Posts Tagged ‘Anelka’

The Six Pointer – Expensive Toys, Retro Formations & more…

07/02/2011

That was the weekend that was. Newcastle vs Arsenal deserves a post in itself!

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1. Fernando Torres certainly had a Chelsea debut to forget and it will be interesting to see how Carlo Ancelotti fits him in for the rest of the season. The switch to a diamond midfield with Torres and Drogba playing as a pair up front wasn’t a surprise but it was strange to see Nicolas Anelka given the nod in the hole behind them.

I assume the theory was that Lampard’s strength is arriving from deep, something which would be negated if he played at the head of diamond. Chelsea’s success over the past few season has come through playing 4-3-3 and you can’t fit Torres and Drogba in that system and get the best of both.

Torres of course needs time to adapt; despite his price tag you can’t just expect him to instantly understand his new team-mates way of playing. But, given how Chelsea are quickly becoming involved in a battle to maintain a top four position as well as trying to engineer another attempt at the holy grail of the Champions League, Carlo Ancelotti will have his work cut out to solve this conundrum quickly.

An inauspicious start.

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2. In contrast, Torres’ old team are on quite the run of form at the moment. After overseeing a defeat to Blackpool, Kenny Dalglish has quickly turned things around with some innovative, or should that be retro, tactical moves.

Three at the back has long been out of vogue but Liverpool have used it successfully to stifle the aerial bombardment of Stoke, and now the technical probing of Chelsea. Contrasting attacks but the same result – a convincing clean sheet. The beauty of playing 3-5-2 with wing-backs is that in theory it can work so well – they offer solidity in defence by forming a five but options in attack when pushing forward.

I don’t see Glen Johnson working well long-term on the left but it seems to be successful for the time being.  Of course Dalglish has the same problem as Ancelotti in trying to fit £50m worth of strike force into his team but you feel it will be a little easier with the players at his disposal.

Close enough. Though if this was Stoke they'd play all four.

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3. Niko Kranjcar’s winner for Spurs against Bolton should give Harry Redknapp some reminder of the talents at his disposal. Notoriously poor at rotating, Redknapp is very much one to stick to the same players until the they get injured or he just doesn’t fancy them anymore. Kranjcar has been one of the unlucky ones this season with just six appearances to his name, totalling a measly 235 minutes.

So much so that ‘Arry bought a similar player in Pienaar in the transfer window, simply because he was available rather than any great need for him. The whole point of a 25 man squad is to use it, not least when you’re competing at the top end of the table and the Champions League. Perhaps he’d find that when he does have to turn to them, they might perform better if they’ve had a few games under their belts.

Niko Kranjcar, Spurs player. Sometimes.

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4. Following Chelsea and now Man Utd losing to Wolves this season, Arsenal’s 2-0 victory at Molineux is looking better and better. It must be frustrating that Mick McCarthy can get fantastic performances against the big sides but then lose to those around him. As with last season, it will be a close run thing whether Wolves go down but there are certainly worse teams in the league this season. They have yet to play either match against West Brom and those two games look like being crucial in determining which of the two sides will be relegated. I certainly don’t think both will stay up.

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5. Bolton have now lost six straight away games. What was looking like a promising Europa League push is turning into a mid-table season. Part of the reason must be that the previously red-hot partnership of Elmander and Davies have one goal each since late November and Chung-Yong Lee, who had six assists has been away at the Asian Cup. With that in mind the loan signing of Sturridge looks to be a good move both for player and club. Already he’s taken on some of the attacking responsibility with two goals in two games.

He’ll be sure to want prove that he’s good enough to be at Chelsea next season and that motivation can only benefit Bolton. After all, this time last season Jack Wilshere was embarking on a similar loan and is now a starter for Arsenal and in the England squad. If Sturridge can get the goals to fire Bolton to 7th, Bolton may even have a shot at keeping him permanently.

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6. Ten games produced 43 goals this weekend. As ever, Blackpool played a big part in that and their 25 games this season have seen 87 goals at just three and half a game. I wouldn’t want Ian Holloway to change his approach at all, but for the sake of Blackpool having another season in the top flight, I’d love them to get a 0-0 away from home once in a while!

They'll need an updated version after this season.

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T.

The Six Pointer: Theo Time, Tennis Scores & more…

23/08/2010

That was the weekend that was.

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1. Theo Walcott had arguably his best ever game for Arsenal scoring a hat-trick as the Gunners demolished Blackpool 6-0. Showing pace, direct running, and good end product, Walcott ran the show against the beleaguered Seasiders.

