In what was an indifferent weekend, FPL managers were treated to a few big name players finally stringing some scores together. Some managers could have been severely stung by a few team related issues (Luiz, Ba, Podolski, Rooney) though, and Walcott owners will be annoyed that RVP picked up the 3 BP without picking up any for poor old Theo. Oh well, there’s still another game to play for the walk-up captain. Let’s take a look at how each team fared….
Liverpool 5 – 0 Norwich
Here’s what you take out of this Hughton. When Hoolahan, Pilkington and Snodgrass have been forming the British version of Mata, Hazard and Oscar all season- DO NOT bench them. Norwich looked devout of any forward thrust, with their best opportunity coming unsurprisingly from a Snodgrass set piece early.
That said, Liverpool always smash Norwich so why did we expect anything different. Henderson swivelled and blasted an early goal in, and from there it was all Liverpool. The Sturridge/Suarez/Downing combination actually looked bloody good, and Sturridge dummied a beautiful Downing pass to put Suarez through for the second. Sturridge then capitalised on a fantastic Downing volley-cross for a tap in, before Gerrard does what Gerrard does best… put the ball in the back of the net from outside the box. Sterling came on and assisted a Bennett own goal to complete the rout for Liverpool.
It poses a good question though- is Sturridge a viable FPL option? Time will tell, but given his two trips to Arsenal and Man City in the coming weeks I’ll sit and wait to see if he is fixture proof before bringing him in. Suarez is still an absolute gem though, and I think the addition of Sturridge will only further his returns as defences have to cope with them both.
Swansea 3 – 1 Stoke
Swansea started the game like they were a top four side. Slick passing, cool movement and an innate understanding of every teammates game style. Davies skipped through the defence to slot home coolly for the opener, before a crisp De Guzman free kick made it 2-0, after Michu was fouled within striking distance. The third Swansea goal was probably one of the team goals of the year, as Routledge jetted down the wing before playing a ball to Graham, who flicked the ball to De Guzman to finish his second. Seriously, if you haven’t seen the Graham flick, look at it- it’s Messi-esque and probably added another million pounds on his transfer value.
Michael Owen (remember him) made a cameo appearance for Stoke before netting his 150th PL goal in the 91st minute- extremely annoyingly for Davies or Williams owners.
Remember when Stoke used to be a defensive force? Those were the days. They have now conceded 13 goals in 4 games! Looking at the matches it seems like they have lost all confidence. After being rattled 3-3 against Southampton they have started losing 1 v 1 contests, and most notably, stopped clearing balls by thumping them into row Z. Let’s hope for all Stoke’s defensive assets they can bounce back soon…
Man City 2 – 0 Fulham
Stock-standard win for the Citizens, after they seemingly cruised through a Fulham team that pressed well at times, but were killed on the break. Silva slotted home a first after Schwarzer did something De Gea would do, and parried Dzeko’s shot into the danger zone. There were many more chances for City, with Dzeko spurning a particularly memorable one from close range, before Silva coolly chipped Tevez‘s through ball over Schwarzer‘s shoulder.
City maintained their good form, surprisingly without Yaya Toure, while Fulham looked again devout of any spark up front, with Ruiz well contained all match. Berbatov owners must be getting particularly itchy trigger fingers this week…
Silva is one interesting prospect- with just 5.5% ownership and 25 points in the last 3 weeks, he certainly is putting his hand up for selection. One problem though… you’ll have to drop one of Mata, Cazorla or Bale to do so. You’d have to have a serious nerve!
Newcastle 1 – 2 Reading
Reading hadn’t won an away match all year coming into this game, and despite my doubts I highlighted in the preview, I was sure Newcastle would come up with the win- especially with a fit again Cabaye playing. How wrong I was. Despite Cabaye slotting a marvellous free kick home, it wasn’t enough. Cisse had plenty of chances to make it very tough for Reading, but where last year he would have slotted into the corner, all his shots were in saving distance of the keeper. To Federici‘s credit, he had the best game I’ve seen from a goalkeeper all year- some of the saves he made were unbelievable.
Going into the 70th minute, Pardew would have been content- Reading hadn’t had much of a chance and Newcastle were looking dangerous going forward. The old saying says: “A week is a long time in football.” In this instance, it wasn’t 7 days that were needed, it was 7 minutes. Le Fondre came on and does what he does best- make an impact. His first goal- a scrappy goal line mess that came off his chest- was slightly lucky. His second goal was the opposite. He neatly pivoted and curled his shot into the corner to hand Reading their first away win, and leave Newcastle reeling 2 points outside of relegation. Spend wisely this window Alan, it may be your last.
West Ham 1 – 1 QPR
People were earmarking this game as the dud of the round. How wrong they were. QPR went ahead early courtesy of Remy linking up with Taarabt neatly in what won’t be the last time they combine this season, before West Ham started hammering them. And by hammered, I mean HAMMERED. Bodies were flying everywhere, it was a sense of desperation shown that we hadn’t seen from either team so far this year. West Ham started getting shots off at every opportunity, and were it not for an inspired Julio Cesar, they would have slammed 4 in.
