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