IKTS Week 19: At home to Newcastle.

An apology as I just realized that there is a game scheduled tomorrow. Week 18 should have 11 games, including an additional game for Chelsea, a full week after the usual ten games are played. It is odd and confusing and I will thus exceptionally not follow the Premier League Fantasy schedule as the eleventh game falls a single day before the next Week starts.

King Pelé is dead at the age of 82. The best ever. As a child, I watched (on an old black and white TV) Brazil dominating the 1970 World Cup in Mexico, with Pelé winning his third World Cup. He had won his first one as a teenager in 1958 in Sweden, dominating all players with his creativity and audacity, in what is still the only South American World Cup title in Europe. He did it again in 1962 in Chile, but could not prevent an all European final in 1966. That 1970 Brazil was the most spectacular team ever in a World Cup, what became "Samba" football at its best, and Pelé was a huge part of it. I had the privilege, in 1975, to watch him play in person in an exhibition game with Nejmeh (perennial Lebanese champions of that era) as Pepsi (owners of Cosmos New York) sent him on a promotional tour while other Cosmos players were on vacation, facing a "French University selection" that included a certain... Arsène Wenger, but I am not sure if Arsène started the game or came in as a substitute or if he stayed on the bench, My only recollection is that there were three or four tall French players, including Wenger. Pelé is credited with two goals in that game, but I disagree, Nejmeh did score twice, and the final score was 2-0, but I was there in person and neither goal was by scored by Pelé.

Arsenal closed the year in victorious fashion. An early goal by Saka, followed by a spectacular one by Odegaard saw the Gunners with a 0-2 lead at the half. Nketiah poached a third before Mitoma put Brighton on the board. The best goal was by Martinelli with an incredible assist by Odegaard before Ferguson scored a second for Brighton. The game finished 2-4 with another Mitoma goal being negated by VAR. West Ham lost 0-2 to Brentford but the visitors appear to have lost Toney due to a muscular problem. Liverpool won 2-1 against Leicester with the visitors scoring first but losing on two own goals by Wout Faes who is currently (LOL) in seventh place among Liverpool scorers in the Premier League this season. Wolverhampton lost 0-1 to visiting Manchester United with the only goal scored by an off-the-bench Rashford who was the freshest player on the pitch as he got a bit of extra sleep. Bournemouth lost 0-2 at home to Crystal Palace, with both goals assisted by Michael Olise. Fulham won late 2-1 against Southampton despite Mitrovic missing a penalty. Manchester City tied 1-1 with Everton despite scoring first as Gray scored a wondergoal in the second half. Newcastle could not score and did not concede, hence a 0-0 result at home against Leeds. The noisy neighbors lost surprisingly at home 0-2 against Unai Emery's Aston Villa, and must blame themselves for a few defensive errors. Finally, Chelsea scored first at Nottingham Forest after dominating the first half, but were dominated in turn by the hosts in the second half, conceding a goal for a 1-1 final result.

Overall, the 13 active participants (Mulz is still on vacation) combined for only 82 points for a paltry average of 6 and 4/13 points, and we only had 5 correct IKTS predictions. We can blame the outcomes of four games for this, as 4 members of the big 7 failed to win very winnable games. Few goals, 23 this week, and only 2 home wins versus 5 wins for visiting teams, along with 3 draws.

Scores for the week:

luismamontes 11 (2)
ClevelandJames 9 (1)
Seidman 8 (1)
Purple & Proud 7 (1)
billvacation 7 (0)
hansdampf 7 (0)
Ray from Norfolk 6 (0)
AsemBuckets 5 (0)
Geaux_HR 5 (0)
rswansont 5 (0)
ben from portsmouth 4 (0)
skinnejay 4 (0)
Sonny from Suffolk 4 (0)

Stars of the week: luismamontes is first on 11 points (and two correct IKTS predictions) with ClevelandJames in second on 9 points (and one correct IKTS prediction) while Seidman is in third place on 8 points (and one correct IKTS prediction) but Purple & Proud, billvacation, and hansdampf are right behind the leading trio, with 7 points each.

Clever pick of the week: Only luismamontes had the exact score for Wolverhampton versus Manchester United. There were also four correct scores for Fulham versus Southampton. An additional honorable mention to luismamontes who predicted a draw for Newcastle versus Leeds, earning two points, with all the other participants earning stale donuts.

Crisis pick of the week: Only billvacation failed to score any points due to yet another ludicrous prediction for a 2-1 score for Brighton versus Arsenal while all the other active participants scored 1 or 2 points as The Arsenal won. We also had a collective crisis for several games.

Standings after week 18:

Ray from Norfolk 148 (16)
skinnejay 147 (23)
Geaux_HR 142 (23)
luismamontes 139 (16)
Purple & Proud 134 (20)
hansdampf 131 (18)
Sonny from Suffolk 129 (16)
ClevelandJames 128 (13)
rswansont 125 (13)
ben from portsmouth 121 (11)
AsemBuckets 118 (9)
Seidman 117 (14)
billvacation 116 (13)
Mulz 113 (16)
DustyGooner 9 (2)

After week 18, Ray from Norfolk leads skinnejay by a single point and Geaux_HR by six points.

Upcoming schedule: Monday January 2, Tuesday January 3, Wednesday January 4, and Thursday January 5:

Brentford - Liverpool
Arsenal - Newcastle
Everton - Brighton
Leicester - Fulham
Manchester United - Bournemouth
Southampton - Nottingham Forest
Leeds - West Ham
Aston Villa - Wolverhampton
Crystal Palace - Tottenham
Chelsea - Manchester City

Note: I am making an exception not to include the game on Thursday January 12 despite it being part of the Premier League Fantasy schedule. For the reason, read the top of the thread.