Posts Tagged ‘Stoke’

Weekly Photoshop – Xavi

08/03/2011

Barcelona’s midfield maestro (well one of them anyway) is this week’s theme. A master of keeping possession, it turns out Xavi’s pass, pass, pass approach doesn’t always work (admittedly his chosen specialist subject was something of a surprise!).

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'And at the end of that round, you've scored no points and 63 passes...'

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More here (this week’s winner had the same idea).

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T.

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Archive.

The Six Pointer – Wounded Challenges, Slippery Slides & more…

07/03/2011

1. Liverpool convincingly dealt with Man Utd yesterday and Dirk Kuyt will never, ever score an easier hat-trick. It was very surprising to see Fergie start with Paul Scholes and Michael Carrick in central midfield – recent history has normally seen him go with three in the middle in big matches in an attempt to gain control and stop the opposition playing.

Neither Scholes nor Carrick are particularly energetic or mobile in the way Darren Fletcher is, but with the Scotsman left on the bench after his shift against Chelsea (he can only do one big game a week)  it meant United were unable to gain a foothold on the game.

As you can see in the Chalkboards below, between them they won only one tackle and the likes of Meireles would consistently run or pass around them.

Only one interception between them too.

The decision to give Carrick a new contract during the week was greeted with some derision but at the same time I don’t think Ferguson considers him a first choice player. He’s not bad against weaker sides and he has long been found out against the best – playing him yesterday was more out of necessity than want.

Still, with his continued mediocrity, Scholes’ potential retirement, Fletcher’s one game a week effectiveness and Hargreaves and Anderson’s consistent injury problems, Man Utd’s midfield will certainly need some work in the summer.

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2. Yesterday’s match could have easily seen two red cards, and probably should have. Carragher went in high on Nani and created quite the wound (see below) while Rafael was similarly lucky to stay on the pitch following his wild lunge on Lucas. There is something to be said for a referee to take into account the situation and the context, but really Phil Dowd made errors in giving both players just a yellow.

Red drawn, yellow given.

Interestingly, Rafael is developing quite a reputation as someone who may not have the temperament (or indeed the positional sense) to go with his natural talent.

A red card would have meant his third in under a year, while he was nowhere near where he should have been when Suarez tip-toed through the United defence for the opener.

Recently Ferguson has seemed to prefer someone more dependable in tough matches, with Rafael being omitted against Man City, Chelsea and Marseilles. It will intriguing to see when the Brazilian next plays again, I imagine he might find himself out of the team for a few weeks.

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3. In the context of yesterday’s result, it is difficult to say whether Arsenal’s draw against Sunderland is a point gained or more likely two points dropped.

Wenger’s team have struggled in recent seasons against Sunderland having won only one of the last six games, so it was always going to be tricky without out several players and against one of the best defences outside the top five.

Wenger had a similar problem to Fergie in that first choice midfielders weren’t available so he was forced to play Denilson and Diaby alongside Wilshere. They can usually get away with one of those in the team but having to play both meant it was one of those days where the team struggled to get going, Wilshere unable to do all the tempo setting himself.

The weight of the other two on his shoulders...

Sunderland were lucky to get away with Bramble clearly fouling Arshavin in the box and a goal incorrectly ruled out for offside but having said that they also had their moments and drew a couple of very smart stops out of Szczesny.

I would think that once Aaron Ramsey has a bit more fitness under his belt, he will swiftly move ahead of Denilson and Diaby in the pecking order. He might not have the same experience but he makes things happen, and in a game like Saturday’s and indeed for the run in, that could be priceless.

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4. Momentum at this stage of the season is key so it’s fascinating to see who is making a move at the bottom end of the table.

Just nine points separate ninth place Newcastle from bottom placed Wigan but realistically it’s looking like everyone from Blackburn downwards are the ones who should be worried.

Things are swiftly grouping together for a climatic last few games and as the old cliché goes, a couple of wins and “you’re right back in the mix” (© every pundit going).

