Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Fantasy Premier League 2013-14: Gameweek 20

After a whirlwind semester abroad that feels like a dream and a crazy final week, The Blogger is back. Between more dining choices, lower prices, worse weather and lack of football culture, feelings are mixed about the change. This is as happy as I've ever been though, no denying that. Thanks to all my friends in Korea for patiently putting up with the stadium tours, and Ryan in particular for his photographs.

A plaque with pictures of the 2002 South Korea World Cup squad
Ryan and Aki present to you - The 2002 South Korea squad (can't really see them, huh? :P )

Half the season gone and the Premier League remains frustratingly impartial - 3 bad weeks could put Hull bottom, 3 good weeks could put Newcastle top. Too much wheat, too little chaff. Don't you just love it?

The January wildcard is just a couple of days away, but that doesn't mean you have to play it immediately. If you have a good team now, it might be more prudent to wait before pulling the trigger.

Hope your FPL team is doing well.

Gameweek 20 fixtures

Swansea vs Man City
Arsenal vs Cardiff
Crystal Palace vs Norwich
Fulham vs West Ham
Liverpool vs Hull City
Southampton vs Chelsea
Stoke City vs Everton
Sunderland vs Aston Villa
West Brom vs Newcastle
Man Utd vs Tottenham

Player Picks


Forwards

Luis Suarez (13.3) - After disappointing returns at City and Chelsea, the Uruguayan should be quick off the blocks at home to Hull, and back to being captain material.

Alvaro Negredo (9.8) - City have two home games in the next three gameweeks, and getting only 36 minutes on the weekend should assure his owners and prospective buyers of his game time. His price will only keep shooting up.

Marouane Chamakh (4.8) - Only for the seriously desperate, no doubt, but the least he can do with all the home games in the wildcard period is provide value for money.

Midfielders

Eden Hazard (10.2) - Despite only one striker reaching 3 league goals, Chelsea are just 2 points off top spot. The form of Hazard has been key in making them tick without contributions from up front. He's been playing a lot of minutes in a short period, but it is more likely he will get his rest in the cup than at St. Mary's.

Yaya Toure (10.0) - Rested against Palace and will be the alpha male in midfield again given Silva's suspension. If you haven't the money, Nasri (8.4) is also an option.

Kevin Nolan (6.5) - Is finally coming to grips with playing as West Ham's "striker". Trips to Fulham and Cardiff before a home game look promising.

Chris Brunt (5.0) - Priced very favourably, assisted twice against West Ham and should be on set pieces.

Ki Sung-Hyeung (4.8) - Dead cheap and is playing support striker for a recovering Sunderland team.

Defenders

Matija Nastasic (5.1) - Nastasic is a cheap route into the defence of a City team in imperious form and with good home games coming.

Laurent Koscielny (5.3) - Injury saw his owners and his price drop, and like Nastasic he is now considerably cheaper than his defensive teammates heading into a good run of fixtures.

Joel Ward (4.1) - Crystal Palace face Norwich, Stoke and Hull at home in the next four weeks. Plus, he's cheap.

Kolo Toure (4.5) - Liverpool boast the best home defence in the league and Sakho's injury should see Toure deputise, even if only for a game or two.

Goalkeepers

Wojciech Szczesny (5.8) - Will be a popular pick as Arsenal embark on a great run of fixtures.

Julian Speroni (4.5) - Price, and the aforementioned schedule for Palace.

The Blogger's Team


Waiting on the wildcard. Have had Guzan since forever!

Friday, 13 December 2013

Fantasy Premier League 2013-14: Gameweek 16

With two weeks to go before The Blogger is back at home, the end-of-stay rituals are well underway. Souvenir hunting and gift shopping cut right into the otherwise sacrosanct Thursday, but it was time well spent (They have a pet zoo with dogs, goats, guinea pigs and rabbits on top of a shopping mall!).

Galatasaray's rousing triumph, Napoli's heartbreak and the ucl_fraude clown - It's been an eventful week, huh? It's only going to get better with a December schedule that pits the current top four against each other.

Meme of the week

Gameweek 16 fixtures

Man City vs Arsenal
Cardiff vs West Brom
Chelsea vs Crystal Palace
Everton vs Fulham
Newcastle vs Southampton
West Ham vs Sunderland
Hull City vs Stoke City
Aston Villa vs Manchester United
Norwich vs Swansea
Tottenham vs Liverpool

Player Picks


Forwards

Romelu Lukaku, Chelsea and Everton striker

Romelu Lukaku (8.5) - After a couple of wonderful performances away to Man United and Arsenal, Everton host Fulham and Sunderland (who've both been conceding around 2 a game away from home) in the next 3 games and travel to Swansea, who have the third worst home defence in the division.

Wayne Rooney (11.1) - For a team in crisis, 2 away goals per game isn't an untidy record and given the good schedule, the return of the Rooney-RvP partnership could kickstart their season. Wazza has served out his ban for accumulating yellows and is priced much more favourably than the Dutchman.

Steven Fletcher (7.3) - Sunderland have been among the goals lately, and their next two games see them travel to West Ham (who have a bad home defence) and host Norwich (who have a dismal away defence). There is no reason to break the template of success up front for him, but in case you aren't loaded and need a striker, he has potential.

Midfielders

Oscar (8.8) - Oscar made a return to the Chelsea team with an assist in the Champions League. The Brazilian's price dropped by 0.3 during his injury layoff and a run of three home games in four starting with second-from-bottom Crystal Palace looks promising.

David Silva, Manchester City midfielder
Silva lining

David Silva (9.1) - City's matches against fellow top four members are at home (where they have been scintillating), plus they face Fulham on their next trip and Palace at home before the new year. Silva capped his return from injury with a goal in Munich, has averaged 6 FPL points per game this season. A good option for a Gerrard replacement.

Leroy Fer (5.9) - Fer is Norwich's in-form man with 3 goals and an assist over the last 5 matches. The Canaries have two home games (Swansea, Fulham) over the next three gameweeks, including a trip to Sunderland. You could do worse.

Ravel Morrison (5.1) - He's fallen off the suspension tightrope and picked himself up, is cheap and has three home games in the next four starting with basement team Sunderland.

Defenders

Sylvain Distin (5.2) - If you picked up Coleman at 5.0 at the start of the season and still have him, kudos. If not, it's not all bad - Investment and returns on the Toffees defence are set to go up with Everton's (very) favourable schedule.

Mike Williamson (4.4) - With the top four clubs facing each other at least twice heading into the new year, the era of the Cheap Defender is upon us. Newcastle host Southampton and Stoke and travel to Crystal Palace over the next three games. Begging for attention at that price.

Ben Turner (4.1) - Cardiff host West Brom, Southampton and Sunderland over the next four gameweeks, potentially making Turner good value for money.

