Geordie strikers: The Demba Ba (8.1)-Papiss Cisse (9.1) dynamic used to be something to casually speculate about. Two Senegalese guys – apparently friends off the field – engage in a cutthroat battle for goal-scoring supremacy, with the loser consigned to a spot on the bench. You know: kind of funny, but certainly not significant. Nowadays, we’re 100 percent sure that these two players are fundamentally incapable of playing nicely together. They’re not rivals; they’re enemies. Whose side are you on?
The Newcastle Disease: In the second half of their match against Spurs, Manchester United played about as well as it is possible to play without winning. Scholes (5.3), Rooney (11.7), van Persie (13.5) and Kagawa (8.5) combined to create a series of gilt-edged opportunities, most of which were squandered, and, had the referee added a little more injury time – for the record, Sir Alex thinks the ref should have added a lot more – or had van Persie remembered how to smash balls into far corners, then perhaps United would’ve escaped with a win.
United seem to have caught the “Newcastle disease” – or, in a pretentious, I-know-more-about European-football-than-you voice, the “Zdenek Zemen disease.” In other words, Sir Alex’s men will score a lot of goals this season because they’ll have to score a lot of goals this season to make up for all the goals they’ll concede.
Mata’s on fire: Chelsea are beginning to click into gear, which is bad news for the rest of the league. Eden Hazard’s (10.3) early season magic seems to have worn off (sadly, I signed him about two weeks too late), but Juan Mata (8.8), who started the year slowly, is increasingly influential (guess who I sold to finance the Hazard transfer?). Mata set up Ashley Cole’s (6.6) 87th-minute winner last weekend before scoring a goal of his own against Arsenal on Saturday.
Gervinho?: I will never sign Gervinho (8.8). Something about him, something about his massive forehead, makes me laugh. I like to think that the problem goes beyond physical appearance – after all, weird-looking footballers should be perfectly capable of winning fantasy points – that I mistrust Gervinho because he is an inconsistent crosser or a spotty goal-scorer, but none of that is true. He’s got a big forehead, and, really, that’s all that matters.
Crouchie: Good old Peter Crouch (6.6). When asked what he would be if he weren’t a professional footballer, Crouch replied “a virgin.” Then he underlined the fact that he does indeed play football for a living by cheating on his supermodel fiancée with a renowned Algerian call girl. On Saturday, Crouch scored twice, sending Swansea City to a third consecutive defeat. He’s fairly inexpensive, and – or so the song goes – his feet stick out the bed.