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 […]
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#FPL GAMEWEEK 20 PREVIEW Written by @FantasyYIRMA Welcome to 2017 folks… it’s a brave new world. Donald Trump will be US President by the end of the month, Tesco’s have Creme Eggs on display as we prepare for Easter, and a potentially more unbelievable event – Younes Kaboul has scored in EVERY match he’s played […]
DEFENDER: Yun Suk-Young – £3.9m (Away v West Brom, Away v Aston Villa)
It’s a double Gameweek for QPR and Aston Villa, and whilst those two don’t possess too many desirable defenders it might just be worth taking a punt on one of the cheapest players in the game.
QPR left-back Yun Suk-Young has played the full 90 minutes in each of the Rs’ last six games, and whilst none of those have ended in a clean sheet he’ll have two chances to register one of those as he goes to The Hawthorns and Villa Park.
MIDFIELDER: Scott Sinclair – £5.2m (Away v Manchester United, Home v QPR)
The first of Aston Villa’s two matches is one that they are surely going to lose, with the trip to Old Trafford to face a rejuvenated Manchester United hardly one to relish at the moment.
But if Scott Sinclair can pick up a couple of points there then he’ll spring into action in the second game at home to QPR, and look to keep up some decent Villa form which has seen him score once in the league and twice in the FA Cup during his loan spell.
FORWARD: Olivier Giroud – £8.5m (Home v Liverpool)
With six goals in his last five Premier League games and this fine strike for France against Denmark during the international break, it really is impossible to ignore the form of Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud right now.
Liverpool arrive at the Emirates Stadium missing some key players and with morale dropping a little, and with the Gunners in the form they’re in then a victory and a strike or two from their current golden boy could be on the cards.
THE OUTSIDER: Matt Phillips – £4.6m (Away v West Brom, Away v Aston Villa)
After becoming somewhat lost under Harry Redknapp, the arrival of Chris Ramsey at QPR has been terrific for the winger Matt Phillips, for whom his one goal and four assists this season have all come in the last seven games.
The goal was of course this remarkable strike at Crystal Palace, and so a gamble on the former Blackpool man could come up trumps as QPR double up.
THE CAPTAIN: Charlie Austin – £6.4m (Away v West Brom, Away v Aston Villa)
We’re aware that this is a little QPR heavy now, and that isn’t anything you’ve wanted to be at any point this season, but surely if Rangers are to have any chance of staying up then they need to take something from their next two matches, and for that they need Charlie Austin to be in form.
The England hopeful will be the man trusted by many to deliver over his next 180 minutes of football, with the future of both his club and plenty of fantasy teams determined by just what happens in them.
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BEST #FPL BLOG AWARD Every so often there comes a time in each Fantasy Premier League season when not having a certain player in your team is akin to gross negligence. Everybody else in your mini-league has them, and so by not selecting these special players you’re simply leaving yourself no chance to make any […]
The business end of the season has already both approached and made its presence felt, and as if that wasn’t ramping up the pressure enough this Gameweek has an added element of complications about it.
Whilst some teams such as Tottenham and Swansea will go through Gameweek 33 without a fixture, others – five others to be exact – are playing twice.
For Arsenal, Manchester United, Everton, Fulham and West Ham a double Gameweek lies in store, and of those sides it is arguably the Champions League-chasing Gunners who offer the best chance for Fantasy points.
Home matches against Norwich and Everton over the next week will go a long way towards confirming whether or not Arsenal will finish in the top four come the end of this season, and two of Arsene Wenger’s men in particular could end up having a huge say in whether or not that becomes a reality.
Both Santi Cazorla (£10.0m) and Olivier Giroud (£7.6m) have impressed at various points over their first season in English football; the Spaniard no doubt more often that the Frenchman admittedly, although both can shine over the next few days.
Four of Cazorla’s last five Gunners league goals have come at the Emirates Stadium, whilst a staggering nine out of Giroud’s 10 Premier League goals this season have come on his home turf.
Both men clearly like their home comforts, and with these back-to-back matches in North London offering them the chance to further improve their records in front of their own fans, then the pair should really be backed to do well for both Arsene Wenger and for you too.
Elsewhere across a Gameweek which has been affected by the FA Cup semi-finals, Manchester United will be seeking to recover from their loss to rivals Manchester City with back-to-back games which could help them seal the title.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s men face tough contests though, firstly at a Stoke City side who are fighting for their lives at the bottom before a trip to West Ham in midweek.
With both matches looking to be on the tight, uncompromising side then it could pay to back United’s defensive players as opposed to their more famous attackers.