James Chester (3.8) - His early-season injury saw his price drop to below 4. His return coincided with trips to Arsenal and Swansea, so investors didn't exactly flood the gates. Hull have an outrageous home defensive record (bettered only by Manchester City), and have three home games over the next four gameweeks. Quite possibly the best option around for a fifth defender.

Goalkeepers

Tim Howard (5.8) - The more expensive Tim has a great long-term fixture list and with Everton performing at the level they have so far, he could be a keeper (pun intended)

Tim Krul (5.1) - Came away from Old Trafford with a clean sheet, is cheaper than Howard and has a favourable three matches.

David Marshall (4.6) - Price is on his side, and the schedule could be worse.

The Blogger's Team


The Blogger's Gameweek 16 team
Suarez + Coutinho vs Dawson. Rooney vs Guzan. YOLO.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Fantasy Premier League: Gameweek 15

December brings with it a host of midweek games, and aren't we all the happier for it? Nothing beats starting the day with Premier League football. Waking up at 5 to nachos, dodgy streams and crazy matches? Gimme some of that!

Koala meme reacting to Liverpool-Norwich

Gameweek 15 fixtures

Man Utd vs Newcastle
Crystal Palace vs Cardiff
Liverpool vs West Ham
Southampton vs Man City
Stoke vs Chelsea
West Brom vs Norwich
Sunderland vs Tottenham
Fulham vs Aston Villa
Arsenal vs Everton
Swansea vs Hull City

Player Picks


Forwards

The forward template for success remains the same, though Rooney's suspension, Aguero's tough fixtures and heavenly form vastly push up Suarez's value relative to the others.

Midfielders

Philippe Coutinho (8.6) - Registered an assist in Liverpool's big midweek win following his derby goal, and should extend his run against West Ham.

Eden Hazard (9.6) - Has been mentioned several times here already but it is worth reiterating that he is now Chelsea's main midfield man, has been performing very well and has a good schedule pre-Arsenal.

Barry Bannan (4.4) - A goal and assist in his last three starts coupled with two decent home games either side of a trip to Stamford Bridge makes him a good fifth midfielder to have during this busy period of rotation.

Jonjo Shelvey (5.3) - Notched up 2 goals and 2 assists in his last 232 minutes of action and has a couple of good fixtures to come.

Comment: Ravel Morrison (5.1)'s fifth yellow is great news (for those other than his current owners), as he will be a fantastic cheap buy after GW15 with no suspension worries.

Defenders

Liam Ridgewell (5.1) - Having seen the back of Manchester City, West Brom embark on a hat trick of good fixtures which should see their defenders register some good returns.

Joel Ward (4.0) - Wrote at length about the virtues of picking Gabbidon (now costing 4.1) in a previous post. Expect Palace to follow up the clean sheet against West Ham with another Pulis-cooked shutout against Cardiff.

Ben Turner (4.1) - The Cardiff defender is a fantastic supporting act for Joel Ward, with the two alternating home games against mid-table and lower table teams all the way to March.

Gary Cahill (5.7) - Should continue to feature for Chelsea with David Luiz out injured. Stoke away and Palace home is a tasty recent schedule.

Goalkeepers

Michel Vorm (5.0) - The immediate schedule sees Swansea host Hull and travel to Norwich. Not too untidy.

Boaz Myhill (4.5) - See Ridgewell, Liam

The Blogger's Team


Guzan, Riether, Dawson, Turner, Coleman, Hazard, Ramsey, Coutinho, Barkley, Suarez (c), Remy
I continue to do quite alright with precisely 11 available players each week. Lucky rascal.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Fantasy Premier League: Gameweek 14

Saturday was well-spent even if it meant missing the Premier League games. The most "relevant" thing to take away from daylight was a visit to a museum, where there were some football memorabilia among a few other interesting things.

Korea cheering prop from 2002 FIFA World Cup
A preserved cheering prop from the 2002 FIFA World Cup, which remains Korean football's most glorious month.

Dusk was experienced in the company of the the Olympic Stadium and Olympic Star Street. The Olympic Stadium is a bit run-down since its glory days, with some hockey (think NHL) played outside it by some Canadians the only visible activity that day. Plaques of the Korean heroes from 1988 and other years adorned the Star Street.

The Blogger at the Seoul Olympic Stadium


The World Cup stadium (propped up by the familiar sight of HomePlus) was a good visit as well. Going at night rendered photography a bit pointless, but it was a grand sight all the same. It took a while to walk around the entire stadium. It's a shame the home team could not retain the title, but they have made the Champions League and I wish FC Seoul all the best for next season.

(That is the most I will ever write about me or something I did. Moving on...)

Gameweek 14 fixtures

Crystal Palace vs West Ham
Arsenal vs Hull City
Liverpool vs Norwich
Man Utd vs Everton
Southampton vs Aston Villa
Stoke vs Cardiff
Sunderland vs Chelsea
Swansea vs Newcastle
Fulham vs Tottenham
West Brom vs Man City

Player Picks


Forwards

Any three of Suarez/Rooney/Remy/Aguero/Lukaku form the ideal template forward line at this time.

Midfielders

Ravel Morrison (5.0) - His owners' hearts sank when he wasn't starting, but he redeemed the points with an assist in his 14 minutes of play and should start (and deliver) midweek. The threat of suspension still looms.

Philippe Coutinho (8.6) - Was unable to start against Hull due to a late knock. Should return to the lineup against Norwich and deliver the goods.

Alex Pozuelo (4.2) - A schedule of Newcastle, Hull, Everton home and Norwich away over the next four gameweeks is enticing. Pozuelo has started the last three for Swansea, assisted at Fulham and is really cheap.

Aaron Ramsey (7.4) - Why wouldn't you?

Defenders

John Terry (6.5) - Trips to Sunderland and Stoke (who are found languishing near the bottom of the home attack table) and hosting Crystal Palace over the next three gameweeks makes Chelsea defenders hot premium property. Terry has 2 goals and an assist and has registered 22 points more than second top Chelsea defender Ivanovic.

James Collins (4.3) - Following a shutout against Fulham, hosting Palace is next in line for the Hammers with a home game against Sunderland also in the offing two gameweeks later. Expect Collins to keep delivering.

Jon Flanagan (4.5) - Liverpool have been leaking goals lately, but their home defence remains a force to be reckoned with, letting in just 3 from 6 games so far. The schedule shouldn't put a dent in that record.

Erik Pieters (5.0) - Stoke face Cardiff at home, making him a good short-term choice.

Goalkeepers

Simon Mignolet (5.7) - See Flanagan, Jon.

Petr Cech (6.2) - One clean sheet in the last 8 games isn't a good record but Chelsea should start delivering some shutouts as they face far-from-flashy opposition.

The Blogger's Team


The Blogger's Team
Self-motivation: "Better-looking teams have scored less"

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Fantasy Premier League: Gameweek 13

The Blogger is leaving for Seoul at midnight, and has managed to churn out this piece right on time. Sorry if I can't respond to your messages and comments (here or on social media) after today.

Have a good gameweek!

