How did you spend your last Friday night? In my case Friday evening and Saturday morning was spent pulling out my diminishing hair and cursing the Fantasy Football gods. Due to technical issues the official Fantasy Premier League (FPL) game was inaccessible on most of Friday and Saturday, causing many fantasy managers to miss out on last minute transfers. In response, FPL issued an apology and extended unlimited transfers to Gameweek 2. What this all means for us FPL managers is a second shot at picking an optimized starting squad for the season.
- Take note of the performances from Gameweek 1 but avoid knee-jerks and use previous season analysis. I recommend the season previews and lessons from the PL Fantasy blog. The Fantasy Gaffer’s previews were excellent too.
- Play the fixtures. Again, the PL Fantasy blog offers helpful analysis.
- Captain one of your best attacking players. Initial analysis of the new bonus point system points to it favoring goalscorers.
- Pick players that spend time on the pitch. Use the Fantasy Football Scout’s injury list or the PhysioRoom.com injury table to avoid silly mistakes.
Sunderland v Newcastle
- Wes Brown: The Newcastle offence was blunt against Arsenal and will probably struggle this season after losing both Andy Carrol and Kevin Nolan. Wes Brown was man of the match against Andy Carroll in the Liverpool game. If he maintains that form throughout the season, the Sunderland defence could be a surprise differentiator this year. Add in the experience of John O’Shea (although a risk tomorrow), a 4.5 priced Brown, if he stays fit, could be a value signing for the season.
- Sebastian Larsson: Elevated from punts to picks based on last weeks goal and his set piece taking. Could be a useful medium priced midfield player. Faces tough competition from the likes of Brunt, Etherington, and Jarvis.
- Asamoah Gyan and Stephane Sessegnon: Both lively in the Liverpool game without influencing the game from a fantasy standpoint. Both have been touted as potent attackers.
- Simon Mignolet and/or Tim Krul as part of a goalkeeper combo/rotation strategy (a must read from the PL Fantasy blog).
- Stephen Taylor and Danny Simpson as cheap rotation defenders. Simpsons is one of few 4.0 priced defenders with likely 90 minute playing time.
- Beware playing Newcastle forwards until anyone shows good form.
- Phillip Bardsley: Unlikely to reproduce his scoring form from last season, Brown provides better value in the Sunderland defence.
- Sunderland: Gordon (knee), Campell (knee), Meyler (knee), O’Shea (doubtful).
- Newcastle: Ben Arfa (ankle).
Arsenal v Liverpool
- Luis Suarez: Suarez was a fresh breath of air for Liverpool’s attack after his transfer from Ajax last season. Based on his showing in Gameweek 1 and his low price of 9.5 he is close to a “must own”. Not a poor captain choice as he faces a depleted Arsenal defence.
- Robin van Persie (RvP): In spite of a quiet first game of the season, RvP has been a consistent source of points over the last couple of seasons. I need more evidence of a “blunting” of Arsenal’s attack before I give up on him.
- Carroll: Scored against Arsenal last year. Factoring in Arsenal’s inability to defend set pieces this could be a game for Carroll.
- Adam: Still not convinced he is worth the price of 9.0. If he continues to take set pieces and play the full 90 minutes he’s not a bad bet. Seemed to get tired by end of the Sunderland game, which could mean less game time with Liverpool’s riches of midfield options.
- Downing: Even though he did not pick up extra points, he looked good in the Sunderland game. Could provide assists for Carroll.
- Walcott: Has the pace to annihilate any defence. Showed fantasy potential in spurts last year. Will likely match up with Enrique.
- Ramsey: Touted as a possible Fantasy buy this season, he is the most likely to benefit from the departures of Cesc Fàbregas and Samir Nasri.
- Enrique: Low cost defender in an elite defensive team. If you believe Arsenal are blunt upfront, play him. I don’t, so he’s staying on my bench this week.
- Dirk Kuyt: Unless you are sure he will start the game, wait on him.
- Jordan Henderson: See Kuyt, Dirk.
