Posts Tagged ‘Arteta’

Season Previews 2010/11 – Everton

11/08/2010

Everton

Last Season: 8th

New Signings: Gueye, Silva, Beckford, Mucha

Key Player: Mikel Arteta

One To Watch: Seamus Coleman

Needs A Big Year: Sylvain Distin

Would Quite Like: To keep all their good players, to keep all their good players injury free, to overtake Liverpool.

Moyes searches his pockets for some loose change/transfer funds.

Prediction: 7th

Thoughts: Despite having next to money to spend, David Moyes and Everton continue to overachieve every season. Last year they finished end up 8th which doesn’t sound like overachieving but for a long while they were in the race for a Champions League place.

Part of Everton’s problem last season was a very slow start (beginning with a 6-1 home thrashing by Arsenal) coupled with serious injuries to half a team’s worth of players. The whole Lescott saga ran right until the end of the transfer window meaning no adequate replacement was found and key player Arteta was out until the spring. Yet despite all of this Moyes eventually put together a side which consistently held their own against the sides above them.

So what of this season? Well everyone is fit and Everton have held on to every key player, with only Pienaar yet to sign a new deal. The midfield is particularly talented and as a result Moyes often plays five of them with Cahill pushed forward to support Saha. A lot rests on those two scoring 25-30 goals between them, as there aren’t too many other attacking options. Yakubu looks to be on his way out while new signings Gueye and Beckford are unproven, though intriguing.

While the 451 formation results in accusations of negativity, Everton aren’t a bad team to watch with Arteta in particular creating chance after chance and Pienaar running from deep. Moyes will hope for strong seasons from Rodwell, Baines (again) and Bilyaletdinov and for his defence to stay solid under the guidance of Howard and Jagielka.

It’s tricky to predict the season for Everton, their talented first team is capable of finishing high up the table, but inevitable injuries mean the replacements in the squad are often relied on with mixed results. I’d like to predict higher than 7th but the clubs ahead of them have such bigger resources that invariably it shows in the final table.

T.

Fantasy Premier League – Gameweek 38 Preview

07/05/2010

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

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

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Gameweek 37 Top Gun (aka Tom Cruise Approves):

gomes spurs

Maverick approves of Gomes' recent displays.

bale spurs

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

assou-ekotto spurs

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

begovic stoke

Why the hell am I here?!

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

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Three Captain Picks:

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

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

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

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

Told you they were obvious.

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

Didier Drogba Chelsea

Gets a Captain's tick.

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Transfers In:

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

samir nasri arsenal

Might be worth a pick.

Transfers Out:

People not likely to play this weekend.

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

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T.

Fantasy Premier League – Gameweek 36 Preview

23/04/2010

An interesting week last week with Aston Villa and Hull providing opportunity for double gains. Unless you were the gambling type, I imagine most bets were hedged on the key Aston Villa players. While the returns weren’t huge, they weren’t bad either and will probably have justified any points spent in transfers.

It was a slightly above average week for me, not helped by going for Ashley Young as captain. Just 12 points from him as he got just a solitary bonus point. The league lead is 39 with three weeks left, and Sportboy P (remember him?!) now takes up the chase.

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Gameweek 35 Top Gun (aka Tom Cruise Approves):

James Milner Top Gun Aston Villa

Maverick approves of Milner's second top gun.

matt taylor bolton

Goose approves of Taylor's best performance this season.

Two midfielders got 15  points this week; James Milner and Matt Taylor. Milner scored once and got six bonus points last week while Taylor got into double figures for the first time this season through two goals and three bonus. He has been a little underwhelming in 2009/10 but still has eight goals and three assists.

Elsewhere Charles N’Zogbia got himself 13 points against Arsenal while six players scored eleven. Of those the most interesting was Gareth Bale. After not scoring for over two years, he now has two goals in two weeks.

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Three Captain Picks:

1. Lampard/Chelsea – A home game against Stoke should be easy pickings for Chelsea. Stoke are still rubbish away from the Britannia and I’m sure Ancelotti will be looking for a response from his team after last week’s debacle against Spurs. Drogba picked up an injury during the defeat and may not be fully fit, thus possibly creating an opportunity for Lampard to run the show.

2. Arteta/Everton – A home game against Fulham is no doubt tough but Roy Hodgson has gone on record as saying that the Europa League is now his priority. Everton are in good form and should probably win against a Fulham side in the middle of a European semi-final against Hamburg. Arteta is back from injury and scored last week.

