Alright, to ease a burden I’ve offered my thoughts on GW22 thus far – noting we still have the Chelsea vs. Southampton game in a couple of days time before this round is complete. Hopefully you guys can get by with this until the great man Seags returns. Anyway, enough of my babbling and onto the games!
QPR 0 – 0 Tottenham
In what may be a somewhat of a surprise result, ‘Arry’s mob were defensively brilliant against his old side in Spurs (with much thanks to the maligned Julio Cesar). The pressure was high and sustained for most of the 90 minutes against them, so no doubt the precious point will be that little bit sweeter for Arry and QPR fans alike. Still, it does highlight the woes up front for QPR – really missing a dominant striker. Taarabt was playing mostly a lone hand up front, so the news of QPR possibly pinching Loic Remy from under the noses of Newcastle would be most welcomed down at Loftus Rd.
For Spurs, Sandro went off injured early in the game allowing Parker to return – but neither of which I think are really relevant. Defoe and Adebayor started up front together for the last time in a while before the latter heads off to the African Cup of Nations, but although both had their chances neither could get past Cesar. Dempsey came on to replace Adebayor late in the game and may find himself get a few more minutes until the big Togo frontman returns. Whilst Bale flashed in and out of the game in my opinion, that didn’t stop him landing 3 BP’s (along with Taarabt) even in a scoreless game! It’s easier not trying to explain it.
Aston Villa 0 – 1 Southampton
Well things aren’t going well for the Villains, going down to the lowly Saints at home thanks to a somewhat controversial penalty to Rodriguez which was slotted home by Lambert. I have to say I haven’t watched all of this game as I didn’t really have much vested interest in it, but Villa weren’t without their chances especially in the second half. Benteke was prominent in most of their chances of which many were well kept out by Boruc and the rest of the Saints defense. Those of us with any investment in Soton’s defense due to the DGW this week would be pleased with the clean sheet though, as that is unlikely to be repeated against Chelsea.
In some bad news for any of you that hold defensive cheapie Shaw, he suffered a nasty gash on his leg which may keep him out of the clash against the Blues. Well done to all those who picked up Lambert though, he has now scored in 4 of the Saints last 5 games, which at 6.4 is great value! He also managed to pick up the 3 bonus points as well. Unfortunately for anyone that invested in midfield cheapie Puncheon couldn’t land any attacking points, although he did hit the upright later in the game. It might be time to move him on following this GW if you still hold him.
Fulham 1 – 1 Wigan
Wow, Fulham really are in some terrible form. This was heading quickly down the path of a highlight free fixture, that is until unlikely hero/veteran Karagounis decided to let fly from long range – putting the Cottagers ahead in the first half. After that, the game was really lacking again – if you exclude a few good chances from Di Santo being squandered and a brilliant save from Aussie Schwarzer to deny a Maloney effort. However late on Di Santo finally put one into Fulham’s net with an absolute gem into the top right corner.
For Berbatov owners, he looked tired to me and that’s possibly been confirmed with him possibly coming up for a rest. As a Ruiz owner I was left disappointed by a goal line clearance late in the game, which probably would have seen the cottagers get over the line. The bonus points went the way of Reither (3) who claimed the assist to Karagounis (2) whilst Maloney picked up 1 for his efforts.
Everton 0 – 0 Swansea
The result here was probably the biggest surprise of the round – not the fact it was a draw, but the fact neither team could get on the scoresheet! In fact, the last time the Toffee’s had a clean sheet was 22nd September, 2012 (GW 5) in the reverse fixture at Liberty Stadium when they won 3-0. However the Toffee’s weren’t without their chances with 16 shots on goal (half of those on target). As you may assume, Baines and to some extent Fellaini were prominent in their chances whilst Vorm and Williams were influential in achieving the result for the Swans. Another stat, I heard that Baines had created the most chances on goal so far this season in European leagues, with 76 if I remember correctly – in my eyes he was probably the most influential Everton player on the ground producing several fine corners which resulted in a number of the Toffee’s spurned chances.
Everyone’s favourite Swans player Michu again had the best chance the swans saw all day, with his attempted chip over Howard athletically tipped onto the crossbar. The maximum bonus points quite surprisingly for mine went to Fellaini, which really reflects how valuable he can be to your side if he remains at Goodison park. The minors went to Rangel (2) and Tiendalli (1) – hopefully most of us weren’t celebrating these two guys being in the points.
