Blog Archives

The Mark Jones Column: Roberto Mancini deserves another year

Soccer - Pre-season Package

Whatever happened it could never be as exciting as the end to last season, but the closure of this campaign looks to be somewhat quieter for Manchester City.

Of course they have an FA Cup semi-final against either Manchester United or Chelsea to prepare for, but as much as fans will enjoy that day and acknowledge that it was winning this trophy in 2011 which really kickstarted City’s time amongst the big boys, it’s not quite the ending to the season they envisaged.

This was supposed to be the year when City – fresh from that remarkable ending to last season and buoyed by their title of champions – made a big impact both home and abroad; starting an era of dominance in the Premier League and establishing themselves as a big hitter in the Champions League.

That hasn’t happened.

With neighbours United running away with the league title in England, and having fallen foul of a devilishly tricky Champions League group for the second season running, this has so far been a year of standing still for City.

Of course they could still rescue it by winning the FA Cup back at Wembley in May though, and that prospect alone should be enough to convince City’s infamous owners that manager Roberto Mancini should be allowed another crack at the job next season. Whether or not he will is another matter of course.

As we discussed on these pages back in October, City’s summer signings didn’t look as though they were going to significantly improve the squad. Maybe this year it will be different.

With Mario Balotelli having packed his no doubt eccentrically coloured bags for Italy and Edin Dzeko an apparent target for Borussia Dortmund, Mancini will almost certainly be in the market for another forward to complement Sergio Aguero and Carlos Tevez in the summer. He simply must be allowed to spend big this time.

Missing out on Robin van Persie last year was one thing, but Mancini then had to watch the Dutchman slot into Manchester United’s winning machine and only add to their ruthless nature. That simply can’t be allowed to happen again.

Providing the Italian with a top class forward in the summer – in other words a Radamel Falcao, or maybe even a Luis Suarez – is simply essential if City want to be challenging for the type of honours they want to be in the mix for at the end of next season. A statement needs to be made.

Sadly, a much more likely statement could be made with the removal of Mancini, a man who has been in his position at City since December 2009 but has frequently made enemies during that time.

Just like Arsene Wenger and Rafael Benitez before him – and right now come to think of it – Mancini has frequently paid the price for being a bit different, and for saying things that we don’t normally hear from the mouths of managers in the Premier League.

He shouldn’t be shunned just for simply having a personality though, and if he can spend the summer finding the personality that his team produced in their epic Premier League victory last season then there is nothing to suggest that they won’t be celebrating success again next year.

It’s safe to assume that if this were Chelsea then Mancini would have lost his job already, but this is Manchester City and they have admirably stuck by their man so far.

Stick by him a little more, give him some better players and they might find out that they won’t regret their decision come 2014.

@Mark_Jones86

Gameweek 20 preview: Theo to thrill against Magpies

Image

Just where he’ll be spending the majority of his 2013 remains to be seen – although counting the extra money that Arsenal will be paying him seems to be a decent bet – but Theo Walcott (£8.5m) will end 2012 facing Newcastle at the Emirates Stadium.

He’s likely to be facing them in his favoured forward position too, as Arsene Wenger continues to bow to the demands of the England man, whose period playing as a forward is seen as crucial to his decision over whether or not he’ll sign a new contract with the Gunners.

Walcott’s relocation upfront in recent matches has seen the likes of Olivier Giroud (£7.9m) and Gervinho (£6.8m) shunted to the sidelines, and with Walcott looking to link up with Lukas Podolski (£8.2m), Santi Cazorla (£9.6m) and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (£7.2m) against a Newcastle side who have lost their last four away games and are without a win on the road all season, the Gunners could well be set for a successful ending to their year, with Walcott contributing to that more than most.

Newcastle’s last defeat saw them concede four goals at Old Trafford, where Javier Hernandez (£6.9m) scored a last gasp winner the likes of which Manchester United have made their trademark over the Premier League era.

With Wayne Rooney (£12.0m) reportedly missing for the next two to three weeks with a knee problem, Hernandez is likely to be given another start upfront alongside Robin van Persie (£13.9m) when West Brom come to Old Trafford on Saturday afternoon.

