Gameweek 37 Review and Friday Foreplay for Gameweek 38


Robin van Persie

Who else? Robin van Persie is the Fantasy player of the season and is the top captain pick for this Gameweek.

This is it.

The final Gameweek of the season.

The Saturday that will reveal who wins the minileague and bragging rights for the summer.

It’s now or never for Fantasy managers, whether you are protecting your lead or going for the impossible with an unlikely captain’s pick.

Gameweek 37 Points Summary

The most notable Fantasy performances of Gameweek 37:

  • Yaya Toure was Mancester City’s hero with an important brace to put City one step closer to the title. Clichy grabbed an assist in addition to a clean sheet.
  • Van Persie was back on form with a brace that saved a point for Arsenal. Rosicky kept up his good run with an assist.
  • Those who brought in Petrov for the double double Gameweek have been handsomely rewarded as the Bulgarian kept up his Fantasy was with an impressive 12 point Gameweek.
  • Dembele scored from midfield and bagged three bonus points while Dempsey scored yet again for Fulham.
  • Alcaraz scored Wigan’s winning goal against relegated Blackburn and registered an unlikely 15 point Gameweek.

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 37 I recommended Rooney, Van Persie, and Jelavic as the captain picks. Van Persie delivered, Rooney got an assist, and Jelavic disapointed in a surprising scoreless draw against Wolves.

Quality of captain picks from Gameweek 25 onwards:

  • Good captain picks: 22/36
  • Double digit captains: 12/36

Captain Picks

  1. Van Persie: Arsenal have all to play for to secure the third place and Van Persie has an added incentive to break the Premier League goal record, now held by Ronaldo. Van Persie has been the standout Fantasy player of the season and is the best bet for an explosive final Gameweek.

  2. Van der Vaart: Tottenham are battling for the same third spot and face Fulham at home. Fulham have been dreadful at times on their travels and play an open game with an attacking lineup, something that should suit Tottenham’s speedy attack. Van der Vaart has returned to his clinical ways with two goals, an assist, and four bonus points in his last three games.

  3. Torres: With Drogba likely to be rested for the Champions League final, Torres will start for Chelsea and be keen to make a case for his inclusion in the final. Chelsea face Blackburn and my guess is that the relegated team will not put up a fight. This game could provide several goals.

Big Hitters

I’m expecting nervy encounters for both Manchester teams, which explains the exclusion of title chasing players in the captain picks. Nevertheless, both teams will go for wins which means that Rooney, Valencia, Aguero, Tevez, Yaya Toure, and Silva are all decent picks.

In addition to Torres for Chelsea, Ramires has enjoyed an excellent latter part of the season and has been their main threat on the right wing. Mata is a solid choice, should he play.

This season’s best January transfers battle it out in the Everton v Newcastle game. Jelavic plays at home and is the better bet. However, Cisse’s form has been extraordinary and Newcastle are playing for the valuable third Champions League spot.

Sigurdsson is another January transfer hit and could trouble Liverpool, who have only the rivalry with Everton to play for.

Petrov duly delivered in his double double Gameweeks and has averaged 12 points in his last three Gameweeks (five games, 7.2 points per game which is still impressive). With Bolton fighting for their lives they need to attack and will look to Petrov’s speed and trickery.

Adebayor has three goals in his last two games and will play up front on his own. Tottenham need the win and play at home.

Clean Sheets

  • Manchester City will keep it tight against QPR, who will come to defend anyway. Clichy is the defender in form.
  • As noted, Fulham haven’t played well away from home this season which makes a Tottenham defender a decent bet. Walker enjoys notable attacking possesion and could pop up with an assist or a goal.
  • Chelsea should dispatch Blackburn without too much trouble. However, guessing the starting lineup is trouble because of the Champions League final. Cole has been rested in the last two games so he should start.
  • Swansea will look to finish the season with a home game win. Vorm is one of the goalkeepers of the season.

Taking a Punt

  • Moses faces a strangely rejuvenated Wolves team and could be in line for a goal.
  • Holt is playing for a place in the England squad and will be raring to make a point against dreadful Aston Villa.
  • Despite his lack of goals Bale is still a vale play, based on his three assists in the last three Gameweeks.
  • Walcott is reported to be in line to start against West Brom. If you are waiting to transfer until the last minute, look out for early lineups to see if he’s a possible punt.

Friday Foreplay – Gameweek 34


Free Kick 1 by Ronnie Macdonald at Flickr. Licence: CC BY 2.0.

