Thursday, 27 September 2012

Fantasy Premier League: Gameweek 6

Gameweek 5 was a television blockbuster. Post-match, you could imagine Man United fans telling each other, "Go mad! Manchester United's on fire!", while the Liverpool fans would've said, "Damn! Huge ref decisions matter, no?" (FYI, the two quotes are anagrams!). The following game saw Arsenal dominate City at the Etihad and come away with a point when they looked good for three. Add to that Chelsea's unrelenting barrage of attacks finally coming good against a resolute Stoke defence, and things are shaping up very nicely indeed for this week's fixtures.

Onto this gameweek's analysis

Gameweek 6 fixtures:

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

The Big Boys

One of the big ties of the week is Tottenham’s visit to Old Trafford. Manchester United have dominated this fixture, putting Tottenham away time and again at home. United have not been looking impressive this season, but they’ve got the results and this should be no different. Robin van Persie is a man who’s been in form nearly two years. Pick him. Kagawa ended his mini FPL drought with an assist at Anfield, and should be in his element here. As for the Lilywhites, Jermaine Defoe has had an inspired start to the season and if anyone can trouble United, it’s him.

The blockbuster fixture of the gameweek is Arsenal playing host to top-of-the-table Chelsea. The two sides boast the best defensive records of the season so far, both conceding just two goals en route to this fixture. This is a game that could hurt those records, and working with that aim in mind will be Cazorla, Podolski for the Gunners, and Hazard for Chelsea. Mata has returned and has been in good nick, and he might be worth a punt too. Same old names from both sides, I know, but they’re getting the job done.

Liverpool have put in some very catchy performances but their results have been poor, and they visit Norwich in what is a somewhat must-win game for the Reds. The worst of their fixture list is probably over and Liverpool players are FPL prospects at last. They’re overdue a win, and their stalwarts Gerrard and Suarez shoud steer them to victory. For the gamblers among you who think they’re overdue a clean sheet as well, try out Pepe Reina.

Last season, picking three City players was advisable on most weeks but this time it’s different. This is probably the best time there has been to face City in over a year. Their hosts Fulham are a strong home side and or on a good run to boot. Vital to this good run has been Dimitar Berbatov who will likely do his previous club a favour (UPDATE: Dimitar Berbatov is confirmed out for one month). City will rely on the immense Yaya Toure and the returned Sergio Aguero to end their winless run which now stands at 4 games.

The Other Guys

The London derby at Loftus Road is a clash between two now-solid sides in QPR and West Ham. The hosts can call upon the talents of the in-form Bobby Zamora to gain victory over the Hammers. As for West Ham, isn’t it about time we saw something from Mark Noble?

Wigan are an FPL dilemma. They are so painfully amazing when none of their players are in your FPL team, and so painfully awful when you bet on them. This is the time of the season where they put in good cup performances, but you just can’t tell when they’ll show up in the Premier League. If they do show up, expect good showings Maloney and Kone to be the reason for it. As for Sunderland, the matter is straightforward – Steven Fletcher. What a snare he is proving to be for the Mackems!

Stoke make work really easy for FPL managers – don’t pick players from their fixtures. Their matches are generally low-scoring affairs that are bad for FPL points for both them and the team they face. An exception to this is Peter Crouch. Feel free to try him out against a Swansea side that has shipped five and scored none in their last two league games. And there has never been a better time to try out Asmir Begovic between the sticks, or Stoke defenders at the back. The only way Swansea can prove that statement wrong is if Michu gets going again (consider this a make or break week for him. His early-season form has vanished quicker than we could say ‘Laudrup’)

Everton and Southampton are two teams heading into the game on the back of big wins, and the pretty straightforward names are: Baines, Fellaini, Pienaar and Lambert.

The midweek win would've no doubt been a boost that may well aid Villa's flailing season, but there is no argument that this is a great time for high-flying West Brom to travel to this derby. Odemwingie is still suspended, so it could be another start and another goal for Romelu Lukaku. The Villans, if they are to hit their stride, will need to talents of Bannan and Bent to aid them. West Brom defenders like McAuley have been consistent, and are worth at least keeping in your side if not buying on retail.

