Finally a staurday afternoon with a decent tally and wouldn't you know it, I had to miss it for the dreaded christmas shopping! Therefore I was not on hand to see Valencia and Young terrorise opposition defenses to give the Juice a decent 52 point haul on Saturday. In absence of my weekly diary and general ramblings, I'll review each game below noting any key trends and scorers and suggesting where future sleepers may lie:
Middlesbrough 1 - 1 Arsenal
Middelesbrough: Turnbull, Huth, Pogatetz, Riggott, McMahon, Arca, Downing, Johnson, Digard, Alliadiere, Tuncay
Arsenal: Almunia, Clichy, Djorou, Gallas, Sagna, Denilson, Fabregas, Diaby, Song, Adebayour, Van Persie.
I think Adebayour has staked a claim for the best premium striker around with his 11th goal in 20 games (in all competitions) and the return of Drogba to potentially limit Anelka's minutes (more on that later). With just one clean sheet since week 9, players are abandoning the Arsenal defense and the likes of Clichy (6.3), Sagna (6.3) and especially Djorou (4.4) are worth monitoring as weekly replacements for the big boys when the matchup suits. Arsenal's defensive woes have affectively turned the big 4 into a big 3 when it comes to defensive stats.
Aston Villa 4 -2 Bolton
Aston Villa: Friedel, Cuellar, Davies, Laursen, L.Young, A.Young, Barry, Petrov, Sidwell, Milner, Agbonlahor
Bolton: Jaaskelainen, Samuel, Cahill, O'Brien, Cahill, Muamba, Nolan, McCann, Taylor, Davies, Elmander
Villa haven't looked like the team to threaten the big four in a few games at home this season, but were sensational against Bolton. Young almost justified O'Neill's suggestion that he was as good as the likes of Messi and Ronaldo, and his partnership with Agbonlahor looks unstoppable at times. I tipped Agbonlahor for success this week but wouldn't swallow the 4 point hit and stuck with Defoe (ouch). Villa have tremendous fixtures over the christmas break, including three 'green light' games in the next five. I would reccommend holding at least one of Young, Agbonlahor and Barry though the defense looks less tempting with two red light games in the next four.
As for Bolton, I think that the defense remains a good 'fixture led' play and the whole back four remain worthy subs. Elmander scored again and as mentioned in my 'mid price' strategy last week, he is a potential steal after Bolton have played their tricky run up to week 22.
Liverpool 2 -2 Hull
Liverpool: Reina, Arbeloa, Carragher, Hyypia, Dossena, Alonso, Benayoun, Gerrard, Mascherano, Riera, Kuyt
Hull: Myhill, Ricketts, Turner, Zayatte, Mendy, Ashbee, Marney, Barmby, Boateng, Geovanni, King
Not a single recognised fantasy striker in this one for Liverpool, who relied on their premium midfielder Gerrard for goals. Gerrard's 14 point haul will almost certainly tempt some Ronaldo and Lampard owners to ditch their star men who have flattered to deceive of late. Liverpool's next 6 games are all rated medium in terms of attacking options and the Liverpool ace might be a good option for those wishing to ship Ronaldo for his off'week.
The other big news was that Agger again found himself on the bench whoch pretty much signals the end of his worth as a fantasy factor. With Skrtel due back within a month, Agger's lack of first team action suggests his days at Anfield are numbered. If you're pushed for cash Hyypia might be worth a look, though it wouldn't suprise me if Agger plays again at some point.
Man City 0-1 Everton
Man City: Hart, Ball, Dunne, Richards, Zabaleta, Kompany, Wright Phillips, Elano, Ireland, Benjani, Robinho
Everton: Howard, Jagielka, Lescott, Neville, Yobo, Arteta, Osman, Cahill, Pienaar, Castillo, Fellaini
Like their Merseyside rivals, Everton didn't field a single fantasy forward in the game yet still notched a valuable win at Eastlands. The Everton defense scored their 2nd clean sheet in 3 and Jagielka (who also scored his 12th bonus point) is a viable option if you can't afford the big four defenders. Everton do face a pretty tough defensive fixture list over the christmas period so caution should be exercised if considering bringing these guys in.
City on the other hand have started to look fairly ordinary of late, and the loss of form at home is particularly worrying for the likes of fantasy favourites Shaun Wright Phillips, Stephen Ireland and Robinho. Robinho has just 25 points in the last 8 games, and Wright Phillips has just 20 points over the same period. Ireland has been a top performer this season but outside of two stellar performances against Hull and Arsenal, the Irishman has just 12 points in the last 7 games. City's attacking fixture list is fairly attractive in the coming weeks so if you've stuck by these players for the past month it might be worth holding them for a bit longer (particularly is you're sitting on a loss).
Stoke 0-0 Fulham
Stoke: Sorensen, Faye, Wilkinson, Higginbotham, Sonko, Delap, Pugh, Whelan, Faye, Cresswell, Fuller
Fulham: Schwarzer, Hangeland, Hughes, Konchesky, Paintsil, Bullard, Davies. Dempsey, Gera, Murphy, Johnson
This game had 0-0 written all over it and it didn't dissapoint. I finally brought Paintsil in this week and he rewarded me with a clean sheet. Fulham have two more green light games coming up and the defense is worth holding. The 6 games after the Chelsea game (week 20) are also pretty good and Fulham may be the best value defense around right now.