This is of course another match that Sir Alex Ferguson will expect his side to win as they continue another march towards the Premier League title, and with the Scot demanding the best of his players going into the New Year then a win is surely what he’ll get – with Hernandez ready to contribute towards that.

The game of the weekend is surely Everton’s meeting with Rafael Benitez and Chelsea on Sunday afternoon, when fifth faces third at Goodison Park.

Benitez had a decent record against the Blues of Merseyside in derby games when manager of Liverpool, but this Everton side is much stronger now and will fancy their chances of upsetting the European champions and a manager who they would love to get one over.

David Moyes is still missing Marouane Fellaini (£7.5m) though, and Benitez and his side will be looking to take advantage of that, with Juan Mata (£9.6m) again ready to impress after becoming Boxing Day’s matchwinner at Norwich and Fernando Torres (£9.8m) no doubt wanting to impress against his old neighbours.

Sunday also sees a schizophrenic Liverpool go to bottom club QPR where Steven Gerrard (£9.3m) will be looking to score for the fourth successive game, whilst Gareth Bale (£9.7m) will be hoping to make it four goals in two games as he goes to Sunderland on the back of his hat-trick against Aston Villa – those of us who had him as captain are still wearing our smug smiles.

Villa haven’t been smiling following that 4-0 loss to Tottenham and the 8-0 defeat at Chelsea either side of Christmas, and if they are to bounce back at home to Wigan then Christian Benteke (£6.7m) is sure to be vital.

Stoke will be more confident going into their meeting of the red and white stripes at home to Southampton, and after his double strike helped see off Liverpool on Boxing Day Jonathan Walters (£6.4m) is sure to be a popular choice amongst Tony Pulis’s men.

Kenwyne Jones (£5.0m) could well be an astute cheap choice if you are in need of a forward, but if you’ve got much more to spend then it might be worth casting an eye towards Carrow Road as Manchester City look to bounce back from their loss to Sunderland as they go to Norwich.

Carlos Tevez (£9.5m) scored a hat-trick in this fixture last season, and he’ll be looking for a repeat performance for the champions just as their crown begins to slip.

@Mark_Jones86

GW8 – The Review… HOW DID YOU DO???

Juan Mata is clearly the stand out performer in this match and Fantasy Manager have taken notice with a £0.2m price rise already this week after 80,000 transfers in.  Chelsea are on to something and Mata is their main man with both Hazard and Torres well overshadowed in an attacking respect.
For Tottenham a rejuvenated Jermaine Defoe rewarded Villas-Boas’ faith with another goal amid amid plenty of threat and creativity.  From the stats, Spurs had their opportunities to get more from this match with plenty of chances spread out around the team.  Interestingly their poor rate of goal conversion this year is not too dissimilar from that of Chelsea’s this time last season with AVB at the helm.

 Wayne Rooney has had a big, big impact to United upon his return to the team.  The front three of Rooney, Van Persie and Welbeck and full of fantasy potential and the key men to consider for your teams.  Which one though?  Rooney and Van Persie are probably on a level in terms of point potential so Rooney’s lower price edges him ahead.  If Welbeck keeps getting starts though he could be a steal.   Stoke had a good go but their defence was uncharacteristically sloppy, with Pulis admitting as much after the match.  Perhaps they didn’t know how to handle being a goal up, or perhaps United were just too good.

Everton’s bubble, whilst not quite burst, is slowly starting to deflate it seems.  The absence of Fellaini blunted their attack in this match with Jagielka leading the chances for the Blues, mainly from set pieces.  With Pienaar now suspended for the home derby with Liverpool the Belgain’s absence may be even more telling.  For the home side Hoilett and Granero were the chief threat, with Taarabt not quite as busy as you’d hope, especially against ten men.  QPR are slowly growing this season and finding their best system.  