I’m willing to condemn Wigan already to be honest, they’re tough to beat but they don’t win many either. As I’ve written here many times before, draws can be rather useless at times and a team like Blackpool who either win or lose has a far better shot and getting the points needed to stay up.

Almost good enough, but not quite.

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5. Of the teams not in that bottom group, Stoke are looking a little vulnerable. They’ve won just one of their last seven and still have to play four of the top five. They seem to have a slightly resigned air about them at the moment – certainly away from home where they’ve lost their last six (and not even scored in the last five).

The earlier point about momentum is key – they face Newcastle, Spurs and Chelsea next. Fail to win the first one and you could be looking at mid-April before they are favourites in a match, by which time they could be in a much more serious position.

I do think they should be ok, given the cushion they have, but it wouldn’t at all be surprising to see them need something against Wigan on the last day.

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6. Jermain Defoe has only just scored his first league goals in a year. If he fulfils Harry Redknapp’s wish and gets to ten by the end of the season, then it will go a long way to ensuring Spurs finish in the top four again. As it is, the lack of a striker in double figures for 2010/11 may be what costs them. Van der Vaart’s ten goals should complement not lead.

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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 – How They’ll Finish

13/08/2010

Based on all the predictions written, here’s how I see the Premier League finishing up in May.

  1. Man Utd
  2. Arsenal
  3. Chelsea
  4. Man City
  5. Liverpool
  6. Tottenham
  7. Everton
  8. Fulham
  9. Aston Villa
  10. Stoke
  11. Blackburn
  12. Birmingham
  13. Bolton
  14. Sunderland
  15. Wolves
  16. West Ham
  17. Newcastle
  18. Wigan
  19. West Brom
  20. Blackpool

A few more thoughts. I think the top four are quite interchangeable though Man City won’t win it. It depends what other business is done before the end of the transfer window – you get the feeling the Milner deal will get a few things going.

I reckon Liverpool, Everton and Spurs are all capable of sneaking fourth spot. With the former two it depends on how fit their first choice teams stay throughout the season while Spurs could maybe go as high as third but it relies on them coping with two competitions at once. I’m sure they’ll sign one or two more players but are waiting to see if they beat Young Boys in the qualifier.

With Martin O’Neill leaving Aston Villa will drop down the table. It doesn’t matter who they get in to replace him, they won’t come ahead of those top seven teams. I have Fulham a little high on reflection. I should probably swap them with Villa. If they lose Schwarzer and get an injury or two, it remains to be seen whether Hughes can keep them going. With the signing of Kenwyne Jones Stoke might push on an extra place or two. I genuinely wonder if they have any players under 6ft beyond Tuncay and Etherington!

Going down to about 15th/16th you can mix and match. Bolton could shock a few people, while West Ham have one of the more talented spines of teams at that level. Birmingham could really struggle if Foster doesn’t live up to Hart’s performances last season and Zigic doesn’t perform but all in all the teams in this section should be ok.

For me there are just the four clear relegation candidates, though you could perhaps chuck Wolves in there too. Maybe I’ll revisit this once the transfer window shuts, as things should be a bit clearer by then.

T.

Season Predictions 09/10 – How They Turned Out

31/05/2010

Apologies for the lack of posts recently. I’m still in two minds about whether to do season reviews for each club – to be honest I’m in World Cup mode now. Perhaps I’ll still get round to it though.

Back in August I played a mug’s game and tried to predict how everyone would finish. Here’s what actually happened:

'Expert' predictions...

Looking at the results showed I got just three clubs spot on: Man City in 5th and basement dwellers Hull and Pompey taking the bottom two places. In my defence I was only one place out with six other clubs but really this table looks like what it is, rubbish punditry.

I think if Gareth Southgate and Garth Crooks had a bastard lovechild it would look something like this predictions table (enjoy those nightmare thoughts kids).

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In terms of the thinking, I had found it really tricky to split the top three when writing pre-season predictions. My loyalties to Arsenal may have played a part in placing them second while I couldn’t bear to predict Chelsea as Champions even though deep down I knew they had retained the most strength over the summer.

