Posts Tagged ‘sturridge’

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.

Fantasy Premier League – Gameweek 21 Preview

08/01/2010

So, a busy Christmas schedule has finally passed and we once again get a little more time to think about transfers and the like rather than having a deadline what seems like every other day. Gameweek 19 was my best of the season in both points scored (83) and weekly placing (14,432). Rooney and Fabregas had particularly big weeks while Birmingham defenders once again topped things up. It allowed me to take over the lead in our mini league too, for the first time this season I think.

I thought I was all set going into week 20, with five players (not counting an injured Fabregas) playing twice and Arshavin as captain for two quite easy games. It all went a bit belly up. Sorensen conceded and got himself injured in his first match, Cahill lost against Hull while Arshavin and Diaby did nothing against Portsmouth. No trouble I thought, Arshavin will hopefully do something, anything against Bolton and perhaps Diaby will help too. One postponed match later my captain has four points and the five between them have just 17 (eight of those by Faye). Not impressed. Thankfully Rooney had played well again and Bent scored too giving me a respectable score of 58.

With the African Cup of Nations putting paid to Drogba and the like, and severe weather still being a threat, careful decisions will be needed for gameweek 21.

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Gameweek 19 Top Gun (aka Tom Cruise Approves):

Wayne Rooney top gun

Maverick keeps approving, Rooney keeps scoring.

I had Rooney as my captain and he scored, assisted twice and got three bonus (yet again) for 15 points – his second highest score of the season. He really has been Man Utd’s key player this season and jointly leads the bonus point total with 26 so far. Closely behind that week (and level for season bonus) was Arsenal’s Fabregas. I was at the game against Aston Villa and was resigned to no points when he was named on the bench. He came on in the second half however and scored two quickfire goals, grabbed the three bonus and then went off injured. Quite the 27 minute impact. Credit to Hart and Jiminez with 11 each.

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Gameweek 20 Top Gun (aka Tom Cruise Approves):

Antonio Valencia Man Utd

Maverick approves of Valencia's steady point scoring this year.

Last week saw Antonio Valencia confirm his position as Man Utd’s top midfielder this season (and indeed top six overall) with a 17 point haul against his old club Wigan. He scored, assisted twice, got three bonus and kept a clean sheet for good measure. He now has 92 points and is quite cheap at £8.2m having seen his value dip. Closely behind him with 16 was team-mate Rafael, while Steven Hunt got 15. There were five other double figure scores floating around too.

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Gameweek 21 Picks:

Some tricky decisions this week as the weather may still play a part and there aren’t too many one sided looking fixtures.

Three Captain Choices:

1. Tevez/Man City – We suggested him last time (week 19) and he got nine points followed by another 12 last week. With Adebayor in Angola, Bellamy on the bench and Robinho out of form, the little Argentinian is leading the line under new boss Mancini. He has seven goals in his last six games and while that run is bound to stop, his all round play is always a good shout for assists and bonus. Blackburn at home is a fairly straightforward match so back him to deliver once again.

2. Dempsey/Fulham – Dempsey is a player I had for most of last year and is on my radar this season (have always had a more important transfer to do). He’s been in good form and is the 4th top midfielder with 96 points. Always a threat for a clean sheet and/or goal, he plays Portsmouth at home this weekend. With Zamora injured he’ll get pushed up front with Johnson which = more potential points.

*UPDATE* Fulham’s game has been called off due to bad weather. Maybe an Arsenal player as an alternative – Arshavin perhaps.

3. Lampard/Chelsea – With Drogba off in the African Cup of Nations, Lampard should get some more opportunity to be the focus of the team once more. In my book he’s underperformed this season but with a game against Hull he could be in line for big score.

Carlos Tevez Man City

Gets a Captain's tick.

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Three Suggested Transfers In:

Some potential replacements for your players who have gone to Africa.

1. Sturridge/Chelsea - I like this option as a low risk third striker option while spending the Drogba money on a midfield upgrade. He’s only £5.5m and while still very raw, upcoming games against Hull, Sunderland and Birmingham (the latter two at home) should provide some opportunity for reward. He had a couple of assists over Christmas and is worth a gamble at least for a week or two.

2. Ramsey/Arsenal - With Alex Song away, a spot becomes open in the Arsenal midfield. Ramsey isn’t going to fill it, but with Fabregas still out and Wenger often rotating his third midfield spot (i.e. not the one not filled by Song & Fabregas) Ramsey is worth watching. He is only £4.8m yet has come on as sub 12 times. His two starts have proved rewarding and last week he scored 13 points against Portsmouth. That postponed game against Bolton will be replayed soon and he’s worth stashing on your bench at least.

3. Zabaleta/Man City – Yes he is a Man City defender but they have kept two straight clean sheets!

Daniel Sturridge Chelsea

Might be worth a pick.

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Three To Avoid:

1. Zamora/Fulham - Injured himself against Stoke and is now out for up to eight weeks. I bet he stops scoring once he’s back.

