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 35


Aguero Athletico by Jan S0L0 at Wikimedia Commons. Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0.

Sergio Aguero, here depicted in his Atletico Madrid playing days, is the top captain pick for Gameweek 35.

In this Gameweek 35 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. Aguero: Manchester City are back on track, having scored 10 goals in their last two games. Aguero has four of those with consecutive braces. Despite playing away from home, the relegation form of the Wolves team pushes City’s attackers into consideration for this Gameweek’s captain picks.

  2. Rooney: Manchester United face Everton, who have nothing left to play for after their morale-sapping loss against Liverpool in the FA Cup semi-final. With that in mind, I think the game will be easier for United than if Everton were still in full flight. A win by a three goal margin wouldn’t surprise me, and hence the inclusion of Rooney in the picks. Rooney has been in goal-scoring mode since the start of February with 11 goals in 11 games, including a brace last Gameweek.

  3. Cisse: Newcastle sat out last Gameweek and have an upcoming double Gameweek 36. Cisse’s form is irresistible and has eight goals in his last five games. It’s unlikely that he will maintain this form into next season, but could well finish this season on a high. Newcastle play at home against a Stoke team who have nothing to play for in their last four games.

Big Hitters

Despite not having scored in open play in six games, Van Persie still has to be considered an elite attacker. For Chelsea, the away game at the Emirates is sandwiched between two Barcelona games. Di Matteo will rest players with that in mind and Arsenal could capitalize, having nothing else to focus on than securing the thirds spot in the League. We all know what RvP can do when on form, as witnessed by his hattrick in the reverse fixture earlier in the season.

I backed Sigurdsson last week. His return of a goal, assist, and bonus points boosted my rankings and encouraged me to back him again. He has scored most of his goals away from home so an away game at Bolton is less of an issue than with many others players.

With the news that Baines is out of the clash against Manchester United, Valencia becomes an even more exciting pick at the right flank. He will not have to worry as much about helping Rafael out with the marauding left-back and can concentrate on the attacking side of his game. Despite having had a quiet few Gameweeks, Fantasy wise, he has been threatening and playing well.

With Manchester City facing Wolves, City’s front four of the aforementioned captain pick of Aguero, Tevez, Silva, and Nasri are all good plays this Gameweek. All are likely to be involved in City’s possible slew of goals.

Ben Arfa has finally blossomed into his attacking role at Newcastle. His upswing in form has coincided with Cisse’s and they have been assisting each other’s goals. Both players will be heavily picked in the double Gameweek 36, so you could bring them in early to avoid the price rise.

Clean Sheets

  • Manchester United have nine clean sheets at home and will dominate the possession against Everton. If you have the cash, Evra is playing well, bombing forward on the left flank to take part in United’s attacks.
  • Newcastle have an excellent defensive record at home and face Stoke who have only scored 0.65 goals per game on average on their travels. Play your Newcastle back line this week, whether it be Krul in goal or Williamson in defence.
  • Aston Villa have two games this Gameweek and are therefore more likely to keep a clean sheet. Even if they don’t, Collins will at least pick up points in both games for just showing up.

Taking a Punt

  • Being wary of Wigan’s excellent form, I’ve demoted Dempsey to a punt this week. This will be a tough game for Fulham, if Wigan play anything like their games against Manchester United and Arsenal.
  • If you are bringing in Suarez for Gameweek 36 you could get him in now and play him against West Brom. Liverpool will be riding high after getting to the FA Cup final. He has been a frustrating Fantasy players this season but is capable of doing serious damage to any defence.

Reviewed Friday Foreplay – Gameweek 29 and 30


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

Valencia sneaks into the captain picks on the back of his commanding performance against Wolves last Gameweek.

Because of the distribution of games in Gameweek 29, with fixtures crawling well into the week, this piece combines the Gameweek 29 Review and the Friday Foreplay for Gameweek 30.

The most notable Fantasy performances of Gameweek 29:

  • Sigurdsson was the undisputed Fantasy star of Gameweek 29, delivering a brace and 15 points in Swansea’s convincing away win at Craven Cottage.
  • Valencia and Hernandez combined for three goals, and assist, and five bonus points in Manchester United’s five goal demolition over the sorry Wolves. Evans capped an impressive performance with a well taken goal.
  • Vermaelen got a goal and a clean sheet in Arsenal’s important away victory at Goodison Park.
  • Hoilett scored again as well as Yakubu, who also stole three bonus points.
  • Aguero and Nasri scored in Manchester City’s hard fought win.

Gameweek 29 Points Summary

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 29 I recommended Rooney, Dempsey, Ba as the captain picks. Promising Gameweek captain picks produced dissapointing results with only Rooney getting over three points.

Quality of captain picks from Gameweek 25 onwards:

  • Good captain picks: 9/15
  • Double digit captains: 4/15
NamePositionGoalsAssistsClean SheetBonusOtherScore
SigurdssonMidfielder201316
ValenciaMidfielder121216
VermaelenDefender101315
EvansDefender101113
HernandezForward200313
DowningMidfielder020210
DerryMidfielder100310
McArthurMidfielder100310
AllenMidfielder10119
SinclairMidfielder01109
NasriMidfielder1003-1 for YC9
YakubuForward10139
P. CisseForward10039
Van der VaartMidfielder1003-1 for YC9
RafaelDefender01109
RoutledgeMidfielder01128
Gamst PedersonMidfielder01128
GutierrezMidfielder01128
ScharnerMidfielder1002-1 for YC8
GibbsDefender00117
de GeaGoalkeeper0010+1 for 3 saves7
DannDefender00117
KrulGoalkeeper0010+1 for 4 saves7
CahillDefender1000-1 for 2 GC7
ShawcrossDefender01127
KuytMidfielder10007
AgueroForward10017
HoilettForward10117
VormGoalkeeper0010+1 for 5 saves7
KoscielnyDefender00106
FerdinandDefender00106
JeromeForward10006
TaylorDefender00106
MonkDefender00106
SimpsonDefender00106
YoungDefender0102-1 for 2 GC6
D. CisseForward10006
WilliamsonDefender00106
PerchDefender00106
HanleyDefender00106
EvraDefender00106
RangelDefender00106
SzczesnyGoalkeeper00106
WelbeckForward1001-1 for YC6
CaulkerDefender00106
ColocciniDefender00106
RobinsonGoalkeeper00106
CoatesDefender1000-1 for 3 GC & -1 for <60 min6
RooneyForward01005
CabayeMidfielder00125
SagnaDefender0010-1 for YC5
TaarabtMidfielder01005
BaleMidfielder01095
WalcottMidfielder00125
MosesMidfielder01005
Van PersieForward01005
MackieForward1000-1 for <60 min5
ZabaletaDefender01005
RuddyGoalkeeper0000+2 for 7saves4
CarrickMidfielder0100-1 for <60 min4
ArtetaMidfielder00114
MataMidfielder0100-1 for YC4
BruntMidfielder0100-1 for YC4
TevezForward0100-1 for <60 min4
FosterGoalkeeper0000+2 for 7saves4
K. ToureDefender00024
OrrDefender0190-1 for <60 min4

For a summary of players scoring over three points in Gameweek 29, please refer to the table above.

Captain Picks

The captain picks are rather straightforward this Gameweek with both Manchester United and Arsenal playing easy home games (on paper). Rooney and Van Persie are the obvious picks with Valencia sneaking into third due to his amazing performance against Wolves last Gameweek.

  1. Rooney
  2. Van Persie
  3. Valencia

Big Hitters

It’s all about the home teams this Gameweek, with Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool and Norwich all having at least a decent chance of high-scoring Gameweeks.

Manchester United face Fulham at Old Trafford where they have won their last four games. They have scored 12 goals in their last four games and enjoy an impressive 2.78 goals scored per game at home. The less said about Fulham’s away record, the better. Play all your United players and don’t be afraid of reaching for Hernandez and Young in addition to the captain picks from United.

Arsenal do battle against an Aston Villa team that hasn’t conceded more than one goal in their last four games. Nevertheless, Van Persie is so hot it hurts, and will be dangerous. Walcott could benefit from the attention on the Dutchman, and contribute with either assists or goals.

Despite facing resolute Everton, Sigurdsson is in such good form that he has to be considered a big hitter. What a loan signing by Brendan Rodgers, who must be the front runner for manager of the year.

Guessing Paul Lambert’s starting lineup is wading in murky waters. He threw us a curve ball last Gameweek, by leaving Holt on the bench. Still, I would start him against Wolves and expect a goal.

