#FPL GW27 Review
Many thanks as always to @shots_on_target for his weekly wrap up of the Premier League games.
Check out his website at www.shotsontarget.com for some great #FPL insight!
What a performance by Gareth Bale in a very buoyant encounter at Upton Park. There’s not more much to say about Bale so I’ll move right on and mention Andy Carroll and Joe Cole. Nolan’s injury could prove a blow for the Hammers if it’s serious but this may afford Cole a more prominent role. He’s not £0.0m by the way, he’s £5.6m.
These two teams have both been great sources of fantasy players this season, and should continue to be so. With Ba gone, Sissoko and Cisse are providing the goals and Gouffran is one to watch too. Cabaye, on pens and free-kicks, will pick up points although Sissoko’s (rapidly rising) price tag and advanced role behind the striker make him this team’s highlight. In a FPL season dominated by midfielders Ritchie Lambert is this season’s third highest scoring forward, behind only RVP and Suarez. Not bad. Puncheon’s 2nd benching in the last 4 games throws a spanner in the works for a fair few managers; both were away games though so perhaps a tactical move and ,if so, maybe not too worrying ahead of 4 home games in the next 6 for. Maybe.
Berbatov was a dim glimmer of light in this match, Fulham unable to really threaten much against a Stoke side willing to let them try. Riise and Riether took advantage of the space to push up down the flanks and get involved in the attack, the latter getting the assist. Let’s move on.
A tight game without any real top draw attacking play to shout about – perhaps the highlight was Moyes’ fury at the final whistle. Norwich have been a legitimate threat from set-pieces all season which makes Snodgrass a very sound option for your FPL team, with Bassong and Holt the two players who tend to get on the end of things. Everton really didn’t get much going, too often failing to find players in the box. They need a good win against Oldham in the Cup and then Reading to keep up momentum into the run-in.
Top notch performance from Wigan, excelling not only in attack but defensively too, with the return of Boyce from injury and late introduction of season-long absentee Alcarez. Kone scored his 8th goal of the season in which he has missed about a fifth of. I would not be surprised to see him score another 5 or 6 before the end of the season with some nice fixtures over the horizon.
The early withdrawal of Van Persie will be a keen talking point for fantasy managers through this week ahead of a plum home game against Norwich which comes a few days before the Real Madrid game. In RVP’s absence it could well be Nani who fills the gap. Recently urged in the press by Sir Alex to show consistency this might be just the type of “media-message” Nani needs to prove his worth at a top club. QPR hardly troubled United at all but they will be pleased to get Remy back in action.
All hail Lukaku, right? Although Sunderland have earnt a tag as a defensive team over the last few seasons they don’t travel well at all so it’s no surprise that West Brom created plenty of chances, and even less of a surprise that these chances mostly fell and were put away by Lukaku, who just seems to be getting better through the season. Sessegnon had one of his best games yet this campaign and Sunderland’s attacking form has been gradually improving.
If United weren’t so far ahead in the league this dominant performance could have been regarded as City reaffirming their title challenge. Mancini has had a strange strategy this season of starting matches with a block of 5 in a deep midfield line, with the 2 fullbacks lining up with 3 center mids, this week in Milner, Rodwell and Garcia. Only when Tevez emerged did City have enough creative force to break Chelsea down, Silva and Toure showing their class. Check out Talk of the Crowd’s awesome tactical analysis of how the introduction of Tevez changed the game.
A lot was expected of Arsenal ahead of this one after their now almost customary March cup exits. Though they got the win and had a host of chances they left it late. Santi Cazorla has gone slightly under the radar but has now scored 11 goals this season, the same as Walcott although in significantly more minutes. Walcott and Giroud had their fair share of chances too. Villa, unsurprisingly, did not create much although N’Zogbia is ever so slightly blinking on the fantasy radar.
GW26 Bonus Points
So after all 11 fixtures scheduled for GW26 the completed batch of bonus points have been released.
Bale and Michu will be popular choices for 3 bonus points this week. RVP gets the 3 point award for today’s game against Everton also and this will no doubt be good news to the huge 40% + ownership who own the Dutchman. After consecutive gameweeks without a goal RVP returned to normality this afternoon with a goal and an assist.