  

 

Suarez frustrated Liverpool fans and fantasy managers everywhere with another typical display, only hitting the target once from 10 efforts.  He did get an assist though, there is that.  Young Raheem Sterling stole the headlines though taking up a much more central role in this match where he saw plenty of goal-mouth action.  Reading mustered a few efforts but are really lacking as an attacking force so far this season.

Much was expected of Fulham,  and Dimitar Berbatov in particular, but Paul Lambert’s men spoiled the party with a solid defensive display.  The signs are there that the Villians are improving under the Scot, at least in a organisastional sense.  Going forward is a different matter though, with only Agbonglahor and Lowton providing anything if note in attack.  Berbatov continues to be chief goal threat for Fulham, and Richardson’s performance is worth a note.

That Man City came back to win this game despite being a man down for most of the game is one thing.  That they dominated the game having more shots on target (8) than the Baggies have suffered at home so far combined is really quite impressive – Liverpool (2), Everton (1), Reading (1),  QPR (3), City (8).    Their fantasy options are so clouded by rotation risk though it’s enough to give FPL manager a headache.  West Brom did pretty well overall, although didn’t really get much going in front of goal until Lukaku’s introduction.

  

 
Swansea are a wonderfully adventurous team under Laudrup, in contrast to their outings under Brendan Rodgers last season.  They juts seem to lack a bit of quality, which is perhaps evident in the Dane’s decision to promote Michu to the lone forward role over regular front man Danny Graham.  This obviously is a boon for Michu owners but also promotes the likes Ki and Guzman into a more attacking role.  Michu again grabbed a goal, and a header at that, and fantasy managers will now see how he does against a trickier run of opponents.  Wigan created a fair number of chances in this game.  Martinez’s men are a decent attacking team, probably on a par with Swansea when on home soil, with Kone, Di Santo and Maloney from midfield the men to watch. 

  
Southampton continue to ship goals at an alarming rate. Despite Adkin’s bold claims that they will continue in their attacking remit, this kind of form is going to see them going down, in style perhaps, but still going down.  Kevin Nolan continued to show he is a major threat in the box, feeding of Carrol’s aerial play and Mark Noble’s set pieces.  Ricky Lambert’s absence from the visitor’s starting eleven will have hurt owners, and this is not the first time this has happened season.  Clearly Adkin’s think he’s team lack a certain tactical facet with their top-scorer in the team.

 The Canaries pulled off the shock of the weekend with a 1-0 victory against an out-of-sorts Arsenal.  Grant Holt is a good striker at this level, as he showed last season.  He can be counted upon to score at a reliable rate when given the opportunity and provided the only real threat on offer from the home side. Who knows what happened to Arsenal in this one.  Their defending was poor and neither of Podolski on the flank or Ramsey in midfield offered very little.  The main threat came from Cazorla and Gervinho, with Norwich doing a good job of limiting the former to long range efforts.  Oliver Giroud was the focal point of the attack fro Arsenal and should be expected to pick up some big points soon.

Demba Ba equals Goal Machine.  He couldn’t find his way through Sunderland’s well drilled defence in this game so put it into his own net instead.  He just can’t help himself!  He had three times as many shots on target in this game on his own than Sunderland did and is the focal point of everything Newcastle do going forward.   Cabaye continued his recent under-the-radar form and looks a viable alternative to the over-hyped Ban Arfa.  Sunderland are looking pretty woeful in attack this season.  I really cannot get excited about any team that can only manage 1 shot on goal at home in 90 minutes. 
You can follow Fantasy Yirma writer @shots_on_target and also visit his site at www.shotsontarget.co.uk great follow for all things #FPL

GW6 NOTHING BUT BONUS POINTS!!

Due to the fact that Carlos Tevez is still in my team, I’m not going to even try and work out how he got two bonus points this week… but he did and this pleases me – as it will please a large percentage of #FPL players!

Anyway.. here are the Bonus points in Full.

