Another weekend goes by in the English Premier League, and it was one full of intrigue and incident. Arsenal fluffed their lines at Stoke, Alan Pardew threw his weight around in Newcastle’s technical area, and an unlikely hat trick hero helped maintain Chelsea’s grip on the top spot. What does this mean for Fantasy managers though? In the first of a regular column here on the Fake EPL, we’re going to look behind the score lines in all the weekends game and give a Fantasy take on the action. Is your under performing stars time up? Or is there a bargain waiting to be inserted into your line up? Lets take a look….
EVERTON 1-0 WEST HAM
A hard fought victory for the Toffees against West Ham who again proved stubborn at the back. Leighton Baines was the top Fantasy performer for the home side. Putting 11 points on the board with an assist, a clean sheet and 90 minutes of action under his belt. The left back is a model of consistency for your £7.4m, a regular contributor with the upside to grab a goal from the back. Romelu Lukaku returned to bag the winner from the bench, another solid performer when healthy, hold off on transfering him into your line up just yet until he’s healthy and starting. Gerard Delofeu stepped up his recovery from injury with 76 minutes of action, the Barca product was putting in some eye catching performances prior to his injury and may be worth keeping an eye on. From a West Ham point of view, only Guy Demel came out with any Fantasy credit, 6 points and a clean sheet by virtue of not being on the field when the goal went in, Demel has scored well over the past few weeks and at £4.5m will not break the bank. Most West Ham defensive players will be solid if unspectacular additions to your team.
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Major Takeaway: Lukaku is back!!!
FULHAM 1-3 CHELSEA
A hat trick from the erratic Andre Schurrle gave Chelsea all 3 points against their local rivals at Craven Cottage. The German youngster has been in and out of Mourinho’s side all season and I would not be rushing to insert him into my Fantasy line up just yet. The opportunity is there for Schurrle, as by his coaches own admission the Blues have been lacking up front all season. I need to see more from him before I axe a more established star to get him in my team. Eden Hazard again wowed with 2 assists, and at a little over £11m he is one of the safer bets in midfield. The consolation strike from Johnny Heitinga took points away from your Chelsea defenders and Peter Cech, frustrating, but they stay in your line up going forward. Heitinga was the only Fantasy bright spot for Fulham, and starting a Fulham defender is just crazy so his goal probably helped no one. There is simply too much unrest at the Cottage to rely on any of their players to contribute consistently in Fantasy.
Major take away: Aside from Hazard you can’t guess which Chelsea offensive player will produce from week to week.
HULL CITY 1-4 NEWCASTLE
A crazy afternoon at the KC stadium saw Newcastle manager Alan Pardew sent to the stands after an apparent head butt on Hull’s Richie Meyler. That didn’t stop his team coming up with the victory with a brace from Moussa Sissoko and a goal each for Loic Remy and Vernun Anita. Sissoko has actually been quietly consistent from a Fantasy standpoint and if he were to continue his goal scoring feats he would be a real contender to keep on your radar at £5.4M, hold off for now though. Anita is not Fantasy relevant and Remy has actually been very good, but I don’t trust him for his £8M price tag. Curtis Davies saved his Fantasy day with the goal for Hull, and the experienced defender has been a steady Fantasy asset for his low price tag this season. Hull failed to deliver offensively with Nikica Jelavic and Shane Long unable to carry on their recent good form.
Major take away: Despite consistent Fantasy scoring, it’s hard to trust Loic Remy.
STOKE 1-0 ARSENAL
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A big blow to Arsenals title chances as they falter again in the Potteries. Every one of Arsenal’s offensive players let you down this past game week. Their highest scoring player in their squad being goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny on a paltry 3. Mesut Ozil continued his huge Fantasy slump, coming off the bench for a solitary point on what was a bad day all around for the Gunners. A Welcome bonus was a clean sheet if you were brave enough to start your Stoke defenders, and goal scorer John Walters hit double figures for the first time this season, adding 3 bonus points to his goal and 90 minutes of action. Despite being Stokes penalty taker, I wouldn’t be going near him at his current price tag of £6.4M. Stephen Nzonzi continues to be a better real life player than Fantasy asset, and though the £4.5M tag looks enticing for a player of his calibre, he simply doesn’t do enough to be valuable in the Fantasy Premier League format.
Major take away: Don’t invest in Stokes attackers.
SOUTHAMPTON 0-3 LIVERPOOL
Another highly impressive showing from the red men with Suarez back among the goals and Steven Gerrard continuing his renaissance as a real Fantasy star. Suarez is Fantasy gold, if he is not in your team, you are basically doing it wrong. I will have him ranked number 1 overall in my forthcoming rest of season rankings on this site. Another big Fantasy score here, 15 points with a goal and 2 assists, 90 minutes played and 3 bonus points, the little man is in the form of his life. Gerrard stuck away a late penalty to cap another solid Fantasy day, added to 90 minutes and a clean sheet for 8 points, and though you didn’t want to see him on the bench, a goal was a welcome boost for Raheem Sterling’s managers. The only minor disappointment was Danny Sturridge, but it was an extremely rare goalless outing for the England man. Saints were a let down, especially their defenders, who are usually reliable. Keep the faith though, they have Crystal Palace up next.
Major take away: Set Suarez as your captain and never change it. You’ve been warned.
ASTON VILLA 4-1 NORWICH
A Crushing win for the home side left Norwich close to trouble and in need of wins. Christian Benteke awoke from his Fantasy slumber to grab a brace, one of which was a spectacular volley with his back to goal. Leandro Bacuna also struck and he is putting together a solid first EPL season, get him now while he is £4.6M. He is a solid contributor with a goal in him. Norwich started this game well and it looked as if Snodgrass, Hooper and co were going to reward their owners, in truth they were never in the game following Villa’s equaliser and they have work to do to secure Premier League status for next season.
Major take away: If Benteke catches fire, he needs to be in line ups.
WRITTEN AND COMPOSED BY NEIL DONOHOE FOR THE FAKE EPL. FOLLOW ON TWITTER @NEILDONOHOE