Monday, 31 December 2012

Fantasy Premier League: Gameweek 21

A sort of diet post, because there’s no time, I’ve been on holiday, just got back and am headed somewhere else.

Gameweek 21 fixtures

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

The Big Boys

The plum tie of the gameweek is QPR’s trip to in-form Chelsea. You’d be a fool to get rid of Juan Mata (9.8). Lampard (8.4) has 3 goals from his last two starts, is getting into the box again and QPR seems to sort of opposition Frank would relish. With Moses and Mikel headed to Africa soon, gamblers' picks Oscar (7.8) and David Luiz (6.6) might pay off. Petr Cech might miss the game, so Ross Turnbull (4.3) might be some cheap points. Please wait for confirmed news on this one.

Robin van Persie (14.0. Balk) should start on the pitch for this one after starting on the bench during the weekend. Again, due to Rooney’s injury, nothing more of interest here.

Theo Walcott (8.8)was on song against Newcastle, and should be repeating some of that against his former club. Sly pick for differential – Podolski (8.2), who’s not been performing too shabbily himself.

Tottenham have a couple of easy fixtures coming, so owners of Jermaine Defoe (8.5) should see more regular goals from him. Gareth Bale (9.9) is suspended from this fixture for yellow card accumulation. Lilywhite defenders wouldn’t be the worst idea.

Stoke have scored 6 goals in their last two games, which would’ve profited owners of Kenwyne Jones (5.0). Keep him. The safest picks from City are Aguero (11.0) and Silva (9.4), again.

Liverpool v Sunderland. Suarez (10.2), Gerrard (9.4), Fletcher (7.0). Bye.

The Other Guys

Monitor Demba Ba’s (8.4) transfer situation closely (latest is that talks with Chelsea broke down). He’ll probably move to a club that gives him more scoring chances, so keep him. Fellaini (7.4) is back for Everton, put him in your teams too.

Snodgrass (6.2) has been very consistent lately, so keep milking him. West Ham had an unexpected bad day at Reading, but should do better at home with Carlton Cole (4.9).

Michu is still an injury doubt. You still shouldn’t sell him, but Graham (5.4) would be a nice temporary pick. He should start after his goal in the weekend, and Villa have been terrible at the back lately.

West Brom are as strong at home as Fulham are weak away, but the return of Bryan Ruiz (5.4) has done both him and Berbatov’s (7.1) points a lot of good. Get in. Nobody at WBA is FPL-consistent, so best stay away.

The Blogger’s Team

Just hope Cech will play, which probably he won't. Reserve keeper is Bunn. Riether is first sub.

Meme of the week

Friday, 28 December 2012

Fantasy Premier League: Gameweek 20

Midweek fixtures are always tasty as we have crazy matches and unexpected results (and sometimes both). Manchester United produced another see-saw victory typical of their season, while Chelsea’s revival under Rafael Benitez halted Norwich’s unbeaten home run. Manchester City lost ground in the title race to an Adam Johnson goal that was perhaps fated, and QPR and Villa continue to be dreadful.

And the games just keep on coming. Oh joy.

Gameweek 20 fixtures

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

The Big Boys

Robin van Persie, Manchester United striker

Rooney is out injured and Welbeck is ill, so if it’s Manchester United, it’s van Persie (13.9 on retail. Balk). Hernandez (6.9) should start given the fitness status of the other attackers. West Brom have regained winning form, but no player is FPL-consistent.

This is the beginning of a nightmare run of fixtures for QPR. More joy for owners/buyers of Luis Suarez (10.2, keep an eye on his fitness). Gerrard (9.3) has been in fine scoring form lately, and the fixtures favour an extension of that run.

Everton are a very strong home team, but nothing has changed from what I said about Juan Mata (9.7) last week. Eden Hazard (9.6) has also been enjoying himself under Benitez and while his owners were left frustrated in GW19, he will no doubt start at Goodison.

Carlos Tevez (9.4) was withdrawn at around 70 minutes again, so expect him to start the next game. His production has been on the wane since the Manchester derby though, so consider this a sort of ‘final straw’ gameweek for him. Likewise Aguero (11.0), who’s also proving to be a bit of an expensive weight.

One of the easier games to call is Spurs’ visit to the Stadium of Light. Steven Fletcher (7.0. Hold), Gareth Bale (9.8. Hold/buy) and Jermaine Defoe (8.4. Hold/buy).