Yes it was “only” Blackpool and he was afforded more time and space than normal (not least once Blackpool were down to ten men) but it was encouraging to watch him put in such a performance.

Walcott has had his critics in his brief career, and rightly so in many cases but it shouldn’t be forgotten that he’s only 21 years old and has yet to get a through a season without major injury disruptions.

Taking his league stats from the last three seasons into account, it shows every season broken up through injury and bit part appearances.

2007/08 – 25 appearances/1260 minutes

2008/09 – 22 appearances/1265 minutes

2009/10 – 23 appearances/1129 minutes

1260 minutes equates to 14 full games which is just over a third of the season. Therefore in the space of three league seasons, he’s had one season’s worth of playing time. Yet people wonder why he’s not yet the finished article.

Of course cup and European games can be added to those totals but the point remains that Walcott is still very early into his development. Walcott himself acknowledges this is a key season for him, but let’s judge him at the end of it not the beginning.

Yeah!

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2. Another week, another 6-0 win for Chelsea – this Premier League lark is pretty easy isn’t it?! Drogba was once again a key player with three assists while Malouda and Anelka helped themselves to yet more goals.

Tougher tests will follow than West Brom and Wigan but a significant goal difference advantage amounts to the equivalent of an extra point at the business end of the season. Given they won the title by just a point last season, these early victories may prove vital.

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3. Two bogey teams continued their hold in London this weekend; Bolton winning their third successive game at Upton Park while Fulham prevented Man Utd from 3 points at Craven Cottage for the third successive season. Both games came down to missed penalties taken by someone other than the regular taker.

Carlton Cole saw his kick saved by Jaaskelainen which meant West Ham didn’t go into half time with lead. Bolton came out in the second half and scored twice and went on to win meaning Mark Noble’s penalty made no difference.

Meanwhile at 2-1 up against Fulham, Man Utd’s Nani took a spot kick instead of regular man Ryan Giggs. Stockdale saved, Fulham equalised and Fergie bemoaned silly dropped points.

It got me wondering as to why Noble hadn’t taken West Ham’s first and Giggs hadn’t taken United’s. Every club ranks their penalty takers for a reason. If the top man is on the field, he should take it.

The only exception to this is if someone is on a hat-trick and the game is won. I’m sure both Avram Grant and Alex Ferguson will be telling their players as much before the next game.

He's no Ronaldo...

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4. As much as I want to ignore Bale’s second goal vs Stoke, I can’t deny it was an excellent volley. I’m pretty sure we’ll see better this season but it’s likely to end up as goal of the month if nothing else. Bale is fast becoming Tottenham’s most important player and will be key to ensuring they challenge for a top four spot again.

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5. I don’t think anyone expected the third 6-0 of the weekend at St. James’ Park. Newcastle were terrific against a woeful Aston Villa and Joey Barton and Kevin Nolan reminded many that they are more than capable of performing at the highest level.

Andy Carroll scored a nice hat-trick and already people are tipping him for an England call. It is perhaps a little early for that but he has great potential. He won most things in the air against Vidic last week and was once again dominant aerially against the Aston Villa defence. His link up play suggests decent technique and it will be worth watching him this season, especially in home games.

Newcastle are now unbeaten in something like 23 games at home and they could do well to follow the template of two other recently promoted clubs, Stoke and Birmingham, in making their home ground a fortress in order to get the points needed to stay up.

Aerial beast.

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6. Last season Wigan were very Jekyll and Hyde beating Arsenal or Liverpool one week before getting smacked by seven the next. It looks like this season will mainly consist of the latter. I don’t think Martinez will have too long to sort it out but with games against Spurs and Man City coming up, they may be quite far adrift quite quickly.

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T.

Season Previews 2010/11 – Chelsea

12/08/2010

Chelsea

Last Season: 1st + FA Cup Winners

New Signings: Ramires, Benayoun, Kalas, Delac

Key Player: Didier Drogba

One To Watch: Gael Kakuta

Needs  A Big Year: Nicolas Anelka

Would Quite Like: Champions League glory. Preferably over the Special One in the final.

Prediction: 3rd

Thoughts: Chelsea are one of the most difficult teams to preview this season in my opinion. Clearly the strongest team last season, the double winners have by their standards undertaken quite an overhaul. Out go Joe Cole, Michael Ballack, Deco, Ricky Carvalho and youngster Miroslav Stoch to be replaced so far by just Ramires and Yossi Benayoun in terms of players who will contribute immediately.