Stoke continue to other little fantasy value as Delap's assists have dried up of late. Fuller did score another bonus point making it 4 in 3 and 9 on the season, making him possibly the best sub-6m around.
Sunderland 4-0 West Brom
Sunderland: Fulop, Bardsley, Collins, Nosworthy, Ferdinand, Reid, Richardson, Malbranque, Tainio, Cisse, Jones
West Brom: Carson, Meite, Robinson, Zuiverloon, Olsson, Brunt, Greening, Koren, Valero, Bednar, Moore
This game all but confirmed to me that my proposed mid-price striker strategy will work. I liked both Cisse and Jones for the coming weeks, who both scored in this one (with Jones getting two). Sunderland's next three are all green light attacking games and both remain buy prospects at the moment. Andy Reid also exploded for 16 in this one though I wouldn't go expect similar output on a weekly basis.
West Brom have no fantasy impact now Miller is gone for the season, other than to pick up whoever is playing them each week.
Wigan 3-0 Blackburn
Wigan: Kirkland, Bramble, Figueroa, Melchiot, Scharner, Taylor, Cattermole, Brown, Valencia, Heskey, Zaki
Blackburn: Robinson, Emerton, Ooijer, Nelsen, Samba, Warnock, Dunn, Tugay, Andrews, Derbyshire, Santa Cruz
Wigan's promising team finally delivered with Valencia leading the charge with 17 points. The game also saw Zaki return to action after his absence, though he failed to have a fantasy impact. Wigan's defense again proved good value with Taylor being particularly good value at 4.2 as he lined up in midfield. Wigan have the off week for week 18 though follow that up with 4 decent games so they're probably worth holding on to unless you want to use two transfers to sell and buy them back.
Balckburn, like West Brom above, have no fantasy value at this point.
Tottenham 0-0 Man Utd
Tottenham: Gomes, Corluka, Assou-Ekotto, Dawson, Bentley, Huddlestone, Jenas, Lennon, Modric, Zaokora, Pavlyuchenko
Man Utd: Van der Sar, O'Shea, Vidic, Ferdinand, Rafael, Carrick, Fletcher, Park, Ronaldo, Tevez, Berbatov
Spurs defense has seen a major turnaround in the past few weeks and may be worth a look based on their good looking defensive fixture list. Lennon again looked dangerous and is the only attacking option worth looking at right now for Spurs.
United meanwhile have been stuttering a bit of late and Ronaldo looked frustrated once more on his way to an outrageous three bonus points that he didn't deserve. Hopefully the week off at the World Champs will do them good and Ronaldo and co will come back firing on all cylinders. Right now, Ronaldo is clearly not worth 14.7 and if you bought him at this price I would consider selling him for the next couple of weeks.
Portsmouth 0-3 Newcastle
Portsmouth: James, Campbell, Distin, Pamarot, Belhadj, Davies, Hughes, Kranjcar, Mvuemba, Crouch, Defoe
Newcastle: Given. Beye, Enrique, N'Zogbia, Coloccini, Bassong, Guthrie, Butt, Guttierez, Martins, Owens
Inredible result for the Magpies and another sign that Portsmouth are a side in decline under Adams. I for one am done with them and I plan to ship Defoe out having already dumped Traore this week (and finally got a transfer to pay off having brought Paintsil in). Their fixtures aren't terrible but then again Newcastle at home is a borderline green light game and they failed to score and shipped three.
Newcastle on the other hand are a team on the rise and both the defense and key contributors like Owen, Guttierez and Guthrie are potential buys right now. At 8.4 Owen is still overrpriced for me but he is held by just 3% and could be a differentiator in the coming weeks. With back-to-back assists and a man of the match performance against Pompey Guttierez is finally starting to get the fantasy points to match his impressive displays and at 5.9m he might be a decent buy. At 4.8 I love Guthrie and I am looking to move him in for Marney as soon as possible. He has two bonus earning games in the last 3 and has started all of the last 5 games. Newcastle's fixtures are a bit up and down but they have some pretty nice fixtures that would make it worth adding one of the Magpie starters to your chrustmas list.
Chelsea 1-1 West Ham
Chelsea: Cech, Alex, Cole, Bosingwa, Terry, Ballack, Cole, Lampard, Mikel, Deco, Anelka
West Ham: Green, Neill, Upson, Davenport, Ilunga, Noble, Parker, Behrami, Collison, Bellamy, Cole
I had this one as a home clean sheet banker but West Ham and in particular Carlton Cole threatened the Chelsea goal all day. Cole looked strong and powerful and but a doubt in mind as to whether I should keep him or not, especially with replacement in waiting Ishmael Miller done for the year.
Chelsea have struggled at home though looked much better with Drogba, which should trouble Anelka owners a tad. However, the Frenchman scored again and is surely undroppable at this juncture. Lampard had a so-so game and notched an assist to give he a credible 12 points for me as captain.