Sessegnon is a surprise captain's pick this Gameweek based on Sunderland facing the surely to be relegated Wolves.

In this Gameweek 34 edition of the Friday Foreplay I present the captain picks, investigate the heavy hitters, predict clean sheets, and speculate on possible punts.

Watch out for this Gameweek. Only six games will be played which means that only 12 teams out of 20 will be playing. Try to field a full team of 11 players and. Many will be planning ahead for the double Gameweek 36 but remember that losing points by fielding less than 11 players counterweights having double Gameweek players two weeks later.

Captain Picks

  1. Rooney: After Manchester United’s surprise loss at Wigan I’m expecting a response at Old Trafford. Ferguson openly scolded his players in a bid to up their game against Aston Villa in Gameweek 34. Rooney has been in excellent form since the start of the year, scoring nine goals. He has scored six goals in his last four home games and Aston Villa should provide little hindrance to United’s star striker.

  2. Van Persie: Van Persie scored his first goal in five games from a penalty against Wolves. They play at home against Wigan who are in coming off a historic first Premier League win against Manchester United. However, Arsenal are in fine form, having dominated against Manchester City and Wolves in their last two games, and should finish off Wigan. As usual, Van Persie is their most prominent attacker and is likely to either score or assist any Arsenal goal.

  3. Sessegnon: This pick is based solely on Wolves’ horrible form. Any team facing Wolves is guaranteed goals since the departure of McCarthy. Sessegnon has been instrumental since his return from suspension, picking up a goal and two assists. Sunderland will score and most of Sunderland’s attacking moves go through Sessegnon. Hence, his inclusion.

Big Hitters

Following from the analysis of Wolves in Sessegnon’s captain’s pick, Bendtner gets the leading the line against a miserable Wolves defence.

Walcott is on fire, and has only recorded a single below four point game in his last eight games. It’s from fitting a decent captain’s pick and you could go for him for a differential.

Valencia has two double digit Gameweeks in his last five outings and has been the main attacking thrust for Manchester United. I’m expecting Rafael to return to right back and his interplay with Valencia has been excellent. United’s right wing should be a source of worry for Aston Villa on Sunday.

In annoying fashion, Sigurdsson hasn’t delivered since I bought him two Gameweeks ago. Nevertheless, he is facing a Blackburn defence that has conceded an average of 2.4 goals away from home this season. Swansea will dominate the possession and the Icelander will have chances to score.

Aguero season hit a bump with injuries and he has only played four of Manchester City’s last seven games. He had a monster Gameweek 33, with two goals, two assists, and a total of 19 Fantasy points. Manchester United’s loss has given City renewed hope and they will attack against Norwich, hoping that United will drop points in consecutive games.

Other strong plays include:

  • Taraabt, who has finally found his feet in this campaign with a goal and two assists in his last three games.
  • Larsson, who is a tremendous set piece threat.
  • Former Everton midfielder Arteta. He is having an excellent first season with Arsenal and has scored two goals in his last four games.

Clean Sheets

  • Playing the form card again I’m picking Sunderland (facing Wolves). Turner is a cheap point of entry, valued at £4.2.
  • With Paul Scholes back Manchester United will dominate and likely face little threat from Aston Villa. Evans is still the best bet, but I’m also expecting Rafael to return to right back. He’s more involved in the attacks and is a risky differential pick (I have him).
  • Arsenal face a dangerous Wigan side in a Monday night game. However, Wigan’s style suits Arsenal as they will face off in a passing game contest, where Arsenal are better equipped.
  • Swansea’s pick is more based on their displays over the season rather than their current form. I’m least confident about them not conceding.

Taking a Punt

  • Despite Manchester City’s confident 4 – 0 win last Gameweek, their away form is shaky. In their last 10 away games the record stands at two wins, two draws, and six defeats. Granted, those defeats have been with a one goal margin. Nevertheless, if Norwich scores, Holt is their most likely goal scorer.
  • Moses was unlucky to have his goal disallowed against Manchester United and has two goals and two assists in his last six games.

Friday Foreplay – Gameweek 32


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

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

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

Captain Picks

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

Big Hitters

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

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

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

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

Other strong plays include:

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

Clean Sheets

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

Taking a Punt

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

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


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

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

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

Fantasy Football Analysis

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

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

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

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

Football Analysis

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

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

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

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

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

Football News

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

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

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

This week’s…

Discussion

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




Gameweek 31 Review – Ben Arfa da Bomb


Ben Arfa by Antares.37 at Wikimedia Commons. Licence: Public Domain.

