Adventures in the Fantasy Premier League, Gameweek 34

Defoe scores, Tottenham wins: Before Sunday’s match, Jermain Defoe (7.9) hadn’t scored a Premier League goal in 2013, which is pretty embarrassing — for someone whose sole function is goal-scoring, who regularly spends 90 minutes just toddling around the penalty area. But when Defoe’s in form, boy, can he finish. I’m tipping him for a late-season surge.

Sturridge is back among the goals: Daniel Sturridge (6.6) was one of this weekend’s top performers, notching a goal and an assist. Sturridge combined well with strike partner Luis Suarez (11.0), who, as you may have heard, tried to take a chunk out of Branislav Ivanovic’s (6.9) arm. That probably ends Suarez’s chances of winning the PFA Player of the Year award; John Terry (6.5) might vote for him (Premier League racists stick together!), but I get the feeling Ivanovic and Patrice Evra (7.4) have more friends than JT does. Sturridge will start Liverpool’s next few games.

The Sunderland bandwagon: Paolo Di Canio isn’t just a strict, slightly anal coach; he’s a bona fide fascist, a self-confessed Mussolini admirer. (I know that Di Canio has publicly recanted, but bear with me – this is fun.) With that in mind, it’s no surprise that Sunderland has won its last two games. Di Canio’s arrival must have scared the bejesus out of players like Stephane Sessegnon  (7.0), who for most of this season has floated through matches as if Premier League football were some annoying chore that Sunderland paid him a pittance to complete. I’ve jumped aboard the Sunderland bandwagon.

Per Mertesacker scores a goal: According to the Fantasy Premier League, Mertesacker (5.3) is the Prem’s seventh-best defender. Since August, he has accumulated 114 points, mostly because he scores headers on a fairly regular basis. I’m not going to tell you to sign Mertesacker; in my opinion, you’d be better off signing a mannequin shaped vaguely like Titus Bramble. But someone somewhere thinks Arsenal’s clumsy Mertesacker is only a little less effective than Jan Vertonghen (6.6).

Exactly 1.5 percent of fantasy managers own Steve Sidwell: I’m going to make a few assumptions. In the next 24 hours, exactly 120 people will read this column. One hundred of them will be active fantasy football managers. Of those 100, exactly 1.5 will own Steve Sidwell (4.9), a functional midfielder, one of Dimitar Berbatov’s (7.5) Fulham teammates. I want to offer my condolences to the 1.5 – you deserved better. No one saw this coming. Players who don’t play for Sunderland, don’t look like pit bulls, and aren’t named Lee Barry Cattermole never receive red cards in consecutive games.

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