Other strong plays include:

  • Liverpool have only scored 35 goals all season, and have a much lower Fantasy points ceiling than the top five. However, they face Wigan at home. Wigan concede over two goals per game on their travels so I would bet on Gerrard scoring.
  • Sessegnon is back from suspension and plays at home against QPR. Sunderland have missed his creativity and he will be the key to unlocking the QPR defence.

Clean Sheets

The aforementioned home teams fill up this Gameweeks clean sheet list, with the change of swapping out Norwich for Swansea. All the teams face low average scoring teams and are likely to keep a clean sheet. The teams and the recommended players are:

  • Liverpool and Skrtel for the set-piece goal threat.
  • Manchester United and Evans for the price.
  • Arsenal and Vermaelen for the goal threat. Consider Gibbs if you have a limited budget.
  • Swansea and Caulker for the price and the bonus point magnet.

Taking a Punt

  • Suarez is down to being a punt at home against Wigan. He has just frustrated too much this season and I wouldn’t hold on to him any longer.
  • Hoilett will likely move clubs in the summer, thanks to his impressive displays in the Blackburn shirt this season.

Gameweek 28 Review – Gerrard the Derby Hero


Gerrard by destinyuk* at Flickr. Licence: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Steven Gerrard got a hattrick against Everton.

Gerrard was Liverpool’s hero, yet again, in the Merseyside derby with a hattrick in their three goal win. The win will rejuvenate Liverpool fans who had suffered through a drab 1 – 0 loss at Sunderland three days earlier.

There was a shift in the battle for the title with Swansea denting Manchester City’s hopes with convincing 1 – 0 home victory while Manchester United rode Rooney’s brace to a comfortable win at Old Trafford.

In the battle for fourth, Arsenal and Chelsea gained ground on Tottenham. Arsenal won in injury time thanks to a Vermaelen strike after goals from Ben Arfa and Van Persie while Chelsea secured three points via a single goal from Drogba. Tottenham lost away at Everton.

Down at the bottom Bolton got an important three points with a 2 – 1 win over QPR while Blackburn won Wolves at the Molinaux.

Finally, Aston Villa saw Fulham off with a single goal while Norwich and Wigan saw out a 1 – 1 draw.

Other notable performances:

  • Suarez clinched two assists in the win over Everton and was a menace throughout.
  • Vorm (8), Caulker(9), and Williams (9) registered clean sheets against City. Vorm got extra points for saves while Caulker and Williams got three bonus points each.
  • Moses grabbed Wigan’s goal and three bonus points for a 10 point Gameweek.
  • Young continued his good run with an assist and two bonus points against West Brom.
  • Hoilett’s brace finished off Wolves for 13 points in the Gameweek.
  • New Bolton defender Ream assisted and got three bonus points for an eight point Gameweek.

Gameweek 28 Points Summary

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 28 I recommended Suarez, Rooney, and Van Persie as the captain picks. An excellent round with all three delivering and both Suarez and Rooney providing returns of a double digit Gameweek.

Quality of captain picks from Gameweek 25 onwards:

  • Good captain picks: 8/12
  • Double digit captains: 4/12

In addition, all the clean sheet prediction came off, with Liverpool, Chelsea, and Aston Villa all delivering.

NamePositionGoalsAssistsClean SheetBonusOtherScore
GerrardMidfielder3013-1 for <60 min & +2 for DG22
HoilettForward200313
RooneyForward201313
SuarezForward0212+2 for DG12
KellyDefender011112
JelavicForward1013+2 for DG & -1 for <60 min10
WilliamsDefender00139
VormGoalkeeper0011+2 for 8 saves9
HowardGoalkeeper0010+2 for DG & +3 for 10 saves & -1 for YC & -1 for 3 GC9
OsmanMidfielder0112+2 for DG & -1 for <60 min9
CaulkerDefender00139
MosesMidfielder1003-1 for YC9
DrogbaForward10139
BendtnerForward10139
PratleyMidfielder1002-1 for YC8
CahillDefender001028
TurnerDefender00128
YoungMidfielder01128
DistinDefender0011+2 for DG & -1 for 3 GC8
CuellarDefender00128
DannDefender00128
ReinaGoalkeeper00108
VermaelenDefender10008
ReamDefender01038
HoolahanMidfielder1002-1 for YC8
Ben ArfaMidfielder10007
EnriqueDefender0010-1 for YC & +2 for DG7
De GeaGoalkeeper0010+1 for 3 saves7
JonesDefender00117
SkrtelDefender0010-1 for YC & +2 for DG7
MignoletGoalkeeper0010+1 for 3 saves7
HartGoalkeeper0000+5 for PS7
EvraDefender00106
RobinsonGoalkeeper00106
CechGoalkeeper00106
RoutledgeMidfielder01106
RangelDefender00106
BridgeDefender00106
MiyaichiMidfielder010016
O'SheaDefender00106
ColeDefender00106
TaylorDefender00106
BardsleyDefender00106
TerryDefender00106
WeimannForward1001-1 for <60 min6
WarnockDefender00106
CarragherDefender00106
D. CisseForward10006
BainesDefender0010+2 for DG & -1 for YC & -1 for 3 GC6
CollinsDefender00106
FerdinandDefender00106
HuttonDefender00106
GivenGoalkeeper00106
EvansDefender00106
Gamst PedersenMidfielder0110-1 for YC5
MooreForward1000-1 for <60 min5
ColemanMidfielder0000+2 for DG5
SpearingMidfielder0010+2 for DG5
FellainiMidfielder0010+2 for DG5
HanleyDefender0010-1 for YC5
HendersonMidfielder0010+2 for DG5
CampellForward01005
WalcottMidfielder01005
HeitingaDefender0010-1 for YC5
Wright-PhillipsMidfielder01005
Van PersieForward1000-1 for YC5
AgbonlahorForward00135
YakubuForward01005
KlasnicForward1000-1 for <60 min5
JacksonForward01005
HernandezForward01005
ObertanMidfielder01005
DowningMidfielder0010+2 for DG4
MaloneyMidfielder0100-1 for <60 min4
Martin OlssonMidfielder00114
LarssonMidfielder00114
LampardMidfielder00114
AlbrightonMidfielder00114
RamseyMidfielder0100-1 for <60 min4
RuddyGoalkeeper0012+2 for 6 saves4
MataMidfielder0100-1 for <60 min4
BegovicGoalkeeper0002+2 for 7 saves4

For a summary of players scoring over three points in Gameweek 28, please refer to the table above.

Comments

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

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.

Gameweek 27 Review – Pog, Pog, Pogbrebnyak


Luis Suarez by Paul Blank at www.postproduktie.nl. Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0.

Suarez has an upcoming double Gameweek and is a risky punt with a chance for a high payoff.

Despite not having good games away from hom both Arsenal and Manchester United showed their clinical side, finishing off Liverpool and Tottenham, respectively.

Arsenal won through the yet another brilliant game by Van Persie, who bagged a brace.

Rooney kept up his scoring run in United’s victory but it was Ashley Young who stole the show with two well taken shots. The first was the result of Nani sneaking in behind Modric and crossing for an acrobatic finish by Young. The second was the result of Young coming in from the left onto his right foot, curling a beauty in the right corner.

Swansea won away from home, with fellow Icelander Sigurdsson delivering in two brilliant curlers.

Playing at home, Fulham destroyed Wolves, with a Pogrebnyak hattrick and a Dempsey brace; Manchester City dispatched Bolton, Stoke City narrowly edged Norwich, and West Brom kept up their excellent run with a 1 – 0 victory that ended Villas-Boas reign as Chelsea boss.

QPR and Everton and Blackburn and Aston Villa played out rather boring score draws, while Newcastle’s and Sunderland’s 1 – 1 draw had plenty of action, a sending off, and a dramatic late goal.

Other notable performances:

  • Yet again Suarez had an excellent game with no Fantasy returns. He got the penalty that Kuyt missed.
  • N’Zogbia scored and has now scored two goals and delivered one assist in the last three games he has started (out of the last five games played).
  • Zamora scored and stole three bonus points against Everton.
  • Drenthe scored a cracker to open Fantasy managers’ eyes before the double Gameweek. I wouldn’t bet on him playing both games so I would stay away.
  • Etherington is playing better of late. He scored and stole three bonus points but watch out for Stoke’s schedule; it reads Chelsea, Tottenham, and Manchester City in their next three games.
  • Caulker assisted, got a clean sheet, and was rewarded with three bonus points for a respectable 13 Gameweek points.

Gameweek 27 Points Summary

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 27 I recommended Aguero, Silva, and Dempsey as the captain picks. In typical Mancini fashion, he decided to rest both Aguero and Silva, thus rendering my picks moot for the Gameweek. To my relief, Dempsey delivered in style, collecting 15 points.

