Some brilliance from Nani and a typically cheeky finish from the “Little Pea” is just enough for United to grind down Stoke’s resistance at Old Trafford. Fulham claw their way back up the table as they brush past the injury-ravaged Baggies at the Cottage, while Birmingham do a job on Blackpool at Bloomfield Road, despite another Charlie Adam inspired attacking display…
Alex Ferguson sprung a couple of surprises in his starting lineup – Twitter fan, Rio Ferdinand was rested ahead of Sunday’s looming FA Cup clash with Liverpool, while Edwin van der Sar was again missing in goal with illness blamed for his absence. Wayne Rooney was the big absentee however – the ankle injury sustained late on against West Brom kept him out of this one. Javier Hernandez took his place, Chris Smalling assumed the role alongside Nemanja Vidic in defence.
Once again United won the game in second gear – rarely threatening to put the game beyond Stoke, despite the visitors affording them room to exploit their talents – particularly in the first-half. Nani enjoyed a strong game and emphasised his Fantasy value by notching his sixth goal and eleventh assist of the season; with 2 Bonus also arriving at his door, this was the sixth time that Nani has recorded double figures for FPL returns.
Rooney’s absence had a predictable effect on Dimitar Berbatov’s goal threat. Our Members can see for themselves that the Bulgarian often came deeper to start the play and his “Touches” and “Passes” confirm that he was heavily involved. With just one attempt on goal however, Berbatov was again happy to forgo opportunities to score without Rooney’s prompting and feeding in tandem. Hernandez had far fewer touches, made fewer passes but had 3 attempts on goal, one of which was his smart, improvised finish for the opening goal which help to earn him 3 Bonus Points.
Ian Holloway handed a start to Matt Phillips who was rewarded for a number of eye-catching displays from the bench. Elsewhere, Blackpool lined up as expected in a 4-3-3 formation.
Charlie Adam offered some reward for the faith put in him by FPL Managers; the Scot dominated the game for long periods from the middle of the park and only the post denied him a goal in a performance that was again acknowledged with FPL Bonus Points.
Alex McLeish dropped Jean Beausejour to his bench and handed starts to Keith Fahey and Alexander Hleb as Lee Bowyer began his three-match ban. The inclusion of Hleb certainly paid off as the Belarusian grabbed his first Premier League goal for the Blues, after a Stephen Crainey error. Hleb obviously has bags of ability and could be worth monitoring as he looks to find some consistency after struggling with injury and form.
Popular FPL defender had a Scott Dann grabbed the winning goal for Birmingham in the 89th minute, lifting them out of the relegation places and giving Birmingham their first win at Blackpool since 1960. Dann has now picked-up 67 FPL points this season a good return for a defender priced at just £4.8 million and this hasn’t gone unnoticed amongst FPL managers with an ownership of 10.4%.
Birimingham recorded their first away win of the season, a record that Birmingham-owning FPL Managers will be pleased to see the back of. Alex McLeish was also unsurprisingly jubilant with the outcome…
“I’m absolutely delighted to win and mostly because it was away from home. It means people will stop asking about the away record. It is only one [win] in six months yet it is three valuable points.”
Mark Hughes opted for Senegalese striker Diomansy Kamara to spearhead his attack and this was the only change to the Fulham side which lost to Tottenham on New Year’s Day, the forward took the place of Andy Johnson in the lone striker role as the Welshman once again opted for a 4-4-1-1 formation.
Pre-match reports seemed to suggest that striker and Mousa Dembele would recover from an ankle injury and return to the line-up, but it appears that the Belgian striker failed to prove his fitness in time for the kick-off. Expect the player to be back in action for the next Premier League clash with Wigan on January 15, if not sooner in the FA Cup against Peterborough on Saturday.
FPL high-flyers Clint Dempsey and Brede Hangeland continued to prove their worth for both Fulham and Fantasy Managers by impressing a goal each. But it was Simon Davies who really won the FPL plaudits, notching-up a Gameweek total of 17 including: 1 goal, 2 assists and 3 bonus points.
James Hurst and Gianni Zuiverloon came into the West Brom defence in what was an otherwise unchanged starting line-up. They replace Steven Reid, who will be ruled out for six weeks after tearing his cartilage in Saturday’s defeat by Manchester United, and Ibanez Pablo who also suffered an ankle knock in the same game.
West Brom defender Marek Cech limped off after 33 minutes with a knock to be replaced by Nicky Shorey. The full extent of the injury is unclear and anything serious will come as a massive blow to a battered Baggies defence that, as well as those mentioned above, is already missing Gabriel Tamas through suspension and Jonas Olsson with an Achilles injury.