What an entertaining weekend of football! We've seen some pretty dramatic changes to the league table over the past few weeks, and some wonderful story lines are beginning to take shape as we approach the end of the season. Here are a handful of questions to ponder as we approach week 33:
Do Leicester City have legitimate hopes of survival?
After a late winner by Jamie Vardy propelled them to a dramatic 3-2 victory over West Bromwich Albion in week 32, Nigel Pearson's men now find themselves only a point behind their relegation neighbors Burnley and Queens Park Rangers. The Foxes also have the added benefit of a game in hand over the Clarets, and two games in hand over QPR, and still have to play both teams before the end of the season.
A win in their match in hand over the rest of the teams in the league could see Leicester climb out of the relegation zone with a favorable schedule over their last five matches. Can they stay up, or is it too little too late?
Will Manuel Pellegrini be in charge next season?
What a fall from grace for last season's champions, Manchester City! Level at the top of the table with Chelsea on New Year's Day, the Citizens have since lost four of their last six matches, including four consecutive ties away from the Etihad. They've fallen to fourth place as a result, and heading into Week 33 only hold a four point lead over Liverpool. The last six matches only include two away trips, but should City fail to rediscover their form from the first half of the season they could end up falling out of the Champions League places.
If that were to happen, City would certainly part ways with their Chilean manager in favor of a fresh face, but even a finish outside the top two could spell doom. What do you think it will take for Pellegrini to keep his job in Manchester?
Did everyone jump the gun with Harry Kane?
The English media, in particular, has a special habit of prematurely labeling players as "the next ___", especially when that player is one of their own. For those of you not convinced of this trend, Lee Cattermole was once touted as the next Steven Gerrard. Harry Kane has earned many of the plaudits tossed his way after a breakout season with Tottenham Hotspur, earning an England call-up in the process.
Kane was also recently handed the captaincy at Spurs by Mauricio Pochettino, and the 21 year-old has failed to impress in the role. Has too much pressure been placed on the youngster too quickly, or is a lack of goals in two matches being unfairly criticized given his form throughout the season? In any case, is it too early to claim he's the next great English player?
Could Newcastle end up being relegated?
With two wins in 13 matches since Alan Pardew was replaced by John Carver, Newcastle have slowly fallen deeper into the depths of the Premier League table. With injury and suspension issues heavily plaguing the Magpies and an end-of-season run against relegation strugglers Leicester, QPR and West Brom, a failure to stop the rot could drop them into danger of being relegated to the Championship.
By now it's obvious that while Pardew may not have been a well-liked man by the fans, he was certainly more qualified for the management job than Carver. Will Newcastle go down, or will Pardew's points be enough to keep them in the top flight for another season?
Is Yahoo! still the best fantasy game available to us?
It's the question that's been on everyone's lips (or fingers?) the past couple weeks, with frustration over the technical issues of the game popping up nearly as often as the "Server Error occurred. Please try again" messages. Like the vast majority of people playing the Yahoo! game, I found I enjoyed the robust scoring metrics, unlimited player selections from each team and free transfers much more flexible and fun than the official fantasy Premier League game.
The scoring has largely remained the same over the years, but the multiple iterations of the game over the past few seasons have brought a slew of frankly unnecessary problems. Encouragingly, many of the issues that marred the experience early in the season have been rectified, but the persistent team selection challenges we face are putting a damper on what made the game stand out in the first place.
We're awaiting an announcement from Yahoo! on their plans for next season, and maybe there is hope for a return to a stable game, but there are other fantasy options emerging that offer different scoring than the official game and could be more reliable. We're open to having an in-depth discussion into the off-season about plans for next season and, given the state of frustration right now, perhaps now is the time to get that conversation started.
Are you planning on sticking things out with Yahoo, or should we start looking for other viable options for our fantasy coverage? Weigh in with your thoughts!