Heading into Gameweek 6, there’s plenty of things we can learn from Gameweek 5 that can help us in our Fantasy Premier League football:
Ricky Lambert equals goals: Last year it was Grant Holt (6.1) — you know, the former tire-fitter. The year before it was DJ Campbell (4.4). Now it’s Ricky Lambert (6.1). Every season (or so it seems: football fans are awfully good at turning a couple of years’ worth of coincidences into a trends) a striker comes up from the Championship – where, if the story is any good, he’s languished for his entire career – and “proves himself” at the top level. Lambert has won the Golden Boot in every English professional league he’s ever played in. And, five games into his first season in the Premier League, he’s on course to complete the set.
Delicious Toffees: My column last week officially ended Swansea’s early-season surge, so their anemic performance against Everton shouldn’t have surprised any of you. What struck me most about the Swans’ 3-0 loss – the same thing, I think, that struck most people – was the sheer beauty of Everton’s attacking play. Marouane Fellani (7.1) scored again (he’s fast becoming a fantasy asset), Victor Anichebe (5.3) somehow contrived to engineer the ball into the back of the net for a second consecutive week (this, readers, is almost certainly a sign of the Apocalypse) and Leighton Baines (7.2) pooped on the Alexander Buttner (5.5) party.
Jermain Defoe: Harry Redknapp dropped him, Emmanuel Adebayor (9.2) outshone him, and the European Championships weren’t particularly kind to him, but Jermain Defoe (7.7) kept plugging away. He’s started this season very well, registering three goals in five games. He’s always been a lethal finisher, but now, finally, he’s found a manager who trusts him.
“Steve Gerrard, Gerrard”: There was a time, before Barcelona’s ascent to the top of everything, when Steven Gerrard (9.4) and Frank Lampard (8.9) were supposed to be the two best central midfielders in the world. (Whether they actually were, of course, is another matter entirely.) Back then, Lampard guaranteed you 20 goals a seasons and Stevie G guaranteed you enough chest-pounding spirit to compensate for the fact that he never scored as many goals as Lampard. Anyway, they were both fantasy gems. Managers went out of their way to accommodate The Two Hearts And Souls Of Their Respective Clubs.
I bring this up today because, over the weekend, Steven Gerrard scored a pretty fantastic goal – a goal made all the more fantastic by the fact that Gerrard doesn’t score fantastic goals nearly as often as he used to. He and Lampard are still decent players, but neither is worth the money.
Nolan loves Big Sam: As much as I hate what Sam Allardyce has done to football (i.e, turned Pele’s beautiful game into a sort of freestyle combat), I can’t help but love Kevin Nolan (6.2). Maybe it’s the Chicken Dance celebration (which, by the way, is the sort of quirk that fantasy football should reward), or the way he took Andy Carroll (8.3) under his wing two seasons ago, or his decision to leave a club on the rise (Newcastle) for a club on the slide (West Ham) just to reunite with a manager who, well, makes Charles Reep look like the English Johan Cruyff. Whatever. He’s here in the Premier League, and he’s scoring goals. Three of them, so far, including a 90th-minute equalizer against Sunderland last Saturday.