The Other Guys

Southampton have a terrible away defence, and Stoke have an excellent home defence. Buying Kenwyne Jones (5.0) could help you. Stoke defenders/keeper, I’m sure enough people have. Sly pick for differential – Charlie Adam (6.6), who was back in the squad against Liverpool (he was on the bench) following an absence enforced by personal issues, and should start this one.

Dimitar Berbatov (7.1) got back to scoring ways against Southampton. This isn’t the worst week to buy him if you missed out on him last gameweek. Never drop Michu (8.3), even with the injury doubt. Use a sub.

We don’t know when Carroll is returning, and Reading won’t be able to keep two clean sheets in a row. So Carlton Cole (4.9) is a good cheap choice after his red card was rescinded. Meanwhile, Shorey seems to have lost his place in the Reading side so ditch, ASAP.

Stay away from Villa and Wigan players.

The Blogger’s Team

Last chance for Tevez. And shame Michu's injured, hopefully Fulham have 0-0 :P
EDIT: My captain is Bale. Not Mata. Updating the pic once with 13 kbps was great, guess it won't happen again

Meme of the week

Image and News text credits: IBTimes

Monday, 24 December 2012

Fantasy Premier League: Gameweek 19

Manchester United joined the artists club by drawing for the first time this season, while Frank Lampard couldn’t have asked for a more fitting salute to his 500th Premier League start than an 8-0 scoreline. The other traditionally big sides all notched up victories as we approach the deep end of the festive programme with the gameweek that calls half-time on the season for most clubs.

Gameweek 19 fixtures

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

Arsenal v West Ham has been postponed due to the tube strike in London

The Big Boys

Fernando Torres, Chelsea striker

Fernando Torres has scored in five of his last six Chelsea appearances (thankfully only two were league games, and those contained just three of his eight goals in this run, so his price hasn’t overshot), and for most people that is sign-him-up zone. Juan Mata is always worth it – he has started precisely two league games since 22nd September where he has not scored or assisted. Oscar could be a sly pick for those of you looking for a quick fix to replace Fellaini or a non-playing Arsenal midfielder. Not like most of you had them anyway, but this is quite a bad run of matches for Norwich defenders so if you have any, get rid. Snodgrass is having a good run, so keep cashing in till it ends.

There’s nothing very new one can say about Manchester United or Newcastle than to hold on to Rooney, van Persie, Young and Ba if you have them. Stay away from the defenders.

Now that the games are starting to come thick and fast, there will be huge frustrations in the offing for those trying to guess who Mancini’s strikers will be. With Nasri out for 2-3 weeks, the safest pick is David Silva, who is just about the only other creative player City have. It’s no fault if yours if you have an Argentine forward from City, just hold him and pray that he plays more often than not.

Aston Villa are ripe from an 8-0 drubbing, and while that won’t happen again this week, it’s hard to imagine that an FPL side with Bale and/or Defoe in its ranks won’t have some joy. Spurs defenders

Stoke are horribly stingy at home, so this is the worst gameweek possible to invest in Liverpool forwards or midfielders. It’s a game for the defenders, and a particularly good time to invest in those of Liverpool given the coming fixtures.

The Other Guys

Michu, Swansea City 'midfielder'

Michu should probably get the armband in your team this week. Reading average 2.375 goals conceded per home game, the worst record in the league by some distance, and the Spaniard will be heavily involved if Swansea are to take advantage. Among other attackers, Wayne Routledge could offer some good differential.

Pienaar has been enjoying Fellaini’s absence, and has a couple of home games coming. Clean sheets are hard to call at this time of the season, but hosting opponents averaging 0.625 goals scored per away game (league’s worst) isn’t going to do Everton’s clean sheet hopes any harm, so maybe an Everton defender could offer some differential.

QPR and WBA players haven’t been showing FPL consistency lately, so there are chances of going wrong if you invest in this game on retail. Gamblers looking for differential could try West Brom defenders as QPR are still the only team in the league to have played more home games than scored goals at home.

Fulham. Based completely on a hunch more than anything, this could be Dimitar Berbatov's week. Alright, not completely - Southampton let in nearly 3 goals (2.86, to be precise) per away game. Quite dismal. Fulham attackers are generally a good choice for this gameweek.

The Blogger’s Team

Meme of the week

Disclaimer: Some may find this offensive

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Fantasy Premier League: Gameweek 18

This gameweek sees the beginning of a run of 4 matches in the space of 9-10 days. While it’s a real joy for general football fans to have so much of the game coming at them, it might lead to some hair-pulling moments for Fantasy Premier League players as key members of their squads, particularly those playing for the big sides, fall victims to rotation. It’s also the beginning of the FPL Cup. Whether you value defeating your immediate opponent and progressing, or choose to behave like a typical Premier League manager and prioritize your team’s long-term health, is up to you.

