Gameweek 32 Fantasy Reviews
Manchester City 4-1 Southampton
Goals: Toure, Nasri, Dzeko, Jovetic; Lambert
Assists: Dzeko, Silva, Kolarov, Navas; Cork
Bonus Points: Nasri (3), Silva (2), Dzeko (2)
Manchester City: City came out with a 4-1 win on a day that saw the opposition win the possession battle by 12 percentage points. Better overall play in the final third is what separated these two sides at the end of the day, Joe Hart had a relatively easy day in goal, he only faced one shot on target and you guessed it, it went in. Nevertheless Hart is looking like a solid pick if money is not tight, when you consider City’s schedule for the final stretch. That of course can be said about all of their starting defenders except for Aleksandar Kolarov. Unfortunately he has not been able to hold a starting spot down and continues to be rotated with Gael Clichy. Kolarov however was able to provide another assist and he leads all FPL defenders with 7, despite his low minute count on the season. Yaya Toure once again delivered from 12 yards out and it took a wonderful save from the Saints keeper to stop him from adding a second late in the game. David Silva had another fine display as he sprayed the ball around eventually earning himself an assist for City’s second goal. Yeah, I know he was offside by 3 yards, if you don’t own him that had to sting a little…well that and the 2 bonus points. Jesus Navas provided an assist and was a good outlet down the right, but with Sergio Aguero set to come back, he could be the odd one out in the potent City attack. Samir Nasri scored a goal that should not have counted and stole the 3 bonus points from more deserving players. Does anyone really like Nasri? Edin Dzeko once again got the starting nod over the now fit Stevan Jovetic and the couldn’t “hit water if he fell out of boat” Alvaro Negredo. Dzeko came away with a goal that he almost managed to miss (like the other 2 he should have scored) and fell down a bit too easy in the box to earn City a penalty for his assist. It will now be interesting with Kun back in the mix to see how the minutes are distributed. One would imagine that with 8 goals and 4 assists in his last 10 league starts, Pellegrini would include Dzeko in the starting 11. Jovetic returned from an injury and added a late goal in his 14 minute cameo. Negredo wasted two golden opportunities to score and has now managed only 1 miserable point in 8 of his last 11 appearances.
Southampton: A little bit of everything caused them to unravel in this fixture. Stupidity by Jose Fonte, coupled with a blind assistant referee and some City magic. For Artur Boruc owners with no back up keeper it was a moment of disappointment to hear the Saints keeper had suffered an injury during training. That bitterness though, only lasted 3 minutes as City quickly got on the board. Fonte may or may not have brought down the City forward on the penalty, but frankly, ridiculous defending like that deserves to be punished. Luke Shaw was the only bright spot from the back four as he was effective in causing the City defence trouble with his forays forward. Adam Lallana was his tricky self and if not for a bad touch controlling a ball early in the game he could have got on the score sheet. Other Saints midfielders are more along the lines of budget options but are not what one would count on for any consistency points wise. Rickie Lambert scored from a penalty and was a little wide with a strike that could have earned him his brace. That makes it 3 goals and 3 assists for Lambert in his last 4 games. Jay Rodriguez came off injured early in the game. Judging by his reaction, it looks like heavy damage to his knee is very possible and there are concerns he could be out for the season and also the World Cup, but we await an official comment from the club on that, early this week.
Aston Villa 1-2 Fulham
Goals: Holt, Richardson, Rodallega
Assists: Albrighton; Dejagah, Holtby
Bonus Points: Rodallega (3), Richardson (2), Holt (2)
Aston Villa: A weakened Villa side took to the pitch with two of their biggest goal threats Christian Benteke (torn Achilles) and Gabriel Agbonlahor (sickness) not involved in the action. While individually you could point to certain players for doing a better job on defence than others, the way FPL is played one rotten apple can spoil the bunch. That is 3 losses on the bounce for Villa with 10 goals allowed. They are simply unreliable defensively and any investment in their backline is likely to yield a bunch of 1 pointers with their current form. Leandro Bacuna seems very capable of delivering solid returns, he just doesn’t. Ryan Bertrand was supposed to be playing some kind of midfield position, but he seemed as lost as I am as to what his job description was versus Fulham. Andreas Weimann started off looking a real danger, almost scoring a header. As the game went on though he disappeared and was not the threat you expect against such weak opposition. Grant Holt was given a start, mostly because everyone else is hurt. I kid because I love, he played ok. He was able to score Villa’s goal with a header and had some decent hold up play. It remains to be seen if he will retain his place in the starting 11, but even if he does let’s not get too excited.
