This Gameweek Sir Alex Ferguson and Roberto Mancini decided to throw a spanner in the works of many a Fantasy manager’s well thought out plan. Four out of the five most popular captain candidates were rested: Rooney, Silva, Nani, and Dzeko.
And Robin van Persie owners rejoiced.
Analyzing the Fantasy impact of the Gameweek, we look at consistent performers, what players are looking good, who are off the mark, who look out of sorts, and players that have not convinced yet.
Robin van Persie is back. In a class of his own, he won the Arsenal v Sunderland game with two outstanding goals, taking his tally for Arsenal in 2011 to 28 in 34 games. That is Fantasy League winning form. At the other end, curling in a peach of a free-kick at the Emirates, Larsson is delivering for Sunderland this season. Watch out though, because he is suspended for Sunderland’s trip to Bolton next Gameweek.
Although the Red Devils were below par in what Sir Alex Ferguson calls “the biggest club game in the world”, Liverpool v Manchester United, David De Gea was outstanding. With Vidic and Ferdinand back, United could start keeping clean sheets. If one of the young guns claims the right back spot, it could provide a bargain. Adam claimed an assist from Gerrard’s goal but all-in-all the game was a disappointing, due to Ferguson’s strange team selection, and finished in a 1 – 1 draw.
Welbeck again proved his value, both in real-life and in Fantasy terms. He led the United attack, providing and assist for Hernandez and stealing two bonus points.
Surprisingly, Manchester City did not keep a clean sheet in their 4 – 1 romping of Aston Villa. However, Kompany scored a fine headed goal from a Johnson corner and stole a bonus point.
Swansea’s Graham scored his second goal in two games and is one to watch out for. However, he could not prevent Norwich winning 3 – 1 in a probable relegation six pointer. Priced at 4.8, Pilkington could be a value purchase, should he fulfill the promise so many predicted in the start of the season.
Stoke City are looking mean at home, and secured a 2 – 0 victory over Fulham. Their defence is looking strong, as pointed out by John Smith in a comment to Gameweek 8 Preview, and should be relied upon when playing at the Britannica. Just watch out for the Europa League games. After every midweek game in Europe, Stoke play away from home which provides a good rule of thumb: Play Stoke players at home and avoid them away from home. Apart from Walters, who seems to be enjoying life as a Stoke striker. He is classified as a midfielder, thus qualifying him for a point more per goal and a point for clean sheets.
The Chelsea team was impressive in their 3 – 1 dismantling of Everton. Of particular note were Mata and Sturridge, both displaying maturity in their performances in spite of their young age. I tipped Sturridge as a captain differentiator in the preview to Gameweek 8, so I was happy to see him deliver. Terry scored a fine defender’s goal, heading from a Lampard free-kick.
Brunt stole all three bonus points and scored a fine goal in West Brom’s 2 – 0 win over the hapless Wolves. He has an impressive Fantasy record throughout the years and is not too expensive at 5.8.
In the 2 – 2 draw between Newcastle and Tottenham, we had the usual suspects picking up Fantasy points. Adebayor, Van der Vaart, Ba, and Gutierrez all contributed. Incredibly R. Taylor, Ba, and Van der Vaart all tied for three bonus points each.
Off the Mark
In his second “Off the Mark”, Odemwingie scored the goal to secure the victory for West Brom. He came of the bench and should be avoided until we can be sure he starts. West Brom’s next three fixtures read Aston Villa away, Liverpool at home, and Arsenal away. Hence, he should be avoided until their home game against Bolton on November 19th.
Samba scored and stole three bonus points in Blackburn’s 1 – 1 away draw against QPR. At 5.5., he should not be considered because of Blackburn’s poor defensive record.
Gerrard scored in his comeback and stole three bonus points. He is expensive at 11.0 but a possible differentiator if you are willing to take the chance. I still think his price is too high for his upside.
Out of Sorts
The Stoke team again looked shell-shocked after a midweek Europa League game. They are impressive at home but beware of their away form, especially after the midweek games.
In the last two reviews I was not convinced by QPR. At home they failed to capitalize on Blackburn’s bad form. For the moment, I can not see value in their players, apart from perhaps dirt-cheap defenders.
Moses has failed to live up to his pre-season Fantasy hype and should be sold. Apart from Di Santo and Al-Habsi, there is little to excite, Fantasy wise.
Although a good player, Baines’s price tag is too high to justify.
Following his goal against Everton, Carroll was dropped to the bench for the United game. If you still own, sell him now.
Also dropped (or rested) was Dzeko. He is nowhere near Carroll territory, but I would be hesitant splurging my money on him. He has effectively now missed three games and also been substituted twice.
Blackburn players should be avoided.
Etherington reminded us of his prowess, delivering two assists and stealing a bonus points against Fulham. I am wary about suggesting him, since Stoke are having problems scoring away from home. He is one to watch.
Pilkington atoned for his miss against Manchester United earlier this month by scoring two against Swansea and stealing three bonus points. He previously has a goal and three bonus points. At 5.0, he could be used as a rotation midfielder but I would be hesitant to purchase him without further proof. He has 7 goals in 45 league appearances for Huddersfield last season and also scored 5 in the cups so he is one to keep an eye out for.
Last week, Balotelli was widely praised for his brilliant display. Again this Gameweek, he showed why Mancini has faith in him. However, he isn’t an attractive option because of both his volatility and the uncertainty over Manchester City’s strikers. Will Aguero be fit for next Gameweek? Will Dzeko get a start? One would think Balotelli would keep a place in the starting lineup given his form, but if Mancini is willing to drop Dzeko after a four goal haul, dropping Balotelli away at Manchester United will be easy.
Diame scored his second goal in three matches for Wigan with a delish strike. I don’t think he will return consistent Fantasy points but at 4.8 he could be considered as a rotation option, mainly because there aren’t many attractive midfield options around the 5.0 mark.
After their tough fixtures at the start of the season, Bolton will look to improve in the coming games. Reo-Coker, N’Gog, and Eagles all scored but are not particularly attractive options.
Although he supplied an assist to RvP, Gervinho was far from impressive. Apart from the assist, he only had 17/21 successful passes, 2 shots and 0 crosses and was substituted on 68 minutes.
Clean Sheets and Cheap Defenders
There were only two clean sheets this Gameweek, demonstrating once again how hard it is to base your Fantasy team around the clean sheets. Should this trend continue we need to look into the strategy of minimizing the defence cost to stock up on expensive attackers and midfielders. The idea is to own 5 cheap defenders and rotate in your team so that you have the home team defenders playing each week, similar to the goalkeeper rotation strategy.
However, I’m still sporting a City and Chelsea defender in my team (Kompany and Bosingwa) and think it likely that the clean sheets will start rolling in for the elite defenses when the teams have settled in. City and Chelsea look strong at the back and Manchester United could start to keep clean sheets with De Gea settled and first team defenders back from injury.
Newcastle has only conceded six goals and could be this season’s value defence. However, Gameweeks 12 – 14 are looming with Manchester City, Manchester United, and Chelsea in successive games which should put a few ripples in the currently still Newcastle waters.
A tier below, we have Liverpool, Stoke City, Aston Villa, and Fulham who should all be reasonable home game bets, if nothing else.
Do you have expensive defenders? Or do you pick cheap defenders, playing them at home? What is your ideal Fantasy defensive strategy?