@ryano83

Gameweek 6
29 Sep 12:45 Arsenal Arsenal 1 – 2 Chelsea Chelsea
Bonus
Gervinho
Bonus
Mata (3)
Torres (2)
29 Sep 15:00 Everton Everton 3 – 1 Southampton Southampton
29 Sep 15:00 Fulham Fulham 1 – 2 Man City Man City
29 Sep 15:00 Norwich Norwich 2 – 5 Liverpool Liverpool
29 Sep 15:00 Reading Reading 2 – 2 Newcastle Newcastle
Bonus
Kebe
Hunt (2)
Bonus
Ba (3)
29 Sep 15:00 Stoke City Stoke City 2 – 0 Swansea Swansea
29 Sep 15:00 Sunderland Sunderland 1 – 0 Wigan Wigan
29 Sep 17:30 Man Utd Man Utd 2 – 3 Tottenham Tottenham
Bonus
Nani
Bonus
Vertonghen (2)
Bale (3)
30 Sep 16:00 Aston Villa Aston Villa 1 – 1 West Brom West Brom
Bonus
Clark
Bonus
Olsson (3)
Long (3)
01 Oct 20:00TBC QPR QPR v West Ham West Ham

Gameweek 6 preview: Hair today, goals tomorrow?

Image

The trouble with pesky competitions like the Capital One Cup – which still sounds like an employee of the month award – is that they can easily get in the way of your Fantasy Premier League team’s progress.

They can affect the mood of teams in the real thing too, and as such Everton’s week suddenly doesn’t look as rosy as it did when Marouane Fellaini (£7.2m) headed in the third of their three goals in the convincing win at Swansea last Saturday.

The cup loss to Leeds in midweek saw the chances of David Moyes making this the season that he picks up a first trophy at Everton effectively reduced by 50%, and the question now has to be whether or not that’ll affect the Blues’ fine league form which has taken them to third in the table after five games.

All eyes will be on Goodison Park on Saturday then, as Everton seek to bounce back at the first time of asking by welcoming Southampton.

As fixtures go it is a pretty decent one to make your recovery from midweek misery, and if you can see them getting over the Elland Road loss quickly then expect the Blues to be flying come Saturday afternoon. With fixtures against Wigan and QPR to come in the immediate future too, it could be a good time to put your faith in Moyes’s boys to earn you points, with Fellaini the man most likely.

That said, Nikica Jelavic (£8.4m) is also primed to return here after missing the Swansea game and only appearing as a substitute against Leeds, whilst those who can afford Leighton Baines (£7.2m) will be getting a severely underrated defender who has already contributed a goal, two assists and two clean sheets this season. He could well be set to add to that tally at the weekend.

Across Stanley Park at Liverpool, things could just be about to change for the better.

Last weekend’s unfortunate loss to Manchester United brought an end to a tricky run of fixtures for Brendan Rodgers’ side, and although the midweek Capital One Cup win at West Bromwich Albion was achieved with a smattering of youngsters, it might just have restored somewhat of a feelgood factor amongst those at the club.

Norwich await in the Premier League at Carrow Road on Saturday, and with the Canaries having only found the net twice in their five league games this season – plus with winnable home games against Stoke and Reading on the horizon – it might just be the time to put your faith in Rodgers’ rearguard.

Injury and rotation issues mean that the only two defenders certain to start for Liverpool at the weekend are Glen Johnson (£6.4m) and Martin Skrtel (£6.0m), and with the pair offering the potential for assist and goal points respectively then either could be good additions. It is further forward where Liverpool could make their mark this weekend though, with Raheem Sterling (£4.6m) still an astute cheap choice and Luis Suarez (£9.4m) ready to fire back at a ground where he scored a hat-trick last season. Those now debating whether or not to stick with Carlos Tevez (£9.9m) could decide to switch to the Uruguayan.

Tevez and his Manchester City team-mates go to Fulham on Saturday, and with City far from certain to get a result there and clashes between Arsenal and Chelsea and Manchester United and Tottenham proving somewhat unpredictable, it might pay to look elsewhere for some points.

With apologies to Steven Fletcher (£7.2m) his goalscoring run has become impossible to ignore, and whilst climbing on board the Fletcher bandwagon has to come with the warning that Sunderland face City away next, this weekend’s fixture at home to Wigan could be the perfect one to see the Scot continue his scoring run.