Gameweek 13 fixtures

Aston Villa vs Sunderland
Cardiff vs Arsenal
Everton vs Stoke
Norwich vs Crystal Palace
West Ham vs Fulham
Newcastle vs West Brom
Tottenham vs Man United
Hull City vs Liverpool
Chelsea vs Southampton
Man City vs Swansea

Player Picks


Forwards

Luis Suarez (12.2), Sergio Aguero (12.1) and Wayne Rooney (11.1) - The gifts that keep on giving. A booking at Cardiff took Rooney to four yellow cards, however, so a booking in any of the next 8 league games will see him serve a one-match ban.

Olivier Giroud, Arsenal striker
"Victoire est mienne!"

Olivier Giroud (9.1) - Delivered the goods against a highly-rated Southampton team after blanking against Liverpool and Man United. Could start a scoring run as he looks at a trip to Cardiff and a home game against Hull

Loic Remy (8.1) - Is in sublime form having netted 8 times in the last 8 gameweeks, and should keep delivering.

Midfielders

Philippe Coutinho (8.5) - Comes cheaper than Gerrard, and with good underlying stats and a goal in the Merseyside derby, looks set to finally start delivering consistently.

Eden Hazard (9.4) - Registered two assists against West Ham to keep his run going, and should keep delivering the goods till well into December along with Oscar.

Samir Nasri, Manchester City midfielder

Samir Nasri (8.1) - City have performed phenomenally of late. Backed by a good performance last night and the continued absence of Silva, the Frenchman could prove his worth in the weeks to come.

Ravel Morrison (4.9) - He and his team have had better gameweeks than the last, but the upcoming schedule looks good for the lad. He, like Rooney, is on 4 yellows though.

Robbie Brady (5.2) - Hull's firecracker winger has finally recovered from his hernia troubles.

Defenders

James Collins (4.3) - Playing without a striker has not gone well for the Hammers, but hosting Fulham and Sunderland and travelling to Palace over the next four games promises good defensive returns. Collins is the most budget-friendly pick.

Glen Johnson, Liverpool defender

Glen Johnson (5.7) - A series of three great fixtures should see the Liverpool right back gather some serious points.

Danny Gabbidon (4.0) - Crystal Palace have registered back-to-back clean sheets, and now have Tony Pulis in charge. They host Cardiff and toothless West Ham and travel to Norwich in the next three weeks. Gabbidon would be a more than handy fifth defender to have around.

Martin Olsson (4.2) - Palace don't possess the most potent attack, particularly away from home. There's also the added chance that Olsson could take up a berth in left midfield in light of Pilkington's hamstring injury.

Ron Vlaar (4.4) - Sunderland have the worst attacking road away from home this season. Villa have kept two clean sheets in their last three games and look likely to register another one this gameweek.

Goalkeepers

Simon Mignolet (5,7) - The schedule makes him a must-have.

Jussi Jaaskelainen, West Ham goalkeeper
Finnish the job

Jussi Jaaskelainen (5.5) - Competes with Mignolet for schedule strength and a trip to Anfield aside, should deliver over the next four weeks.

The Blogger's Team


The Blogger's Team
Midfield and defence still far from the best, but it'll more than do

Friday, 22 November 2013

Fantasy Premier League: Gameweek 12

No long-winded intro. A picture is worth a thousand words.

Captain Picard meme celebrating the end of the international break


Gameweek 11 fixtures

Everton vs Liverpool
Arsenal vs Southampton
Fulham vs Swansea
Hull City vs Crystal Palace
Newcastle vs Norwich
Stoke vs Sunderland
West Ham vs Chelsea
Man City vs Tottenham
Cardiff vs Man United
West Brom vs Aston Villa

Player Picks


Forwards

Luis Suarez (12.0) - Merseyside derby aside, most of the upcoming schedule makes good reading for the Reds, and the Uruguayan wizard will be a huge favourite among FPL managers. Make sure not to miss out.

Loic Remy, Newcastle United and France striker
Staying in these stripes for now

Loic Remy (7.9) - Seven goals in the last seven gameweeks is testament to the Frenchman's form. Newcastle have two home games in a row coming, starting with Norwich who have shipped 14 away goals this season.

Wayne Rooney (11.0) - Rooney's form has been instrumental in turning United's league season around, and a trip to Cardiff shouldn't put the brakes on what has been an inspired season for him so far.

Sergio Aguero (11.9) - All talk of fixture difficulty go out the window when someone is red hot.

Midfielders

Eden Hazard, Chelsea and Belgium midfielder
Top Dog

Eden Hazard (9.3) - The Belgian is Chelsea's in-form midfielder at the moment. Aided by 3 goals and 2 assists in the last five, he has fired himself to fourth in the FPL midfield standings after a very underwhelming fist six gameweeks. Chelsea's schedule over the next 30 days isn't exactly unforgiving.

Samir Nasri (8.1) - The Frenchman has got a goal and 3 assists from his last five starts, and comes much cheaper than City's alpha male Ivorian midfielder. Silva's injury should pretty much confirm his game time.

Stephane Sessegnon (6.6) - Recent form has seen the Benin international turn heads in his direction. While hosting Villa and travelling to St. James' is a decent enough upcoming schedule, West Brom's fixtures take a significant upturn from Gameweek 15. There's no harm getting in early.

Robbie Brady (5.2) - Hull's firecracker winger appears to be over his hernia problem, and Palace home is the perfect way to get back on the bandwagon.

Aaron Ramsey (7.3) - If you need a reason, you're doing it wrong.

Defenders

Liam Ridgewell (5.1) - Has got a goal and assist this season, is priced lower than McAuley and the schedule could be worse.

Per Mertesacker, Arsenal and Germany midfielder
Big F*****g German

Per Mertesacker (5.5) - Has notched up 7 bonus points and is the highest scorer among the Arsenal defenders. Home games against Southampton and Hull plus a trip to Cardiff should see him deliver the goods.

Erik Pieters (5.0) - Stoke have been quietly effective at the back at home. Two favourable home games coming up making him a decent buy.

Goalkeepers

Asmir Begovic, Stoke City and Bosnia goalkeeper
"Zlatan did a 30 yarder? Bitch Please"

Asmir Begovic (5.4) - Cardiff and Sunderland feature among the poorest away attacking outfits of the season so far. Hosting both in the next three gameweeks is promising for the Bosnian.

Tim Krul (5.0) - Heads into a couple of decent home fixtures following two clean sheets against Chelsea and Tottenham. You could do worse.

The Blogger's Team

The Blogger's Team
About the defence: "Some days you're the pigeon, some days you're the statue."

Friday, 1 November 2013

Fantasy Premier League: Gameweek 10

With a quarter of the season gone and taking Daylight Savings with it, we have a better of idea of what to expect from the teams and the TV listings in the coming months. The winter ball has been something of a curse for my team Chelsea in recent seasons, so it was great to see them win the first two games with it, against Manchester City and Arsenal to boot. Let's hope the winter period is good for us all.