Goalkeeper David de Gea (£5.8m) had kept six clean sheets in a row prior to the City loss, whilst Rafael (£6.2m) completed 90 minutes for the first time in three games in the same fixture.
It could be a former United player who enjoys his double Gameweek a little more though.
Dimitar Berbatov (£7.3m) has scored five in his last five, and with the Bulgarian facing matches against a leaky Aston Villa defence and then a tired Chelsea he could just be the man to make the difference for Martin Jol’s men.
The forward has also scored four in his last four Craven Cottage appearances, and so it might be the Chelsea game which really sees him catch fire following Fulham’s visit to Villa Park.
Of the other clubs who are playing two matches this Gameweek, the return of Andy Carroll (£8.2m) to the West Ham side and of both Marouane Fellaini (£7.4m) and Steven Pienaar (£6.6m) at Everton should be noted, although the Blues’ other Belgian Kevin Mirallas (£6.8m) has been the man to watch following three goals in his last four games. Sadly he’s listed as a forward.
Elsewhere, Liverpool’s Luis Suarez (£11.2m) will be backed to cause damage to a frequently creaky Reading defence at the Madejski Stadium, whilst Newcastle’s Papiss Cisse (£8.8m) has rediscovered a scoring touch recently and will be looking to score for the fourth St James’s Park appearance running in Sunday’s Tyne-Wear derby against Paolo Di Canio’s Sunderland.
In midweek, Manchester City will hope to keep up their momentum following the win at Old Trafford, and Sergio Aguero (£10.9m) should start against Wigan following his Manchester derby heroics.
If he does, there could be more goals in the horizon.
Follow @FantasyYIRMA on twitter for updates and chat during the games. Shoot us your FPL questions and queries on twitter or in the comments below. Best of luck this GW!
Many thanks to @soccersaber for this great Guest Post. New on the twitter scene, take a second to follow @soccersaber and check out his #FPL site at www.soccersaber.wordpress.com well worth a visit!
If you would like to submit a guestpost contact Ryan at FantasyYIRMA@hotmail.com
GUEST POST: Fantasy Football: Forward Buying Guide PART 2
to read part 1 click here!
Rickie Lambert – I love Rickie Lambert. I have owned him longer than any forward besides Luis Suarez this year. I enjoy watching him play and am happy to finally see him at the highest level of English football. Lambert is a safe option, with solid but unspectacular shot numbers coupled with strong assist potential. He’s a great budget buy and a good fit for those who can’t stomach the risk of other options such as Lukaku and Giroud. Keep in mind though he is owned by a good amount of FPL teams and is most likely not a differential for those needing to gain. Rating: BUY for risk averse and those in solid league positions
Olivier Giroud – The potential here is through the roof based upon shot numbers. Giroud gets a ton of chances from close range and one would expect better goal numbers from the Frenchmen (check out that conversion percentage). Watching him play, it’s clear to see that he misses a bunch of clear-cut chances which must make owning him absolutely infuriating. Still though I’d much prefer the guy who gets chances versus the one who doesn’t, especially with such low ownership. Rating: SPECULATIVE BUY for those needing upside
Christian Benteke – That Belgian national team has some potential, eh? Benteke is an extremely gifted athlete and should be an exceptional player in time. However, he is very young and struggles with the nuances of the game from time-to-time (e.g., he is very prone to offsides). More importantly though are Benteke’s teammates. Aston Villa is not good. I have their attack rated above only Reading and Stoke. To put it bluntly, Villa do not generate chances and Benteke’s production is limited because of it. Rating: HOLD although I would much prefer Lukaku and Sturridge.
Arouna Kone – A bit surprising to some I suspect, but Kone is owned by no one and represents value and upside over the remaining options. He’s not as physically overpowering as Benteke, but he plays for a substantially more potent attack. You could make up substantial ground with Kone especially after GW29 when the fixture list improves. Rating: SPECULATIVE BUY if chasing
Steven Fletcher – Fletcher can score without a doubt and Sunderland’s attack has been much improved over the past ten weeks or so. However, they are still somewhat toothless and Fletcher’s relatively high ownership numbers limit his upside. Don’t see the logic in choosing Fletcher over Lambert as they are similar in scope but Lambert is better and cheaper. Rating: SELL
Papiss Cisse – I have included Cisse here as he has been a popular potential speculative buy on many message boards, especially since the transfers of Sissoko and Gouffran. As you can see, the table above should put that speculation to rest. Cisse simply doesn’t get on the end of enough attacks, even since the transfer window. While I think he has more upside than the numbers above suggest, his price and low assist potential make him a non-option for me. Rating: SELL
Dmitiar Berbatov – I was infatuated with Berbatov early in the season. However, Fulham’s attack has been impotent since the holidays and shows little signs of reviving. The numbers above, while poor, tell only half the tale; Berbatov has just four shots on target in his last six matches. Rating: SELL
Get yourself a Liverpool man (or two). If you are chasing the leaders grab yourself Mr. Lukaku and Mr. Giroud, or, if desperate, Mr. Kone. Don’t expect RVP to lead the world in fantasy points the remainder of the year, but keep your eye out for alternatives elsewhere in Manchester. If you are leading you could do a lot worse than bringing in Rickie Lambert. Whatever you do, don’t purchase Berbatov, Cisse, or Fletcher.
