The Rock Ridge Raiders remain top of the fantasy league despite their lowest weekly score of the season so far, 32. Escape from Victory were GameWeek 6’s top performers as they scored 66 points.
Robin Van Persie (Escape from Victory) returned to form, while Frank Lampard (The Wait is Over) cut a lonesome figure on the Chelsea bench as the Blues cruised against Swansea. Luis Suarez (Beercelona) rewarded the patience of his manager and Demba Ba opened his account with a three-goal haul at home to Blackburn. Stoke demonstrated their obstinate home streak against Man United, while Nani (The Rock Ridge Raiders) served a reminder of his consistency with another strong performance as the champions stay ahead of Man City on goal difference.
Lampard Plays No Part
Aside from the red card that will leave Fernando Torres (Team Skin) sidelined for the next three league games, the main talking point from the Chelsea game was the omission of Frank Lampard. Although the Blues’ 4-1 win was the third time in four games Lampard has failed to make the starting XI, the Swansea game was the first time he failed to appear from the bench. His only start -last week at Old Trafford- saw him subbed off at half-time and it looking increasingly likely that the midfielder will continue to be a peripheral figure under Ander Villas-Boas. Lampard did played 76 minutes in the Carling Cup clash against Fulham midweek and this would have played a part in his manager’s thinking, but it’s clear he no longer offers the guaranteed game time as his time as a Fantasy force continues to rapidly diminish.
Lita Keeps His Place
Leroy Lita kept his place in the Swansea lineup for the trip to Stamford Bridge after a goal and assist last week, though Danny Graham replaced the former Reading man just before the hour mark. Despite the defeat, Brendan Rodgers can take solace in the fact that the Swans are starting to find the net with more regularity- having drawn four blanks previous to last week’s win over West Brom, this is the second game in a row that they have found the net.
Van Persie Turns Up at Last
Robin Van Persie’s start to the season has been a source of frustration for Paul Chadwick. Just one goal in his first five game had seen the Dutchman’s star fade, but a brace against Bolton offered plenty reassurance. The Gunners host (SUN, STK, WBA) over their next four fixtures and Van Persie will surely see an upturn in form as he starts to resemble the consistent option he proved in the latter part of last season.
Coyle Tries a 4-5-1
Owen Coyle rolled out a 4-5-1 formation for Bolton’s trip to the Emirates. David N’Gog was given the nod as the Trotters lone forward, with Kevin Davies surprisingly benched. N’Gog lasted just twenty minutes, though, replaced by Davies after a clash of heads with Laurent Koscielny. Gary Cahill (Pear Tree Productions) missed out through illness, allowing David Wheater a chance in central defence but the former Middlesboro man saw red after pulling back Theo Walcott (Escape from Victory) with the winger clear on goal. Coyle chose to leave Stuart Holden out despite the midfielder’s Carling Cup first-team return, though the Trotters lacked any sort of cutting edge, with just three shots on target all game.
Roberto Mancini reinstalled Sergio Aguero (The Rock Ridge Raiders) and Edin Dzeko (Pear Tree Productions) to the Man City starting XI for the visit of Everton. While the Argentine picked up an assist in the 2-0 win, the Bosnian failed to fire and was withdrawn before the hour mark. Replacement Mario Balotelli showed City’s strength in depth by grabbing the opener within ten minutes of his introduction. Dzeko has scored just 10 points since his four goals against Spurs in GameWeek 3.
Moyes Keeps Faith
Despite their midweek Carling Cup tie with West Brom going to extra time, David Moyes made just one change to his starting XI at City. Phil Neville returned to the fold and the visitors once again proved tricky opponents for Mancini’s side, with Jack Rodwell given the task to man mark David Silva (ABCDE FC Beerbelly) in the 2-0 loss. Louis Saha returned as a sub late on but their hosts extra class and freshness proved too much for the Toffees in the end.
Suarez Shows His Class
Many Fantasy managers had lost faith in Luis Suarez after the Liverpool forward had drawn three consecutive blanks in the lead up to yesterday’s home game with Wolves. The Uruguayan bagged a goal and in a dazzling display in the 2-1 win over Wolves served reminder of his undoubted brilliance.