Gameweek 10 fixtures

Newcastle vs Chelsea
Fulham vs Man Utd
Hull City vs Sunderland
Man City vs Norwich
Stoke City vs Southampton
West Brom vs Crystal Palace
West Ham vs Aston Villa
Arsenal vs Liverpool
Everton vs Tottenham
Cardiff vs Swansea

Player picks


Forwards

Luis Suarez, Liverpool forward
A good shout for the armband

Luis Suarez (11.6) - Liverpool host Fulham, Norwich and West Ham in three of the four gameweeks following the trip to the Emirates. The Uruguayan will be a huge armband favourite in that period, and with good reason.

Sergio Aguero (11.4) - What can I say? He's red hot.

Christian Benteke (8.8) - Was unfortunate with the penalty last week, but should start delivering the goods as Villa embark on a schedule that sees them face only one of the current top half teams in the next 6 gameweeks.

Fernando Torres (8.3) - I know what you're thinking. We've been here before. But a season of unstoppable brilliance so far has him at 5 goals and 3 assists in just 542 minutes in all competitions. He will not get a better run of fixtures to take advantage of this purple patch.

Midfielders

David Silva, Manchester City midfielder

David Silva (9.3) - Besides the games against Stoke and Chelsea, Man City have not failed to score less than twice. Bar a visit from Spurs in Gameweek 12, there isn't much standing in the way of Aguero and Silva in terms of returns.

Eden Hazard (9.1) - Drew a blank against City but the reasons mentioned last week remain valid, just with better fixtures.

Aaron Ramsey (7.0) - Extended his run with an assist against Palace. The gift that keeps on giving.

Stephane Sessegnon (6.6) - West Brom have home games against Villa and travel to Newcastle in the next three gameweeks, which should be a source of much joy for the Benin international who is playing behind the striker.

Michu (8.9) - Has been a let-down so far in the plum schedule, but surely deserves another chance. If he doesn't score in the derby, he never will.

Defenders

Ashley Williams, Swansea defender
Chasing the points

Ashley Williams (4.8) - He is back from an ankle injury, and is the kindest-priced among the Swansea options who are always guaranteed a start.

Neil Taylor (4.4) - He is just as valid a pick as Williams for the next couple of weeks as Ben Davies remains injured.

Curtis Davies (4.5) - Hull City have let in just one goal at home so far this season and hosting Sunderland and Palace in the next 4 weeks should make Davies a good squad player.

Matija Nastasic (5.5) - He doesn't come cheap, but City play at the Etihad thrice in the next four gamewkees, and they have let in just 2 goals at home so far to build on last season where they had the best home defence in the division.

Goalkeepers

Michel Vorm, Swansea goalkeeper
Safe hands

Michel Vorm (5.0) - The Dutchman scored 15 points over the last two gameweeks, and will continue to be the gift that keeps on giving.

Artur Boruc (4.9) - This section is becoming a bit of a theme, but the Croat has also put in strong numbers and should do for a couple of weeks yet.

Boaz Myhill (4.5) - The Anfield result was put a dent in a record that saw West Brom concede just twice in the four games prior. Expect Myhill to deliver returns as The Baggies host Crystal Palace, who have the worst away attack in the division.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Fantasy Premier League: Gameweek 9

European midweeks are wonderful, aren't they? Nights when dream matches like Arsenal - Dortmund and Real Madrid - Juventus take place. It's quite an adventure in the far east, where watching your favourite team perform on the biggest stage requires something little short of an all-nighter.

Lewandowski's winner was a cruel blow on Arsenal's performance, and the Gunners will be looking to bounce back instantly. Torres-inspired and Mata-less Chelsea continue to get results, with a very good 0-3 win at Schalke. United's experience showed as they overcame Sociedad, while Man City might have finally come of age in Europe with a great result in a difficult ground. It's worth keeping an eye on the Europa League games tonight for FPL purposes.

Gameweek 9 fixtures


Crystal Palace vs Arsenal
Aston Villa vs Everton
Liverpool vs West Brom
Man Utd vs Stoke
Norwich vs Cardiff
Southampton vs Fulham
Sunderland vs Newcastle
Chelsea vs Manchester City
Swansea vs West Ham
Tottenham vs Hull City

Player Picks


Forwards

Sergio Aguero (11.2) - With braces against West Ham and CSKA (both away), the Argentine is showing the sublime form that fired City to the title two season ago. Is fast becoming a must-have.

SAS (Suarez 11.4, Sturridge 10.0) - Following the third week in a row where both delivered points, is there any reason to not buy/hold?

Christian Benteke (8.8) - There's no dearth of in-form strikers, but Benteke is better than most and almost always seems to deliver when fit. Besides, this is probably as low as his price will get.

Wilfried Bony (7.5) - Has started both the previous league games after starting the season with sporadic cameos

Midfielders

Eden Hazard (9.0) - Oscar is now matched for price (and almost points) by Hazard, whose value dropped like a stone as several managers jumped ship following a series of disappointing displays. With 4 goals in his last 3 Chelsea appearances though, Hazard has waltzed back into form and favour and is worth considering.

David Silva (9.3) - Manchester City have followed up the crushing defeat to Bayern with a series of goal-laden performances, and Silva looks primed to improve on last season. With the likes Toure attracting a bunch of attention (37% ownership), it could almost be said that Silva (5%) is differential as far as City are concerned.

Michu (9.0) - The biggest achievement of Michu's Swansea career was failing to score or assist in the 4-0 win last week. Fully expect him to fail in that respect from now.

Ravel Morrison (4.5) - The Hammers firecracker extended his run with an assist against Man City, and is a fantastic low-price option as the fixtures take a turn for the better.

Adam Lallana (6.2) - The Southampton skipper has been raking in the points of late, and is primed to keep doing so with Fulham and Hull to visit before the international break.

Aaron Ramsey (6.9) - At some point, you just have to give in.

Defenders

Neil Taylor (4.4) - Ben Davies' injury makes Taylor an enticing option given his price and the schedule. Fully expect him to drop back to the bench in a month though.

Nathaniel Clyne (4.5) - With two favourable home games and a trip to low-scoring Stoke in the next three gameweeks, Clyne could pack quite a short-term punch. Plus, he's cheap.

Michael Dawson (5.2) - More of a hold than a buy, given the visit from Hull City.

Glen Johnson (5.7) - Not the cheapest investment, but Liverpool should register two clean sheets before the next international break. Plus, he played in right midfield at St. James'.

Keepers

Michel Vorm (5.0) - The Dutchman continues to be the pick of choice as the schedule is enticing for a while yet.

Artur Boruc (4.7) - See Clyne, Nathaniel.

