Posts Tagged ‘Drogba’

Weekly Photoshop – Jens Lehmann

23/03/2011

A day late due to some WordPress gremlins, but following Arsenal’s decision to re-sign their former goalkeeper on a short term deal, Jens Lehmann is this week’s theme.

Ostensibly Lehmann is there to provide cover while Szczesny and Fabianski are out injured but if Manuel Almunia continues to perform as he did against West Brom at the weekend, then Jens may find himself in the first team sooner than he thinks…

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Lehmann's contract demands were simple - £40K a week and his own private toilet.

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'Though some would say Lehmann had a head start in the crazy stakes, playing in front of Squillaci and Koscielny was enough to drive anyone mad...

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More here.

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It’s still unclear whether Lehmann will play any games, but I think most people secretly hope he will. Mainly for the fact that he’s pretty damn entertaining and we’d be in for a treat.

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As well as all that, he was also a pretty decent goalkeeper in his time.

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T.

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Archive.

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.

The Big World Cup Betting Post

11/06/2010

This afternoon 32 teams begin the fight to be crowned World Cup winners on July 11th. Well, strictly speaking only four teams play today but let’s not be pedantic. There’s a wealth of potential bets to place and some potentially big winnings to be had. I’m sure everyone has their opinion on what will happen so here’s my pick.

Eyes on the prize.

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Favourites

The top three teams in the winner market are Spain at 4/1, Brazil at 5/1 and Argentina at 8/1. There’s not a great deal of value there but of the three I have Brazil as my favourite to win. They’re solid at the back with all the Inter defenders and also play two defensive midfielders to back them up. Up front Kaka is still a great player while Luis Fabiano is an effective striker.

If all three of those teams win their groups, Spain are scheduled to face Argentina in one semi-final which makes it trickier to back them over Brazil. You could go with naming the finalists – Brazil/Spain is about 10/1 while Brazil/Argentina is as high as a tempting 18/1.

Personally I think I’ll be going for all three teams to qualify from their groups with a maximum nine points. In that regard Brazil are 9/4, Spain 6/5 and Argentina 12/5. The risky treble is about 24/1.

Favourites to double up.

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If Things Go Their Way

Here we have the likes of England, Holland, Germany and Italy. All good sides but probably not a match for the three favourites. Betting on England is always a mug’s game in my eyes. The bookies have them down at 8/1 which is mainly to protect themselves from Dave the Daily Star reader who puts heart before head.

That said Capello and a fit Rooney is a far better prospect then the Eriksson and unfit Rooney of four years ago. In reality I think the semi’s (11/8) are the absolute limit for England but there’s a potentially tricky second round match against the group B runners-up which could see them knocked out early.

I like the look of Holland and they have some brilliant attacking options. Whether their defence holds up against top opposition is another story and whichever way they look at it they’re going to meet Spain or Brazil in a quarter-final. However, what’s betting without some fun risk involved so why not a cheeky pound on them to win the whole thing at 9/1? Thinking about it I think they’ll be a good team to bet on a match by match basis come the knock-out stages.  Personally I’ll be looking at Robin van Persie to do some goalscoring damage. More on that later.

Never write off Germany. 12/5 for the semi finals. I’ll have some of that.

Keep looking Wayne, you won't win it.

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Potential Flops

In my mind there are two teams who are ripe to flop completely and not qualify from their group – France and Portugal. I have different reasons for both. France are an ageing team and somehow still have Raymond Domenech as their coach. Some of his decisions are baffling. In fact no, most of his decisions are baffling. The senior players still have too much say and there’s talk of infighting within the squad.

Their group is on paper not too hard which is why this is an interesting bet. Uruguay should qualify and part of me thinks that South Africa will get a win in the opening game and somehow find a way to qualify in second. I’m sure Sepp will sort something out… The odds aren’t great – only 2/1 so maybe it’s better value to bet on the Uruguay and Mexico/South Africa forecast instead (13/1 or 21/1). On the other hand all the great players in their squad might have one last great hurrah.

Portugal in contrast are in the so-called group of death – Brazil, Ivory Coast and North Korea being their opponents. Brazil will top this group so I think it’s a straight fight for second between two of the biggest divas in the World Cup; Drogba and Ronaldo. I think the latter loses out, thus a Brazil/Ivory Coast forecast is a nice 11/4.

This will happen again. Though without Big Phil.

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Each Way Long Shots

Serbia and Uruguay seem to be getting a lot of love as teams who could go further than expected. They’re on the right side of the draw in terms of ‘only’ having Brazil instead of Spain and Argentina. At 40/1 and 66/1 respectively, they’re fantastic each-way bets. Both are technically good with differing strengths; Serbia having a top defence while Uruguay have Forlan and Suarez up front.