You know the drill.

Gameweek 18 fixtures

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

At the time of writing, Arsenal v West Ham has been scratched off the GW19 fixture list in FPL. Please keep an eye on the tube strike situation in London and wait as long as it takes before confirming your squads/transfers, since it would certainly not be nice to have too many players involved in London games that are cancelled.

The Big Boys

Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie, Manchester United forwards

Of late, Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie have both been getting on the scoresheet, and Ashley Young has two assists in his last two games. Swansea’s more open approach at home has seen them vulnerable at the back at the Liberty Stadium, and this gameweek, as well as every single one till mid-Jan, has good points potential for these three players. This is the last time I’m going to mention Michu here. Everyone should’ve got it by now. Only, there's one added thing - he's one yellow away from a one-match suspension, so pray he stays clean till January.

Eden Hazard, Chelsea midfielder

Travelling halfway round the world didn’t stop Chelsea from stuffing Leeds, but one should approach this gameweek with caution. The force is certainly with Eden Hazard, who has regained his early-season mojo under Benitez with a goal and 5 assists in his last 5 Chelsea appearances. He was a sub at Elland Road, so he will start this one. Juan Mata tirelessly keeps his meter ticking, dropping him would be insane (this goes both for his real and fantasy managers). Chelsea are still suspect at the back, so keep Benteke (buying him at 6.6 could be a sly move that might pay off). Don’t trust Torres just yet, there are better options.

The plum tie of the gameweek sees Manchester City take on bottom team Reading at home. The champions looked a lot more like themselves at St. James’ last week, and should put Reading away with consummate ease. Expect joy at all areas of the pitch. I’m talking Zabaleta, Tevez, Aguero, Silva.

You just can’t trust Liverpool at all. A bit like Wigan now, it’s not clear where the FPL value lies now. Their defence hasn’t been the best, but Glen Johnson is in good nick going forward and Fulham average 2 goals conceded/away game (only Southampton are worse), which means you should also give Suarez another chance in your team.

Gareth Bale has returned to training for Spurs, much to the relief of many. Stoke are a stingy team defensively, but it’s worth holding onto the top Tottenham attackers. There are better weeks for buying on retail. In the mid-price range, Lennon could be a shrewd replacement for Fellaini, who is suspended.

Cazorla played with some serious mojo at the Madejski, and will be smacking his lips at the prospect of facing Wigan, who have the next worst home record to Reading’s (both in terms of average points and average goals conceded). The same goes for Podolski and Walcott. Do keep an eye on that tube strike fiasco though. Don't overload on Gunners.

The Other Guys

Newcastle don’t really have much to offer in terms of FPL besides Demba Ba. QPR are on a nice little run, unbeaten for 4 matches. Adel Taarabt scored a brace in their first win of the season, don’t put it past him being the architect of all things good for the R’s at St. James’. He, like Michu, is one yellow away from a suspension.

West Brom haven’t scored in three matches, and are suffering a sharp decline since their win against Chelsea. Manchester United are the only team to have got more points than Norwich in the last 4 games. That is some form from the Canaries, so hold on to their top performers from last week, but there isn’t much wisdom in buying any Norwich player right now, given that West Brom average 0.67 goals conceded/home game – second only to Stoke.

Being shorn of Fellaini for three games will impact Everton massively. This is good news for West Ham, who have the worst points return in the league from the last 5 matches. It would be too much of a push to suggest that this suspension makes WHU defenders more valuable, but Everton will be weaker on set pieces, which plays to Nolan’s strengths.

The value of Southampton players was already dented by a no-show last week, but keep an eye on the tube strike fiasco as well, it might affect their trip to Fulham next week. At any rate, I don’t think Soton v Sunderland is the best game to try your hand with.

The Blogger’s Team

Rafael injured, had to do it.

Meme of the week

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Fantasy Premier League: Gameweek 17

Last week’s derby win leaves Manchester United 6 points clear at the top of the table. A wrong offside call and a dodgy penalty decision probably saved City from an emphatic defeat, and Tevez being let off without a second yellow helped avoid total embarrassment. Such a gap at the top approaching half-time in the season isn’t going to do United any harm, particularly given that (a) Valencia is back, Vidic and Kagawa will follow soon, and (b) all the fixtures till mid-January seem eminently winnable. Meanwhile, Torres scoring five goals in three games isn’t helping deter doomsday predictions (Just 8 more days to go, people!)