3. Van Persie/Arsenal or Adebayor/Man City – Hate each other, face each other this weekend at the Emirates and will both be super motivated to be the match-winner. Van Persie has home advantage but may not start. Adebayor will get royally booed with every touch but is match fit and has the benefit of facing Silvestre and Campbell.

Frank Lampard Chelsea

Gets a Captain's tick!

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Three Suggested Transfers In:

It’s all about form players right now.

1. Bale/Spurs – Obviously he’s been excellent in the past two weeks with 20 points but looking further back he’s been consistently good since regaining his place in mid-January. 85 points since gameweek 22 plus two matches coming up next week.

2. Players with something to play for – Whether that’s from teams who are relegation threatened, fighting for titles or simply those after personal gain like World Cup selection – now is the time to go for motivated players ahead of those whose season has ended.

3. Craddock/Wolves – 25 points in his last four games.

gareth bale spurs

Might be worth a pick.

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Three To Avoid:

1. Wigan players – Beat Arsenal last week so judging by how their season has gone will probably lose against West Ham this time round.

2. Terry/Chelsea – Out this week through suspension and generally not playing well.

3. Arsenal goalkeepers & defenders – Not that you’d have one!

n'zogbia wigan

Are you taking the mick?!

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T.

Fantasy Premier League – Gameweek 34 Preview

09/04/2010

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

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

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

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Gameweek 33 Top Gun (aka Tom Cruise Approves):

adam johnson man city

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

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

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Three Captain Choices:

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

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

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

Frank Lampard Chelsea

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

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Three Suggested Transfers In:

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

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

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

bent sunderland

Might be worth a pick.

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Three To Avoid:

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

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

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

gomes spurs

Are you taking the mick?!

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T.

Fantasy Premier League – Gameweek 32 Preview

26/03/2010

At the risk of tempting fate, I think I may have wrapped up my private league last week. A massive 15 matches saw all sorts of opportunities for points and while the weekend fixtures weren’t too good, the midweek soon made up for it. 107 points in the end but more importantly another 18 points on my nearest rival.

I was particularly pleased with Arteta doing so well while Fat Frank Lampard signed off with a nice 18 points before I turf him back out for Fabregas. A 74 point lead with seven weeks left should be enough, considering everyone has the likes of Drogba and Rooney now leaving less differentials. Fingers crossed…

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Gameweek 31 Top Gun (aka Tom Cruise Approves):

mikel arteta everton

Maverick wonders how many points Arteta would have got were he fit in August.

For the second time in three weeks the Spaniard (though he’s now technically eligible to play for England) does the job, scoring a total of 22 points over two games. In a nice mirror image, both games saw a 2-0 Everton win with Arteta scoring and being man of the match.

Didier Drogba was all over Portsmouth and in two games scored three goals and assisted for a total of 20. After him were Carew, Lampard and Malouda with 19, 18 & 17. Credit to Lampard for getting the highest one game score of 16. Loads of other players in double figures for the week including four from Wolves!

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Three Captain Picks:

A little tricky this week with away games for the top three .

1. Torres/Liverpool – Sunderland ended their winless streak and have picked up recently but I don’t see anything but a home win here. Torres has been back amongst the goals since returning from injury and I fancy him to get at least a couple against Sunderland’s shaky back line.

2. Kranjcar/Spurs – Portsmouth got tanked 5-0 by Chelsea in midweek and with Spurs looking to gain as many points as possible before facing the top 3 in April, I suspect another thrashing might be on here. I would say go for Pavlyuchenko but he’s doubtful apparently so it will rest with creative midfielders and maybe Bale too. Bentley is too risky, while Modric is usually the passer to the assister so that leaves the other Croat Kranjcar as the choice.

3. Rooney/Man Utd – The safest bet of the big three teams though Chelsea at home to Villa could have a few goals in it. Rooney has a decent record against Bolton and will look to score, get the job done early and come off, saving himself for Bayern midweek.

fernando torres liverpool

Gets a Captain's tick.

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Three Suggested Transfers In:

Returning players are the theme this week.

1. Arteta/Everton – In case you haven’t got him already, last week should be the trigger to transfer Arteta into your team. He’s been fit for a couple of months now but has only started to make an impact in the last few weeks, with 45 points since week 29. With other player at his price level beginning to fade (see Milner, James and Valencia, Antonio) he should be a high scoring option for the last seven games. Three of those will be against bottom six sides.

