Friday, 24 August 2012

Fantasy Premier League: Gameweek 2

The opening gameweek of the Barclays Premier League (and Fantasy Premier League, of course) was a Godsend that swept away those non-football withdrawal symptoms (gotta hate those). The opening weekend had goals, errors, penalties and general action, and then Chelsea vs Reading had all of that in one match. In terms of FPL posts, this fella is glad he called most them right (if you ignored all of it or picked a Liverpool player, tough on you).

This is the only proper, 10 match gameweek of the month, and this is where things get interesting. On we go!

Gameweek 2 fixtures:

Aston Villa v Everton
Liverpool v Man City
Chelsea v Newcastle
Manchester United v Fulham
Norwich City v QPR
Southampton v Wigan
Sunderland v Reading
Stoke v Arsenal
Swansea v West Ham
Tottenham v West Brom

The Big Boys

There aren't any standout ties that cry out for the big players, be they attackers or defenders. But Manchester United are usually brilliant at home, and Fulham are generally a poor away team. A look at this and the next few fixtures suggests it wouldn't hurt to buy Kagawa or Valencia. Before club loyalty or belief in reputation prompts you into picking Rooney or van Persie (if you have them already, ditch, there are way better players at present costing way less), please wait till either one shows signs of form. Same goes for Vidic and de Gea: Be mindful of the facts that - home and away records aside - United's goal was peppered at Goodison and Fulham are just coming off a match where they scored 5. And on that note, if you're a gambler or just lacking money (or both), take a look at Mladen Petric.

Chelsea impressed all going forward last gameweek, and even though they have a null gameweek to follow, it will be worth your while to pick the 5-assist Eden Hazard for now and bench him next week. There is little value from Lampard besides penalty taking now that Mata takes the set pieces, and Ivanovic's goal rush won't last. Also, it's Newcastle, and they're no numpties. They will hit hard with ben Arfa and Papiss Cisse, who scored the goal that made physicists vomit a few months ago.

Spurs v West Brom presents a dilemma similar to the United-Fulham game - just how far into Spurs should you dig? Unlike what I said for United, the answer here is - pretty deep. There is much to love in Tottenham's next few fixtures, and none more so than their latest signing Emmanuel Adebayor (If you lost your hair when Aguero went off last week, this is a good transplant). Expect Sigurdsson to start firing. Oh, and you might want some of Brad Friedel (for the future more than this one).

The fixture of the week in terms of box office value is Liverpool v Man City, the beginning of Liverpool's horrid run of matches. I stand by what I said last week - No Liverpool Players. As for City, Aguero's injury increases Carlos Tevez's value. Silva hasn't had a particularly great time of it (FPL-wise) in 2012, so I'd say Nasri and Yaya Toure are better picks.

Stoke away is always tough. In the world of pundits, it's the metaphorical acid test for Premier League imports, particularly those playing for teams like Arsenal. Stoke have Crouch, and beanpole strikers work out more often than not against Arsenal, especially when flanked by able wingers like Kightly and Etherington. I expect Arsenal to pass (their way through) the acid test though, and win through Giroud and Cazorla.

The Other Guys

Norwich-QPR is a fixture between two sides at the wrong end of 5-0 drubbings last week, so their defenders are a no. A yes, however, would be Grant Holt for Norwich (if his reputation isn't enough to convince you, he's facing Rob Green). For QPR, the value lies with Park ji Sung and Taarabt.

Villa haven't been convincing, and after his performance against Manchester United, Marouane Fellaini should deliver all that and more against a newly assembled Villa defence.

Southampton put up a spirited fight at the Etihad last week, and this isn't the part of the season where Wigan start trying yet, so points beckon for Ricky Lambert. Jason Puncheon could be a sneaky cheap value pick, likewise for the keeper Davis.

The fixture that comes closest to plum tie classification is Swansea v West Ham. QPR gave them some gifts last week, yes, but Swansea generally appeared to make light work of losing Sigurdsson and Brendan Rodgers. Expect them to unleash fury on West Ham too via Michu (make him captain, no questions). Michel Vorm is a good pick for the week as well.

Sunderland face Reading in a somewhat evenly matched fixture, but the Black Cats should just about edge this one aided by James McClean and Sessegnon. If you have Pogrebnyak from last gameweek, keep him, but with a null gameweek coming up for Reading it's probably not worth getting him in on retail.

Hunch of the Gameweek:

The shudders down the spine are coming from Steven Naismith this week.

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