Posts Tagged ‘Wigan’

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.

Live Report: Arsenal v Wigan Thoughts

01/12/2010

A few thoughts on last night’s victory over Wigan…

The performance wasn’t a vintage one but this was partly down due to the awful conditions. Freezing temperatures, falling snow and swirling winds did not for flowing football make. The atmosphere was pretty good all things considered but there were certainly far fewer people then the advertised 59,525.

I’m sure many people felt that they’d rather sacrifice the tenner they paid instead of sitting in the cold for two hours. Indeed, the guy sitting next me bailed at half time, clearly thinking “Sod this, I’m freezing”.

Kick off

On the pitch there were a few impressive performances. Wilshere kept things ticking at a reasonable pace, hitting probing passes and telling people where he wanted them to run. Van Persie, the captain for the night, had some lovely touches including a couple of flicks that Vela should really have finished off. His set pieces were always hit at a threatening pace too.

Kieran Gibbs has been getting rave reviews whenever he’s played and this game was no different. Always comfortable in defence, he consistently overlapped Vela down the left wing. The crosses/cutbacks didn’t always pick someone out but as many others have said, Gael Clichy should be looking over his shoulder.

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You could argue Vela, Walcott and Bendtner were disappointing, and I suppose they all had presentable chances to score (the latter of course did) – however it would be unfair to simply judge them by the scoresheet. Bendtner of course is still working his way to full fitness and as usual was often in the right place at the right time; his scoring touch will come.

Walcott didn’t really trouble Figueroa in the 1st half but found a little more joy in the second where he started to roam. Indeed his best effort came when cutting in from the left and curling a shot just wide.

Vela was the most interesting. He missed two glorious chances which he normally puts away but generally was always available as an outlet. He’s in the trickiest situation of those three, I just don’t see where he fits in long term.

Swirling snow.

I should mention Wigan’s performance which wasn’t especially bad but lacked a butting edge. Their early tactic was to hit balls out wide to the left where Victor Moses was situated – clearly they thought Eboue was not fully fit. However he went off with a dislocated shoulder towards the end of the 1st half and with that Wigan’s threat somewhat disappeared.

They had some half chances but these stemmed from sloppiness on Arsenal’s part rather than any real creativity. Perhaps I was most impressed with the fact that Caldwell, Alcaraz and Boselli all wore short sleeve shirts and no gloves. Hardcore!

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Once the second goal had gone in the game somewhat petered out. A few chances were missed and everyone was willing the final whistle. Some mild entertainment was provided by a pitch invader who ran the length of the touchline to shake Wenger’s hand.

Clearly the cold had numbed the stewards’ reactions. This was proven a few minutes later when two more kids tried their luck. They were more interested in putting on a show and spent the next minute or so sliding around the Emirates pitch whilst players stood bewildered and stewards chased in vain.

Eventually Eboue got them to stop. It wasn’t particularly clever on their part but I do think it is an isolated incident unlikely to be repeated. The combination of freezing cold weather, bored kids and stewards who weren’t alert is not a particularly common one. After all the one near me was sharp enough to spot me swigging from a hip flask. Given the choice/ultimatum of confiscating it or drinking it all at once in the concourse, I chose the latter naturally.

Pitch invaders...

An intriguing night all in all, with the victory being the most important aspect. The news that Ipswich will be the semi-final opponents should provide a great opportunity to play at Wembley in February.

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T.

Weekly Photoshop – Blackpool in the Premier League

24/08/2010

Blackpool are this week’s theme and already they’re proving to be a lot of fun during their brief stay in the Premier League, winning 4-0 and losing 6-0. Hard not to focus on Ian Holloway as no one else has established themselves yet. This makes no sense unless you’ve seen this interview. I look forward to further inspired post match analysis this season.

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Blackpool Ian Holloway

Ian Holloway finds the standard of lady he gets in the taxi to be of a much higher standard now Blackpool are in the top flight.

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More here.

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T.

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Archive.

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 Previews 2010/11 – Wigan

10/08/2010

Wigan

Last Season: 16th

New Signings: Boselli, Stam, McArthur, Alcaraz, Al-Habsi

Key Player: Hugo Rodallega

One To Watch: James McCarthy

Needs A Big Year: Antolin Alcaraz

Would Quite Like: To concede a few less goals while scoring a few more. Avoid embarrassing seven, eight and nine goal thrashings.

Less of this needed.

Prediction: 18th

Thoughts: As much as I’d love Roberto Martinez to do well with Wigan I worry for them this season. I was charmed by Swansea’s cup run couple of years ago as he oversaw an attacking, pacy style of play and he has made similar attempts to introduce this with Wigan.

However, the result had been a very leaky defence which conceded 79 goals last season, a figure which only Burnley ‘beat’. Quite why they’ve sold their best central defender in Titus Bramble I’ll never know. His replacement needs to perform straight away.

With this in mind plus the fact that bigger clubs are trying to swoop in on the likes Rodallega and N’Zogbia, Wigan’s prospects look a little grim. Their biggest signing has been the striker Boselli for about £6m and you just feel that maybe part of that should have gone on strengthening the backline.