Quality of captain picks from Gameweek 25 onwards:

  • Good captain picks: 5/9
  • Double digit captains: 2/9

It’s looking grim at the moment. But hey, at least I picked Pogrebnyak as a strong play this Gameweek.

NamePositionGoalsAssistsClean SheetBonusOtherScore
YoungMidfielder210318
PogrebnyakForward301317
DempseyMidfielder201215
SigurdssonMidfielder201315
McAuleyDefender101315
Van PersieForward290313
CaulkerDefender011312
EtheringtonMidfielder101311
N'ZogbiaMidfielder101210
RidgewellDefender0112-1 for YC10
JohnsonMidfielder01139
BendtnerForward10039
ClichyDefender01109
ZamoraForward10039
A. JohnsonForward02119
BalotelliForward10139
HartGoalkeeper0011+1 for 5 saves8
ShottonDefender01128
CuellarDefender01038
MignoletGoalkeeper0000+5 for penalty save, +1 for 3 saves8
SzczesnyGoalkeeper0000+5 for penalty save, +1 for 4 saves8
RooneyForward10038
DrentheMidfielder1001-1 for YC7
NaniMidfielder01117
TurnerDefender01027
FosterGoalkeeper00117
BegovicGoalkeeper0010+1 for 3 saves7
HughesDefender00106
TaylorDefender00106
SagnaDefender01016
ShawcrossDefender00106
OlssonDefender00106
HuthDefender00106
SchwarzerGoalkeeper00106
SenderosDefender00106
MurphyMidfielder01106
ToureDefender00106
RiiseDefender00106
VormGoalkeeper00106
LescottDefender00106
DuffMidfielder01106
KompanyDefender00106
OrrDefender01016
DunnMidfielder1000-1 for <60 min6
HendersonMidfielder01005
RangelDefender0010-1 for YC5
WhiteheadMidfielder00125
BuzsakyMidfielder01005
AmeobiForward1000-1 for <60 min5
WilliamsDefender0010-1 for YC5
DefoeForward1000-1 for <60 min5
HangelandDefender0010-1 for YC5
SongMidfielder01005
EvraDefender01005
HeitingaDefender00035
AllenMidfielder00114
PienaarMidfielder0100-1 for YC4
DiarraMidfielder0100-1 for <60 min4
RobinsonGoalkeeper0000+2 for 6 saves4
WalcottMidfielder00024
WilliamsonDefender0100-1 for YC4
JeromeForward0100-1 for <60 min4
CechGoalkeeper0000+2 for 6 saves4

For a summary of players scoring over three points in Gameweek 27, please refer to the table above.

Suarez

After Pogrebnyak’s hattrick, a section on the Russian striker would have made sense. However, with Liverpool playing two games next Gameweek I decided to look a little at Suarez’s stats.

Looking at only goals, Suarez has had a disappointing season. Six goals in 21 appearances are numbers that would indicate Suarez is a bench player. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Suarez has, at times, been the only bright spark in Liverpool’s attacking game. He is hard working, a quick dribbler, and sometimes looks like he can create chances for himself whenever he wants.

According to an excellent Guardian piece on Suarez, he was a brilliant poacher in his Ajax days, which begs the question of what is missing in his current game. The Guardian piece has it down to him having less than a stellar support crew and as a consequence him trying to do too much all on his own.

Now, lets look at interesting graphs from an interesting article from EPL Index:

Strikers: Shots taken

Comparison of shots taken for various strikers

The main thing from the shooting graph is that Suarez is shooting, having the third most shots after only Van Persie and Rooney. In fact, of the top six strikers Suarez sticks out like a sore thumb, being the only one under 100 Fantasy points for the season.

Striker conversion

Comparison of conversion rate for various strikers.

Here we see the reason for the few goals. Suarez has a miserable 6.7% conversion rate. For any other player I would recommend staying away, and he would never get into any Fantasy team. But with his proven goal-scoring history, both in his Ajax days and in the start of his Liverpool career, I believe he could well be an important differentiator for the season run-in.

Surprisingly, he is selected by almost 19% of Fantasy managers, and has risen by 2% in on Gameweek. Most likely, this is due to the upcoming double Gameweek. Still, compared the the elite strikers (Aguero at 37%, Van Persie at 36%, Rooney at 28%, and Ba at 26%), this is still significantly lower and he is a ballsy play in Gameweek 28.

Comments

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

Gameweek 26 Review – On Fire Odemwingie

Odemwingie by Jl4kj123 at Wikimedia Commons. Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0.

Odemwingie scored a brace against Sunderland

The game of the weekend was an astonishing North-London derby, resulting in an important 5 – 2 win for Arsenal. Despite Tottenham going 0 – 2 within half an hour, Arsenal pushed on and scored five goals to end Tottenham’s title dreams. From a Fantasy perspective all the big guns delivered; Van Persie and Adebayor both registered goals and assists while Bale got an assist for a dubious penalty.

Both Manchester kept up their winning ways, although in contrasting ways. City faced little resistance from Blackburn while United needed an injury time winner from Giggs to grab three points at Carrow Road.

This was the week for new and forgotten strikers:

  • Pogrebnyak scored Fulham’s winning goal in their 0 – 1 win against QPR.
  • P. Cisse and Doyle scored in the two all draw between Newcastle and Wolves.
  • Drogba scored in Chelsea’s 3 – 0 home win against Bolton.

Gameweek 26 Scores

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 26 I recommended Aguero, Ba, and Silva as the captain picks. Aguero and Silva delivered but Ba was a disappointment with only two points.

Quality of captain picks from Gameweek 25 onwards:

  • Good captain picks: 4/6
  • Double digit captains: 1/6

Considering that twelve players registered double digit Gameweeks it’s unfortunate I didn’t manage to hit on one of them. Most of them came from unlikely sources (e.g. Scholes, Upson, Sagna, Andrews) or players that although are playable I would never captain (e.g. Luiz, Walcott, Lampard, Odemwingie, Drogba).

NamePositionGoalsAssistsClean SheetBonusOtherScore
KolarovDefender021315
WalcottMidfielder200315
LampardMidfielder111314
UpsonDefender101214
LuizDefender101113
OdemwingieForward201313
DoyleForward110312
SagnaDefender1102-1 for 2 GC12
DrogbaForward111211
ScholesMidfielder100310
ShottonDefender011110
AndrewsMidfielder101210
MorrisonMidfielder10119
GutierrezMidfielder10029
CrouchForward10139
AdebayorForward11009
GiggsMidfielder10029
SongMidfielder02019
SimpsonDefender0100-1 for 2 GC9
PogrebnyakForward1013-1 for YC8
CuellarDefender0013-1 for YC8
SchwarzerGoalkeeper0010+2 for 7 saves8
Van PersieForward1100-1 for YC8
JarvisMidfielder10018
HughesDefender00128
BalotelliForward10128
AgueroForward10117
FosterGoalkeeper0010+1 for 3 saves7
CollinsDefender0012-1 for YC7
BegovicGoalkeeper0010+1 for 4 saves7
Al-HabsiGoalkeeper0010+1 for 3 saves7
RosickyMidfielder10007
McAuleyDefender00106
ThomasMidfielder01106
MataMidfielder01106
WilkinsonDefender00106
MulumbuMidfielder01116
SilvaMidfielder01106
P. CisseForward10006
OlssonDefender00106
WarnockDefender00106
RidgewellDefender00106
NaniMidfielder01016
KellyDefender00106
GivenGoalkeeper00106
FigueroaDefender00106
CaldwellDefender00106
EtheringtonMidfielder01106
BoyceDefender00106
CechGoalkeeper00106
CahillDefender00106
LescottDefender00106
AlcarazDefender00106
HangelandDefender00106
IvanovicDefender00106
ZabaletaDefender00106
KompanyDefender00106
HuttonDefender00106
A. ColeDefender00106
HartGoalkeeper00106
HoltForward10006
BaleMidfielder01005
TioteMidfielder01005
DembeleForward0111-1 for YC5
FortuneForward01005
RiiseDefender0010-1 for YC5
ShawcrossDefender0010-1 for YC5
O'HaraMidfielder01005
SahaForward1000-1 for <60 min5
DzekoForward1000-1 for <60 min5
YoungMidfielder0100-1 for <60 min4
ArtetaMidfielder0100-1 for YC4
WhitbreadDefender0100-1 for 2 GC4
BogdanGoalkeeper0000+3 for 10 saves & -1 for 3 GC4
BentForward00124

For a summary of players scoring over three points in Gameweek 26, please refer to the table above.

Odemwingie

West Brom crushed Sunderland 4 – 0, in big part due to Odemwingie’s brace. He has now scored five goals in two games and seems more like the goalscoring revelation he was last season. Looking at his total shots, in the table below, the sudden goal scoring glut shouldn’t have been a surprise. In the latter part of the season Odemwingie has doubled his shots per game. Total number of shots correlates well with total goal scored.

