International week, so who knows if anything from this week past will carry over through the break. But just in case, here are some impressions of the - disappointing, for most - week that was, after the jump.
- I haven't seen Liverpool/Birmingham City so I can't comment on N'Gog's supposed dive. But I can say that DBent was unlucky not to draw a penalty early in the Spurs/Sunderland match, but certainly conned the ref into giving one later. He was in the air and falling long before Gomes got close to him. It turns out that he would have done better staying on his feet and slotting into the open net than taking the kick which he placed well, but without any power, allowing Gomes to make the save. (Phew! Way to start the post with a lengthy run-on sentence. My apologies to any editors reading this.)
- Drogba's yellow card was ridiculous. Sure he flopped around like a fish out of water, but he had just been kicked in the chest... you can hardly blame him! Somehow he received a yellow card and Evans stayed on the pitch to attack again. Was it just last week that I was marvelling that "His worst return of the season was 10.5 points. That's the floor." Well, now we have a new low of 0.5. Chelsea now play Wolves, @Arsenal, @ManCiteh before a nicer run against Everton, Portsmouth, @WHU, @BRM, Fulham. Surely it's worth sticking with Drogs through that stretch.
- How crazy was the Villa/Bolton match? Sometimes it's a shame that we don't bet on (or against) Bolton, but this was ridiculous. Anyone unable to change their team after Villa's double week ended up a very happy manager. Milner showed up after - for fantasy purposes - having gone AWOL for the previous month. He missed a penalty, but the save came right to Sidwell who banged it off the post... and right back to Milner who was still on the spot to score. Never again in a million years! And Gabby's goal going through the legs of both Cahill and Jussi!?!? Bolton keeping the ball in play on his own end line for Carew to feed... was that the assist for Gabby's goal? Carew being allowed to turn in the box (and the man has the turning radius of a tanker) to score. Just inexcusable defending all around. And so hard for fantasy managers to swallow as WE JUST HAD THESE PLAYERS IN OUR TEAM LAST WEEK!!!! Bitter pill, indeed.
- Clint "Duece" Dempsey taking penalty and free kicks in Murphy's absence. Didn't see that coming, but it allowed him to notch his third goal, and third 15+ point fantasy performance, in as many matches. He's going to be a very popular pick for Fulham's double week next game week. As should Damien Duff, who along with his former running mate David Dunn, is turning back the years and becoming a fantasy stud again. It's nice to have them back.
- Speaking of popular 2 gamers, Saha put down his marker scoring a sweet drive against West Ham. Not that scoring against West Ham is difficult these days. Everton are @ManU and @Hull next game week and Saha looks a good pick because, well @Hull. But also because of the ex-team thing he isn't a terrible bet against Manchester United. Sure the ex-team thing didn't quite work out for Sunderland (though FCampbell owners might disagree after his, as Neal called it, "the quietest nine points ever") but if Olofinjana can score against his old club, surely Saha is worth a punt.
- I'm worried about Stoke. All season I've been loath to bet on or against them. They were the ultimate "tough out" to mix my sports metaphors. Solid at the back. Just enough going forward. But certainly not enough to thrill fantasy managers. Even at a buck. The ultimate expression of that was their 1-0 win at Spurs when the just hung on and hung on until stealing three points late. Since then they've been rocked in the Carling Cup (albeit with a reserve side), gave up two set piece goals to Wolves at home and now they've lost late to Hull City. They still have a reasonably favorable schedule but I just don't know if I trust them to keep it tight, even at home any longer.
- On the other hand, I didn't think Etherington could do the business again this week after his goal against Wolves. He's a player we've always liked, but two goals in two games? Kudos to anyone who went in on Eth and reaped the benefits.
- Given... ugh! Lost 25points to him last week and six this week by him. Not that it was his fault this week. One ridiculous PK as Lescott should never have raised his hands against that cross, and two counter-attacking goals where Burnley had players unmarked in the box which is inexcusable. Hello, Zabaleta... you have to track back! Citeh's schedule gets tough now - @Liv, Hull (ok, that's not tough), Che, @Bol, @Spurs - so we'll see what they're really made of. And on evidence so far, it's a mixed bag.
- Dindane was a red herring. O'Hara's goal was a nice shot, but Samba couldn't have moved any slower in closing him down without going in reverse.