@Mark_Jones86

To Infinity and Beyond- or at least GW5-GW9 (By @shots_on_target)

If you would like to get involved and write your own guest post for @FantasyYirma feel free to contact us via email, twitter or directly on the site

Many thanks to our guest post from @shots_on_target . This week he looks at some selection choices with the next 5 or 6 gameweeks in mind.

Here is my appraisal of transfer target’s that should serve you will for the next several gameweeks and beyond.   The players featured are those that have the right mixture of good form and good fixtures, regardless of price.  Obviously I am trying to aim slightly off the beaten path as there is no need to highlight the likes of Van Persie and Tevez .  These are all picks that aim to strengthen your squad on a mid to long term basis, rather than one week punts or trying to pick up a cheap or temporary option, with a particular focus on the next 6 game weeks.   All should be guaranteed game time, high points potential and value for money.

 

Up Front

 

Demba Ba (Newcastle) £7.7m 18% owned   FIXTURES: NOR (H) RDG (A) MUN (H)  SUN (A)  WBA (H) LIV (A)

Already bagged three this season from 5 shots on target and 15 shots in total.  This kind of production is perfectly reasonable return from a high quality striker, and his overall record in the Premiership is enviable (26 goals in 50 games with Newcastle and West Ham).  Reports that Cisse is suffering from illness eases concerns over his gametime in the near term.  Obviously is a slight risk having been named a sub recently but I think he’s too good not to start.

Dimitar Berbatov (Fulham) £7.1m       7.2% owned   FIXTURES: WIG (A) MCI (H) SOT (A) AVL (H) RDG (A) EVE (H)

Fulham showed Top 4 attacking form last year at home but struggled away.  This year they top the charts for total shots on target with 33, 10 more than next placed Tottenham.  But they top the charts for shots on target away from home too, with 14, 3 more than next best Spurs, so they are able to create chances away from home, and with the audacious Berbatov leading line, he, and they, are going to score goals.  I would even consider Berbs as a captain option for Fulham’s home fixtures.

 Also consider:   Luis Suarez (£9.4m)

 

Middle of the Park

 

Kevin Nolan (West Ham) £6.1m 8.7% owned   FIXTURES:  NOR (A) SUN (H) QPR (A) ARS (H) SOT (H) WIG (A)

Featured in my Midprice Midfielders article last week Nolan’s attacking intent, fixtures and goal-scoring record at this level get him into my best picks for the coming 6 weeks regardless of price, which is very, very generous considering West ham’s impressive start.

Also consider:  Hatem Ben Arfa (£7.7m), James Morrison (£6.0m)

 See also last week’s post on Midfield options here… https://fantasyyirma.wordpress.com/2012/09/14/guest-post-midfield-selection-advice-by-shots_on_target/

At the Back

 

Leighton Baines (Everton) £7.1m 14.6% FIXTURES:  SWA (A) SOT (H) WIG (A) QPR (A) LIV (H) FUL (A)

Not the best immediate run of fixtures but Baines is a season long pick in my opinion with games against Sunderland, Reading and Norwich to come after the next 6.  Baines looks to be on track to recapture his FPL form on the 2010/11 season that saw him return a 178 point season.  Last year he suffered but with Pienaar back in the team and Fellaini moved up front they are creating plenty of space and opportunity for the England man to join in the attack.

 

Glen Johnson (Liverpool) £6.4m  2%   FIXTURES: MAN (H) NOR (A) STO (H) RDG (H) EVE (A) NEW (H)

Liverpool are well off the fantasy radar right now and Glen Johnson has suffered a price drop since the start of the season.  You probably won’t want to pick him up for the forthcoming fixture against United but after that things start to brighten up with plenty of clean sheet potential in games versus Norwich, Stoke and Reading in particular.  Johnson has been involved plenty in Liverpool’s attacking play with an impressive 6 key passes and 7 shots.  Liverpool were dealt a harsh opening schedule but Johnson has shown promise that the forthcoming fixtures could reward some investment.