The world might end, but FPL will live on forever! Right, that sucked.

Gameweek 17 fixtures:

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

Due to Club World Cup commitments, neither Chelsea nor their scheduled opponents Southampton feature in this gameweek. Nobody has any idea when the re-scheduled fixture is, so don’t hold on to every player from these teams expecting it to be any time soon. You will lose points needlessly. Keep only Mata and perhaps Cech, if you have a sub keeper who’ll play this gameweek.

The Big Boys

Luis Suarez, Liverpool striker

The plum fixture of the gameweek is Aston Villa’s trip to Anfield. Villa have averaged 1 goal per away game this season (it’s the same case for them at home too, they’ve generally been a good team to bet against), and it’s hard to see that average go anywhere but down. Monitor Jose Enrique’s fitness closely before making a decision. Raheem could also be a sterling choice at this point, and did you know Luis Suarez is back?

Tottenham and Swansea are two good, attacking teams, and is horrible value for defenders from both teams. Bale is still out with an injured hammy, and it’s not clear what the return of Adebayor means to the value of either striker, so I’d do no more than hold on to Defoe for now. Instead of wondering what on earth happened to the Premier League that a player bought from a promoted La Liga club is laying waste to every defence in England, just pick Michu, the first player to cross the 100 point mark this season, and reap the dividends.
Santiago Cazorla, Arsenal midfielder

Despite his excellent general play, Cazorla’s points return has not been worth his price. Give him a go at Reading’s pathetic defence before thinking of cutting and forgetting him. It’s hard to say much more than that about Arsenal in terms of FPL really. And hopefully you don’t have too much dead wood (face it, that’s what they are) remaining from Reading’s double gameweek 16. They’re unlikely to do much more. Even against the inconsistent sine curve team of the season.

Dead wood isn’t the term I’d use to describe the other double-gamers from last week though. Manchester United apparently have a grudge against Sunderland for not taking a final day home defeat on the chin, but do they have the defensive strength to keep out the Black Cats? Steven Fletcher smacks his lips. Wayne Rooney looks like he’s up for it again, and Sunderland aren’t exactly filled with Maldinis themselves. The derby also saw good performances from United’s wingers, which is another promising area. Wait and see how they do on Saturday before buying them at their 8+ prices. Never drop van Persie.

Carlos Tevez, Manchester City striker

Manchester City are still smarting from derby defeat, and travel to face a Newcastle side who are also not at the same level they were last season. Carlos Tevez has been pretty much the only consistent FPL scorer for City. Keep Demba Ba and 7.5 is as cheap as Hatem ben Arfa will ever be. (while it is as cheap as he will ever be, he's injured again)

The Other Guys

Stoke City’s fixtures take a significant turn for the worse here. Here’s a list of their next 8 fixtures: Everton, Spurs away, Liverpool, Southampton, Man City away, Chelsea, Swansea away, Wigan. Considering that the only players from this team with any consistent FPL value for the past couple of months have been the keeper and defenders, you would be wise to get rid of/stay away from Stoke players till the winter transfer window has shut. Everton’s most consistent performer has been Marouane Fellaini, and he will relish this battle.

West Brom have been a bit off the boil recently, with two defeats in the last two weeks without having found the net, which has been most uncharacteristic of them. Hold Shane Long and Morrison for now – the next three games are West Ham, Norwich and QPR away. Not too shabby. Patience must be running out with Nolan, and rightly so. West Brom’s defence hasn’t been the best but there is little joy in the Hammers’ fixtures till the new year, so ditching Nolan after this match might not be the worst thing you’ll ever do.

The Little West London derby (my own name, and yes I’m calling it ‘Little’ only because Chelsea aren’t involved) between QPR and Fulham should really be easy pickings for the Cottagers. Much was expected of Harry Houdini, but it’s just more of the same – no wins. But while it’s a match Fulham will win, they’ve become a bit like Wigan over the past 3-4 gameweeks. It’s hard to tell where exactly the value lies after Berbatov went off-boil.

Speaking of Wigan, “stay away” is always good advice, but never more so when they travel to a team that’s unbeaten in the last 10 games in all competitions. Chris Hughton’s really got Norwich going after a sluggish start to the season. All their big name attackers netted in last week’s extraordinary game in Wales, but we don't know how they will fare. You can bet on Grant Holt getting another one, but I wouldn't blame people who jump on the Bassong bandwagon.