A similar scenario led to placing Spurs 7th – I was hardly going to predict them a Champions League spot was I?! I underestimated Liverpool’s decline and overestimated Sunderland’s improvement.

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The biggest mistake was Birmingham, a full nine places out, but I’m sure I’m not the only one who had them down to struggle. Fair play to Alex McLeish (who I had as first sacking!), he brilliantly led them to a top half finish.

The bottom half was slightly better predicted clubs wise, if not positions wise. The dearth of quality is such that it’s pot luck as to where the likes of Bolton and Wigan finish. I got three of the bottom four right and on another day would have predicted Burnley to come in 18th not 17th.

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In terms of the cups and other stuff it went like this:

And I thought the league prediction was bad...

Oh dear. Only Bayern Munich correct and I suppose West Brom for promotion. If the Premier League table was the Southgate/Crooks lovechild then this is the resulting mess when said lovechild had a threesome with Alan Shearer and Jamie Redknapp. I literally couldn’t do any worse at being a pundit. Like I said at the beginning, it’s time for the World Cup…

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T.

Fantasy Premier League – Gameweek 37 Preview

30/04/2010

It all went a bit Pete Tong last week as I saw my league lead almost entirely wiped out based on one wrong transfer. I was still debating who to bring in on Saturday morning and was thinking that someone like Gerrard for Ashley Young would be a good move given the formers home game against Burnley. However I started to second guess myself given that a) Liverpool are super inconsistent and b) they were coming off the back of a European tie. It says a lot that I wasn’t 100% confident of them thrashing Burnley!

Anyway, that plan was put aside and I decided to get rid of Drogba as he was listed doubtful for the Stoke game. Rooney at home seemed like a good idea so in he came. Literally five minutes later the news broke that he was out injured. Transfer already made, one injured player in, one doubtful player out. As it turned out Drogba was fit and got nine points against Stoke while Gerrard got 15 against Burnley. 24 points missed out on and my lead is down to a measly 17. The title race between the two Sportboys is back on! Oh dear.

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Gameweek 36 Top Gun (aka Tom Cruise Approves):

salomon kalou chelsea

Maverick's alwasy surprised when someone nearly equals their season score in one week.

Chelsea went goal crazy against Stoke, eventually settling for a 7-0 victory. Chief beneficiary was squad player Kalou who notched a hat-trick of tap ins, as well as an assist and man of the match for a grand total of 24. He had only got 42 points all season prior to that and it’s certainly one of the highest scores this year. Following closely behind was Frank Lampard, who rewarded the many who chose him as captain with an 18 point performance.

Lampard really has been racking up the points and has ten goals and ten bonus in his last nine matches. Barring some heroics from Drogba or Rooney, he ends the season as highest points scorer – not for the first time either. Elsewhere it was a case of the midfielders with Gerrard on 15 and Giggs and Aquilani both on 14.

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Three Captain Picks:

Four teams play twice – Man City, Spurs and Fulham are the three you want to load up on.

1. Tevez/Man City – Two home games and about the only Man City player you can trust. Always performs in big games and Aston Villa and Spurs are big games.

2. Bale/Spurs - With Defoe out of form and none of the midfielders doing particularly well either, the Spurs pick has to be Gareth Bale. After last week’s messy performance at Old Trafford, Redknapp should hopefully switch him back to left-wing.

3. Fulham defenders or Dempsey – Fulham are always solid at home and have conceded just 12 goals at Craven Cottage this season, better than anyone else. West Ham and Stoke should bring at least one clean sheet. Meanwhile with Zamora injured, look to Dempsey to play upfront and hopefully bag a goal or two.

Carlos Tevez Man City

Gets a Captain's tick.

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Suggested Transfers In:

1. Lennon/Spurs – Fit again though I doubt he will play the whole 180 minutes available to him this week.

2. Fulop/Man City – Apparently nine professional goalkeepers isn’t enough so Man City have been allowed to sign Sunderland’s reserve keeper to try and keep Villa and Spurs at bay. He conceded seven on his last appearance…

3. Etherington/Stoke - If you must go for a Stoke player this week make it him.

Aaron Lennon Spurs

Might be worth a pick.