There is obviously a determination to reduce the age of the squad and introduce some fresh blood to a team who has won everything but the Champions League in the last five years. Benayoun is a less injured and more consistent version of Cole while Ramires gives them a valid option on the right hand side of midfield. Ballack and Deco won’t be missed but the sale of Carvalho is an interesting one.

He certainly wanted to leave, stating he would even swim to Madrid to join Jose but I’m intrigued as to whether Chelsea will replace him or promote Bruma to 4th choice and play Alex alongside Terry. Carvalho was the best pure defender at Chelsea in my opinion, knowing all the tricks of the trade. However I guess Chelsea considered £6m+ for an often injured 32-year-old who played 30+ league games just once in his six year stay as good business.

Carvalho doing what he does best.

The main reason I’m a bit down on Chelsea this season is I just can’t see Lampard, Drogba and Malouda all having as good a year as last season, where they scored 63 goals put together. Terry looks ever more lumbering at the back while at full back you have Ashley Cole’s off-field issues clearly affecting him and Bosingwa still without a comeback date. Their rivals will be stronger too and it’s unclear whether the young players coming through at Stamford Bridge will be effective.

In terms of positives, everyone in the Chelsea squad has been there and done that – the team is full of proven winners. Drogba, Lampard et al may all be another year older but they’re still better than most. Plus the biggest bonus will be the return of Michael Essien, who is the best box to box midfielder in the league. His return to fitness should see 433 being played again with Lampard and Ramires joining him in a fearsome midfield. I sense that we may yet see a creative superstar come in to play alongside Malouda and Drogba in the forward line. Mesut Ozil perhaps?

Super good.

Chelsea will be there or thereabouts and even though I have them 3rd I could quite easily see them finishing anywhere from 1st through to 4th. I just feel that it may be the last shot at the Champions League for this generation and all eyes will be on that particular trophy.

T.

World Cup Roundup

14/07/2010

So suggesting a bet on Holland in the final meant the bet of the day running total ended 0.77 units down, which isn’t awful considering two-thirds of the group stage were missed. In better punditry many of the pre-tournament tips came off. Of the more impressive ideas, I suggested Germany to reach the semi-finals @ 12/5, Argentina to get nine points in their group @ 12/5, Uruguay and Mexico to go through in group A @ 13/1 and Uruguay as an each way bet @ 66/1.

I wrote that England could well suffer a second round knock-out, while tipping Holland @ 9/1 almost came off. The goalscorer tips were a touch unlucky too with each way suggestions Klose (33/1) and Suarez (100/1) just missing out on the top four.  Enough gloating (there were plenty of dud tips too after all) and time for a few highlights and lowlights.

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Best Game: England vs Germany had controversy, some great football, good goals and it dispelled the hype surrounding so many of England’s stars.

Worst Game: Most of the ones in the first week.

Best Goal: Tshabalala’s in the opening match was great for the moment and Van Bronckhorst in the semi-final was great for the pureness of the strike but I think Villa’s first against Honduras tops both.

Worst Miss: Yakubu vs South Korea. Dear oh dear.

Most Dramatic 5 Minutes: Spain vs Paraguay gave it a good try, with three penalties in the space of a few minutes, but you can’t beat the end of extra-time in the Uruguay vs Ghana match. Goalmouth scramble, handball on the line and red card, missed penalty with a semi-final place up for grabs, undignified celebrations by the man sent off and then a penalty shoot-out shortly after. Wow.

Best Pundit: Clarence Seedorf. There weren’t many to choose from but he was insightful and refreshing. Some good features too.

Hero: Paul the psychic octopus.

Villain: Take your pick from Suarez, the Jabulani ball or the French team going on strike. Oh and James Corden too.

Best XI Of The Tournament: Casillas; Lahm, Puyol, Lugano, Coentrao; Schweinsteiger, Xavi, Sneijder; Mueller, Forlan, Villa.

Worst XI Of The Tournament: Green; Otamendi, Terry, Cannavaro, Evra; Melo, Kaka, Ribery; Anelka, Rooney, Torres.

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T.

World Cup Bet Of The Day – Day 1

11/06/2010

A feature I’m going to try and do every day, at least until I go on holiday. I’ll keep a running total and see how it ends up at the end of the tournament.

Today’s pick is Uruguay to beat France in the evening game. I wrote earlier about how I thought France were a decent shout to get knocked out in the group stages and thus I think the price on Uruguay is far too high.