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Sharpshooters

Top goalscorer bets are always fun and if you consider that six goals was the winning total for six straight World Cups from 1978 to 1998 you only need a bit of luck to win on a high-priced each way bet. Germany’s Miroslav Klose won with five goals in 2006 and he again is fantastic each way value this time round at a general 33/1.

Holland have a group without any particularly defensive teams meaning Robin van Persie could fill his boots and be overall winner at 12/1. If you look at who’s facing the weakest teams (North Korea and New Zealand) then perhaps Luis Fabiano of Brazil at 10/1  or Italy’s Di Natale  at 50/1 could be worth a shout. Suarez of Uruguay can be found as high as 100/1 and if you think three goals was enough for second last time round it’s worth placing a pound or two on him.

Your top goalscorer. Maybe...

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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 38 Preview

07/05/2010

So another season reaches its conclusion and for most part the last weekend will be spent gambling on random captains, hoping for entertaining goalfests in meaningless games and hearing jokes about having hung parliaments. There are still a few things to decide, and the destination of the title itself. But given Chelsea are at home to Wigan, I don’t foresee too many surprises.

In my private league, Clint Dempsey and Adam Johnson ensured a slight increase in lead over Sportboy P. It now stands at 27 which should be fine assuming the same captain is gone for this week. We only have six different players of the 16, and they’re mainly on the cheaper side of things so there’s not too much room for differing scores.

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Gameweek 37 Top Gun (aka Tom Cruise Approves):

gomes spurs

Maverick approves of Gomes' recent displays.

bale spurs

Goose approves of ape-man's score. Less so of his big ape-man face.

assou-ekotto spurs

Iceman is too cool for school to mess around with such things like a thumbs up.

begovic stoke

Why the hell am I here?!

This is what happens when I do a silly gimmick to represent the highest weekly scorers and there’s a four way tie. All four of those players got 14 points as they all played twice. Any more and I’d be running out of Top Gun characters to use. I think Kelly McGillis would have been next. I’ll leave you to be frightened by Gareth Bale’s weird face.

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Three Captain Picks:

Not many games matter so it’s a bit pot luck this week but there are three options which are self explanatory.

1. Drogba/Chelsea - Need to beat Wigan at home to ensure the title. Somehow don’t see them slipping up. Drogba’s still chasing the golden boot and it’s rumoured he’ll be on penalty duty this weekend because of it.

2. Van Persie/Arsenal - The Gunners have faded so badly that they still need a point to ensure Spurs don’t come third. Fulham have nothing to play for and will field a reserve team ahead of the Europa League final. Arsenal will want to finish with a win – Van Persie’s the man to get it.

3 Rooney/Man Utd – Need to beat Stoke at home to have an outside chance of the title. Rooney fighting Drogba for the golden boot.

Told you they were obvious.

Wildcard choice - Arteta at home to Pompey or Darren Bent away at Wolves trying to overtake messrs Rooney and Drogba.

Didier Drogba Chelsea

Gets a Captain's tick.

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Transfers In:

It’s probably too little too late but for it’s worth you should be looking at the captain choices if you don’t have them as well as people like Nani, Nasri, Kalou, Malouda and Gerrard.

samir nasri arsenal

Might be worth a pick.

Transfers Out:

People not likely to play this weekend.

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End of season review at some point next week. Friday I’d imagine.

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T.

Fantasy Premier League – Gameweek 35 Preview

16/04/2010

Just four weeks left and 44 points to play with. My lead has been shrinking slowly but hopefully the season can be seen out without too much fuss. It’s starting to get rather tricky given the numerous injuries to the so-called ‘big’ players. Indeed only Drogba and Lampard can say they’re fully fit right now with maybe Rooney to come back soon. The search is on for the less heralded players who can make a difference.

In terms of overall performance, a second shocking week in three (by shocking I mean 1.3millionth for the week) means I’ve dropped out of the top 10,000. I’m still on track for my highest ever finish both points and position wise but it would be nice to end things on a high.

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Gameweek 34 Top Gun (aka Tom Cruise Approves):

Graham Alexander Burnley

Maverick approves of vendettas. Reminds him of the one he had with Iceman.

Graham Alexander seems to have some kind of personal vendetta against Hull. After winning the gameweek 11 Top Gun for 21 points against Hull (two goals, clean sheet and 3BP) he decided to repeat the trick last week in the return match. Another two goals (both penalties) coupled with being man of the match saw 17 points coming his way.