Norwich 0 – 0 Newcastle
I can tell you, don’t be surprised if the Toon go down quicker than a $2 hooker if these sort of performances keep repeating. Not that the Canaries were much better, but at least they did have the better chances of the game and could have pinched the result late. Anyway, I won’t go on much about this as there’s really not a lot to talk about. Cisse really struggled, failed to get a shot off and that was a recurring theme for the rest of them as well. They lack creativity without the likes of Ben Arfa and Cabaye (although the Frenchman subbed on early in the second half) around and clearly miss Ba significantly already. The Canaries also missed their main man Holt for much of the game (on after ’67), which really coincided with some of their better movements forward. Surprise cheap defender Martin almost scored a screamer from long range to break the deadlock, only to be denied by the woodwork after beating a helpless Krul. I am perhaps stupidly considering getting him in for Demel after this game as cheap bench fodder.
On the bonus points side of things, Tettey picked up the 3, Krul picking up 2 and Snodgrass and Bunn got one each.
Reading 3 – 2 West Brom
What. A. Game. Well, the last 10 minutes that is! If you haven’t seen it, this is probably one of the most unlikely comebacks you’re going to see in a long, long time. The Baggies were cruising, 2-0 up after 80 odd minutes, probably unlucky not to be ahead by more to be honest. They had the three points well and truly in the bag. However Brian McDermott’s strugglers had other ideas, with Kebe, Le Fondre (penalty) and finally Pogrebnyak all netted within 7 minutes of complete and utter madness to give them 3 vital points.
As I mentioned the Baggies dominated the game, with Morrison (2 assists) and Lukaku (2 goals and another 2 denied by the woodwork) in particular absolutely dominating. Morrison was playing that role in behind the striker again which always tempts me into getting him – don’t though because next week he’ll be playing deeper again probably. With Lukaku however, keep an eye on this guy! He will be a fantasy lock in a couple of years if not sooner in my opinion, at just 19 he already has his moments where he is purely unstoppable. Until the last few minutes these guys were locked into 3 and 2 BP’s, but they ended up all going the Royals way with Kebe picking up 3 and Pog & Pearce sharing 2 each.
Sunderland 3 – 0 West Ham
I’ll start by saying this, if you saved your wildcard for the DGW coming up in R23, then forget about getting West Ham players. The Hammers are in terrible form at the moment, which was epitomised in this game. Sunderland, who have hardly been brutes delivering attacking potency all season, managed exactly that to claim a much welcomed and very comfortable 3 points for Martin O’neill. It all started with Larsson getting his first goal in for the season (a fair goal at that from long range) then Johnson dominating in the front half with the assist to that goal and following up with one of his own. Finally it was finished with McClean capitalising on a very poor shot from Sessegnon which was going well wide, only for him to run in behind Jaaskelainen and tap in to complete the rout.
The Hammers had very few chances all game and were lucky not to concede more, but Vaz Te did get a golden opportunity late to steal a goal when he was left unmarked only to plant it straight into Mignolet’s chest from close range. The bonus points here all went the way of the black cats as you’d expect, with the three goal scorers taking home the chocolates; McClean (3), Larsson (2) and Johnson (1).
Stoke 0 – 4 Chelsea
Here is a game many of us were interested in, probably mostly because it was the first leg of Chelsea’s DGW. Much to most of our pleasant surprises, it mostly went according to plan for those of us who invested heavily in the Blues piling on some points – in spite of playing at the Britannia where the Potter’s have not lost in nearly 12 months. However this wasn’t their game, particularly not so for Walters who if you haven’t heard already, the definition of ‘Mare’ is now defined as “Jonathon Walters vs. Chelsea, 12th January 2013”. The Stoke striker managed to not only concede two own goals, but he also missed a penalty and managed to kick the ball into his own face – all in his 100th game. The beneficiaries of his brilliant headers into his own net were Azpilicueta and popular captain’s choice Mata. Not finishing there, Mata also claimed the assists from a Lampard penalty and an Eden Hazard long range gem – off his non-preferred if you don’t mind.
Stoke didn’t really have too many chances, although as mentioned Walters did miss a penalty by blazing off the crossbar and Jones missed a golden opportunity early when he missed the target after beating Cech when the score was still 0 – 0. That did mean a clean sheet for those of us who went that way, however Luiz ended up playing central defense with Cahill missing the game to witness the birth of his child (why on Saturday’s!) meaning he wasn’t really in the frame for attacking returns. For those of us with Ba he was very quiet, although he was denied an assist early when Begovic kept out Lampard brilliantly – in fact I am not quite sure how Begovic was only listed with 3 saves as he was clearly Stoke’s best keeping several shots out. The bonus points all went the way of the midfielders, unwanted Lampard picked up 3, Mata the 2 and Hazard got the 1.