The Blogger's Team


Got Boruc and Vorm. Selection dilemma.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Fantasy Premier League: Gameweek 8

Between the International Camp and the International Break (with one much more enjoyable than the other), this blogger's keyboard has had quite a rest over the past three weeks. It's time for this blog to undergo Hwan Gol Tal Tae (I'm really into manhwa since I got here) now, Let us begin.

Gameweek 8 fixtures

Newcastle vs Liverpool
Arsenal vs Norwich
Chelsea vs Cardiff
Everton vs Hull City
Man Utd vs Southampton
Stoke vs West Brom
Swansea vs Sunderland
West Ham vs Man City
Aston Villa vs Tottenham
Crystal Palace vs Fulham

Player picks


Forwards

Wayne Rooney (10,9) - Man United run into North London opposition soon, but there is plenty of points to be had before the trip to White Hart Lane. Rooney is considerably cheaper and delivering better returns than van Persie. So why not?

Daniel Sturridge (9.9) - The duo are in red hot form, but Sturridge's cost is much lower and he has edged out Suarez in terms of points since the Uruguayan's return.

Olivier Giroud (9.5) - With four good fixtures sandwiching games against Liverpool and Man Utd, the Frenchman remains part of the blueprint for a successful front line. He will be an increasingly important pick as the return to fitness of Walcott, Cazorla and later Podolski could pose selection and rotation headaches for Wenger and fantasy managers.

Romelu Lukaku (8.0) - Fast becoming part of the template for everyone's front three, the in-form Belgian followed up his Everton goals with a match-winning brace against Croatia. If someone can't stop scoring, you pick them.

Christian Benteke (8.8) - The Belgian goal machine (they're everywhere, huh?) made the Belgium bench during the international break. There are better purchase options but he's one to watch as he will never be this cheap again.

Midfielders

Michu (9.0) - Michu has held on to his role from last season in the Premier League while Bony's starts have largely come in the cup and European games. Swansea's favourable schedule over the next five weeks makes him a must-have.

Andre Schurrle (7.3) - Oscar has cemented his spot in Mourinho's team, has done very well and remains the best midfield pick from Chelsea. But it's also worth noting that Schurrle has started four of the last five, and is coming off a hat trick against Sweden. He could be a real under-the-radar option. All well and good, but Schurrle has been confirmed as injured and will miss the Cardiff game. Oscar remains the one to pick.

David Silva (9.3) - The Spaniard picked up an assist on his return from injury, and is cheaper than Yaya Toure. With City scoring at least twice in every game apart from the Stoke trip, Silva could be in for points.

Ravel Morrison (4,4) - Not the ideal time to buy him, given the fixture, but he is definitely one to shortlist having won Allardyce's confidence and put in sterling performances for club and the England U-21. Another great affordable option to add to Barkley and Ramsey.

Defenders

Chico Flores (5.0) - As said earlier, Swansea have a good run of games. Chico is the best (read: cheapest) route into the Swans' defence.

John Terry (6.3) - The visit from Man City is the only stern defensive test that Chelsea face over the next few weeks. The skipper has started every league game so far and isn't out of reach for his price.

Seamus Coleman (5.6) - Everton have a better-than-decent schedule prior to the Merseyside derby, and Coleman doesn't command the royalty that Baines does.

Nemanja Vidic (6.0) - Rio Ferdinand's injury should cement the Serbian's place in the team, and despite sub-par performances, the schedule remains promising enough to consider.

Goalkeepers

Michel Vorm (5.0) - The ideal mix of price and schedule.

David de Gea (5.9) - The fantastic schedule hasn't been off to the best start, but United face Southampton and Stoke at home before travelling to out-of-form Fulham and in-turmoil Cardiff in the next five weeks. Not bad for those in possession of the Spaniard.



The Blogger's Team



Thursday, 26 September 2013

Fantasy Premier League: Gameweek 6

Fueled by the Ozil adrenaline, the Gunners have raced to the top of the table after a terrible opening day setback. Hot on their heels are North London rivals Tottenham, who have addressed their open play trouble. Liverpool haven't won a game since beating Manchester United at Anfield, but the return of talisman Luis Suarez could arrest the "decline". United themselves bounced back from the derby drubbing with a league cup win over Liverpool midweek. Holders Swansea crashed out while Tottenham made light work of a trip to Villa Park. Chelsea and Arsenal also progressed in a midweek that saw no players bitten or ball boys kicked.

Gameweek 6 fixtures


Tottenham vs Chelsea
Aston Villa vs Manchester City
Fulham vs Cardiff
Hull City vs West Ham
Man Utd vs West Brom
Southampton vs Crystal Palace
Swansea vs Arsenal
Stoke vs Norwich
Sunderland vs Liverpool
Everton vs Newcastle

Player Picks


Goalkeepers

de Gea (6.0) - The Manchester United keeper becomes something of a must-have, with plenty of clean sheet potential in the next five games. The schedule comes as something of a relief after the tough start to the season in terms of fixture difficulty.

Boruc (4.6) - Southampton host a Crystal Palace team who are stricken with injuries and provides good value for money considering the schedule.

Vorm (5.0) - He isn't the best idea for the current gameweek with Arsenal arriving at the Liberty Stadium, but the following games bode well for the Dutchman.

Defenders

Baines (7.6) - Landing two free kicks into the West Ham net reminded everyone exactly why he is the strongest pick among the defenders.

Vidic (6.0) - Read de Gea.

Clyne (4.4)/Fonte (4.8) - Read Boruc.

Wilson (4.5) - Has been playing in a midfield position, which makes him a decent pick given his price and schedule.

Midfielders

Ozil (10.4) - Without doubt the top pick in the premium bracket. His price has risen by 0.4 since his arrival, which is testament to his form and popularity.

Oscar (8.7) - He is starting to hit the numbers the same way Juan Mata (sniff) was doing last season. The schedule isn't terrible and he isn't out of reach yet.

Ramsey (6.2) - A cut-price alternative to Ozil. He's already the most-owned midfielder in the game, and is red hot right now.

Barkley (5.2) - Is another widely-owned midfielder with points potential who will perform whilst enabling you to splash where necessary.

Brady (5.2) - Racked up fantastic statistics in his stint with Hull in the Championship, and he has been continuing in that vein this season. A shrewd budget buy.

Arnautovic (5.5) - The price, potential and schedule makes for a tempting package.

Forwards

Rooney (10.7) - He has come into his own since recovering from his head injury, displaying form not seen since the 2009-10 season. Should become a popular pick as he comes much cheaper than van Persie.

Suarez (10.9) - One of last season's strongest FPL performers should see his points total and price rise. Given Liverpool's tempting fixtures, there is no time like the present to dig in.

Lukaku (7.4) - Achieved instantly what Jelavic failed to do in 5 starts. Should lock down a starting place in the Everton team and build on last season's excellent work.

Giroud (9.3) - Arsenal have Walcott and Cazorla out, but the fixtures and support from Ozil should make the Frenchman a strong pick for the coming weeks.

