A stinker of a week for some (those with RVP captain), and a mediocre week for others. Popular players failed, leaving teams with a bit of unique-ness (proper english?) with their heads above the water.
Norwich v West Ham
Given most manager’s teams containing some of Jaaskelainen, Demel or Reid, a 0-0 draw was a pretty good result for them. West Ham continue to play for the draw when they play away, and over the next few weeks without Carroll around, I expect much of the same. Vaz Te looks like he is secured in the starting lineup and offers a cheap P.O.D if you are that way inclined. For Norwich, it was much of the same for a club that really fields a team of good championship players in the PL. Nolan was always in the box, so if you’re after a WHU attacker, he’d be my safest bet. If anyone still owns Noble (doubtful), he finally gave his owners some respite by picking up a couple of BP.
Arsenal v Southampton
Massacre isn’t the right word. For the first 45 minutes, I can’t remember a team ever being completely dismantled to the extent that Southampton were. Arsenal’s midfield three of Cazorla, Arteta and Coquelin (who started in Diaby’s absence), continually picked apart the Southampton defensive midfield and back four. Gervinho and Ox were prominent on the wings, while Podolski looked at home in a central forward role- bad news for Giroud owners. Gibbs forced two own goals with low crosses to only make things more embarrassing for the relegation bound Saints, who sit on 0 points after 4 games. For Southampton, it’s blatantly obvious their defence needs a real shake-up. Their fullbacks are time and time again caught out of position, and unless something changes, they will be in real trouble. Most people would have been slightly irked by Cazorla’s return, only one assist from a 6 goal thumping. Unfortunately I can see this happening when Arsenal thump teams- his game revolves around sliding passes through rather than taking long shots. He was often the assist’s assist (if that makes sense), something that wouldn’t happen against teams that have any idea how to defend.
Aston Villa v Swansea
Well it took a while, but Villa are finally pass-oriented. They looked a different side against a makeshift Swansea defence, with Lowton and new boy Benteke getting on the score sheet. Although Lambert has a history of shaky defences, Lowton and Clark look to have cemented themselves in and both offer decent attacking potential. Lichaj showed good attacking potential down the left-flank, while Dyer was the only real attacking threat for Swansea, with Michu being relatively subdued. Swansea don’t look as fluent when playing away (despite the 5-0 QPR thumping), so I will be wary of that for the rest of the year.
Fulham v West Brom
Fulham continued to show why they are a force at Craven Cottage. With West Brom in good knick coming into the game, and with the Cottagers missing playmakers Dempsey and Dembele, I wasn’t expecting too much. Enter Berbatov. He reminded us why he is so highly rated with a brace to complement Sidwell‘s single. Kacaniklic featured in place of the injured Richardson, and returned with two assists. Most had him on the bench, but if you had the fortune of having Johnson pull out, he would have been a welcome surprise. For West Brom, it was always going to be difficult after Odemwingie was red carded, but there is a silver lining, as Lukaku will feature more in the next few weeks. Foster did his level best to maintain some form of order in the Baggies’ ranks, pulling off 7 saves, but apart from him there was little to cheer about from their perspective.
Man United v Wigan
I told you so is one of my favourite lines. Earlier this week, my mate Ando was pondering his captain choices. He was left with Hazard or Van Persie. I warned him of the dangers of putting VP captain, but nonetheless, he ignored me and locked him in. Well, we know how this story ends. Take it as a warning. If Sir Alex has any doubts over the fitness of his players HE WILL REST THEM. He has a plethora of attacking options and he knows it. Also, with United’s CL games coming up, expect more and more rotation. It’s fair to say, in Buttner, Hernandez, Scholes and Powell, not many people would have got amongst the points for goals scored. It was a routine win, and what we all expected from United, but the main problem I see is how they back up next week following their midweek tie.
QPR v Chelsea
As a Chelsea fan, I want the referee’s head. In what was always going to be a tight, physical London Derby, Nelsen took that approach a little too seriously by literally tackling Terry down in the box. To make matters worse, Hazard was shamefully clipped by Wright-Phillips in the box and went down. How neither of these two penalties were awarded were beyond me, and ended up costing Chelsea the 3 points. From QPR’s point of view, it was the best they could have hoped for, with Cech only being made to save three shots, and Chelsea having the majority of the chances. Moses starred when he came on, and teed Hazard up for what should have been a routine goal having a wide open net to shoot at. Cesar was very stoic in between the posts for the Rangers, while surprisingly Luiz offered no room for QPR’s strikers. With a midweek tie v Juventus, it will be interesting to see how they line up for the next game week against Stoke. I feel Torres may be afforded a rest, while Hazard is also at risk.
Stoke v Man City
City always were going to struggle here. They haven’t collected 3 points from the Brittania Stadium since 1998, and this weekend was no different. City’s midfield and forwards were dominant, but just couldn’t put the ball in the back of the net. After having 15 shots and commanding 66% of the possession, a 1-1 draw was not what Mancini was after at all. Part of this reason is due to Begovic between the sticks. I have been a bit critical of his susceptibility to make absolute clangers, but he was simply inspired this weekend. He saved 7 shots, including a clutch save from Nasri with time winding down. Stoke had very little in the way of attacks, so Crouch decided to handpass the ball into the net. For City, Tevez restored some order with a neat cross that met Garcia‘s head, but overall, we hoped from a bit more from the defending champions.
Sunderland v Liverpool
Liverpool started with a bizarre 4-2-3-1, with Shelvey of all people playing CAM. Needless to say it wasn’t entirely effective, with Sunderland grabbing the early lead through a typical Fletcher poached effort. In the second half Sunderland just sat back trying to keep their lead, before Suarez scored a goal even Julia Gillard could have scored. Overall though, Liverpool were nothing special, while Sunderland’s defence isn’t good enough to simply park the bus. Sterling looks the goods at 4.5, but seeing as Liverpool can’t put the ball in the back of the net, I’ll pass for now. I’m not a huge fan of any of the LFC team, while at Sunderland only Fletcher interests me.
Reading v Tottenham
In what was a routine win for Spurs, Adebayor AGAIN didn’t start. Defoe made the most of this opportunity though, bagging a brace before Bale did what he was always going to do as soon as I dropped him- score. Robson-Kanu did what every Walker, Vertonghen and Gallas owner didn’t want him to do, in the 90th minute, ruining any clean sheet chances for the Spurs. Overall, it was a dominant performance, with the midfield trio of Sandro, Sigurdsson and Dembele looking completely comfortable. Harte was terrorised down the right by Lennon, who has the be one of the quickest players in the world, while Gunter did his level best to stop Bale, who eventually got off the leash late in the second half. Pogrebnyak looked classy, but without adequate supply from his midfield he won’t be fantasy relevant.
That just about does us this week, we still have a match tonight at Goodison Park, where I’m tipping Everton to dismantle Newcastle’s 2nd string defence.
Again, leave your Team in the comments!
Points Scored: 44
Players left: Pienaar
Loser: Hazard, Torres, Michu
Comments: Trading Bale to Cazorla hurt. A lot.