Note that Odemwingie’s numbers are captured only for the games he played.

Total GoalsGoals Per GameShotsShots Per Game
August - November20.22151.67
Desember - February70.58393.25
Last Four Games
Fulham (A)0-5-
Swansea City (H)0-2-
Wolverhampton Wanderers (A)3-9-
Sunderland (H) 2-5-

In the last four games Odemwingie totaled 21 shots (5.25 per game). Should he continue improving he is a possible purchase for those seeking to differentiate. He is currently selected by only 3.4% of Fantasy managers, compared with compared to Aguero (37%), RvP (37%), Rooney (28%), Ba (27%), Suarez (17%), Dzeko (8%), and Adebayor (11%).

Comments

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

Gameweek 25 Review – The Adebayor and Saha Combo

Saha by Mokkaijie at Wikimedia Commons. Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0.

Louis Saha scoring his 2nd goal for Tottenham Hotspur on his debut against Newcastle United.

Tottenham had the result of the Gameweek, with their five goal thumping of Newcastle. West Brom weren’t far behind with a 1 – 5 away victory that resulted in Mick McCarthy’s sacking on Monday morning.

Both Manchester clubs kept up their good form with one goal wins while Arsenal leapt to fourth place with an emotional 90th minute winner from club legend, Thierry Henry. Chelsea dropped to fifth due to their defeat to a much improved Everton.

Norwich became the second team this season to beat Swansea in Wales and Fulham won 2 – 1 at home against Stoke.

In the battle at the bottom, Blackburn and Wigan secured important wins over QPR and Bolton, respectively.

Gameweek 25 Scores

Starting with this week, 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 25 I recommended Rooney, Bale, and Dempsey as the captain picks. Rooney grabbed a brace and Dempsey got an assist. Against all odds, Bale didn’t pick up a single assist or goal in Tottenham’s 5 – 0 demolition of Newcastle.

Quality of captain picks from Gameweek 25 onwards:

  • Good captain picks: 2/3
  • Double digit captains: 1/3

That’s decent but not spectacular. Here’s hoping that this level will be my minimum for the rest of the season.

NamePositionGoalsAssistsClean SheetBonusOtherScore
AdebayorForward141321
OdemwingieForward300317
SahaForward211215
LescottDefender101315
Assou-EkottoDefender101113
OlssonDefender110213
GrahamForward200010
RooneyForward200313
N'ZonziMidfielder110313
HoltForward2003-1 for YC12
AndrewsMidfielder1101-1 for <60min10
PienaarMidfielder101311
KranjcarMidfielder10108
CaldwellDefender100311
MackieForward2002-2 for YC and <60 min10
BennettMidfielder02008
MorrisonMidfielder02008
HoilettForward0200-1 for <60 min7
McArthurMidfielder100310
M. DaviesMidfielder10007
HartGoalkeeper0010+1 for 4 saves7
HowardGoalkeeper0010+1 for 3 saves7
PilkingtonMidfielder10018
McCleanMidfielder10007
ShawcrossDefender1003-1 for 2 GC10
DonovanMidfielder01106
HeitingaDefender00106
BainesDefender00106
FletcherForward10006
YakubuForward10017
BarryMidfielder01117
StracqualursiForward10039
KompanyDefender00106
PogrebnyakForward10028
KolarovDefender00106
ZabaletaDefender00106
DawsonDefender00106
DistinDefender00106
FriedelGoalkeeper00106
RamseyMidfielder1003-1 for <60 min9
KingDefender00106
SuarezForward10006
WalkerDefender0010Yellow card5
RiiseDefender01005
N'GogForward01005
DempseyMidfielder011005
BeausejourMidfielder0105
HenryForward1002-1 for <60 min7
DyerMidfielder01005
MulumbuMidfielder01005
GiggsMidfielder01027
TaarabtMidfielder01005
ValenciaMidfielder01005
Ebanks-BlakeForward01005
MosesMidfielder01016
WardDefender0102-1 for 2 GC6
ArtetaMidfielder01005
WilliamsDefender0100-1 for 3 GC4
AdamMidfielder0100-1 for <60 min4
TaiwoDefender0100-1 for 3 GC4
PennantMidfielder0100-1 for <60 min4
ArshavinMidfielder0100-1 for <60 min4
ScholesMidfielder00024
NevillaMidfielder00114
SilvaMidfielder00125

For a summary of players scoring over three points in Gameweek 25, please refer to the table above.

Adebayor and Saha

Redknapp’s capture of Louis Saha from Everton peid off instantly with Tottenham’s emphatic 5 – 0 win this Gameweek. Adebayor seems to relish playing alongside Saha and together they carved the Newcastle defence open time after time.

AdebayorSaha
Goals12
Assists41
Shots63
Chances Created6 (1 per 15 min)2 (1 per 34 min)
Passing59/62 (95%)26/27 (96%)

As the numbers show, both players’ passing was exemplary, with Adebayor much more involved. His influence to Tottenham’s attacking is much more than goals, as he’s heavily involved in the passing in the final third, pulling players into the game and providing key passes, leading to assists. He has 11 already, alongside his 10 goals.

The downside to his Fantasy prospects is the schedule. He has Arsenal away, followed by Manchester United at home and Everton away; a daunting set of fixtures. However, Arsenal aren’t the most defensive sound team and United haven’t kept a clean sheet in their last three away games.

Adebayor is certainly one to think about and is more of a differential play with only around 11% ownership, compared to RvP (38%), Aguero (36%), Rooney (27%), Ba (24%), and Suarez (18%).

Comments

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

Friday Foreplay (Tuesday Edition) – Gameweek 23

Clint Dempsey by 2O at Wikimedia Commons. Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0.

Vincent Kompany returns from suspension for Manchester City

We prepare for Gameweek 23 in this edition of the Friday Foreplay (Tuesday Edition) 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: Even with the away game he sits at the top of the list, mainly because of Arsenal’s dependence on his goals.
  2. Rooney: Has been playing well, even if he hasn’t been involved in United’s goals. Watch out for reports whether he recovers from ankle injury.
  3. Bale: Explosive in his new central role for Tottenham and I’m gambling he’ll outscore Van der Vaart yet again this Gameweek.
  4. Differential: Despite his hattrick last Gameweek, few will captain Dempsey this Gameweek. He has two recent hattricks and the shooting statistics to back the selection.

Big Hitters

Robin van Persie’s is the current king of the Fantasy Premier League, having outscored the second highest player (Silva) by 28 points. He leads the league in shots, with the total of 80, and will add to the tally away at Bolton. Bolton have a horrible home game record and RvP is likely to capitalize. Anyone betting against RvP should better have a good reason and be chasing in the mini-league.

A stuttering Stoke team is ideal for Rooney to start a new scoring streak. He has taken the responsibility for much of United’s creative play against the tougher teams which has meant that he has dropped back to midfield. Missing the Liverpool FA Cup loss, he will be fresh to inflict pain at home. Valencia is always the best bet for a United assist and is their in-form player.

Bale has been consistent from Gameweek 10 onwards, scoring seven goals and delivering eight assists. He has outscored both Van der Vaart and Adebayor, who haven’t scored since Gameweeks 19 and 17, respectively.

Everton are always a tough nut to crack so I would stay away from captaining Manchester City players this Gameweek. That being said, if you have any of Silva, Aguero, or Dzeko, you play them. Silva is Mr. Consistent and Aguero is City’s best bet for an explosive Gameweek.

Other strong plays include:

  • Dempsey, following his double hattricks in recent weeks. Fulham, historically much stronger at home, welcome an inconsistent West Brom to Craven Cottage.
  • Sessegnon has blossomed into his new attacking role under O’Neill and is currently the FPL’s in-form player (apart from N. Dyer). Sunderland should score at home against Norwich and Sessegnon is the most likely player to be involved.

Clean Sheets

With both Manchester teams, Swansea, and Tottenham all playing at home the clean sheet picks are rather obvious this Gameweek.

  • Manchester United welcome Stoke to Old Trafford. Despite Evans and Smalling sometimes being troubled by route one strikers United is a good bet for a clean sheet. Evans is a steal at £4.5.
  • Manchester City play at home against an Everton team that can’t score this season. City welcome Kompany back after his suspension.
  • Tottenham is defending better this season than I expected, having already registered six clean sheets at home. Despite his mistake against Manchester City, I still rate King, priced at £4.5, as their best defender.
  • Swansea is the defensive surprise package of the season, with goalkeeper Vorm hogging the headlines with some outstanding performances. Statistically, they are likely to keep a clean sheet against Chelsea.

