Gameweek 36 Review – Double Gameweek Delivery


Nikica Jelavic by Steindy at Wikimedia Commons. Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0.

Jelavic continued his hot streak with a brace against Fulham.

All teams have played one game of the big double Gameweek and already some of the touted double players have delivered. The double Gameweek teams play again tonight and tomorrow, so lets take a look at how the Gameweek has unfolded.

Notable Fantasy Performances

The Title Race

Manchester City took the lead in the title race with a convincing 1 – 0 win over Manchester United at home. In a game where City’s defence starred it was fitting that the Fantasy bonus points were distributed between Kompany (plus the goal), Zabaleta, and Clichy.

City are favorites to win although they face a tough game away from home against Newcastle in their next game.

The Double Gameweek Teams

Jelavic continued his hot streak with a brace against travel weary Fulham. Everton won 4 – 0 where, in addition to Jelavic, Pienaar and Fellaini were instrumental. The Everton defence kept a clean sheet much to the joy of the almost 40.000 Fantasy managers who brought him in.

Liverpool’s defence also deliver a clean sheet, their first since the start of February. However, it was the talented Suarez who stole the headlines with a sublime hattrick amassing 17 Fantasy points with a game left in the Gameweek. Johnson and Enrique stole bonus points.

Chelsea demolished QPR with another game winning performance from a maligned striker. Torres grabbed his first hattrick for Chelsea, partly thanks to the impressive Mata who provided four assists in the 6 – 1 win for the home team. Terry, Ramires, and Sturridge also picked up valuable Fantasy points with assists or goals.

Tottenham’s Van der Vaart returned to his scoring ways and Walker struck as sweet a free kick as you’ll see this season in Tottenham’s 2 – 0 win over Blackburn to keep the London team’s dream of Champions League football alive. Providing the assists for the goals were their pair of pacy wingers, Bale and Lennon.

Bolton’s Petrov registered an assist for one of two K. Davies goals in their 2 – 2 draw with Sunderland. McClean and Bendtner scored for the home team from Sessegnon and Colback assists.

Crouch scored from an Etherington assist but it was Van Persie who stole three bonus points with his equalizer for Arsenal in their 1 – 1 draw against Stoke.

Other Results

Swansea and Wolves played out an amazing 4 – 4 draw that provided seven different goalscorers and seven assisters. Considering his prowess in front of goal, Sigurdsson single assist was a surprise. Orlandi and Dyer were the star performers for Swansea, both registering BAGs (Bonus, Assist, Goal) while Jarvis bagged a brace for the relegated Wolves.

Predictably, West Brom and Aston Villa played out a scoreless draw.

Less predictable was Wigan’s destruction of Champions League chasing Newcastle. Moses scored two and both Maloney and Di Santo delivered BAGs in the Latics’ emphatic 4 – 0 win.

Gameweek 36 Captain Picks

From Gameweek 25 onwards, I’m documenting whether I’m passing the test with my captain picks. If a captain pick scores over three points in the Gameweek it is considered a success and I am also noting double digit Gameweek scores.

In the Friday Foreplay for Gameweek 36 I recommended Jelavic, Cisse, and Bale as the captain picks and all of them delivered double digit Gameweeks.

Quality of captain picks from Gameweek 25 onwards:

  • Good captain picks: 20/33
  • Double digit captains: 11/33

Comments

Any comments on the round? How did your team do? Did you choose the right captain?

Friday Foreplay – Gameweek 32


Antonio Valencia by Julia Novikova at Soccer.ru. Licence: CC BY-SA 1.0.

Antonio Valencia sneaks past Rooney as number one in this Gameweek's captain picks.

In this Gameweek 32 edition of the Friday Foreplay I present the captain picks, investigate the heavy hitters, predict clean sheets, and speculate on possible punts.

Captain Picks

  1. Valencia: The Ecuadorian winger is proving to be the main source of attacking thrust for Manchester United in the latter part of this season. United play QPR at Old Trafford and should win despite Ranger´s impressive win against Arsenal last week. Most will be captaining Rooney, but I believe Valencia is marginally a better bet this Gameweek.
  2. Rooney: The only reason Rooney isn’t up top this week is the likelihood that he will be dropping back to dictate the play, as opposed to finishing off the chances others create. If you are leading in your minileague the safe play is to captain Rooney.
  3. Sigurdsson: A controversial captain´s choice and one for those seeking differentiation. The players of the month scored four goals in March and faces a Newcastle team that has conceded almost 1.5 goals per game in 2012, most of them away from home. If Swansea score, Sigurdsson is the likeliest to be involved. Factor in set pieces, an extra point for a clean sheet and you´ve got a decent captain´s pick.

Big Hitters

Wolves are in freefall and face Stoke City this Gameweek. Peter Crouch isn´t normally a strong play but against Wolves, I would bet on him.

Sessegnon showed his creativity against Manchester City and outplayed City´s midfielders. Tottenham have only kept one clean sheet since the fateful Arsenal loss and I suspect that they will concede yet again.

Mata has five goals and twelve assists in his first season in the Premier League. A fine return and one likely to be improved on versus Wigan at Stamford Bridge. One thing to keep in mind is the chance of rotation from Di Matteo, in preparation for the FA Cup and Champions League games.

Manchester City haven´t kept a clean sheet in four consecutive games as falter in their quest for the Premier League title. Van Persie is having the season of his life and is still many Fantasy managers’ bet for captain. He isn´t likely to score big, but he is perfectly capable of claiming the sole goal that makes the difference.

Other strong plays include:

  • Walcott, who has finally found his feet in this campaign with four goals and four assists in February and March.
  • Bale, who was beck to his menacing best playing on the left against Swansea.
  • Baines who poses the triple threat of assists from open play, set piece duty, and clean sheet potential.

Clean Sheets

  • Manchester United is the obvious pick of the Gameweek. By now everyone is aware of Evans, but Rafael is also a good bet at right back.
  • Stoke City face a dire Wolves team and should be strong at home. If you have the cash, Shawcross also offers threat from set pieces.
  • Swansea have been tight at home all season long and are a decent bet for a clean sheet. Caulker is back at centre back after missing the Tottenham game and offers more protection for the Swansea rear guard.
  • Liverpool are in rotten form at the moment so take this one as a bet for the ones chasing in their minileague. Enrique is still the cheapest link of the bunch.

Taking a Punt

  • Torres is the biggest risk of all but also the one most capable of massive rewards.
  • Even though Holt is facing a rejuvenated Everton defence, both him and Norwich have played attacking football at home and will test Tim Howard in goal.
  • Should Hernandez start, he will be playing furthest forward for United and hence, is very likely to score.
  • Bendtner is on form and isn´t a bad shout at home. He should benefit from Sessegnon´s comeback and could add to his four goals in five games.

The Whiff – Gameweek 31 Reviews, interviews, player analyses, and the weekly whiffs


Stiliyan Petrov by Litexfan at Wikimedia Commons. Licence: Public Domain.

Best of wishes goes out to Petrov in his fight against leukemia.

In this Whiff, we turn our attention to Gameweek 31 reviews, interviews, player analyses, and the weekly whiffs.

Fantasy Football Analysis

There are several articles of Gameweek review, in addition to my Gameweek 31 Review. Most notably The Big Numbers from Fantasy Football Scout, the Gameweek Summary from Fantasy Premier League Hints, and a Gameweek Overview from The FPL Bible, a new Fantasy blog find for me.

Chris Glover of PL Fantasy, revived his insightful Lineup Lessons with a review of Gameweek 30.

A Fantasy Football Scout’s member article analyzes the Fantasy potential of David Silva, coming to the conclusion that his form hasn’t been as bad as the number of sales would indicate.

Fantasy Football Cheat is running a fine series of interviews with successful Fantasy managers.

Football Analysis

Football Follower delivers fine analysis on Newcastle’s attacking game, focusing on Papiss Cisse and Hatem Ben Arfa. A relevant article for Fantasy managers pondering Newcastle’s attacking options for the final stretch.

Michael Cox examines Walcott, Enrique, Caulker, and Sunderland’s game plan against Manchester City at Four Four Two, using the impressive Stats Zone app. He also wrote a piece on Arsenal’s weaknesses, as exploited by QPR in their 2 – 1 win at Loftus road.

Richard Jolly pinpoints “valiant Valencia” as Manchester United’s standout player in their 0 – 2 win against Blackburn.

In an excellent piece, Football Follower analyzes Adebayor’s performance against Swansea.

Nick Govier points out how lost Ba looks on the left flank for Newcastle.

Football News

Daniel Taylor ponders whether City’s game with Sunderland was the defining moment of the season, with City finally losing their perfect home record.

David De Gea has learned from his mistakes, claims Sir Alex Ferguson.

Andy Hunter heaps praise on Victor Moses, following Wigan’s win against Stoke City.

This week’s…

Discussion

Am I missing interesting analysis or articles this week? I would love to hear from you so please leave your comment and/or link in the comment section below.




Friday Foreplay – Gameweek 28


Suarez, Rooney, and Persie from http://fantasy.premierleague.com/

Gameweek 28 captain picks

Yet again, we warm up for a weekend of intense defensive tightness, midfield stroking, and attacking thrust in this edition of the Friday Foreplay.

In this Gameweek 28 edition of the Friday Foreplay I present the captain picks, investigate the heavy hitters, predict clean sheets, and speculate on possible punts.

Captain Picks

  1. Suarez: A controversial pick and one more for the Fantasy managers seeking the differential. I’m sitting at an overall rank of about 47.000, and Suarez is my punt for a big rise. I included an analysis of the hot-headed forward in my Gameweek 27 Review and concluded that he was likely for a late season upswing. The double Gameweek is the main reason for the captain pick, providing Suarez with two chances to create Fantasy points.
  2. Van Persie: The safe pick of the week and perhaps the smart move. The Dutchman is having a tremendous season and his pick doesn’t need explanation.
  3. Rooney: Has scored in his last three games and is on a total of five in three. He’s back to scoring after a barren run an I’m banking on a brace tomorrow.