Ben Arfa linked up beautifully with Cisse to deliver his second double digit Gameweek score.

Notable Fantasy Performances

Aston Villa v Chelsea

A game notable for the return of Fernando Torres. He scored, assisted twice, and got a bonus point for a grand total of 13 points. Ivanovic got a brace and stole three bonus points for a massive 16 point Gameweek.

Fantasy wise, both performances are a one off this season, and both Torres’s and Ivanovic’s purchases would be a punt, at best. However, Torres would be a massive differentiator for the double Gameweek 36, when Chelsea have two home games (QPR and Newcastle).

More consistent returns can be had from Juan Mata, who registered his twelfth assist of the season and his fifth in eight games.

Everton v West Brom

Baines followed his 15 point Gameweek with a fine clean sheet and three bonus points. Everton are looking likely to finish the season with a bang, yet again, and Baines could be set to provide big returns. The bad news is that Everton’s schedule is hard to navigate for Fantasy managers. Two decent games against Norwich (A) and Sunderland (H) is followed by a blank Gameweek 34 and an away game versus Manchester United.

And then the epic double Gameweek 36.

Many a manager will be getting him in after Gameweek 35, and I think he’s simply too expensive to bench for two Gameweeks in a row.

Fulham v Norwich

Dempsey came through for me (as a captain pick) and delivered a BAG (Bonus, Assist, Goal). Fulham haven’t returned a clean sheet four consecutive games, making the more expensive Fulham defenders undesirable.

Ruiz assisted and grabbed bonus points. He’s an excellent player but is classified as a forward in the FPL game. He isn’t consistent enough to warrant one of the three forward places but could hold promise for next season, should he be reclassified.

Manchester City v Sunderland

Larsson reminded us why he is still a relevant Fantasy asset, with two fine goals. However, before the City game he had not scored or assisted in the league since December eleventh.

More exciting is Sessegnon, who made an instant impact with two assists.

Bendtner kept up his spectacular form, with his fourth goal in five games.

Sunderland’s fixtures are tough, but they continue to perform under Martin O’Neill. A punt on Bendtner for the third striker spot or Sessegnon in the fourth or fifth midfielder spot are solid and should provide healthy returns.

The prospects for Manchester City players are less exciting. With Aguero injured, Balotelli getting a negative review by Mancini despite his two goals, Dzeko underwhelming, Silva out of form, Nasri not playing, and Yaya Toure not delivering it’s hard to see any value in City players at the moment.

Interestingly, Kolarov has the highest points per game of all defenders but unfortunately plays to seldom to be useful.

QPR v Arsenal

Mark Hughes must have breathed a sigh of relief at the final whistle in QPR’s 2 – 1 win over Arsenal. Taarabt scored and could be a punt for the desperate.

Walcott scored Arsenal’s consolation goal, and Van Persie grabbed an assist. Both players should be high on your list for the run-in.

Wigan v Stoke City

The revival of Moses continues. He has now scored over three points in four consecutive Gameweeks and could become Wigan’s hero this season.

It’s unlikely though, because of a small problem: Wigan’s schedule. They face Chelsea (A), Manchester United (H), Arsenal (A), and Fulham (A) in their next four games.

Other players in both teams aren’t exciting Fantasy options.

Wolves v Bolton

Wolves decision to sack Mick McCarthy must now be ranked as one of the major blunders of the season.

Bolton won their third game in a row. One can’t help but feel happy for them, following Muamba’s heart attack.

Bolton have two double Gameweeks, the 35th and the 36th. Their players should be hot shit because of that, but no one really stands out in Fantasy terms. Petrov could be a punt, but the sensible option is an investment in the cheap Adam Bogdan at £4.0. He isn’t likely to grab a clean sheet but will get you the regular two points in addition to save points four times in two Gameweeks.

Newcastle v Liverpool

Liverpool’s slump continues and you should be thinking hard about selling your Liverpool players.

The Fantasy focus centers around Papiss Cisse and Ben Arfa, who have exploded in the last few games. Cisse has seven goals in seven games for Newcastle for a massive 7.6 points per game. Ban Arfa has two consecutive gameweeks of double digit scores and is exciting cheap midfield option.

It should be noted that Ba should have been credited with one of Ben Arfa’s assists which is frustrating for Ba’s owners.

