Blog Archives

Arsenal, Zlatan and the Big Sam Allardyce Effect

Arsenal’s Walcott or Alexis Sanchez – Has this actually become a question?

Manchester City and Arsenal Smash Open the Floodgates

Tottenham Vs Arsenal: Preview and Lineups from 3pm

Premier League Preview: Chelsea, United & City – It’s all change at the top!

Fantasy Football Preview GW37: Walcott to worsen Wigan’s woes?

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With next season already promising to be hugely different given the dramatic developments at Old Trafford this week, cherishing this campaign suddenly looks to be even more important.

For Wigan Athletic, that seems to ring true more than loudly than for others.

The Latics will be FA Cup finalists at the weekend, but come Tuesday they could find that their eight-year stint in the Premier League is over. Should results go against them at the weekend, then nothing less than three points from their next match will do if they are to stay in the top flight. Unfortunately for them, that next match is at Champions League-chasing Arsenal.

The Gunners may have lost this fixture last season, but they simply can’t afford to do that now.

With Theo Walcott (£8.9m) returning to fitness and form then they certainly don’t look like doing that, and the England man could play a large part in confirming the Latics’ relegation.

Walcott scored and completed 90 minutes in both of his last two matches for the Gunners, taking his tally to 13 strikes and 13 assists during a hugely productive season.

As Arsene Wenger’s men close in on a top four place Walcott looks to be a hugely important figure, and he’ll enter the Wigan game high on confidence, which could end up spelling trouble for Roberto Martinez and his boys.

Any discussion about the battle for the top four – and of course your ongoing battles in Fantasy Premier League – isn’t complete without a mention of Gareth Bale(£10.9m), who takes his considerable talents to Stoke City this weekend.

Bale and Spurs might find it tough going there, but they should eventually come out on top in a match which is sure to see defender Jan Vertonghen (£6.8m) come under threat from Stoke’s attack.

Elsewhere, Everton’s Marouane Fellaini (£7.2m) is sure to find support ahead of their Blues’ match against mid-table West Ham at Goodison Park.

The Belgian has been in fine form throughout the campaign and he’ll be determined to impress in his side’s final game in front of their own fans this season. Following the Blues’ goalless draw at Liverpool last week he could be one to back as they look to find the net again.

As for Liverpool, they go to a Fulham side still not safe from relegation just yet, and with both Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez unavailable then the onus is sure to fall on Philippe Coutinho (£6.7m) and Daniel Sturridge (£7.0m). Dimitar Berbatov (£7.1m) will of course be vital for the hosts.

At Berbatov’s former club, Sir Alex Ferguson’s last home match in charge of Manchester United brings selection issues with it, but he is likely to once again start with Robin van Persie (£13.7m) upfront for the visit of Swansea. Those prone to a little bit of nostalgia might like to back a few Fantasy points for Ryan Giggs (£6.0m) and Paul Scholes (£5.0m) too.

Back in the cold hard world of chasing the Champions League, Chelsea will be happy that Aston Villa are now all but safe as they prepare for a trip to Villa Park early on Saturday.

Rafael Benitez’s side will be in no mood to let up now as they look to finish as high as possible, and with the battle between Fernando Torres (£9.3m) and Demba Ba (£7.8m) sure to be dominating many thoughts, it is Juan Mata (£10.1m) who continues to make his team tick.

Somewhat bizarrely denied the winning goal at Old Trafford last weekend, Mata will be doubly determined to impress at Villa Park.

He could be a vital addition for your side.

@Mark_Jones86

Gameweek 28 preview: Rickie Lambert, acQuiring Points Regularly

 

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As we enter the final 10 Gameweeks of the season, form is becoming more and more important.

That old cliché about form being temporary and class being permanent is of course a correct one, but in these closing weeks it will surely pay to trust in those players who are doing well week after week.

Rickie Lambert (£7.0m) is currently one of those players, and fantasy bosses have definitely noticed.

Almost a quarter of Fantasy Premier League teams now feature Southampton’s Scouse striker, a forward who has racked up eight, nine and 11 points respectively over the last three Gameweeks as he’s scored twice and picked up three assists.

Lambert and the Saints welcome rock bottom Queens Park Rangers to St Mary’s on Saturday, and the forward will be eyeing even more goals there.

It’s an important game for the hosts, who have impressed in patches under new boss Mauricio Pochettino before suffering a 4-2 loss after making the long trip to Newcastle last time out.

Lambert scored his 100th goal for the Saints and his 12th in the Premier League this season in that game, and with the arrival of ex-Saints boss Harry Redknapp and his struggling side on Saturday, Lambert will be confident of finding the net again.

He scored against Rangers in a 3-1 win at Loftus Road in November, and with talk of an England call-up swirling around him then the forward can deliver and help move Southampton away from the relegation zone by beating a team who are firmly stuck in it.

One of the teams currently desperate to stay out of the bottom three are Wigan, and they face a tough task on Saturday evening when they welcome Liverpool to the DW Stadium.

The impact of Daniel Sturridge (£7.5m) at the Reds has been easy to see, and with the forward currently having only 7.4% ownership he could prove a strong differential choice in the closing weeks.

Liverpool’s fixture list isn’t as demanding as the one faced by several of the teams around them, and after scoring in all but one of his five Premier League appearances for the Reds so far – picking up 31 Fantasy points in the process – Sturridge could shine in those games, starting with this trip to Wigan.

