Before we get to the upcoming weekend matches, and our first stab at a fantasy team, it's perhaps appropriate to review the midweek round just completed. There were a ton of storylines, with many of them holding significant fantasy import.
Man Utd 2 - 0 Cardiff
The Ozil Effect! Juan Mata signs and starts, and all is right with the defending champions. Well, at least against one of the league's worst travelling teams. Arguably as important as Mata's debut was the return from injury of both Robin Van Persie and Wayne Rooney. There will be tougher challenges - Cardiff are a team in mid-season transition, and are coming out of a terrible run of fixtures - but Manchester United have world-class attacking options available at reasonable prices in the Yahoo! fantasy game.
Norwich 0 - 0 Newcastle
Norwich are tough to beat at home, and Newcastle were stung by the loss of their best player, Yohan Cabaye, who was sold to Paris Saint-Germain. So it's no great surprise that this match ended nil-nil. Loic Remy and Bradley Johnson were sent off for coming together with their heads, and that will hurt the Magpies more than the Canaries over the next three matches. Mathieu Debuchy returned from his own red card suspension and was right back in the points.
Southampton 2 - 2 Arsenal
Santi Cazorla continued his good run of form, scoring Arsenal's second five minutes after Olivier Giroud had equalized Jose Fonte's opener. However, Adam Lallana scored two minutes later to give Southampton a home point. 18-year old Sam Gallagher got a start in the absence of Rickie Lambert (injury) and Dani Osvaldo (suspended by the team and likely heading to Juventus). Mathieu Flamini was sent off for the Gunners, who again started Nacho Monreal ahead of Kieran Gibbs.
Swansea 2 - 0 Fulham
Jonjo Shelvey's twice-deflected shot, and Chico Flores' own deflected header were the day's only goals. Gerhard Tremmel, a $1 keeper option, posted a huge 18 point haul on the win, clean sheet, and four saves. Nathan Dyer returned from injury to set up Flores' goal.
Crystal Palace 1 - 0 Hull
Crystal Palace rode Jason Puncheon's goal - his third in four matches - and another clean sheet under Tony Pulis to beat Hull City. The Tigers had chances through new signings Shane Long and Nikica Jelavic, but as per these two's usual, they couldn't actually score. Alan McGregor was sent off late for kicking out at Stuart O'Keefe.
Liverpool 4 - 0 Everton
After Steven Gerrard's first-half goal (from a header, not the penalty spot) Liverpool absolutely tore Everton apart on the counter attack. Daniel Sturridge had two goals, and missed his chance for a hat-trick when he skied the penalty kick he was given to take. Luis Suarez completed the scoring in another big day for the Uruguayan striker. Everton lost Romelu Lukaku early, to an ankly injury, and with Seamus Coleman and Sylvain Distin already out with injury, the Toffees just didn't have the pace or power to cope.
Aston Villa 4 - 3 West Brom
Another crazy derby was more competitive. Fabian Delph scored a goal to make amends for his earlier own goal, and Christian Benteke scored the match-winning penalty kick. West Brom lost Nicolas Anelka to injury early in the match.
Chelsea 0 - 0 West Ham
Despite dominating the match, Chelsea were unable to get past a packed West Ham defence. Keeper Adrian made several great saves, and James Collins (2 blocks), Joey O'Brien (2), and Matthew Taylor (7, in a surprise outing) threw themselves in front of everything Chelsea threw at them.
Sunderland 1 - 0 Stoke
Asmir Begovic spilled a Fabio Borini shot and Adam Johnson scored off the rebound for his fifth goal in three matches! Stoke has Steven N'Zonzi sent off, but still had plenty of chances to take points from the match. Sunderland are indebted to on-loan keeper Vito Mannone for a string of good saves.
Tottenham 1 - 5 Man City
Sergio Aguero opened the scoring, but then went off with a hamstring injury before halftime. Spurs, who didn't start with a defensive midfielder despite playing with five in the middle, had Danny Rose sent off for what looked like a good tackle on Edin Dzeko. Yaya Toure scored the resulting penalty, and the floodgates were open. Stevan Jovetic scored after coming on for Aguero with Dzeko and Vincent Kompany well and truly erasing Manchester City's away-day blues.