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Three Transfers Out:

1. Bendtner/Arsenal – Suffering now that Van Persie is back.

2. Sorensen/Stoke – Out for the season.

3. Given/Man City – Ditto.

Nicklas Bendtner Arsenal

Are you taking the mick?!

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T.

Fantasy Premier League – Gameweek 29 Preview

05/03/2010

It was a disappointing week 28 for me, which once emphasised that the obvious captain choice doesn’t always work out. As with many people, I went for Drogba as captain seeing as he’s in form and Man City have generally been useless away. One lack of handshake and doubles from Bellamy & Tevez later, and Chelsea were sitting on the end of  a 4-2 defeat and my captain had four lousy points. Fabregas saved my week as did clean sheets from all of my back five, which was nice.

This week sees another shortened gameweek with just eight matches and Burnley and Bolton playing twice. They’re not the two most inspiring teams for fantasy purposes but thankfully there’s going to be a lot of catchup from the likes of Aston Villa in the next few weeks.

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Gameweek 28 Top Gun (aka Tom Cruise Approves):

Maverick approves of Top Gun number 3 for Fabregas.

I had a good feeling that Arsenal would get a result at Stoke but I wasn’t expecting Fabregas to do as well as he did. But then this is something like the ninth time he has scored double figures in a game this season, one ahead of Rooney and Drogba. It was 16 points last week through a goal, two assists and three bonus points. Elsewhere Fat Frank had one of his better games of the season (I still fear he’ll come back to haunt me) with 13 points, a total matched by Carlos Tevez who looks to be back in form.

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Three Captain Choices:

1. Fabregas/Arsenal – He was top scorer last week and I suspect the same will happen this week. It’s an obvious choice but Burnley at home is as close to a gimme as you can get and I fully expect to Fabregas to come off around 65 minutes having scored and assisted once or twice in order to rest his legs for Porto on Tuesday.

2. Torres/Liverpool – Things are quietly ticking over at Anfield and last week Gerrard and Torres started a game together for the first time since gameweek 20. Torres usually scores when he plays and Wigan is an inviting fixture given their relative struggles this season and their open brand of football.

3. Rooney/Man Utd – Fergie’s suggesting he’s doubtful for Wolves away but I don’t think Man Utd will go into that game with a strike force of Berbatov and Diouf, Milan game or no Milan game coming up. Rooney may only play part of the game, but as we saw in the Carling Cup final, that’s often enough.

fabregas fantasy football captain

Gets a Captain's tick.

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Three Potential Transfers In:

1. Torres/Liverpool – I know I mentioned him as a potential captain this week but I think he’s a decent option to bring in for the rest of the season. His price is slightly cheaper than Rooney’s and Drogba’s now and you could feasibly rotate any two depending on the fixtures (or go crazy and have all three!). Six of his remaining ten matches are against bottom half teams…

2. Lee/Bolton – With two away games, no one really stands out if you’re looking to bring in a Bolton player for their double gameweek. Ricketts did score 12 last week but they won’t get a clean sheet this time I don’t think. Lee has been the most productive midfielder recently so could snatch something. Wilshere could be an interesting wildcard.

3. Eagles/Burnley – With new manager Brian Law still tinkering, lots of Burnley’s players are at the rick of rotation right now. To be honest all they’ll get from Arsenal away is two points for playing so you have to consider who might to something at home to Stoke. I’m going with Eagles on the off-chance he starts getting some bonus points again.

fernando torres liverpool

Might be worth a pick.

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Three To Avoid:

1. Shawcross/Stoke – Manchild Shawcross has the most yellow cards of any centre back (*edit – ok it’s actually Turner but 7 and a red is still poor*) and now has a three match ban after his assault on Aaron Ramsey. Stoke don’t keep that many clean sheets any more and I suspect he won’t be getting too many more bonus points this season either.

