There aren’t many things that upset me as a sports fan. It’s not pleasant to see your team lose, but usually I understand luck wasn’t on my side and I don’t let the game affect me. Lately, that’s been harder and harder to do. Last night was my toughest moment as a sports fan. I’ve been at the University of Florida for four years and I’ve seen our basketball players work tirelessly in an attempt to win a National Championship. The worst part of seeing them lose when they were so close to their goal was the fact that their four years of hard work seemed irrelevant for a moment. It seemed pointless. A wasted effort. But then a part of me realized that it couldn’t have all been for nothing. I sat back and I realized it’s not the outcome that’s the most important part, it’s the journey.
I remembered all the good moments. The moment when Patrick Young and Will Yeguete helped a three-year-old fight cancer. The moment Gator fans gathered to congratulate the team on making the final four at the airport at 1 a.m. on a Saturday night. The moment Pat and Will stopped by the dorms to do a 3-hour Q&A session with students. The moment coach Donovan helped Scottie Wilbekin mature into the man he is today. The moment Gator fans sent off their favorite seniors after a remarkable season. Winning is always going to be important because it’s what these guys play for. But when our team loses, we can’t forget about the good times. These stories are what make sports special, and I will take these moments instead of a National Championship on any given day.
With that in mind, I want to remind fans to always be supportive of their players. You may be critical of management, but you’ve got to remember the players are out there playing their heart out for you. You’ve got to remember the good moments. The Norwich fans that were throwing clappers on the pitch yesterday made me embarrassed to be a football fan. Even if there were a few players who weren’t giving 100% on that pitch, there were some who deserve better than being the target of yellow clappers. There are ways and times to criticize management and to make your voices heard. Throwing objects at your own players isn’t one of them. With that out of the way, lets now look at what else happened in the Premier League this weekend.
Manchester City 4 – 1 Southampton
Southampton stuck around this game until City’s second goal was allowed even though David Silva was three yards offside. After that, Manchester City took control and took care of business. Yaya Toure played well but limped off at the end and we need to see if it’s anything serious. David Silva was dangerous at all times and has to be considered for the rest of the season. As for Saints players, they didn’t perform well in fantasy but the matchup doesn’t get tougher than this and they should all be doing better next week.
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Aston Villa 1 – 2 Fulham
With Christian Benteke and Libor Kozak out for the season, Aston Villa don’t have many attacking options. Their defense didn’t play well either and Fulham took advantage. Lewis Holtby is their best player both in real life and in fantasy and he will try to lead them out of the relegation zone in the coming weeks. With everything going on with Norwich, don’t be surprised to see Fulham stay another year.
Cardiff 0 – 3 Crystal Palace
Cardiff are as bad as it gets. Conceding three at home to Crystal Palace is something no Premier League team should ever do and Cardiff will likely pay the price with relegation. Palace have been much better since Tony Pulis took charge and Palace fans have something to look forward to next season. They won’t score three goals very often, but they are very sound defensively and can grind their way to a win on any day. Jason Puncheon scored a brace but is still not consistent enough to be in my fantasy squad. Palace have a double game week next week but one of the matches is an away game at Everton so it’s hard to recommend many of their players. I will be considering Scott Dann and Joel Ward, but no one else is really worth the price for me.
Hull City 1 – 0 Swansea
A relatively poor match saw the home side win. George Boyd scored the winning goal but I wouldn’t consider him a fantasy option. Curtis Davies is the best player on Hull’s team but at £ 19.31M, is he worth the price? Hull have an off week in week 34, so make sure you avoid them. Swansea continued their poor season and never really threatened too much. Michu’s name has been tossed around a lot lately, but with him averaging 4.8 points per game, do you really want him on your squad? Swansea face Chelsea next week, so the easy answer there is no. Wilfried Bony disappointed fantasy managers with one negative point but credit should be given to Curtis Davies for the defensive efforts. Bony should be considered after Chelsea are out of the way.
Newcastle 0 – 4 Manchester United
Manchester United have put a nice little run together but this isn’t the first time it’s happened this season. I wouldn’t jump on the bandwagon just yet. Juan Mata seems to have finally found his touch with United but that’s partially because he finally got the play in his favorite 10 spot. If Moyes continues to play him there, Mata will be a great choice for the remainder of the season. Newcastle continue to look like they’ve given up on the season and I don’t see that changing. Maybe things will improve when Alan Pardew returns but I wouldn’t bet on it.
Norwich 0 – 1 West Brom
You get an idea of what this match looked like from the fact that Norwich fans were throwing clappers at their players by the end of it. Chris Hughton has been sacked and things are bound to change with a new manager, so there isn’t much value to be had at Norwich. West Brom’s Morgan Amalfitano has played well recently and has two straight games in double digits. I don’t think I would play him against Tottenham, but maybe the week after. Liam Ridgewell has also been playing well and I will consider him after next week.
Chelsea 3 – 0 Stoke City
Chelsea dominated from start to finish. The big news here was that Eden Hazard was rested ahead of Chelsea’s important Champions League clash in midweek. He came on as a sub in the second half but only registered two points to disappoint fantasy managers. It was his first rest this season and I don’t expect it to happen again. Fernando Torres didn’t score once again and will be replaced as soon as Samuel Eto’o is healthy. Mohamed Salah scored his second Premier League goal in his first start and is a fine player. A lack of playing time limits his upside this year but if he ever establishes himself as a first option, he will be a fan favorite.
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Everton 3 – 0 Arsenal
When Arsenal started losing, it didn’t really surprise too many people considering the injuries and recent history of collapse. I have to admit I didn’t expect anything this bad. They haven’t won a game in their last four and that includes a combined 9-0 score against Chelsea and Everton. The return of Aaron Ramsey should help and at a price of £ 12.61M, I will consider Ramsey next week. Arsenal have a home match against West Ham next week and will look to turn things around. I really can’t see them losing another match, especially with how much pressure Everton has put on them for the final Champions League spot. Everton, on the other hand, are playing fantastic football at the moment. They’re on a big winning streak and have a double game week ahead with Sunderland and Crystal Palace on the schedule. I recommend stuffing your roster with as many Everton players as you can afford.
West Ham 1 – 2 Liverpool
A lot of controversial decisions in this match but Liverpool probably deserved to win. Steven Gerrard still plays at an incredible level and with him on penalty and set piece duties, he can’t be ignored in fantasy circles. Daniel Sturridge has cooled off lately and some people will question whether to bring in Romelu Lukaku (who has a double gameweek up next) to replace him. I’m on the fence for this one, especially if you have Sturridge at a discount. If I had to choose, I would probably go with Lukaku but it’s definitely a close one. West Ham’s Pablo Armero started his first Premier League match and played respectably. He finished with 3 fantasy points but would have had 7 if it weren’t for a late yellow card. At £ 1.91M, I think he is essential to have on your bench while he is starting. Check back later in the week to see the status of George McCartney and if he is set to miss another match, Armero is likely to start again.
The combination of Juan Mata and Yaya Toure led me to 121 points this week and I still have Hugo Lloris and Emmanuel Adebayor left to play. I’m happy with my score and have moved up to within 21 spots of the top 4000. How did you manage this week?