Tottenham v Swansea

Tottenham’s fierce four, Van der Vaart, Adebayor, Bale, and Lennon, all delivered. Tottenham have a fixture list worth looking at and a tasty double Gameweek 36.

The problem is whether to invest before or after the blank Gameweek 34. It negates the benefit of an extra game in Gameweek 36 if you don’t have the full eleven players returning points in Gameweek 34.

Sigurdsson kept up his amazing returns for Swansea and has an impressive six goals, three assists, and eight bonus points in only eleven games since joining Swansea on loan in January.

Blackburn v Manchester United

Blackburn put up one hell of a fight, but were finally defeated by persistent United pressure.

Valencia put in yet another game winning performance and the United defence delivered their fourth clean sheet in as many games.

Gameweek 31 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 31 I recommended Dempsey, Rooney, and Van Persie as the captain picks. Dempsey was the winner of the round, returning double digit returns while Van Persie delivered a modest five points, and Rooney a dissapointing blank.

Quality of captain picks from Gameweek 25 onwards:

  • Good captain picks: 12/21
  • Double digit captains: 5/21

Comments

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

Friday Foreplay – Gameweek 31


Clint Dempsey by wjarrettc at Flickr. Licence: CC BY 2.0.

Dempsey is my number one captain pick for the round, edging out Rooney and RvP with home game advantage.

In this Gameweek 31 edition of the Friday Foreplay I present the captain picks, investigate the heavy hitters, predict clean sheets, and speculate on possible punts.

Double Gameweeks

Before we delve into the Gameweek preview, I want to remind you of the massive double Gameweek coming up. With rescheduling of fixtures due to cup competitions and the Muamba incident the following is a summary of teams both missing and enjoying double Gameweeks.

Teams not playing in Gameweek 34:

  • Tottenham
  • Chelsea
  • Newcastle
  • Liverpool
  • Everton
  • Stoke
  • Fulham
  • Bolton

Teams with a double Gameweek 35:

  • Aston Villa
  • Bolton

Teams with a double Gameweek 36:

  • Tottenham
  • Chelsea
  • Newcastle
  • Liverpool
  • Fulham
  • Bolton

Yet to be rescheduled: Stoke v Everton.

Captain Picks

  1. Dempsey: A surprise first pick of the captain bunch, based on the fact that Dempsey is the only one to have a home game. Looking only at Fulham’s home games, Dempsey has scored six goals, registered an assist, and stolen seven bonus points in his last five games at Craven Cottage. Fulham face Norwich who haven’t kept a clean sheet away from home all season, conceding an average of almost 1.9 goals per game.
  2. Rooney: Manchester United play Blackburn away, looking to revenge for the shock defeat at Old Trafford earlier in the season. Two thirds of Blackburn’s games end with more than 2.5 goals scored, so it’s safe to say that all signs point to Rooney as a decent bet for captain. He’s enjoying an excellent run of form with eight goals, an assist, and ten bonus points in his last six league games for United.
  3. Van Persie: The Dutch maestro faces QPR away from home. QPR have been beleaguered from all sides since Mark Hughes’s appointment, culminating in a second sending off for Cisse and a 3 – 1 loss to Sunderland. Arsenal, on the other hand, are playing their best football of the season, with several key players hitting form. The only caution I have is that Arsenal have seemed less reliant on RvP than earlier in the season.

Big Hitters

Walcott has received bonus points in five of his last seven games, having only had one bad game in that run. He scored a slick goal against Aston Villa and is a threat to any fullback. Arteta is a cheaper option but less likely to enjoy an explosive Gameweek.

Nani is still out for Manchester United resulting in a likely starting place for both Young and Valencia. Both are goal threats, deliver decent crosses, and are likely to be involved in United’s goals. Valencia is probably a safer bet to start and is cheaper to boot.

Now is the time to invest in Tottenham and Gareth Bale. Despite suffering a miserable bout of form in their last five games, Tottenham are likely to finish the season with a bang. The dip in form coincided with tough games (Chelsea (A), Stoke (H), Everton (A), Manchester United (H), Arsenal (A)) and from Gameweek 31 until the end of the season the fixtures are more Fantasy friendly. The improved fixtures start with a home game against Swansea. The Wales team concedes twice as many goals away from home (1.6 v 0.8) and Tottenham have scored in all their home games. This bodes well for the Tottenham attack and Bale, who has looked most dangerous in their tough games.

