Well that was a little better! Although not quite reaching the lofty standards of a couple of gameweeks ago, it was a helluva lot better than last week!
* Home boy *
Christmas fixtures. Here it comes! This is the best part of the season in my opinion… This coming gameweek is the last normal one for a while before we embark on 3 games in a week over Boxing Day, The Little Bit in the Middle then New Years Day… It’s a good opportunity to take a few risks with the Wildcard waiting on the other side. There will be rotation and there will be donuts, but if you manage to dodge those inevitabilities you could be jumping up the rankings.
Man Utd. After a fairly slow start to life under LVG, United have really come to life the past month or so. Six wins on the trot now and the goals are flowing. Like because they have so much more room for improvement. Their home form has been great but they have given their opposition chances, and at times were saved by De Gea on the weekend. The jury is still out on their away form too with all of the recent performances being tinged with a little luck… They’ve got fair fixtures over the Christmas period so don’t be afraid to jump on board, when they do click they could be a huge source of points. Defensively they’re still a worry so maybe hold off on them for now, but you have to assume once they start getting players back from injury and they settle down it will improve there too.
Man City. Time for a short term investment… Good teams get by. Sure injuries are mounting and Aguero is a huge loss, but it gives others the impetus to take the lead. And with Palace, West Brom, Burnley and Sunderland over the festive period we should at the very least be interested. But on whom do we call on? Hart… Probably too expensive for a lot of team structures. Kompany out opens up a spot for Demichelis to partner Mangala? There’s Clichy, but Kolarov available now opens up the home/away rotation again. Zabaleta is pretty rich but could be a goer. Fernando and Fernandinho rotate too much next to Yaya and don’t score anyway… There’s Yaya himself but he is really expensive too and I’m not convinced he’s back to what he was last season. Nasri just doesn’t score enough, Navas and Lampard don’t play regularly enough. A left field option is Milner. The gaffer has floated the idea of him playing in the false striker role? If he doesn’t then Pozo should play most games as the only fit “striker”, please… In reality who’s left? David “Never Again” Silva. You’d need some seriously big ahems to go there, and you know what? I’m considering it…
Homely Hazard. You want a trend? I’ll give you a trend. Eden Hazard gets homesick… Fact. Scores in away games this season; 2, 5, 7, 3, 2, 2, 3, 2. Home; 9, 2, 3, 11, 10, 11, 9, 14. Why like? It gives us an excellent increase in probability for a solid captaincy option every “second” game. Very nearly a dislike for not noticing earlier… Seriously Eden, get it together son.
Honourable mentions. Cazorla’s 2.0% ownership (anyone keen?). Giroud back to form! De Gea goes alright. Barkley’s left foot super goal!!!
* Free fall! *
Southampton. Although completely expected, their current form can’t be ignored and a loss to Burnley can’t be left unslapped no matter how unlucky it was. They really have dropped off the radar and none of their early season performers are doing anything of note in recent weeks. For those who still have any of their assets, the upcoming fixture nightmares suggest some ship jumping should be occurring if you haven’t already.
Injuries. Don’t recall it ever being this bad… I don’t even recall another sport ever being this bad? It has to be down to the clubs mismanagement, surely. For all the money being poured into the EPL, how much these players are “worth”, you would hope that the most important thing is their health and fitness. That doesn’t seem to be the case.
African Cup of Nations / Asian Cup. Scroll down for some more info on this, but this is a shout out to it’s lunacy in continually wrecking leagues across the world… The ACON more so being every two years. To be fair there isn’t a great deal of the top teams effected, not to the same degree as previous years anyway. You’d have to think it comes into consideration in club transfer dealings? They should definitely be in yours!!!
Honourable mentions. Costa’s hatred of Bonus Points. RVP being too expensive. Jose Mourinho…
Ryan Bennett Award – Burnley’s entire defence. They ain’t gonna be that lucky again in a while! It was their 2nd cleanie in 11 games, the other being an ordinary Hull at home. They have Spurs, Liverpool, City and Newcastle over the Christmas period…
Jonjo Shelvey Award – James McArthur. If anyone saw this game you’ll have to agree the link up play between McArthur and Bolasie was nearly telepathic. I counted three goals Bolasie handed to McArthur on a platter, only for McArthur to fluff 2 of them. Promising, but Palace have scored 2 in 4 and have City and Southampton coming up…
Jamie Vardy Award – Ashley Barnes. Getting decent game time! Yeah that’s great. Burnley have failed to score in 7 games this season, and couldn’t muster more than one in any more than 2. They don’t exactly scream goals do they? 99% luck was involved in his goal too…
Now on to arguably the most important factor we need to think about over the next few weeks… The African Cup of Nations, and the Asian Cup. Like I said above, it doesn’t feel like it is going to have as much of an effect as previous tournaments but there are few very relevant players that need some think time.
First up we’ll go through the Asian Cup effect. From what I’ve read most teams will be gathering their troops between 1 and 2 weeks prior to the first game. The Aussies and South Korea are linking up on the 27th December, while Japan is apparently on the 3rd January with the competition running from 9th Jan to the 31st Jan for those that make it that far. When individual players decide to leave their clubs isn’t readily available right now so I’d suggest keeping an eye out and letting us know. I haven’t mentioned any other nations, because none have players in the EPL… And of those 3 teams, the only really relevant player is Mile Jedinak. Others might be Yun Suk-Young, Ki Sung-Yueng or Maya Yoshida. If you have Mile, it might be best to make a move sooner rather than later.
The slightly more relevant one is the African Cup of Nations. This one runs from 17th January to 8th February, for those that can last. You would think these teams want a couple of weeks preparation so shortly after the New Years Day fixtures you might see them scamper home… The more important of those leaving are; Mohamed Diame, Cheikhou Kouyate, Papiss Cisse, Mame Biram Diouf, Sadia Mane, Diafro Sakho, Kolo Toure, Yaya Toure, Cheick Tiote, Wilfried Bony, Yannick Bolasie and Alex Song. If you already have any of these, you’ve got them for 4 games. And that’s a best case scenario… If you’re thinking of trading in any of them now, you’re either crazy or hoping they can do a very short term job for you before you have to trade them out.
So anyway, that’s what I reckon! Your thoughts?