The Blogger's Team


The Blogger's Team
Played Wildcard, in no way is this my final team

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Fantasy Premier League: Gameweek 5

The return of the Champions League made for an eventful midweek. Wayne Rooney well and truly waltzed back into the hearts of Manchester United supporters with his brace+assist performance against Bayer Leverkusen. Theo Walcott was another Englishman who impressed with a great strike in France. Manchester City won on Matchday 1 for the first time ever. Messi and Ronaldo notched hat tricks (yawn) while Chelsea put in a performance that showed eerie signs of willingness to defend the Europa League title.

Back to domestic matters.

Gameweek 5 fixtures


Norwich vs Aston Villa
Cardiff City vs Tottenham
Crystal Palace vs Swansea
Liverpool vs Southampton
Newcastle vs Hull City
West Brom vs Sunderland
West Ham vs Everton
Chelsea vs Fulham
Arsenal vs Stoke
Man City vs Man Utd

The Premium Players


The derby showdown at the Etihad is the biggest match of the season yet for the Citizens. I said in an earlier post to keep an eye on Rooney (10.5). If your eye has been following orders, it will know that he should be considered for your team now. City's frontline is in a flux but Toure (9.0) has been dominating from midfield and is a definite keep if not a buy.

Arsenal's next favourable fixture in a delicious run sees the now-attractive Stoke travel to the Emirates. In what is becoming a tiresome habit, I'll tell you to have Giroud (9.0). Aaron Ramsey (5.9) has also become too hot to ignore.

Roberto Soldado, Tottenham Hotspur forward

Tottenham have a fixture lead that is similarly favourable, and will set up camp at Selhurst Park this weekend. Eriksen (8.1) put in a good performance against Norwich and can be relied upon to keep delivering value for money. Keep using Lilywhites defenders, and this should be the match where Soldado (9.7) starts scoring again.

Liverpool are yet another top side with a good run of games, and in the form they're in, Southampton won't be fancying a trip to Anfield; Liverpool have kept 5 clean sheets in their last 6 home games. That is good reason to stay invested in Liverpool's defence and in Sturridge (9.3), who can't stop scoring. Coutinho (8.9) will be out till mid-October after shoulder surgery, which makes dropping him a much easier decision. Also remember that it is not long before Suarez (10.9) returns to the team.

Chelsea seem to have hit an early rut and the fixtures aren't exactly favourable, so stay away on retail. Hold on to Oscar (8.6) if you have him - he has been the best performer by far for Chelsea this season, and is one of admittedly few bright spots.

The Other Guys


Swansea have had a slow start to the season, owing largely to a tough opening schedule. It gets pretty good for them from here though - barring the visit by Arsenal, their next six fixtures look pretty good. Michu (8.9) got on the scoresheet last week, and this is a good chance to start a scoring run like only he can. Bony (7.7) is an unknown quantity thus far, but his price will probably not get lower, and the team Swansea face from this point don't exactly field Nestas.

Hatem ben Arfa, Newcastle United midfielder

Newcastle had a difficult 2012-13 campaign, but have started this season very well after the rout at the Etihad on opening day. Much of that is down to inspired performances from ben Arfa (7.3), who is fantastic when fit. Yanga-Mbiwa (4.5) could be a good one-week pick seeing as Hull have been rather goal-shy so far.

West Ham are another goal-shy team, and Everton haven't conceded since opening day. Despite the away match, Coleman (5.5) is set to have another good week. Jelavic has had minutes and hasn't delivered, and given his performance last season, it wouldn't be shocking to see Lukaku (7.4) start this and many a game for Everton. Refrain from buying him now, but he's definitely one to watch.

Norwich have had a strangely subdued start to the season, not exactly the takeoff one expected after a good transfer window and previous season. Villa performed much better away than at home last season, and that has been the template of this fledgling season as well. Benteke (9.3) is in awesome form, and should keep delivering.

West Brom and Sunderland. You don't want players from them.

The Blogger's Team


The Blogger's Team

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Fantasy Premier League: Gameweek 4

Between Transfer Deadline Day, Sepp Blatter's comments saying awarding the 2022 World Cup to Qatar "might" have been a mistake (no shit, Sherlock) and several interesting international matches, there has been quite a lot to enjoy in the last two weeks. But nothing's quite like the Premier League, is it?

Gameweek 4 fixtures


Man Utd vs Crystal Palace
Aston Villa vs Newcastle
Fulham vs West Brom
Hull City vs Cardiff City
Stoke City vs Man City
Sunderland vs Arsenal
Tottenham vs Norwich
Everton vs Chelsea
Southampton vs West Ham
Swansea vs Liverpool

The Premium Players


Robin van Persie, Manchester United forward

Crystal Palace travel to Old Trafford in this weekend's early kickoff. Robin van Persie (14.0) hasn't exactly been value for money since his opening day brace, but this is a fixture crying out for him to leave his mark. Man United's fixtures get considerably easier post-derby, which would make Vidic (6.0) an enticing prospect from that point.

Brendan Rodgers will take Liverpool to his old haunt looking to build on a good start to the season. Three matches, three wins and three goals for Daniel Sturridge (9.2) is a pretty telling story. Mignolet (5.7) is the top-scoring FPL player so far, and the coming fixtures favour an extension of that run. The signing of Sakho (5.5) is good news for Liverpool's defence but bad news for owners of Kolo Toure, who will probably have to drop the Ivorian.

Arsenal are another team whose fixtures are looking up, while Sunderland's are going downhill. Giroud (8.8) looks set to benefit most from Ozil's signing, he should build on his good start to the season with improved service. Theo Walcott (9.5) and his attacking runs may also profit. Sunderland have a nightmare schedule (Arsenal, WBA away, Liverpool, Man United), so keep distance.

Eden Hazard, Juan Mata and Oscar, Chelsea midfielders

Chelsea's fixtures don't get easier after Old Trafford and Prague, with trips to Goodison Park and White Hart Lane on the agenda this month. Fixture difficulty didn't deter their best players last season, so keeping Hazard (9.3) and/or Oscar (8.6) wouldn't be foolish given that they will recover from their knocks in time. Keep an eye on Mata (9.9) - Minutes for him are points for you, so nothing's better than knowledge of him starting (or not).

Tottenham's 6 fixtures post-derby are generally kind and should allow for some good points all round. Eriksen's inclusion in the team should result in heightened service for Soldado (9.6), who has so far had only penalties to thrive on. The Dane himself is priced at 8.0 and could be an astute pick with his share of set pieces.

Manchester City have had unconvincing recent performances, and away to Stoke is never easy even if the team is changing from its old, rugged self. It would be unwise to invest on retail, given that there is a derby next week and that there is much uncertainty about Dzeko vs Negredo

The Other Guys


Villa are back playing matches, and that should put Benteke (9.1) back in everyone's radar, given that the schedule over the next four games isn't the worst.

The next four weeks are as good as the schedule will get for Hull City, making it a really good time to get in Brady (5.1) if you're looking for a good budget-price player. Cardiff's schedule blows hot and cold, I'd stay away from them.