The Blogger's Team

fantasy blogger's team
Mata and Cech won't play, Bale injured. "I will survive..."

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Fantasy Premier League: Gameweek 16

As far as the Premier League is concerned, the Champions League adventure is over for last season’s trophy winners, with Chelsea exiting on away goals in head to head against Shakhtar, and City bowing out with 3 points and no wins from the group of death. The Blues from London will contest in Europe’s second tier from February, while City are out of Europe altogether. What implications this has for FPL is clear – Sergio Aguero will probably start most of the league matches from now till the end of the season, and if Torres performs well till Christmas, he becomes a real possibility too.

Let’s talk about the present though.

Gameweek 16 fixtures:

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

The Big Boys

Sergio Aguero and Robin van Persie

He didn’t start against Everton or in Europe, so chances are strong that last season’s title hero Sergio Aguero will start the derby, and is of particular interest given United’s defensive frailties this season . And given that Carlos Tevez started both of City’s last two games, chances are high that he will be given the chop, but he’ll likely start most of the time and his gold production makes it worthwhile to take a non-starting hit here and there. Rooney scores a brace and then does next to nothing to justify his price for weeks, so the one worth holding is, as always, van Persie.

The first of Sunderland’s two fixtures (I’ve written about them below) is welcoming Chelsea, who registered their first win of the Benitez era midweek. Mata, Hazard and Torres combined superbly last night, but Sunderland’s defence at home is a different story. Also bear in mind that due to the Club World Cup, Chelsea have a null Gameweek 17, so you might want to get rid of anyone not named Juan Mata.

Most of Arsenal’s first team were rested midweek (although why they would risk finishing second in their group is a mystery), so theoretically, they should perform better than they have recently, though such a theory has no guarantee of bearing fruition against opposition like West Brom. Shane Long could prove to be Arsenal’s undoing, and I’d say you wait and observe Arsenal players a bit before buying any.

Spurs have had a fine run of form during Adebayor’s ban, but he started two games before his moment of madness at the Emirates, so you might wish to hold your horses if you’re thinking of buying Defoe on retail. His fine recent form makes him undroppable if you already have him though. Gareth Bale will miss this one due to a hamstring injury, so the value for money in midfield lies with Aaron Lennon.

Liverpool travel to West Ham without Luis Suarez who is suspended for yellow card accumulation, and given how dependent they have been on the Uruguayan added with the fact that Borini is injured, this will make this match unbelievably difficult. Kevin Nolan is due some good points (and would’ve got some against Chelsea if not for some soft fouls given), and it wouldn’t be too much of a push to suggest that keeping Jaaskaleinen and his defenders is wise.

The Other Guys

The tie at Villa Park sees the second worst attack in the league (Villa have scored 12) take on the second best defence (Stoke have conceded 12) in the league. It wouldn’t be too much of a risk to suggest that this could be Stoke’s 8th clean sheet of the season. You know what to do.

As I have been pointing out for a couple of weeks now, Sunderland and Reading have a double gameweek. Now, given that players from these teams are often at the lower end of the points ladder, stacking up may not be the wisest thing. Please keep an eye on Steven Fletcher’s fitness (75% people usually end up playing, but confirmed news would make us all more comfortable). If the doubt on fitness doesn’t sit well with you, you might wish to spend on Adam Johnson (for lower budgets) or Sessegnon (if you can afford him and/or have a similarly priced player lying wasted). Reading’s best picks in the respective outfield positions are Shorey, Le Fondre and McAnuff. Don’t pick either team’s keepers.

Fulham welcome back Kacaniklic to the fold, while Newcastle’s chief creators are still missing. That didn’t matter much as the Geordies put away Wigan without much ado on Monday, and keeping Demba Ba isn’t a bad idea. Dimitar Berbatov is playing at home, and Steven Taylor is still injured, so he wouldn’t be the worst idea either.

Don’t think I have forgotten Southampton. It’s just they aren’t brimming with FPL gold, and they were supposed to be Chelsea’s opponents in Gameweek 17, which Chelsea and therefore Southampton will not play, so there isn’t any worthy purchase you can make here at this point.

Wigan and QPR. Nobody from either side has really taken their club’s season by the scruff of the neck and said “Hey, I’m gonna do things consistently”. Nobody worth buying. Yet.

Michu, Swansea midfielder

Swansea City host Norwich. Michu is joint leader of the golden boot race. Bye.

The Blogger’s Team

Tevez may not start, Fletcher and Riether are doubts and Rafael is my only fit sub. Oh joy.