Big Hitters

Trying to learn from last week’s fiasco of captaining Aguero and appointing Silva as my vice-captain I wouldn’t recommend doing the same with Rooney and Ashley Young. However, play Young if you have him and consider buying him if you don’t. United have excellent fixtures coming up so this should be the time you invest their attacking threats.

Mata, playing in behind Torres in a new look Chelsea side, is my pick for Chelsea Fantasy points. He will be influential in the hole, and likely the fulcrum of Chelsea’s attacks. Lampard is also a strong play, sitting on ten goals already.

Holt seems to be safe from Norwich’s rotation policy and leads the attack against a Wigan team that hasn’t defended all year. Play him if you have him.

Other strong plays include:

  • I’m a little hesitant on Aguero and Silva playing away at Swansea. I have the feeling that the game will be a drawn out battle of possession with little penetration. Still, the talent on display from the Argentinian and Spaniard can’t be denied and they should play after being rested the last time out.
  • Ba should be able to do some damage to the Arsenal defence and has been unlucky not to score in his last two games. The crossbar has been his worst enemy. Well, that and missing a penalty.

Clean Sheets

  • Liverpool with double fixtures and strong defensive record have the highest ceiling for the Gameweek. Both Sunderland and Everton are struggling for creativity and offer the chance of two clean sheets. Skrtel offers threat from set pieces and Enrique a cheaper entry at £0.5 less.
  • Chelsea’s spirit seemed much improved against Birmingham and they should be able to handle Stoke’s aerial threat. Luiz offers an added attacking threat, with two goals in his last four games.
  • Aston Villa are facing Fulham who are dreadful on the road. This one is a risk so please don’t go buying any Villa players.

Taking a Punt

  • Pogrebnyak is hardly a punt taking only in account last Gameweek’s heroics. However, looking at their home and away record the issue becomes a bit more cloudy. They have only scored eight goals away from home (versus 28 at home) and hence the big Russion becomes a punt.
  • Oxlade-Chamberlain showed his talent against Milan and should get the starting place against Newcastle, especially if Arteta is still unfit.
  • Nani is United’s forgotten threat and despite uneventful games has two assists and 13 points in his last two games. The focus is on Young, following his brace against Tottenham, which could give Nani room to manoeuvre.

Friday Foreplay – Gameweek 27


DSC04059 by xBasti1102 at Flickr. Licence: CC BY 2.0.

Pogrebnyak has impressed since his loan move to Fulham; hence, the inclusion in this Gameweek's "Taking a Punt"

In this Gameweek 27 edition of the Friday Foreplay I present the captain picks, investigate the heavy hitters, predict clean sheets, and speculate on possible punts.

Manchester City and Fulham provide the player pool for this Gameweeks’s source of big hitters, with a little bit of Manchester United, Newcastle, and West Brom sprinkled in.

Captain Picks

  1. Aguero: You can’t look past Manchester City’s excellent fixture this Gameweek. Playing at home against a miserable Bolton team Aguero will be looking to extend his exemplary attacking statistics at the Etihad Stadium this season. He has delivered Fantasy points in ten of his twelve home games this season and is the best bet for a double-digit Gameweek 27.
  2. Silva: Also benefitting from the fixture, Silva is likely to notch a couple of assists and will get plenty of space to weave his magic against the Wanderers. If you don’t have Aguero, Silva is the next best choice.
  3. Dempsey: The American is a valuable home game bet, as this season he has delivered eight of his eleven good games (scoring over three points) at the Cottage. Wolves are defensively awful, having kept only one clean sheet away from home this season, in the 0 – 0 draw against Aston Villa in August 2011. A goal or two wouldn’t come as a surprise.

Big Hitters

Restating the absurd statistic from last week’s Friday Foreplay, Manchester City have scored a massive 40 goals at home this season, an average of almost 3.1 goals per game. That means that any player that starts for City in midfield or the forward line is a consideration. The problem lies with being able to guess Mancini’s team sheet. The Guardian has Milner, Y. Toure, and Balotelli starting.

Rooney missed the last two games with a throat infection. Ferguson has confirmed that the striker is fit to face Tottenham. Rooney has a brace in his last two games and looked to be starting a goal-scoring run before the illness. Tottenham are shell-shocked, having conceded five goals against Arsenal, and could be in for more punishment from the newly hairplugged one. Tottenham will be missing Parker, who would have sat back and covered the space between the midfield and defence that Rooney so often exploits.

It will be interesting to see how Sunderland react to being spanked by West Brom. Derby day will ensure that the game will be played with intensity which should suit the athletic Demba Ba. Despite Sunderland’s resilience, I predict a comfortable Newcastle victory as the positive effects of the new manager starts to wear off.

Other strong plays include:

  • Odemwingie, who is facing the much maligned Chelsea defence. Odemwingie has five goals in his last two games and has finally looked like the finisher we saw last season.
  • Pogrebnyak has started his Fulham career with two goals and five bonus points in two games. With the same argument against the Wolves’ defence as in Dempsey’s case above, the Pog should find get the opportunities to make it three goals in three games.

Clean Sheets

  • Manchester City is the obvious clean sheet choice this week. They’ve kept eight cleanies already while Bolton have failed to score away from home six times. Play your city defenders as well as Joe Hart, if you have him.
  • Despite Wolves’ impressive comeback last Gameweek I’m predicting Fulham’s home advantage to seal a clean sheet. Kelly is the cheapest part of the playing defenders.
  • Newcastle welcome Sunderland, who despite excellent results only had 28 attempts on goal before their 4 – 0 loss against West Brom. Expect Newcastle to concede few, and perhaps keep a clean sheet. R. Taylor is popular because he is playing out of position and is on set-piece duties.

Taking a Punt

  • Morrison is in great form for West Brom, with two goals, four assists, and two bonus points in his last five games. West Brom are showing promising attacking numbers in their last four games so Morrison’s profligacy isn’t a fluke.
  • Huth is always a threat for Stoke, especially when the opposing team hasn’t kept an away clean sheet all season. He has chances for points via attack and defence and is therefore a viable punt.
  • Take the following with a grain of salt. I predict Liverpool to ride the high of their cup winning wave helping Arsenal to plummet quickly to the ground after their rise to ecstacy after the North-London derby. I would play Liverpool defenders, such as Enrique and Skrtel.

Gameweek 19 Review and Gameweek 20 Preview

In surprising fashion, both Manchester teams lost. United at home against a spirited Blackburn side and City away at plucky Sunderland enjoying a revival under Martin O’Neill.

With Chelsea losing at home against Aston Villa, Tottenham managing only a draw at Swansea, this Gameweek was thoroughly enjoyed by both Liverpool and Arsenal. Both won at home.

Next Gameweek is all about the double fixtures for Tottenham and Everton.

Captain Picks

  1. Adebayor: Has only had four blank Gameweeks since joining Tottenham. Likeliest of the double fixture players to get you double digits this Gameweek.
  2. Bale: Was subdued against Swansea bot has been in top form for the last two months.
  3. Van der Vaart: Got back to scoring ways against Swansea and could do damage if he starts in both games.
  4. Differential: Baines who despite not hitting top form this season has 6, 11, and 5 points from the last three Gameweeks.

Gameweek 19

For the first (and perhaps the last) time this season, both Manchester teams lost. Rooney was dropped from the team because of disciplinary action from Ferguson and United limped to a 2-3 loss at Blackburn. Despite their loss, Valencia picked up another assist and Berbatov bagged a brace. Should he continue to start, he is again an option up front. I wouldn’t bet on it, but he would be a strong differential.

Yakubu was the difference from Blackburn and bagged a brace of his own along his two bonus points. He has 12 goals for the season and is proving the pick of the budget strikers.

Normality ensued with Van Persie scoring the winning goal against QPR and picking up maximum bonus points. Watch out for Vermaelen who picked up a knock and is a doubt for Fulham.

Bellamy and Gerrard were the architects of Newcastle’s downfall as they scored Liverpool’s goals in their 3-1 victory. Both players demand Fantasy consideration, should they become part of the first 11. That seems certain with Gerrard, less so with Bellamy.

Sunderland were solid at the back as they kept out Manchester City and smuggled a winning goal in the final minutes to secure an unlikely victory. Sessegnon notched the assist while Mignolet became the rare keeper to pick up maximum bonus points alongside his six saves.

S. Ireland notched a BAG (Bonus, Assist, Goal) to lead Aston Villa to a 1 – 3 away victory at Chelsea. The scoreline reinforces my view of staying away from the Chelsea defence. Aston Villa are somewhat of a mystery this season, looking drab one game and spirited the next. Should Ireland continue playing at that level he would be a steal at 5.6 but it would be wise to wait a couple of games and see if he can lay a serious claim to that first team spot.

Walters and Jermoe hit their own BAGs in Stoke’s 2 – 2 draw with Wigan. Moses scored for Wigan and Rodallega got both assists.

Other notable performances included S. Fletcher (goal and bonus), Jarvis (assist and bonus), Dembele (assist and bonus), Jackson (goal and bonus), Van der Vaart (goal and bonus), Assou-Ekotto (assist), Sinclair (goal), and Hibbert (clean sheet, bonus, assist).

Double Gameweek – Tottenham

As I alluded to earlier in the post, this Gameweek it’s all about the double games for Tottenham and Everton. With Manchester City playing Liverpool, Manchester United away at Newcastle and Arsenal away at Fulham the potential of big Gameweeks is limited for other team in the top four is limited.

Tottenham, on the other hand, play two games at home: West Brom and Everton. You should have three Tottenham players in your team, and preferably at least two of Adebayor, Bale, and Van der Vaart.