Taking a Punt

  • Welbeck has scored in consecutive Premier League games and seems to be Ferguson’s preferred strike partner for Rooney. He provides cheap access to United’s attack. For the defence, Lindegaard is a budget option for goal.
  • Everyone and their grandma has been touting McClean as a budget pick from the Sunderland midfield. Count me in.
  • With Dempsey hogging the headlines, many missed Zamora’s excellent performance against Newcastle. He scored and provided three assists in addition to collecting two bonus points. He has been in and out of the first team, reportedly because of a rift (denied by Jol), and is therefore a punt.
  • West Brom’s Morrison takes his fair share of shots and should, statistically, be rewarded more often with Fantasy points.

Current Form

With the second part of the season upon us we should remember to evaluate teams and players based on current form and numbers. Remember that early season success isn’t a perfect indicator for success later in the season.

Remember Hull and Blackpool?

Some players have overdelivered and will regress to their true potential while others will finally deliver in the latter stages of the season. Walter’s of Stoke has worse stats than his points indicate, while players like Suarez could explode in the latter part of the season.

Who do you predict will decline and improve in the latter part of the season?

Gameweek 16 Review and Gameweek 17 Preview

kun by Héctor Fabio at 20minutos.es. Licence: CC-BY-SA-3.0.

Aguero playing at home against Stoke is the most attractive captain option for Gameweek 17.

Games are starting to come thick and fast with four games being played in two weeks; from 17th of December to the 1st of January.

To address this, I’m combining a review of Gameweek 16 and a preview of Gameweek 17 in this post.

Thus we both prepare for Gameweek 17 and analyze the Fantasy impact of Gameweek 16 by producing captain picks, looking at notable performances, investigating heavy hitters, predicting clean sheets, and speculating on possible punts.

Captain Picks

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

  1. Aguero: Was impressive against Arsenal even though he didn’t score. I have a feeling he will not be as wasteful at home against Stoke.
  2. Van Persie: A blank last Gameweek shouldn’t dissuade you from betting on Van Persie against a luckless Aston Villa side.
  3. Rooney: Scoring in two consecutive Gameweeks provides evidence that the old devastating Rooney is back.
  4. Differential: Ba should thrive against a West Brom defence that had conceded in their last eight matches.

Notable Performances and Heavy Hitters

Silva scored Manchester City’s winner against Arsenal. He is scoring 6.2 points per game, the highest of all midfielders, and is as effective in the Fantasy game as he is silky on the pitch. Aguero is the main beneficiary of Silva’s penetrating passing and both of them threaten attain double digit Fantasy scores against Stoke at home.

Van Persie couldn’t find the net against City, a rarity these days. Away at Aston Villa, he’ll be facing a much friendlier defence that was lucky to only concede two against Liverpool. If you have him, it’s hard not captain him given his form.

Valencia assisted Rooney for the second consecutive week with Carrick also getting on the scoresheet. Rooney, Valencia, Nani, and Jones are all attractive prospects for Fantasy points away at Fulham. Jones more because of his attacking prowess, because Fulham could cause the United defence problems. Dempsey the most likely to punch through the Uniteds defensive line, now starting Evans. The young Northern Irish defender is a uncommonly cheap access to an elite defence. He seems to be Ferguson’s favorite to fill in for Vidic and should be good value at £4.4.

Ba has proved this season that his goal scoring at West Ham wasn’t a fluke. Newcastle are at home against West Brom who have conceded eight games on the trot.

Suarez was unlucky not to score against Aston Villa but has delivered with a goal and an assist in the last two games. Watching him play, he looks like he’s just baby steps away from a hattrick.

Tottenham welcoming Chelsea to White Hart Lane provides the most interesting battle of the Gameweek. Sturridge is on quite a run, with four goals, two assists, and seven bonus points in the last five games. Away at Tottenham will be a tougher fixture than most in the league where an attacking trio of Adebayor, Bale, and Van der Vaart are all likely to cause Chelsea problems. I find it hard to predict the results of the big clashes so I would advise against captaining a player from either team.

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.

Gameweek 17 looks to be less friendly towards Premiership defenses, with only the following a likely clean sheet.

  • Manchester City are well equipped to deal with Stoke’s aerial threat with imposing defenders Kompany and Richards.
  • Everton face a Swansea team that pose less attacking threat on the road with 0.75 goals per game. If you can afford him, Baines also provides an impressive attacking threat.
  • Liverpool are looking solid at the moment and are likely against Wigan, even away from home. The man of too few vowels, Skrtel, is a threat from set pieces, scoring an impressive header against Aston Villa.
  • Other possible clean sheets are Arsenal and Swansea against rather blunt opponents.

Tube Strike and Rotation

The tube driver’s strike could cause the cancellation of both Arsenal’s and Chelsea’s home games on Boxing Day. The news add to the importance of having playing substitutes during the hectic holiday period as they are more likely to come into play.

Also important is to pay close attention to you vice captain, should your top pick not play. It can often be better to play a certain starter, such as Larsson against QPR, rather than risking another rotation threat should your main pick be rested.

So be aware of the risks, don’t get caught out, and enjoy the football.

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 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.

Friday Foreplay – Gameweek 10

We prepare for Gameweek 10 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. Aguero, given City’s form, home game and opponents.
  2. Van der Vaart, because of the home game, opponents, and excellent form.
  3. Silva, in third only because he is less likely to get a twenty point Gameweek than Aguero and Van der Vaart.
  4. Adebayor, for form, home game, and opponents.
  5. Differential: Rooney, should you believe in a United backlash and be willing to gamble.

Big Hitters

After last weeks Manchester Mauling the big question is what impact this will have on both Manchester teams. Manchester City host Wolves in a fixture that cries out for captaining City’s attack. AgueroSilva, and Balotelli were rested in the Carling Cup tie against, funnily enough, Wolves. City put five past Wolves with a team featuring Dzeko, which should see Mancini start Balotelli and Aguero. In the League, before the 2 – 2 draw against Swansea, Wolves had lost five games in a row, conceding at least two goals in each of them.

Manchester United 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.

Tottenham has five games out the last six games and face a QPR team that could barely hold on to a one goal lead with a two man advantage against Chelsea last Gameweek. QPR is an unpredictable beast but the quality of Van der Vaart and Adebayor should see Tottenham win. Van der Vaart has five goals in four games and as a result has risen 0.3 in price this round. Even though Adebayor hasn’t scored in four games, he has picked up three goals, four assists, and stolen six bonus points in six games.

The neutral’s game of the week goes to Chelsea v Arsenal where Fantasy favorite, Robin van Persie, has his job cut out for him against a strong Chelsea side. I wouldn’t captain him this week as his away form is less impressive than his home form. Chelsea are facing an Arsenal defence that has had problems away from home all season. Torres, Mata, and Lampard are all reasonable picks with uncertainty clouding the choice of Sturridge or Anelka as Torres’s partner.

Clean Sheets

The clean sheet picks are:

  • Manchester City at home against Wolves. With Zabaleta, Kolo Toure, Kolarov and Razak starting against Wolves you should feel safer puttin Kompany, Richards, Lescott, and Clichy in your team. While Kompany is the safest pick of the bunch Richards packs the highest upside with his frequent attacking forays.
  • Stoke City‘s Britannia stadium is a clean sheet fortress. Stoke have only conceded one goal in three games at home this season and are playing three out of their next four games at home against winnable teams. Get in a Stoke defender (or Begovic) and play him for the next  four games. Shawcross is the obvious pick, but for the cost-restricted Wilkinson is a great pickup at 4.0. He has played the last four games and looks set for an extended run in the team.
  • Swansea have not conceded a goal at home this season and face a Bolton team that is still trying to recover from their tough early fixtures. Vorm is the goalkeeper bargain of the season while N. Taylor is competitively priced at 4.1.

You should generally gamble on defenders playing at home. Thus, if you don’t have defenders from the above teams, other possible options are Norwich at home against Blackburn, Sunderland v Aston Villa, and Tottenham at home facing QPR.

Taking a Punt

  • Suarez scored a brace in the Carling Cup tie against Stoke. He was unlucky not to score against Norwich and has been playing better than his Fantasy statistics indicate.
  • Bale has been threatening on the wings and will look to take on L. Young. Hasn’t shown goal-scoring stability after least season’s breakthrough but is likely to cause QPR problems.
  • Graham has scored in Swansea’s last three games and is their best bet to get on the score sheet against a Bolton defence that has conceded heavily. Sinclair will look to drive at the defence and is also worth a punt.
  • The United defence has looked suspect all season, and Tim Cahill will look to take advantage of that.
  • Zamora will test the leaky Wigan defence that has conceded nine goals away from home.

