We prepare for Gameweek 9 in this edition of the Friday Foreplay by producing captain picks, investigating the heavy hitters, predicting clean sheets, and speculating on possible punts.
The Manchester derby will dominate the headlines. Fantasy wise, however, we have more games more likely to yield Fantasy points in Liverpool v Norwich, Arsenal v Stoke, and Blackburn v Tottenham. I will not be captaining my Manchester players because of the unpredictability of the fixture.
Remember that the game previews are in most cases short-term recommendations based on the next Gameweek. You should pick most of your squad for the long-term results, with a few players up for rotation since you only get one free substitution each week. The following recommendations should always be in consideration when picking your team for the Gameweek:
- Regurgitated recommendation 1: Captain one of your best attacking players because the bonus point system favors goal scorers.
- Regurgitated recommendation 2: Play the fixtures. The PL Fantasy blog offers helpful analysis. But don’t forget players in form.
- Regurgitated recommendation 3: Avoid silly mistakes in picking injured players by using injury information from the Physio Room and the suspension list from the official FA site.
Basing the captain picks on the above regurgitation and the analysis below we arrive at:
- Van Persie, for his form, a home game, and Stoke’s problems away this season.
- Suarez, for a home game against Norwich.
- Adebayor, because of Blackburn’s defensive frailties.
- Differential: Gerrard, Agbonlahor and Ba.
Van Persie is the obvious choice this Gameweek after his two goal performance against Sunderland. Stoke, after Europa League performances, have been playing badly. Incidentally, Stoke’s League games after the Europa League games are all away from home which counts as double the trouble. Trouble for Stoke spells goals for Van Persie, or so I speculate. Hence, Van Persie is a big hitter this week.
Apart from both playing at Anfield on Saturday, Suarez and Norwich also have in common the praise they have received for their performances this season. Liverpool’s attack is based in a big way on Suarez’s trickery, pace, and movement. He is likely to be the focal point of Liverpool’s attack and could get a goal or two to his name.
Although playing away from home, Adebayor has the advantage of facing a Blackburn defence that has conceded 10 goals at home already this season. Adebayor has been a Fantasy hit since he joined Tottenham on loan in Gameweek 4. He is averaging 7.6 points per game and has risen 0.5 in price. He is still available at 8.5 which I believe still represents value. He was rested for their Europa League win so he should start against Blackburn.
Of course, Rooney and Nani for Manchester United and Aguero and Silva for Manchester City are always captain material. However, I don’t feel comfortable predicting any aspect of the top of the league derby. I tend to favor United with their great form at home and would therefore recommend Rooney of the bunch.
Having failed to spot Stoke’s clean sheet last Gameweek I’m putting an extra focus on home teams this week. I don’t see any of the away teams being likely to get a clean sheet, with Chelsea the likeliest. That being said, the clean sheet picks are:
- Aston Villa at home against West Brom. Apart from the Manchester City game, Aston Villa have been solid. They have only conceded two goals at home this season and West Brom have scored four away from home. If you have an Aston Villa defender or Given, you should play them.
- In spite of Norwich’s good start to the season, Liverpool should win at Anfield. Enrique remains the best pick of the Liverpool defenders with guaranteed playing time and attacking potential.
- Fulham have only conceded three goals at home with two of those coming from Manchester City. Hughes played the full 90 minutes against Stoke and remains a solid pick at 4.7.
- Newcastle are rock-solid in defence this season and should face less threat in Wigan than most teams in the Premier League. With Santon now in the mix there is more uncertainty regarding R. Taylor’s and Simpson’s starting place. S. Taylor remains the safest pick.
You should generally gamble on defenders playing at home. Thus, if you don’t have defenders from the above teams, other possible options are Wolves at home against Swansea and Arsenal playing Stoke.
Taking a Punt
- Klasnic at home against Sunderland. Sunderland are in such a slump that Steve Bruce is being touted as the first managerial candidate. Klasnic had a storming start to the season that was cut short by his sending off against Norwich. He registered an assist in seven minutes against Wigan and is likely to cause Sunderland damage.
- Although both are hardly unknown names, both Van der Vaart (away at Blackburn) and Gerrard (at home against Norwich) are both with under 5% ownership. Playing them could help you pick up points your mini-league opponents miss out on.
- Sturridge seems a reasonable pick once again with Torres still out suspended. He has four goals, an assist, and six bonus points in four games this season.
- Agbonlahor has only played two two-point games this season and has missed out on bonus points in only three games. If Aston Villa score against West Brom, he is the likeliest to be involved.
- And finally, Ramsey has been grabbing headlines, both for Arsenal in the Champions League and Wales on the international level. He hasn’t always been playing great for Arsenal this season, but he is ticking all the right Fantasy boxes. He has three assists, a goal, and one bonus point in his last three games. He was out injured against Sunderland.
- Ba has five goals and six bonus points in his last three games. He is only priced at 6.2 so he is a cheap option, compared to the elite strikers. A word of warning; he hasn’t completed a full 90 minutes this season which limits his possibilities for goals, statistically speaking.
Good luck, use your free transfer wisely, and please comment below.