Other considerations are Friedel in goal, Walker, Assou-Ekotto, Gallas and Kaboul (if you believe they will play both games), Modric, and Sandro (could be rotated).

I wouldn’t invest in other players from Tottenham.

Double Gameweek – Everton

Everton’s double Gameweek upside is more limited, but they still should enjoy the visit of struggling Bolton to Goodison Park. The away game at Tottenham will be tough and you shouldn’t expect more than two points from your Everton players from that game.

But with the Bolton game, that could be two extra points on a clean sheet or goal for Baines, Everton’s main attacking threat throughout the years. He hasn’t hit top form but still has 6, 11, and 5 points from the last three games and is your best bet for Everton, should you afford him at 7.7.

Hibbert is the cheapest entry point into the defence and provides the rare assist and bonus as he demonstrated in Gameweek 19. Jagielka and Distin are solid choices and Heitinga won’t get you more than 4 points over the two games.

In the midfield your safest bet is Osman, who has been playing behind the striker in the last couple of games. Drenthe is a risk (wasn’t in the squad against West Brom), Cahill didn’t score in 2012, and Rodwell is unlikely two play the full game time in both games.

The arrival of Donovan muddies the water even further for the midfield options.

I wouldn’t invest in Everton’s forward line.

Big Hitters

I don’t think I need to mention him, but of course you play Robin van Persie. With the form he is in, you could even captain him if you don’t have any of Tottenham’s big hitters.

I really don’t know what to make of Manchester United, but a scrappy 1 – 2 victory isn’t unlikely with some help from Nani and Valencia. Following Rooney’s drop I’m not confident predicting the forward line as he could even drop Berbatov despite his 6 goals in 3 games.

Other interesting options this Gameweek:

  • Silva and Aguero will return for City but could be thwarted by a solid Liverpool defence. I would play them, but not captain them.
  • S. Fletcher has an excellent goals-to-games ratio for Wolves and faces a Chelsea defence that’s leaking goals.
  • Yakubu will be in high spirits after his brace and is on penalties for Blackburn.

Clean Sheets

  • Tottenham and Everton have two chances this Gameweek and are both likely to pick one up in their home games. If you have to choose between players, choose Tottenham defenders (see above for a list of players).
  • I would put a bet on Aston Villa keeping Swansea out, who have been terrible at scoring away from home. Warnock is the pick of the Aston Villa defence.
  • Manchester City v Liverpool has 0 – 0 written all over it, with Livepool likely to drop back and rely on counter-attacks. Enrique and Kompany are my pick of the defences.

Double Gameweek

Don’t get caught out by the short time between Gameweeks and do your transfers and team setup right now.

Good luck and may your captain hit the hattrick.

Gameweek 17 Review and Gameweek 18 Preview

Man Utd V Everton-22 by gordonflood.com at Flickr. Licence: CC-BY-2.0.

Giggs scored in Manchester United's game against Fulham and has now scored in every season of the Premier League

Gameweek 18 sees the first round of the Fantasy cup start. Remember that extra transfers will be deducted from your cup scores so try to avoid paying the required four points for extra transfers.

Again, because of the hectic holiday period, I’m combining a review and preview in one post. Normally, the Gameweek reviews are intended to give you a heads up on possible transfer targets for the long run while the previews focus more on optimizing your team for the upcoming Gameweek.

Thus we both prepare for Gameweek 18 and analyze the Fantasy impact of Gameweek 17 by producing captain picks, looking at notable performances, investigating heavy hitters, predicting clean sheets, and speculating on possible punts.

Captain Picks

  1. Rooney: A free-scoring Rooney at home against a Wigan defence is too tasty to ignore.
  2. Van Persie: There is little to choose between RvP and Rooney this Gameweek so feel free to captain RvP instead of Rooney if you have both.
  3. Nani: Again, a great shout for captain and you could captain him above Rooney if you feel like it. I think, over the season, Rooney will be more consistent but Nani often destroys opponents with 18 and 16 points Gameweeks. Like last week.
  4. Differential: Aguero and Adebayor aren’t exactly outside bets to score this Gameweek but with Manchester United and Arsenal playing at home far fewer will be picking them.

Notable Performances and Heavy Hitters

Giggs and Nani tore the Fulham defence to shreds with Rooney contributing with a belter from outside the area. While Giggs is unlikely to offer the same threat every Gameweek both Nani and Rooney are captain material this Gameweek at home against Wigan. Welbeck offers a cheap way into the United attack and Valencia got an assist for the third consecutive game.

Van Persie got a BAG (Bonus, Assist, Goal) against Aston Villa and should be a popular captain’s pick at home against Wolves. Walcott is showing consistency, mainly by providing assists for RvP.

Aguero’s devastating pace, trickery, and finishing was on display as Manchester City dispatched Stoke with ease. Considering that the other Fantasy scorers, Johnson (goal and two assists) and Nasri (assist), have been in and out of the team, Silva is still City’s most attractive midfield option. Kompany notched an assist, in addition to his clean sheet points. He is the most consistent of City’s defensive options.

Ba continues to score and would he not be departing for the African Cup of Nations, he would be an automatic purchased at this point. If you have him, play him until he has gone. In spite of Ba’s two goals Newcastle lost 2 – 3 to West Brom, with Odemwingie registering a BAG. He was the main budget striker last season and worth to have on your watchlist, should he start banging them in again.

However, there is no shortage of cheap strikers getting Fantasy points this season. In addition to the aforementioned Ba, both Sturridge and Adebayor (from a Bale assist) scored in Tottenham’s and Chelsea’s one all draw. Play both this Gameweek if you have them.

Other interesting options this Gameweek:

  • Drenthe (assist) is Everton’s most dangerous player this season, despite having only started four games. He sports two goals and six assists and could prove a bargain buy at £5.9.
  • Walters has been fairly consistent for Stoke and faces an Aston Villa team down in the dumps.
  • Morison (assist and bonus point) is proving the bargain striker of the season, with five goals, two assists, and a bonus point in the last eight Gameweeks.
  • Helguson (goal), although he is playing against the mean Swansea defence this Gameweek. He is more a possible pickup for Gameweek 21 and onwards.

Clean Sheets

This season’s clean sheet surprise favorites, Swansea and Newcastle, both kept clean sheets in Gameweek 16. The Gameweek saw six clean sheets, with Fulham, Manchester United, Liverpool, Tottenham, and Manchester City also registering a cleany.

  • Manchester United top the clean sheet list this Gameweek. Jones is likely back earlier than expected from his facial injury against Fulham and provides a possible out of position option. Evans is an uncommonly cheap access to an elite defence, now at £4.5.
  • Liverpool have the meanest defence in the Premier League, having only conceded 13 goals this season. Enrique is no longer the cheap option, having risen from £5.0 to £6.0 in 17 Gameweeks. He is still the best bet from the Liverpool defence, bringing an added attacking threat.
  • Swansea are strong at home, having only conceded two opposed to their 18 away from home. Caulker is back from injury and is priced at only £4.0.
  • Other possible clean sheets are Chelsea at home against Fulham and Stoke City hosting Aston Villa.

Double Gameweek

A viable strategy for the looming double Gameweek 20 is to stock up on Tottenham and Everton players and use your wildcard for the following Gameweek. This would enable you to maxmize for the benefit without sacrificing the long-term setup of your Fantasy squad. The following players are worth considering:

Long term:

  • Adebayor
  • Bale
  • Van der Vaart
  • Gallas
  • Drenthe
  • Rodwell

Short term:

  • Baines
  • Osman
  • Hibbert
  • Saha (a risky bet)
  • Cahill
  • Howard
  • Sandro
  • Friedel
  • Assou-Ekotto
  • Modric

Gameweek 15 Review – Nani On the Left

Fred The Red by Paolo Camera at Flickr. Licence: CC-BY-2.0.

Manchester United has the easiest fixture list for the next six games; should you be captaining Rooney or Nani?

The Gameweek 15 Friday Foreplay proved successful with all the captain picks getting on the Fantasy score sheet and most of the big hitters delivering. In addition, Swansea, Arsenal, and Liverpool kept clean sheets as predicted while my punt on Adam paid dividends.

Analyzing the Fantasy impact of the gameweek, we look at notable performances and possible diamonds in the rough.

Notable Performances

Nani, Rooney, and Valencia led a Manchester United mauling of Wolves at Old Trafford. Ferguson moved Nani to the left wing and started with Valencia on the right, demoting Ashley Young to the bench.

It was an emphatic answer to the naysayers after dropping out of the Champions League with a limp display in Basel. The next six games include Blackburn, Wigan, and Bolton at home while United travel to QPR, Fulham and Newcastle. With this favorable run of fixtures you should invest in at least one United attacking cover.

In the game of the week, Sturridge assisted both Chelsea goals in their 2 – 1 win over Manchester City. He is proving to be a value purchase and a cheap access to Chelsea Fantasy points. Meireles scored a Lampard-esque goal, arriving late into the penalty box while Lampard himself buried the winning penalty after having replaced Meireles. Terry, surprisingly, stole bonus points again.

Van Persie scored again for Arsenal with probably the strike of the season. The quality of the finish prompted a worshipping kiss of the boot from goalkeeper SzczesnyArteta stole bonus points for the fourth time in five games. Arsenal have kept four clean sheets out of seven games with Vermaelen playing. He’s a triple threat defender, offering the promise of goals and bonus points in addition to clean sheets.

Ba got both goals for Newcastle and is looking scrumptious as a third striker pick. He is priced at only £7.2 and has home games against Swansea and West Brom coming up.

Swansea registered another clean sheet at home, in no small part because of Vorm’s heroics. He saved Dempsey’s penalty around the 80 minute mark in addition to making several quality saves throughout the match. Surprisingly, he did not get bonus points but scored 12 Fantasy points nonetheless. Sinclair scored and stole bonus points and former punt Gower got an assist for Graham’s goal.

