About a decade ago, actor/writer/director/comedic genius Christopher Guest gave us just another one of his several unforgettable characters from his signature mockumentary films - a man named Mike LaFontaine played by the incomparable Fred Willard. In the 2003 film A Mighty Wind, Mr. LaFontaine shared with us his legendary catchphrase, one which resonates with fantasy managers across the globe right now..."Hey, Wha' happened?"
It wasn't a question of whether you were affected by the two suspended matches on Wednesday or not, it was just a matter of how badly. Initially panic struck with tube strikes in London threatening the Fulham v Liverpool match, as the post-deadline confirmation of "game on" provided relief for those who stuck with their Reds and frustration for those who sold them to be precautious. Then, once the Tuesday matches kicked off, we all settled in, thinking "crisis averted". Things seemed business as usual well into Wednesday, right up until starting XI's for matches, which were kicking off just an hour later, were moments from being publicized, when the word came that Manchester City v Sunderland was suspended. While the news had a huge impact in fantasy, the one match being called off would have been salvaged by most who carried a decent bench, so that a full eleven could still feature. And as the team news for the other matches followed quickly thereafter, it looked certain it would be just the one grenade to go off. But then...Goodison Park started to creak and wobble a bit too much for local officials' tastes, and with about 40 minutes until the planned kickoff, Everton v Crystal Palace was also suspended.
There were many unlucky souls hit by these two matches, so don't get too depressed. The Premier League season was due for a week like this and with only one gameweek left until March, it may end up being the only gameweek influenced by the weather. Happy days ahead though friends, as called off games can only mean one thing: DOUBLE GAMEWEEKS! That's right, you may have only mustered a measly 45 points this week, but you might have a 245 point week down the road, so chin up!
Let's take a quick look at the talking points from the eight games that were played then:
Cardiff City 0 – 0 Aston Villa
Cardiff's defense showed some moxie, keeping Villa out, but their attack still seems to be in neutral, and an early injury to Jordon Mutch did not help their cause. New boy Fabio was left benched after a poor performance last time out, and may need a bit of time to earn a place again after the Bluebirds garnered a clean sheet. Christian Benteke, along with a host of other attacking Lions could not find the finishing touch, botching several chances, while Cardiff keeper David Marshall delivered some huge saves, which translated into a big fantasy haul. The Villa defense continues to be surprisingly effective on the road, and many managers enjoyed an 8 point contribution from their fantasy benches from Ryan Bertrand.
Hull City 0 - 1 Southampton
Owners of Jose Fonte can thank goal line technology for assisting in crediting the Portugese defender with his third goal of the season after a mad scramble on the goal line looked at first by those who witnessed it a score by Ricky Lambert. Fonte gets the credit, the goal, a game-winner, along with a clean sheet..a monster day for him as the Saints continue to look like a solid investment. Hull City meanwhile are held without a goal again while coughing one up, adding little to their argument as fantasy prospects. Shane long headed one off the post, but of course, that doesn't get you a shot on target. Even with Cardiff up next for the Tigers, stay away if you can.
West Ham United 2 - 0 Norwich City
Mohamed Diame was subbed on and subsequently bossed the pitch for the final half hour, and racked up a goal and an assist, giving him the distinction of the highest rising player in price in the early going heading toward Week 27. West Ham's defense continues to be the place to invest however, racking up another clean sheet, as Adrian dropped a wicked 22 points. He has certainly been the keeper to emerge to prominence this season, but at the moment he has to be talked about as the hottest keeper in the league, period. Meanwhile, the albatross that is the Norwich attack predictably floundered again as they continue to sink gradually into the quicksand of relegation.
West Bromwich Albion 1 - 1 Chelsea
Chelsea was the first of many of the big clubs to drop points this week, as they could not see out a one goal lead and drew with West Brom. Investment in the Chelsea defense was a mixed bag as a result - if you had Branislav Ivanovic, no problem, he scored the Blues goal and had a double digit haul as a result. Meanwhile, those who decided to "play it safe" and invest a lot of cash in their goalkeeper by selecting Petr Cech were summarily sucker-punched with a -2 performance. For WBA, it was reality which was all that mattered, stealing a point with a late goal from Victor Anichebe that helped virtually no one except those who did NOT invest in the Chelsea defense.
Arsenal 0 - 0 Manchester United
Defense was the name of the game here, as Arsenal were happy to just show improvement in the back coming off the heels of a Liverpool mugging while Manchester United will forever be happy to get a point on the road against a top four side any way they can get it. Strikers from both sides, Olivier Giroud and Robin van Persie both had open looks but could not convert while Juan Mata looked ineffective in a shortened shift that ended with his first game as a Red Devil without an assist. Budget option Alex Oxlade Chamberlain, who was an emergency option for many who lost players in other called off games, did not start, and only contributed one point from a bench appearance.
Newcastle United 0 - 4 Tottenham Hotspur
While many of the clubs round them dropped points, Spurs took advantage with a convincing assault on Newcastle, in a game where Emmanuel Adebayor further staked his claim as player of the season, as his renaissance under Tim Sherwood continued to blossom with two goals and an assist for a huge points haul. Adebayor's reputation is that he tends to inevitably lose his ambition and work ethic, but managers would do well to put up with getting burned by one of his blanks rather than continue to miss out on his hauls. Spurs defense put in a solid shift for the cleanie, though more onus has to be put on a Newcastle squad lacking any sort of leadership or creativity, two massive voids left with the departure of Yohan Cabaye.
Stoke City 1 - 1 Swansea City
Peter Crouch scored his eighth goal for Stoke City, in what was a bit of a freak score, but with the next teammate closest in goals having two on the season, Crouch should be the only attacking option to consider. However, he will never crack the top three in potential at the forward position in a given gameweek, rendering all attacking Potters absent from the fantasy conversation, with perhaps a cheeky punt on Charlie Adam the only exception. The Swans will take the road point as they have now taken four points in the first two games under Garry Monk. Wilfried Bony missed a chance that will make your head scratch, but Chico Flores popped up with his second goal in a fortnight. Michu is back in training and still has a shot at fantasy relevance this season.
Fulham 2 - 3 Liverpool
Poor, poor Fulham. They looked good against Liverpool for the first half and then some, and led for most of the match, but the expected result snuck its way into the final page of the script, when Steven Gerrard stepped up to convert a game winning penalty that gave him a big day in fantasy, with a beautiful assist added in as well. Daniel Sturridge proved again that Luis Suarez is only half of the required coverage needed from Liverpool in managers' forward slots, scoring for the sixth straight game. Philippe Coutinho also found the net in what was yet another productive day for Reds investment. Keiran Richardson was the brightest spot for Fulham, but only Steve Sidwell has given any consistent performances this season for the Cottagers.