Wolves Go 4-5-1
Mick McCarthy was another manager who tried 4-5-1 yesterday. Wolves’ two straight defeats saw Big Mick looking to tighten things up and with Steven Fletcher (Skem Chavs) still not 100% recovered from a groin strain, Kevin Doyle was fielded as a lone front man, with Steven Ward returning to left-back. Wolves only threatened when Fletcher was introduced in the second half and it was he who scored as the visitors breached a nervy home defence that have picked up just one clean sheet so far this season. With (NEW, wba, SWA) up next, McCarthy will be desperate to bounce back from this, his third straight league defeat.
Pardew’s Forward Boost
Newcastle climbed to fourth after a home thrashing of Blackburn. While the season so far has been all about a defensive solidity that has offered plenty of cut-price Fantasy potential from Alan Pardew’s side, yesterday saw Newcastle thrive as an attacking force. Demba Ba is slowly finding his feet following his summer move to St James’ Park and it took a visit from Steve Kean’s Blackburn to make him feel firmly at home- a hat-trick in the 3-1 win served a reminder of his ability, while the Premier League return of Hatem Ben Arfa was a timely boost ahead of a run of fixtures (wol, TOT, WIG, stk, EVE) that sees them play three home games in the next five.
Hoilett Shines Again
David Hoilett was –once again- Blackburn’s stand-out player as Rovers fell to another defeat. Kean’s side are now in the bottom three but the young Canadian reminded Fantasy managers he’s continuing to perform in a struggling side. Yesterday’s goal was his first of the new campaign but Hoilett has also grabbed three assists this season- so far he has failed to score or assist in only two of his six appearances.
Roy’s Best Defence
West Brom’s goalless draw with Fulham means the Baggies have picked up two clean sheets already- the same number as the whole of last season. A tightening up at the back seems to be detrimental to their threat going forward though; Roy Hodgson’s side offered goalscoring promise in their opening two games against Man United and Chelsea but have found the net just once in the following four fixtures- a worrying sign for Peter Odemwingie (Escape from Victory) and Shane Long.
Another Draw for Jol
Bobby Zamora (Beercelona) and Damien Duff both missed out due to illness and personal reasons respectively as Fulham picked up another draw. Martin Jol fielded a front pairing of Moussa Dembele and Orlando Sa but despite the Cottagers 57% and 18 shots to West Brom’s 9, they couldn’t find a way past Ben Foster. While Fulham failed to fire up front, there was more promise at the back as Brede Hangeland (Team Skin) and co picked up their first clean sheet since the opening day of the season.
Stoke’s Home Comforts
Although Man United had to make do without Wayne Rooney and saw Javier Hernandez (El Tel) subbed off after five minutes, there’s no getting away from Stoke’s home solidity. Their opening three games at the Britannia (CHE, LIV, MUN) have seen them concede just one goal and remain undefeated. Tony Pulis’s defence have proved to be virtually to be fixture-proof when it comes to home fixtures and a battling performance suggested last week’s defeat at Sunderland was nothing more than a temporary blip.
Nani Steps Up
It’s three goals and three assists in his last four games now for Nani. As the season unfolds, the Portuguese winger continues to offer a greater consistency than Ashley Young on the other flank for Man United- Young has picked up one assist in his last three games for the champions. With Rooney and Hernandez both pretty much out of the picture yesterday, Nani again returned for his manager and with a home clash against Norwich next week, he’ll no doubt be looked upon as a potential point scorer as Sir Alex Ferguson’s side look to return to winning ways.
Latics Lose Again
Wigan recorded their third straight loss yesterday, going down 2-1 at home to Spurs. An unbeaten start against the three promoted sides has been somewhat dampened, though a favourable run of fixtures will offer hope to Roberto Martinez’s side. Their next six games (BOL, new, FUL, wol, BLA, sun) is one of the kindest upcoming runs and the Latics will need to bounce back quickly if they are to avoid being dragged into a battle at the bottom.
Modric on the Right
Jermain Defoe (Gordon’s Alive!) missed out due to illness for Spurs, meaning Harry Redknapp opted for a 4-2-3-1 at Wigan. Sandro came into the centre alongside Scott Parker and with Rafael Van der Vaart (Team Skin) operating behind Emmanuel Adebayor (Gordon’s Alive!), Luka Modric (Team Skin) tucked in on the right, with Gareth Bale (The Wait is Over) reverting to his usual left wing berth. Regardless of their changes, it was a third straight win for Redknapp’s side as they warned up for next week’s derby with Arsenal in strong form.