Benteke with a goal and 2 BP’s is certainly building on his growing reputation and for Chelsea, Eden Hazard returned from suspension with a Goal, assist and 3 bonus points to round off a great performance.
Davis and Lambert both benefited from Southampton’s fantastic victory against City yesterday also.
As per usual, we would like to hear from you… Who got bonus points that shouldn’t have??
Already there have been grumbles heard about how Ramsey ended up with 3BP’s and Cazorla ?? Do you agree/Disagree.
Drop a comment below and let us know your thoughts.
With Liverpool still to play twice and West Brom and Swansea in action also, GW26 is shaping up to provide some big #FPL scores. How is your team doing so far – tweet us your scores @FantasyYIRMA
FantasyYIRMA.com established in 2012, is a niche Fantasy Football site focused on providing news, views and insight for the English Premier League. Solid gameweek articles and Club features in addition to a top ranked free to play mini-league makes #FY a must read Fantasy source! Find us on twitter @FantasyYIRMA
Tottenham 2-1 Newcastle
Chelsea 4-1 Wigan
Norwich 0-0 Fulham
Stoke 2-1 Reading
Sunderland 0-1 Arsenal
Swansea 4-1 QPR
Southampton 3-1 Manchester City
Aston Villa 2-1 West Ham
Manchester United 2-0 Everton
3 Van Persie
Liverpool 0-2 West Brom
Liverpool 5-0 Swansea
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Many thanks to the team from @FourFourTweet for submitting this great review of the January Transfer Window
Guest Post by
Premier League clubs contemplate future as January Transfer Window concludes.
Deadline day has been and gone with plenty of deals that will impact clubs seasons across the Premier League.
The toughest time to chop and change your squad is in January but many Premier League mangers use this window to bring in extra depth to depleted squads and to find that hidden bargain that can change a season’s fortune. Plenty of teams have been busy over the last couple of weeks and here is the summary of the key ins and outs at every Premier League side.
Current League Position 6th
Arsenal failed to bring in more than one senior player despite persistent links with Barcelona striker David Villa. Nacho Monreal was added late on in the window to provide significant quality at the LB position. Arsenal fans have been crying out for several new signings that will help lift the gunners into the champions league places. Arsene Wenger’s reluctance to spend significantly signals a very frustrating end to the January transfer window.
They needed a couple of quality players and to ship out the dead wood from years ago, Monreal is a nice pick up and should adapt to the Premier League well.
Players IN: Nacho Monreal (10m)
Players OUT: Johan Djourou (Loan), Marouane Chamakh (Loan), Chuks Aneke (Loan), Emmanuel Frimpong (Loan)
Current League Position 19th
Villa failed to strengthen an inexperienced squad with only one senior signing through Ligue 2 forward Sylla. It is tough to see the Villa staying up with such little experience throughout the spine of the squad. Premier League experience was a must as other relegation candidates spend the cash in a bid to stay up
Failed to address the need for experienced players which could cost them their place in the Premier League. Defensive and Midfield quality was a must but instead an unproven Frenchman fits the bill.
Players IN: Yacouba Sylla (2m) Simon Dawkins (Loan)
Players OUT: Stephen Warnock
Current League Position 3rd
The signing of Demba Ba from Newcastle United was the main signing for the European champions who replace outgoing Daniel Sturridge. Ba proved to be a hit on Tyneside and the talented Senegalese international will be looking to compete with out of sorts Fernando Torres for a regular spot in the Chelsea line up.
With Benitez only seen as ‘Interim’ manager, there wasn’t much surprise that the blues didn’t bring in more players to complement their squad.
Players IN: Demba Ba (7m)
Players OUT: Lucas Piazon (Loan), Sam Walker (Loan) Billy Clifford (Loan) Todd Kane (Loan) Daniel Sturridge 12m, Patrick Bamford (Loan)
Current League Position 5th
The toffees took the approach of if it’s not broke don’t fix it. They managed to keep hold of key players Baines and Fellaini which will be vital in their push for a European campaign next season. There only addition of the window was young Barnsley defender Stones, who they pipped Wigan Athletic for his signature – one for the future.
Quiet window for Everton, which will suit David Moyes down to the ground by keeping his core together.