Stepping up to take Tottenham’s penalty versus Stoke, was Adebayor. With Tottenham’s regular penalty taker, Van der Vaart, on the pitch, it was surprising to see. This bumps Adebayors Fantasy potential even higher while removing an important piece of what made Van der Vaart a must-own last season.

Also producing this gameweek:

  • Larsson scored Sunderland’s late winner in dramatic fashion. With only seconds left on the clock, he buried a free kick on the edge of the area to remind us of why he is an attractive mid-range option for your Fantasy midfield.
  • Suarez capped of a brilliant display to score Liverpool’s only goal of the game against QPR. Enrique got a clean sheet.
  • Etherington reminded us that there is more than one goal scoring midfielder at Stoke with his brace seeing off Tottenham. The other goal scoring midfielder, Walters, popped up with an assist following a long throw in.
  • Morison scored again for Norwich, Fletcher got Wolves’ only goal, and Klasnic got Bolton’s consolation strike before limping off with a knee injury.

Keep an eye out for…

  • Valencia. Getting three assists and a bonus point he is only priced at £7.8 and could be a cheap option for the midfield. It’s hard to see Ferguson dropping him after this display which could mean a bench role for Young in the coming gameweeks.
  • … Suarez, who could start a goal scoring run following his winner against QPR. If his finishing improves he has the quality to punish defenses.

Out of Sorts

  • Ashley Young is in danger of starting on the bench after Valencia’s and Nani’s excellent performance against Wolves. For £9.8 you would be better served getting the aforementioned United wingers or perhaps Mata or Silva.
  • The Newcastle defence could be facing its demise as a Fantasy force with S. Taylor’s injury. Now is a good time to sell with Evans of Manchester United or another Swansea defender cheap options.

Question

With Nani’s and Rooney’s displays this week, is it time to purchasing United attackers and captaining them? Will the fixtures help Rooney get goals consistently over the festive period or is Van Persie still the default captain’s choice for his owners?

Friday Foreplay – Gameweek 15

United V Celtic-6 by Gordon Flood at Flickr. Licence: CC-BY-2.0.

Nani is a captain's pick for the gameweek

We prepare for Gameweek 15 in this edition of the Friday Foreplay by producing captain picks, investigating the heavy hitters, predicting clean sheets, and speculating on possible punts.

Captain Picks

Basing the captain picks on the thoughts below we arrive at:

  1. Van Persie: He is just too hot not to tip for the captain’s armband.
  2. Rooney: A home game against Wolves is statistically one of the best games for United to get on the score sheet.
  3. Nani: Has the quality to be involved in goals, both by providing assists and scoring.
  4. Differential: Aguero’s speed could be the undoing of Chelsea should they play a high defensive line.

Big Hitters

Robin van Persie’s didn’t blank two games in a row and delivered handsomely last gameweek. He was rested for Arsenal’s Champions League game so he should be raring to go against Everton. He has an incredible 14 goals, 5 assists, and 20 bonus points in 14 games and will define the Fantasy League season if his current form holds up.

A home game against Wolves is a perfect game for Rooney and Nani to reap attacking rewards. With Hernandez’s injury Ferguson pushed Rooney upfront with Nani in support; a setup likely to benefit both players’ Fantasy totals. Both have been inconsistent of late but have the quality to start delivering again in an attractive December fixture list. Manchester United often come back strong from setback and Wolves could bear the brunt of the Champions League disappointment.

Manchester City are just too good at the moment to bet against. They have scored in all of their away games to date and have failed only once to score two or more goals (vs Liverpool in gameweek 12). Aguero is their most dangerous striker and Silva is their most consistent player. Chelsea have kept two clean sheets in a row, but can they withstand the might of the most expensive team in the world?

Adebayor, Bale, and Van der Vaart are playing a tough game away at Stoke. I wouldn’t captain any of them this week but Tottenham are in such a hot streak that I would play them and be sufficiently disappointed if they come up short. Please note that according to most sources, Bale is an injury doubt for the game.

Clean Sheets

In addition to the shock of not qualifying for the knockout stages of the Champions League, Manchester United was rocked with the news that Vidic’s injury rules him out for the season. This has a massive effect on United’s chance of grabbing clean sheets, as Vidic has been at the heart of a five game streak where they have only conceded one goal.

  • Swansea is a yo-yo team being defensively excellent at home and certain to concede away. The host Fulham, who have scored an average of a goal per game since their destruction of QPR in gameweek 7. If you have Vorm in goal, you play him.
  • Arsenal have looked stronger at the back since Vermaelen returned from injury. He’s an obvious play this week, both for his clean sheet potential and attacking prowess.
  • Liverpool are a stronger team at the back when Agger is playing. However, in Fantasy terms Enrique is the more logical choice because of this attacking involvement.
  • Despite the loss of Vidic, Manchester United are likely to concede few at home. Jones is the most popular choice at the moment, but Evans could be a shrewd budget pickup. He attracts heavy criticism from media and fans but seems to enjoy Ferguson’s confidence.
  • Other possible clean sheets are West Brom at home against Wigan and Fulham away at Swansea.

Taking a Punt

  • Long has two goals and five bonus points in his three games since he returned from injury. The Irish international is preferred to Odemwingie at the moment and faces possibly the worst defence in the Premier League.
  • And finally I’m taking a punt on Baines out of pure feeling. Apart from his obvious qualities there is no real argument for Everton away at Arsenal. But I’m predicting at least an assist and perhaps, just perhaps, a clean sheet. Just don’t remind me when this punt comes back to haunt me.
  • Adam has been a consistent source of assists this season and should be in the thick of things when Liverpool host QPR.

Final Note

PL Fantasy had an interesting piece on the budget forwards where the analysis produced a shortlist of Yakubu, Helguson, Klasnic, S. Fletcher, and Morison.

Of those, Klasnic has the easiest fixtures which was the reason I bought him three gameweeks ago. Yakubu is of course the hot property at the moment, following his haul last gameweek.

Are you sporting a budget striker in your setup? If yes, who? If no, why not?

Friday Foreplay – Gameweek 11

We prepare for Gameweek 11 in this edition of the Friday Foreplay by producing captain picks, investigating the heavy hitters, predicting clean sheets, and speculating on possible punts.

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.

Captain Picks

Basing the captain picks on the above regurgitation and the analysis below we arrive at:

  1. Robin van Persie, the goal scoring machine.
  2. Suarez, because of the home game, opponents, and his overall play.
  3. Van der Vaart, for his incredible form.
  4. Aguero, because of City’s frightening attacking potential.
  5. Differential: Nani, should you believe in a United backlash and be willing to gamble.

Big Hitters

Robin van Persie is the obvious captain choice this week with a home game against West Brom. West Brom have conceded 1.6 goals on average away from home while Arsenal have score on average 1.8. I expect a comfortable Arsenal victory with Van Persie involved in the goals. Gervinho has produced goals and assists in Arsenal’s last three games in is likely to score Fantasy points in this fixture.

With Young out and Sunderland offering Manchester United little resistance in the past, Nani is set to take advantage. He has been in and out of the team due to rotation but is likely to start in a United attacking formation. He will be eager to cement his place in the team and United will be keen to provide goals for the Old Trafford crowd that witnessed their disaster performance against Manchester City. Hernandez seems to always score when given chances and a bet for a goal or two is reasonable.

face a trickier test, away at Goodison Park, where they face an Everton side that caused United problems last season. I wouldn’t back any United player with the captain’s armband before we see how they respond last week’s result. I expect some backlash, but perhaps not until next week’s home game against Sunderland. Avoid defenders and focus on United’s attack in Rooney and Nani.

Despite three goalless games, Suarez has been the heart of the Liverpool attack. Setting up both goals in their 2 – 0 win over WBA, he was yet again Liverpool’s man of the match. Swansea at home is exactly the type of game that could see him finally score more than one goal in a match for Liverpool.

Although an away game at Fulham is nothing to sneeze at, one must mention Van der Vaart. He has scored and stolen 14 bonus points in five consecutive games. He should be rested after Tottenham fielded a second string team in the Europa League, while Fulham could suffer from their midweek game.

Silva is likely to be rested and we could see less fluency to Manchester City’s play away at Loftus Road. However, Aguero and Dzeko will test QPR’s resolve. In light of City’s 27 goals in their last seven games, captaining either of them could reap rewards.

Clean Sheets

Probable clean sheets are getting harder to predict by the week. Basing your strategy around defenders is risky prospect this season and more gains are to be found in goal-scoring midfielders and strikers.

The clean sheet picks are:

  • Newcastle is proving resolute this season and is the clean sheet pick of the Gameweek. Everton are lacking bite in the final third, and Newcastle are conceding less than a goal per game at home. Play your Newcastle players if you have them but beware of investing in them. Their next three games are Manchester City (A), Manchester United (A), and Chelsea (H).
  • Aston Villa are conceding less than a goal per game at home while Norwich are noticeably less dangerous away from home. Aston Villa have frustrated Fantasy managers this season by conceding a single goal three times where they were likely to deliver clean sheet points. McLeish’s teams have been setup defensively and I believe Villa will start to rack up more clean sheets as the season progresses.
  • Swansea is scoring few goals away from home. That should benefit Liverpool, who look much more solid with a fit Agger in defence.

You should generally gamble on defenders playing at home. Thus, if you don’t have defenders from the above teams, other possible options are Manchester United at home against Sunderland. The quality of Manchester City’s defence also makes playing City defenders away at QPR a reasonable bet.