Reading are a side whose FPL contributions have come from different sources each week, and this could be Pavel Pogrebnyak's week. Newcastle are as easy to figure out as their neighbours Sunderland - Hatem ben Arfa and Demba Ba.

Hunch of the Gameweek:

I wrote earlier about how Liverpool might well be nailed on to take off this week, but I can't help but shake off the feeling that Robert Snodgrass will stand in their way.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Fantasy Premier League: Gameweek 5

Last gameweek was a lower scoring one than all the previous ones, with the average dipping to a season low of 40, beating Gameweek 1 by 9 whole points. It was probably to be expected with the Premier League fixtures sandwiched between the international break and European ties for the top clubs. Expect (both yourself and your rivals) to score far more points this time round.

Right, down to business.

Gameweek 5 fixtures

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

The Big Boys

Without a doubt, the fixture of the week is the potentially explosive one at Anfield. There's always a story when these two English giants face off, and expect this to be no different. Man United are on a great run of form, having won their last four games, while Liverpool are yet to win a domestic game this season. Logic dictates that Shinji Kagawa and Robin van Persie will be at the races. But Liverpool haven't lost at home to United in the last four seasons, and they'll need Luis Suarez at his best if they are to maintain that record. Raheem Sterling has impressed, and is cheap to boot.

Among the big sides, Chelsea come closest to having the plum tie of the gameweek. They have never failed to beat Stoke City at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League, and with Eden Hazard on their books, they look well primed to extend that run. Branislav Ivanovic is another one you must have (and Cech as well, it goes without saying)

Tottenham turned their game up several notches last week and produced a sterling performance to put Reading away. Should they extend that performance to this week's London derby, they will need Jermaine Defoe to keep on delivering. This could be Spurs' first clean sheet too, so the gamblers among you can go for Vertonghen. QPR gave a good account of themselves against City and Chelsea and won't be beaten easily. Expect Esteban Granero to be in the thick of things for the R's.

The other blockbuster fixture of the weekend is Manchester City hosting Arsenal. Samir Nasri will miss the game due to injury, but Yaya Toure and Carlos Tevez should make sure he isn't missed much. Aguero might return to the lineup, but hold your horses, he's better bought next week. As for Arsenal, there are now two players consistent on the pitch and in this blogger's FPL's posts - Cazorla and Podolski.

The Other Guys

Newcastle are still injury stricken at the back, with Krul, R. Taylor, Simpson and Coloccini set to miss out. This is good news for Robert Snodgrass, who should have a field day at St. James'. Newcastle's attacking talents are still fit and firing, and they should put Norwich to the sword via Monday's brace hero Demba Ba and ben Arfa. Not so much for the clean sheet but much for the ease it puts on your budget, take a look at Steve Harper.

The Martin O'Neill era must seem like a long time ago for the Villa faithful. From being Champions League hopefuls, they've fallen to a position where they look beatable. They've had a hard time picking up points away from home, and will rely on Bannan and Bent to get any from this tie. A job for Rickie Lambert is in the offing. Gaston Ramirez looks set to start, and is also a prospect to be considered. For the gamblers, attack minded full back Daniel Fox is an option.

Fulham are terrible on the road, and this could be Wigan's chance to put their Old Trafford drubbing (they're probably used to that by now) and notch up a victory. di Santo and Kone will be smacking their lips. Fulham have a new attacking force of their own now though, and Wigan should be wary of Dimitar Berbatov.

Swansea were brought back to earth last week with a 2-0 defeat at Villa Park, but should sober up in time for Everton. Picking Michu is still worth your while, I'll have you know. But the Swans are as injury-ridden at the back as Newcastle, so Everton should get some joy going forward, even with the Jelavic injury doubt. I am talking Steven Pienaar here.