Players IN: John Stones (£3m)
Players OUT: Ross Barkley (Loan) Anton Forrester, Magaye Gueye (Loan)
Current League Position 12th
The oldest average aged squad in the league have added younger talents to their side through Frimpong and Emanuelson both on loan. The former Ajax prodigy adds significant experience alongside the midfield powerhouse that is Frimpong. Emanuelson had a OK time in Milan and will be hoping this loan move reignites his career with Fulham. Manolev will offer international experience and is a solid pick up from Holland.
Like there two midfield signings in particular and will help bolster the ageing midfield.
Players IN: Chris David , Emmanuel Frimpong (Loan) , Urby Emanuelson (Loan) , Stanislav Manolev (Loan) , Eyong Enoh [loan from Ajax]
Players OUT: David Stockdale (Loan) Stephen Kelly (Loan), Richard Peniket [loan to AFC Telford]
Current League Position 7th
Liverpool splashed the cash for another transfer window with a double swoop of Sturridge and Coutinho. Two quality signings with real technical skill that will be on show for years to come at Anfield. The two young players are the only real business the Reds side have completed despite reported links that Tom Ince was due a return to the club.
Spent a lot of money again so it will be interesting to see if it is money well spent, face value looks good.
Players IN: Daniel Sturridge (£12m), Philippe Coutinho (£8m)
Players OUT: Danny Wilson (Loan), Nuri Sahin , Joe Cole , Adam Morgan (Loan) , Alexander Doni, Michael Ngoo (Loan)
Current League Position 2nd
With no real additions to the Man City squad it is difficult to see City really giving Man Utd something to think about in the final few months of the season. The sale of Mario Balotelli to AC Milan has been met with split views as the hot headed Italian has undeniable talent but an attitude that offers anything from bizarre to crazy just wouldn’t cut it any longer.
Relatively quiet month for the club, splashing the cash on a new striker should have been the main focus for the champions to provide significant competition for Tevez, Aguero and Dzeko.
Players IN: Godsway Donyoh
Players OUT: Mario Balotelli (19m) Alex Nimely (Loan) Godsway Donyoh (Loan) Jeremy Helan (Loan) Reece Wabara (Loan)
Current League Position 1st
The Red Devils sign and loan back Wilfried Zaha to Crystal Palace after beating many top flight clubs for the England internationals signature. The technical winger will become an instant hit at Old Trafford next season with the basis to learn from one of the best managers in the game, the potential is there for Zaha to become a real hit in the North West.
Would of liked to of seen a centre midfielder come in to strengthen the squad however the signing of Zaha will prove to be a gamble worth taking.
Players IN: Wilfried Zaha (£15m)
Players OUT: Davide Petrucci (Loan) Scott Wootton (Loan) Robbie Brady, Angelo Henriquez (Loan) Josh King , Luke McCullough (Loan) Wilfried Zaha (Loan) Federico Macheda (Loan)
Current League Position 15th
Alan Pardew brought in five senior signings from Ligue 1 which has prompted the call of a French revolution. The signings of Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa and Moussa Sissoko will be key as both have international pedigree that will emulate the North East club in the coming months. The first French signing of the window was Debuchy from Lille who is well known to be good friends with Yohan Cabaye. A successful window for the magpies as they conclude their business early on.
Strengthened squad with real quality players in key areas of the pitch. The bargain of Moussa Sissoko will be the January signing of the window for the Toon – great signing.
Players IN: Mathieu Debuchy (5m) Kevin Mbabu, Moussa Sissoko, Massadio Haidara, Yoan Gouffran , Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa (6.7m)
Players OUT: Demba Ba (7m) Conor Newton (Loan) Xisco, Mehdi Abeid (Loan) Bradden Inman (Loan)
Current League Position 14th
Norwich head back to Leeds for another signing with Luciano Becchio the latest export from Elland Road. The Argentine scored a lot of goals in the championship and will prove to be a steady signing for the canaries in an effort to avoid the drop zone.
Like the Becchio signing and will be interesting to see how he fairs against top class defenders. Steady Window
Players IN: Luciano Becchio, Kei Kamara (Loan)
Players OUT: Jacob Butterfield (Loan) Elliott Ward (Loan), Steve Morison, Declan Rudd (Loan), Tom Adeyemi (Loan)
Current League Position 20th
Rangers add defensive steel through the signing of Chris Samba from money bags Anzhi Makhachkala. The powerful Congo international will prove to be a fantastic purchase in QPR’s bid to avoid relegation. The signing of Samba was prompted due to the retirement of Ryan Nelsen who takes up management with MLS side Toronto FC. Loic Remy swapped the south of France for West London in an £8m move that will provide a genuine goal threat in firing the hoops to safety.