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

Gameweek 9 Review – Manchester Mauling

What an incredible score. Manchester City put a marker down, demolishing Manchester United at Old Trafford, in a 1 – 6 victory. I said in the Gameweek preview that derby’s were unpredictable, but this just takes the piss.

In Fantasy terms, City must now be considered the dominant attacking force and managers should put greater emphasis on Aguero and Silva.

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

Balotelli was Manchester City’s initial hero, scoring their first two goals. Then came the Great Flood. Aguero got the third goal, while Silva notched an assist and a goal. Substitute Dzeko came on two score two goals and grab an assist. Milner stole three bonus points as well as setting up two goals.

Robin van Persie did it a gain. In a second consecutive Gameweek he won the game for Arsenal against Stoke with two well taken goals. This means his goal tally for Arsenal in 2011 is 30 in 36 games. He is getting hard to ignore and threatens to become a must-own for any Fantasy manager worth his salt. Ramsey grabbed an assist and Gervinho needs to be watched following his BAG (Bonus, Assist, Goal) performance. Walter’s assisted for Stoke’s goal and is still one of my picks for a reasonably priced midfielder.

Swansea’s Graham scored his third goal in three games as well as picking up an assist and stealing two bonus points. However, he could not prevent Wolves snatching a 2 – 2 draw with O’Hara and Doyle both scoring and stealing bonus points. In spite of the two goals, Vorm still picked up three points thanks to his seven saves. Joe Allen grabbed one of Swansea’s goal and is looking like a possible cheap pickup at 4.5. Wolves were outplayed by Swansea but fought back to claim a 2 – 2 draw. They may not be the best of teams, but fight they can.

West Brom secured an important away victory where Brunt had an eventful game. After missing a penalty, he got both assists and stole two bonus points. Agbonlahor and Bent combined for Villa’s goal in the 1 – 2 loss.

Sessegnon finally had the Fantasy game most pundits were predicting before the start of the season. He scored and assisted, while stealing three bonus points. Bendtner joined in with a goal and Brown registered points with a clean sheet and an assist. Bolton were hapless in the 0 – 2 loss.

Newcastle were the worse team for most of the game but still managed a 1 – 0 victory at home over Wigan. Their back line is once again the major winner with Krul grabbing a bonus point and two saves to go with the clean sheet points. Cabaye got Newcastle’s goal and stole maximum bonus points while at it.

Suarez was the best player on the pitch in Liverpool’s 1 – 1 draw with Norwich. Apart from perhaps Ruddy, who got eight saves in a match winning performance at Anfield. Frustratingly (as I had captained him), he was wasteful and unlucky in front of goal. Holt came on for Norwich and got a striker’s goal and stole three bonus points. Notably, Gerrard stole one bonus point, and could prove to be the same bonus point magnet under the new bonus point system, as he was in the old one.

Dempsey assisted for a fantastic Ruiz goal but couldn’t prevent Everton from winning 1 – 3 away at Craven Cottage. Drenthe was the man of the match in a multi-BAG performance. He stole maximum bonus points for a goal and double-assist in his first full game for Everton. Fantasy manager’s need to keep an eye out for him, for he could be one of the surprise buy’s of the season. Rodwell also got a BAG while Saha chipped in with a goal.

Van der Vaart is proving his Fantasy credentials with both goals in Tottenham’s 1 -2 victory at Blackburn.

In the second most surprising result of the Gameweek, QPR managed to hang on to a on one goal lead, playing 11 against 9, at Loftus Road. They won 1 – 0 against Chelsea with A. Ferdinand the main Fantasy beneficiary, stealing three bonus points to go with his tasty clean sheet.

Out of Sorts

The Manchester United team had their “worst result” and looked way off pace. Evans continues to make mistakes and will now be lower in the pecking order at Old Trafford. Rooney is having a bad time at the moment and you must looking to sell him if you believe it will last. For many, Van Persie and Aguero are looking better options at the moment.

Bosingwa got many a owner -2 points by picking up a red card against QPR. Drogba then angered his team mates by lunging in a silly two-footed tackle. He will not have endeared himself to Villas-Boas.

Carroll was again dropped to the bench. If you still own, sell him now.

Chris Herd will not have been happy with his sending off in his second start of the season for Aston Villa.

Bolton, Wigan and Blackburn continue to lose and manager’s should avoid their players.

Attractive Options

With a fourth of the season gone trends are starting to emerge. Van Persie is showing his class, Van der Vaart has returned to his goal-scoring ways and Manchester City are averaging over 3.5 goals per game. This should be the time you take a cold hard look at your team and perhaps dump your favorites for proven Fantasy quality. For myself, this means perhaps selling Rooney for Van Persie or Aguero or cleaning up the defence to be able to afford Van der Vaart. Don’t be scared of making drastic changes when it is evident they are needed.

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 8 Preview – Back Again

We prepare for Gameweek 8 in this edition of the Friday Foreplay by producing captain picks, investigating the heavy hitters, and speculating on possible punts.

The international break saw many Premier League players hit top form with their countries:

  • Silva was instrumental in Spain’s win over Scotland and recorded two goals and an assist.
  • Bale played so well that Gary Speed saw fit to single him out for praise.
  • Ramsey was impressive and pulled the strings in midfield for Wales.
  • Nasri scored for France and Dzeko scored in both of Bosnia’s games.
  • Young, Kyut, Larsson, Pedersen, Ivanovic, and Olson also scored.

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. Wayne Rooney, simply because of the form he is in at the moment.
  2. Silva, for his form and a home game.
  3. Van Persie, for a home game against a down-in-the-dumps Sunderland.
  4. Differential: Sturridge and Wright-Phillips.

Big Hitters

The biggest matchup of the Gameweek is Liverpool v Manchester United. However, high Fantasy returns aren’t guaranteed for either set of players. Rooney and Nani are the obvious choices for United and a bet on Suarez at home against a leaky United defence is reasonable. A counter to that bet is that Vidic is back from injury as well as Cleverley, who could add some urgency to the midfield. I would not play either team’s defensive players, as clean sheets are unlikely.

Manchester City is at home against Aston Villa and Silva looks likely to pick up Fantasy points following his display for Spain against Scotland. Dzeko is set to start upfront as Aguero is injured and Tevez is banned following his strop in Munich. If there are goals to be found, Silva and Dzeko will be involved.

If Van Persie is going to justify his price, a home game against Sunderland is exactly the kind of game that see his Fantasy returns in the double figures. If you own him, you should be captaining him here.

Clean Sheets

Last Gameweek saw five clean sheets, with predictable ones coming from Aston Villa, Manchester United, and Fulham at home against possible relegation candidates (although QPR could be safe this season after the Fernandes buyout).

Swansea should now be considered candidates after four consecutive home clean sheets. The have also only conceded one goal per game away from home apart from the four goals conceded against Manchester City in the first Gameweek.

Remember to tread carefully, rather focusing on attacking points until defensive patterns are clear. That being said the clean sheet candidates are:

  • Chelsea at home against a toothless Everton is probably the most obvious clean sheet potential of the Gameweek. From Chelsea, Bosingwa also offers the possibility of assists and goals.
  • Manchester City playing at home is a reasonable bet. Kompany is ever-present and reasonably priced.
  • Norwich and Swansea games have been low-scoring, with both teams averaging around a goal per game. The game could easily end in two clean sheets. Vorm and Ruddy are cheap goalkeepers worthy of considering in a goalkeeper rotation system.

You should generally gamble on defenders playing at home. Thus, if you don’t have defenders from the above teams, other possible options are QPR at home against Blackburn, Newcastle v Tottenham, and Stoke at home against Fulham.

Taking a Punt

  • Di Santo at home against Bolton. Bolton have conceded more goals in their first 7 games of the season than any other team in Premier League history.
  • Sturridge will have space on the right flank should Baines venture forward and Distin asked to cover.
  • Gervinho is back for Arsenal and will be looking to re-start his season with a positive impact.
  • Wright-Phillips is likely to cause the porous Blackburn defence problems with his speed and QPR will look to bounce back after their 0 – 6 thumping against Fulham.

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 7 Preview – Did You Sell Rooney?

What players should you pick for Gameweek 7 and most importantly, who should you captain?

We prepare for Gameweek 7 in this edition of the Friday Foreplay by producing captain picks, investigating the heavy hitters, and speculating on possible punts.

Premier League clubs successfully navigated the Europe League waters midweek; Fulham, Stoke, and Tottenham all won. We should note how the teams perform in Gameweek 7, trying to spot possible patterns for clubs playing back-to-back games. Stoke suffered against Sunderland after their last midweek game while Tottenham played their second string which should mean they are fresh against Arsenal in Gameweek 7.

