IKTS Week 21: At home to Manchester United.

Arsenal dominated the first half and went ahead as an attempted pass by Saka targeting one of his teammates was slightly diverted by Sessegnon fooling Lloris with a wicked spin; many were up in arms against Lloris but (looking closely) the trajectory and the spin were deadly. Partey, with impeccable technique, hit the woodwork from distance in what could have been a contender for best goal of the season. But, the inevitable happened, and Partey released Saka with a long pass, and the Arsenal winger squared it to Odegaard who converted from a long distance with Lloris unsighted and slow to react. Nketiah missed twice, very early in the game, on a clever pass by Martinelli, then in the second half, on a lofted pass by Xhaka. The noisy neighbors dominated the second half, but could not beat the Arsenal defense, with Ramsdale putting in a man of the match performance, earning him a hit on the head by Richarlison and a hit in the back by a disappointed opposing fan.

A quick parenthesis about the Mudryk transfer saga. I am relieved we did not sign him as the money on offer was unreasonable. He may become a big star but a huge fee and significant wages over a long contract can be better used acquiring several players that are needed this season. Acquiring him would have decimated the transfer kitty. Trossard costs far less and is Premier League proven. I had a dream before Chelsea signed Mudryk. In the dream, I was a really young boy on a tricycle in a deserted Colorado hotel and resort. I eventually cycled my way through a room where "K Y R D U M" had been scribbled in blood on a mirror, and soon enough, Boehly (impersonating Jack Nicholson) came after me, trying to harm me. I sped away on my tricycle, and woke up safe from a very strange dream.

On Thursday the 12th, Fulham dispatched Chelsea 2-1, and I apologize as this game (part of the previous game week in Fantasy) took place at Craven Cottage, not Stamford Bridge, but a few participants picked up on this small error, with two exact scores. On Friday the 13th, Aston Villa prevailed over Leeds by the same score. Saturday included the Manchester derby; City went up by a goal and seemed to control the game, but a very odd equalizer was surprisingly awarded before a late goal by Rashford yielded a final score of 2-1 and all three points to United. Brighton punished an out of sorts Liverpool 3-0 with Klopp admitting this was the worse display by any of his teams ever. Everton lost at home 1-2 against strugglers Southampton with Ward-Prowse scoring a brace. Nottingham Forest won 2-0 at home to a tame Leicester team. Wolverhampton went one-nil over West Ham and Brentford won 2-0 at home against Bournemouth. Saturday saw a one-nil win for Chelsea against Crystal Palace and the same score for Newcastle against Fulham, with the non award of what appeared to be a converted penalty for the Cottagers as Mitrovic made double contact on his spot kick because he was slipping. Wednesday saw a 1-1 draw between Crystal Palace and Manchester United, with a sumptuous free kick by Michael Olise for the Eagles at the death to leave the visitors with only one point while they thought they would grab all three. Casemiro picked a yellow card and is thus suspended for Manchester United's next fixture coming up this weekend at the Emirates. Thursday, in the closing game of the game week, the noisy neighbors went up by two goals that were both scored late in the first half, but Manchester City scored four goals in the second half for a final score of 4-2 with Mahrez scoring twice and assisting on another goal.

The thirteen active participants combined for 116 points (for an average of 8 and 12/13 points per active participant) and there were 9 correct IKTS predictions. The thirteen games for the Week ended up with 10 home wins, versus 2 wins for visiting teams, and there was a single draw. Overall, 32 goals were scored for an average of 2 and 6/13 goals per game.

Scores for the week:

Purple & Proud 14 (2)
AsemBuckets 13 (1)
Ray from Norfolk 12 (1)
rswansont 11 (1)
ClevelandJames 11 (0)
skinnejay 10 (1)
hansdampf 9 (1)
Sonny from Suffolk 8 (1)
Seidman 7 (1)
luismamontes 7 (0)
Geaux_HR 6 (0)
ben from portsmouth 4 (0)
billvacation 4 (0)

Stars of the week: Purple & Proud is first on 14 points (and two correct IKTS predictions) with AsemBuckets in second on 13 points (and one correct IKTS prediction) while Ray from Norfolk is in third place on 12 points (and one correct IKTS prediction) but rswansont and ClevelandJames are right behind on 11 points.

Clever pick of the week: Only Sonny from Suffolk had the exact score for Everton versus Southampton while only Seidman had the correct score for Chelsea versus Crystal Palace. Also, only skinnejay had the exact score for Wolverhampton versus West Ham while only rswansont had the correct score for Brentford versus Bournemouth. There were also two correct predictions for Fulham versus Chelsea and another three for Aston Villa versus West Ham.

Crisis pick of the week: A collective crisis due to the results of both games involving involving Manchester United with zero points being awarded for both of these fixtures. Note that 10 of 13 participants expected a win for Arsenal (thus earning 1 or points each) and another two predicted a draw while only billvacation penciled a 3-2 win for the noisy neighbors, with only the second part of the score proving true.

Standings after week 20:

Ray from Norfolk 163 (18)
skinnejay 161 (24)
Geaux_HR 151 (23)
Purple & Proud 151 (22)
luismamontes 146 (16)
Sonny from Suffolk 144 (18)
ClevelandJames 143 (13)
hansdampf 142 (19)
rswansont 139 (14)
Seidman 133 (15)
ben from portsmouth 132 (12)
AsemBuckets 131 (10)
billvacation 124 (13)
Mulz 113 (16)
DustyGooner 9 (2)

After week 20, Ray from Norfolk leads skinnejay by two points with Geaux_HR and Purple & Proud trailing by twelve points.

Upcoming schedule: Saturday January 21, Sunday January 22, and Monday January 23:

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