There was no clean sheet this time but once again it illustrated the value of having penalty takers in your fantasy squad, even if they do play for a rubbish team. Elsewhere, Adebayor and Tevez continued their newfound high-scoring partnership with 15 and 11 points respectively. Let’s see them do it against Man Utd this weekend though.

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Three Captain Choices:

1. Young (or maybe Agbonlahor)/Aston Villa - Aston Villa play twice this gameweek; both away games against basement dwellers Portsmouth and Hull. If they have any lingering hopes of finishing fourth then six points is a must. The fact Villa are away in both matches should suit their counter-attacking style and I’m looking at their paciest players as captain options.

While Milner is a fair shout, he’s burnt many a manager in not one but two previous double gameweeks and his recent form hasn’t been great anyway. Young (Ashley not Luke btw!) on the other hand has four assists, a goal and three bonus points in his last five. Meanwhile upfront Agbonlahor tends to score in bunches and he got his first goal in about six weeks on Wednesday.

2. Tevez/Man Utd City – You just know he’s going to do something against his old team.

3. Bullard/HullPhil Brown’s Iain Dowie’s side are the other team playing twice and while the realist in me thinks they’ll lose both, on the the other hand they face a Birmingham side in poor form and with nothing to play for and an Aston Villa side fading when it matters. You might be looking at goal or two if nothing else and the likeliest man to score for Hull is Bullard.

Ashley Young fantasy football

Gets a Captain's tick.

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Three Suggested Transfers In:

1. Van Persie/Arsenal - I mentioned last week you should keep an eye on him and if Wednesday’s ultimately fruitless 25 minute cameo against Spurs is anything to go by then he’s not far from being back amongst the fantasy points. Arsenal face Wigan this weekend before Man City at home next week.

While he may not start this time, I imagine he’ll be getting a minimum of 30 minutes before a super motivated start against his old friend Adebayor next weekend. As good a differential as you’re likely to find at this stage.

2. Johnson/Liverpool - Sneakily scoring quite good points over the last five weeks after returning to full fitness. Liverpool are pretty solid again right now and he’s popped up with a couple of assists too. Still well pricey at £7.6m but maybe get him in and cheap midfielder rather than hoping that the likes of Arteta etc will regain fitness.

3. Gomes/Spurs - 26 points in three games, still under £5m.

Robin van Persie

Might be worth a pick.

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Three To Avoid:

1. Vermaelen/Arsenal - Another key player at Arsenal bites the dust for the season.

2. Torres/Liverpool - One of the most frustrating players I’ve encountered in fantasy football. So good yet injured so often.

3. Birmingham players - Bottom of the form league.

thomas vermaelen arsenal

Are you taking the mick?!

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T.

Fantasy Premier League – Gameweek 34 Preview

09/04/2010

Quick one this week as there are plenty of other things I need to do.

After the shambles of week 32, this time it was a bit better in what was generally a low-scoring gameweek. I had the top-scoring player in Adam Johnson but my captain Torres was helpfully taken off after 64 minutes against Birmingham having yet to do anything. Liverpool then proceeded to have a quite a few good chances. Thanks for nothing Rafa. Eight points left on the bench too as I got my Birmingham defenders set the wrong way round.

My league lead was extended a little and is now back to 57 points which isn’t too bad. Frank Lampard is now back in my team so there is less fear of him scoring seven goals and being someone’s captain. An average week overall but in my league context not too bad at all. It’s quite exciting behind me as it’s a three-way battle for second with just three points separating them. The Football Guy has picked up recently but is still back in fifth.

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Gameweek 33 Top Gun (aka Tom Cruise Approves):

adam johnson man city

Maverick was annoyed at how hard it was to find a decent picture of Adam Johnson in a Man City shirt. This isn't even that good!

Yes Adam Johnson was the highest scorer with 14 this week, through three assists and a man of the match performance vs Burnley. Closely following were his Man City teammates Adebayor with 13 and Tevez with 12. Tottenham’s keeper Gomes was the only other player in double figures also earning 12, mainly through saving two Darren Bent penalties.

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Three Captain Choices:

1. Lampard/Chelsea – Home game against Bolton, who he regularly scores against. Seems to have a second wind (digestive perhaps?!) which is leading to a strong finish to the season.

2. Torres/Liverpool - He was a bust last weekend but scored twice in midweek Europa League action. The visitors to Anfield are Fulham who also had midweek action, thus cancelling out tiredness issues. They’re cruising to the end of the league season so it should be a comfortable home win here.