- Marouane Chamak: Likely to start but showed horrible form in the latter part of last season.
- Arsenal: Gervinho (suspended), Song (suspended), Djourou (hamstring), Gibbs (hamstring), Traore (groin), Wilshere (ankle), Rosicky (thigh), Diaby (ankle).
- Liverpool: Johnson (doubtful).
Aston Villa v Blackburn
- Shay Given: A proven shot stopper playing under the defensive manager that is Alex McLeish. A tip to provide a clean sheet against the relegation tipped Blackburn.
- Stephen Warnock/Luke Young: See Given, Shay. Subtract shot stopper.
- Charles N’Zogbia and Darren Bent: Proven Fantasy point earners playing under a new system. I am hesitant after Villa’s first game, where they looked rather blunt.
- Blackburn players: Can’t see any reason to pick Blackburn players given their tough fixtures in the early part of the season.
- Aston Villa: All players healthy as a horse. Neigh, snort, whinny.
- Blackburn: Givet (illness), Emerton (hamstring).
Everton v QPR
- Leighton Baines: The highest point scoring defender last season and will probably be a reliable source of points over the course of the season. Could lose out on some set piece duties to Arteta. Both the Fantasy Gaffer and PL Fantasy provide a word of warning for 8.0 priced Baines, arguing that picking pricey scoring defenders based on last season is a risky.
- Tim Cahill: A proven goalscorer for club and country, Cahill will probably play behind Saha in Everton’s frontline.
- Louis Saha: A great pick when fit. A likely candidate to be injured at anytime, possibly creating transfer needs for a Fantasy Manager.
- Adel Taarabt: The pick of the bunch from QPR. Likely to provide goals and assist, if QPR manage surprise Everton.
- The QPR defence: Value signings in defence can be had elsewhere.
- Everton: Coleman (ankle).
- QPR: Dyer (ankle), Hill (suspended), Perone (clearance), Hulse (knee), Mackie (leg)
Swansea v Wigan
- Victor Moses: Widely touted as a possible Fantasy value pickup, he was lively in Gameweek 1. Whether the promise will be translated is unclear, but at least he is a playing attacking midfielder at a dirt cheap 5.0 price.
- Ben Watson and James McCarthy: Could return a reasonable amount of Fantasy points this season. In reality, very little separates them from Moses. Watson’s penalty duties could prove to be valuable.
- Danny Graham: Unlikely to break any scoring records, Graham could fit your squad if you are looking for a cheap forward.
- Scott Sinclair: Had a quiet game last week. Could provide points on the cheap and has penalty duties.
- Both sets of defences: Unless you are buying to save, so to speak, steer clear.
- Swansea: Monk (doubtful).
- Wigan: Gohouri (calf).
Chelsea v West Brom
- Alex: A definite starter because of Luiz continues injury. Chelsea are likely to keep a clean sheet with Alex the cheapest guaranteed starter.
- Jose Bosingwa: With Ivanovic fit, Bosingwa is devalued from a pick to a punt because of the added bench risk.
- Fernando Torres: Question marks still linger over Villas-Boas choice of a forward line for the West Brom game. Should Torres start he is likely to score. A punt with a possible huge upside.
- Florent Malouda: See Torres, Fernando.
- Drogba, Didier: See Malouda, Florent.
- Chris Brunt and Shane Long: Provided the assist and goal, respectively, against Manchester United. Unlikely to score this Gameweek but watch out for them.
- Ross Turnbull and Henrique Hilario: If you can figure out which is more likely to play, they provide short term access to the Chelsea clean sheet machine.
- Ben Foster for his possible shot stopping points.
- Frank Lampard: Seems to be playing deeper in Chelsea’s new system.
- The West Brom defence for this Gameweek. Have decent fixtures coming up.
- Chelsea: Cech (knee), Luiz (thigh), Essien (knee).
- West Brom: Thomas (hip), Odemwingie (ankle).
