Written by @CraigHazell – (that’s important!) DEFENDER: Leighton Baines, EVERTON He’s been a big talking point on this week’s GafferTapes and it’s not for his lego head haircut or his arctic monkeys looking nose but for being the most in form defender in the game. It’s Leighton Baines! Leighton has come full circle in recent […]
Spurs, Liverpool and Sunderland tipped: The World’s Gone Mad
Written by @CraigHazell – that’s important! This week FantasyYIRMA founder Ryan joined The Gaffer Tapes Award Winning Fantasy Football Podcast as a special guest. If you’ve ever wanted to know what a cross between a drunken Brendan Rogers, younger Jim McDonald and a much less coherent Colin Murry sounds like – click the link […]
Premier League: Goal of the Season
There are just two weeks remaining in the 2012/13 season, and once again it has been one full of stunning goals and memories.
But just what is your favourite goal of the Premier League campaign?
Take a look at @Mark_Jones86’s favourites below and then cast your vote on our poll!
Hatem Ben Arfa, Newcastle v Aston Villa, 02/09/2012
Is it possible to bit a ball harder or with more precision? This superb strike from the gifted Frenchman was one of few highlights in a disappointing Newcastle campaign.
Luis Suarez, Liverpool v Newcastle, 04/11/2012
One of the players of the season scored one of the goals of the season in early November, when Suarez’s superb control from Jose Enrique’s lofted pass led to this stylish finish against Newcastle.
Jermain Defoe, Tottenham v West Ham, 25/11/2012
Usually seen scoring poacher’s goals, Defoe’s fine run and shot helped Spurs towards this London derby win in late November.
Gareth Bale, Norwich v Tottenham, 30/01/2013
If ever a goal summed up a man’s season this was it. With Tottenhama goal down with just 10 minutes left of the clock, the Welshman took it upon himself to drag his team level with a fine run and shot.
Jose Enrique, Liverpool v Swansea, 17/02/2013
Liverpool’s Spanish full-back was on the end of this superb team move involving Suarez, Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge as the Reds saw off Swansea 5-0 at Anfield.
Rafael, QPR v Manchester United, 23/02/2013
Manchester United’s Brazilian full-back cracked home this stunning strike in a win at Loftus Road, as his club closed in on their 20th league title.
Gareth Bale, West Ham v Tottenham, 25/02/2013
With the clock ticking down and Spurs set to drop two points in their race for a Champions League place, Bale scored this remarkable effort from range to spark wild celebrations.
Matthew Lowton, Stoke v Aston Villa, 06/04/2013
Arguably the most important goal of Aston Villa’s season and undoubtedly the best, full-back Lowton smashed home this unstoppable effort in the closing stages on the way to a win at Stoke.
Loic Remy, QPR v Wigan, 07/04/2013
The season brought little hope for Queens Park Rangers but their French forward did hint that some was on the back with this superb breakaway goal. Typically, QPR conceded an equaliser in stoppage time.
Robin van Persie, Manchester United v Aston Villa, 22/04/2013
When they needed a win to secure the title United’s Dutch superstar stood up and was counted, scoring a hat-trick which included this stunning strike from Wayne Rooney’s fine pass.
So you’ve seen Mark’s selections, don’t forget to cast your vote!
Fantasy Football GW35 preview: Defoe to take a bite out of Wigan?
Well he was never going to exit quietly was he?
Sunday saw the last action of one of the Fantasy Premier League stars of 2012/13, with Liverpool’s Luis Suarez leaving the game for the season with a goal in the 97th minute of what was an 11-point performance against Chelsea – not that everyone was talking about that come full-time.
In his absence, forward options are being scoured and teams are being altered, but perhaps his direct replacement was seen earlier on Sunday afternoon.
After failing to start since the 3-2 loss at Liverpool last month, Tottenham’s Jermain Defoe (£7.9m) – another with a history which includes biting opponents – came off the bench to score in Spurs’ fantastic comeback to beat Manchester City at White Hart Lane last weekend.
With Emmanuel Adebayor (£9.0m) struggling having scored just three league goals all season, Defoe’s return to fitness could be perfectly timed for Andre Villas-Boas’ side as they chase the Champions League.
As far as the Fantasy game goes, Spurs head for Wigan at the weekend before a double Gameweek next week when the north Londoners face Southampton and Chelsea, meaning that Defoe is likely to get plenty of playing time as the campaign draws to a close.
The England forward could prove to be a key man for both Tottenham and for your team as the scramble for league positions becomes more intense, and he could just be the forward to trust in Suarez’s absence.
