Gameweek 22 preview: Cole to light up the Double Gameweek?
To the die-hard Fantasy manager, the FA Cup is nothing but an inconvenience.
It is simply an unwanted chance for your players to get injured, to suddenly rediscover some flickering form or to play themselves out of contention for the next league game. What use were last weekend’s goals from Robin van Persie, Michu and Luis Suarez to anyone but Uruguayan Beach Volleyball Team selectors anyway?
Fear not though, for the Premier League returns this weekend, and it does so with a bang for the European champions (yes, believe it or not they still are).
Branislav Ivanovic (£7.1m) may have exhibited a worrying fondness for providing assists for the opposition during the midweek Capital One Cup defeat to Swansea, but if we’re going to stay strong and keep our disdain for the cup competitions alive then we are going to have to ignore that and instead look forward to him taking his place in a Chelsea defence which is about to embark on a Double Gameweek. Or will he?
The gradual return to fitness for John Terry (£6.5m) and the constant relocation of David Luiz (£6.6m) – sometimes inadvertently – means that the only member of Chelsea’s back four surely certain to line up against both Stoke and Southampton is Ashley Cole (£6.5m), who looks to be a fine investment for Fantasy bosses who may have activated their January wildcard ahead of this weekend, and who scored the winner and kept a clean sheet which Stoke visited Stamford Bridge in September.
Further forward, the signing of Demba Ba (£8.6m) has put the once secure place for Fernando Torres (£9.8m) under threat, whilst Rafael Benitez will surely avoid angering Fantasy bosses for a second Gameweek running and restore Juan Mata (£9.9m) to his Premier League line-up after resting him for the shock loss at home to QPR.
Harry Redknapp’s side entertain the manager’s former club Tottenham at Loftus Road in Saturday’s early match, with Gareth Bale (£9.8m) primed to score big on a weekend when many of his highly priced rivals are facing tougher fixtures. A wildcard move for the Welshman could have benefits well beyond this Gameweek.
Before the FA Cup so rudely interrupted us the name on everyone’s lips was that of Theo Walcott (£9.0m) but he and Arsenal face a tough test at home to Manchester City this weekend, with City likely to be missing the hamstrung Sergio Aguero (£11.0m) and Carlos Tevez (£8.9m) looking to start.
Suarez (£10.4m) won’t have many friends at Old Trafford and is unlikely to find many points either, with Robin van Persie (£14.0m) certain to lead the line for Manchester United against Liverpool. Those who back the Reds defence – which could include the cheap Andre Wisdom (£4.3m) after Jose Enrique (£5.9m) was ruled out for six weeks – to keep out the Dutchman aren’t short of options to replace him, with one of those options coming at Sunderland.
The Mackems have a relatively friendly set of four fixtures coming up, and so Fantasy bosses who had lost faith in Steven Fletcher (£7.0m) could be tempted to turn back to the Scotsman ahead of his side’s home match against West Ham, whilst the departure of Ba is sure to see Papiss Cisse (£8.8m) given a central striking role for Newcastle’s visit to Norwich if he can overcome a knock.
Another battling injury is Southampton’s Gaston Ramirez (£5.6m), but the Uruguyan is certainly worth keeping an eye on ahead of the Saints’ Double Gameweek trips to Aston Villa and Chelsea, whilst teenage full-back Luke Shaw (£4.0m) could find himself becoming an inexpensive addition to plenty of teams once that wildcard kicks in.
Whilst his price hasn’t yet risen, Marouane Fellaini’s (£7.4m) has been falling ever since his three-match ban, but with the Belgian back and ready to play a part in what look to be a winnable next four games for Everton, starting with this weekend against Swansea, then his addition could be crucial.
Gameweek 18 preview: Santi presents Wigan with a problem
Santi is coming to Wigan, and perhaps he should be coming into your team too.
We all know that this is a special time of year, a time to look forward to and dread in equal measure.
That’s right, the Fantasy Cup starts on Saturday, and including Arsenal’s Santi Cazorla (£9.7m) in your Fantasy team could see you gain the edge over your opponent and secure a spot in the next round quicker than reindeers move on Christmas Eve.
Of course it’s easy to react to a player’s stellar performance in a previous game – such as Cazorla’s hat-trick at Reading – and immediately put him in to your team in the hope that he will repeat such a world-beating display, but there is a genuine reason behind putting your money on Arsenal’s Spanish star succeeding at Wigan in Saturday’s early kick-off.
