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Scores were much more tightly packed this week. Uriah’s narrowly picked up another manager of the week award with 63 points. It’s their second of the season, but after a lax few weeks it’s not going to be enough to put them in contention for the monthly award which will be decided next week. Pescara sit top of the monthly table off the back of their 119 point score of a fortnight ago, with RayCrawfordsCrackers and Van Damme United also in contention.
Hedgehog, NDYs and Neil Madrid complete a top six with realistic chances of nicking the prize – that’s all of the overall top five in with a chance.
No Buckets teams seem to suffer at the hands of the blank gameweek too much. Most teams managed to turn out at least ten players, and most scored above the weekly average of 33 points. Three other team managed 60+ scores – most tellingly, RCCs, who moved above NDYs into fourth place.
No player dominated the scoring this week. The highest individual score was eleven points, and this was achieved by seven different players. There were more points to be had towards the back of the starting XI than the front, which is a rarity. Five defences kept clean sheets, yet only five attackers scored more than their appearance points. This might explain why so many Buckets managers had similar scores. The majority of us did well in the circumstances to get into the high 40’s, 50’s and above.
Player of the week – Andy King – 11 points. Team of the week were arguably Leicester City.
Bargain of the week – Boaz Myhill – 8 points. Not easy to determine who should win this award this week. It’s Andy King’s fault.
Donkey of the week – Ashley Barnes – -2 points. Easily the cheapest set of weekly winners in the history of Buckets.
Goal of the week. Craig Gardner. Thank goodness there was one to pick. 44s in.
10 Jan 12:45 Sunderland v Liverpool
10 Jan 15:00 Burnley v QPR
10 Jan 15:00 Chelsea v Newcastle
10 Jan 15:00 Everton v Man City
10 Jan 15:00 Leicester v Aston Villa
10 Jan 15:00 Swansea v West Ham
10 Jan 15:00 West Brom v Hull
10 Jan 17:30 Crystal Palace v Spurs
11 Jan 13:30 Arsenal v Stoke
11 Jan 16:00 Man Utd v Southampton
Wildcards are live and there are no Africans. And a few Asians have disappeared too. Does this complicate matters? Not really. If anything it makes the use of the wildcard a little easier. Other than Yaya, Bony and Diafra Sakho, many of the absent players had very low ownership to begin with. Freeing up the £10.9 million that it would cost you to purchase the better Toure brother leaves the door open for any number of options. Only Sanchez, Van Persie, Aguero, Daniel Sturridge (still?) and Costa are valued higher.
Replacing Wilfried Bony and/or Diafra Sakho calls for a little more consideration. It may be worth looking at the likes of Santi Cazorla, Christian Eriksen or the returning Olivier Giroud as pound for pound replacements for Bony. There are plenty of cheaper options more in line with Sakho’s price tag. Harry Kane, Charlie Austin and Nacer Chadli all stand out. More off the radar are Ashley Barnes who has come to the fore as the strike partner of choice for Danny Ings – himself a tempting choice. Or maybe you could throw caution comepletely to the wind and take a punt on the player most likely to benefit from Bony’s absence – Bafetimbi Gomis. Gomis has been playing second fiddle to Bony all season, starting only four league games and scoring one goal. He managed to find the net twice last week, albeit against Tranmere in the cup. It’s his opportunity to stake a claim – particularly as Bony may not even be returning to the Liberty Stadium if his transfer to City goes through.
Away from worrying about wildcarding there are some potential banker options amongst this weekend’s fixtures. Chelsea have been beaten twice in the league this season – by Spurs, heavily, last time out, and by Newcastle, their opponents on Saturday. Newcastle will probably face a team eager to consign both defeats to the dustbin of history – whatever that means.
Will West Brom be Pulisified? Palace hadn’t kept a clean sheet before Pulis took over last season at the end of November. By the end of that season, they’d kept twelve in total – almost one every other game. The foundations are already there for a decent West Brom defence having so far kept six clean sheets – and all of their regulars come in at under £5 million. For those that set a budget for their defence, West Brom could be the team to turn to in the second half of the season.
And Villa play Leicester. It’s got a 0-0 written all over it.
The league’s big movers this week are Gaalacticos. Their 83 points has moved them from 10th into third place, and only 16 points off the top spot. Neil Madrid have jumped into second with Naboombus holding onto first place. PSG, who find themselves in fourth, had dropped as far as tenth after Sunday’s games. Their Chelsea contingent came good last night picking up an extra 30 points and making sure they didn’t drop too far off the pace. The top eight are now only separated by 29 points.
Gaalactico’s were 17th at the end of November. Their turnaround has come courtesy of three 70+ scores in the last four gameweeks. This predictably sees them top of the monthly league, and by some distance.
They look as if they have the team to see them through the next two gameweeks and to the December manager of the month prize. Four players scored in double figures for them this week – player of the week, Charlie Austin, top assister, Cesc Fabregas, top bonus scorer, Stewart Downing (how did that happen?), and the newest member of the 100 point club, Eden Hazard.
Their lead may not be completely unassailable if some unexpected rotations are employed over the Christmas fixtures. Gael Clichy and Wilfried Bony were two of the most transferred in players before gameweek 17, only to be given a rest and left out of their starting XIs. This may guarantee their return next week, but it proves that no-one is safe from the chop.
We’ve three gameweeks between now and New Years Day. There’ll be score updates in between stuffing myself with mince pies. Good luck, and have a nice Christmas managers.
Player of the week – Charlie Austin – 17 points. Into double figures for goals.
Bargain of the week – Maya Yoshida – 15 points. A convincing return to clean sheets for Southampton.
Donkey of the week – Fabio Borini – -2 points. Lasted 18 minutes and kicked Cazorla in the tits.
Goal of the week – Ashley Barnes. Lamela’s was good – this was just better.