Hope you enjoyed this. I plan on providing similar evaluations periodically, although I hope most are much more succinct! As always, comments and criticisms are very welcomed.
Liverpool eventually delivered for Fantasy bosses on their Double Gameweek, but the absences of Luis Suarez, Steven Gerrard and Daniel Sturridge this time around will have those managers looking elsewhere.
Neither Liverpool nor Swansea are in action in Gameweek 27 following the Reds’ 5-0 win at Anfield last Sunday, and so without the Reds and the Swans to call upon then points will have to be picked up from other sources. It’s not the happiest of places right now, but maybe one of those sources will be the Emirates Stadium.
Defeats to Blackburn and Bayern Munich have left Arsenal in the grip of the usual ‘crisis’ they go through about seven times a season, but purely in Premier League terms they aren’t doing too badly.
Three wins and a draw from their last four matches have taken the Gunners to within four points of fourth-placed Tottenham, and with Spurs not playing until a tricky trip to West Ham on Monday night then Saturday’s visit of Aston Villa offers Arsene Wenger the chance to lighten both his own and the club’s mood.
Wenger should start with his compatriot Olivier Giroud (£8.0m) upfront, especially given that the French forward has scored five goals in his last five Premier League appearances at the Emirates.
The experiment of playing Theo Walcott (£9.5m) through the middle has produced good results, but Arsenal looked stronger when Giroud came on against Bayern in midweek and can make that strength tell against a notoriously weak Villa back line. If you’re a striker short given the non-appearances of Suarez and Sturridge, then he could be your man.
Elsewhere it’s top against bottom at Loftus Road, where it is simply impossible to ignore the claims of Robin van Persie (£14.0m) as your captaincy pick.
Manchester United’s mercurial Dutchman actually came down in price for the first time since October before United’s last league game against Everton, but he responded by registering a goal and an assist – a 19th and 10th of the campaign respectively – in his team’s 2-0 win. He was rested for his team’s FA Cup exertions on Monday night and so should be primed and ready to go for this visit to Queens Park Rangers.
As always with United it can be quite difficult to pick their midfield, but with an apparent injury to Phil Jones (£5.6m), then Sir Alex Ferguson could look to pair Michael Carrick (£5.8m) – who scored in this fixture last season and is United’s top points-scoring midfielder this time around – with Tom Cleverley (£5.6m, and the pair will be targeting points in what should be a routine victory.
There will be nothing routine about the big game of the weekend, as Manchester City host Chelsea at the Etihad Stadium.
There is an intriguing battle going on to see who will finish as City’s top points-scoring forward, and although he is bottom of the list at the moment the smart money should perhaps be on Sergio Aguero (£10.9m), who has started the last three league games whilst Carlos Tevez hasn’t played a minute of the last two.
Clean sheets might be hard to come by in that clash, but they could be seen in the opening game of the weekend at Craven Cottage.
Stoke have only scored once in their previous five away games, and against a Fulham defence marshalled by Brede Hangeland (£4.8m) they could find that record tough to improve.
The Norwegian centre-back was once a Fantasy favourite but he has seen ownership dwindle due to not yet scoring a goal this season. That could all change here.
Another player who hasn’t scored as often as he’d like this season is Papiss Cisse (£8.8m), but it might be worth keeping an eye on Newcastle’s Senegalese forward ahead of what looks a huge game against Southampton at St James’s Park.
A goal there could kick off a much-needed run of form for both him and his team, and perhaps provide you with that all important edge in the coming weeks.
Check out our new Club article – This week Fulham
There has only been one star in Manchester United’s and in 44.8% of Fantasy Premier League teams’ seasons.
Robin van Persie (£14.1m) has been the main man, the top goalscorer, the top points scorer, the man outshining all the others. He has looked indestructible. He even survived that attack from Ashley Williams at Swansea before Christmas.