The French have been experimenting with a new formation and a 1-0 warm-up defeat to China suggests it’s not quite settled.

Uruguay have a great strike partnership in Forlan and Suarez (almost 80 goals between them this season) and I think the two of them can cause some serious problems for the French defence.

Bet of the day:
Uruguay to beat France @ 14/5.

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T.

Fantasy Premier League – End Of Season Review 09/10

14/05/2010

So another year of fantasy football ended last Sunday without too much drama. A solid final week meant I held on to my league lead and won it for the first time in the four seasons we’ve played.

Victory at last.

It was an entertaining season and at one stage looked to be a four-way title race. That said I don’t think I let go of the lead since about week 19 so without gloating too much victory is deserved. I was kind of limping to the finish line for the last few weeks and dropped from a position of 7,264 as late as gameweek 31 down to a final ranking of 24,501 out of 2.3m+. Not my highest ever position but still very good and just outside the top 1%.

Sportboy P came a worthy second while longtime leader Amer came third. Too many transfers and dodgy captain choices cost him and he couldn’t pick it back up. Three time winner the Football Guy had his worst ever season in fifth. I expect him to bounce back next year.

On to some awards.

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Player of the season:

Frank Lampard wins this for the second straight season. I learnt from my lesson last year and made sure he was in my team when in mattered, not least for the run in. Top scoring player by 42 points and his total of 284 is quite incredible. I only realised while writing this that it’s the highest ever score in a fantasy season, edging out Ronaldo’s 283 points in 2007/08.

I think it was Chelsea’s sheer volume of goals that did it, as although he ‘only’ scored 22 (compared to C-Ron’s 31) he weighed in with a season high 17 assists (only 8 for CR). If you factor in that he wasn’t even the highest recipient of bonus points, or that he played neither game vs Wolves, you start to wonder whether a 300 point season is possible.

An honourable mention too for Cesc Fabregas who matched Lampard for points per game and got the second most bonus points this season but due to his various injuries missed eleven games thus ended up with  214.

Frank Lampard fantasy football

Maverick's 2009/10 Top Gun.

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Best value player:

Thomas Sorensen is the clear winner here, gaining 164 points for his measly £4m initial price tag. He even saved three penalties this season. Joe Hart was also a big plus here, with a lower score but higher price rise over the course of the season.

However I think the best bargain to be had this season was Darren Bent. Costing just £7m to start with, he banged in 24 goals for a frankly average Sunderland side. He was quieter in the second half of the season when Sunderland went on a long winless run and Drogba/Rooney/Tevez was the way to go but picked it up again in the final few games.

bent sunderland

Bargain of the season.

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Best sub:

Birmingham defenders were this year’s Fulham, providing regular clean sheets at a bargain basement price. Though they faded somewhat once they hit 40 points, they were a great option.

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Fantasy bike:

There wasn’t one single player I kept bringing in this season, but looking back it seems Drogba, Lampard and Tevez were all transferred in on three occasions. With expensive players all generally performing this season, you could usually mix and match as fitness and suspension dictated and not have to worry about losing money.

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Biggest flop:

Many of last season’s flops bounced back, not least Fabregas, Tevez and Drogba. For his price tag Steven Gerrard has to be up there. A victim of Liverpool’s poor season; he was generally pretty useless until about gameweek 32, before an end of season points binge.

Elsewhere big things were expected of Andrey Arshavin after last year’s four-month cameo but I thought 135 points was poor while Dirk Kuyt has gone back to being a plodder. You could argue Van Persie and Torres were disappointing but everyone knows they’re injury prone. When they played they both had a high points per game average – 5th and 6th overall.

arshavin arsenal

Could have done so much more.

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Best improvement:

The way of looking at this is rise in value over the season. Here Richard Dunne and Didier Drogba are the winners, just edging out James Milner. All three had terrific seasons and the former two rose by £1.8m in price.

I would say Dunne was the most unexpected, and he picked up Martin Laursen’s tendency for being a bonus point machine while captaining Aston Villa at centre back. That said, clever old me came up with this gem of a prediction about Drogba in one of my previews.

"I no longer think the Ivorian has the ability to get 20 goals a season."

Good thing I realised the error of my ways!

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Biggest surprise:

The under performance of Gerrard – previously a lock for 200 points. Gareth Bale post January (116 points) compared to pre January (2 points).

