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International breakdowns; a Fantasy manager’s nightmare

 

Reykjavik on a Friday night.

It’s not the most obvious of places to cast an eye over, but there will be more than a few of you keeping up with events in the Icelandic capital at the end of your working week.

At the time of writing, Fulham’s Brede Hangeland features in 13.9% of Fantasy Premier League teams, with John Arne Riise – his fellow defender for both Fulham and Norway – popping up in 8.3% of them.

Given that the amount of Fantasy bosses has now exceeded 2.3million, then that makes for a fair chunk of you who’ll be anxious to hear of the fate of Hangeland and Riise on international duty in Reykjavik, where an injury could wreck your week.

Norway play Slovenia at home next Tuesday too. A pull here or a strain there and suddenly the duo are out of their club sides, and more importantly they throw your plans into disarray as well.

International breaks have long been the scourge of club managers, but what about the problems they cause Fantasy ones?

Without the power of Sir Alex Ferguson you can’t tell the Holland boss Louis van Gaal to leave Robin van Persie out of the World Cup qualifier in Budapest next Tuesday because you’re thinking of making him your captain when Manchester United face Wigan at Old Trafford the following Saturday and you want him to be fresh.

Similarly, Eden Hazard might not have far to travel for Friday’s qualifier in Cardiff, but the Belgian has got another game at home to Croatia on the Tuesday and you want that little assist-making machine in top condition for Chelsea’s highly-charged trip to QPR.

And what’s that Roy? Ashley Cole has got an ankle problem that’s keeping him out of the Moldova game? Good. Now send him back to Chelsea, get them to find all the cotton wool they can get their hands on and don’t you dare think about picking him when England play Ukraine.

Fantasy bosses have to be selfish when watching their players in club action in cup competitions too of course – although you might have a team in one of those leagues on the side – yet somehow it is easier to take when a blow affects one of your boys when in their club colours as opposed to their national shirt. Club 1 Country 0.

For the clubs who lose those players for a week to 10 days, it almost becomes a case of the bigger they are the harder they fall.

Manchester United have published a list of 24 of their players who are on international duty over the next week or so on their website, as have Liverpool for their 19 – which is probably the size of their entire squad as a whole after recent dealings – whilst Chelsea have six in the England squad alone.

It’ll be next Wednesday at the earliest before their managers see all of them again, as air miles are clocked up and tired limbs are transported across all four corners of the globe.

Will they be back in top shape? Has the jet lag affected them? Is it possible for Luis Suarez to get from Montevideo to Sunderland’s Stadium of Light in less than four days? Do they do direct flights?

All are questions that many will consider in the days to come, as eyes dart furiously from Argentina to Amsterdam and virtually everywhere in between.

Is it Reykjavik or bust for your Fantasy team?

It could be both.

@Mark_Jones86

Fantasy Yirma: Gameweek 2 preview

Gameweek 2 preview: Forwards to earn their Spurs?

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Maybe earning his Spurs is a bit less important to Emmanuel Adebayor than earning AT Spurs, but after completing his move to White Hart Lane from Manchester City at least he’s added another quality striking option for Fantasy managers.

The Togoloese forward (£9.5m) is likely to go straight into the squad for Saturday’s clash at home to West Brom after eventually turning his loan switch into a permanent one, with ‘Ade’ adding much needed strength in depth to Andre Villas-Boas’s striking department after the Portuguese was left with just Jermain Defoe (£7.5m) as a solitary senior forward for last weekend’s loss at Newcastle.

Defoe scored there of course, and he’ll be looking to take that form into the meeting with the Baggies, where he could still start despite the arrival of his new/old team-mate.

The England man continues to be linked with moves away, but it is unlikely that you’ll see Defoe depart North London at least until Villas-Boas is able to bring in yet another forward, and even then all talk of a transfer seems premature.

Now nearly 30, Defoe has seemingly spent a career on the fringes despite consistently finding the net.

There always seems to have been the feeling that managers can do better than him – either at club or international level – but with Adebayor likely to take a while to settle in after having no pre-season to speak of, Spurs are sure to have to turn to him over the coming weeks. Their next four matches see them face West Brom (h), Norwich (h), Reading (a) and QPR (h). The potential for goals is there for all to see.

That should draw you towards Tottenham’s forwards – perhaps with your Sergio Aguero money – and also to the men playing behind them. If Villas-Boas is to persevere with just the one attacker, then Gareth Bale (£9.5m), Gylfi Sigurdsson (£9.0m) and Rafael van der Vaart (£9.0m) will all be looking to get into scoring and assisting positions behind him.

Elsewhere this Fantasy weekend, the lack of a double Gameweek, the advice to avoid Chelsea players who’ll be inactive next weekend and some very intriguing fixtures make it somewhat of a tough one to predict.

After losing so heavily at West Brom, it would be just like Liverpool to bounce back and get a positive result against Manchester City, but it would take the most confident of Fantasy bosses to turn to the likes of the £9.5m pairing of Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez against the champions, despite City’s concession of goals against Southampton and the Liverpool pair’s rest from the trip to Hearts in midweek.

City will miss Aguero of course and so a stalemate could ensue, which is probably what Arsenal would settle for from their tough trip to Stoke where Gunners forwards should probably be avoided.

Manchester United will be determined to bounce back from their loss to Everton on Monday, and with many put off by Robin van Persie’s price tag (£13.0m) it could well be the other home debutant Shinji Kagawa (£8.5m) who impresses against Fulham at Old Trafford, where it goes without saying that the Whites’ players who impressed on the opening day against Norwich – Mladen Petric (£6.0m), Damien Duff (£6.0m) and Alex Kacaniklic (£4.5m) – will find it tougher to shine again.

Other opening day stars Michu (bumped up to £6.7m) and Marouane Fellaini (£6.5m) could have it a little easier at home to West Ham and away to Aston Villa respectively, whilst in the battle of the two teams beaten 5-0 last week, it could pay to focus on QPR’s players ahead of those from Norwich.

Junior Hoilett (£6.5m) – a scorer home and away against Norwich for Blackburn last season – might well shine the brightest. 

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