2. Dempsey/Fulham – When he first got injured in January there were fears over his World Cup place but he recently made his return and should slot back into being a key attacking player for Fulham. With the Cottagers beginning to feel the effects of doing well in three competitions, some caution is advised but they have enough easier games to make this worthwhile. Only £6.6m again after a high of £7.1m.

3. Bent/Sunderland – More someone returning to goalscoring form rather than from injury. I got rid of him in week 29 and since then he scored 5 goals and six bonus points. I’d probably wait until after the Liverpool game this week but that said, Bent has no issues scoring against top sides. After this week he has a particularly nice run however of TOT, WHM, BUR & HUL.

mikel arteta everton

Might be worth a pick.

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Three To Avoid:

1. Birmingham defenders – However cheap they are, I don’t think it’s worth having three of them (inc. Hart) any more. Just one clean sheet in 11, you can get a similarly priced defender with more short-term upside from a different team. Keep Hart though, he’s solid.

2. Diaby/Arsenal – Cheap but can’t wait around for the three home games a season where he is a fantasy machine. Etherington is a better play right now at the same price.

3. Aston Villa players – Starting to tire due to Martin O’Neill’s preference for a small squad. They have a final double gameweek coming up in week 35 but are no longer a certainty fantasy wise.

scott dann birmingham city

Are you taking the mick?!

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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 23 Preview

26/01/2010

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

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

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Gameweek 22 Top Gun (aka Tom Cruise Approves):

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

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

Wayne Rooney top gun

Maverick keeps approving, Rooney keeps scoring.

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

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Three Captain Choices:

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

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

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

fabregas fantasy football captain

Gets a Captain's tick.

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Three Potential Transfers In:

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

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

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

rio ferdinand man utd

Might be worth a pick.

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Three To Avoid:

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

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

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

jermain defoe spurs

Are you taking the mick?

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T.

Season Previews 09/10 – Everton

12/08/2009

everton

Last Season: 5th plus an FA Cup final.

Say hello to your new teammates: Jo (we meet again), Shkodran Mustafi, Anton Peterlin.

Close the door on your way out: Andy van der Meyde, Lars Jacobson, Nuno Valente.

Predicted star: Three midfielders who are all different in nature, but all equally important. Arteta, Fellaini and Cahill form the hub of the Everton team so it’s a concern the former two might not be ready for the start of the season. It’s hard to look beyond those three really though Pienaar and Rodwell are becoming more and more important. Jagielka is obviously a big player once he returns.

Needs a big year: If Yakubu can stay fit, he’s good for 12-15 goals. It would be handy after Everton’s striking issues last season. The same would apply to Louis Saha.

Big talent.

Big talent.

One to watch: Jack Rodwell impressed last season and is comfortable in both midfield and (to a lesser extent) defence. He should make further strides this season.

What they want to happen: Everyone to stay fit, Europa League qualification, some outside investment to come.

Nightmare scenario: Injuries cripple their season, the Kirkby stadium project gets rejected.

Plan A: An organised back four plays behind a midfield five who support one lone striker. Arteta and Pienaar provide creativity from the wings while Fellaini and Cahill make late runs to support whichever striker happens to be fit at the time.

Plan B, just in case: Play Fellaini or Cahill up front on their own and hope they snatch a goal.

Predicted finish: 6th

Why? David Moyes has slowly but surely built Everton into one of the toughest teams to beat in the Premier League while leading them to 6th, 5th and 5th in the last three years as well as an FA Cup final. All this on a miniscule budget. Not much has changed this off-season. The overtures of Man City towards Joleon Lescott appear to have been rebuffed and no other major players have left. New signings have been thin on the ground though Jo has come in for another loan spell. The result should mean it’s as you were for Everton with the great midfield of Cahill, Arteta and Fellaini ensuring another top six finish.

Key.

Key.

The injury to Phil Jagielka is a big blow but the Toffees are well organised enough to cover for his absence. Another defender would be useful though as more injuries in that department would be costly. Oh and the sooner a right back is signed to replace the useless Hibbert the better. For now Everton’s relatively gentle start to the season and the returning injured players should ensure another good campaign for Moyes’ men.

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T.