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Best performance:

Last season’s high was 21 points from Arshavin. I think this score got beaten six times this year. In reverse order:

Joint 3rd: Benayoun and Kalou – 24 points

2nd: Defoe – 25 points

1st: Lampard – 28 points versus Aston Villa through four goals, an assist and three bonus. Needless to say that was one of the few weeks he wasn’t in my team, let alone in my team as captain.

Credit to Fabregas for getting 22 twice and Rooney for getting 32 in a double gameweek.

And Arshavin’s high score this season? 11…

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Cesc Fabregas award for cheap bonus points:

Wayne Rooney with 46 (matching Lampard last year). Cesc was second with 41.

rooney man utd

Bonus. Om om om.

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Biggest fall from grace value wise:

Biggest price drop was Diamanti of West Ham and surprisingly Nicolas Anelka. Both went down £1.2m. I assume the latter was a victim of people going with the three highest scoring strikers and just sticking with them. Of the other renowned players Carrick fell by £1m while Arshavin again plays a part here, falling £0.9m.

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Biggest fall from grace performance wise:

Aaron Lennon was fantastic until December, then got injured and only returned for the last few games. Perhaps it’s a little harsh to include him here. Jermain Defoe on the other hand had 14 goals before January and just four afterwards. Antonio Valencia was also pretty poor in 2010 with just four assists and no goals.

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Best impact:

Gareth Bale was immense after the turn of the year, scoring well over 100 points. I didn’t bring him in though due to his price.

From a personal point of view I was pleased with the transfers of Martin Olsson and Adam Johnson. The former was listed as a £3.8m defender yet played in an advanced midfield role, while the latter made a big impact after joining Man City in the January transfer window. Both were nice differentials who scored steady points in the run in.

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Predictions:

I mentioned the Drogba one earlier and how I fancied Anelka over him this season. Other specials included tipping the likes of Ebanks-Blake, Zhirkov, Scotland and Robinho while being negative on players like Bellamy, Lennon and Valencia. In my defence, I had Milner, Bent plus more expensive guys like Fabregas and Rooney to have good seasons.

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Finally lets take a look my team in August:

fantasy premier league week 1

Ebanks-Blake, what was I thinking?!

and the team I ended the season with:

fantasy premier league week 38

The league winning side.

Pretty different as you can see. I think Sorensen was the only player to make it through the season without being transferred out, surviving even the wildcard. I played a three-man defence for much of the season and given how well strikers did it was usually three up front.

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T.

Fantasy Premier League – Gameweek 31 Preview

19/03/2010

Week 31. 15 matches. Given it’s so late in the season this will be title deciding I would think. Ten teams play twice including four from the top half so you should really be looking at having a minimum of seven double players I’d say. Unless we get a bunch of 1-1 draws, 100 points should be the minimum target.

Last week was pretty good – 85 points and a slight increase of my league lead. This despite having five players who would have been better captain choices than Fat Frank. He’ll be leaving my team for Fabregas again shortly after this double gameweek ends. I was particularly pleased with Bendtner getting another 11 points while spending eight points on transfers just about paid off too.

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Gameweek 30 Top Gun (aka Tom Cruise Approves):

fernando torres liverpool

Maverick wants to know where Torres got those highlights...

After an injury truncated season, Fernando Torres reminded us of what he can do with 19 points against Portsmouth. Two goals, two assists and three bonus gave him his highest score of the season, moving him into the top seven strikers despite having played just 1471 minutes.

Funnily enough his price has actually gone down this week as people were still reacting to one point against Wigan plus the fact he faces Man Utd this week. Judging by past form against Vidic that no bad thing. Elsewhere Malouda got 16, Milner and Aquilani 12 while it was a striker’s week with Rooney, Drogba, Bendtner, Berbatov and Pavlyuchenko all in double figures.

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Three Captain Picks:

1. Chelsea attackers – First choice for a captain this week should be Chelsea attacking players. While they have two away game which are trickier than they look, I’d still be surprised if they didn’t come away with six points from Blackburn and Portsmouth. Lampard is an option as always, while Malouda is possibly their best player right now. You can’t really look further than Drogba though, and he should feast on those two defences. I wouldn’t bother with Chelsea defenders this week, I think it’ll be one clean sheet at best.

2. Aston Villa players – Villa have two home games against Wolves and Sunderland. Again, I’d be surprised if they got less than six points and they perhaps offer more variety than Chelsea. I’d be quite comfortable with picking Dunne as captain while Agbonlahor is usually involved some way when they score. Really though Milner is the most realistic choice when choosing a Villa captain. You can talk about potential differentials like Young and Downing all you want but at the end of the day it will be Milner getting the points.