Other strong plays include:

  • Baines, who last week scored his first goal since Gameweek 18 and has a home game to boost his clean sheet chances. He’s on spot kicks and set pieces and is therefore always involved. His price is the biggest barrier to entry, but if you have the cash he is an intriguing option.
  • A home game against Sunderland should give Aguero several chances to score. He’s currently only 75% to play according to the Fantasy Premier League game, so look out for news about his fitness.
  • Pogrebnyak has a phenomenal strike rate since joining Fulham and has every chance to continue striking gold against Norwich.

Clean Sheets

Clean sheets are hard to predict this Gameweek because most of the best defences (by goals conceded) are playing away from home. Looking at choosing the home teams with the least goals conceded three surprising choices pop up (and one obvious):

  • The obvious choice is Manchester City with newly returned Kompany marshalling the defence.
  • Everton are enjoying their traditional end of season good form. Hibbert is cheap at £4.7 but could be susceptible to rotation.
  • Tottenham have conceded 35 goals and play at home against Swansea. Gallas is back from injury and represents the cheapest link in the Tottenham defence, priced at £4.6.
  • Aston Villa is an outside bet and have to contain a revived Chelsea team. Warnock is their highest scoring defender. Be warned that this play would be a risky one and a likely path only for those playing catch up to their mini-league leader.

Taking a Punt

  • With David Silva’s form dropping, Nasri has stepped up and looked dangerous in the last games. He scored the winning goal against Chelsea, as well as hitting the bar.
  • Despite Liverpool’s faltering form I’m not willing to elevate P. Cisse and Ben Arfa above the punt level. Liverpool’s defence has been solid this season and will be looking to keep it tight following the bad results against QPR and Wigan.
  • Martinez looks to be playing out his end of season magic tricks for Wigan. Moses has assisted or scored in each of his last three games and has a home game against Stoke to keep his form high. He went off injured against Liverpool but should be fit to face Stoke. However, have a replacement ready on the bench, should he fail to recover in time.
  • I wouldn’t be surprised to see Yakubu trouble Evans, despite the Manchester United defender enjoying his best spell in heart of the champions’ defence. The Yak is a risky bet, but a decent one to differentiate.

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.

Friday Foreplay – Gameweek 29


Gareth Bale by Jan S0L0 at Flickr. Licence: CC BY-SA 2.0.

Gareth Bale is the surprise inclusion in this Gameweek's captain picks.

In this Gameweek 29 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. Rooney: Despite playing away from home, Rooney is the obvious pick this Gameweek facing a Wolves team looking increasingly lost under the stewardship of Terry Connor. Rooney has scored in his last four Premier League games and should add at a few against a safe pack of domesticated wolf pups.
  2. Dempsey: Fulham march on with their yo-yo season, playing like champions at home and rolling over for teams on the road. Being at home this Gameweek Demspey is an exciting pick, with six goals in his last four home games.
  3. Bale: Tottenham have been run ragged in their last three games and are bound to bounce back sooner rather than later. Stoke should have big problems coping with Bale’s pace and I’m banking on goals for the North-London team.

Big Hitters

Despite Arsenal having a tough away game at Everton this season has taught us never to write Van Persie’s chances off. I’m expecting a low scoring draw, but Van Persie is the one capable of delivering goals, should they decide to visit Goodison Park. Walcott is a decent punt at his price, especially considering Arsenal’s next two games.

Young is Manchester United’s winger on fire at the moment with assists in three consecutive games as well as a smattering of goals and bonus points. Wolves’ defence has conceded 14 goals in their last four games and their pain shows no sign of being relieved against the champions.

Ba hasn’t scored for four consecutive Gameweeks, for the first time since the first four games of the season. With Newcastle playing at home against Norwich, who have only kept one clean sheet all season, this is the perfect time for the Senegalese to add to his impressive tally of 16 goals.

Other strong plays include:

  • With Kompany and Lescott likely missing, Mata and Drogba become much stronger plays. Drogba has 22 Fantasy points in his last three games as well as scoring and assisting against Napoli.
  • Going against my gut feeling, I have to mention Aguero, Silva, and Balotelli as the likeliest attackers to start the game against Chelsea. I’m not expecting fireworks, with Chelsea on a high following the Champions League win but City still have scored a ridiculous three goals per game at the Etihad Stadium this season.
  • Although Pogrebnyak is never going to maintain an over a goal per game ratio, a home game against a Swansea team that have conceded a goal more per game away than at home is still likely to return Fantasy points. I still rate him as a punt, but his start has just been so powerful that he gets promoted to a strong play category.