Fantasy Premier League Preview 09/10 – Midfielders

30/07/2009

It’s time to preview the midfielders in Fantasy Premier League. This will basically be the area where your leagues are won and lost, as most of the big hitters are here and your captain choices will often come from this group. The big change this season of course is the absence of a certain Portuguese winger. No, not Boa Morte or Nani (though the former is injured till Christmas) but Cristiano Ronaldo who has been the backbone of the majority of teams over the last three seasons. His goalscoring feats were a bit ridiculous, not least in 2007/08 when you had the fear every week if you were foolish enough not to pick him as captain. He’d usually make you pay with twelve to sixteen points which were then doubled as captain. Good times.

Someone else will have to be captain now.

Someone else will have to be captain now.

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On a side note the Football Guy and I were debating recently about whether Thierry Henry would have got more points fantasy wise when at his peak for Arsenal. I think we reached the conclusion that C-Ron would have beaten him just due to his goals being worth more as a midfielder. Ronaldo got 283 points in 07/08 if I recall – 31 goals, a bunch of assists and somewhere in the region of 40 bonus. In his best overall season in 2002/03 (he scored more the following year but assisted less) Henry scored 24 goals (=96pts), assisted 23 (69pts), played 37 (74pts) and probably would have a bonus figure in the thirties. This would leave him at around 270. Pretty impressive all told but we can only speculate at FPL didn’t exist then. Anyway, I digress somewhat, we’re trying to find the new Ronaldo after all.

A booking for taking his shirt off. That's minus one point.

A booking for taking his shirt off. That's minus one point.

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Expensive (£9m-£12.5m)

The three most expensive midfielders this season are Gerrard, Lampard (both £12.5m) and Arshavin (£11m). I would advise to get at least two of those three in your team. They’re all dead certs for more than 200 points and will be the main creative outlets at their respective clubs. It looks like Lampard will play in an advanced role behind the front two at Chelsea so I reckon he could push to 15 league goals as well as his usual ten assists. Gerrard is Gerrard, double figures in goals and thirty five bonus points every year. He only played 30 games last season so with a fill campaign could possibly reach around 240 points.

I’m put off Fabregas a little bit after his truncated season last year but at £10.5m he should bounce back nicely. It will be interesting to see how the assists are shared between him and Arshavin but I expect Cesc to still get around 180 points if not more. If nothing else, the man is a bonus point machine. Arsenal’s start is quite tough so perhaps look elsewhere initially and bring one of those two in after a few weeks.

A big season coming up.

A big season coming up.

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I do wonder if Dirk Kuyt can repeat his career year of 08/09 this time round. Only Carragher played more outfield minutes for Liverpool last season and the Dutchman weighed in with twelve goals and lots of clean sheet points in his new classification of midfielder. He will play a big part in Liverpool’s title bid but the signing of Glen Johnson is designed to provide width going forward which may impact on his assist total.

I don’t understand why Joe Cole is at £9m. Yes he’s good when he plays but that’s the problem, he never does. He does seem to bounce back in alternate years so he’s due a good season but he also has competition from Zhirkov and Malouda. Steer clear I’d say. Stephen Ireland at £9m is another debatable choice. Man City’s best player last season with nine goals, ten assists and 16 bonus, he faces a tougher time this season with all the players they have bought. By that I mean that whilst City will be better, they won’t be relying on him as much hence the goals and assists are likely to be more spread out with Barry, Tevez and Adebayor all after a share of the spoils.

If only they gave points for being injured...

If only they gave points for being injured...

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Mid-range (£6m-£8.5m)

One or two of these guys to supplement the big hitters, and you’re looking at a very nice midfield. The choice is very wide here with lots of players who have the potential to hit 180+ is they have a good year. First and foremost I’d be looking at Ashley Young at £8.5m. It’s weird to think I was disappointed with his 153 points last year but expectations were high after a stellar 07/08. He is the hub of all creativity at Villa and arguably the best crosser in the Premier League. I expect closer to the 17 assists he two seasons ago and perhaps finally double figures in goals too. Next up you’ve got the two Everton guys, Cahill and Arteta. You have a choice here between goals or assists but both will score well and represent good value at £8.5m.

The main man at Villa.

The main man at Villa.

