We couldn’t have asked for a better weekend of soccer! 42 goals from ten matches for an average of 4.2 goals per game. We saw everything from shootouts (Cardiff 3 – 6 Liverpool) to blowouts (Chelsea 6 – 0 Arsenal) to a late comeback win (Tottenham 3 – 2 Southampton). We can only hope the other five games in this gameweek bring anywhere close to the action we’ve seen thus far.
Chelsea 6 – 0 Arsenal
The biggest news of the weekend was easily Chelsea’s 6-0 win over Arsenal. Arsenal simply played horrendous and Chelsea took advantage. The first two goals came after Arsenal gave away the ball in their own half and by the 17th minute it was already 3-0. Everyone was getting in on the action, but if I had to give one man extra praises it would have to be Andre Schurrle. He came away with a goal and an assist but he was extremely active the entire match and was constantly creating danger for Arsenal’s defenders. Samuel Eto’o limped off with a hamstring injury and if he misses time, Fernando Torres will take over striker duties. Suspended Willian and Ramires were not missed one bit as Schurrle and David Luiz replaced them more than capably. Willian can return next week but Ramires’ ban stretches two more games.
The result is a huge blow to Arsenal, who are now extremely unlikely to win the title. Chelsea still have a chance but they will need help as Manchester City are six points behind with three games in hand. The good news for Chelsea is that City have a very challenging next four games and are unlikely to walk away with 12 points.
Cardiff City 3 – 6 Liverpool
The second game of the day was just as entertaining. Cardiff took the lead twice in the first half but Liverpool eventually ran away with it through a Luis Suarez hat-trick and a Martin Skrtel brace. Daniel Sturridge returned to good form with a goal and an assist. He played well once again and you can consider his last two games as outliers. Steven Gerrard finished with zero points after getting booked again but he is too good to ignore and you can count on him to get double digits in Liverpool’s next game. Joe Allen started in place of Raheem Sterling once again and between those two and Philippe Coutinho, it’s hard to guess which one is left on the bench any given game.
Everton 3 – 2 Swansea City
This game wasn’t as close as the score suggests. Everton were in control for the majority of it and established themselves as clear favorites for a Europe League spot with an outside chance to challenge for a place in the Champions League. Ross Barkley has been very quiet for months, mainly struggling with an injury, but he was instrumental in this win. He scored a goal and won the penalty for another and is an interesting option for next week. Romelu Lukaku scored but is averaging 6.5 points/game in his last four so I’m not sure he is worth the money. Leighton Baines also got on the score sheet and finished with 16 points. As I’ve said before, the problem with him is his steep price tag and he usually doesn’t meet value.
Hull City 2 – 0 West Brom
Hull City took care of business at home and separated themselves from the relegation zone. Nikica Jelavic missed an early penalty but Liam Rosenior and Shane Long each scored to give Hull a comfortable win. Long had a very nice afternoon as he hit the post and won Hull a penalty on top of scoring a goal. The man of the match in my opinion was Curtis Davies, who dominated on the defensive side and ended up with seven intercepted passes, three blocked shots, and a tackle won. He also added an assist to end the day with an impressive 24 points.
Manchester City 5 – 0 Fulham
Yaya Toure scored his first Premier League hat-trick in a blowout win over Fulham. The first two goals both came from the penalty spot and both penalties were conceded by Fernando Amorebieta, who was sent off for the second challenge. Toure’s third goal came from 25 yards out in spectacular fashion. Fernandinho and Martin Demichelis added to the tally towards the end of the game. Manchester City are rolling right now and most of their attacking players are solid fantasy options. Alvaro Negredo started in place of Dzeko, who was out through illness. If Dzeko is healthy, he will probably start against Manchester United in midweek. As for Fulham, they are clearly the worst team in the league and their players are huge fantasy risks.
Newcastle United 1 – 0 Crystal Palace
This one looked like a 0-0 draw between two mediocre teams but Papiss Cisse scored an added time goal to give Newcastle three home points. Newcastle probably deserved the win as they were a bit better for most of the game. Crystal Palace are no longer as good defensively as they were when Tony Pulis first took charge and are stuck in a relegation battle. Newcastle are no longer the team they were when they had Yohan Cabaye and fantasy performers from both sides are very inconsistent. With that being said, there is value to be had in the right matchups. In particular, owners of Tim Krul and Newcastle defenders will be happy with the clean sheet.
Norwich City 2 – 0 Sunderland
Norwich kept yet another clean sheet at home, making it five in their last six home matches. Their home form is great and their defenders are cheap enough to justify owning in chase of a home clean sheet. They have separated themselves from the bottom and if they continue playing like this, they’ll have something to look forward to next season. Sunderland, on the other hand, continue to be inconsistent. They played well last week in a 0-0 draw against Crystal Palace but couldn’t get much going in this one and continue to be stuck in a fierce relegation battle.
West Ham 0 – 2 Manchester United
Manchester United seem to have gained momentum. Coming off of a huge Champions League win, the Red Devils dominated the game early and Wayne Rooney scored a brace in the first 33 minutes. With Robin van Persie out for 4-6 weeks, Rooney is a premium fantasy pick. West Ham’s defense was unusually poor and Sam Allardyce may elect to insert Winston Reid into the starting lineup next time out. As someone who picked Reid for my fantasy team this week, I really hope I’m right. Andy Carroll is returning to form slowly and he contributed 8 points today, not bad for someone in his price range.
Tottenham 3 – 2 Southampton
Jay Rodriguez and Adam Lallana put Southampton up 2-0 early on but Tottenham slowly recovered. Christian Eriksen scored twice to tie up the game and Spurs pressured in the second half. Gylfi Sigurdsson scored a late winner in added time to give Tottenham some hope of a potential top four finish. Fantasy wise, it was good to see Adam Lallana get on the score sheet again. He has been a slow fantasy contributor lately with defenses paying more attention to him but he has the ability to score and create against the best. He is still a good option but I think his value has decreased a bit.
Aston Villa 1 – 4 Stoke City
Aston Villa scored first but Stoke were in full control soon after. Villa are best when they play on the counter-attack. They struggle when they try to play open football at home. They are 17th in the league in home points and Paul Lambert must figure out how to improve that. The good news is that Christian Benteke is playing well once again and should start getting attention in fantasy. He remains a risky option but his upside could be worth the risk.
Fantasy scores this week were unusually big with so many goals from heavily owned players like Suarez, Toure, Rooney, Demichelis, and Baines. Many people are already in the 200s and considering we have five games left, I won’t be surprised to see a few people crack 400 points. How did your team end up doing?