That moves us onto “Super Sunday” or “Ridiculously Early Monday Morning” as I liked to call it.
Man United 2 – 1 Liverpool
There was naturally a big build up here between these old rivals, but in reality I expected nothing less than a United win – especially at Old Trafford. That’s exactly how it played out too, especially the first 70 minutes or so with United dominating the play and the Reds playing absolutely terrible football until at least half time. In terms of scoring, RVP of course opened it with a seemingly effortless turn of Evra’s low, flat cross past Reina. It took until the second half for United to score again, with Welbeck (starting ahead of Hernandez in the absence of Rooney) was brought down by Skrtel when he was running onto a ball chipped over his head towards goal, fortunately the Red’s centre-back only earned a yellow card. However the resulting free kick, taken by RVP was played deep across goal with the smallest man in the box Evra left open to head the ball into the net. In a moment of somewhat controversy (in my opinion anyway), the goal has gone to Vidic who inadvertently got in Evra’s way and produced a tiny deflection off his header into goal – Evra got the assist but that of course means RVP missed out. Nonetheless, all was going along swimmingly for SAF and his men.
Then for whatever reason, Liverpool clicked – and it seemed to coincide with the introduction of new boy Sturridge making his first premier league appearance for Liverpool. The pace which he introduced up front, along with some great combination play with Suarez really troubled the senior citizens of United in Vidic and Ferdinand. It wasn’t long before Sturridge in fact netted, capitalising on a Gerrard shot which De Gea kindly tapped straight into his path to secure an easy first up goal for him. All of a sudden there was a game to be had, even though United were getting chances of their own still they kept looking shaky down back (a big reason I wouldn’t invest in Evra although he keeps getting attacking returns). Although this was the first time since September their first choice CB’s of Vidic and Ferdinand played together, I am not sure that’s ideal for clean sheets anyway – though Vidic injured his knee late on in any case (along with Young doing the same earlier in the game). So United held on, which I think they deserved to, but Liverpool showed some promise in the last 20 minutes to suggest they maybe aren’t as bad as some of us might think – especially if that Sturridge & Suarez combination clicks.
Bonus points all went United’s way however; Vidic (3), Evra (2) and Kagawa – wtf (1).
Arsenal 0 – 2 Man City
This game had some promise about it also, even if the Gunners aren’t the same team they once were back when the old Nokia 1100 was the most popular phone. Anyway, unfortunately this game was over almost before it even started, with Koscielny sent off after only 10 minutes for bringing down Dzeko with something resembling a tackle from the very best AFL inside midfielders. In my opinion it was a penalty definitely – however a red card as well was very harsh. Anyway Dzeko took the spot kick and only managed to fire it into the upright, with the ball ricocheting straight back into the waiting arms of Szczesny. So at least it was still 0-0 I thought, but that’s a long time to hold out with 10 men against City, even if you’re playing at home. It proved to be the case, City eventually breaking through with Milner played in by on-again, off-again man Tevez. That was followed up not long after by Tevez again playing in Dzeko this time to make it 2 – 0, it had all the makings of a drubbing after only 32 minutes.
However, with City missing not only Aguero but also the likes of Yaya Toure something seemed amiss with them and Arsenal were able to hold on and create some chances of their own. None of those were better than Walcott’s effort which was cleared off the line by Lescott, thankfully for me that since I benched him. That wasn’t the end of the drama though, as City also felt the wrath of referee Mike Dean with Kompany lunging in on a tackle on Wilshere, Dean deemed he went with both feet (which technically he maybe did) but must not have noticed that Kompany was on the ball first and thus he received a straight red, 10 vs 10. Alas it was already too late by then for the Gunners to come back. It’s already been confirmed City will appeal the red card, which if all sanity prevails (in my eyes) will be rescinded. So, the bonus points for the final game of the weekend weren’t too surprising ; Tevez (3), Milner (2) and Dzeko (1).
To come: Mata ©, Hazard, Ba, Clyne
Lord: Mata, (Hazard, Clyne, Naughton, RVP)
Loser: Demel, Begovic, Ba
Trades: Already did Hazard to Cazorla for the DGW.
Vent: Missing out on Ruiz’s goal really makes me rue not getting Lambert for the DGW!
That’s it from me for this week, hope it is all easy enough to read and I haven’t put you all to sleep! Hit me up with any comments you might have, if I write any further articles I wouldn’t mind constructive criticism. In the meantime you can hit me up on twitter (see below) to banter about FPL or whatever other sport is going on – I’m into most of them! Cheers!