few other chances. He was a terror, as was Yohan Cabaye, who spent much of the day picking apart the defense and finding the pass that led to the assist. If this were hockey, Cabaye would've had multiple assists on the day as well.
As it were, Crystal Palace have now taken two wins in three, including a victory over Liverpool, and are now just three points back of Tottenham for the fifth and final European spot. Both Bolasie and James McCarthy had double-digit point totals against Newcastle, but despite his performances Cabaye has gone five matches in a row with just a two-spot to show for it.
After they take on Everton this weekend, their next four matches are against Southampton, Stoke City, Bournemouth, and Swansea City, all of which are winnable and could result in points for fantasy owners. Do you trust that the big names for Palace will deliver in those fixtures, or was this simply a matter of getting a horrible Newcastle team?
Is it time to load up on Liverpool players going forward?
Last week, Stall asked if it was time to stock up on Liverpool attackers. I'm taking this a step further. It is now time to consider stacking Liverpool players across the board. After taking a little time to settle in under new manager Jurgen Klopp, the Reds have begun to show signs of moving back up the table. Just two points out of fifth place, it is not out of the question that Liverpool could (and it makes me somewhat sick to my stomach to say this) be sitting at the top of the table by the end of the month. This is their upcoming fixture list:
at West Ham United
Not counting the LCFC match, few teams have an easier run to the end of 2015 than Liverpool. It starts this weekend with Newcastle. Not only will the Reds be getting teams they can score on, their defense looks a solid bet to rack up some fantasy points over the next few weeks. Roberto Firmino and Phillippe Coutinho are always solid bets, but I will be looking at Nathaniel Clyne, Simon Mignolet, and Alberto Moreno going forward as well.
Do you agree with my answers, or do you have a different response to these questions? We look forward to hearing your thoughts in the comments section below!