Guest Blogger Profile: @shots_on_target

Football and stats fan who finds nirvana within the game of fantasy football!!

Visit his blog for  #FPL key stats, rankings, analysis and point forecasts  http://shotsontarget.blogspot.co.uk/

Guest Post: Current Yirma Champion reflects on season so far.

Thanks to current Yirma champion Tom for providing his insight into the season so far. Tom finished in the top 250 last season (Out of over 2.7m players) We are already contemplating copying his team 😉

 

 

 

First of all, an apology for my reply to a question raised in my previous post. I believe I advised the unfortunate user to watch out for Cazorla and Giroud of Arsenal, only for me to go and start with Podolski on opening day.

It’s an interesting time as after only 3 weeks we’ll see a massive differentiation of wildcard use. Some will have played it, some will be playing it right now in this two week window, whilst others attempt to hold their nerve and save it for a rainy (or, as the case may be, snowed off) day. There is no correct strategy here but whichever direction you go in, ensure you have a mixture of the players in form mixed with those who may be creeping under the radar with excellent fixtures coming up.

I’d imagine the likes of Michu, Hazard and Tevez will have found their way into just about every team by now so I won’t mention them. Any player who has scored a goal thus far will have been brought into the limelight so the likes of Nolan, Fellaini, Piennar, Fletcher, etc) will also be making their way into squads, but what about those who haven’t fired yet?

An obvious example of an underperforming team is Tottenham. I haven’t given up on them yet and with Adebayor surely pushing for a start this weekend, things will improve. Dempsey may or may not prove to be a hindrance but I believe there are goals here if you are brave enough to pick a Spurs attacking player.

As a Villa fan I tend to stay away from what inevitably turns to disappointment, but signs of life have surfaced and the team outclassed Newcastle last time out and were held to a draw only by a rocket from Ben Arfa. I’m not sure I’d advocate shelling out on Bent or Bentake up top just yet, but there are certainly goals to be had with a fantastic upcoming schedule.

On similar lines, Dimitar Berbatov poses some interesting questions. It’s another wait and see but if he can get regular games and dictate play surely he’s in line for a great season. Cisse and Ba didn’t become terrible players overnight and should pick up last season’s goalscoring exploits very soon, whilst Danny Graham must be given a little faith despite being completely overshadowed by his midfield so far.

And what about Robin Van Persie? A player plucked from obscurity and thrust into the Premier League spotlight. Well, not quite. I don’t believe in ‘must have’ players in this game, especially at his extreme price when we don’t know how he fits into plans when Rooney comes back and Champions League rotation kicks in. Saying all that, I have him slotted neatly in my team and it would be hard to recommend against him for anyone with a wildcard this week. For those without, I wouldn’t break the rest of my team just to have him no matter what he does against Wigan this weekend. After that fixtures stiffen up and rotation is right around the corner.

I’ve avoided the wildcard this week despite some obvious flaws in my squad. The first bullet point in my last post argued that you should pick players who will play. So naturally I stuck De Gea in goal. Ryan Bennett was an unfortunate pick as he was replaced by newly signed Bassong at Norwich after the GW1 window shut, whilst my GW3 signing Ashley Williams has now been left at the heart of a completely shattered defensive unit. Apart from that I was extremely fortunate to start with Tevez, Hazard and Michu which meant that I wasn’t chasing bandwagons and had the pleasure of seeing other teams panicking to transfer them in. For those yet to wildcard, I salute you, and I hope we will be able to keep up and make our move later in the season? This is where the men are sorted from the boys.

Gameweek 4 preview: Tevez to rule Britannia

Image

Just under half of you reading this can skip the next few paragraphs.

It’s not the traditional approach to the start of a piece that I’m usually hoping that you’ll read all the way through, I’ll give you that, but there isn’t much point in telling a lot of you what you already know.

Carlos Tevez (now £9.8m after a rapid price rise since the start of the season) can currently be seen in 48.9% of Fantasy Premier League teams, a staggering amount and testament to both the Argentinean’s low price at the start of the game and the form which has seen him score a goal in each of Manchester City’s three matches so far whilst racking up three assists too.