It’s called the Marouane Fellaini problem.
Everton’s Belgian ace was fortunate to only receive a three game ban for his headbutt on Stoke’s Ryan Shawcross last weekend, but nonetheless he has still presented the many Fantasy bosses who own him with a dilemma. Those who have the luxury of some extra money stashed away – and we all need that at this time of year – will probably be thinking that they could go one of five ways.
But Gareth Bale (£9.5m) still isn’t back from injury, Eden Hazard (£9.5m) has gone off the boil somewhat and David Silva (£9.4m) hasn’t found the net regularly enough. There is of course Juan Mata (£9.5m), but Chelsea face an Aston Villa side who have just brilliantly beaten Liverpool, whilst the ex-Valencia man played the vast majority of Wednesday’s Capital One Cup match against Leeds in midweek.
Bringing in Cazorla should of course come with the warning that Arsenal’s Boxing Day game against West Ham has been called off due to Tube strikes, but the club are reportedly looking to play that match in early January, raising the prospect of a double Gameweek in the near future for their Spanish star. Santi’s gifts should be well received.
Elsewhere this weekend the match between Newcastle and QPR brings together one team who have been on a steady decline in recent weeks and another one who have just experienced their campaign’s only high point.
Harry Redknapp’s Rangers will head for St James’s Park following the Adel Taarabt (£5.6m) inspired 2-1 win over Fulham last weekend, but Newcastle know that they simply have to win this match following their recent struggles, and they showed enough promise in last weekend’s loss to Manchester City to show that they will give their visitors problems.
Demba Ba (£8.2m) scored his 11th league goal of the season in that match, and he could be turned to again as Alan Pardew’s side look to puncture any QPR optimism immediately.
On Sunday Robin van Persie (£13.8m) and Wayne Rooney (£12.0m) will again team up as Manchester United face a tricky trip to Swansea, which they should be going in to only three points clear at the top of the table given that Manchester City face a home match with Reading on Saturday. Sergio Agüero (£11.0m) and Yaya Touré (£7.9m) look to be the players who’ll impress there, although Javi Garcia (£5.0m) is an intriguing cheap choice following his goal last weekend.
The Fellaini-less Everton go to West Ham where Nikica Jelavić (£8.2m) will be looked to for goals, whilst Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has hinted that he could be ready to rest Raheem Sterling (£5.7m) for the home match against Fulham, meaning that even more onus could be put on Luis Suarez (£10.3m) – although the Uruguayan hasn’t scored in his last four games.
The popular Stoke duo of Asmir Begovic (£5.6m) and Shawcross (£5.8m) will face a tough task as they go to Tottenham, whilst Southampton’s Rickie Lambert (£6.1m) and Jason Puncheon (£4.8m) will be looked to to impress against struggling Sunderland.
West Brom’s fine form may have stuttered somewhat, but they can pick it up against Norwich at The Hawthorns, where James Morrison(£6.3m) can be counted on to provide a threat to the visitors.
The GAMEWEEK 6 REVIEW (by @shots_on_target)
Here’s the round up of the 9 games played so far in GW6. Many thanks to our regular guest post writer @shots_on_target for some great analysis. You can read more of his articles at http://www.shotsontarget.co.uk/
We will have a Yirma Twitter takeover this evening from 7.30PM with football pundit @mark_jones86 taking over the @fantasyyirma account to cover the #QPR V#WESTHAM game. So contact us at email@example.com today with any #FPL questions you have or leave a question in the comments section below.
ARSENAL 1-2 CHELSEA
Arsenal dominated the attacking play in this game, trebling the number of shooting opportunities in the box to that of Chelsea, but failing to hit the target with any regularity. Chelsea on the other other proved to be very ruthless when presented with a chance in the box, particularly scorer of the first goal, Fernando Torres. Arsenal continue to struggle to finish off their creative play. Chelsea are a tough nut to crack though (ask Messi) and owners of Cazorla should remain confident with him creating 4 Key Passes and getting himself into the box for 4 shots. For Chelsea, Hazard, despite his obvious quality, did sweet f.a. in this game from a fantasy point of view, whilst Mata stepped to finally replicate some of last season’s FPL form.
