An odd week in IEFSA last time out as managers scrambled to get a full set of players playing. My side was one of only eight teams who got nine scoring players earning points. And this was only after the late acquisition of Evandro at Hull because the previous weekends big signing, Tom Huddlestone, found himself on the bench. Evandro only contributed 4.65 points though, so I don’t know why I bothered. Especially since Joe Allen had made a miraculous recovery from injury and plundered 15.6 points away at Swansea. These points were lost to the bench. Allen got more points on his own than the playing trio of Evandro, and the normally more reliable, Arnautovic and Mirallas.
|Joe Allen couldn't stop Stoke going down to Swansea last weekend|
A low scoring week then, with the total coming to 100.2 points. This was enough to beat @FuzzyWarbles, who was hampered by the omission of Man City players from the gameweek. Steve can feel doubly unlucky, as he would have beaten five other sides with his total of 70 points.
This week could see the title being decided if @RotoZdroik can avoid defeat to @TAMc10. I don’t have time to worry about that though, as the IEFSA/Fantrax fixture computer has handed me a fixture with @nealjthurman. My side is still in fifth position, but with the right set of results, I could rise up to second with a win.
Neal is out for revenge after I beat his side by a slim 1.25 points in Gameweek 16. I had a Leighton Baines assist to thank for the victory that day, as a few of @nealjthurman’s team didn’t show up. Neal may have a number of players on the missing list this week too. He has four red flags to content with and a few players struggling for gametime with their respective clubs. Of course, one of those players that will be struggling for playing time for a considerable amount of time is Joey Barton. The Burnley midfielder has been handed an eighteen month ban for gambling offences. He placed 1,260 bets over a ten-year period, including 15 on games involving teams he played for at the time. Burnley travel to Crystal Palace on Saturday evening, and someone else will have to fill Barton’s ‘Dafabet’ sponsored jersey for the game. In Neal’s team, that hole will probably be filled by Man Utd’s Ander Herrera, if he can survive the fickle hand of rotation.
|What odds @nealjthurman keeping Barton in his squad until next season?|
Building from the back is probably @nealjthurman’s best bet this weekend. In goals he will have Ben Foster of West Brom. The Baggies are usually stiff opposition at home, and face a Leicester side who have failed to ignite in front of goals this season. In that game he will also have Christian Fuchs lining out for Leicester. His other two defenders are Ben Gibson of Middlesboro and Andrew Robertson of Hull City. Those players average over 12 and 11 points per game respectively.
What I Need To Happen
Joe Allen is back, so that means Evandro will probably be dropped back to Free Agency (cue a brace against the Saints on Saturday now!) The other Midfield spots looked to be filled by Kevin Mirallas and Luka Milivojevic. I have a few choices up front. Marko Arnautovic missed a penalty last weekend, and surely won’t repeat the trick against West Ham this week, though he’ll probably be taken off spot kick duties. Fabio Borini will more than likely start from the bench for Sunderland again, although he is the last player to score for the Black Cats and might be called on again in a must win game against Bournemouth. Pedro is the other Forward option. The Chelsea man was only a substitute in the last game, but still gained an assist, and will surely get some minutes against Everton on Sunday.
|Arnautovic will hope for an improved display at home to West Ham|
Trying to stop Pedro doing anything positive will be Defender Leighton Baines. Averaging nearly 15 points a game, the left back will be in direct opposition to the Chelsea Forward in this gameweek. Elsewhere across the defence, we welcomed back Hector Bellerin from injury in midweek. Arsenal have recently changed to a back three though, and we have yet to see how this will impact on the Spaniard averaging over 12 fantasy points per game. Two Burnley players will face Crystal Palace and hopefully keep them from scoring. Keane and Heaton have been some of the more reliable players in my side this season, and will continue to be as long as Sean Dyche’s side don’t decide to head to the beach too early.
Only four correct predictions last week as the fixture list really messed up some sides. Not @RotoZdroik though, who rolls on, and as mentioned, only has @TAMc10 standing between him and the title. To keep track of all the action, please follow @THE_IEFSA on Twitter. And remember there is a Monday night game this week in the shape of Watford hosting Liverpool, so don't start etching the name on the trophy until then. Anyway, here are this week’s predictions.
Good Luck Everyone.