Norwich v Stoke
- Jonathan Woodgate: A brilliant defender plagued by injuries. Could provide a solid defensive base for Stoke if he keeps fit. Valued at 4.5, a potential value pickup.
- Asmir Begovic as part of a goalkeeper combo strategy.
- Matthew Etherington and Jermaine Pennant: Provide assists for the Stoke aerial assault. Etherington more expensive because of penalty duties.
- Wesley Hoolahan: Proved last year he can find the net, he started the season with a goal in Gameweek 1.
- The Norwich defence: Although on home turf, I would not stock up on Norwich defenders.
- Norwich: Barnett (knee), Ward (knee), Vaughan (knee).
- Stoke City: Delap (hamstring), Fuller (achilles), Higginbotham (knee).
Wolves v Fulham
- Mark Schwarzer and/or Wayne Hennessey as part of a goalkeeper combo strategy.
- Stephen Hunt takes up attacking positions and has set piece duties. A mid-range player very likely to provide regular points.
- Matt Jarvis: See Hunt Stephen minus set piece duties.
- Steven Fletcher: On a scoring run stretching from the end of last season. A possible Fantasy surprise package.
- Philippe Senderos: The cheapest Fulham defender. If he plays, he is a value punt. Priced at 4.5, 2.0 lower than Hangeland, he could provide clean sheet points if Fulham keep their shape under Martin Jol.
- Clint Dempsey: Played on the wing in Gameweek 1, moving from his position last season behind the striker. Also priced higher at 8.5. I could be wrong on this as he bagged a brace in the mid-week Europa League qualifier.
- Wolves: Vokes (ankle), Guedioura (ankle), Edwards (back), Mouyokolo (knee).
- Fulham: B.H. Riise (hamstring), Davies (knee), Kamara (back).
Bolton v Manchester City
- Sergio Aguero: After his Gameweek 1 display, he is set to set the Fantasy League alight this year. Beware though, that he is not a sure starter because of the Tevez situation.
- David Silva: Everybody is gushing about David Silva. In short he looks like a must pick this Fantasy season.
- Vincent Kompany: Priced only at 6.0 and a staple of the Manchester City defence, he is sure to pick up clean sheet points this season.
- Edin Dzeko: Largely forgotten because of Aguero, he had a good game against Swansea. If he cements his place he could be one of few elite strikers priced under 10.0.
- James Milner and Aleksandar Kolarov: Both seem to be down in the pecking order.
- Gary Cahill: I would bet against both a clean sheet and a goal, in spite of last weeks heroics.
- The rest of the Bolton squad: Have a horrendous schedule until Gameweek 8.
- Bolton: Mears (leg), Lee (leg), Holden (knee), Davis (knee), Ricketts (calf).
- Manchester City: Jong (doubtful).
Manchester United v Tottenham
- Wayne Rooney: Looks bang on form and always likely to score, assist, and pickup bonus points.
- Ashley Young: Already looks settled in the United front line and had a goal and assist away from home last week.
- Luis Nani: Nani was exceptional last year until his injury against Liverpool. Recorded a very high points per game on home turf last season and is likely to influence the game against Tottenham.
- Rafael Van der Vaart: A Fantasy sensation last season, he opened his scoring against Heart this week. Likely to cause a backup United defence problems.
- Jermain Defoe: Looks on form and could finally start banging them in after a disappointing last season.
- Fabio Da Silva/Chris Smalling/Jonathan Evans: Cheap options for the champions’ defence.
- David De Gea: Priced at 6.5, Joe Hart at 0.5 more is probably a better bet.
- Manchester United: Fletcher (virus), Valencia (ankle), Hernandez (concussion), Owen (back), Rafael (shoulder), Vidic (calf), Ferdinand (hamstring), Evra (doubtful), Bebe (knee).
- Tottenham: Sandro (knee), Palacios (knee), Pienaar (groin), Jenas (achilles), King (knee), Hutton (knee), Gallas (calf), Ranieri (doubtful), Huddlestone (doubtful).