Clean Sheets

  • Liverpool have only conceded 16 goals away from home and have kept it tight at back all season long. Kelly is currently the cheapest option of the Liverpool defence, priced at £5.2.
  • Tottenham are at home against Stoke, who have only scored nine goals on the road this season, with an average of 0.64 goals per game. Assou-Ekotto is a mainstay of the back four and has an impressive two goals, five assists, and eight bonus points this season.
  • Aston Villa defended valiantly last Gameweek and have a decent chance to deliver back-to-back clean sheets when they welcome dreadful Bolton to Villa Park. Warnock is cheap at £4.9 and has a goal and two assists this season.

Taking a Punt

  • Moses is given licence to attack for Wigan and scored the equalizer last Gameweek. If Wigan are to stay up yet again, Moses has to start delivering more frequently. I think he is capable.
  • Ben Arfa’s goal against Arsenal showed what he is capable of. He has impressive technique and a powerful shot. With Norwich’s defender having to deal with at least one strong Senegalese striker, Ben Arfa could find space to attack.

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 17 Review and Gameweek 18 Preview

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

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

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

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

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

Captain Picks

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

Notable Performances and Heavy Hitters

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

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

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

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

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

Other interesting options this Gameweek:

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

Clean Sheets

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

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

Double Gameweek

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

Long term:

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

Short term:

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

Gameweek 14 Review – Feed the Yak


Yakubu by Bobono at Wikimedia Commons. Licence: Public Domain.

Feed the Yak!

Man, I didn’t see the Yak coming. Four goals and a yakking 21 points are amazing returns for a £5.5 priced striker. Although some have touted Yakubu as a possible value purchase, nobody saw the haul coming.

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

Notable Performances

Yakubu scored 21 Fantasy points despite not being involved much in Blackburn’s 4 – 2 win over Swansea. In the unlikely event you captained the Yak, I salute you! Samba had a decent outing with an assist and two stolen bonus points.

Van Persie kept up his extraordinary form with yet another BAG (Bonus, Assist, Goal). Vermaelen scored an unlikely 16 points with a BAG of his own. Walcott recorded his fifth consecutive productive Fantasy gameweek with an assist while Arteta stole bonus points to grab 10 points.

Bale kept on upstaging Van der Vaart (who only came on as a substitute late on) with a BAG, scoring 13 Fantasy points. Although Tottenham face Stoke away next Gameweek, Sunderland (H), Norwich (A), and West Brom (H) lie in wait in the next six gameweeks. Defoe got a rare start and duly delivered with a BAG, scoring 12 Fantasy points. Don’t go overboard getting him in, since he will be rotated when VdV gets a look in again.

Manchester City produced yet another goal-fest with five different goalscorers. In on the bonus point action were Yaya Toure and Nasri with a goal each and Silva with an assist. City’s strike force split the spoils with Aguero and Balotelli scoring while Dzeko assisted.

Mata (assist) and Sturridge (goal) deliverd Fantasy points again and are looking more attractive with each productive week. Terry stole three bonus points with his clean sheet performance.

Jones rewarded the 20% of managers owning him with his first goal for Manchester United in their 0 – 1 win over Aston Villa. Playing in midfield, he delivered his first double digit Fantasy score since gameweek four. Nani showed signs of the attacking force of last season, especially after being moved to the center following Hernandez’s injury. With United’s fixtures, he could prove somewhat of a differentiator with net transfers at -150.000 managers in the last six gameweeks.

Also producing this gameweek:

  • Helguson scored yet again for QPR in their 1 – 1 draw with West Brom. He now has six goals in eight games. Great value at £5.5. In the same game, Long came back from injury with a goal and three stolen bonus points.
  • Morison scored Norwich’s consolation. He is showing consistency and is a viable third striker.
  • Huth, who scored Stoke’s winner in their first positive result following a Europa League game. Shawcross got a clean sheet and two bonus points.

Keep an eye out for…

  • Gower, passing master for Swansea priced at £4.5. He is registering key passes each game and delivered his fourth assist of the season. If you are in need of a fifth midfielder you could do worse.
  • Lennon, who could prove a cheap cover for the Tottenham attack. Priced at £7.2, he scored again this gameweek. He has now scored twice, delivered three assists and stolen four bonus points in six gameweeks since coming back from injury.
  • …double goal winner Fletcher, who was Wolves’ hero in their 2 – 1 victory over Sunderland. He has a great goal per minute ratio. Should McCarthy choose to start him regularly you could do worse with a third striker.
  • … Dempsey, who seems to be underrated yet delivers every season. He scored Fulham’s winner against 10 man Lucas-less Liverpool.

