I tipped two players from the same game, Steven Fletcher and Mesut Ozil as the men to watch last week, and it's fair to say they had rather different fortunes. Fletcher toiled away without much success for Sunderland, and returned just a meagre 2 points as a reward for actually showing up and running around for 76 mins. Ozil, on the other hand, was extremely impressive especially in the first half. The German was awarded a bonus point and grabbed himself an assist to generate a total of 6 points. Certainly a decent return, but in truth the Gelsenkirchen Gunner was unlucky not to score more. He laid on two exquisite through balls to put Theo Walcott through on goal, but fortunately for Sunderland the England man fluffed his lines on both occasions and Keiren Westwood was able to prevent him from scoring.
Speaking of the Irish 'keeper, Westwood was one of the players I suggested Fantasy managers avoided this week. This turned out to be a justified shout as the Inked Irishman won 2 points - gaining one for his saves made, but losing it again for conceding three goals in one game. The second player I tipped to avoid was Manchester United's Ashley Young. Points-wise, the
deep-sea diver, SCUBA diver, high-board diver sky-diver winger did OK, turning in 5 points for his assist and clean sheet (with one subtracted for a yellow card). However his performance didn't score so highly on professionalism, with even David Moyes criticising the player's misunderstanding of gravity that led to him being cautioned for simulation. Even his assist only came courtesy of a very contentiously awarded penalty when Young appeared to collapse like wet paper at the slightest context outside of the box. So basically, you can have your points but you should feel guilty about them.
Onto the coming gameweek then...
Sunderland Player To Watch: Jozy Altidore
Still yet to get off the mark in the Premier League, the big American is surely rightly fuming about Martin Atkinson's utterly inept decision not to play advantage when the striker was through on goal last week against Arsenal. Hopefully Altidore, who has faded in and out of games but tended to look both powerful and purposeful when Sunderland are playing well, will use this sense of injustice to fuel his quest for his opening goal against an average West Brom side.
General Player To Watch: Christian Eriksen
The Danish international has long been tipped for a move to one of Europe's top leagues, and his debut for Spurs against Norwich last week certainly suggested that the playmaker has the potential to be another excellent signing. His assist for Gylfi Sigurdsson was simply beautiful. In an attack that, prior to his arrival, looked replete with dangerous yet unsubtle attackers, Eriksen could just be the stiletto that slips through the gaps in the armour of opposition defences. Cardiff have had some up and down results this season, losing poorly to West Ham on the opening day and then beating a disappointing Manchester City at home, but I think that Spurs will be too much for the Welsh side; and Eriksen will be at the heart of their attack.
To throw a cheeky second tip in here, I'd also keep my eye on Jonjo Shelvey of Swansea. In case anyone missed his performance against Liverpool, Lord Voldemort managed to score and assist Swansea's two goals, yet also get booked and give away two scandalously poor backpasses for Liverpool's two goals in the first half. To come back on at half-time and still show for the ball and be determined to redeem himself (which he managed with an excellent headed knock-down for Michu's goal) shows admirable character. Against a Crystal Palace side who are no great shakes, The Pale Man from Pan's Labyrinth could use the confidence of his second half performance to really push the Swans on.
Sunderland Player To Avoid: David Vaughan
Vaughan is, rather embarrassingly, currently selected by 0.0% of Fantasy managers. That's none, nadda, zip, nil. Not even someone just playing for a laugh who has no interest or knowledge of football has selected the Welsh weak-link. Just in case Paolo Di Canio is reading, this makes you the only person IN THE WORLD who would select the E.T. lookalike. Don't do it again, Paolo, please.
General Player To Avoid: Mobido Maiga
Presumably as a karmic punishment for my sins, I endured West Ham's 0-0 draw with Southampton on Sunday. Standing in at centre forward for Andy Carroll (who has presumably been sent off to the knacker's yard for glue) Maiga looked totally out of his depth and unable to hold up the ball in the way Allardyce demanded of Carroll and Carlton Cole last season. If he starts again, I can't see the Malian posing any real danger to an Everton side that are still unbeaten under Roberto Martinez.
The Roker Report League
At the top of the league, John Downing has leaped from 4th place last week to 1st. His SHOE ARMY have opened up an impressive 17 point lead on 2nd place RayyanRayqal FC, with 179 points to the latter's 162. After that, places 3 to 6 are all very close. With, in descending order, Brian Murphy's autoselect 11 on 261, John Sullivan's BLUE MOONIES FC on 260 and both on 258, Jack Barker's Knee Sliders and Chris Worthy's Sunderpants. Giroud's presence in nearly all of the top 6 sides, and Van Persie's absence, is well worth noting. The Arsenal man has scored every week so far, and seems much better value than his extraordinarily expensive predecessor up front for the Gunners.
Amongst the Roker Report writers, Craig Clark maintains his place at the top of the table with 242 points landing him 22nd in the table. Next up is my good self in 94th on 217 points, with David Boyle only a little way behind in 113th with 214 points. Another little way behind Dave is Luke on 204 points in 171st. Then, well, it's a long way back really before we get to those who should just be proud for taking part. Podcast host extraordinaire Stephen Goldsmith is 287th on 179 points, whilst Roker Report Supremo Simon Walsh is way way down in 340th on 156.
Two shout-outs for some quality team-names I've spotted this week. Ted Vickers, in 137th, has gone for a classic in Obi Wan Kenobi Nil, whilst Phil Withington's Celustkakakaka is a pretty awesome Shooting Stars reference. Considering his slightly zany tweets, that might be a combination that our new right-back approves of.
Finally, I'm afraid someone has to be named and shamed. Now, I don't want to start any Red (and white) Top-esque witch hunt,* but it's come to my attention that Daniel Parker currently in 8th has slotted some barcodes into his line-up for next week. Obviously I don't have all the facts available yet (OK, this is exactly like a tabloid witch hunt) as I can't see his team for the upcoming week, but let's hope that whoever it is he's picked, my money's on the incredibly slappably-faced Hatem Ben Arfa, turns in a stinker against Hull this weekend.
*That's a lie, I do.