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

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