Question

Vermaelen, Baines, Jones, Huth, and Terry provide food for thought with excellent gameweeks while expensive strikers Rooney, Bent, Suarez, and Adebayor were blunted.

With the rise of cheap strikers is it now viable to start spending on defenders?

Friday Foreplay – Gameweek 14


Baines takes a throw-in by Nick at Flickr. Licence: CC BY 2.0

Baines is my differential captain pick of the Gameweek

We prepare for Gameweek 14 in this edition of the Friday Foreplay by producing captain picks, investigating the heavy hitters, predicting clean sheets, and speculating on possible punts.

Captain Picks

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

  1. Adebayor: At home vs. Bolton and in red hot form.
  2. Van Persie: One blank does not a habit make.
  3. Silva: Will pull the strings against Norwich.
  4. Differential: Baines for the possibility of a clean sheet and attacking points against a struggling Stoke.

Big Hitters

Tottenham host Bolton and are likely to get sixth consecutive win in the Premier League. Adebayor is red hot at the moment, as Four Four Two noted by pointing to Adebayor’s 9 shots on goal against West Brom. He has back-to-back braces as well as two assists and 7 bonus points stolen in the last three games. Bolton are abysmal at the moment, having conceded 31 goals, the most in the Premier League. With the news that Van der Vaart is back both him and Bale are also viable big hitters in what could be a big scoring game.

Aguero and Silva are prime Fantasy candidates with their home game against Norwich. Silva is the attacking brain in the City team while Aguero has been lethal in his first Premier League season. However, there is always the possibility that they will be rested for their midweek Champions League tie.

Despite Robin van Persie’s blank last Gameweek he is likely to be on the score sheet against a Wigan team one spot from bottom. After being rested in their Carling Cup tie against Manchester City he will be raring to go. He leads Fantasy Football Scout’s ICT Index and will be many a Fantasy manager’s captain yet again.

Baines has 20 Fantasy points in the last two games and a good bet for double figures again against Stoke City at home. Stoke have conceded 15 goals away from home this season and have problems coping with the rigors of the Europa League midweek games. Even though you can argue that his price is a bit steep, there is no denying his Fantasy point production in the last three seasons (128, 138, and 178).

Clean Sheets

Liverpool suffered a big blow to their top four hopes when defensive midfielder Lucas Leiva was ruled out for the rest of the season with a knee injury. He has been the bedrock of a solid Liverpool defence and this could hamper Liverpool’s chances of picking up clean sheets.

  • Manchester City haven’t kept a clean sheet in the last six so this isn’t a confident pick. Should they field their first team defence, they are a good bet for the cleanie. Either Richards or Kompany or good picks; Richards for his attacking prowess and Kompany for his consistency.
  • Everton will look to keep a rather blunt Stoke side out to register only their third clean sheet of the season. That statistic alone should show you how desperate the clean sheet picks are compared to last season. The aforementioned Baines is a viable choice, only if you have the cash to spend. Hibbert is the cheapest option into the Everton defence, although he will not give any attacking returns.
  • Other possible clean sheets, however unlikely, include the stingy Newcastle at home against Chelsea and Manchester United’s newly solid side away at Aston Villa. Omar Chaudhuri, at EPL Index, highlighted the decrease in shots conceded by Manchester United in the games since their loss to Manchester City.

Taking a Punt

  • Walcott rewarded my punt last week with an assist and two bonus points and he is a punt again this Gameweek. He will look to trouble Wigan with his speed and will look to make a Fantasy impact in his fifth consecutive game.
  • Should Sunderland be broken and bent after Steve Bruce’s sacking, Wolves midfielder O’Hara will look to capitalize. He has 22 key passes and is second only to Dempsey in shots on goal for midfielders.
  • Such is the Fantasy fall of Rooney and Nani that they are relegated to the Punt league. Surefire bets at the start of the season, they have been streaky of late. They will come good, eventually. When, is the question.

Final Note

Kick Off posted an interesting assist/goalscorer analysis that highlighted individuals that are involved in separate multi-goal combination (where different players pair together to assist and score). The stand-out players are Van Persie, Klasnic, Aguero, Dzeko, Milner, Rooney, and Adebayor. Of these seven, Klasnic and Milner stand out. Although the Fantasy point potential of these two is not on the same level as the other five, the analysis could be pointing to the multiple ways both players could assist and score which should do wonders for their Fantasy totals.