3. Everton midfielders - Choices from Everton are narrowed to their midfield for me as Saha is currently injured and I don’t trust the Yak. Pienaar has been consistent and Cahill is always good for a goal but now that Arteta is back he’s the man you want.

Didier Drogba Chelsea

Gets a Captain's tick.

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Three Suggested Transfers In:

1. Johnson/Man City – How brave are you feeling? Johnson has shone for Man City since joining in January and last week got himself nine points coming of the bench to rescue a draw vs Sunderland. Difficult fixtures against Fulham A and Everton H but he is in form and making an impact. The key question is will he play both matches? I think yes, but you never know with Mancini.

2. Olsson/Blackburn - An interesting week for Blackburn as they have two home games but both of those matches are quite tough (Chelsea and Birmingham). Olsson is one of the cheapest players in the game at just £3.8m and is listed as a defender even though he normally plays left of midfield. I could certainly see him getting a clean sheet against Brum and perhaps a cheeky assist too.

3. O’Hara/Portsmouth - They’ve been docked points, are essentially relegated, and face Hull and Chelsea this week. That said they are ok at home and tend to score if nothing else. O’Hara should get something against Hull (unless new manager syndrome kicks in) and will get two points vs Chelsea too. He’s cheap and gets bonus, what more do you want?

adam johnson man city

Might be worth a pick.

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Three To Avoid:

1. Hull players - Not even Iain Dowie can save this lot.

2. N’Zogbia/Wigan – His double gameweek produced just one assist and he’s been taken off before the hour twice in the last three weeks.

3. Anelka/Chelsea - No goals or bonus since the end of January.

jimmy bullard hull

Are you taking the mick?!

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T.

Fantasy Premier League – Gameweek 25 Preview

05/02/2010

After a bit of shoddy week 23, things were back to relative normality in week 24 with a score of 77 points. I guess Chelsea let down many owners with their non-performance against Hull and it was a certainly a surprise to see goals conceded in both games. I had Fat Frank as captain who scored a disappointing seven points, but you have to assume he’ll get back to more productive ways shortly.

I had spent eight points bringing in a trio of Hunt, Lampard, Anelka and 29 points was just about acceptable from their six games. I had loads of Sorensen points marooned on the bench for the umpteenth time this season but I was pretty pleased overall. Ten extra points gained on the guys behind me in our league, 44 overall now – slow and steady does the job!

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Gameweek 24 Top Gun (aka Tom Cruise Approves):

gabby agbonlahor aston villa

Maverick thinks you should smile if you've won Top Gun.

Something isn’t right when Chelsea play twice and none of their players top score for the week. Aston Villa’s Gabby Agbonlahor scored twice against Fulham and got himself three bonus points for a total of 13, which seems like the lowest for quite a while. It’s certainly his highest score of the season and is more than his total for the last six weeks combined!

Following closely behind him were Hunt and Mouyokolo of Hull with 12 each. Hunt in particular is developing a nice line in performing in double gameweeks. Tim Cahill got 11 and there were four players on ten points.

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Three Captain Picks

1. Drogba/Chelsea – Arsenal got tonked 3-1 by Man Utd last week and lost 3-0 to Chelsea earlier in the season. They meet the Blues again on Sunday and will face chief tormentor Didier Drogba. He’s scored ten goals in eleven games against the Gunners and marked his return to Premier League action with a midweek goal against Hull.

The only way picking Drogba as captain is a bad idea is if there was some kind of Phil Senderos curse on Arsenal which ensured Drogba always scored (usually while tormenting the Swiss) which has now been lifted with his departure to Everton. Unlikely I know.

2. Rooney/Man Utd – I’d wait until Saturday morning just to make sure there’s no chance of Rooney being rested for this home game vs Portsmouth. With Man Utd’s upcoming schedule being quite tough, it could be an ample opportunity for Fergie to give him a breather. You probably have nothing to worry about but he has to stop scoring sometime, right? To be honest it probably won’t be vs Pompey will it?

3. Bent/Sunderland – They have been terrible recently but Sunderland have to win soon. Wigan are really hard to judge on any given week so perhaps a cheeky risk on Bent might be an option? He’s been regularly scoring despite the Wearsiders’ woes and could be good value this weekend.

Didier Drogba Chelsea

Gets a Captain's tick.

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Three Potential Transfers In:

A look at some deadline day signings that could prove good fantasy wise.