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. Wayne Rooney
  2. Nani
  3. Sergio Aguero
  4. Differential: Adebayor and Robin van Persie

Big Hitters

Manchester United v Norwich stands out as the fixture most likely to have high Fantasy returns for United players. Rooney and Nani are the obvious choices with Young, Anderson, and Hernandez a tier below.

There is always rotation to look out for and Young could be a candidate following his 90 minutes against Basel in the Champions League. We could see Giggs or Park deputize.

Blackburn have conceded 13 goals this season making Manchester City’s Aguero captain material, especially after Tevez’ ban and Dzeko’s strop against Bayern Munich. Silva has been City’s most consistent performer and is always looking for the killer pass.

Both Tottenham and Arsenal have less than stellar defences, which opens up the possibility for a goal-fest at White Hart Lane. I like both Adebayor and Van der Vaart for Tottenham and Robin van Persie (RvP) for Arsenal; however, the RvP excitement is dampened if Tottenham start with Ledley King in defence.

Last season Tottenham conceded 0.67 goals per game with King playing and 1.21 without (stats courtesy of EPL Index). Whether King starts or not buying RvP makes sense, fixture wise. After the Tottenham game, RvP has two home games against Sunderland and Stoke and will score Fantasy points.

Clean Sheets

I’m reluctant to suggest clean sheets, as they have been hard as hell to predict this season. Unlikely candidates in Swansea, QPR, and Newcastle have given better defensive returns than former stalwarts such as Chelsea and Manchester United. Tread carefully, rather focusing on attacking points until patterns are clear. That being said the clean sheet candidates are:

  • Aston Villa at home against Wigan. Villa have only conceded 5 goals this season, the same number Wigan have scored. Statistically, this is as good as it gets.
  • Both Fulham and QPR have a fair shot in what could be a cagey London derby. Both teams have scored few goals so far and Jol is likely to set Fulham up for a tight encounter.
  • Manchester United at home against Norwich. In spite of United’s defensive frailties this season they are dominant at home.

You should generally gamble on defenders playing at home. Thus, if you don’t have defenders from the above teams, other possible options are Sunderland at home against West Brom, Wolves v Newcastle, and Swansea at home against Stoke.

Taking a Punt

  • N. Dyer at home against Stoke City. Stoke were dreadful against Sunderland after their last European adventure, although they were at home this week which negates any travel fatigue.
  • Kaboul was menacing in Tottenham’s set pieces against Wigan last Gameweek and could capitalize on Arsenal’s aerial weakness.
  • Drogba could lead the line for Chelsea against a Bolton team in the worst form in many a years. Anxious to prove that he still has a role to play, he could bang in a few goals.
  • Suarez has been effective in big games for Liverpool, most notably in their demolition of Manchester United last season. The Merseyside derby is as big as it gets for Liverpool and he is likely to contribute.

Selling Rooney?

The news of Rooney’s injury circulating the football media tested the seller’s patience, with over 165.000 managers opting to transfer Rooney out. Unfortunately for those quick to act, both Hernandez and Rooney were declared fit by Ferguson this morning. United face Norwich at home, making Rooney the obvious captain this Gameweek with Nani following closely behind.

To be fair, the reasoning for Rooney’s sales, besides his injury, is tough fixtures. The next two games after Norwich are Liverpool at Anfield and Man City at Old Trafford.

Good luck, use your free transfer wisely, and 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 5 Preview – Veteran vs. Newcomer

After a frantic European midweek adventure we focus on Gameweek 5 in this edition of the Friday Foreplay. The game of the week is the top of the table clash between Manchester United and Chelsea, where newcomer André Villas-Boas tests his wits against veteran Sir Alex Ferguson.

Remember that the game previews are in many 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. Use the information in “Injuries and suspensions” for each team below.

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

  1. Wayne Rooney
  2. Leighton Baines
  3. David Silva
  4. Differential: Adebayor and Suarez.

Manchester United v Chelsea

United had the upper hand in this matchup throughout last season and with the form of the teams it is hard to see past a United victory. Both teams have let in goals so we could see a high scoring game at Old Trafford.

Picks

  • Rooney: In spite of the tough fixture, Rooney is my captain’s pick for the Gameweek. He is too hot to handle, and United are a frightening prospect at home.

Punts

  • Hernandez: His speed could trouble the Chelsea defence, as witnessed by his goal when the sides last met in the Champions League. Both Rooney and Hernandez are in fine form and Ferguson commented that he thinks it likely that both will score over 25 goals this season.

Warnings

  • Chelsea forwards: With Torres set up both Chelsea’s goals in the Champions League tie against Leverkusen and Sturridge scoring in the last League game it is tough to predict the starting lineup. Add in Anelka, Malouda, Mata, and Kalou and you could end up with your Chelsea striker on the bench, likely to get 1 point as a substitute.

Injuries and suspensions

  • Manchester United: Cleverley (foot), Welbeck (hamstring), Gibson (ankle), Rafael (shoulder), Vidic (calf).
  • Chelsea: Essien (knee), Drogba (concussion), Bertrand (thigh).

Tottenham v Liverpool

Both teams’ defences have looked suspect and I can foresee a glut of goals in the game.

Picks

  • Adebayor: Redknapp has likely found his target man for the season in Adebayor, who scored on his debut. I like the look of Adebayor and he was my transfer in this week. A possible captain pick, but a risky one.
  • Suarez: The Uruguayan is playing well and has been unlucky to not have picked up points in the last couple of Gameweeks.

Punts

  • Downing: Has been lively in Liverpool’s attacks and is bound to break his duck soon. A bit of an outside punt.

Warnings

  • Carroll: Although Tottenham’s injury plagued defence would suit Carroll’s heading threat, he isn’t set to start.

Injuries and suspensions

  • Tottenham: Van der Vaart (hamstring), Lennon (groin), Gallas (calf), Pienaar (groin), Corluka (doubtful), Dawson (achilles), Sandro (knee).
  • Liverpool: Kelly (hamstring), Johnson (hamstring), Gerrard (groin).

Fulham v Manchester City

Based on both teams’ start to the season we should see a safe victory for Man City. Until we see a pattern to Mancini’s team, I feel the Man City forwards are too exposed to rotation risk.

Picks

  • Silva: My man of the match against Wigan, in spite of Aguero’s treble. Probably the best midfielder in the Premier League at the moment and is integral to City’s attacking game.
  • Kompany: Fulham have looked blunt and Kompany is the safest pick of the City defence.

Punts

  • Nasri: Seems able to conjure assists at will this season. Only downgraded to a punt because of his broken arm, which makes him more susceptible to rotation.
  • Clichy and Richards: Susceptible to rotation, but should they start the fullbacks have supported the attack by playing a high attacking line.

Warnings

  • City forwards: Unless you feel certain in who will start, I recommend going for playing minutes in definite starters; strikers like Adebayor and Odemwingie are examples.
  • Fulham defence: City is lethal in front of goal this season.

Injuries and suspensions

  • Fulham: Senderos (doubtful – illness), B.H. Riise (hamstring), Davies (knee), Hughes (doubtful), Etuhu (doubtful).
  • Manchester City: Jong (doubtful), Milner (doubtful), Hargreaves (doubtful).

Aston Villa v Newcastle

With Newcastle’s great defensive record this season, this game has a good chance of providing both teams’ defenders’ with a clean sheet.

Picks

  • Given: If Villa stay compact he could both receive a clean sheet bonus and collect a few east saves from hopeless long range efforts.
  • S. Taylor: Has already received 6 bonus points and could steal some again in a scoreless draw.

Punts

  • Bent: Always likely to score, simple as that. The downside is his lack of service this season.
  • Cabaye: An interesting budget midfield option that has already picked up points. Likely to get better as gets accustomed to the Premier League.

Warnings

  • Although a useless warning in my last Gameweek preview, I’m repeating it: Santon was bought for the left back role, so R. Taylor’s starting place is in doubt. Although with Santon a doubt for this Gameweek, this is more of a long-term warning.

Injuries and suspensions

  • Aston Villa: Cuellar (knee), Heskey (hamstring), Jenas (hamstring), Lichaj (hip).
  • Newcastle: Santon (doubtful), Williamson (ankle), Vuckic (hand), Ben Arfa (ankle).

Sunderland v Stoke City

A tale of two cities; Stoke look to extend their excellent start to the season, while Sunderland seek to break from their depressive start.

Picks

  • Brown: A controversial pick, in light of Sunderland’s form. Brown has been the one bright light in Sunderland’s performances and I have a feeling Bruce will play it tight against Stoke. Stoke are normally much worse away from home.