These may be famous last words, but Tevez looks focused, fully fit and prepared to stay away from South American golf courses.

His ‘lost’ campaign of last season is now forgotten about, and he now – admittedly aided by the injury to Sergio Aguero – has re-established himself as the focal point of City’s attack at the beginning of his side’s defence of their Premier League crown. He simply cannot be ignored by Fantasy bosses.

He can, however, be overlooked by his national manager Alejandro Sabella, who left Tevez out of his Argentina squad for the World Cup qualifiers at home to Paraguay and in Peru in the past week. Such words should be music to your ears.

Tevez will be fresh for Manchester City’s trip to Stoke on Saturday afternoon, a match that always carries its own levels of difficulty but one that Roberto Mancini’s side should emerge victorious from.

If they take the points from the Britannia, then expect Tevez to be picking up more than a few points of his own.

Elsewhere – 48.9% of you can come back now – it looks to be a big scoring Gameweek for players from Arsenal and Manchester United given their respective fixtures.

Unlike United, Arsenal have been solid at the back in their opening three games and there looks to be nothing to suggest that that solidity will stop when they entertain Southampton at the Emirates. However, before considering bringing in the likes of Thomas Vermaelen (£7.0m) and even cheap option Carl Jenkinson (£4.8m), Fantasy bosses should bear in mind that the Gunners’ next two fixtures after they play the Saints see them head for Manchester City before hosting Chelsea.

Perhaps it will pay to be more forward-thinking then, with the addition of Santi Cazorla (£9.1m) sure to increase the creativity within your team, and Lukas Podolski (£8.4m and still cheaper than Olivier Giroud) no doubt ready to impress after scoring his first goal for the club at Anfield last time out.

At Old Trafford the usual suspects will be eyeing goals with the visit of Wigan Athletic, but with selling the family silver now required if you want to afford Robin van Persie (£13.4m), perhaps a gamble on Danny Welbeck (£8.4m) could prove fruitful. Midfield options are also plentiful, and with Shinji Kagawa (£8.6m) reportedly suffering a knock on international duty with Japan, Tom Cleverley (£6.0m) could be thrust into the more forward role we saw him occupy for England over the past week.

It is a man who left United behind who could prove the most astute addition for this Gameweek though, with Dimitar Berbatov (£6.9m) looking terrific value ahead of what is sure to be his first Fulham start against West Brom at Craven Cottage.

The forward – whose retirement from international duty leaves him fresh for the weekend – will only see his value rise, and so it might pay to get in early.

Just as it did with Tevez a month ago.

@Mark_Jones86

Bouncing back?

Don’t forget…

To join the free Fantasy Yirma mini league on the official premier league game follow this link. Remember Free to Play … £50 to the winner!! What’s to lose?? http://fantasy.premierleague.com/my-leagues/15005/join/?autojoin-code=44397-15005

Injuries, terrible form and appointments with Argentinean golf courses were all reasons why these five didn’t shine in Yirma in 2011/12, but could things be different this time around?

Image

Fernando Torres, Chelsea, Forward – Fantasy Price Tag £10.0m

Just the FA Cup, Champions League, European Championships and Euro Golden Boot award made last term an unforgettable season to forget for Torres, who still comes across as one of the bigger enigmas in the division.

Bit part roles in all of those successes will have created a hunger though, and a desire to prove that the £50m Chelsea invested in him a year-and-a-half ago could still prove to be money well spent. There is a sense that if it’s ever going to happen, it’ll have to happen now.

Last season he scored exactly a quarter of the goals and picked up over 100 less Fantasy points than he managed in his electric debut season at Liverpool in 2007/08, and whilst he is unlikely to hit those heights again he might at least find himself approaching them.

The departure of Didier Drogba and the decision to loan Romelu Lukaku to West Brom has seen Roberto di Matteo place a huge vote of confidence in Torres, and with Chelsea recruiting creative players from all over the world to help him out this summer he won’t exactly be short of goalscoring chances.