1. Shorey/Fulham – A fantasy favourite of mine a couple of season ago for his regular assists, his move to Fulham should provide him a chance to get back into that habit. With Konchesky out for the foreseeable a left back spot is there for the taking (he started midweek). Fulham play attractive football and given playing time, he should get a handful of assists plus a few clean sheets for good measure.

2. Moses/Wigan – I think this could be quite an astute signing by Roberto Martinez. Listed as a £5.5m midfielder, he’ll surely get some chances up front with Rodallega. Jason Scotland has yet to score in the league so it’s not as if his place is secure. On a team with few stars, Moses might shine.

3. Gudjohnsen/Spurs – I’m not sure how much he’d play when Lennon, Kranjcar and Modric are all fit but you never know what Harry Redknapp is thinking. £6m for a Spurs midfielder is pretty good value and whilst he won’t score many now that he plays a much deeper role compared to his  early days as a striker, he could be good for some assists and bonus points.

shorey fulham

Might be worth a pick.

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Three To Avoid:

1. Stoke goalkeepers – Work out which one of Sorensen and Begovic is first choice before playing/transferring them. We should know after this weekend.

2. Kaboul/Spurs – Won’t be first choice. I think.

3. Defoe/Spurs – Before anyone reconsiders, the midweek hat-trick was against Leeds. Leeds play in League One. Defoe is a flat track bully.

sorensen

Are you taking the mick?!

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T.

Fantasy Premier League – Gameweek 24 Preview

30/01/2010

After the highs of a 145 point week 22 came a somewhat disappointing gameweek 23, where I scored a bang on average 37. Whilst I had a full team playing, there were no Chelsea players in my side and none of my six attackers got more than four points. It was my fourth worst performance of the season, judging by how many people scored more (1,033,779 no less).

Anyway, there’s still a lead in my private league so I won’t dwell too much. A couple of blocking transfers and things should be tasty this week. Four teams play twice, most significantly Chelsea so it’s probably time I overcame my yearly aversion to having Fat Frank Lampard in my team.

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Gameweek 23 Top Gun (aka Tom Cruise Approves):

Frank Lampard fantasy football

Maverick's thinks he overpriced but begrudgingly gives Fat Frank thumbs up.

Frank Lampard has found some form whilst Didier Drogba and scored two goals for the second week running. This time he added an extra bonus point and clean sheet for a total of 16 points. That’s 30 in two weeks but lets see how he gets on once Drogba returns to the team against Hull in midweek.

Elsewhere it was all about the midfielders last week with Cahill getting 14, Malouda and Gamst Pedersen scoring 13, and Lee of Bolton getting 10.

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Three Captain Choices:

1. Lampard/Chelsea - Four goals in two games and plays twice this gameweek against Burnley and Hull. Can’t say fairer than that. Drogba’s return against Hull might impact returns from the second game but overall you’ll be hard pushed to find a better captain option this week. Anelka’s a slightly riskier option.

2. Tevez/Man City – After three straight man of the match awards, the little man only scored 2 points against Everton in gameweek 23. A midweek Carling Cup goal suggests he’s still in form and a home game against Portsmouth should see a good return.

3. A Fulham defender – Home games against Villa and Portsmouth. They’ve struggled a little with the injuries they’ve suffered but are still a formidable outfit at Craven Cottage. Hangeland is the obvious choice but Baird or new Man Utd signing Smalling are cheaper alternatives.

Frank Lampard Chelsea

Gets a Captain's tick.

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Three Suggested Transfers In:

1. Wigan and Fulham players – Both sides have four home games in the next five. Players like Rodallega, N’Zogbia, Zamora and Duff should be on your radar.

2. Campbell/Arsenal - If his two recent games are anything to go by then he’s in pretty good shape. Vermaelen hasn’t got a broken leg after all but you’re never far from an injured defender at Arsenal so he’s one to keep in mind.

3. Wilshere/Bolton – The precocious Arsenal teenager has joined Bolton on loan till the end of the season. He hasn’t quite made the appearances expected this season but the loan should provide him with a ‘finishing school’ as Wenger put it. Only £4.3m, he could be a good 5th midfielder.

Bobby Zamora Fulham

Might be worth a pick.

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Three To Avoid:

1. Kuyt/Liverpool – My latest vendetta. Avoided him all last season when he was on fire and he’s become one of those players I just don’t really like from a fantasy perspective. I needlessly brought him in last week and he’s gone straight back out. At the end of the day, even though he’s playing up front right now you just can’t trust Liverpool.