Added much needed defensive help which was key to QPR’s transfer window and the experienced Samba will prove to be vital in both penalty areas as the London club attempt to stay up
Players IN: Loic Remy (8m) Tal Ben Haim, Christopher Samba (12.5) Yun Suk-young, Jermaine Jenas, Andros Townsend (Loan)
Players OUT: Djibril Cisse (Loan) Frankie Sutherland (Loan) Michael Harriman (Loan) Alejandro Faurlin [loan to Palermo], Michael Doughty (Loan) Anton Ferdinand (Loan) Jordan Gibbons (Loan) Rob Hulse (Loan)
Current League Position 17th
The Royals lie in a delicate position in the table and this has led the club to bring in four players to their first team squad. Reading looked to the lower leagues for the majority of their signings by securing Akpan and Blackman from Crawley and Sheff United respectively. Kelly will add great depth and experience throughout the Reading ranks.
Some decent business in this window for the club, still remain to see whether it is will be enough come May.
Players IN: Daniel Carrico , Stephen Kelly . Hope Akpan , Nick Blackman
Players OUT: Gozie Ugwu (Loan) Dominic Samuel (Loan) Jordan Obita (Loan) Michael Hector (Loan)
Current League Position 16th
The Saints brought in only one player to help strengthen the defence during the window. Vegard Forren was a man in high demand with Liverpool closely watching the former Molde man. After the departure of Nigel Adkins earlier in the window, it was expected that Pochettino would bring in some of his own players.
Expected the new Saints manager to bring in a couple of players but failed dramatically. Will be interesting to see if they have enough in the second part of the season.
Players IN: Vegard Forren
Current League Position 10th
The Potters didn’t have too much business to do during January, however the deadline day signing of Birmingham City’s goalkeeper Jack Butland will be a shrewd move. The England international has been in hot demand from the majority of Premier League sides and it was confirmed that he turned down Chelsea. USA international Shea will provide competition down the left hand side of the pitch as the MLS product will look to make his mark.
Solid bit of business as Butland will become an International regular for years to come.
Players IN: Jack Butland (3.5m) Brek Shea (2.5m)
Players OUT: Michael Tonge, Danny Higginbotham, Rory Delap (Loan) Ryan Brunt, Jack Butland (Loan) Matthew Upson (Loan)
Current League Position 11th
The Black Cats had a three in three out policy this window with Danny Graham headlining the Sunderland imports. The goal scorer was desperate for a move back to the north east and the signing may highlight a need to help Steven Fletcher out in the goal scoring department.
Graham will be a good signing and N’Diaye will provide a dominace in midfield that is much needed for the club.
Players IN: Kader Mangane (Loan) Alfred N’Diaye, Danny Graham (5m)
Players OUT: Blair Adams, David Meyler (1.5) Ahmed Elmohamady (Loan) Jonny Maddison (Loan) Fraizer Campbell (600k)
Current League Position 8th
Swansea City did not bring any players in during the January window however they decided to sell Danny Graham to Sunderland for £5m. Michu still leads the line for the Swans and this was important for Swansea to keep hold of their talisman going into the final months of the season.
They have allowed fringe players, to leave, so no major cause for concern. The Swans just need to keep Michu, injury free, however, the Home fans I am sure would have been hopeful to see an attacking addition to replace Graham and keep Michu company.
Players IN: N/A
Players OUT: Jamie Proctor, Danny Graham (5m) Curtis Obeng (Loan) Leroy Lita (Loan), Ashley Richards (Loan), Gwion Edwards (Loan)
Current League Position 4th
AVB beat off competition from many top clubs across the continent by signing German international Lewis Holtby from Schalke 04. English speaking Holtby will offer craft and guile which will provide an added dimension for a loaded squad of attacking talent. A quiet month for Spurs despite their persistent approach for Leandro Damiao that inevitably proved inconclusive in a bizarre transfer saga.