Taking a Punt

  • Walcott will test the West Brom defence with his direct running. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a goal from the speedy winger.
  • Brunt has one of the sweetest left foot in the Premier League and will try to make it count against a wobbly Arsenal defence. An assist seems likely and a goal isn’t out the question.
  • As strange as it sounds, I’m classifying Rooney as a punt this week. He has been playing in midfield for the last few games and has spent more time supplying wingers and forwards in attacking positions than trying to create goals and spending time in the opponent’s penalty box. Should he start up front, he could cause havoc in the Sunderland defence.
  • Enrique is supplying a hefty attacking threat down the left flank for Liverpool. He could have a splendid Gameweek, registering an assist and a cleans sheet. A clean sheet only would suffice.
  • Following his second hattrick of the season, Ba will be full of confidence he can puncture the Everton back line.
  • Richards is taking up attacking positions and providing support down the right flank. He could be in line for an assist and a clean sheet. Either would do for a successful Gameweek.

Good luck, use your free transfer wisely, and please comment below.

Gameweek 10 Review – The Robin Van Persie Show

In a season of amazing scorelines we see another on in Arsenal’s 3 – 5 victory over Chelsea. Villas-Boas high defensive line was punctured repeatedly by Arsenal’s pace.

There were few clean sheets yet again, with none at home and three away from home. Manchester United, Fulham, and Liverpool kept the goals out, somewhat surprisingly.

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.

Notable Performances

Robin van Persie scored a whopping 19 points. He is on fire, registering a hattrick and assist and stealing three bonus points. Walcott and Santos both got a single goal while Gervinho, Arteta, and Song grabbed assists. Walcott also stole two bonus points.

For Chelsea, Mata had one of his best games. Both him and Lampard scored and assisted to keep Chelsea midfield owners happy about their returns.

Manchester United’s Evra got a clean sheet and assist for Hernandez, in their 0 – 1 win away at Goodison Park.

Meanwhile in Manchester, City kept dominating opponents. Dzeko, Kolarov, and Johnson scored goals from Silva, Aguero, and YaYa Toure’s assists. Mancini surprised us again by dropping Balotelli to the bench and starting with both Silva and Nasri in what is possibly his strongest lineup.

Sessegnon and Petrov both grabbed BAGs (Bonus, Assists, and Goals) in the 2 – 2 draw in Sunderland. Larsson got another assist and Connor Wickham opened his League scoring for Sunderland.

Graham, my pick for a punt this Gameweek, scored in his fourth consecutive game in Swansea’s 3 – 1 home win against Bolton. However, his Fantasy score is only four points for the Gameweek following his own goal for which Eagles is credited with an assist. Allen chipped in with a goal for his second week running and Sinclair got his third of the season. Assisting were defender Rangel with his first two of the season and Gower with this third of the season. Rangel could pick up more assists as the season progresses as he has been showing strong statistics for key passes, crosses supplied and thru balls.

Norwich and Blackburn supplied an entertaining 3 – 3 draw with Norwich salvaging a point with a last minute Holt goal. Goals and assists are coming all over the place for Norwich. While a positive for manager Paul Lambert, it doesn’t make for exciting Fantasy prospects. Johnson (and Pilkington) are cheap midfield options you can rotate while defender Barnett is supplying goals, assists, and bonus points. With few clean sheets, he is another bench option to consider.

Blackburn is emerging with a couple of players to watch, Fantasy wise. Defender Samba scored again and is one to look out for when Nelsen is back from injury. Samba and Nelsen is a good centre-back pairing that could deliver clean sheets. Midfielder Formica is reasonably priced at 5.0 and grabbed an assist.

Fulham won 0 – 2 away at Wigan where Fantasy Formation punt pick Zamora and Dempsey got an assist and a goal, respectively. Schwarzer, priced at 4.9, got seven saves and a clean sheet resulting in an eight point gameweek.

Liverpool got an important 0 – 2 win away at West Brom. Suarez, a Fantasy Formation punt, got two assists for an Adam penalty and a well executed Carroll goal on the break. Fantasy favorite Enrique got a clean sheet. Suarez and Carroll showed flashes of a good partnership evolving.

Van der Vaart kept up his goalscoring ways while Bale, another punt pick for this week, stole the show with his brace. Lennon is back from injury and registered two assists in a lively performance. Scott Parker is a prime example of how the Fantasy game differs from real-life football. He was everywhere and my man of the match but doesn’t deliver anything from a Fantasy perspective. For Harry Redknapp, he is the first on the team sheet but should not even be in you Fantasy team.

At the Britannia Stadium Newcastle kept up their impressive start to the season by winning comfortably 1 – 3. Ba was man of the match with his second hattrick and eight goal of the season. He is looking great value at 6.4, but beware of their tough fixtures with Everton, the two Manchester teams, and Chelsea coming up in the next four games. Best contributed two assists and Fantasy Formation’s pick, Walters, scored a consolation penalty for Stoke.

Out of Sorts

Although Manchester United secured an important away win at Everton, Rooney was far from convincing. Playing deep in midfield, he was more focused on supplying the players around him, content with Hernandez and Welbeck making runs in the box.

Kompany made many a Fantasy manager unhappy (me included) with his sending off. He picked up -1 points and will be suspended in City’s away game at Loftus Road.

After last week’s red card Bosingwa now delivered a zero point Gameweek. With Chelsea’s inability to keep clean sheets the money can be invested better elsewhere.

I’m now putting QPR in the same bracket as Bolton, Wigan and Blackburn. You should generally avoid players from these teams.

The Watchlist

In the last couple of Gameweeks we have seen players that were touted to be Fantasy prospects starting to deliver. Some of them had slow starts to the season and could be off and running while for others this will only be a temporary upswing.

  • Sessegnon was hotly tipped to be a Fantasy favorite before the start of the season and has now delivered double-digit Gameweek scores twice in a row. He is a registered as a midfielder and is playing upfront with Bendtner. If you are looking for a mid-range midfielder, Sessegnon is looking exciting at 6.1.
  • Graham has scored in four consecutive Gameweeks. He has also grabbed an assist and five bonus points. He currently leads the way in the Value (form) table. At the moment, you can’t do any better than Graham for a the budget forward (priced at 4.9).
  • Bale grabbed a brace for Tottenham. He has been playing well for both club and country and should score more in the coming weeks. Tottenham have a good looking fixture list and if you can’t afford VdV, Bale could be your man.
  • Drenthe was suspended for Everton against Manchester United and couldn’t play. Against Fulham, however, he scored 16 points in his first full game for Everton. He is a talented player that has let his attitude get in his way in the past. Should he focus on his football, he could deliver Fantasy wise this season.
  • Ba grabbed his second hattrick and looks value, apart from the next four tough games.

What changes do you think are needed? Will Manchester United bounce back? Is Rooney to be sold? Please comment below.

Gameweek 9 Preview – Avoiding the Manchester Derby

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.

Captain Picks

Basing the captain picks on the above regurgitation and the analysis below we arrive at:

  1. Van Persie, for his form, a home game, and Stoke’s problems away this season.
  2. Suarez, for a home game against Norwich.
  3. Adebayor, because of Blackburn’s defensive frailties.
  4. Differential: Gerrard, Agbonlahor and Ba.

Big Hitters

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.

Clean Sheets

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.

Gameweek 7 Review – Fulham Steal the Show

Derby matches, a dubious sending off, home and away game thrashings, 34 goals, and 6 clean sheets.

In only one Gameweek.

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.

Notable Performances

Liverpool won away at Goodison Park, thanks in part to Rodwell’s dubious sending off early on in the game. Another part of Liverpool’s win was Suarez‘ excellent performance, capped by a goal to seal the game for Liverpool.

Enrique continues to impress and provides his second assist in as many games. This time his assist was supplemented by a clean sheet and two bonus points. I still have my doubts over the Liverpool defence, but with his low price and attacking upside Enrique provides good Fantasy value.

Agbonlahor has 5.9 points per game playing for the defensive Aston Villa. He was man of the match in Villa’s 2 – 0 win over Wigan and provided a goal and assist in addition to his three bonus points. And this all, while playing with a back injuryBannan now has an assist or goal in three successive games. He is a rotation risk, but at 5.0 he is a steal in his current form. Given, and the Aston Villa defence, have only conceded 5 goals, 0.71 goals per game.

Silva got another assist and played well for City yet again. This time the focus of City’s punishment was the hapless Blackburn, conceding 4 at home.  The City defence must now be considered the best bet for clean sheets, recording their fourth in total and the first away from home. Kompany is seldom rotated and got his six points this Gameweek. Having foolishly sold Nasri this week, he delivered an inevitable two-digit Fantasy performance, assisting twice and scoring a deflected goal after a Silva assist. His form is frustrating and he has only contributed Fantasy points in City’s thrashings this term, suggesting he can not be relied upon for consistent points. However, it is a small sample to draw conclusions from so keep your eyes peeled for him.

In a quiet week for Rooney, he only created one goal in Manchester United’s unconvincing 2 – 0 home win over Norwich. Anderson scored again and stole three bonus points. He continues to play every game and looks integral to Ferguson’s plan this season.

Krul had an outstanding game at Molineux and is a big part of Newcastle’s early season form. Although he didn’t keep a clean sheet he recorded 7 saves, adding two points to his Fantasy score. Cabaye sparkled again, registering an assist and bonus point in the Magpies’ 1 – 2 away win over Wolves. Ba scored again.

Bolton shipped five goals at home and scored a single consolation goal. Petrov provided the consolation assist in another horrendous Bolton performance. Lampard answered his doubters by smashing in a hattrick. In spite of his performance, his high price should dissuade most Fantasy managers from acquiring his services. Sturridge tormented his former employers, grabbing a brace and assisting a goal. Should he become a regular at Chelsea his low price is mighty tempting.