2. Huddlestone/Spurs - I think I suggested it a couple of weeks ago but never got round to it. His injury and my lack of players means he’s finally out of the door when I make this week’s transfer.

3. Bent/Sunderland – Every week I keep him in as he’s Darren Bent and scoring meaningless goals is his forte (as well as important ones against the big four), but the time has come to say goodbye. I know I’ll regret it as Sunderland have three straight home games and a double gameweek coming up. But what’s fantasy football whithout a few risks…

Ryan Shawcross Stoke

Are you taking the mick?!

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T.

Fantasy Premier League – Gameweek 28 Preview

26/02/2010

Going into Tuesday night I was rather concerned. Captain Rooney had done nothing against Everton and it seemed like I was due for my usual poor week after a good week. I needn’t have worried in the end. A Rooney double from two Valencia assists and five bonus points between them meant my score jumped to 81 for the week. Not great, but not too bad all things considered.

The Carling Cup final this week means Aston Villa and Man Utd don’t play and neither do Hull or West Ham. I imagine lots of people have brought in the likes of Milner and Agbonlahor after their week 27 exploits but that’s a little silly as they’re going to miss next week too. I can just about put a full team out this week but that depends on one or two injury concerns.

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Gameweek 27 Top Gun (aka Tom Cruise Approves):

Antonio Valencia Man Utd

Maverick approves of Valencia's second Top Gun.

Antonio Valencia justified the four point hit I took to bring him in with 16 points with three assists and a couple of bonus points too. I imagine he’ll be back ahead of Nani now in the terms of the starting XI. There were some big scores right behind him with Givet, Rooney and Downing all getting 15 points. Nine other players got into double figures.

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Three Captain Choices:

A little trickier this week with no Man Utd, a tough away match for Arsenal and a testing home game for Chelsea.

1. Drogba/Chelsea – Man City are a decent side but rubbish away from home. It will be interesting to see how Mancini lines them up after they lost at Stoke in midweek. Drogba might not have got the better of Lucio on Wednesday but a Premier League defence shouldn’t pose too many problems. Certainly not one with Lescott and Toure in the middle anyway.

2. Kuyt/Liverpool - Not someone I’m particularly keen on but there really are few obvious captain choices this week. Liverpool have improved in recent weeks and should beat Blackburn at Anfield. Torres is still out injured (though may be a sub) so Kuyt is probably the biggest goal threat.

3. Bent/Sunderland – Surely they have to win sometime right? 13 games is the longest winless streak this season but Fulham at home is a fair opponent if you’re trying to break that run. Risky, if nothing else…

Didier Drogba Chelsea

Gets a Captain's tick.

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Three Potential Transfers In:

1. Hilario/Chelsea – With Cech out for a few weeks this could be a sneaky way to get some cheap clean sheets. Chelsea admittedly don’t play next week but their games after that are relatively straightforward. A little pricey at £4.9m but cheap for a Chelsea defender.

2. Bale/Spurs – I never thought I’d be recommending him here but to his credit he’s finally over his jinx of not being on a winning Spurs team. Tottenham are pretty tight at the back right now and Bale has been getting bonus points galore in the last five matches (10). He doesn’t really assist (first one last week) but could be a good differential in a mini league.

3. Kalinic/Blackburn – It seems many people who have had Darren Bent since the start of the season are finally looking to get rid of him. With Sunderland playing terribly and his value dropping, the need arises for a cheap third striker. Kalinic has quietly been playing pretty well with a couple of goals recently and some bonus points too. He won’t score many more this season but might be worth keeping an eye on.

hilario

Might be worth a pick.

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Three To Avoid:

1. Crouch/Spurs – Despite featuring in every Spurs match this season, has only five goals and just one since Christmas. Pavlyuchenko’s recent form might push him out of the side.

2. Adebayor/Man City – A three match ban means he’s out till gameweek 32.

3. Cech/Chelsea – Out for a month.

peter crouch spurs

Are you taking the mick?!