Love the Holtby signing but another striker to keep Defoe and Adebayor on their toes would have made it a fantastic window.
Players IN: Lewis Holtby (1.5m) Zeki Fryers (3m)
Players OUT: Heurelho Gomes (Loan) Alex Pritchard (Loan) Jermaine Jenas , Andros Townsend (Loan) , Tomislav Gomelt (Loan) Simon Dawkins (Loan) , Ryan Mason (Loan)
Current League Position 9th
Very quiet window for West Brom as they held off late interest for want away striker Peter Odemwingie. Sitting steady in mid table, the baggies will look to bolster their squad in the summer.
Sold Chris Wood to Leicester but there wasn’t much need to buy after a good start to the season.
Players IN: Roland Lamah (Loan)
Players OUT: Sam Mantom, Gonzalo Jara, Chris Wood (1m) Dawson (Loan)
Current League Position 13th
The Hammers made a couple of signings throughout January and took to the loan market to bolster their squad. West Ham brought Joe Cole back to the club where he made his name. Cole has had a stellar career and the chance to return back to Upton Park proved too much to turn down. Big tackler Pogatetz on loan from Hannover will be a welcome addition to an injury hit defence.
Steady if unspectacular business from West Ham, shouldn’t add too much quality to their squad. Cole will be a welcomed signing amongst fans.
Players IN: Wellington Paulista (Loan) Marouane Chamakh (Loan) Joe Cole, Sean Maguire
Players OUT: Alou Diarra (Loan) , Stephen Henderson (Loan)
Current League Position 18th
A busy month for Wigan who brought back Paul Scharner on loan from German side Hamburg. The second spell at the DW stadium will prove to be an astute piece of business as they bring in defensive cover for an injury prone defence. The signing of Honduran winger Roger Espinoza from MLS side Sporting Kansas will be a very clever move as a need as he will provide an immediate impact for Roberto Martinez’s side.
Small but important business for Wigan who only tinker with their squad over January, add defensive depth which is essential for staying in the division
Players IN: Angelo Henriquez (Loan), Roger Espinoza (Free), Joel Robles (Loan), Paul Scharner (Loan)
Players OUT: Mauro Boselli (Loan) Rob Kiernan (Loan)
Don’t forget to check out the official FantasyYIRMA preview also available now “GW25 Gareth Bale to sting the Hawthorns”
Many thanks to
@JonnyGrossmark for providing this excellent guest post. If you are not following him on Twitter already – get on it!
As always, Guest posts are welcome on the FantasyYirma page. If you have an idea for a new article or would like to promote a recent piece contact Ryan at fantasyYirma@hotmail.com for more information.
Part 1 of this series is available here
Part 2 of this series is available here
Relegation Threatened Teams “FightBack” Analysis
Looking at the relegation battle we see that Norwich have had an excellent season as they have consolidated on last season. I wonder if they will consolidate further next season or will they be seen to have over achieved this season.
The limitation of football models is that last season predictive models around the country gave Wigan a 81% probability of going down but they stayed up. I have not read any explanation of how they raised their game for the last few months against tough and motivated teams.
I believe that Reading (1.2) and QPR(1.58) will be relegated but the third relegation spot will be contested between Wigan (2.92), Southampton (2.3) and Aston Villa (2.90) and it could be a battle till the final whistle of the last game of the season. I personally would have Wigan as my choice as I cannot explain how they avoided relegation last season and nothing to indicate that they can avoid the trap door again.
In conclusion I leave with the thought that apart from shot strength, all the other data is available, but the problem is interpretation of the data as Newcastle season ticket holders may find they will be looking up road maps of Blackpool in the not too distant future. As a a writer of football articles I now realise that quoting figures that people cannot quantify does not help to broaden the appeal of raw data so in this article I have attempted a more user friendly approach and I hope it has worked.
Lastly here are a few graphs to show how consistently teams have faired in terms of their positions in the Premier League since 2008/09:
Guest Post from SuperGrover at www.shotsontarget.co.uk a fantastic site for insight and analysis into the Fantasy Premier League!
FantasyYirma are pleased to feature this Mid-Season Review PART 3 and the conclusion to his ongoing mini-series.
