Two of the week's stars, Brad Friedel and Fernando Torres
Monday Morning Manager, part the second after the jump. Sunday's matches were reviewed here.
West Ham United 2 - 3 Liverpool
Liverpool's defence continues to come into question. This time it was the pace of Hines, in addition to their recurring vulnerability at set pieces, that was their undoing. Diamanti looks the business sharing kicks with Noble and accruing points. That he went off with a thigh injury is worrying and will require due diligence before you can pick him.
Torres continues to be hot, as does the under-rated Kuyt. But to be fair, Kuyt's goal should have been Gerrard's. It was a quite game from StevieG which is a bit worrying for his premium price tag. But with a visit from Hull upcoming, now is not the time to move off him. Speaking of Liverpool middies who could have done better but you might still consider for next week, Benayoun got another start. Perhaps the two are related? Is Gerrard being limited to let Benayoun support Torres? Both players are probably just a bit overpriced, but I still think it's worth the extra money for Gerrard. He just does so much and still gets the large majority of set pieces. But something to think about - and watch for - going forward.
Aston Villa 2 - 0 Portsmouth
Pompey are officially the whipping boys of the Premier League. I wrote last week that they're Championship quality and I might just start cutting and pasting that into this spot week to week. The one bright spot for me was O'Hara. I have a soccer crush on him and he ran the show for Pompey. He created chances for himself and others with his runs and his range of passing. If I were playing Pompey, I would get a man on O'Hara and stop him from playing. He put up 13 fantasy points and I'm thrilled to have that on my team for 4.23.
Villa never got out of second gear. They are very thankful to Brad Friedel for all the saves he made, but to be fair a large majority of those were cracks from distance that weren't too taxing. Villa got a PK from Milner - note, Ashley Young has lost that duty knocking his fantasy value down a peg - and a nice finish from Gabby. At Rovers isn't a bad matchup next week though I would consider their defenders before their attackers. They're just not in sync going forward yet this season. To that end, I still hold out hope that we'll see Warnock move into central midfield if/when Bouma gets healthy. Hey, a fantasy manager's got to have dreams, right?
Arsenal 4 - 0 Wigan Athletic
This was always going to be a blow-out, wasn't it? Wigan just aren't that good this season. Too much upheaval over the last year or so. But that being said, I expected them to offer a bit more. Gomez was a no-show with a yellow card all but erasing some phantom points. And Arsenal was led by Vermaelen, surely a must have and owned by almost 40% of fantasy managers. What to say about the rest of the Gunners? They're good, they're fantasy gold as always. But there's just uncertainy around the team - they're a bit more expensive man for man and their are going to be players left out from week to week. Sounds like any other of the big four, I guess. But for some reason - and maybe because they started week 1 as one-gamers at Everton (and of course promptly scored two-games worth of points) but save for Vermaelen, they've just been off my radar so far.
Wigan have a visit from Chelsea this weekend and they could be inline for another whipping. Perhaps they get a break if Drogba can't make the match, but that likely won't impact the result. However they follow that match with a good run - @Hull, Citeh, @Burnley, @Portsmouth and Fulham. They'll certainly be looking to pick up points and the likes of Gomez and Rodallega (mostly Gomez) could be worth sticking with.
Hull City 0 - 1 Birmingham City
Of course the match ended with this score. I could have predicted that as soon as I finalized my trade for Myhill. Thankfully he made several big saves so that even with the one goal, one loss he returned positive points. Of course that means that Hull are due for another hiding and a trip to Anfield doesn't bode well for them. Sell high!
Birmingham have been playing very well this season. They've been very tough to beat and have only lacked goals to turn the balance of those close matches. Chucho Benitez got his first start, and while he didn't score he did return 12 fantasy points on three shots on target. Birmingham are hosting Bolton this weekend and I think Chucho could be a nice pick up for that match.
Bolton Wanderers 1 - 1 Stoke City
So we knew Stoke was trying to make themselves a different proposition in their second season in the Premier League. Buying Tuncay was the cherry on the top of that particular sundae. But oddly enough, not only is Tuncay not getting involved in matches, but even Liam Lawrence, who was their offensive fulcrum last season, isn't guaranteed a start. And odder still, Lawrence's benching hasn't meant more playing time for Tuncay. I certainly couldn't have predicted that.
One man who is benefiting from the changes is Kitson who scored his second goal of the season and on the bounce. He's still under 6, but I'm not sure you want to invest in Stoke until their schedule lightens up at the end of October and through November - Wolves, @Hull, Portsmouth, @Rovers. By that time we may also have a better idea if Tuncay will have become a contributing member of the team. Until then, I don't know that he's worth a forward spot, even at a buck.
Bolton are Bolton. Matt Taylor gets another penalty kick goal, but other than that, it's pretty dire for them. Of course we don't bet on or against them. Unless we do.
Burnley 3 - 1 Sunderland
Here's what I wrote in Saturday's chat, "quick analysis on Sun/Burnley... Sun stand around all match waiting for someone else to do something. Bent has been lucky that the ball has dropped to him a few times or that BFAR actually did something. They have more talent than the teams 'below' them, but don't work half as hard." Don't get me wrong, I'm THRILLED with DBent getting me two goals in three weeks. But I just don't trust it to continue, even with a visiton from Wolves on the horizon. Not that I think you need to sell him this week, but you probably don't want to keep him beyond this weekend.
Meanwhile, Burnley continue to be very tough at home. @Burnley isn't going to be a cake walk for any team. Nugent came off the bench to score two, but I don't think you can bet on that happening week in and week out... except for maybe his coming off the bench part. Jensen was, well... a beast again. I wonder how long they can keep it up, but so far they couldn't have asked for more. They travel to Spurs this weekend and if past is prologue they're in line for shipping a few goals. Lennon, Defoe and Keane need to be on your radar. After that, they have a nice October - Birmingham, @Rovers, Wigan and Hull - and they'll expect points from those games. Unfortunately they're likely to get those points via the odd goal from any of number of players. Good luck picking a winner for fantasy purposes.