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T.

Fantasy Premier League – Gameweek 26 Preview

09/02/2010

The gameweeks are coming thick and fast at the moment and with the FA Cup this weekend and the Champions League not resuming until next week, there’s a full set of midweek matches to gorge over. It’s like Christmas all over again.

Week 25 was reasonable enough but a score of 50 points was a point below average but relatively speaking my second worst of the season (rank: 1,244,616). Captain Rooney saved the day but I regretted not going through with my plan of bringing in Drogba for Tevez. Still ranked in the top 10,000 overall so it’s not too bad but that’s two shoddy weeks out of three. Need to up my game.

It’s a double gameweek for Bolton, Man City, Stoke and Wigan. Not the best selection of teams but more on that later.

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Gameweek 25 Top Gun (aka Tom Cruise Approves):

top-gun-etherington-stoke

Maverick thinks you should at least face the camera if you win Top Gun. Not going to happen often if you're a Stoke player is it?

Stoke won handsomly at home against Blackburn and Etherington ran the show with a goal, assist, clean sheet and three bonus. 14 points for a player who’s still very cheap at just £5.5m. It was his first big game for a while, but Etherington has been steadily consistent and seven assists for the season is higher than most.

Elsewhere Fox of Burnley made his first fantasy impression with 13 against West Ham. Not bad for a first go. As predicted in last week’s captain picks, Drogba destroyed Arsenal with two goals and the man of the match for 13 points while Rooney got a phantom assist to go with his goal and bump his total to 11. Kevin Phillips scored twice for 11 points too.

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Three Captain Picks

1. Tevez or Adebayor/Man City – Easily the strongest side playing twice but due their inconsistency you can only really look at the attacking players. Tevez had a super run of form but now hasn’t scored in three while Adebayor has scored two games running since returning from Angola. Those two things may be linked but either way I think that there’s enough to go round against Bolton and Stoke.

2. Etherington/Stoke – Always go with a man in form. The nippy left winger had his most productive game of the season at the weekend and now faces Wigan and Man City, both sides being notorious for leaks at the back. I would back him for an assist and perhaps a cheaky bonus point too. Might have to wait until the City game to ge tit though – Stoke have only scored four away goals all season.

3. N’Zogbia/Wigan – I would have put Bolton’s Cahill as an option here but he’s now injured for a few months. Instead we’ll go for one of the only two Wigan players worth captaining. N’Zogbia has been at the heart of all Wigan’s best moments this season and for a struggling side they at least score some goals. Rodallega could also be an option but I’ll be bringing in the winger this week.

Emmanuel Adebayor Man City

Gets a Captain's tick.

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Three Potential Transfers In:

1. Drogba/Chelsea – Stating the obvious but the quicker you get him back in, the more money you’ll save. The double against Arsenal should have convinced you. Watch Lampard’s preformance drop now that he’s back.

2. Bolton players – Six games in the next four gameweeks. Plenty of value to be found even if Gary Cahiill is now out. All the games bar Man City are against sides around them and Owen Coyle has already had an impact with their first two clean sheets of the season in the last three weeks.

3. Arsenal players - Just because they’ve been handed consecutive lessons by Man Utd and Chelsea doesn’t mean they aren’t still viable fantasy options. 60 goals scored and a very easy run in (just Man City (H) and Spurs (A) left of the top eight) means you should still have one or two players in your team. Bendtner, Ramsey, and Diaby are all cheap and worth keeping an eye on.

Didier Drogba Chelsea

Might be worth a pick.

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Three To Avoid:

1. Arshavin/Arsenal - I’ve given him weeks and weeks but finally had to get rid. You can’t have that expensive a player not producing week in week out. One goal in nine I believe. Still has a high score overall but there are better ways to invest £10.5m. Now watch him score a hat-trick against Liverpool!

2. Aston Villa strikers/wingers - Scored in just one of their last six league games.

3. Cahill/Bolton - Out for the season if it wasn’t already obvious from the previous mentions.

arshavin arsenal

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.


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