Don’t forget to drop your comments below and thanks again to www.shotsontarget.co.uk
If you would like to submit a guest post for the site, contact Ryan at firstname.lastname@example.org
Prediction: Jol struggles to find offensive identity all season. The Berbatov honeymoon ends as his work rate becomes a real problem while Fulham fights relegation. In the end, they manage to stave off relegation but aren’t completely comfortable until game week 37.
Fun Fact: Steven Fletcher scored 5 goals on his first 5 shots on target this season. He has scored 3 in his last 13.
Prediction: Martin O’Neil’s tactical changes results in more goals on both sides, but allows Sunderland to remain in the premier league another season.
I have to admit, I enjoy Rickie Lambert. He’s not the most gifted player and will never be more than he is, but he understands the game and he understands how to score. I have been rooting for the Saints and Lambert ever since locking onto the striker as a preseason budget option. I couldn’t be more pleased with the results.
It was presumed that Southampton started the season poorly, but much of that was due to a difficult run of fixtures that saw defeats to Man City, Man United, Arsenal and Everton in the first 6 games. Since then, Southampton are 4-7-5, accumulating 20 points in just 16 weeks. Interestingly, the underlying statistics indicated they weren’t as bad as thought all along. Further, the introduction of Jack Cork in week 11 seemed to correspond to a change in tactics. The defense was much more organized and the attack more cautious, taking chances when available but not stringing out to do so. Luke Shaw’s emergence and a more settled central pairing also helped. The results can be seen in the six week form that shows the Saints as a poor attack but stingy defensively.
Fun Fact: Rickie Lambert has created the 2nd most chances among all forwards with 45.
Prediction: The recent form is no fluke and the Saints stay clear of relegation. Rickie Lambert scores 15 goals and Luke Shaw is hailed as the next Garreth Bale.
Fun Fact: Newcastle’s midfielders have taken 118 shots, but only 34 in the box. By comparison, Liverpool’s mids have 164 but 83 in the box.
Prediction: Newcastle improve somewhat as injuries subside, but problems remain. The relegation fight goes until the very last few games of the season with a goal here or there being the difference.
Prediction: The fixtures ease up a bit, but Wigan’s record improves little. A clear relegation candidate heading into the last fortnight of the season.
Aston Villa are not a good team. The results on the field have been poor and the underlying statistics not much better. They have struggled to generate and stop shots and the resulting goals conceded should be expected.
The caveat is that Villa’s goal differential is an aberration to some extent. While they have been poor, they haven’t been 6 goals worse than everyone else. Further, unlike some other bottom dwellers they have registered a few points against some of the better teams in the league, winning at Anfield, drawing with Arsenal and taking 4 points from their meetings with Swansea. Nonetheless, this is a bad team that needs to improve quickly or face relegation.
Fun Fact: Christian Benteke has scored or assisted on 76.9% of all Villa’s goals this season, easily the highest of all players with at least 1000 minutes played.
Prediction: Benteke continues to dominate, but Villa don’t have enough to back him up. Without a turn around, Villa get demoted.
Reading are the worst team in the league and it’s not all that close. Offensively, Reading have been among a group of poor offensive teams at the bottom of the table, scoring occasionally but never generating an consistent attack. Defensively, Reading are atrocious, allowing more shots, shots in the box, shots on target, and goals than any other team in the league. They have been poor, and lucky to have the points they do. This is a team with little upside and little chance of finishing out of the relegation zone.
Fun Fact: Pavel Pogrebnyak has scored on 27.8% of all shots, 7% better than Mr. Van Persie himself. Unfortunately, the Russian has just 18 shots all season.
Prediction: Reading’s fate is sealed before the month of May.
Harry’s next big thing still reside at the bottom of the table 5 points away from safety. It seems assured the Rangers will be demoted, right? Not so fast.
GW22 The Review by @shots_on_target
Check out www.shotsontarget.co.uk for more great articles!
Those folks who played their wildcard for a Chelsea player or two were well rewarded here, particularly with 3 assists from Juan Mata. Two of his assists were for Walter’s own goals so don’t count as key passes in the data but there’s no denying his ability to produce. He’s made a habit all season long of playing the key pass or scoring from a limited number of chances. It’s a sign of real quality. Stoke managed to put in an average performance against Chelsea but all in all this was a performance of real quality from the Billionaire’s Club (no?).