2. Portsmouth players – Half the squad has gone to the African Nations and any remaining good players are for sale to clear their mammoth debts.

3. Davies and Fellaini - Amongst several players on seven bookings already. Minus points are not cool.

Bobby Zamora Fulham

Are you taking the mick?!

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T.

Season Previews 09/10 – Chelsea

12/08/2009

chelsea

Last Season: 3rd plus an FA Cup win and a Champions League semi final.

Say hello to your new teammates: Yuri Zhirkov, Ross Turnbull, Daniel Sturridge.

Close the door on your way out: Ben Sahar, Franco Di Santo (loan).

Predicted star: If the rumoured diamond formation works out then Frank Lampard will be even better than last season, with more goals and assists. Even if it doesn’t he’ll still find his usual way of being effective. Yuri Zhirkov could have a positive impact, he seems like a left footed Dani Alves – someone who can play anywhere down the flank.

Needs a big year: Joe Cole faces a battle to both get fit and then find a place on the left or behind the front two. When fit and motivated Didier Drogba is still one of the best strikers around, a physical menace who’s a nightmare to play against – it’s just a shame that he picks and chooses the periods where he’s fit and motivated.

Which Drog will show up?

Which Drog will show up?

One to watch: Despite Shevchenko and Pizarro still being on Chelsea’s book, Daniel Sturridge is effectively first option should Drogba or Anelka get injured. Considering he wanted mega bucks from Man City to stay at Eastlands, it will be intriguing to see if he’s as good as he clearly thinks he is.

What they want to happen: Regaining the title would be great but as ever it’s the Champions League they want, hence the appointment of Ancelotti.

Nightmare scenario: Ancelotti proves more Scolari then Hiddink.

Plan A: Power and skill across the pitch. Ancelotti seems to fancy a diamond formation which would place Lampard behind Drogba and Anelka. Use the full backs to provide overlapping width and rely on Terry to keep things tight at the back.

Plan B, just in case: Use Drogba as a battering ram up front and get Lampard to shoot at defenders and hope for deflections.

Predicted finish: 3rd.

Why? Unlike any of their big four rivals, Chelsea are the only ones not to have weakened with no big names leaving the club. Pretty much everyone is fit and some useful squad players have been added. So why only third? My main reason is Ancelotti himself. He’s a top manager but his skills are suited to the Champions League rather than domestic issues. He’s only won Serie A once in his managerial career with Juve and Milan and that was in 2003/04. This is quite remarkable given the players he’s had at his disposal in that time and I just worry that it will take him a while to adapt to the rigours of the Premier League.

He doesn't always win it you know.

He doesn't always win it you know.

Though Chelsea haven’t lost a Ronaldo/Alonso/Adebayor, the feted ‘marquee’ signing hasn’t arrived and a relatively old squad has another year on the clock. Too many players had poor seasons last time round and they showed their true colours by not being bothered when Scolari was there before suddenly improving once he left. Perhaps Ancelotti’s biggest challenge will be keeping John ‘Mr Chelsea even though it took me a month to say so when Man City came calling’ Terry onside. Despite one of the best squads around, you wonder about the depth in the striking department. They will be there or thereabouts but the priority is the Champions League, always has been.

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T.

Fantasy Premier League Preview 09/10 – Strikers

31/07/2009

Strikers are the last area we need to look at. It’s always quite difficult to judge what to go with in this area. I tend to go for a mix of someone expensive who will score 15 goals minimum and then two cheaper guys who might be good for assists or bonus points or about ten goals. Last season was definitely not a striker’s market, reflected in the fact that top scorer Anelka only had 19 goals.

Last season's top scorer.

Last season's top scorer.

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Lots of established stars had relatively poor seasons – people like Keane, Adebayor and Drogba. Only one person got over 150 points and that was Anelka. After that you had people like Agbonlahor, Van Persie and Robinho who all did well but very much in stops and starts. Only three strikers got more than 12 goals.I would hope that we’ll see a few more goals this season and as ever there’ll be some surprise names who crop up and have a super season. Don’t forget it’s a World Cup year so players should be extra motivated.

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Expensive (£9.0m-£11.5m)

Despite playing just 24 games last year, Torres is the most expensive striker at £11.5m. This is mainly due to what he did in those games (score 14 goals) which meant a per game record of 5.6 points. This was only beaten by the Lampard-Gerrard-Arshavin triumvirate. I think the anticipation of what he could potentially do is the reason for the high price and I’m willing to bet he’ll get 25 goals this season. If you can afford him get him.

This season's top goalscorer.

This season's top goalscorer.

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Rooney will be the main man at Man Utd now. He is just about worth £11m I’d say and if he can back to playing 35/6 games a season then he should get about 15 goals. He always gets lots of assists and bonus points too. If Rooney is a bit too pricey then you should look at Berbatov (£10m) too, who should similarly benefit from Ronaldo’s absence as well as a year of adjusting to United’s style of play.