Are there other glaring omissions? Is there someone in their that doesn’t deserve his place? Who would you recommend as a punt? I would love to hear your views.

Friday Foreplay – Gameweek 13

23rooney lampard persie by tsuda.george at Flickr. Licence: CC BY-SA 2.0

Captain picks for the Gameweek

We prepare for Gameweek 13 in this edition of the Friday Foreplay by producing captain picks, investigating the heavy hitters, predicting clean sheets, and speculating on possible punts.

Captain Picks

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

  1. Robin van Persie: Fantasy’s current “numero uno”.
  2. Lampard: Second highest scoring Fantasy midfielder at home vs. Wolves.
  3. Differentials: Wayne Rooney (my captain choice, based on intuition), Adebayor (based on this season’s away form), and Walters (with a home game against Blackburn).

Big Hitters

Despite Fulham’s decent road form this season, with 3 clean sheets and just 6 goals conceded, Robin van Persie has to be the biggest hitter again. He is nearing Ronaldo Fantasy form and should only be ignored if you are willing to take big risks (as I’m doing). He has 13 goals from 43 shots this season, in addition to 3 assists.

Wolves are in relegation form at the moment and Chelsea have the attacking power to capitalize. Lampard is as consistent as ever this season will be looking for a late run or two in Wolves’ penalty box. He has 72 Fantasy points, with two Gameweeks in the last three in the double digits.

The last big hitter is a controversial one. Wayne Rooney was declared fit by Alex Ferguson and will be fully rested after missing out on the midweek game. With a history of goal streaks, apart from his amazing 08/09 season, he has the fixtures to be starting his next run. This prediction is based mostly on feeling, although Manchester United normally are beasts at Old Trafford. To back up my funny feeling, I will be captaining him this Gameweek. Join me if you dare.

Adebayor has been an excellent purchase for Tottenham and should trouble West Brom’s defence. With the news that VdV and Defoe are doubtful, he is guaranteed a starting place and could be Tottenham’s focal point. An outside pick, since Tottenham is away from home, despite having failed to register a goal or assist in only one away game this season.

Walters has hit form despite Stoke City’s slump. He has scored 2 goals and registered 1 assist in his last four games and is likely to cause a leaky Blackburn defence problems in Saturday’s early kick-off game.

Clean Sheets

With the relative lack of clean sheets I’m only predicting them at home. Manchester United have shut up shop for three consecutive games and Swansea have been solid at back, even away from home. This Gameweek has, unexpectedly, several possible clean sheets:

  • Manchester United are most likely, based on their defensive form since the return of Vidic. Despite facing a Newcastle team high on life, Manchester United will feel confident after three consecutive shut-outs. Phil Jones is a popular choice, although he is more susceptible to rotation than Vidic or Evra.
  • Swansea is full of lean and mean passing devils. The Wales based team has been praised for both keeping the ball on the ground and being a defensive fortress at home. Vorm is topping the goalie charts with 58 points and is an attractive option in a rotation-based goalkeeper strategy.
  • Sunderland have kept x clean sheets in the last x games. Steve Bruce seems to have gone back to basics and drilled Sunderland to be sturdier defensively, since the goals are not flowing freely. Wes Brown hasn’t missed a minute for Sunderland this season and is a budget player at £4.5 in the Fantasy game.
  • Stoke are getting one last chance. The Stoke of last year would have kept Blackburn out at the Brittania. I’m betting on that the old Stoke shows up on Saturday. Wilkinson is priced at only £4.0 so he wouldn’t cause you too much grief, should he fail to register the clean sheet.

Taking a Punt

  • Walcott has scored or assisted in three games in a row, and could finally be showing some consistency. His potential has never been in question, but his Fantasy production has been streaky at best.
  • Norwich v QPR is a likely goal-scoring fest and Morison has scored in three consecutive games. A brace wouldn’t surprise me.
  • Klasnic was a punt in last Gameweeks Foreplay, and came through with a goal from a penalty. Everton have kept only one clean sheet, in Gameweek 3, and Klasnic is third in the Fantasy form chart, behind only RvP and Ba.
  • Is anyone still willing to bet on Torres? Yup, this silly blogger. Wolves at home is as good as it gets.

Final Note

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.
Are there other glaring omissions? Any big hitters missing? Who would you recommend as a punt?

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.