So little adventure from a home side but they came away with a point. If this performance sums up QPR’s mentality against superior teams then some more clean sheets may be on the cards. Tottenham’s ratio of shots in the box to those outside tells the same story as the Chelsea-QPR game did last week – QPR can defend like their Premier League depends on it, and it probably does. Bale is at least the equal or perhaps more of a threat in this team than the more orthodox strikers Defoe and Adebayor which serves to underline his value as a truly elite fantasy player. First game in the Premier League this season too where I think a team has not made any substitutes.
A rather “average” in game in terms of the stats but there are a few important things to take away. First of all, breaking news…. Van Persie is sweet fantasy gold. The rest of United’s team is quite unusually well off the radar. If anyone one emerges from RVP’s shadow be sure to get a quick look in. And talking of shadows, this performance from Sturridge may serve to at least obscure Suarez’s flame as Liverpools prima donna attacking force. Equivalent shots and chance created, twice as many shots in the box and his team;s only goal promotes Sturridge up in my rankings to very interesting indeed.
Swansea’s performances in games like this really showcases the tactical subtleties of Premier League football. Not for the first time Laudrup’s team have shown that, when they want to, they can defend against the best attacking teams in the league. Everton too, and unfortunately for their supporters fans, also demonstrated that when it comes to breaking down a team they have not reached the dizzying heights of attacking, creative football, no matter how taller Fellaini’s hair gets. The Belgian remained amongst the Toffee’s chief threats though, as well as the off-target Jelavic and the overlooked Anichebe.
The highlight from this game (and yes there was one) was Cisse’s low overall share of the visitor’s opportunities. I expected that, in Ba’s absence, and given the role reversal between the two last season as Newcastle’s point striker, and his compatriot’s absence that Pappis Cisse would profit from a significantly increased share of shooting chances. Not so, at least from this game, albeit a tricky away game and not one from which to form firm conclusion.
It’s always difficult to assess a game where a player is sent off so early. Arsenal managed an average league performance against City, as indicated by the yellow arrows, which is not bad with ten men you’d have to say. However, I’m not convinced. Giroud has their most shots as a sub in the last third of the game when the game situation is different anyway, moreso with Kompany’s sending off. City only managing 3 SoT though raises a few eyebrows, although the overall stats do not suggest Arsenal were unfortunate not to concede two after they went a man down.
Sunderland score three goals, and probably just about deserved all three too. West Ham have made a habit this season of conceding shots but only conceding them outside their box, outside the danger area. Here, Sunderland got their chances in the box and it’s from these they had most of their chances. McClean may be set for a resurgence in form which see’s him register the kind of interest that he did this time last season. Maybe he likes his Mam’s Christmas dinners.
Puncheon is a constant threat for Southampton and has all but assured himself a place in the team with the unfortunate injury to Lallana. Lambert of course scored the goal and despite a decent price rise ahead of the Double GW still represents good value. If Villa are going to score then you’d think Benteke has to be involved.. but how many will they score?
Personal story – I was at home quietly congratulating myself on backing West Brom’s goalie Foster for a Clean Sheet in my team when #BOOM# from 0-2 to 3-2 in no time at all. Whereas Reading’s shots where spread incredibly uniformly amongst their players the Baggie’s played everything through the enigmatic Lukaku who’s now scored 9 goals in 947 minutes, that’s essentially a goal per game.
Several weeks ago I was of the opinion that Fulham were a decent attacking team, one that ultimately may struggle to pick the lock of an out and out defensive team, a la Stoke, but still a team that were prepared to take the game to the opposition, to create chances, and to score goals. Wigan are exactly the type of team against which I’d expect Fulham to flourish, not necessarily win, but create chances, and score goals. Even an early goal in this game could not give Fulham a platform to push on. Wigan’s form over the last 4 has seen them make an improvement on their early season performances and Di Santo built on a run of games back in the team with a top game, admittedly though in the absence of Arouna Kone.
Chelsea 2 – 2 Southampton – Report to follow.
There is an odd couple at the helm at Reading.
It’s not Russian owner Anton Zingarevich and his rather delightful wife Katsia – a Victoria’s Secret supermodel who, purely for the sake of adding colour to this article, I’ll let you go and do a quick Google Images search for now.