Elsewhere, Sunday sees Arsenal try to become the latest team to stop the juggernaut that is Gareth Bale (£10.3m).

The Tottenham man continues to rip through the Premier League, with his latest demolition job on West Ham on Monday night seeing his ownership increase even more.

Against Arsenal he’ll of course come face-to-face with his former Southampton team-mate Theo Walcott (£9.6m), and with the frequent madcap nature of these North London derbies meaning that clean sheets are unlikely to be on the agenda, both could find themselves in the points come the end of the afternoon.

Elsewhere, both Chelsea and Manchester United face winnable looking home matches against West Brom and Norwich respectively, but both sides go into the contest with forward issues. Rafael Benitez is again faced with the dilemma over whether to choose Demba Ba (£8.0) or Fernando Torres (£9.3m), whilst there is an injury doubt over Robin van Persie (£14.0m) for United. None of the trio can be trusted confidently.

Monday night sees Manchester City travel to Aston Villa, and whilst Yaya Toure (£7.7m) and Carlos Tevez (£8.7m) regained some lost friends with goals in the 2-0 win over Chelsea last time out, it is the fact that City kept a clean sheet in that game which should perhaps be of greater importance.

Defender Pablo Zabaleta (£6.2m) was a key element of that shutout, and given that he has now started City’s last 15 Premier League games the Argentinean is again likely to be an important part of the visiting back line.

Against a Villa side who have often struggled for goals this season, Zabaleta can keep things tight at the back whilst impressing further forward too.

@Mark_Jones86

Gameweek 27 preview: Giroud to lift the Gunners’ gloom?

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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.

@Mark_Jones86

Check out our new Club article – This week Fulham

The Lamb’s Wild(card)

As a Derby County fan, @pedro_lamb‘s only involvement with the Premier League is through the Fantasy Premier League game.

An avid FPL player, The Lamb’s imaginatively –titled team Lamb County have managed to claw themselves up to 32,964th in the overall game this season, as well as 149th in Yirma and an impressive third in the Yirma head-to-head league.

With the end of January approaching, The Lamb settled down to make a decision that he knew would make or break his season, his bank balance and his mood until August. It was Wildcard time.

Here are The Lamb’s thoughts – and only HIS thoughts – as he takes on every Fantasy manager’s biggest challenge.

Warning: the following is not for the faint-hearted:

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Who needs goalkeepers anyway?

Well it’s January and my head hurts, as I cut, bring in, drop, select, then re-drop, then re-select, finally drop him and then keep the same player I had to start off with……!!! Yep, it’s the pain of playing your January transfer Wildcard.

So I think I have finally decided on my team. One, because the deadline is nearly here, and most importantly two, if I spend any more time on the website I think my boss may sack me.

I have gone for a very radical move. Very radical.

Prepare yourselves…

My team doesn’t have a first choice keeper… Or in fact a second choice keeper…

I have selected two keepers who have more chance of being elected Prime Minister of Greenland than playing for their teams.

If they do play, I would be more than happy to drop them to have the current Prime Minister of Greenland Kuupik Kleist as my goalkeeper.

This bold – some would say visionary – idea has freed up enough funds to have both Mata and Bale in my team.

The more I think about it, not having a keeper, is it such a bad idea? And the answer is No, because even this season’s best scoring keeper Begovic, is averaging less than 4 points a game, both Mata and Bale are over 5 and over 38 Gameweeks, that is an additional 76 points, need I say any more? *Please don’t – Ed.*

The Lamb shoots and scores with another genius Fantasy Football idea. All hail the Lamb. The days of making Lucas Leiva captain and selecting the potentially brilliant Tom Huddlestone are behind me. This one’s a winner.

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Time for a few more Wildcard thoughts.

I have waited as long as possible in case the transfer windows kicks off in a big way, sadly it hasn’t so I won’t be bringing in some of the young guns from the Championship that have been on every transfer gossip page throughout January.

So it looks like Will Hughes won’t be the big gamble for my team, he would have been cheap and made a lot of points, he could be next years must have cheap player, the new Charlie Adam in fantasy football terms!!! You heard it here first folks. *giggles*

The biggest problem with this window has been the unknown factor. Which of the January signings will actually get decent time on the pitch?

Ba is a prime example. He’s cheap and can score, but realistically are Chelsea going to keep Torres and his £50 million price tag on the bench? I can’t see it and I think he is destined to just make weekly cameo appearances.

Then there is Sturridge, but I am sorry you can’t overlook Suarez, he just too good at the minute, and again I can’t see Sturridge playing every game.

As for City, the main problem is ‘will he won’t he?’ It’s everybody’s favourite Italian again.

If Mario Balotelli goes then maybe I will invest in Aguero, but at the moment two games could go by and he’ll only get a few minutes on the pitch.

Also the inconsistent nature of Arsenal means selecting any of their players is going to be a very irritating. Some weeks they will be brilliant and other weeks they bring a whole new meaning to the word awful.

Despite this I suggest picking Theo Walcott. Now his future has been sorted I think this may settle him and the whole squad down, so maybe that famous Arsenal consistency might just return.

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No goalkeepers were harmed in the giving of this advice.

Gameweek 24 PREVIEW: Time for Wayne to reign again?

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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.

@Mark_Jones86

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