Punts

  • Mignolet: Another surprising pick. But I can foresee a glut of saves and glimmer of hope for a clean sheet.
  • Walters: Stoke’s penalty taker and playing as a forward despite being classified as a forward in the Fantasy game. A budget midfielder with promise.

Warnings

  • Jones: Started on the bench against Liverpool. Walter’s and Crouch could be Pulis’ front line this season.
  • Gyan: Loaned out to Al-Ain for the season. Sell him, if you haven’t already.

Injuries and suspensions

  • Sunderland: Gordon (knee), Campell (knee), Meyler (knee), O’Shea (doubtful), Angeleri (knee), Bardsley (suspended).
  • Stoke City: Fuller (achilles), Higginbotham (knee) Etherington (doubtful), Diao (doubtful), Woodgate (doubtful), Sidibe (achilles).

Wolves v QPR

Wolves suffered their first setback this season against Tottenham last Gameweek, while a rejuvenated QPR was unlucky to only draw against a defensively sound Newcastle team.

Picks

  • Ward: In spite of the Tottenham loss, Wolves are likely to be a tough nut to crack at home this season. Ward has picked up 5 bonus points in four games, and is a good defensive budget pick this Gameweek.

Punts

  • Wright-Phillips: Looked sharp against Newcastle and with QPR looking much stronger after the deadline day imports, Wright-Phillips will probably have a decent Fantasy season. Perhaps a buy this week for the long-term, rather than his potential against Wolves.
  • Gabbidon: Not a high percentage play, but a useful budget player in an improved QPR defence.

Warnings

  • Buzsaky: Dropped last Gameweek and is likely to be a bench warmer this season with the glut of new players at the club.

Injuries and suspensions

  • Wolves: Guedioura (doubtful), Edwards (back), Ebanks-Blake (ankle), Fletcher (doubtful), Foley (doubtful).
  • QPR: Orr (groin), Dyer (ankle), Hulse (knee), Mackie (leg), Helguson (doubtful), Traore (doubtful).

Bolton v Norwich

Bolton hope to pick up their first points of the season after a nightmare starting fixtures containing City, Liverpool, and United. Have looked decent apart from the United drubbing and should claim a victory over newly promoted Norwich.

Picks

  • Klasnic: Budget forward that has looked sharp. Has three goals in four games and will test the Norwich defence.
  • Petrov: If Klasnic scores, chances are the assist will be provide by Petrov. Does not provide much defensive cover but has a deadly left foot.

Punts

  • Cahill: An expensive defender that I would not recommend for the long run, but is likely to have chances to both score and keep a clean sheet this week.

Warnings

  • Boyata/Robinson: Steinsson is back so one of the fullbacks will be dropped.

Injuries and suspensions

  • Bolton: Mears (leg), Lee (leg), Davis (knee), Alonso (metatarsal), Gardner (doubtful), Holden (doubtful), Ricketts (achilles).
  • Norwich: Ayala (knee), Ward (knee), Whitbread (doubtful), Vaughan (doubtful).

Swansea v West Brom

A rather uninspiring game, Fantasy wise, with Swansea both unlikely to score and concede many goals.

Picks

  • Odemwingie: Scored against Norwich and looked threatening last Gameweek. More expensive than Long but proved last season that he will provide regular goals.

Punts

  • Vorm: Despite his blunder last game, he is likely to score points this Gameweek. If West Brom put Swansea to the sword, Vorm will collect points through saves.

Warnings

  • Graham: Swansea have lacked the cutting edge and I wouldn’t bet on their attackers to score points.
  • Tchoyi: Following my woeful punt prediction on Tchoyi last Gameweek, I am now putting a warning on him. He was dropped with Hodgson starting with Long and Odemwingie up front.

Injuries and suspensions

  • Swansea: Tate (leg), Bodde (knee), Agustien (hamstring), Beattie (ankle), Caulker (knee).
  • West Brom: Tamas (suspended), Thomas (doubtful), Gera (doubtful), Brunt (doubtful).

Blackburn v Arsenal

With both teams’ stuttering start to the season, it is hard to get excited about this games Fantasy potential.

Picks

  • Van Persie: If there is a goal in the game, RvP is likely to be involved.

Punts

  • Gervinho: Arsenal welcome back Gervinho after his suspension for touching Barton. A tricky attacker that provides Arsenal with speed upfront.

Warnings

  • The Blackburn team.

Injuries and suspensions

  • Blackburn: Pedersen (doubtful), Dunn (doubtful), Samba (doubtful), Grella (doubtful), Nelsen (doubtful).
  • Arsenal: Wilshere (ankle), Diaby (ankle), Vermaelen (achilles), Squillaci (calf), Ramsey (doubtful) Rosicky (doubtful).

Everton v Wigan

Despite their woeful start against QPR, Everton have looked better at the start of this season than most predicted. Wigan has struggled against the promoted teams which does not bode well.

Picks

  • Baines: Captain potential this Gameweek, based on his potential to provide assists, a clean sheet, and bonus points. Back on penalty duties after Arteta’s departure, Baines continues to provide a potent attacking threat for Everton.
  • Tim Cahill: With Everton’s dearth of exciting strikers, Cahill is likely to start the game up top. Provided an assist last Gameweek and is a proven Fantasy point scorer.

Punts

  • Fellaini: Could pose a threat in Wigan’s box with his strength and height. Not worth purchasing for only this Gameweek.

Warnings

  • Di Santo: Has been substituted halfway through the second-half in every game this season. You want your strikers to play as much as possible to be more likely to pick up goals.

Injuries and suspensions

  • Everton: Anichebe (groin).
  • Wigan: Gohouri (calf), Alcaraz (thigh), McCarthy (doubtful).

Good luck, use your free transfer wisely and please 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.

Gameweek 2 Review – First Thoughts

Robin van Persie by Ronnie Macdonald at Flickr. Licence: CC BY 2.0

RvP, still a Fantasy hot shot?

Gameweek 2 provided us with several interesting Fantasy topics for discussion as we try to optimize our squad picks.

Robin van Persie (RvP) has looked isolated in attack for the first couple of games of the season. With RvP priced at 12.0 his Fantasy owners expect him to be returning a healthy average amount of points per week. At the moment no one in Arsenal’s attack seems likely to score. More worrying  for Arsenal was the fact that Samir Nasri looked the sharpest on Saturday. In spite of Mancini’s threats, he seems likley to be a Manchester City player before the end of the transfer window.

In contrast, Luis Suarez has scored two goals in a little over 90 minutes and is a Fantasy must-buy at the moment. If only we could guess whether he will start the bloody games (make up your mind Dalglish). The jury is still out on the Carroll and Downing partnership, with the latter failing to deliver a successful cross to Carroll this season. He will score, but will he outscore his cheaper priced compatriot? Unlikely, based on current form.

Dzeko looks like the real deal and could be a cheaper option to City’s attack. At the moment, his seems to be a guaranteed starter. Aguero had a little hint of a debut’s hangover; however, his quality is obvious and he should score and assist this season. Both Ivan Klasnic and Kevin Davies got on the scoresheet. The pair looks likely to deliver consistent Fantasy points throughout the season. Bolton’s schedule is tough (Liverpool, Man Utd, Arsenal, and Chelsea in the next five games) but you could do worse than Klasnic at 6.0. I would still wait until after Gameweek 7.

Everton has had a miserable week, capped by their home loss to QPR, of the humbled Bolton loss fame. One of my picks for the week, Tim Cahill, squandered a glorious chance to equalize with a trademark header. QPR looked solid and held on to the end.

The Premier League keeps confounding Fantasy managers trying to predict where the clean sheets will come from. The expected clean sheets (Sunderland, Aston Villa, Everton, and Chelsea) failed to materialize and instead we received a slew of unexpected shutouts (Newcastle, Liverpool, QPR, Wigan, and Wolves).

Perhaps the least surprising, Wolves look a solid clean sheet bet at home with the impressive Roger Johnson in defence. Steven Fletcher registered an assist and has now started the season with a goal and assist [Edit: His assist was removed later.]. Wolves mustered 17 shots on target and look to be sailing comfortably towards a mid-table finish this season.

I’m still optimistic on Sunderland’s defensive prospects with Wes Brown fit. Sunderland dominated the game and should fare better in future matches. More results like this, especially at home, and it will be time to drop Sunderland players. In contrast, Newcastle’s start to the season is unexpected. Don’t be fooled by Ryan Taylor’s Gameweek scores, as Alan Pardew is still looking to buy a first choice left-back.

Torres failed to score yet again. In my books he’s still a wait-and-see player at the moment. Bosingwa, however, seems to be favored by Villas-Boas and provides cheap access to the Chelsea defence with and added goal/assist threat.

What was your take on the weekend’s matches? Please comment below.