The most important part of the season is coming up and the rankings will change drastically in the next few weeks. We had four teams off this weekend and even more will be off next time out. Expect an article from me in the coming days about how to tackle the issue of so many teams not playing next week and an overview of whether to stash and sell your discounted stars.
With that being said, lets take a look at the biggest storylines of the weekend:
Everton 1 – 0 West Ham
This game wasn’t too exciting but a late Romelu Lukaku goal provided for an exciting finish. Leighton Baines registered his first assist of the season and the clean sheet helped him to a nice fantasy score. Carlton Cole started up top for the Hammers but started limping and was taken off on the half hour mark. He was replaced by Andy Carroll, who failed to create much danger in front of Tim Howard. The controversy in this game came in the first half, when Kevin Nolan was brought down by Gareth Barry. Barry seemed to be the last man left and if there was a foul called, Barry would have been sent off. That certainly could have changed the game, but such is life in the Premier League.
Fulham 1 – 3 Chelsea
The first half was one of the worst halves of football you’ll ever see, especially if you ask Jose Mourinho. Mourinho said he didn’t say a word at halftime, but the silence proved golden as Eden Hazard and Andre Schurrle simply took Fulham apart in the second half. Schurrle scored a hat trick with two assists from Hazard and another from Fernando Torres. The German forward has started Chelsea’s last two games but his starting spot is not yet guaranteed and I would advice against using him in fantasy right now. I would still keep my eye out on him; rumor is that Mourinho wanted Schurrle to get stronger, and the forward has been hitting the gym, making us think we could be seeing more of this in the future. If you want a Chelsea attacker, Hazard is your man for the moment.
Hull City 1 – 4 Newcastle United
I was extremely surprised to see the score in this one. Hull City have been good in recent weeks and Newcastle have struggled, but the home side came out too unorganized and the Magpies capitalized quickly. Moussa Sissoko opened up the scoring in the 10th minute and Newcastle continued pushing the whole game. The storyline here came in the 72nd minute, when Newcastle boss Alan Pardew headbutted David Meyler after a short scuffle. Pardew was sent off and Meyler was booked. The Newcastle boss will almost certainly get suspended from the FA and some are saying he could even loose his job.
Stoke City 1 – 0 Arsenal
Stoke City have proved to be very good at home and Arsenal found that out the hard way. The goal came from the penalty spot as Jon Walters converted after Laurent Koscielny used his hand in the penalty box. Mesut Ozil came off the bench and had a half-chance but his contributions were not very lively. Yaya Sanogo had the best chance to equalize but he sent the ball skywards from the edge of the box. In summary: Stoke have beaten Chelsea and Manchester United and have held Manchester City scoreless this season; they shouldn’t be underestimated.
Southampton 0 – 3 Liverpool
I don’t think this score comes close to showing what this game looked like. Southampton attacked well for most of the game and looked to be about even with Liverpool, but the Reds’ attack was simply too lethal. Luis Suarez finished a ball that bounced off of Jose Fonte and later setup Raheem Sterling to make it 2-0. Steven Gerrard converted a late penalty to put the game away after Suarez was brought down in the box. Daniel Sturridge didn’t do anything spectacular this time out but these kinds of games are very rare for him and it shouldn’t discourage you from using him in the future. Liverpool are now second in the league, only four points behind leaders Chelsea, and they will put every ounce of energy they have into making a late run at the title.
Aston Villa 4 – 1 Norwich City
Norwich City started the game off on a high note and went ahead in the third minute on a Wes Hoolahan strike. That was the only positive Norwich had in the entire game, as Aston Villa soon turned the game around and dominated until the end. Christian Benteke scored two goals two minutes apart, Leandro Bacuna added another, and Sebastien Bassong scored in his own net to finish off the game in the 41st minute. The second half was uneventful and offered no real action. The talking point is whether or not Christian Benteke can be trusted in fantasy and the answer is not yet. He has been playing fairly well but hadn’t been scoring before today. My gut screams “BUY NOW” but my brain thinks I should wait a few more games.
Swansea 1 – 1 Crystal Palace
Jonathan de Guzman gave Swansea hope with an early goal and Swansea dominated big parts of this game but a late Chico Flores tackle saw him sent off and a penalty given to Palace. Glenn Murray tied up the game and both teams left with a point. It was disappointing seeing Tom Ince finish with only 3 fantasy points. He has combined for 5 points over his last two games after tallying 22 in his first game for Palace. I’m not excited about him anymore. On the other side of the ball, Wilfried Bony finished with 7 points. That’s not exactly exciting but the striker has put together a few good games recently and should be considered in the future.
Tottenham 1 – 0 Cardiff City
Today’s scorer was Roberto Soldado but Emmanuel Adebayor was still in the middle of the action. Adebayor setup the goal for Soldado and once again played well, finishing with 11 fantasy points. He has turned back the clock and is enjoying some of his best football at the moment. I would recommend him ahead. Soldado, on the other hand, I would avoid. This was his first goal at White Hart Lane from open play and we are in March! At this rate, we’d have to wait until next year to see it repeat.
Make sure to keep an eye out for my column on how to tackle the odd weeks ahead. It should be coming in within 2-3 days at most.