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Sell Man City’s Aguero, Buy Arsenal, Liverpool, Spurs!!

Everton vs Spurs: Lineup and Preview

Off the Mark: Tim Sherwood does his best, but Tottenham deserve a manager not learning on the job

Southampton vs Tottenham : Confirmed Lineups

AVB Sacked and Spurs need to decide on first XI fast

Gameweek 30 preview: The case for the defence – Volume III

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For the third time this season we’re ignoring those Fantasy Premier League attention-seekers and instead looking at those who often miss out on the headlines.

Yes, never mind your midfielders and forwards, the case for the defence has been opened again and this time ahead of a Gameweek which offers ample chance for a few clean sheets.

The best of those opportunities probably comes at Old Trafford, where Manchester United welcome a managerless Reading side in a contest that the hosts will not just expect to win – but expect to win well.

Brazilian defender Rafael da Silva (£6.2m) has excelled in the United defence this season, and with 16.9% ownership he finds himself as the most selected player from the champions-elect after Robin van Persie.

Sir Alex Ferguson surprised many by leaving Rafael out of the 4-0 win over Norwich two weeks ago – his first non-appearance of the year in the league – but the right-back was back in the team for the FA Cup tie against Chelsea last weekend, and he’s almost certain to start here in a match in which United are of course likely to be on the front foot.

Following earlier struggles for clean sheets United have now kept four in successive league matches, and with Rafael contributing three goals and five assists this season – including that stunning strike at QPR recently – then the Brazilian could be a key player in their run-in towards an almost certain league title.

Elsewhere, Tottenham will be bidding to rediscover their excellent form which they displayed prior to last weekend’s thrilling 3-2 defeat at Liverpool.

They have a good chance to find it at home to a Fulham side who have won just two away games this season, and with defender Michael Dawson (£4.6m) having now recovered from previous injuries to start and crucially finish the last 10 league games at the heart of the Spurs defence, the centre-back could be a valuable and cheap addition to your squad as Andre Villas-Boas’ side close in on a Champions League place.

Another Sunday fixture sees Chelsea host West Ham at Stamford Bridge, and although the make-up of Rafael Benitez’s defence does have a habit of changing regularly, David Luiz (£6.5m) has started the last three league games – registering his first assist of the season in the 1-0 win over West Brom last time out, a match in which he also picked up a bonus point.

Manchester City go to Everton in the opening match of the weekend, and with defender Pablo Zabaleta (£6.2m) a firm Fantasy favourite after starting the last 16 league matches there is sure to be plenty of interest in him. Leighton Baines (£7.6m) will of course provide a threat going in the other direction.

For cheaper options, the Sunderland v Norwich match offers the possibility of a stalemate with visiting defender Javier Garrido (£4.7m) bidding to follow up from last weekend’s clean sheet against Southampton with another blank against his opposition’s name. Teammate Michael Turner (£4.2m) also picked up two bonus points in that 0-0 draw.

This weekend Southampton face the tough prospect of facing a Liverpool side who have won their last three in the league, and whilst it was Daniel Agger (£6.4m) who scored the winner when the Reds beat the Saints 1-0 at Anfield in December it is the form of teammate Jose Enrique (£6.0m) which can’t be ignored here.

The left-back registered an impressive sixth assist of the season which he provided the first goal for Luis Suarez in the Tottenham win, and with two goals to his name as well he is certainly one to watch ahead of a match which Brendan Rodgers will expect his Reds to win.

If they can win it with a clean sheet then that is sure to please many.

*We’ve focused on defenders again for this Gameweek, but if you have any selection issues, dilemmas or problems then feel free to tweet us at @FantasyYirma. Goalkeepers, midfielders and forwards are allowed!

@Mark_Jones86

The Mark Jones Column: Suarez v Bale – It’s not Messi v Ronaldo, but why care?

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We live in an age of comparison, from television meerkats with funny accents to the best footballers on the planet.

Everything can be contrasted, scrutinized and pored over in great detail, and there are always those ever-helpful statistics available to back up whatever point you want to make, and to shout down those that you don’t agree with.