He’s likely to take more than a few of them too.

Image

Stewart Downing, Liverpool, Midfielder – Fantasy Price Tag £6.5m

By now everyone knows the stats, so much so that it doesn’t even matter that they weren’t true.

As endless tweets, Facebook jokes and message board posts will tell you, Downing’s first season as Liverpool’s £20m winger produced zero goals and zero assists – even though the Fantasy stats point out that he set up two goals in a match at QPR, whilst he managed a couple of strikes during the Reds’ run to the finals of both domestic cup competitions.

Regardless of that, his performances were still nowhere near what Liverpool supporters demanded, and the England man will know that he’ll have to step up his displays if his future at the club is to last much longer. Fortunately for him, he might just have the chance to.

With Brendan Rodgers ready to switch Liverpool’s approach to a 4-3-3 formation, Downing would appear set to occupy the wide right position in the front trio alongside Luis Suárez and Fabio Borini, at least until the Reds dip back into the transfer market – although the emergence of youngster Raheem Sterling (£4.5m) is worth keeping an eye on.

It was from a similar position that Downing bagged 163 Fantasy points in his final season at Aston Villa, more than double he got at Liverpool last season and including seven goals and nine assists for those who like to keep a track of such things.

He might not manage the same tally again, but an improvement looks almost certain.

He could scarcely have got any worse.

Image

Carlos Tevez, Manchester City, Forward – Fantasy Price Tag £9.0m

He’s back – for now – and he looks ready to make up for lost time.

Manchester City fans may have forgotten all about Tevez’s indiscretions last season the moment he started banging the goals in, and Fantasy bosses might be ready to do just the same.

The forward’s fine goal in the Community Shield on Sunday could have been taken from the impressive back catalogue he built up in scoring first 210 and then 185 Fantasy points in each of his first two seasons at City, and now seemingly back on board and back in Roberto Mancini’s plans, it might not be the last such wonderful strike.

The prospect of building a partnership with Sergio Agüero should have City fans drooling and opposition defenders dreading, and if Tevez quickly settles down and – more importantly – is kept happy, then his £9.0m Fantasy price tag could suddenly start looking incredibly cheap.

Image

Nemanja Vidic, Manchester United, Defender – Fantasy Price Tag £7.0m

Would Manchester United have won the league last season if Vidic had been around all campaign?

It’s impossible to predict of course, but the presence of a player who scored well over 100 points in four out of his five other seasons in Fantasy Premier League, and 94 in the other one, certainly would have aided a United side who chopped and changed things at the back after the Serb picked up the knee injury in November which ruled him out of the rest of the campaign.

Now fit, the club captain will slot straight back into Sir Alex Ferguson’s side as if he has never been away, and his club are likely to benefit from both his defensive organisational abilities and his goalscoring threat in the opposition penalty area.

A real leader, Vidic’s return isn’t just a welcome one for United fans but also for Fantasy bosses who were frequently left scratching their heads at just which players would line-up for Ferguson’s side last season.

When fit Vidic walks in to United’s team, and could well walk into yours too.

Image

Lucas, Liverpool, Midfielder – Fantasy Price Tag £5.0m

Like Vidic at United, Lucas’s absence from over half of Liverpool’s season can’t be underestimated, but was certainly vital.

The Brazilian isn’t the kind of player who’ll win man of the match awards every week or even get you a lot of Fantasy points, but it was clear to see how Liverpool struggled as soon as he picked up the problem in November which ruled him out of the rest of the campaign, with youthful, often raw players pressed into service in his absence.

Now back and taking his place in the centre of a Liverpool team who are likely to dominate possession in the vast majority of their games, Lucas will be looking to get back to the form which has made him one of the top defensive midfielders in world football, and he could well be regarded as an excellent cheap option for your team at just £5.0m.

Consistency is key for the Brazilian, and if you’re prepared to play a squad game then his valuable input and steady accumulation of points could be just what you need.

*M

@Mark_Jones86

%d bloggers like this: