What a day! We started off with Liverpool dismantling Arsenal and then followed that up with an Eden Hazard hat-trick and a last stand by Norwich to keep Manchester City out. Let’s look at what happened with more detail and focus on the fantasy implications of today’s matches.
Liverpool 5 – 1 Arsenal
This one wasn’t even close. Liverpool jumped ahead early from two Martin Skrtel goals and before long Raheem Sterling and Daniel Sturridge made it 4-0 with a goal each. Sterling added another in the second half while Arsenal got one back from a Mikel Arteta penalty. Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez didn’t score in the goal fest but both finished with at least 15 fantasy points and remain great options. Mesut Ozil had another discouraging performance and many will cut the Arsenal midfielder this week. I am giving him one last chance next time out.
Aston Villa 0 – 2 West Ham
The poor performance by both teams in the first half was forgotten early in the second with two Kevin Nolan goals. Nolan has been very good lately and has two braces in two weeks. West Ham missed the suspended Andy Carroll but still managed two goals and continue to be one of the best defensive teams in the league. I wouldn’t play many strikers against them. Christian Benteke had another quiet week but is playing better and I wouldn’t count him out just yet.
Chelsea 3 – 0 Newcastle
Two things to note here: 1. Eden Hazard is the second best player in the league and in fantasy. His goals today were amazing and he has looked this dangerous in almost every game this season. He deserves to be in conversation for world XI. 2. Chelsea’s defense has been fantastic and playing any of their defenders or Petr Cech is a good idea. John Terry was kept out as a precaution and is expected back Tuesday.
Crystal Palace 3 – 1 West Brom
A relegation battle went with the home side, nothing surprising here. New signing Joe Ledley was spectacular, scoring a game-winning goal, recording nine passes intercepted, two fouls won, and a tackle won for a stunning 27 points. He won’t be getting goals and nine intercepted passes every week but could establish himself as a nice option going ahead. Tom Ince had a similar performance and recorded a goal and an assist, good for 22 points. The future seems bright for Palace.
Norwich City 0 – 0 Manchester City
I expected Manchester City to come out and crush Norwich after a disappointing home loss to Chelsea last week but they couldn’t even score one goal. Realistically, they weren’t THAT bad but just couldn’t finish and made a lot of mistakes in the middle. In recent weeks, many talked about how City did not miss Sergio Aguero that much and how good Dzeko, Jovetic, and Negredo were but two weeks without a goal speaks volumes. City cannot wait for Aguero to come back and are simply not the same team without him.
Southampton 2 – 2 Stoke City
I was expecting three points from in-form Southampton but Stoke did well to keep up. Adam Lallana finished with only five fantasy points, disappointing some managers, but there were plenty points to be had elsewhere. Rickie Lambert scored again and now has two double-digit weeks in a row. He is a decent pick next week but I have a gut feeling he won’t score again. The big question here was who will start in midfield for the Saints – Victor Wanyama or Jack Cork? The answer was Cork, who was once again one of best players on the field. It is an interesting situation and one that is definitely worth following as both Wanyama and Cork are great players but there seems to be space for only one on this team.
Sunderland 0 – 2 Hull City
Wes Brown was sent off early in the game and the match looked about done at that point. Hull City have found a new attacking force behind Shane Long (30 pts in last two weeks) and Nikica Jelavić (23 pts last two weeks) and they both present fantasy managers with “out of the ordinary” striker choices.
Swansea City 3 – 0 Cardiff City
Garry Monk started his Swansea managing career with a great win today. The game was a boring 0-0 draw until halftime, at which point Monk introduced Pablo Hernandez. Hernandez proved to be the turning point and he inspired the Swans to three goals. Cardiff City are currently one of the worst teams in the league and have really nothing to look forward to. Wilfried Zaha is good but can’t do it all by himself, so I would avoid him and everyone else in a Cardiff jersey.