West Ham are performing quite well on their return to the top flight, but face stiff opposition in the form of Martin O'Neill's Sunderland. Kevin Nolan has been consistent for the Hammers, and should be on target against the Mackems. Steven Fletcher is in real good nick now, and his poacher's instinct could deprive West Ham of a hat trick of clean sheets.

West Brom took a bit of a pounding at Craven Cottage last week but they're a strong home side who should put Reading away. James Morrison is this season's Brunt for WBA, and could cause no end of trouble for the Royals along with Shane Long.

Hunch of the Gameweek

It's been a while since he's featured in this part of the blog, but here I go: Fernando Torres

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Fantasy Premier League: Gameweek 4

There are two sides to most issues, but there is one issue most people agree upon - the international break is an unwelcome hindrance. Reasons vary, of course. For some of us, it means lack of our Premier League diet and the mini-hangover that follows. For others, it's the danger that a vital player could pick up an injury. It has gone though, and it'll be a welcome next few weeks of domestic football. Back to business for the clubs.

And back to business here too.

Gameweek 4 fixtures:
Arsenal v Southampton
Villa v Swansea
Everton v Newcastle
Man United v Wigan
QPR v Chelsea
Reading v Tottenham
Stoke v Man City
Sunderland v Liverpool
Norwich v West Ham
Fulham v West Brom

The Big Boys

Three teams likely to finish in the top four have the pick of the fixtures this gameweek. Manchester United usually do a lot of damage to Wigan's goal difference at Old Trafford, and should be at it again. Kagawa and van Persie are injury doubts but if declared fit, they'll be the ones improving your ranking. The safe picks are Vidic and Valencia. Kone has found a bit of FPL form, and he might not be too untidy this weekend.

It has been ages since one could trust the solidity of Arsenal's defence, but it's finally happening. The Gunners seem watertight at the back, and Thomas Vermaelen should walk into your team based on that. A cheaper, diet pick would be Kieran Gibbs. Going forward, it's worth repeating last gameweek's suggestions: Podolski and Cazorla.

Chelsea's visit to QPR is a fixture that seems like a volcano waiting to blow, given the non-football issues surrounding the game (which everyone is aware of, no doubt). As far as FPL is concerned, Fernando Torres has been in the sort of form not seen from him in years, so stick with him a bit longer. And pick Eden Hazard. You shouldn't have to ask why.

The fixtures just do not ease up for Liverpool, do they? Sunderland away is the latest tough nut they have to crack, and the team's form isn't promising. It looks promising for Steven Fletcher though, who could build on his brace last gameweek. As for Liverpool, it's about time Fabio Borini earned his keep.

Will he, won't he? Aguero's return to training has some FPL players in a dilemma, but it is still not clear if he'll start, so steer clear this week. He won't affect City's 'FPL gold', Carlos Tevez. Expect Yaya Toure to keep delivering too. Stoke are tough nuts of crack, especially at home, and Peter Crouch could get a sniff of points given the way City's defence has started the season.

Tottenham have had an indifferent start to the season, and it's about time they pick up. The form man, Jermaine Defoe, should keep delivering. I wouldn't trust the Spurs defence yet though, and I'm going to back up that opinion by suggesting you pick Pavel Pogrebnyak.

The Other Guys

Newcastle are stricken with injuries at the back, and that's good news for owners, or to-be owners, of Marouane Fellaini and Nikica Jelavic. Everton's bubble burst at West Brom last gameweek, and expect Hatem ben Arfa to work as hard as he can to pop it further.

Swansea should be favourites, even at Villa Park, and the gifts that will keep on giving are Michu and Dyer. Seriously. Never drop them unless they're injured.

West Ham enjoyed a good win last gameweek, and expect Nolan and vaz Te to help them carry that form forward. And it's about time Grant Holt got going, don't you think?

West Brom are a team in very good nick, and Shane Long could have some good chances this weekend. Morrison isn't one to be overlooked either. Fulham's points, fantasy or otherwise, will hinge or their attacking duo of Petric and Berbatov.

Hunch of the Gameweek:

More logic to this one than the previous three, this gameweek's hunch is Norwich's Robert Snodgrass.