The man eclipsed by the rise and rise of Van Persie’s star has been Wayne Rooney (£11.8m), as frequent injuries and frustrations have left him looking enviously at his team’s Dutch master and wondering just how he let a top billing that he used to own slip so easily into the former Arsenal man’s grasp. Just recently though, he’s been making hay whilst Van Persie was away.
Alright, they were in the FA Cup. And okay, he did hopelessly miss a penalty in the West Ham game, but Rooney has found the net in each of United’s last two matches at Old Trafford – matches that Van Persie was rested for – and so should be in a confident mood ahead of the visit of Southampton on Wednesday night.
The forward is itching to impress after scoring just seven Premier League goals this season, and he could just be the key to a strong ending to the season for both United and for your Fantasy team.
As the pressure cranks up, each and every win for United looks more and more important as they seek yet another title. Sir Alex Ferguson could find himself turning to the man who has been there and done it before in a bid to get over the line.
That bid could start on Wednesday.
Elsewhere during this midweek Gameweek – everyone loves a midweek Gameweek don’t they? – there will be tales of cup woe to be shared at the Emirates Stadium as Arsenal meet Liverpool.
Supporters of Bradford City and Oldham Athletic can watch that one with smug smiles on their faces, and one man that Liverpool will need to watch closely will be the Gunners forward Olivier Giroud (£7.8m), who could just shunt Theo Walcott (£9.4m) out to the right of midfield again following his excellent recent form.
There were also cup woes for Norwich and QPR at the weekend, and they don’t look like disappearing in the league as the duo host Tottenham and Manchester City respectively. Gareth Bale (£9.8m) and David Silva (£9.4m) look to be the men to watch.
Rafael Benitez takes his Chelsea team to Reading, and in amongst the usual suspects in his Blues side – although there’s no Eden Hazard here of course – it could also be worth looking at the visitors’ defence, particularly the Spanish right-back Cesar Azpilicueta (£5.7m) who has racked up four assists since becoming more of a regular in the Blues’ team in November. Against a Reading outfit who have been known to leak goals at home, he’ll be looking to get forward.
Everton should also be on the front foot in their match against a stuttering West Brom, and many bosses will be hoping that Marouane Fellaini (£7.7m) can return to scoring ways after failing to find the net since December 1st. Meanwhile, Nikica Jelavic (£8.0m) has lost support following just one goal in 12 games.
One man who is more used to hitting the back of the net recently is Aston Villa’s Christian Benteke (£6.5m), and with the Belgian forward providing one of very few rays of light amidst the doom and gloom surrounding his club this season, Villa will be looking to him to fire against a similarly out of form Newcastle United at Villa Park.
He can do just that, and ensure that whilst his star still isn’t as high as Van Persie’s or even Rooney’s, it will at least stay on the rise.
If a team is playing badly then can Fantasy bosses trust their players on a double Gameweek? We’re about to find out.
Sunderland have won just one of their last nine games, a run which has seen them slide down the table and now sit just one point and one place above the relegation zone.
It is hardly stellar form and they are results which have cast serious doubt of the future of boss Martin O’Neill, who will be desperate to pick up at least one positive result in the days ahead as his team face two very different challenges.
First up is Chelsea on Saturday, and with Rafael Benitez struggling to adapt to the very peculiar demands of the Stamford Bridge hotseat – in the Premier League at least – then the Black Cats are likely to fancy their chances ahead of that and their second game of the week against Reading on Tuesday.
Fantasy bosses who are playing the long game will have had Steven Fletcher (£7.2m) in mind for this Gameweek for as long as Sunderland’s game against the Royals was called off due to excessive rain in the north east in August – a common occurrence there – but with the Scot struggling with an ankle injury then it might pay to switch those sights to Stephane Sessegnon (£7.4m) now.
This season the Benin international might not have hit the heights that he regularly found during his last campaign when he registered seven goals and 12 assists, but there have been signs that he’s returning to form recently and whatever Sunderland do over their next 180 minutes is likely to heavily involve him.
Fletcher, Adam Johnson (£6.8m), Craig Gardner (£4.9m), Carlos Cuellar (£4.6m) and goalkeeper Simon Mignolet (£5.1m) are others to keep an eye during Sunderland’s heavy workload, but it is next Tuesday’s opponents Reading who might offer the greater value for your Fantasy cash.
A Saturday match at fellow strugglers Southampton is followed by that Sunderland meeting next week for Brian McDermott’s men, and with forward Adam Le Fondre (£4.9m) forcing himself to the front of Reading’s queue of forwards in recent weeks the 26-year-old could be seen as an inexpensive gamble.