The two main Chelsea strikers are Drogba and Anelka. Both cost £10.5m but I’m much more inclined to go for Anelka as I no longer think the Ivorian has the ability to get 20 goals a season. Van Persie could go even better than last year and is at a good price of £10m. He only scored 11 league goals last year – it felt like a lot more due to his all round play which brought in 145 points. 15 goals is reasonable to expect now Adebayor is gone.

Will he earn as many points in season as £ in a week?

Will he earn as many points in a season as £ in a week?

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Talking of Adebayor (£10m), he’s one of three Man City strikers in this group along with Robinho (£9.5m) and Santa Cruz (£9m). Of the three I back Robinho to do best – he should actually start performing away from home now that City have a spine. Adebayor will do ok, I think, but Santa Cruz should be avoided. He will mostly be a sub I’d say and looking back at his decade in Europe it would make sense. He has only scored more than five league goals once and that was two seasons ago. He will get a few more than that just as Man City will score loads but he’s the worst option of their four main guys.

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Mid-range (£6.5m-£8.5m)

Lots of strikers in this group are more than capable of ten, if not fifteen goals a season. It’s just trying to find the ones that will. Owen (£8.5m) is the second most picked striker which is interesting as he’ll mainly be a sub, at least initially anyway. He’s a good gamble though and it’s always worth having a top four striker who’s cheap but plays lots (see Tevez two seasons ago). Tevez himself is now also £8.5m and should get some decent points at Man City, especially if they plan on playing three up front.

There’s a whole bunch of Spurs strikers who may tickle your fancy but not mine. Keane, Defoe (both £8.5m), Crouch (£7.5m)and Pavlyuchenko (£7m) will all score about ten to twelve goals each and all be as mid-table points wise as the team they play for. Ironically enough, Redknapp is choosing to sell Spurs’ top scorer from last season Darren Bent. He’ll be an excellent choice once the move to Sunderland is complete and is cheapish at £7m. Likely partner Jones is also a player I like fantasy wise and should get similar points to Bent at the same price.

Spurs decide to sell their top league scorer.

Spurs decide to sell their top league scorer.

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Bellamy and Shevchenko are both £8m and both aren’t going to play much but Carew is a useful player when not gallivanting around in strip clubs. Yakubu and Eduardo are reasonable value at the same price, though it depends on their fitness. I’d sooner go with Agbonlahor who at least is going to play every minute of every game. Villa will struggle to repeat last year’s push for Champions League football though. We talked about the Sunderland boys, and of the other £7m strikers I’d say Kevin Davies is probably the pick. He is overlooked as he plays for Bolton but he had an excellent (for him) season last year with 136 points.

You should probably save a little and look at Andy Jonhson at Fulham or Arsenal’s Nicklas Bendtner instead though as they both cost a bargain £6.5m. Fulham don’t score many goals but Johnson is someone who can put them away (he scored 22 in 2004/05). Many people slate Bendtner but I think he’s incredibly good value, especially now Adebayor has left. One of the more curious stats from last season was that Bendtner made the joint most appearances overall for Arsenal with 50. 31 of those were in the league and while he just missed 100 points, I fancy him to get 130-140 this time round. Don’t forget that once you’re getting to this price range and below you’re essentially gambling that the player hits some form. The beauty is that you can always dump them quite easily if they’re not up to scratch.

You'll be surprised.

You'll be surprised.

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Cheap (£4.5m-£6m)

From this price range you’re looking at someone to be getting you around 100 points. If you figure they get around 70 for playing 35 games, then that means you want to score say 5 goals and 5 assists which would bring it to 105. This is a reasonable return for the price and there are plenty of guys who will get this and even a little bit more. Last season you had guys like Zamora, Fuller and Cole all break 100 points while starting at £5.5m. The former two can still be had at £6m this season though I would not pick Zamora in any situation. Stoke also provide Beattie at £6m and both him and Fuller are very good picks as a third or even second striker.

Good value.

Good value.

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Sturridge could potentially be first choice sub at Chelsea and offers value at £6m but I’d probably avoid him until he scores a goal or two. Same goes for Federico ‘Kiko’ Macheda and Danny Welbeck at Man Utd and N’Gog at Liverpool. Jason Scotland is a £6m man I like though. He was great at Swansea last year and I think he has the attributes to do well in the Premier League for Wigan. Seeing as Wigan only have two other strikers right two, he will be their main source of goals. The promoted teams offer some interesting choices. A lot of people fancy either Kevin Doyle or Sylvain Ebanks-Blake to do well for Wolves and I agree that they are worth a try at £5.5m each.

The oldest looking teenager ever.

The oldest looking teenager ever.

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Birmingham’s strikeforce is bit meh. McFadden will probably play done the left and won’t score too often (though may take pens). Cameron Jerome has pace and could do ok for £4.5m while Benitez cost a lot in real life and can be had for £5.5m in fantasy. If I had to choose a Burnley striker it would be Paterson at £5m. Not sure why though! A quick focus on the no-hopers who cost £4.5m. Marcus Bent anyone? Richard Creswelll? Ade Akinbiyi?! No me neither.

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T.


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