I have no doubt Moses, Rodallega, N’Zogbia et al will ensure lots of goals but a defence like theirs means trouble. I like Wigan as a club and admire that they try to play football the right way but I think this season will see an end to their stay in the top flight.

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 30 Preview

12/03/2010

I kept putting it off because I knew it would happen. But last week I could wait no more and finally got rid of Darren Bent in exchange for Nicklas Bendtner. It’s not that I doubted Bent’s ability to score but there’s only so long you can wait for Sunderland to win a game.

One hat-trick from Mr. Bent later and I wish I somewhat regretted the decision (despite NB’s five points against Burnley). Going into the rest of the season it was a move I wanted to make as Bendtner plays every week when fit and is so very cheap, thus allowing improvement elsewhere.

Getting a combined total of 38 minutes out of Rooney (injured), Drogba (no game) and Fabregas (one assist before injury) meant the weekly score was low at 41 points. I lost 12 points with Pompey’s last-minute consolation vs Birmingham but overall it was a week to get through as best you could.

It’s all in preparation for Wigan and Villa playing twice this week before the mighty gameweek 31 where TEN teams play twice. Leagues will be won or lost right there.

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Gameweek 29 Top Gun (aka Tom Cruise Approves):

mikel arteta everton

Maverick thinks Arteta is almost as good-looking as he is.

After being a bit of a fantasy god in the first season (06/07) I played (every week he’d assist a Joleon Lescott header) Arteta has had his fair share of injury problems in the three years since. Still a top player but often out for long periods.

This season was no exception but he has recently returned to full fitness and reminded us all of just how good a player he is. 18 points against Hull through two goals, an assist and three bonus points. He does tend to be a bit of a bonus point magnet when he plays and should be a good points scorer for the rest of the season.

Darren Bent pushed him hard this week with a 16 point hat-trick, while cheap strikers that you’re not likely to have followed with Nugent getting 14 and Jerome 13.

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Three Captain Choices:

1. Milner/Aston Villa – Two games this week, against Stoke and Wigan away. While Villa have been better away than at home, I’m reluctant to suggest a defender for two away matches. Milner has cooled off recently but is now their top points scorer and most likely to produce this week.

2. Drogba or Lampard/Chelsea - A home game against West Ham is a near banker for Chelsea, despite the useless Ross Turnbull (even worse than Hilario) set to play in goal. Lampard scored twice in the defeat to Man City but I still am more inclined to captain Drogba given a choice between the two.

3. Rodallega/Wigan – Games against Bolton and Villa. As always, you never know which Wigan will turn up but the beauty of them having two matches is that they should perform in at least one. N’Zogbia has been a little quiet since his bonus point binge a month ago so I’ll suggest Rodallega who got nine points against Liverpool last week.

James Milner Aston Villa

Gets a Captain's tick.

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Three Suggested Transfers In:

1. Aston Villa players - All about forward planning this week. Ten teams play twice next week so you’ll want to stock in order for a big week 31 score. Best option of all are Aston Villa players who have an unprecedented double double – four games in two gameweeks! I’d say go with attacking players like Milner/Young/Agbonlahor/Downing for this week’s away games and top up with defenders next week for the two home matches.

2. Everton players – A decent game against Birmingham this week followed by Bolton and Man City next week. I’d waver more towards the midfielders give the choice. Arteta will see a lot of pick up this week but justifiably so, while Pienaar offers cheaper but perhaps better value. Jack Rodwell is back in the picture too and before his injury was playing 90 minutes every week for only £4.3m.

3. O’Hara/Portsmouth - Ten bonus points and two assists in his last six games. Yes Portsmouth are rubbish and will be relegated soon but at home they still usually score. They have two home games next week (one against Hull) and O’Hara is only £4.5m leaving you to upgrade elsewhere.

Ashley Young fantasy football

Might be worth a pick.

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Three To Avoid:

1. Fulham defenders – They had a nice little run of games from which I picked up two sets of four clean sheets from five games but their Europa League exploits look to be catching up with them. Still worth a bench spot but there’s no need for me to have two players any more. Shorey might find he loses his place to a returning Konchesky.

2. Gerrard & Torres/Liverpool – Overpriced and underscoring. Pompey at home is a last chance saloon in terms of fantasy relevance this year.

3. Fabregas/Arsenal - Before you all get in a twist I’m just suggesting getting rid for this week and next before bringing him back in week 32. He definitely won’t face Hull and then has an admittedly good match against West Ham in week 31. In that time however Frank Lampard will play three times. Also, the last time Wenger said an Arsenal player had a small, small calf strain, Eduardo ended up being out for a month. Depends how much money you stand to lose on him I guess..

shorey fulham

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 24 Preview

30/01/2010

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

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

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Gameweek 23 Top Gun (aka Tom Cruise Approves):

Frank Lampard fantasy football

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

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

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

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Three Captain Choices:

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

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

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

Frank Lampard Chelsea

Gets a Captain's tick.

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Three Suggested Transfers In:

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

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

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

Bobby Zamora Fulham

Might be worth a pick.

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Three To Avoid:

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

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

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

Drik Kuyt

Are you taking the mick?!

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T.


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