READING2- 2 NEWCASTLE
Demba Ba will grab the fantasy headlines from this one. He represents a clear threat in comparison to team mate Cisse, and is a great player to own in FPL. The rest of the magpies are falling to produce on a reliable basis. Sure, Ben Arfa still has the odd moment of magic in him but on this evidence he is overpriced, he didn’t even take a shot in this game. For Reading, this was their best game so far from both an offensive and defensive point of view, creating more chances this 90 minutes in their previous 2 games put together and limiting Newcastle to just a handful of chances. Unfortunately for the Royals though, the fell to Ba.
EVERTON 3- 1 SOUTHAMPTON
Despite an early scare Everton racked up the chances and the goals they deserved. 15 shots in the box, and 8 on target is really what you’d expect of United or City, and in Nikica Jelavic they have a man to score them. Fellaini continued in his up-front role supported by the impressive Mirallas, who is really hitting the ground running after his summer move from Olympiakos. Both were unlucky not to get more than an assist between them. Not so for Pienaar who did very little in FPL terms, despite such a dominant Everton display. For the Saints, Lambert was kept pretty quiet with just one shot but it was Gaston Ramirez who stood out, not just for his goal, but for his overall involvement in the visitor’s attacking play. They created a fair amount of chances too, there are goals in both these teams.
NORWICH 2 – 5 LIVERPOOL
This was the Luis Suarez show. The Uruguayan absolutely dominates Liverpool’s forward play and has always had the quality to find the back of the net. With some juicy fixtures on the horizon FPL interest in Suarez is rightly set to explode. Elsewhere, Sahin showed what he’s about playing in the support role in Shelvey’s absence. If he can make this position his own he could be a great fantasy asset. Norwich were almost as creative as Liverpool in this game, and the scoreline flatters Liverpool a little. They are yet to settle on a front man but if Holt or perhaps Snodgrass can find their shooting boots they could start to pick up both real and fantasy points.
STOKE 2-0 SWANSEA
This was exactly the scoreline that many people expected. Swansea’s bubble has burst up against the drilled quality of teams like Everton and now Stoke. To be fair, Laudrup’s men are not built for a day out in Staffodshire and have plenty to offer the fantasy manager over the next couple of fixtures. Stoke were impressive in their game plan and Tony Pulis knows exactly how to play the way he does. Peter Crouch is a threat in the box and players like Adam know how to find him.
MAN UTD 2 – TOTTENHAM 3
This game was everything that the Premiership is about. Under-pressure Villas-Boas got his early game tactics spot on as Spurs went straight for the jugular at Old Trafford, leaving the likes of Giggs a mere spectator. Gareth Bale was a geniune menace and his form is key to Tottenham, and he is in some great form right now. United piled the pressure late on, with Spurs forced to drop deep and defend. Van Persie, Nani, and Rooney all stood out for the Red Devils despite Rooney just getting a 45 minute run out.
FULHAM 1-2 MAN CITY
Fulham’s recent results have gotten people talking but they came up against a solid City side here who controlled the game well and really limited the attacking nous of the home team. Berbatov’s unfortunate injury means he will miss up to 3 games and he will be missed, although the front Ruiz and Petric did well as the the focal point up front. For City, Tevez place in the starting XI settled the biggest fantasy question of the day but he did not do all that much and was predictably subbed off just over the hour mark. Aguero played the full 90, as did Silva, and these two are the real starts of City’s attack.
SUNDERLAND 1-0 WIGAN
Steven Fletcher and Sunderland do it again, score from their only shot on target. Can they continue to do this for much longer. To be frank, if Steven Fletcher was capable of scoring with every shot he takes he would not have been playing for Wolves last year and Sunderland this, no offence Mackams! He is a quality finisher though, no doubt about it, but he’s not Superman, Wigan should feel hard done by, they probably did enough to score, but O’Neil has his Black Cats as well-drilled as his reputation.
ASTON VILLA 1- 1 WEST BROM
Two surprising omissions in the starting line-ups here, with Bent and Lukaku both missing out. Shane Long was the main threat for the Baggies early on a grabbed a goal with Gera providing most of the threat from midfield. For Villa, Benteke was plenty involved but is still adjusting to the style and pace of the Premiership and failed to find the target with any of his 6 efforts. Bent and Lukaku’s introductions from the bench livened up the encounter with both heavily involved as the game opened up, with Holman also impressing for the Villains.
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.
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/
Second season syndrome?
All were new signings in 2011/12, and all impressed in Yirma, but can the five players below keep up that form heading in to 2012/13??