Fulham vanquished QPR, putting a spanner in the works for QPR’s bright start to the season. Murphy’s steady influence in the middle of the park is showing and he already has 3 assists and two goals, thanks to his set-piece duties. Andy Johnson stole the limelight with a hattrick, an assist, and three bonus points. Also impressive were Dempsey with a goal and assist and Zamora with 14 Fantasy points thanks to two assists, a goal, and two bonus points. He how has bonus points in every game he has played, alongside his three goals and assists in four games.

Swansea’s defence continues to impress, with Vorm excellent in goal. He is now the highest scoring goalkeeper in the Fantasy game, after claiming the fourth clean sheet of the season in a convincing 2 – 0 victory over Stoke. Sinclair benefited from set-piece duties, scoring his second goal of the season.

Although he did not score, Adebayor was a menace for the Arsenal defence. His clever chip provided Van der Vaart with the opening for Tottenham’s first goal in their 2 – 1 derby victory over Arsenal. Both Van der Vaart and Ramsey scored and have assists or goals in three consecutive Gameweeks. At 6.3, Ramsey is looking like a cheap option for an attacking midfielder.

Off the Mark

Bendtner rescued Sunderland with a goal, an assist, and three bonus points to show for his performance. In the 2 – 2 draw, West Brom’s Brunt got his first assist after from the first Gameweek.

For most of the match, there were no signs that Carroll would open his scoring this season against Everton. He was slow, lost possession on numerous occasions, and generally looked out of sorts. Still, a goal is a goal, and he will be looking to build upon that goal. Inexplicably, he stole 3 bonus points.

Bent scored a poacher’s goal for Aston Villa’s second. The goal was provided by Agbonlahor, who is much better value at 7.0. It wasn’t Bent’s first of the season but is highlighted here because so much was expected from the hitherto consistent goal-scorer.

Balotelli played his best game for Manchester City and could have scored more than his single goal. Mancini will be thrilled by his showing and his performance provided even more uncertainty over City’s forwards.

Danny Graham scored his first Swansea goal in the Premier League, punishing Woodgate for a defensive error.

Out of Sorts

Odemwingie looks a shadow of the player that terrorized Premier League defenders in the latter part of last season.

In a move likely designed to put Dzeko in his place after his strop in Munich, he started on the bench. Fantasy owners were left frustrated as Balotelli and Nasri stole the headlines, the latter coming on for Aguero.

Ward is probably a defender you should be looking to sell, especially if you are looking to gain from his price rise. Wolves have looked susceptible at the back.

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.

Not Convinced

In last week’s review I was not convinced by QPR. My hunch was vindicated in this week’s thrashing by Fulham. With the cheap price of the defence they could be candidates for a defensive rotation strategy, but the rest of the team is a wait-and-see for the moment.

Also noted last week was Manchester United’s defence. They were lucky to keep a clean sheet against Norwich with Valencia suffering at right back and Evans looking shaky in the middle. I would hold the investment until Vidic is back.

International Break

With another international break comes another decision. Should you get your transfers in early to gain from price rises or wait until after the international games? Unless it is a matter of not being able to complete the transfer due to lack of funds should there be a rise/drop in price you would be well advised to wait this break out. This is a break from my previous advice, but this time the situation is different. Your team should be settled by now and you should be looking to make each transfer count. With probably around three players you want to trade out you can’t afford to transfer in a player only to have him injured come next Gameweek.

Will you use your transfers early or wait until after the break? Please comment below.

Gameweek 6 Review – Consistent Performers

Manchester City at home against Everton, Arsenal at home against Bolton, Chelsea at home against Swansea, and Newcastle at home against Blackburn all registered secure victories.

Tottenham narrowly edged Wigan away while Norwich took three valuable points in their home game against Sunderland. Liverpool were lucky to keep Wolves at bay, winning 2 – 1 in a fine game at Anfield.

Stoke and Aston Villa were resolute as ever, securing a point in their games. Stoke was at home against Manchester United and Aston Villa away at QPR. West Brom and Fulham shared the spoils in a scoreless match.

Analyzing the Fantasy impact of the Gameweek, we look at consistent performers, what players are looking good, who are off the mark, and players that have not convinced my yet.

Consistent Performers

Nani is the real deal this season. Any doubts we might have had in the first couple of games have been squashed by 3 goals, 3 assists, and 7 bonus points in the last four games. I traded him in this week and I suggest you do it too. Young continues to impress but I now rate him a step below Nani.

Aguero had another good game, with an assist and a bonus point. He now has a goal every 50 minutes plus 2 assists and 10 bonus points to his name. That is a spectacular return, especially when you consider this is his first season in the Premier League. Silva, even though he was man marked, delivered a peach of an assist. Surprisingly, he did not receive bonus points.

Agbonlahor had a 4 point game, getting an assist for a foul leading to Aston Villa’s penalty. He has had only one 2 point game and should be a consideration at the low price of 6.8. Hoilett is another consideration at 6.0, having provided 3 assists and 1 goal in 6 games for Blackburn.

Bosingwa points for an assist and bonus points making him the second highest scoring defender in the Fantasy game, only behind S. Taylor who has and impressive 8 bonus points already.

Looking Good

Suarez finally turned his fine performances into Fantasy points, scoring a cracking goal and earning maximum bonus points. Despite a tough fixture list, he should deliver points.

Adebayor and Modric both ably assisted Tottenham’s goal scorers this Gameweek and continue to impress. Adebayor is looking a bargain at 8.4.

The City defence is tightening up and Richards is playing an integral part. Should they come close to their clean sheet tally of last season, both him and Kompany are a snip at 6.0.

Off the Mark

Van Persie was brilliant against Bolton and was back to the precociously gifted striker and Fantasy goldmine of last year. Look out for him.

Ba claimed a hattrick and maximum bonus points in Newcastle’s game against a defensively less than stellar Blackburn. Pardew claims he has been low on gasoline because of Ramadan and should be ready to shine. If so, he is an exciting propect at 6.1.

Enrique assisted and stole bonus points in Liverpool’s game against Wolves. Liverpool’s defence is still looking rather suspect, but at 5.1 Enrique is still cheap for the potential upside.

Not Convinced

QPR has been touted as a Fantasy goldmine, with Wright-Philips, Taarabt, and Barton all mentioned as good buys. I’m not convinced yet and will not jump on the QPR bandwagon just yet. I’m more excited by their defence having only conceded 4 goals since their first game and only one since the Fernandes takeover.

The United defence continues to look less than solid at the back. I wouldn’t recommend United defenders , especially considering their growing injury list which contains defenders Vidic, Evans, Rafael, and Smalling.

Gameweek 6 Preview – Rooney or Aguero?

Most Premier League clubs successfully navigated the midweek Carling cup games, with only West Brom, Fulham, Tottenham, and Aston villa dropping out in games against other Premier League teams.

We prepare for Gameweek 6 in this edition of the Friday Foreplay. There is no standout game of the week with the most fantasy potential coming from home games from three of last season’s top four. With both Rooney and Aguero in such great form, the question arises: Who should we captain? I’m sticking with Rooney, based on his proven history and amazing early season form, although I wouldn’t fault you for going with Aguero this week for the home game advantage.

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.

General recommendations

  • 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:

  1. Wayne Rooney
  2. Sergio Aguero
  3. David Silva
  4. Differential: Adebayor and Torres.

Stoke City v Manchester United

You can’t deny both the form of United and Rooney at the moment. He is both a must-own and must-captain player at the moment and I will captain him, even away at Stoke. Ferdinand is likely to start following his early season injury with Smalling facing two weeks out with a groin strain. Stoke look to prove a point following their drubbing against Stoke but couldn’t have faced a tougher opponent this Gameweek.

Picks

  • Rooney: When a class player is such incredible form you just captain him. No philosophical pondering or statistical analysis will dissuade me otherwise.
  • Nani: Man of the match in the Chelsea game and is ripping full-backs to shreds at the moment.
  • Young: On par with Nani for the start of the season and is as likely as anyone to register assists.

Punts

  • Anderson: A lively threat from midfield and is also registering set piece duties from corners this season.
  • Walters: With United’s defence letting in goals in almost every game, the striker classified as a midfielder is worth a punt. He is also on penalty duties.

Warnings

  • Stoke defence: United look irresistible at the moment and you would be unwise betting against them.

Manchester City v Everton

Based on both teams’ start to the season we should see a safe victory for Man City.

Picks

  • Aguero: Threatening to become a must-own this season with his early season striking exploits.
  • Silva: The best midfielder in the Premier League at the moment and is integral to City’s attacking game. Is registering both shots on goal and vital passes in the final third each game. Consistent Fantasy performer.
  • Nasri: A step below Silva, but still a cut above most in the Fantasy game. A slight doubt because of his broken arm.
  • Richards: Seems to have cemented his first team spot and provides an attacking outlet down the flanks for City. There is some rotation risk, but not a big enough threat to drop him if you have him.
  • Kompany: The new captain and most consistent defender for City. Toure will eat minutes from Lescott, but Kompany seems unlikely to be rotated. The safe option.

Punts

  • Dzeko: I now rate Aguero as the only safe first team starter for the City strike force. Dzeko, for me, is a slight doubt. At the moment, you could argue that he should be as attractive a Fantasy option as any. You would probably be right, but there is a slight doubt for me.
  • Cahill: Playing up front on his own, he is likely to be involved if Everton muster up goals in the match. Not an exciting punt, but a punt nonetheless.

Warnings

  • Howard: At 5.5, Howard is not worth it this match. A clean sheet is unlikely.

Chelsea v Swansea

In spite of their loss against United, Chelsea played well upfront and were a real threat throughout. Swansea are tight at the back and finally registered a goal in their 3 – 0 victory against West Brom last Gameweek.

Picks

  • Torres: In great form last week, despite his much publicized miss against United. He caused the United defence all kinds of problems and is linking up well with new import Mata. I think he will start to blossom for Chelsea following his horrible start to his Chelsea life.
  • Bosingwa: Continues to be both the cheapest Chelsea defender and most likely of the bunch to score or assist. Chelsea should keep a clean sheet against Swansea.