The kings of the comparison – in a football sense anyway – are of course Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, but to many calling both ‘kings’ simply shouldn’t be allowed to happen.

Apparently it’s not enough to simply enjoy the fact that we are currently lucky enough to be able to watch two of the greatest players there have ever been, instead we have to constantly compare and contrast the pair, pointing out weaknesses in one that are strengths in the other.

The worldwide availability of Barcelona and Real Madrid’s fixtures each and every week only adds to this craze, but whilst people are guilty of constantly comparing Messi to Ronaldo, this has created a skewed argument in which the pair are compared to everyone else. In that situation, there are only going to be two winners.

As a result of this, is has become impossible to discuss some of the finer talents in world football today without making an indirect link to everyone’s favourite Argentinean and Portuguese.

Take the forthcoming Premier League action at Anfield on Sunday, when we’ll be privileged to see surely the Premier League’s two most exciting players go head-to-head.

Robin van Persie has of course achieved great things in his maiden season at Manchester United – just as everyone knew he would – but the Dutchman comes alive when the ball is in the penalty area, he doesn’t generate that same buzz when that ball is at his feet further from goal as Luis Suarez and Gareth Bale do.

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Anyone with an even vague knowledge of this season’s Premier League must be aware of just what an impact these two players have had on their respective sides this season. Suarez’s at times one-man attempts to transform Liverpool from a mid-table team in transition into one capable of challenging for Europe have been a compelling watch, whilst Bale – with a more experienced team around him – has been spearheading Tottenham’s hugely impressive tilt at Champions League football.

You don’t have to look too hard to see comparisons with Messi and Ronaldo in both players. Suarez’s often mesmerising close control – seemingly keeping the ball as close to his feet as possible – can draw a likeness with his fellow South American, whilst Bale’s athleticism, pace and power can be favourably linked with the former Manchester United man.

Yet instead of focusing on these traits which make the Premier League duo so good, it is often the negatives which get talked about with both.

Perhaps it comes from a desire to leave Messi and Ronaldo on top of the perches that they rightfully deserve to sit on, but Suarez and Bale don’t draw the same kind of admiration.

Suarez of course has a previous incident on his rap sheet – one that has been discussed and debated far too often to warrant going over it again – but both he and Bale are also frequently accused of bending the rules in order to seek an advantage. Of diving, in other words.

Ronaldo received similar attention during his time in England, and whilst it is true that both the Liverpool and Spurs man have exaggerated contact on some occasions, you’d be hard pressed to find a modern player who hasn’t. Look, here’s Gary Neville.

It pays to focus on the negatives with some players and not others though, and whilst that doesn’t look like happening with Messi and Ronaldo any time soon, for some reason it does with those who constantly seem to live in their huge shadow.

Can we not just enjoy watching them though? Enjoy the terrific pace, power, finishing ability, skills, trickery, team ethic, leadership and outright quality both possess?

Surely it’s about time we can, and Anfield on Sunday will be a good place to start.

@Mark_Jones86

Gameweek 25 preview: Gareth Bale to sting The Hawthorns?

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The closure of the January transfer window may excite manic Sky Sports News presenters, the Twitter rumour-mongers and Harry Redknapp, but Fantasy bosses are often better off just sticking to what they know.

At this point of the season – pretty much exactly two-thirds of the way through – you’ll know who you can rely on in your team, who you’ll be keeping an eye on bringing in and who you desperately need to get rid of. New arrivals into the division shouldn’t alter that.

Of course there are those new players who can arrive into the Premier League and immediately take it by storm – Papiss Cisse last season anyone? – but the bedding in period often needed by foreign imports makes adding any deadline day signing to your team a risk. At least this weekend anyway.

No, it would be better to go with the tried and tested ahead of an intriguing set of games, and there aren’t many players in the division this season who have proved their worth more than Tottenham’s Gareth Bale (£9.8m).