Demba Ba, Newcastle, Forward – Fantasy Price Tag £7.5m
Few players had more schizophrenic seasons than Ba last time out, as the arrival of a man we’ll mention below saw his goalscoring form at first dry up and then evaporate completely.
It was tougher to find a Fantasy manager without the Senegalese in his team in the first half of last season than one who did have him, as Ba’s goals shot Newcastle up the table and kept several Fantasy bosses scratching their heads over captaincy selections on Saturday mornings.
Then the forward headed off the Africa Cup of Nations in January, returned with his international team-mate alongside him and suddenly the goals dried up.
Newcastle boss Alan Pardew had of course decided to alter Ba’s position slightly, and although it must be said that he did still weigh in with some assists, the forward’s impact was seemingly reducing game by game, so much so that the summer of transfer rumours surrounding his exit from Tyneside were hardly surprising.
He stayed of course, but a repeat showing from last year’s dazzling first few months looks unlikely.
Nikica Jelavic, Everton, Forward – Fantasy Price Tag £8.5m
Up in Scotland, Jelavic is now merely a substantial if solitary profit in the Rangers accounts, but the happy memories that Gers’ fans had of him are now being shared in the Blue half of Merseyside.
Jelavic’s predatory instincts have unsurprisingly gone down well amongst Everton fans who have arguably not seen a finer forward in Blue since the early days of Wayne Rooney, and the Croatian will be determined to shine in his first full campaign at Goodison Park.
Much was made last season of Jelavic’s instant, one touch finishes, and so whilst you may want to avoid him if you prefer your forwards to be more involved in the play and frequently able to contribute with assists, as an out-and-out goalscorer in a team who will play to his strengths there can’t be many better picks.
After a summer away at the Euros, this campaign will be the ultimate test to see if the Croatian can produce it consistently in Fantasy Premier League.
The early signs are all encouraging ones.
Papiss Cisse, Newcastle, Forward – Fantasy Price Tag £9.5m
It can’t possibly go as well for Cisse as it did from January to May. Can it? CAN IT???
The Senegalese’s impact at Newcastle following his transfer from German club Freiburg was nothing short of extraordinary, as goals were scored and records tumbled all over the place.
A clinical, almost effortless forward, Cisse’s performances at St James’s Park (sorry Mike Ashley) have drawn comparisons with Andy Cole’s, and there is no doubt that Newcastle will once again look to play to his strengths as they did so well during the latter half of last season.
However, what with the demands of the Europa League, yet another Africa Cup of Nations coming up in January and now that defenders know his threat a little more, it will be extremely difficult for Cisse to repeat last season’s heroics again this time around.
At £9.5m he’ll have plenty of takers, but expecting him to produce the same fireworks as he did in 2011/12 might just leave you disappointed.
Sergio Aguero, Manchester City, Forward – Fantasy Price Tag £11.5m
The moment that Aguero secured the league title for Manchester City in May will be burned into the brains of his club’s supporters’ for a lifetime, and probably the minds of Manchester United fans for even longer.
It was deserved too, both for the club and a player who made the transition from La Liga to Fantasy Premier League with ease ever since he scored twice on his debut against Swansea in City’s opening match of the campaign.
Aguero is a livewire; a player who never gives defenders a second on the ball and leaves them wondering for hours just what they can do to stop him.
Bar Robin van Persie he was the best forward in England last season – that Kyle Walker took the PFA Young Player of the Year award ahead of Aguero isn’t a good advert for the decisions of footballers – and the Argentinean looks more than ready to help his side defend their title this time.
He is a simply brilliant attacker, and one that you need to find room for in any team – Fantasy or otherwise – whatever the cost.
Yohan Cabaye, Newcastle, Midfielder – Fantasy Price Tag £7.0m
As this column indicates, Newcastle bought pretty well last season, and there is an argument for saying that Cabaye was the best addition of the lot.
A lively midfielder, the Frenchman showcased more than a keen eye for goal the longer 2011/12 went on, and after a year of getting used to playing against the big-hitters of the league he’ll now have to understand that he is one.
One of the lesser discussed qualities of Cabaye, however, is his toughness. He can mix it in the middle with pretty much anyone, and so seeing as he is highly unlikely to become overawed by the new challenges he faces as he becomes a marked man, there is nothing to suggest that he won’t prove to be a success on Tyneside again.
As discussed above, the rigours placed on Newcastle this season might ensure that they don’t reach the highs they did in the last campaign, but their French midfielder can still impress.
A bargain buy? Oui.