The QPR resistance was eventually broken after half time, when Joe Cole got loose over the back of a pack and tapped in just after the hour mark. A handy inclusion to FPL teams at 5.6 million! West Ham then had chance, after chance, after chance, and if not for some desperate defending they would have snatched the win. They had 63% possession and 22 shots to 9- emphasising their dominance after half time.
QPR will be happy to sneak away with a point they probably didn’t deserve, but they’ll need to take all 3 in these sorts of matches if they want to avoid the drop.
Wigan 2 -3 Sunderland
Ahhhh my money maker. Sunderland paying $3.40 going into this game was virtually free money,but they went behind courtesy of a Vaughan brain fade own goal (seriously what was he doing). They quickly struck back after Larsson smashed his free kick into McCarthy‘s arm in the penalty box and Gardner swept home to equalise. Fletcher then did what he does best- finish. His first goal was slightly scrappy but still entirely impressive and opportunistic, after following up his first shot that deflected straight off of Al Habsi. His second though, to put the Black Cats 3-1 up was pinpoint accurate following Johnson‘s toe poke to him.
Wigan then hit back through new loan signing Henriquez from Man United, but it wasn’t enough as Sunderland held on to climb the table further up to 11th. The loss for Wigan sees them drop to 19th, but hey, what’s new?
West Brom 2 – 2 Aston Villa
The Baggies went into this game without a win in their last 7 matches, and needing 3 points to cling on to the top half dozen spots. It wasn’t to be though, as Benteke thundered home a ridiculously sweet strike to put them 1-0 up, before Agbonlahor remember how to play football briefly and notched a second before half time.
You know how they say football is a game of two halves? It couldn’t have been more pertinent in this instance. West Brom were rubbish first half, but came out in the second half with a renewed purpose and vigour. Brunt absolutely creamed a shot from about 30 yards off the post and into the net to make it 2-1, before Benteke undid his good work early to allow McAuley to nod a corner for Odemwingie to finish. 2-2 in the end was probably a fair result, given both teams had one great half and one ordinary one.
Lukaku maintained his starting spot over Long, which looks set to continue into the future- meaning he is now a viable option going forward. Benteke‘s goal will surely attract transfer interest, but his inconsistency remains a problem.
Chelsea 2 – 1 Arsenal
Firstly, Torres started, which was always going to be a BAd idea (see what I did there?). Luiz also pulled out with an ankle knock, meaning a fair few managers relying on those two were always going to be mighty pissed off. The game started with Chelsea dominating every area, and thats how it remained for the first half. Mata latched onto an Azpilicueta diagonal ball to notch his 8th PL goal for the year, before Ramires jumped into Szczesny‘s legs on the floor- meaning Lampard had another penalty to convert. At half time, Chelsea didn’t look like being touched by an Arsenal side who, apart from Wilshere, didn’t tackle, chase, close down or create anything.
Again- it’s a game of two halves. Second half they came out clearly having copped an absolute spray from Wenger, and rightly so. They played quicker, they played smarter, and they harassed on the ball. Cazorla threaded a pass through for Walcott to capitalise on (an FPL managers dream), before Arsenal spurned a few chances to get equal and handing Chelsea only their 3rd home win under Rafa.
Podolski pulled out with illness but is expected to be right for the West Ham game- and he better be to justify my transfer this week!
Tottenham 1 – 1 Man United
And so we come to the last game on Super Sunday. Snow was falling heavily in North London, but that didn’t deter the Spurs faithful who were singing in full force. Before too long though, that man RVP scored his 18th PL goal (that’s right, and it’s only January!) after meeting Cleverley‘s cross with his head. This was to be the last attacking foray from United though, as Spurs really kicked into gear in the second half.
Defoe had the best chance of the match, but while RVP was again clinical, he was again wasteful. Bale was well held, and it took some De Gea magic and some Ferdinand class to quell the visitors attacks. However, in the 90th minute, uncannily similar to the last time they played, Dempsey stepped up to the plate and scrambled in a messy goal, but who cares, he’ll take it!
To emphasis the Spurs dominance they had 25 shots for the match, compared to United’s 5, but Sir Alex was again blaming the referees. Tough titties my friend. The result means City close the game to 5 points on United. Game on!
So that’s a round up of the games done, but how did you fare? Personally I got screwed by Luiz and Podolski pulling out late, while Defoe did his best to waste every opportunity he got (and there were a few).
To Play: Walcott (C) , Podolski * , Shaw, Fellaini, Szczesny
Lord: Mata, Walcott
Trades: Podolski > Fletcher potentially
Vent: Luiz and Podolski- kindly jump off a large building.
Let me know how you went in the comments below guys!