3. A Man Utd player – Blackburn are good at home but I guarantee Fergie will get a favour from his mate Fat Sam Allardyce.

Frank Lampard Chelsea

Gets a Captain's tick! And a portion of chips.

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Three Suggested Transfers In:

1. Bent/Sunderland – He’s chasing the golden boot and faces West Ham, Burnley and Hull next. My pre-season each way bet on him being top-scorer at something like 50-1 looks like coming in.

2. Bullard/Hull - Burnley this week and plays twice next week. Still cheap, still the heartbeat of Hull’s team.

3. Van Persie/Arsenal – Reported that he *may* be available against Spurs. Obviously he’s be lacking match practice, but remember how many goals Arsenal were scoring at the start of the year?

bent sunderland

Might be worth a pick.

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Three To Avoid:

1. Tottenham players – Arsenal then Chelsea then Man Utd. In fact maybe pick Gomes as he’s going to busy!

2. Man City players – Face Birmingham and Man Utd at home then Arsenal away. Bring them back in week 37 where they play twice.

3. Arteta/Everton – Niggly groin injury. We need players that play at this stage.

gomes spurs

Are you taking the mick?!

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T.

Fantasy Premier League – Gameweek 33 Preview

02/04/2010

I get rid of Lampard. Drogba and Rooney don’t play. My nearest rival suddenly has 56 cheap points though auto-sub captain. Not impressed. I should know by now that Fat Frank always comes back to bite me. I’m not letting another title slip away due to not having him. Back in he comes.

As you can imagine last week was pretty horrific and basically Martin Olsson and Niko Kranjcar saved my lead being completely wiped out. It’s down to 47 points now and with a few big players getting injured it will be interesting who people choose to step up to the plate.

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Gameweek 32 Top Gun (aka Tom Cruise Approves):

Frank Lampard fantasy football

Maverick won't leave Fat Frank out again.

It was the Frank Lampard show last week as Aston Villa personally decided to gift him 28 points as he scored four goals, assisted another and thus got three bonus too. 28 points is ridiculous from one game and I think that may well be a new record. I don’t think Ronaldo ever got that high. Rooney of course got 32 in a gameweek earlier this season but that was of course over two games.

Malouda helped himself to 17 in the same match while Tevez scored a 12 minute hat-trick for a cheeky 16. Lampard has now beaten his overall score from last season by reaching 228 and there are still six games left. Might he challenge Ronaldo’s record of 280-odd points from a couple of seasons ago?

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Three Captain Choices:

1. Tevez/Man City – With the top two playing each other, Arsenal players being at the risk of rotation and Arteta being a doubt we have to look elsewhere for our captain choice. Tevez got three goals last week which was interesting as Adebayor played alongside him. Burnley away this week so more goals should be forthcoming.

2. Torres/Liverpool – Torres has six goals and nine bonus points in five games and while Birmingham away is a tough match, I feel if he plays he’s more than likely to score.

3. Arsenal players – A slight risk of the big guns being rested here given Arsenal play Barcelona on Tuesday. A big victory should be on the cards given it’s Wolves at home but it’s tricky deciding who will play. Bendtner could be rested so perhaps look at the remaining midfielders who are still fit.

Carlos Tevez Man City

Gets a Captain's tick.

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Three Suggested Transfers In:

1. Nasri/Arsenal – With both Fabregas and Arshavin out for the season (though it could only be three weeks with the latter) someone has to step up in the Arsenal midfield. With Fabregas having dominated league proceedings up until now, it’s quite hard to judge alternatives. Diaby is the highest available scorer but has been quiet for a few weeks now.

Denilson sits a bit too deep to regularly be on the assist sheet, leaving Samir Nasri as the most interesting alternative. He scored last week against Birmingham as well as having some fine performances when replacing Fabregas. He’s £7.9m and worth a speculative add.

2. Dunn/Blackburn – After being a week away from fitness for about two months, Dunn finally made his return four games ago. He’s been particularly impressive in the last two matches with three goals and six bonus points. Blackburn are safe and he’s still pretty cheap so could be good as a fourth/fifth midfielder for the rest of the season.

3. Torres/Liverpool – Your replacement for injured Rooney.

samir nasri arsenal

Might be worth a pick.

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Three To Avoid:

Easy ones this week.

1. Fabregas/Arsenal - Done for the season.

2. Rooney/Man Utd - Out for three weeks or so.

3. Aston Villa players – They fell away this time last season too. Deja vu?

fabregas fantasy football captain

Are you taking the mick?!

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T.


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