Those fixtures for Spurs and the return to fitness of Gareth Bale (£10.5m) mean that the Welshman is sure to find himself thrown back into plenty of teams following his recovery from injury, whilst defensively the likes of goalkeeper Hugo Lloris (£5.8m) and defender Jan Vertonghen (£6.6m) could also offer much.
Elsewhere, the battle for the Champions League places will go up a notch at Stamford Bridge where Chelsea entertain a Swansea side who seem to have been on a downward spiral ever since they won the Capital One Cup.
Juan Mata (£9.8m) took his tally to 16 assists for the season after being credited with laying on both goals in the draw at Anfield, and with the Spaniard so key to everything his side do then Rafael Benitez surely won’t risk leaving him out for the clash with the Swans.
The form of both Eden Hazard (£9.6m) and Oscar (£7.8m) has been encouraging in recent weeks, but it is still Mata who makes Chelsea tick and who they’ll be looking to in a contest that the hosts will really need to win in their challenge for the top four, especially given that Suarez took a bite out of their hopes on Sunday.
Arsenal are the other one of three clubs that cannot go into the two still available top four places, and they’ll be hoping that champions Manchester United will have taken their eye off the ball as they visit The Emirates.
The absence of Olivier Giroud through suspension means that Lukas Podolski (£8.1m) is likely to come in from the start for the Gunners, whilst Theo Walcott (£8.8m) could also be restored to the central forward role that he so enjoyed earlier in the campaign.
A little higher up the table than Arsenal, Manchester City host West Ham in a contest in which Carlos Tevez (£9.1m) will be looking to keep up recent form against his former club. Having kept six clean sheets in their last seven home games, the likes of Joe Hart (£6.8m), Pablo Zabaleta (£6.2m) and Vincent Kompany (£7.0m) will be confident of keeping West Ham out.
Having scored only a second goal in 26 games at QPR last weekend, Stoke’s Peter Crouch (£6.0m) could be fancied for another strike at home to Norwich, whilst Christian Benteke (£7.3m) will be confident going into Aston Villa’s clash at home to Sunderland.
At Goodison Park, Everton will be going for a sixth home win in seven games as they host Fulham.
Marouane Fellaini (£7.4m), Kevin Mirallas (£6.9m) and Leighton Baines (£7.8m) are likely to garner the most attention, although for a cheap choice it could pay to go with Victor Anichebe (£4.4m), who has started the last six Blues games and is sure to have chances against a Fulham side who have kept just three clean sheets on the road this season.
Gameweek 13 preview: Biting the hand that used to feed him?
Running into an ex is never the most comfortable of experiences, but it usually makes you want to prove that you’re doing well for yourself.
Take Jermain Defoe (£7.8m) this weekend, as the Spurs forward faces up to a West Ham outfit he once represented.
The faces, names and replica shirts will have changed, but the frosty reception that Defoe will get from the away fans at White Hart Lane will make him determined to get one over on his former employers, and provided that he comes through Thursday evening’s Europa League tie with Lazio in one piece then he is certain to start on Sunday afternoon and beyond given that Emmanuel Adebayor’s brain explosion at the Emirates Stadium last Saturday leaves Tottenham a little thin up top for their next three fixtures (West Ham H, Liverpool H, Fulham A).
Whilst ‘biting the hand that used to feed you’ is an expression that Defoe may have taken a little too literally when he has faced up to West Ham in the past, with the help of the likes of Gareth Bale (£9.7m) and Aaron Lennon (£7.0m) around him this time he could cause some damage to a West Ham side who admittedly start the weekend ahead of Spurs in the table.
A home win at White Hart Lane would change all that though, and Defoe looks to be central to Tottenham’s hopes of achieving that as the England forward hopes to leave his former love pining for him.
Mark Hughes is another who’ll be taking on a former club this weekend, although the QPR boss will probably wish that he was anywhere other than Old Trafford.
With pressure mounting on the Welshman following the dismal 3-1 loss at home to Southampton last weekend, Hughes heads to Manchester still in the hottest of Rangers hotseats despite a week which brought about rumours of his demise.
Having not won in 12 league matches this season then Old Trafford would be a fine place for QPR to strike a lucky thirteenth, but that is incredibly unlikely and the home side should be backed to leave their ex-forward with more than a few regrets.
That should of course mean more points for Robin van Persie (£13.7m), but if you can’t afford the Dutchman then it is well worth keeping an eye on the fitness of Wayne Rooney (£11.7m), who should return to the Manchester United starting XI against opponents that he scored home and away against last season.
