Eight red cards, thirty two goals and more talking points than a Peter Andre exclusive, Gameweek 11 had everything. Even by the implausibly high standards set in Fantasy Football, this week was a bit special.
Whether you winced as Shay Given batted away James McFadden’s penalty, rejoiced as Jamie Carragher finally got his comeuppance, or sat indifferently as Phil Brown’s tenure at Hull approached its conclusion, chances are you will have had an exciting last seven days in the world of Fantasy Football.
The Men In Form
Claret and Blue was the colour of the week, with no fewer than five Burgundy boys making up the week’s top scoring team. Graham Alexander of Burnley was the week’s top point scorer with 21 points, the veteran Scot is enjoying his first taste of the Premier League at 37, and his two goals tightened the coffin lid on a hapless Phil Brown.
Portsmouth fans have had little to smile about this season, but things are looking up at the moment. Wigan were worryingly swotted aside 4-0 at a jubilant Fratton Park, with Aruna Dindane grabbing his first league goals with a neatly taken hat-trick, earning him 20 points in the process.
And let’s not forget the big boys too. Robin Van Persie is fast becoming the hottest left footer in the business, with two more goals for Arsenal in their 3-0 derby success over Robbie Keane’s “definitely on a par” Spurs side. Bacary Sagna and Cesc Fabregas also continue to shine, whilst Thomas Vermaelen is fast looking like £10 million well spent.
The Men To Avoid
He was once touted as the next big thing in English football, scoring goals with his head, showing off his incredible athleticism, swearing on TV, but Micah Richards has fallen away since bursting onto the scene in 2005. So much so that he can no longer consider himself first choice at Manchester City. Pablo Zabaleta was playing at right-back this weekend, and with Kolo Toure, Joleon Lescott and Vincent Kompany competing for central defensive berths, the feeling is creeping in that Richards may need to leave Eastlands if he is to maximise his undoubted potential.
Same goes for David Bentley at Tottenham. It seems only yesterday that many – including myself – were blindly tipping him for an England starting slot. How he has dropped away since. Against Arsenal, the ex-Blackburn man preened, pouted and strutted his way around the park, offering little by way of genuine threat, and generally irritating with his body language. He has just 3 Fantasy points this season, and when Aaron Lennon comes back, Harry Redknapp will have little hesitation in lancing that particular boil.
Kieran Gibbs (Arsenal) – It wasn’t all good news for Arsene Wenger this week. Losing Gael Clichy to a stress fracture of his back for a month is not ideal, but the Frenchman’s replacement is. Kieran Gibbs is quick, smart and uses the ball well. At £4.5m, he also represents the bargain of the century in a swashbuckling Gunners side.
Matthew Etherington (Stoke) – Once upon a time, Matty Etherington and his Peterborough team-mate Simon Davies, were the most sought after property in England. Neither career has really reached the heights they once promised, but Etherington is enjoying a renaissance under Tony Pulis. A goal and an assist against Wolves last week earned him 13 points, and his £5.2m price tag is far from restrictive. Take a punt.
Jack Collison (West Ham) – This kid has talent. End of story. Two assists at Sunderland last week for the Welshman handed him 10 points for the week. His style is reminiscent of someone like Frank Lampard or Paul Scholes, a smart user of the ball, who gets around the pitch. £5.2m equals bargain for this youngster.
Premier League Fixtures
• Aston Villa v Bolton
• Blackburn v Portsmouth
• Man City v Burnley
• Tottenham v Sunderland
• Wolves v Arsenal
• Hull City v Stoke City
• West Ham v Everton
• Wigan v Fulham
• Chelsea v Man Utd
• Liverpool v Birmingham
Obviously the main one is Chelsea v United on Sunday, try to avoid too big a clash in your side for that one. Arsenal look to capitalise on that match with a win at Wolves in Saturday’s evening game, whilst Man City will look to end a run of draws with a home win over Burnley’s travel-sick side. Liverpool have to wait until Monday night to take on Birmingham, with an injury list longer than most people’s list of grievances with Rafa Benitez.
Well, I jinxed myself. A poor week of 67 points all things considered. Captain Cesc and super Robin Van Persie did me proud, and there were goals for Didier Drogba and Wayne Rooney to boot. But my Villa gamble failed, James’ Milner and Collins did nothing in their two games (Milner picked up an injury half-way through his first), and fellow newbies Michael Ballack and Jamie Carragher also didn’t help much.
This week, Carragher is gone. William Gallas of Arsenal is my choice to replace the suspended Scouser. I am considering another, costly, change to my lineup should Milner be ruled out. Gareth Barry is my choice to replace him, but I have faith in my team to bounce back.
As a result of my poor week, I have slipped down to 4th spot. Two of the first three spots, however, are taken by newcomers, with Ray Wall (Razors Utd) and Pavenpul Bhullar (Messi’s Boca Juniors) sneaking into the top of the league (latecomers, tsk!). Credit though must go to the excellent Jon Reeson and his Westfield Irons, who move into 2nd spot after a 101 point week – thank Alexander, Ashley Young, Lampard and Van Persie for that!
Myself, well I sit 24 points off the lead, but there is still so much to play for.