Punts

  • Mata: Hasn’t delivered in his last two games but he has just arrived and is still acclimatizing to the Premier League. Has looked a class performer and should deliver assists and goals throughout the season. The only question is whether he needs more time before the Fantasy points start to roll in.
  • Dyer: Is here only because of his price. At 4.7, he is one of the cheapest regularly playing midfielders with some offensive threat. Not likely to score at Stamford Bridge, but could be a valuable long-term addition to your team if you need a budget signing in the middle.

Warnings

  • Lampard: Has moved back in the pecking order and is playing a deeper role after Villas-Boas’ arrival. Much too expensive at 11.8 to warrant inclusion in your team.

Wigan v Tottenham

Tottenham demolished Liverpool last week and look in good form following the arrivals of Adebayor and Parker.

Picks

  • Adebayor: A class striker when his head is in the right place. Is highly involved in Tottenham’s build up game and is also arriving in the box to finish his chances. The most attractive striker in the Fantasy game that is not plying his trade in Manchester.

Punts

  • Modric: Scored a thunderbolt goal and played like the lauded midfielder of last season. Tottenham are a different prospect with him in form. Has never been prolific, assist or goal wise, and is hence a punt.
  • Van der Vaart: It remains to be seen how Redknapp will deploy him if he accommodates Defoe in a 4-4-2. He will likely be shunted out to the wing, which should diminish his Fantasy potential.
  • Di Santo: Has three goals in six games and could sneak a goal against an ever changing Tottenham defence. If King is playing his value is decreased.

Warnings

  • King: Is a class defender and it is no surprise that Tottenham have kept two clean sheets in a row with him on the field. But he is injured half of the season and can not be relied on to play.

Arsenal v Bolton

Both teams are having disastrous starts to the season.

Picks

  • Van Persie: Will probably not reach the Fantasy heights of last season with a much weaker support cast but should provide goals and assists. I’m skeptical that he will justify his price tag.
  • Gervinho: Threatens with his pace and scored in the last game.
  • Petrov: With the Arsenal defence as leaky as Swiss cheese, Petrov’s chances of assists and goals multiplies.

Punts

  • Arteta: I’m not sold on his Fantasy potential in the Arsenal team. Has scored twice against Blackburn this season, which is hardly an epic task. But, he has potential should the Arsenal team turn around their form and start scoring freely.
  • K. Davies and Cahill: Threats at set pieces, which Arsenal have big problems defending.

Warnings

  • Klasnic: Is suspended until October 15th because of this headbutt the last game.

Liverpool v Wolves

Having started brightly, both teams have suffered setbacks in the last two Gameweeks. Liverpool have a point to prove at home and it is unlikely that Wolves will be able to contain them.

Picks

  • Suarez: Has shown his petulant side lately, complaining to referees and castigating his teammates. However, he is always involved in the attacking game and has been unlucky to not have scored more. I’m still backing him to have a good goals coring season.

Punts

  • Enrique: Has played well, both in Liverpool’s good and bad games. Provides an attacking threat and is priced at a lowly 5.1. However, Liverpool’s defence has been shipping in goals lately which puts a damper on his potential. I’m still punting on Liverpool containing the domesticated Wolves of late.

Warnings

  • Fletcher: Is still carrying a groin injury and is a major doubt for the Liverpool game.

Newcastle v Blackburn

With Newcastle’s great defensive record this season, there is a high chance of a clean sheet against Blackburn.

Picks

  • Simpson: A budget option in Newcastle’s solid defence.

Punts

  • Cabaye: Has caught the eye with his energetic performances in the early season. Had 19 goals and 20 assists in the last two seasons for Lille. Should he bring some of that form into the Premier League he would become a Fantasy favorite.
  • Best: Has three goals and six bonus points in five games for the Magpies. Is a rotation risk, although Pardew will be hard pressed to drop him after last Gameweek’s goal.

Warnings

  • Blackburn team: I would wait and see on the Blackburn team following their impressive 4 – 3 victory over Arsenal. They don’t have any obvious Fantasy prospects and it could have been a one off result.

QPR v Aston Villa

QPR is looking set for a comfortable mid-table finish this season while Aston Villa fans are already complaining about McLeish’s defensive minded setup of the Aston Villa team.

Picks

  • Gabbidon: A controversial pick that is doubtful to play (possible knee injury). Aston Villa will set up to contain QPR and could offer little attacking threat. For the price of 4.0 Gabbidon is a value pick this Gameweek.

Punts

  • Barton: Captain and commander of the QPR midfield, having scored a goal in the last Gameweek and stolen bonus points in both his QPR games.
  • Agbonhlahor: The one bright spot in Aston Villa’s attacking play this season.

Warnings

  • Bent: Has been isolated up front for Aston Villa in McLeish’s new setup. For 10.0, he is much to high of a risk, especially away from home.

West Brom v Fulham

West Brom have one victory in five games while Fulham showed their fighting spirit in their comeback against Manchester City last Gameweek, registering their third draw.

Picks

  • Zamora: Took his chances well at Crave Cottage last week and is looking sharp again following his return from injury.

Punts

  • Murphy: Is integral to Fulham’s play and is likely to pick up assists, even though he plays deep.
  • Odemwingie: Scored the winning goal against Norwich and showed last season that he knows how to finish his chances.

Warnings

  • Foster: West Brom are shipping in goals left and right and Foster is not registering saves. Stay away.

Norwich v Sunderland

Sunderland look to build upon their impressive drubbing of Stoke while Norwich have little Fantasy potential combined with a rotation crazy manager. Both teams are unexciting this Gameweek.

Picks

  • Larsson: Provided great returns last Gameweek and has a constant Fantasy potential based on his set-piece duties.

Punts

  • Brown: I rate the Sunderland defence higher than most and they have only conceded four goals this season. Brown has been impressive for the first few games. Their clean sheets have coincided with O’Shea’s return.

Warnings

  • Hoolahan: Touted as Norwich’s attacking fulcrum, he has been the victim of manager Lambert’s rotation policy.
Good luck, use your free transfer wisely, and please comment below.

Gameweek 5 Review – New Kids on the Block

In an interesting twist this Gameweek, all three promoted teams produced convincing wins while Arsenal, Liverpool, and Stoke lost ground in the battle for European places. Swansea hammered West Brom at home, QPR put three in the net away at Wolves (and could have scored more), and Norwich registered an important away victory at Bolton. Tottenham kept a clean sheet and scored four against a nine men Liverpool side, while Sunderland hammered Stoke with the same scoreline. Arsenal suffered a surprise loss away at Blackburn, supplying the home team with two own-goals.

In the most entertaining top of the table clash in some time Manchester United won 3 – 1 against an attacking Chelsea side. Meanwhile, City lost their first points of the season, drawing 2 – 2 against a spirited Fulham side.

In more anticipated results, Everton left it late in their 3 – 1 victory against Wigan and Aston Villa and Newcastle shared the spoils at Villa Park.

Manchester United

Only a slippery surface and the post denied Rooney a double digit Fantasy score this Gameweek. In his current form, he is as close to an automatic captain pick as Ronaldo was in his peak in the Premier League. Nani and Young register on the Fantasy score sheet, both stealing bonus points, and again it is hard to recommend one over the other. Nani is looking like the Fantasy monster of last year while Young continues to impress with assist potential and set-piece duties. Defensively, United continue to look less than solid at the back. I wouldn’t recommend United defenders unless you can pick them up cheap, which rules out all but Evans; however, he is likely to be rotated out when Ferdinand is back from injury.

Manchester City

I think it is safe to say that Aguero is City’s number one striker. A back to back hat-trick and double have probably saved him from rotation for the time being. With his high price (11.1), it provides an interesting dilemma with Rooney also a must-own at 12.4 and rising. Silva notched up another assist and is proving consistent both in Fantasy and real terms, having failed to provide a goal or assist in only one of five games. As I predicted, the City defence will not be as solid as last year, and it is still unclear whether they are worth investing in.

Chelsea

Torres and Mata both played well and caused Manchester United problems at the back. Torres was unlucky not to score two goals and seems to finding his form again. I wouldn’t purchase him over Rooney or Aguero at the moment, but is likely to start scoring freely with these kind of performances. Lampard is being played deeper by Villas-Boas and will not justify his price tag this season. He could produce great football for Chelsea but is unlikely to score and assist in quite the abundance he has done in the past. The Chelsea defence is too expensive to consider, unless you got Bosingwa on the cheap.

Tottenham

Adebayor produced the goods, as predicted in last weeks Gameweek reviewVan der Vaart made a surprising return and provided an assist while Modric was excellent, scoring a scorcher. Remember that Tottenham’s two losses were against both Manchester teams, who will devour most opponents, and look strong again. Parker will prove to be an excellent acquisition for Redknapp, allowing Modric more freedom in the middle of the park. I wouldn’t go overboard for the defence, in spite of the clean sheet.

QPR

Both Wright-Phillips and Barton delivered for QPR with the former notching up an assist and the latter a goal. Warnocks’ preferred defensive lineup will likely be Traore, Gabbidon, Ferdinand, and Young. Not a title winning defence, but solid enough, especially with Barton marshalling the midfield. Gabbidon stands out from the group as a budget defender option.

Sunderland

I wrote off Sunderland’s Fantasy options last week, apart from value purchase Brown. Admittedly, that was a bit knee-jerk so I will try not to jerk my other knee this week. Sunderland blitzed ahead in the first half with the impressive Larsson providing two assists and a goal. Bendtner and Sessegnon got an assist each. Before the Stoke game, Sessegnon had failed to provide Fantasy the goods many predicted. If Sunderland start to gel, both Larson and Sessegnon bear keeping on your radar as Larson is a proven Fantasy scorer while Sessegnon is playing out of position as a second striker. Note that Sunderland’s two clean sheets this season have come with John O’Shea on the field. At 4.4 – 5.0 the Sunderland defence could provide value should the continue to impress.