West Brom are the only team in the league yet to find the net, and with Foster out for 3 months, there is little value to be had from them. Things are looking up for potential owners of Darren Bent (6.5), however. Fulham host Cardiff and Stoke, and travel to Crystal Palace in the weeks following the derby against Chelsea.

Southampton and West Ham have been hit and miss so far, and with their schedule going the same way, it would be wise to avoid most retail purchases from these camps at the moment, though holding on to Lambert (7.6) would be wise. Ward-Prowse (4.5) is cheap and starts all the time, he could make an excellent fifth midfielder.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Fantasy Premier League: Gameweek 3

First, why are we so early this week? Because this blogger has to fly to Busan where he will spend the rest of the year, and flight timings allow for less than convenient internet access privileges on the sacrosanct Thursday. It'll probably also trash any hopes I had of watching my team face the Bavarians in Prague, but the following months promise to be a fantastic experience.

I've never written that much about myself before on here. One might almost think I've quit my "job"! I assure you, I have not.

Gameweek 3 fixtures


Man City vs Hull
Cardiff vs Everton
Newcastle vs Fulham
Norwich vs Southampton
West Brom vs Swansea
West Ham vs Stoke
Crystal Palace vs Sunderland
Liverpool vs Man Utd
Arsenal vs Tottenham

Chelsea have the small matter of the UEFA Super Cup to deal with, so them and Aston Villa, who faced off earlier in the advanced fixture, have the gameweek off. Also, there is an international break following this gameweek - may the groans ensue.

The Premium Players


A Super Sunday that should live up to its name will be kickstarted by (arguably) the biggest rivalry in English football. Both Man United and Liverpool head into the Anfield clash on some good early form. Not many names on offer that I haven't already mentioned, and at any rate buying players from these teams on retail isn't the smartest thing to do at this point. It is worth mentioning that Rooney (10.5) is back starting and shouldn't be far off the points if he keeps putting in the sort of performance he did on Monday, though at this point he's more of an "observe" than a "buy".
Theo Walcott, Arsenal midfielder

Like Liverpool, Tottenham have started with two wins and a resolute defence, though that will be tested to the max by an Arsenal team that have responded well to the opening day disaster. Giroud (8.6) is red hot and should put paid to any hopes of a Spurs clean sheet hat trick, aided by Walcott (9.5) who assisted last week and has 3 goals and 2 assists to his name in the last three North London derbies. Soldado (9.6) has started his Tottenham career with 4 goals in 3 games, and Arsenal's defence hasn't exactly been watertight.

Man City should make use of their reality check from Wales and put Hull away. Silva (9.2) is fast re-emerging as a good source of points in the City midfield, and should be in line to perform against the Tigers. Dzeko (7.7) is starting, isn't too costly, and is scoring points. Why look beyond?

 The Other Guys


Things aren't looking perky for one of last season's heartwarming teams. Foster is out for at least 2 months and West Brom have registered just 3 shots on target in their opening games. Swansea will be looking to take full advantage of this one respite in a tough opening schedule for them. Expect Bony (8.0) and Vorm (5.0) to provide value for money.

Stoke had the second worst away attack last season, and West Ham . It will be a physical battle, and could well end 0-0, so the best value comes from Collins (4.5), who has had a strong start and could prove to be a valuable asset over the season.

The doubt surrounding Cabaye aside, Newcastle have been dreadful on the pitch, failing to get a single shot on target last week and managing to do so just once at the Etihad. Hughes (4.5) could prove to be a shrewd one-week pick.

Kevin Mirallas, Everton midfielder

Cardiff put in a fantastic shift against Man City, but one has to remember they are a promoted side and last week will not be reflective of their default performance level. This is shaping up to be the week that forward-listed-as-midfielder Mirallas (7.5) finally starts to provide serious output. Coleman (5.0) is one to hold on to as well, for the rest of the season.

The others aren't as appealing in terms of matchup or value, but surely there will be a time when they become great retail buys.

The Blogger's Team



No transfers made this week.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Fantasy Premier League: Gameweek 2

What a fantastic opening gameweek that was! Penalties missed, penalties scored, refereeing decisions going for and against teams. David Moyes, Christian Benteke and Seamus Coleman emerged as the big winners after the dust settled, and the upcoming week in the world's most exciting league promises even more.

Gameweek 2 fixtures

Fulham vs Arsenal
Everton vs West Brom
Hull vs Norwich
Newcastle vs West Ham
Southampton vs Sunderland
Stoke vs Crystal Palace
Aston Villa vs Liverpool
Cardiff vs Man City
Tottenham vs Swansea
Man Utd vs Chelsea

The Premium Players

It hasn’t taken long for the season to serve up its first blockbuster fixture. David Moyes’ Old Trafford debut will be against Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea, who did the job against a resolute Villa side midweek. As I said last week, it’s hard to look beyond Robin van Persie (14.0) as far as FPL studs from Man Utd go. The upcoming null gameweek kills the attraction of buying any Blue, and the most sensible transfer move would be to sell Chelsea defenders.

Roberto Soldado, Tottenham Hotspur forward
All's well, managers

The confidence following Swansea’s excellent pre-season was dented severely by the thrashing doled out by Manchester United last weekend, while Spurs registered a good away win against a good Crystal Palace side. A lot (for both teams) depends on their Europa League showing tonight, but Roberto Soldado (9.5) should provide value for money, as should Bony (8.0).

Benteke (9.0) has started the season in swashbuckling manner, and with Villa’s fixtures easing off considerably from the initial gameweek, he is a definite buy-and-hold option. Sturridge (9.0) started scoring since joining Liverpool and hasn’t stopped, and can be counted on not to stop. Aspas (7.0) is a good option to have, at least until Suarez returns.

Arsenal had a terrible initial game but bounced back midweek with a convincing win over Fenerbahce in their own backyard. The Gunners had the best away defence last season and were the second best away team overall in terms of points. Giroud (8.5) is the man in form, and the man to lead your line.

Looking to score

Man City’s lollipop start to the season sees them travel to Cardiff City next. Like last week, one would be well-served going the full distance with City players – Any of Hart (6.5), Zabaleta (6.0), Navas (9.0) or Dzeko (7.5) should do the job.

The Other Guys

Sunderland haven't had an ideal start to the season, losing at home to Fulham and the Bardsley shenanigans following. Southampton on the other hand head into the game riding on the high of winning at the Hawthorns. Lambert (7.5) is a sure thing, has always been, and is cheaper than new signing Osvaldo. Anelka will not play as he has asked to be relieved from playing duty for personal reasons.

Everton served up a fantastic game last weekend with a striking performance from Barkley. This should be the week Jelavic (7.5) makes good on his pre-season form and the starting berth handed to him by Martinez. Coleman (5.1) looks to be a fantastic investment already, playing in an attacking role wide of a back three.

