Crisis. That’s what the papers are saying. A team in crisis, a manager who is losing the plot. No, I’m not talking about Liverpool here. This is about the Baroque Social! A bad week for me in the Fantasy League, but a memorable one for most. Unless, of course, you happen to be a Wigan defender.
Tottenham’s 9-1 win over the Latics equalled the second-highest ever winning margin in the Premier League, as records tumbled in the rain at White Hart Lane. The win puts Harry Redknapp’s side in pole position in the race for fourth place, with Liverpool and Manchester City sharing the spoils in the dullest four-goal thriller on record.
Elsewhere, we had Arsenal imploding without Robin Van Persie – well, they lost one game – Chelsea and Manchester United rampant in home wins, and Portsmouth’s slightly unfortunate defeat to Stoke proving a defeat too far for their mysterious board, who sacked manager Paul Hart.
The Men in Form
One place to start I guess, at White Hart Lane it was the Jermain Defoe show as the would-be England line-leader rattled in five second half goals – equalling the record set by Andy Cole in 1995 and Alan Shearer in 1999 – to rack up a preposterous 25 points for the week.
His team-mate, Aaron Lennon, was in similarly fine form. His trio of assists, plus a goal of his own, netted him 18 points, with even David Bentley (2 assists) contributing as Wigan were swotted aside.
It was also a good week for Hull City. Four points from six, six goals scored, and plenty of points flying round for the Tigers. Stephen Hunt, Jimmy Bullard, Kamil Zayatte and Andy Dawson all featured in the Dream Team for Gameweek 13. How many times will that happen this season?
The Men to Avoid
I guess it is too easy to criticise Wigan and their defence for the debacle at the Lane. The nature of the result, and the speed at which the goals arrived, suggest it was a freak result. A one-off. But still, the likes of Chris Kirkland, Emmerson Boyce and Titus Bramble are unlikely to be high on many shopping lists this week.
Nor should Everton’s defenders. Six goals conceded in the week, and some defending that would make Bramble and Boyce chuckle, David Moyes’ men are struggling at the moment. Languishing in 14th place, with Sylvain Distin, Lucas Neill and Joseph Yobo out of sorts, the Merseyside derby this weekend offers little comfort.
Clint Dempsey (Fulham, £6.5m) – Ok, he costs more than some, but “Deuce” is fast becoming one of the most dangerous midfielders around. His all-action style may not be technically exquisite, but boy is it effective. He sits behind only Cesc Fabregas and Frank Lampard in the midfielder charts, and his side host beleaguered Bolton this week.
Lee Bowyer (Birmingham, £4.7m) – Remember when Lee Bowyer was good? Circa 2002, he was seen by some as the future of England. A snarling, dislikeable future. It never worked out, but at Birmingham, the veteran midfielder is showing signs of recapturing the form which made him so valuable at Leeds. Not a huge points getter, but capable of chipping in with goals semi-regularly, and plays every week.
David Ngog (Liverpool, £5.2m) – People laughed at this lad. How can he be a replacement for Fernando Torres, they asked? Silly people. The young Frenchman is in fine form deputising for Torres, and is one of Liverpool’s few bright spots this autumn. He will probably be benched once Torres returns, but in the meantime….
Premier League Fixtures
Blackburn v Stoke City
Fulham v Bolton
Man City v Hull City
Portsmouth v Man Utd
West Ham v Burnley
Wigan v Sunderland
Aston Villa v Tottenham
Wolves v Birmingham
Everton v Liverpool
Arsenal v Chelsea
Another week, another big clash. Arsenal/Chelsea will dominate the SKY adverts this weekend, and should be intriguing. Everton v Liverpool is a battle of two struggling sides, whilst Avram Grant’s first game as Pompey boss should be against Manchester United (just as it was when he took over Chelsea, spookily).
There is a black country derby as Birmingham travel to Wolves, a chance for Sunderland boss Steve Bruce to avenge former chairman (and rent-a-quote) Dave Whelan at Wigan, whilst Villa face Spurs in a battle of the pretenders at Villa Park.
The less said the better! Poor week, lit up only by Stoke’s clean sheet, and a penalty save from Thomas Sorensen. Poor transfers made by me, neither Ricky Carvalho nor Robbie Keane played, cost me dearly. My side picked up just 45 points this week. Bad stuff.
This week, I have turned to Manchester. Darren Fletcher and Emmanuel Adebayor come in for Michael Ballack and Keane. It is another gamble, but gambling gets you places if you do it right. So I’ve heard.
Football Media League
Two clear leaders at the moment – Messi’s Boca Juniors and Westfield Irons – who have a 30+ point lead over the chasing pack. Captain Defoe assisted Messi and co with 50 points, whilst the defence played its part with a minimum 8 points each. Lucky lucky lucky.
Honourable mentions should go to Rod Perez and his Rodney FC, not just for a great, simple, name, but for a 110 point gameweek, which propelled him into the top 50.