Reading will fancy their chances of finding the net against their two red and white striped opponents, with Le Fondre, Jason Roberts (£4.5m), Jobi McAnuff (£5.1m) and Hal Robson-Kanu (£4.3m) all offering the chance of cheap thrills for your side. At the back, defender Sean Morrison (£4.0m) has come into the team in recent weeks and showed an eye for goal.
With neither of the teams involved in the double Gameweek looking particularly convincing, you might be tempted to look at the teams playing in the regulation one, with the biggest one of those coming at the Etihad Stadium.
The Manchester derby is probably even tougher to call than the usual big name Premier League tussles, but with Wayne Rooney (£11.7m) finally finding his goalscoring form at Reading last week then he’ll be one to watch. Sergio Aguero (£11.0m) started Manchester City’s last two games on the bench and so will surely be turned to from the beginning for the hosts.
In Sunday’s other matches it can’t have escaped Fantasy players’ notice that Tottenham are likely to be missing Gareth Bale for their trip to Everton whilst Luis Suarez (£10.5m) is banned for Liverpool’s visit to West Ham, a state of affairs which could see midfielder Jonjo Shelvey (£5.2m) start upfront and Jose Enrique (£6.0m) pushed up to the left wing again.
A day earlier and up in North London, Arsenal will want to emerge from their latest crisis at home to West Brom and can do if forward Olivier Giroud (£8.5m) is handed a start.
The Frenchman had scored three goals in his previous two home games before being left on the bench for last weekend’s loss to Swansea – Michu is now up to £7.8m ahead of their game at home to Norwich by the way – and if Arsene Wenger turns to his summer signing then he could find that his team gain a bit of luck in front of goal.
Luck which should be on everyone’s wish list this weekend and beyond.
The final 17 minutes of Arsenal’s outclassing of Southampton on Saturday said an awful lot about both clubs at the beginning of this Premier League season.
For the Saints, a team battered and bruised by the late, almost heroic defeats to both Manchester clubs and given a stark warning of the quality throughout the division when Wigan won convincingly at St Mary’s, it was all about just getting to full-time without experiencing any more damage on what had already been a harrowing afternoon.
In the event, they ended up conceding a sixth goal to their former favourite Theo Walcott two minutes from time, but the lack of celebrations from the winger after biting the hand that used to feed him were repeated all around the Emirates Stadium. The locals were desperate for Olivier Giroud to score.
That desire and anxiousness wasn’t a slight on the abilities of a forward who scored 21 goals in helping Montpellier to win the French title last season, but more a reflection of Gunners fans in recent times.
The £12million Giroud hadn’t scored in his first three appearances for the club, he didn’t find the net in his 17 minutes on the pitch against Southampton and followed that up with a goalless 76 minutes back at his former club in the Champions League on Tuesday night. Cue red and white panic.
If an Arsenal fan hasn’t got something to worry about, then he or she must be doing something wrong.
It isn’t their fault, it has been ingrained in supporters ever since summer-long transfer sagas surrounding the likes of Patrick Vieira, Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri and now Robin van Persie, all of which were destined to end with the player escaping the club in the same manner that Usain Bolt accelerates away from his rivals.
After the inevitable parting of the ways became official whoever was left, particularly those who were viewed as replacements, simply had to hit the ground running. Supporters already felt let down by former heroes, and so they didn’t want to see mediocre performers enter in their place.
The longing for Giroud to be a success will go on, but fans should be mindful not to freak out too much as they hope for every touch from the new man to end in the back of the net. They should simply take stock, take a deep breath and take a look at the talents elsewhere.
The other two new additions illustrate this perfectly, and as long as Lukas Podolski and Santi Cazorla keep on impressing to the levels that they have been so far then maybe even the Arsenal fans who are thinning on top wouldn’t mind losing the hairs they’ll tear out of their head whilst worrying about Giroud. And they will still worry.
Podolski, Cazorla, a seemingly reborn Gervinho, Mikel Arteta, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Tomas Rosicky, Abou Diaby Aaron Ramsey, Walcott for now, and potentially even Jack Wilshere one day, maybe. All of whom add up to a potent attacking force before you even consider a French international forward who could very easily turn out to be a roaring success. Throw them in alongside a now much tighter defence and suddenly Gunners fans have every reason to be rather content with life right now, if they allow themselves to be.
The Giroud side issue will be solved soon enough – the forward is too good a player for it not to be – and when it is then Arsenal fans might be best advised to avoid finding something else to worry about, to just to play it cool, to keep calm and carry on.
They have the good fortune to follow a very good team which will only improve the more that its shiny new components are allowed to click together.
It’s getting there, so just try to sit tight and let it happen.