The Welshman’s fine solo goal at Carrow Road on Wednesday night was a 10th Premier League strike of the season, and with eight of those 10 coming in matches away from White Hart Lane – in which he can make more use of the space afforded to him – then the winger will be the man to watch when Spurs visit West Brom on Sunday afternoon.

The Baggies have only won two of their last 11 in the league, and so whilst you don’t want Bale running at you at the best of times it is likely to be especially tough for Steve Clarke’s men to cope with the confidence of the winger here. Bale could score big.

Elsewhere, the headline match of the weekend is probably the last one, as Manchester City welcome Liverpool in a contest which the hosts will need to win after dropping points at QPR last time out.

Sergio Aguero (£10.9m) returned to the team there and should definitely be considered here, but even though Liverpool are facing a tough game the eagle-eyed Fantasy bosses will have noted that they have a Double Gameweek coming up next time around which brings home matches against West Brom and Swansea. Luis Suarez (£10.5m) is only going to see his price go up. More on him next week…

Reading’s Adam Le Fondre (£4.7m) might be a slightly less talked about forward than Suarez, but he proved more than his worth with the two late goals which earned a point against Chelsea in midweek, and at home to Sunderland he’ll be backed by many to find the net again. If you need a cheap forward to supplement your big boys then there are few better options at the moment.

Defensively, the scope for clean sheets doesn’t look all too great this weekend, but although QPR’s match at home to fellow strugglers Norwich will be full of new Rangers players introducing themselves to one another, it might just see the home side keep it tight at the back.

After the 3-0 loss at home to Liverpool before the turn of the year, Redknapp’s boys have kept back-to-back clean sheets at Loftus Road against opposition of the calibre of Tottenham and Manchester City, as well as shutting out Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

The Canaries should offer little to be worried about then, and after playing 90 minutes in each of QPR’s last four games the on-loan Manchester United defender Fabio da Silva (£4.2m) could just be worth considering if you need to add a cheap defender to make room elsewhere.

At the other end of the scale Leighton Baines (£7.5m) is the game’s most expensive defender and he’ll be looking to follow-up his brace against West Brom when Everton entertain Aston Villa, but the Blues have only kept two clean sheets at home all season and so Christian Benteke (£6.5m) shouldn’t be discounted for the visitors.

Finally and not too far away at Wigan, the hosts will hope that the increasingly effective Franco di Santo (£5.3m) impresses as they host Southampton on Saturday.

That’s if no-one else has signed him by then of course…

@Mark_Jones86

Fantasy Yirma: Gameweek 2 preview

Gameweek 2 preview: Forwards to earn their Spurs?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Lamb has Spoken…

Disclaimer: All posts from @pedro_lamb represent only a 1/3 of Yirma Management. Typically the other 2/3 disagree

by @pedro_lamb.

So here goes. Today’s thoughts on a few players set to return from injury who you might want to consider as a differential.

Three players, who spent much of last season lying on the physio table, are fit and ready to make an impact! It is time for them to get off the physio table, put down the Xbox controller and make us some fantasy points.  Keep a look out for:

1.   Tom Cleverley –

He burst onto the scene at the start of last season and then, injury ended his campaign, now he is back and after a great performance so far at the Olympics, he is back and raring to go and his return maybe just what United need, to stabilize their midfield and allow Rooney more freedom.

Rooney at £12m will blow a big hole the purse, however Tom is just £6m if you are set on having a Utd presence in your starting 11=Bargain.  He is most certainly going to start most games, this season.

2. Tom Huddlestone –

After a nearly a year out, it is time for him to return and with Modric almost certainly moving to the Spanish capital, it is Tom’s time to step up and show the form he had back in 2010, where he very nearly made it into England’s Euro 2010 squad, and at just £5m he is a steal.

3. My personal cheeky punt is Danny Higginbotham, who is set to return to Stoke’s back line.

At £4.5m he is a great man to add to your squad.  Also with Higginbottam’s contract up at the end of the year, he is likely to want to prove he is worth an extension to allow him to play out his career at Stoke.

Right, I have convinced myself… I am off to make some changes to my team.

Lamby

 

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