Swansea

A pattern emerges; Swansea could be this season’s defensive value team. One goal conceded since the opening day loss against Manchester City and cheap options in goal and defence combine to make the Swansea back-line an attractive investment option. Goalkeeper Vorm (4.1), defender Taylor (4.0), and goal scoring midfielder Dyer (4.7) should all be tempting following Swansea’s first win of the season. In spite of a goal and assist game for 5.9 priced Sinclair, I hesitate recommending him until we see a pattern Fantasy points.

Fulham

Zamora excelled in Fulham’s impressive second-half comeback, providing a goal and assist. Murphy scored a deflected goal and has now has consecutive games of an assist or goal. At 6.7 and 6.0, respectively, Zamora and Murphy are the attractive options for Fulham. Other are simply overpriced, in my opinion.

Everton

Tim Cahill provided another assist but is likely still too expensive. Baines was not involved in Everton’s three goals and hence received no extra points this week. I believe 8.0 is too pricey for a defender that does not deliver regular clean sheets, despite the possible assists and odd goal. The new boys (Drenthe, Velios, Stracqualursi) scored and assisted and bear watching for the next few Gameweeks.

Newcastle

Another solid defensive display enforces the feeling that Newcastle are providing defensive value in KrulR. TaylorS. Taylor, and Simpson. R. Taylor is set for an extended run in the first team following news that new left-back purchase Santon is injured. Best now has three goals in three starts and is one to watch. I still rate him as a rotation risk.

Aston Villa

The defensive premium on Villa’s players is probably too high at the moment. Apart from Agbonlahor, Villa players are not exciting Fantasy prospects.

Liverpool

The alarm bells are starting to ring at Anfield. We can’t read too much into this performance, because of the two sendings-off. However, Liverpool looked bereft of ideas before any red cards were flashed and Suarez and Carroll never looked like scoring. I still rate Suarez and Enrique as the most exciting options at Liverpool based on their supposed value price. But they are now on notice, pending the result against Wolves next Gameweek.

Stoke City

I predicted last week that Stoke’s Europa League campaign clouded the Fantasy value of Stoke players. This is likely to remain true so beware of investing too much in Stoke this season. Crouch started again and Pulis has demoted Jones to the bench.

Arsenal

Another disaster result for Arsenal. I would hold off Arsenal purchases until they start delivering results. Their defence is Fantasy radioactive; stay away.

Norwich

Lambert keeps on rotating the team rendering the Fantasy potential of Norwich players dismal, in spite of positive results.

Wolves

Back-to-back lackluster performances at home with zero goals scored and five conceded marks a unwanted turnaround for Wolves. The exciting Fantasy trio of Fletcher, Jarvis, and Ward now look unexciting. This could be a time to cash in on price rises for the trio.

Blackburn

An impressive win and a wait-and-see verdict on Yakubu and Hoilett.

West Brom

Hopefully you were not fooled by last week’s clean sheet, as West Brom went back to their goal conceding ways. If you have West Brom defenders or Foster in goal, I would sell them as soon as possible. However, the front-line duo could be worth keeping. Swansea are solid at back so I wouldn’t write off Long and Odemwingie just yet.

Bolton

With Klasnic’ silly sending off, Petrov is now the only realistic Fantasy option at Bolton, with Arsenal and Chelsea up in the next two games.

Wigan

Di Santo is the only one worth investing in at the moment and is set to keep his first team place with Rodallega out injured.

Patterns are emerging and the managers’ preferred lineups are starting to become clear. Clean sheets remain devilishly hard to predict while attacking stars continue to consistently deliver. Your purchases should now focus on long-term value, especially as the attractive budget options pop up all over. Budget wise, consider the Swansea and Newcastle defence, to save for either or both of Rooney and Aguero. Further incentive to invest in a budget back-line is that the Manchester duopoly is producing consistent Fantasy midfielders (Nani, Young, Silva, Nasri) and you should be investing in at least two of them.

Remember to finish your purchases early if you are holding a sell player or are looking to buy a rising star.

Please don’t hesitate to comment below.

Gameweek 4 Review – Manchester Duopoly Again

Barcelona and Real Madrid = Manchester United and Manchester City?

That is perhaps hyping it to the extreme, but this season is shaping up to be a two horse race between the Manchester teams. Chelsea could have something to say about that and will probably improve as the season progresses.

Gameweek 4 again produced emphatic wins for City and United. Manchester City cruised to a comfortable victory over Wigan while Manchester United battered Bolton away from home. Their victims last week, Arsenal and Tottenham, got off the mark home against Swansea and away at Wolves, respectively. Chelsea kept up their laboured winning ways.

Stoke scratched up an impressive win against Liverpool at the Britannia, and Hodgson’s West Brom won away against Norwich.

In other news, Everton and Aston share the spoils. The same happened for Fulham v Blackburn and QPR v Newcastle.

Fantasy thoughts:

  • Manchester City: Quite contrary to what I predicted last week Edin Dzeko did not cement his place in City’s lineup with Aguero and Tevez being preferred. In spite of Aguero’s hattrick I am now wary of City’s forwards because of rotation. Even though the City attack is looking menacing, you are risking having spent 8.8 – 11.o for a bench player, or worse a 15 cameo likely resulting in a 1 or 2 pointer. Instead I would go for the either or both of Silva and Nasri. Silva was the fulcrum of City’s attacks while Nasri again notched up an assist. The defensive lineup seems settled and I wouldn’t advise against an investment in Kompany or Richards.
  • Manchester United: Rooney is still on fire. I’m now even more certain that he will be this season’s top Fantasy scorer. Nani surprised many with two assists, but based on his Fantasy returns last year we will see more of the good stuff from the Portuguese winger. It is very tight between Nani and Young, with Young perhaps edging it out based on set-piece duties. Also, Young seems more comfortable than Nani on the left wing, which could mean that Nani will be rotated more when Valencia is fit again. Ferguson opted to rest Smalling, meaning that Evans proved excellent value this week. Jones is looking quite the player and could rack up more games this year than most expected. He should be a consideration at only 5.5.
  • Chelsea: It is now clear that Villas-Boas considers Bosingwa first choice right back. This makes his cost fully justified, providing Chelsea stop shipping the odd goal per game.  Torres was dropped, with Sturridge preferred. Mata again looked lively although he did not produce Fantasy points. Apart from Bosingwa, I am hesitant about the Chelsea attack and midfield while Villas-Boas is finding his preferred setup.
  • Arsenal: Looked sturdier than against Manchester United, but lacked fluidity and menace. Robin van Persie will likely come good sooner rather than later, but at the moment I would hold off Arsenal players unless you are willing to gamble.
  • Tottenham: We have found our mid-range striker; Adebayor to the rescue! I’m jumping on the Togo bandwagon and recommending him as your Dzeko replacement. Parker slotted right in the midfield and Spurs will hope to set a tone for the season against Liverpool next week.
  • Aston Villa: I was disappointed with Villa conceding two goals and am willing to concede that the premium on Villa’s players is probably too high at the moment. I hold Given and will give him a few more games before I think about shipping him out. I would not recommend other Villa players.
  • Everton: Baines is doing his best to prove PL Fantasy’s Chris Glover wrong but I still believe his excellent analysis that pricey offensive defenders are not worth the investment. Tim Cahill provided an assist and it is worth to keep an eye on him. He is proven Fantasy quality, but seems a little to pricey at the moment.
  • Stoke City: The addition to the squad and their Europa League campaign combine to cloud the value of Stoke players. I am vary of the effect of the midweek games on their League form. However, if you want a defensive Stoke investment, based on their three clean sheets, Shawcross is the safest bet.  Walter is an option; playing out of position and is on penalty duties. I’m keeping my eye on Begovic as he could be a useful direct swap for managers holding Robinson, Jaaskelainen, Schwarzer, Foster, and Given.
  • Liverpool and Bolton: Nothing has changed with both teams’ losses away from home. The Britannia is a tough venue, and many teams will struggle at Stoke this season. I still rate Suarez and Enrique as the most exciting options at Liverpool. Old Trafford, of course, is a fortress. The Bolton lineup seems settled and they should now start providing more value after their tough start to the season. Klasnic and Petrov could be smart purchases.
  • Wolves: The loss at home put a dampener on an otherwise bright start to the season. The offense has looked blunter in the last two games in contrast to the sharper first two games. I would consider Ward as a fine cheap rotating defensive option. Just don’t expect to get too many clean sheets.
  • QPR: Shaun Wright-Phillips looked like he should score Fantasy points this season and the midfield and defense look stronger after their deadline day purchases. Barton will be immense for them. Gabbidon is a budget defender option.
  • West Brom: Surprisingly, Brunt was benched. Perhaps, Hodgon was resting him, but who knows? I get the jitters when my players are benched. Long and Odemwingie look exciting options up front. Don’t be fooled by the clean sheet, I don’t expect many of them.
  • Newcastle: Another clean sheet and another start for Ryan Taylor. I’m officially baffled by the Newcastle strength at the back.
  • Blackburn, Fulham, Norwich, Wigan, Swansea, Sunderland: Apart from value purchases to be benched regularly; e.g. Moses (Wigan), Vorm, De Laet, and Dyer (Swansea), Senderos (Fulham), and Brown (Sunderland); I do not see any Fantasy potential here at the moment.

Again, I would recommend you finish your transfers early in the week, especially if you are holding a selling player or trying to buy the new hot stuff. Having transfer problems because of a price rise/drop of 0.1 here and there is much more telling in the long run than the rare event of picking up a player that gets injured during the week. As long as you are not transferring in the Woodgates of the Premier League, that is.