Anyway, the odd couple isn’t Zingarevich – an heir to a multi-billion fortune – and his lovely lady wife, but rather the Reading owner and his manager Brian McDermott. One doesn’t seem to quite fit with the other.
When Zingarevich formally purchased Reading from Sir John Madejski last May, the usual fallout from a foreign takeover could have been expected by many, yet there haven’t been behind the scenes rows, pleas for more money or angry fans demanding investment. The manager has even stayed the same.
McDermott impressively led Reading to the Championship title last season, and yet whilst the owners of the previous title winners Queens Park Rangers have dismissed two managers since they returned to the top flight, the Royals boss is still standing. He’s above QPR in the table too.
Admittedly that is the only Premier League club that McDermott and Reading find themselves above at the moment, but after three wins from their last six Premier League home games and the brilliant comeback to beat West Bromwich Albion last weekend they have at least got a decent platform to build on.
Zingarevich has helped pay for some decent players too, but by and large McDermott has been allowed to approach the task of staying up with last year’s squad left intact.
In Pavel Pogrebnyak they have a forward who adds a dash of stardust to a group of players still largely drawn from the lower leagues – and a dash that certainly bears the influence and cash of Zingarevich – but arguably the most impressive striking performances for the Royals this season have come from the likes of Adam Le Fondre, Jason Roberts and Noel Hunt, all of whom were around when the club won promotion under their popular manager.
Signing the likes of Adrian Mariappa, Chris Gunter, Garath McCleary and Danny Guthrie might not have made the headlines in the same way that signings made by clubs in similar situations have, but all have fleshed out the squad and given it a fighting chance to stay in the top flight.
Admittedly there have been times when they have look out of their depth this season, but instead of that causing a mistrust of the ability of the manager or the capability of the owner instead it seems to have forged a closer bond within the club. The final eight minutes against West Brom last Saturday were amongst the most important of the season for anyone.
A match at a struggling Newcastle this weekend offers McDermott’s men the chance to both record a first away league victory of the season and to drag another team down towards the relegation mire with them, and you can be certain that Reading’s manager, owner and supporters will be desperate for a positive result – particularly as they are coming up against Alan Pardew, a man who once sat in the Madejski Stadium hotseat whilst McDermott worked in the background.
The same can be said of another high profile Premier League manager in the form of Liverpool’s Brendan Rodgers, and whilst McDermott will have one day called those men ‘boss’ he can now look them in the eye as a contemporary. That Zingarevich has allowed him to do so says a lot about the character of both.
It would have been easy for the Russian owner to dismiss with the manager and look to attract a big name boss – with Reading’s close proximity to London no doubt making it an attractive possibility – but he stuck to his guns and has given McDermott his shot at the top flight.
There is still an awful lot of work to do to ensure that such faith will be rewarded, but you get the sense that Zingarevich goes to bed at night knowing that he’s made the right choice.
And not just with who he married.
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Where do you think Reading will finish? Drop a comment below…
|15 Dec 12:45||Newcastle||1 – 3||Man City|
|15 Dec 15:00||Liverpool||1 – 3||Aston Villa|
|15 Dec 15:00||Man Utd||3 – 1||Sunderland|
|15 Dec 15:00||Norwich||2 – 1||Wigan|
|15 Dec 15:00||QPR||2 – 1||Fulham|
|15 Dec 15:00||Stoke City||1 – 1||Everton|
|16 Dec 13:30||Tottenham||1 – 0||Swansea|
|16 Dec 16:00||West Brom||0 – 0||West Ham|
|17 Dec 20:00||Reading||v||Arsenal|
Santi Cazorla (3)
|08 Dec 15:00||Arsenal||2 – 0||West Brom|
|08 Dec 15:00||Aston Villa||0 – 0||Stoke City|
|08 Dec 15:00||Southampton||1 – 0||Reading|
|08 Dec 15:00||Sunderland||1 – 3||Chelsea|
|08 Dec 15:00||Swansea||3 – 4||Norwich|
|08 Dec 15:00||Wigan||2 – 2||QPR|
|09 Dec 13:30||Man City||2 – 3||Man Utd|
|09 Dec 15:00||Everton||2 – 1||Tottenham|
|09 Dec 16:00||West Ham||2 – 3||Liverpool|
|10 Dec 20:00||Fulham||2 – 1||Newcastle|
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.