1. Jordi Gomez- I told you so.
2. Norwich frontmen- Last week I made a passing reference to Norwich City’s two in-form strikers – Grant Holt and Steve Morison (the paper shredder, if you haven’t picked that up all ready…). The two have scored a combined thirteen goals this season including Holt’s opener at Goodison Park (assisted by Morison, I might add). Neither are particularly glamorous options but often celebrity doesn’t translate to success. Just ask Fernando Torres. While the Spaniard was making a name for himself in La Liga, Steve Morison was, well, shredding paper.
3. Demba Ba is good fun- He’s more than a mechanism for lame wordplay (see over the BAr, terrific BAlance and, my personal favorite, argie-BArgie). Demba Ba didn’t score this time out, but his performance was more than promising. An improvised volley mid-way through the first half struck the post and had it not been for consistency of Michel Vorm in goal, the Senegalese would have enjoyed a more statistically fruitful afternoon. Never mind though, he is still priced significantly lower than Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie, not to mention the fact that his name (try using Van Persie in a pun) is the perfect distraction from drab 0-0 draws.
4. The rise and fall of Anthony Pilkington- I discovered Anthony Pilkington – sort of. It happened just days after the nice man from Verizon re-installed my television. I had gone three days (don’t worry, I’m over it now) without football. Such was my desire to be reacquainted with the Beautiful Game, that for the first (and last) time in my life, I watched the FA Cup first round. Stockport City was playing non-league opposition. I know, but, well, three days. Anyway, in between the teachers, dentists and (probably) paper shredders, Anthony Pilkington played a blinder down the Stockport left, ripping past those bastions of good, honest English defending – non-league full backs. I jotted his name down on a piece of scrap paper. I found him on Fifa ’09 and made him captain of Manchester United.
I didn’t see him play again until last year’s FA Cup. Bedecked in the blue and white stripes of Huddersfield, Pilkington ran the Arsenal defense ragged but lost 2-1.
Then Norwich signed him. I had been vindicated. From League Two to the Premier League, Pilkington’s rise was complete. A bright first few weeks (four goals) ensured that his spot in my fantasy team was unquestioned. Sadly, that is no more. The winger that so impressed over the season’s opening phase spent Saturday’s match on the substitute’s bench.
Pilkington’s plight is an indictment on football; its ability to inspire false hope and mislead even the most level-headed. Pilkington’s fall from grace, while hardly drastic, is something that all readers of this column can surely relate to. It is impossible to understand fantasy football without understanding Anthony Pilkington.
5. Don’t sign Nicklas Bendtner- Nicklas Bendtner is the best player Nicklas Bendtner has ever seen. He’s also a vandal, an open goal missing moron and (against Tottenham at least) a benchwarmer for relegation strugglers Sunderland. On Sunday he was outshone by Roman Pavlyuchenko who is, incidentally, the best player that Roman Pavlyuchenko has ever seen. Neither of the Premier League’s resident narcissists are worth taking a risk on, though. Despite his goal, Pavyluchenko is at best third string for Tottenham while Nicklas Bendtner is, well, probably Sunderland’s best option up front. Which tells you all you need to know about Sunderland…
6. Phil Jones does everything- For better or for worse, Phil Jones has done quite a lot this season. Full back, attacking midfield, defensive midfield… Jones seems to have developed a penchant for playing out of position. So much so that even the Official Fantasy Gurus Of The Premier League are confused. They have Jones listed as a defender, but on Sunday he played in midfield. He hit the post, too. Had Jones scored, as he did against Aston Villa a fortnight ago, 24.9% of fantasy managers would have had cause for celebration.