I’ve had this Gameweek circled on my calendar for a while now. It was my one chance this season to go up against the runaway BPFL leader, coloradokeeper, who also happens to be my brother.
Even though I’ve scraped my way up to 8th place, there’s too much distance to overcome to entertain thoughts of winning it all. As just about every EPL manager with nothing to play for has said at one point or another, I was treating this as my Cup Final.
Given that the January wildcard expires at the beginning of the subsequent Gameweek, there was little question that we each would make use of it now.
The fixture list threw up some interesting matchups for the EPL’s top teams, notably Manchester City v. Spurs and Arsenal v. Manchester United. Hence it was as good a time as any to get rid of Rafael Van Der Vaart, Gareth Bale, Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Wayne Rooney (there’s an argument to be made that I should have gotten rid of Rooney a month ago). I held on to Johnny Evans but kept him on the bench.
I brought in three Chelsea players as they had an easier looking trip to Norwich, though I kept Gary Cahill on the bench in case he was only given a cursory runout on debut. I picked up David Silva despite the solid Spurs defense, and kept Robin Van Persie because, well, he’s Robin Van Persie. I opted for Juan Mata, who I installed as my captain, instead of Frank Lampard because Lamps was another player who could have only appeared for the last 10 minutes.
The ’Keeper’s pre-Gameweek thoughts were as follows: “I decided to use my wild card this week. I could have waited another week, but I was missing Emanuel Abdebayor, and was heavy on Tottenham heading into the weekend, and RVDV hasn’t been doing much. Also, I had Tim Howard and didn’t like their match up, so thought it was a good chance to get him out. So I started there—got rid of Howard and brought in the Newcastle keeper. As I looked at midfielders and forwards, I kept thinking about my success so far this year with middle priced forwards, aside from RVP. So I dumped Adebayor, and went with Steven Fletcher of Wolves. That was good value, and set me up for stocking up on a solid midfield. Matt Jarvis was then expendable since there’s no need for two Wolves players. (When I win this thing, I’ll be sure to give Jarvis a bit of the winner’s share, like the Triple A guy who gets some World Series money cause he was brought up for two weeks in mid July.) I didn’t mind the middle priced forwards—Steve Morison has been a stud, and Wayne Rooney might have made sense here, but I don’t like Rooney.”
All of my players that the ‘Keeper didn’t also have were in action early on Saturday, while he had six guys playing Saturday evening and Sunday that I didn’t have. Thus, I needed a big lead by Saturday at 445pm to have any hope of victory.
Lampard left injured after 35 minutes, which only proved me correct in choosing someone other than Lampard as captain. Mata himself didn’t do much in a 0-0 draw.
One of my new signings, Heidar Helguson, converted a penalty after 30 minutes. As goals kept flying past the Newcastle defense I started thinking that I had a shot at victory.
However, in the blink of an eye in the second half, everything changed with a big 13 point swing in the ‘Keeper’s favor. Two of my players, Jonathan Walters and Helguson, missed penalties within a minute of each other. Instead of gaining 9 points I lost 4 and a shot at some bonus points for Helguson.
I led by 15 or so after the early games but was in trouble. Bolton’s three goals helped me since the ’Keeper had two Liverpool defenders. After a scoreless first half between Man City and Spurs left me worrying about loads of clean sheet points for his guys, the scoring started and kept going. David Silva assisted on the first goal and Gareth Bale scored the fourth. That left me narrowly in front; Nani’s appearance points plus a clean sheet would have tied it up but the RVP goal left me a point ahead heading to the bonus points. And though I don’t really understand the bonus point system, I’m pretty sure missed penalties aren’t looked at too favorably.
As it was, my opponent clawed back the point he was missing and we ended 46-46. As the ’Keeper said, “It’s like kissing your brother.”
Performance of the Week: Herk City pulled down a massive 75 points, getting 28 from his captain, Stephane Sessegnon, and another 20 from hat-trick hero Clint Dempsey.
Unlucky Loser: Fluffy Bunnies took the dubious honors this week, losing 6349 to Bryan 04 Leverkusen. The Bunnies’ total would have topped 36 other teams.
Cup: Three more teams were knocked out of the Cup, leaving Herk City, El Nino and Giorgio Chinaglia as our sole representatives in what I figure is the round of 65,536.
Thanks OMATV. FA Cup matches are currently on the slate—including today’s Everton–Fulham matchup featuring Yanks Tim Howard, Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey. The EPL Gameweek 23 starts on Tues, Jan 31.