Fulham: They needed to win and they did. We can skip any individual mentions of their defence because one clean sheet in the last 18 games should be enough to scare anyone off. Basically you’re almost better off going with 10 than having a Fulham defender be your 11th player. Well, maybe just one mention of an individual can help illustrate my point. Sascha Riether who has started almost all the games has 59 points for the season. His last game with more than 2 points was in GW17. Moving on then, Lewis Holtby was the best player on the field and it is hard to understand why he could not find a place in the starting 11 at Tottenham. A quick glance at Fulham’s schedule the rest of the way, makes me thinks, now brace yourself…that he might be worth a punt. He got the assist on the winner and was terribly unlucky to not score when a Villa defender cleared a ball off the line that was 99% in. Steve Sidwell continues his FPL decline after an interesting start to the season where we saw him hit the back of the net on 6 occasions. With only one in his last 8 any minor interest in him should have waned by now. Kieran Richardson scored a beautiful goal, but he doesn’t offer enough returns to get excited about him. Hugo Rodallega came on at halftime and played well for the Cottagers. He was able to grab the winner (his first league goal of the season) with a very well take headed goal. With no real options up top, he could get a chance in the closing games and perhaps help Fulham pull off the great escape like he helped Wigan once upon a time. HAHAHA!! Sorry, sometimes I like to throw nonsense out there to see who is paying attention.
Cardiff 0-3 Crystal Palace
Goals: Puncheon (2) & Ledley
Assists: Mariappa, Ledley & Chamakh
Bonus Points: Puncheon (3), Mariappa (2), Ledley (1)
Cardiff: Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s naive tactics were exposed as his poor Cardiff side were brushed aside by Palace. Cardiff’s gutless performance means last season’s Championship winners are destined to challenge for that honour again in 2014-15. From a Fantasy Football point of view there was little positive to take from this mauling. Matts Moller Daehli, the 18-year-old Norwegian put in another solid display and at 4.5m he is a good differential pick. Wilfried Zaha, the Manchester United loanee was a virtual spectator for much of the game and when he was replaced he was roundly jeered all-round. To the disbelief of their biggest attendance of the season Cardiff’s players were even worse than in their recent 4-0 defeat at home to Hull. They managed only one decent goal attempt by Fraizer Campbell. With an away fixture at Southampton next Cardiff will need a miracle to avoid the drop.
Crystal Palace: Tony Pulis, a Welshman who followed Cardiff in his youth, continues to work his magic and this comprehensive win over Cardiff means that since taking over the helm when Palace were anchored to the bottom of the table, with four points from their first 11 matches, Pulis now has them in 14th place and, seemingly, out of danger with 34 points. Palace were the superior, better-organised team, and were in no way flattered by the result. Joe Ledley, set up the first goal in the 31st minute by supplying Jason Puncheon, who scored with a low shot from 15 yards out. Ledley then scored the second before the third was driven home by Puncheon in the 88th minute. Crystal Palace have taken a huge step towards securing their Premier League status for next season, in typical Pulis fashion his men sat deep and allowed Cardiff to have the ball, but were ruthless on the counter and their wingers were right at the heart of it. With another clean sheet under their belts and a DGW coming up, investment in their defence is paying dividends.
Hull 1-0 Swansea
Bonus points: Rosenior (3), Boyd (2), Davies (1), Figueroa (1)
Hull: Another resolute home performance by Hull leaves Steve Bruce’s side just 4 points from the magic 40 mark. Hull City will head to Wembley in high spirits after this 1-0 win at home to Swansea City which all but secured their Premier League survival. Following four defeats in their previous five Premier League outings, Steve Bruce’s men needed a morale boost ahead of next weekend’s FA Cup semi-final against League One Sheffield United and they got it by moving further clear of the relegation zone. George Boyd, returning from a three-match suspension got the decisive goal when he towered above Angel Rangel to head home six minutes before half-time. Stand-in keeper Steve Harper could be a decent backup keeper after the FA Cup semi-final, 4.1m and a guaranteed starter. Midfielder Tom Huddlestone is expected to be back in GW 35 despite his absence from this match, which was described as precautionary, giving him more time to rest a back injury.
Swansea: Swansea began with a line-up unchanged from that which defeated Norwich so impressively last weekend yet they were disappointing against the Tigers in the first half. The ineffective Michu, who is a pale shadow of the player that took the EPL by storm not so long ago was replaced in favour of Pablo Hernandez after 65 minutes. The Swans asked more questions of Hull in the second half but found it hard to create any clear-cut opportunities, with Hull keeper Harper required to make only one save of note, gathering the ball at the second attempt to deal with a Jonjo Shelvey effort. Michel Vorm was in good form, he pulled off a fine save as early as the 10th minute, blocking at close range when Shane Long met a cross from Maynor Figueroa on the volley at the far post. Soon afterwards he was involved again, diving to his right to keep out a low shot from Boyd. Swansea though were unable to open up a resolute Tigers defence though, their best opportunities were speculative, with tame finishes from Wilfried Bony, Shelvey and Nathan Dyer failing to trouble Harper.
