Monday, 26 November 2012

Fantasy Premier League: Gameweek 14

Midweek matches are the flavor of the Premier League winter. This part of the season has always been my favourite – there will be lots of football in the coming three months. My beloved Chelsea always struggle in this period, so personally it’s a character-building exercise of sorts. Additionally, it’s a bit of an FPL nightmare with the squad rotation that goes on, particularly in the top clubs. Fortune with the armband also fluctuates most horribly.

Now that you’ve chewed on the appetizer, let’s move on to the main course.

Gameweek 14 fixtures:

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

The Big Boys

The closest any match comes to plum tie classification is the Hammers’ trip to Old Trafford. The theoretically good picks (RvP, Rafael, Rooney) haven’t clicked during this run of games, but the choices aren’t plenty given the injuries in the Red Devils camp. Young is the only fit winger but overpriced for his production so far, and Scholes and Carrick aren’t exactly FPL studs. All you can do is hold Robin van Persie and hope (Personally, I don’t think it’s a bad idea to sell Rooney or Rafael). As for the Hammers, do the same with Nolan.

One of the blockbuster ties midweek is the clash between two top four aspirants at White Hart Lane. If anything is to happen at all from this match, you know it’ll involve one of Bale, Defoe or Suarez. Boring. But who else is gonna do the business in a match where both sides are very likely to score?

New managers always build from the back, and expectedly, Rafael Benitez’s Chelsea (I feel odd just writing that) looked very solid at the back against Manchester City, picking up their first clean sheet in ages. Combine that with a Fulham side that struggled to score in the weekend without Bryan Ruiz, and you get the idea. Hold Juan Mata, Cech and Chelsea defenders. And resist the temptation to pick You Know Who – as Steve McMahon said, it was Gerrard that made Torres, not Benitez.

The other blockbuster midweek tie is the game at Goodison Park. Arsenal always flatter to deceive, and after watching them at Villa Park following two good results, it’s hard to imagine them getting up to much at Goodison, so I’d not buy any Gunner on retail. This seems exactly like the kind of game Marouane Fellaini (back from suspension) would relish. Dig in.

Wigan play well for a team that’s always in a relegation battle, but they leak goals and City have the tools to make them pay for it. After being benched against Real and Chelsea, it’s hard to imagine that FPL top scorer Carlos Tevez won’t influence this game from the start.

The Other Guys

After watching his team resist resolutely, take the lead and then crumble at Old Trafford, Harry Redknapp will know the size of the task ahead of him. History favours Redknapp in getting teams out of ruts like this one. With Sunderland still smarting from that hiding from West Brom, and it’s probably prime time to pick Esteban Granero. Also, with a double GW16 approaching for Sunderland added to the fact that tomorrow they face, well, QPR, Steven Fletcher wouldn’t be the worst decision you’ll ever make.

Villa kept out the rain-averse Arsenal during the weekend, but Reading aren’t the sort of team to be fazed by such conditions. Nicky Shorey could be a delightful pick – he takes set pieces, has a double gameweek coming soon, and costs 4.1 on retail. Baines Lite, only he’s been scoring better than Baines lately.

Stoke are a strong side who haven’t given anything away at home this season, so hold any of their players that you’ve got (unless they are injured or suspended). Newcastle look shorn of inspiration without their midfield creators Cabaye and ben Arfa (Ba has suffered for it too), so it’s hard to suggest anyone.

The most attractive football this week will emanate from West Brom’s visit to the Liberty Stadium. Swansea and West Brom have played some pretty catchy football this season, and the match should be a delight for neutral viewers and FPL owners of Michu, Long and Morrison.

Southampton have been in good nick since bursts in form from Puncheon (4.5) and Gaston Ramirez (6.0). Not bad ideas should you be looking for cheap midfielders.

The Blogger’s Team

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