2. Everton players – After this week face Liverpool (A), Chelsea (H), Man Utd (H) and then Spurs (A). Ouch.

3. Bent/Sunderland – He’s still great value but I worry how long he can do it on his own for Sunderland. After a promising start they’ve been in wretched form for about ten games now. Might be time to cash in?

Drik Kuyt

Are you taking the mick?!

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T.

Fantasy Premier League – Gameweek 23 Preview

26/01/2010

I love it when you can sit back, relax and just watch the points roll in. Last gameweek saw several teams play twice, two of which were Arsenal and Man Utd. 13 goals and four wins later for those two sides and you have the basis of a great fantasy week.

I suspect that anyone who didn’t have a Mr Rooney or Mr Fabregas in their side is now a long way back in any individual league. They combined for 70 points+ depending on who you chose as captain and it just goes to show it’s always worth taking a points hit when the top teams play twice.

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Gameweek 22 Top Gun (aka Tom Cruise Approves):

Yes, as touched on earlier it was a personal competition between Fabregas and Rooney to see who would score most points in gameweek 22. Rooney struck first blow with a goal, assist and three bonus for 12 points against Burnley. Fabregas then responded with a goal, clean sheet and three bonus for 11 points in his first match against Bolton. So far so close.

Fabregas then had the return match against Bolton and decided to do even better and score 13 via goal, assist and man of the match. This had me worried slightly as my closest rivals had him as captain and thus had 48 points in the bag while I was waiting on Rooney. I needn’t had worried. Four goals and a man of the match against Hull later I was looking at another 20 points and 64 altogether. What was particularly sweet was that for everything Rooney did in that game the more my lead would increase. I like it when that happens.

Wayne Rooney top gun

Maverick keeps approving, Rooney keeps scoring.

Elswhere, you probably had a good week if you had Kyrgiakos (19 – unlikely really), Kuyt (18) or Anelka (16 in one game). Over twenty players got into double figures so if you got less than 100 hang your head in shame.

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Three Captain Choices:

1. Fabregas/Arsenal – It’s a tough away game against Aston Villa but I genuinely don’t feel confident in anyone else this week. The man is on a single-handed mission to score and assist enough goals to overcome the handicap that is Manuel Almunia’s goalkeeping skills and Eduardo’s newly developed habit of shooting pea-rollers straight back to the opposition keeper when faced with a clear one on one. He’s a big game player and destroyed Aston Villa in under half hour while still injured a few weeks ago. He’s fully fit now…

2. Gerrard/Liverpool – Should be back against Wolves apparently and as usual will be important if Liverpool are to win. They’ve been in good form recently and should deal with Mick McCarthy’s side without too much hassle.

3. Anelka/Chelsea - No games stand out really so I’m putting Anelka here simply as Chelsea have a home game. Birmingham are no mugs as the many people who had Rooney as captain against them a few weeks ago found out (2pts I believe it was), but Chelsea should still win. Anelka terrorised Sunderland last week so is in good form.

fabregas fantasy football captain

Gets a Captain's tick.

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Three Potential Transfers In:

1.  Ferdinand/Man Utd - Returning injured players are the theme this week and we’ll start off with Rio Ferdinand. Out for most of the season with a bad back, he played against Hull and got an easy clean sheet and bonus point. His price has fallen all the way to £6.6m and he could be a good alternative to Evra or indeed Vidic if you still have him.

2. Bendtner/Arsenal - Approaching full fitness and when he’s not injured he always plays. Eduardo has been good for assists only while Vela is not ready yet. Bendtner should slot straight back in and with the number of goals in Arsenal will be a good source of points in the months to come.

3. Arteta/Everton – Another player nearing full fitness. Everton have been gradually improving and he should be the catalyst to ensure a bit more creativity in the second half of the season.

rio ferdinand man utd

Might be worth a pick.

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Three To Avoid:

1. Defoe/Spurs - More of a personal vendetta but I do think there are other similarly priced strikers who are better (like a certain C. Tevez). I think this the second time this season I’ve brought him for some easy home games and he’s done f all. There won’t be a third time.

2. Walcott/Arsenal - If Sunday’s display in the FA Cup against Stoke is anything to go by, it will be a while before he has the confidence and form to be scoring consistent fantasy points.

3. Man City midfielders - Judging by all the transfer speculation in the media, it seems Mancini isn’t especially happy with his central midfield lot. Something to keep an eye on.

jermain defoe spurs

Are you taking the mick?

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T.


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