Newcastle 0-4 Man Utd
Goals:Mata (2), Januzaj, Hernandez
Assists: Mata, Fletcher, Kagawa & Hernandez
Bonus points: Mata (3), Hernandez (2), Smalling (1), Kagawa (1)
Newcastle: The only thing that “The Toon” demonstrated was that they are side with nothing to play for this season. Manager Alan Pardew needs to get to grips with their slump. He has openly admitted that he is having trouble motivating a side with nothing to play for other than pride, but this was another uninspiring performance, when he had promised a response to the abject 4-0 defeat at Southampton a week earlier. They have now lost seven of their last ten games, scoring just six goals, while conceding 22. The flimsiness of Newcastle’s squad was emphasised by the presence of Dan Gosling in midfield, and the continued slump in form of Hatem Ben Arfa. The Frenchman was once considered Newcastle’s star player; their match winner. On Saturday he could not even get in the team ahead of a player who had started just one league game in four years on Tyneside, which came against Norwich City back in 2011. Newcastle started well but once Mata had opened the scoring they effectively threw in the towel. Newcastle supporters were left wondering how on earth their team remain ninth, they have failed to score in 11 of their last 15 league games and in the past three fixtures alone they have conceded 11 goals scored none in reply. By the end the ground was half empty, those that remained booed and jeered another abject display. From an FPL perspective we would advise you avoid Newcastle players.
Man Utd: The under fire United manager David Moyes has not had many better days than this since joining the Red Devils. Not only did his side dismantle Newcastle and make it look easy, they did so while he rested eight players ahead of the second leg of their CL quarter-final against Bayern Munich. He was so content in his post-match press conference that he smiled and cracked jokes, one of them, about Marouane Fellani suffering a dizzy spell in the second half was even funny (for a Scotsman!) The main architect of this win was Juan Mata. It has taken the Spaniard longer than United imagined to show this type of form following his £37m move from Chelsea in January, but he was the class act at St James’ Park. He scored twice, either side of half-time, to effectively end Newcastle’s interest in the contest. The first was a precise free-kick into the top corner from the edge of the area, the second a smart piece of skill and simple finish. Javier Hernandez hit the post in the first half, but added a third goal from close range before Adnan Januzaj scored Manchester’s fourth from a Mata back heal. The only sour point was an injury to Ashley Young with a suspected dislocated thumb (is that not a blessing in disguise!) and the missing Wayne Rooney with a toe injury. Moyes is hopeful of his return against Munich midweek though initial reports are not conclusive at this juncture.
Norwich 0-1 West Brom
Bonus points: Olsson (3), Amalfitano (2), Mulumbu (2), Ridgewell (2), Foster (2)
Norwich: The slump at Norwich continues, the only consolation that the Canaries could take from this desperate afternoon was that results elsewhere mean they are still five points clear of the relegation places. They were poor on Saturday and were lacking in pace and width. Norwich now need to hope that Cardiff, Sunderland and Fulham fail to pick up enough points to close the gap because after their trip to Fulham next week, their final four opponents are Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal……….ouch! Norwich have produced some good home performances this season, sadly this was not one of them and by the end of the game of “We want Hughton out!” was accompanied by hundreds of yellow paper clappers being thrown on to the pitch. After the Fulham game it would take a brave FPL manager to field a Norwich player in his starting 11! The fans got the wishes, as Hughton was sacked on Sunday evening and was replaced by Neil Adams, the club’s U18s manager – sometimes the old adage “be careful what you wish for” comes back to bite you.
West Brom: Pepe Mel decided to leave Berahino on the bench after his altercation with team-mate James Morrison last week and recalled Jonas Olsson, after a two-match ban and the defender would prove to be a significant figure in the Baggies’ second-half rear-guard action. The boost of an early goal gave them something to fight for and fight they did. Morgan Amalfitano made a crucial strike, finishing off a sweeping move with a firm shot from the edge of the penalty area that was too good for John Ruddy. Ben Foster continues to impress and he produced a stunning effort to keep out Johan Elmander’s close-range header. West Broms tactics changed in the second half as they sat deep, packed their defence and let Norwich come at them but Albion earned their victory with a succession of crucial tackles and interventions, when centre-backs Olsson and Gareth McAuley were not there to clear the trouble full-backs Steven Reid and Liam Ridgewell were.