Others bumping into old friends include Brendan Rodgers, who takes Liverpool to Swansea in a match which could prove to be a shootout between Luis Suarez (£10.3m) and Michu (£7.3m), and Rafael Benitez, who returns to the Premier League and is reunited with Fernando Torres (£9.6m) at Chelsea.
There will be those who feel that Benitez will instantly restore Torres to the player of old, but putting him back in your team does come with the warning that Chelsea will miss out on Gameweek 17 due to World Club Championship commitments, whilst they also face the tough test posed by champions Manchester City this weekend.
Elsewhere, there will be those wondering what to do with the absence of Marouane Fellaini through suspension for Everton’s game with Norwich – not least David Moyes – and whilst Steven Naismith (£5.9m) might be worth a gamble were he listed as a midfielder, perhaps the absence of the big Belgian will see former Everton goalkeeper John Ruddy (£4.7m) – another visiting old friends – keep a fourth straight clean sheet and a fifth in six games.
Further forward, Arsenal’s Santi Cazorla (£9.4m) might not have any connection to Aston Villa, but after three goals and two assists in the Gunners’ six away games this season then he’ll be worth keeping an eye on at Villa Park, whilst Stoke’s Jonathan Walters (£6.3m) and Charlie Adam (£6.6m) could exploit Fulham’s frequent away struggles at the Britannia Stadium, and having broken his goalscoring duck last weekend then Stephane Sessegnon (£7.3m) will look to shine as Sunderland host West Brom.
Tottenham Hotspur: Quietly confident
The attention was largely elsewhere during a madcap Sunday which could quite accurately be described as ‘Super’ due to the drama on show, but Tottenham Hotspur didn’t let that distract them from achieving their goal.
On England’s south coast, Spurs rather quietly slipped into the top four with a 2-1 win over Southampton that might not have done much for the home side’s prospects of avoiding relegation, but certainly served as a huge boost to the ambitions of the visitors at the other end of the Premier League table.
The win was Tottenham’s fifth from the last six league outings, with any doubts over manager Andre Villas-Boas following a winless first three games now firmly placed in the past.
That run of a loss at Newcastle followed by home draws against West Brom and Norwich even saw a few of the more reactionary Spurs fans call for Villas-Boas’s head and the return of good old Harry Redknapp, but the results since mid-September have now surely got any remaining doubters off the Portuguese’s back.
The task now is of course to keep on impressing, and going into a November which includes fixtures against Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool it will also be important to stay calm and not let results go to their heads.
Staying quietly confident might just be the best thing for Villas-Boas and Spurs right now, and so not for him the bullish and always inaccurate cries from Redknapp that his side were ready to challenge for the Premier League title.
The manner that Chelsea took the game away from them in their 4-2 win at White Hart Lane a week and a half ago showcased that Tottenham’s squad isn’t quite on a par with the top sides in the division just yet. Finishing just below them is a different matter altogether though.
In Gareth Bale, Moussa Dembele, Aaron Lennon, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Clint Dempsey, Jermain Defoe and Emmanuel Adebayor there are the raw attacking materials for a serious tilt at the top four from Tottenham, with qualification for the Champions League surely more than just a pipedream during a campaign in which a good cup run would also strengthen Tottenham’s claims to be considered amongst the big boys.
Reaching the Champions League quarter-finals in 2010/11 perhaps led to some people behind the scenes at Tottenham deciding that the club should run before they could walk, and with Redknapp eventually paying the price for such an increase in expectations then maybe it’d be wise for Spurs fans to just take each game as it comes right now. When you have a talent such as Bale on your hands though, that is easier said than done.
In these times of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo it can be easy to overlook other talents and compare them to that star duo – comparisons which they will always lose out in.
However, Redknapp’s recent claim that Bale is the best British player in the Premier League is probably a correct one in terms of recent form, and if the Welshman can keep on inspiring his side then the sky could well be the limit for Tottenham – so long as that sky falls just below Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City that is.
Like it or not that is where Spurs are right now, but that is a terrific base from which a young manager can build and look to improve as he establishes himself at a club who are slowly beginning to take him to their hearts.
Spurs and Villas-Boas shouldn’t mind that they’re not the centre of attention as long as they keep winning.
Leave it to others to decide when the quiet confidence deserves to be shouted about.
Fantasy Yirma: Gameweek 2 preview
Gameweek 2 preview: Forwards to earn their Spurs?
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.