Adventures In The Fantasy Premier League: Gameweek 27
1. Resurrection- Two games, two deficits, two wins. Suddenly Arsenal have fight, suddenly Arsenal have character. With Andrey Arshavin gone, the media must identify a new scapegoat. Thus far, the Gunners have denied them. Rosicky is approaching his Dortmund form, Walcott is scoring goals and Robin van Persie continues to avoid injury. Wenger is less gaunt, his raincoat no longer engulfs him.
It might be time to make a cautious investigation, to glance, secretly at first, at the Arsenal player transfer page.
2. Chelsea In Trouble- Somewhere, perhaps on a private yacht sailing steadily towards some clandestine destination, is Roman Abramovich. Somewhere, perhaps tossing and turning on a bed or squatting thoughtfully on a deserted touchline, is Andre Villas-Boas. The two parted ways on Sunday afternoon after Abramovich finally lost patience with a Chelsea side bereft of anything even approaching defensive organization. Replacing AVB is assistant manager Roberto Di Matteo, who will lead the Blues through the end of this season. It’s an appointment that will hardly capture the imagination of the Stamford Bridge crowd, even if it does appease a few rebellious Chelsea players. By the way, stay away from those players, they’ve already hounded out one manager. Don’t be next.
3. Stay Away From Aston Villa- Under Alex McCleish, Aston Villa is achieving the impossible. They are the cliché. Painters (the handyman type) describe the long hours between coats as “like watching Villa play football”. Fans gather at Villa Park not to cheer on their team, but to observe the pitch. They gasp as a breath of wind sends a blade of grass flying, clap as it slowly drifts back to the ground. Attentive supporters have begun to count Stephen Ireland’s tattoos. It keeps them occupied for most of the first half. At 73 and counting a bored young man with an iPhone drops Gabriel Agbonlahor from his fantasy team.
4. Super Mario- Two goals in two games and a heavy fine to boot. It’s been a good couple weeks for Mario Balotelli who, after professing his love for his girlfriend via goal celebration (second only to Twitter as the most popular medium for player to world communication), enjoyed a fun-filled night at a Manchester strip club <gasps>. Despite breaking curfew, he scored against Bolton the next day and remains one of the most dangerous strikers in the country. One of the perks of being a fantasy manager — as opposed to a real one — is that there is no such thing as man management (a term invented, abused and ludicrously overstated by tactically ignorant British coaches). Buy him.
5. Ashley and Pavel- I finish off with two of the week’s best performers: Ashley Young and Pavel Pogrebnyak. Both players scored on Sunday, with Young netting a brace at White Hart Lane and Pogrebnyak building on a good start to life in English football with a hat trick against Terry Connor’s doomed-looking Wolves. Neither player is particularly expensive (remember, Young plays for Manchester United) and Pogrebnyak has a funny name. Bye!