Chelsea 3-0 Stoke
Goals: Salah, Lampard, Willian
Assist: Matic, Salah
Bonus Points: Salah (3), Matic (2), Azpilicueta (1), Terry (1), Begovic (1)
Chelsea: A couple of shaky results but the norm was resumed at Stamford Bridge for Chelsea and they are still in the mix for the title. With Chelsea still particpating in the Champions League, rotation is always going to be a worry and lo and behold Hazard started this match on the bench with Salah coming in and scoring a goal and an assist. It was a very good showing from the new arrival, but still premature to have him in the mix for your sides. Lampard had his penalty attempt saved and scored on the rebound and Willian finished things off with a great finish. Still too much rotation to really consider Chelsea midfielders other than Hazard. At the back, those that have double exposure were well rewarded this week as yet another clean sheet and bonus points going to two of the four. Be advised that Ivanovic was very attacking in this one and had a goal ruled out for offside. Ashley Cole reappeared as a 2nd half substitute, but as a replacement midfielder.
Stoke: Have been on a very decent run but was always going to be difficult away at Stamford Bridge. Begovic conceded three but still earned a bonus point, due to his penalty save of which the rebound unfortunately fell to Lampard again. If you have any Stoke players then maybe keep hold onto them otherwise nothing really too exciting. Charlie Adam came on in the 2nd half and did his usual – a few long-range goal attempts and a couple of nasty fouls, which somehow he got away with. The team never really threatened the Chelsea goal, but they will have easier days than this.
Everton 3-0 Arsenal
Goals: Naismith, Lukaku, Arteta (og)
Assists: Lukaku, Mirallas
Bonus Points: Lukaku (3) Naismith (2) Stones
Everton: absolutely outstanding in this one and have now really put themselves amongst the running for that final Champions League spot. Very solid foundation at the back with a clean sheet against Arsenal. With the DGW coming up, one must surely think about investing in any of their defenders, from the attacking threats of Seamus Coleman and Leighton Baines, to the solid cheaper option of John Stones who also got himself a bonus point – although keep in touch with news of Phil Jagielka, who by the week seems to threaten a comeback, until we’re told he’s not quite ready – the ghost of Moyes! Up front and Steven Naismith grabbed himself a goal. Kevin Mirallas has been rewarding for his fantasy managers of late and is worth a shout as well as Ross Barkley who had a very good game but was unfortunate not to get anything. The star of the show though was Romelu Lukaku and he is worth serious consideration for next week. On a side note, not sure why Mikel Arteta was booed by the home fans every time he received the ball, he had a good game for Everton, even scored a goal for them.
Arsenal: Ok Arsenal fans would you like the good or the bad news first? Bad news is that your team is once again making heavy work of securing that fourth spot as they really were abysmal in this one. Good news is that your man Aaron Ramsey was back with a little cameo, and with the kind fixtures left for the Gunners, you have to back that he will contribute in the remainder of the season. But this was one to forget for the Gunners, a lacklustre display that would be more recognised at Newcastle rather than at Arsenal – a lack of leadership both on and off the pitch is evident and will pose more questions of the manager. Olivier Giroud was anonymous and was replaced by Yaya Sanogo, who at least showed he was bothered. Alex Oxlade Chamberlain rattled the bar late on, but frankly Arsene Wenger has a lot of work on his hands this week if they are to secure another Champions League campaign.
West Ham 1-2 Liverpool
Goals: Gerrard (2) Demel
Assists: Suarez, Flanagan, Noble
Bonus Points: Gerard (3) Demel (2) Flanagan
West Ham: Always going to be a handful at home especially with their fantastic brand of football. I jest, but it works for the Hammers so why not carry on? Contained a good Liverpool side for long periods which shows that they are a tough nut to crack. Perhaps some defensive exposure is not a bad thing, especially with a lot of their defenders getting in and around the box in dead ball situations which was shown through a goal by Guy Demel. Andy Carroll is also a decent option up front if you really are looking for a differential and it is quite clear that he wants to show the powers that be that he should be on a plane to Brazil. His contribution to Demel’s goal was controversial to say the least as he had his hands all over Simon Mignolet, though Hammers’ fans would argue he spent most of the rest of the match being bundled over by Martin Skrtel.
Liverpool: What we do know is that Steven Gerrard has nerves of steel as he once again stepped up to the plate to convert two spot kicks to keep Liverpool at the top of the summit for another week. An off day for SaS as only Luis Suarez produced an assist in this one however he did hit the crossbar twice with two very cheeky efforts. Still vulnerable at the back, with a consolation coming from Jon Flanagan who earned himself an assist and a bonus point, his cheap asking price could be well worth it but bear in mind, City visits Anfield next week for an absolute scorcher and Chelsea also still have to come to Liverpool.
Thanks for reading Gameweek 33 Fantasy Reviews, this article was written by Mito, Ed & Migs