Hull began with an expected defeat at Stamford Bridge last weekend, and Norwich are no pushovers. van Wolfswinkel (7.0) found the net against Everton, and who's to say he won't do it against the Tigers?

Newcastle were put to the sword at the Etihad. They will be looking to bounce back at home, which Nolan (7.0) will be looking to deny them. Stay away from the Geordies for now - they look every bit the team that almost went down last season.

Stoke City almost nabbed a point at Anfield, but make no mistake about the role Begovic (5.5) had to play in that. He won't have it quite as hard against Palace, but shouldn't concede either.

The Blogger's Team

 
Benched Coleman last week. Kill me.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Fantasy Premier League: Gameweek 1

This blogger has had an eventful summer, musing over Mourinho's return during a debut period in an office environment. It was some experience, working with a young and accomodating squad on projects, didn't at all feel like the academic chore it is on paper. Made the off-season whiz by like never before! In the football world, it has been the expected sea of change for most teams this summer, with a host of top clubs untying the purse strings to add to their squads, most of them under new management.

Here's wishing your (real and fantasy) team all the best for what remains of the (real and fantasy) transfer window, and good luck for the (real and fantasy) season!

Gameweek 1 fixtures


Liverpool vs Stoke
Arsenal vs Aston Villa
Norwich vs Everton
Sunderland vs Fulham
West Brom vs Southampton
West Ham vs Cardiff
Swansea vs Man United
Crystal Palace vs Tottenham
Chelsea vs Hull City
Man City vs Newcastle
Chelsea vs Aston Villa

The Premium Players


Eden Hazard, Chelsea midfielder
Looking beyond third place

All the focus in the premium bracket is understandably on the Chelsea double gamers. The added squad depth makes them a force to be reckoned with, but also poses the problem of rotation which is often a cause of mild frustration for owners of players from top teams. That Chelsea's schedule isn't kind for very long (GW 2 - Old Trafford, GW 3 - Null, GW 4 - Goodison) means that their defenders and Cech are a risky investment at 6.5. The best picks are Eden Hazard (9.5) and Juan Mata (10.5), in that order. There is a playing time conundrum with the presence of Lukaku, Ba and Torres, and there are safer picks out there, but with a production of 7.13 points per 90 minutes last season and a strong pre-season performance that should guarantee at least one start, Romelu Lukaku (8.0) is definitely an option worth considering. If you do want someone from the backline at all costs, I'd suggest Cole (6.5).

Manchester United haven't added anybody of significant note in the summer so far. A terribly unkind schedule should put anyone off de Gea and defenders, and the points source in the team remains pretty much the same otherwise - Robin van Persie (14.0). The price might put off many managers, who will understandably be looking elsewhere for points. Wilfried Zaha (6.5) has been tipped by Ian Holloway to be a Manchester United legend, but it's wiser to wait and watch for now. The top Swansea options for the season are understandably Michu (9.0) and Bony (8.0), but there will be a better time to pick them than right now.

Manchester City have the kindest opening schedule among the top teams, and also pose big selection headaches. Edin Dzeko (7.5) has been the one getting praise from the manager to go with plenty of minutes in pre-season, and he has a record of turning minutes into goals. Tuck in. There is plenty of clean sheet potential in the first four weeks, making Joe Hart (6.5) and Pablo Zabaleta (6.0) worthy investments.

Olivier Giroud, Arsenal striker
Thirsty for goals

Aston Villa had the worst away defence last season and Olivier Giroud (8.5) is in the reckoning to take advantage after a very strong pre-season. Cazorla travelled to Ecuador with Spain and scored, but Theo Walcott (9.5) is cheaper. Arsenal had the league's second-best defensive record last season and North London derby aside, it's not exactly a horror schedule for the Gunners, making Szczesny and his defenders (all priced at 5.5) real options to begin with. As for Villa, Benteke (9.0) is a great player but the opening schedule is terribly unkind and is probably not worth the investment. Tonev (5.0) is a cheap option who is certain to start behind Benteke, and could be a good enabler or differential depending on the fixture.

Liverpool head into the new season under the same manager that finished the previous season for the first time since 2009, and normally that means improved performance. Simon Mignolet (5.5) made a whopping 155 saves and kept 11 clean sheets last season despite playing for relegation strugglers, and should do better with a defence that recorded 16 shutouts and a much better defensive record. Coutinho (9.0) is more pricey than we are used to, but that's what you pay to buy 6.82 points per 90 minutes. With suggestions that he could get the number 10 role, his value is undoubted. Daniel Sturridge (9.0) appears to be fit to start the season, and with a very strong 2013 showing like Coutinho's, he is also worth his price. Kolo Toure (5.0) is a cheap route into the Liverpool defence, though the schedule isn't terribly kind.

Tottenham Hotspur have been busybodies in the transfer market, and have snapped up a real gem in Roberto Soldado (9.5). He is good. He is very good. Like Arsenal, Tottenham have a favourable opening schedule apart from the derby. Lloris (6.5) is too pricey even with a good fixture list, but like Kolo Toure, Kaboul (5.0) offers a good road into a Spurs defence (with Vertonghen out for the short term) that should score points in the opening weeks. Bale (12.0) isn't fit to play, and may not be around very long at any rate.

The Other Guys


Roberto Martinez looks like he will implement his 3-4-3 system at Everton, which makes Seamus Coleman (5.0) and Leighton Baines (7.5) good options for the season as far as attacking points are concerned. Arouna Kone (7.0) is expected to start, but Martinez has reiterated the importance of all his strikers and with Jelavic (7.5) heading into the season in form, the safest route into the Toffees' attack is Kevin Mirallas (7.5). Norwich's Snodgrass (6.5) had excellent production for a debut season, and is a great pick for his price. Ricky van Wolfswinkel (7.0) is unproven in the league and probably isn't the best idea to begin the season with, but is definitely one to watch.

The first 5 weeks are good news for West Brom, whose schedule should provide joy for their attacking players. The obvious pick is Nicolas Anelka (5.5), someone fans of every team (or thereabouts) would've supported at one point. Lambert (7.5) had a strong debut season, is coming off the high of scoring England's winner with his first touch in international football and is generally a very good choice.

West Ham finished in the top half last season, which is very impressive for a promoted team. Much of it was down to the performance of Jaaskaleinen (5.5) and a strong start to the season from Nolan (7.0), who are good picks given a decent opening schedule. Bo-Kyung Kim (5.0) looks set to get a decent share of set pieces and play in an attacking role for Cardiff, and could be an important FPL squad member.

Sunderland escaped the drop under Paolo di Canio, and look set to avoid flirtation with danger a second time. The fixtures aren't too kind on the back line, but if you are set on picking a Mackem, go for Adam Johnson (7.0), who should continue behind the striker from last season. Sunderland should be much stingier at the back at home this season and Fulham are generally bad travellers, so it's probably not the best time to test the waters with Cottagers.

The Blogger's Team