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I don’t expect too much from Valencia (£8.5m) but then none of United’s midfielders look particularly appealing this season. There’s a bunch of players at £7.5-8m whose price is based on reputation and they aren’t worth getting. In this I include Ballack, Deco (both past it), Kalou, Walcott, Wright Phillips, Elano (not consistent/guaranteed starters), Nasri and Downing (both injured). Barry will be good at Man City and may well take the occasional penalty while I think Modric may have a big season at Spurs. Certainly a better one than Lennon.

Essien is the only defensive midfielder worth having in my opinion due to his bonus point skills but it takes a rich man to spend £7.5m on him. Of the £7m men I think Rosicky could be an interesting gamble if he stays fit (big if) while Fellaini seemed to cut the yellows towards the end of the season whilst scoring an excellent eight goals. Matt Taylor at Bolton loves to score and will assist plenty too and I shall be keeping an eye on Kranjcar as he’s now the one good player at Pompey. Bentley, Riera, Babel, Nani? Meh. Milner is becoming a big player for Villa and is a good secondary option to Young while Petrov will create, but sadly just won’t play much in the new look City side.

Faces a lone battle to keep Hull up.

Faces a lone battle to keep Hull up.

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At £6.5m I’d go for Murphy or Dempsey, both consistent Fulham midfielders who will assist and score respectively. Gamst Pederson has been getting worse each year but I don’t see where else Blackburn’s creativity will come from. Oh wait Fat Sam is in charge so it doesn’t apply. Geovanni is the only player of interest to me at £6m. Oh and maybe Richardson or Malbranque at Sunderland.

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Cheap (£4.5m-£5.5m)

This is an area where you forget about players you know and start working out who got most assists for the likes of Wolves and Burnley last year. Stoke midfielders are still pretty cheap. Delap and his power throw can still be had for £5.5m. A few West Ham players at that price too but I’ll be honest and say I wouldn’t know who to pick. N’Zogbia should get forward for Wigan while Kightly was Wolves’ provider last year in the Championship and could make the step up. Belhadj is now a midfielder at £5m – he did well for Pompey last season.

Likes assists. Apparently.

Likes assists. Apparently.

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Seb Larsson was a bit of a legend two seasons ago and is still just as cheap at £5m. Moving down to £4.5m you want to find someone who plays every week first and foremost. McSheffrey, Gudjonsson, Muamba, Etuhu and McCann aren’t going to get you much each week, but as they’re relevant only a few times a season it shouldn’t matter.

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T.

Everton vs Liverpool Minute by Minute!

04/02/2009

Join us for live minute by minute action of the FA Cup fourth round replay between Everton and Liverpool.*

Kick off is at 8.10pm.

*Or five minute by five minute coverage if it’s well boring, which lets face it, it may well be.

 

Pre-amble:

The two teams have drawn 1-1 once and then twice in recent weeks and meet again tonight, but this time at Goodison Park. Having sold Keane, Liverpool are down to one good striker in Torres (or remain at one, depending on your point of view). Having sent Anichibe home for dropping the F-bomb on Moyes, Everton are once again down to no strikers.

Teams:

Everton: Howard, Hibbert, Jagielka, Lescott, Baines, Osman, Fellaini, Neville, Arteta, Pienaar, Cahill. 

Subs: Nash, Yobo, Van der Meyde, Castillo, Jacobsen, Rodwell, Gosling.

Liverpool: Reina, Dossena, Carragher, Skrtel, Arbeloa, Kuyt, Alonso, Gerrard, Leiva Lucas, Riera, Torres. 

Subs: Cavalieri, Hyypia, Agger, Benayoun, Babel, Mascherano, El Zhar.

 

Andy Townsend is the sole ITV guest. We’ll just skip to the end with what he has to say. Lots of talk about a fifth round replay in 1991 which produced a 4-4 draw and caused Kenny Dalglish to resign. “There may be another classic here tonight.” I guarantee this match will not finish 4-4. I can’t even find odds for that score but if you like to lose your money you can probably get about 100/1.

This is Dalglish stressed. And happy. And angry.

This is Dalglish stressed. And happy. And angry.

 

1 min: Liverpool kick off. Tyldesley and Beglin commentate.

3 mins: Pienear works his way down the left but gets crowded out by several Liverpool players and it’s eventually cleared.

4 mins: Bit of  a late challenge on Dossena by Osman. Alan Wiley has a word but nothing more. Gerrard’s crossed free kick comes to nothing.

5 mins: Liverpool are wearing black armbands in honour of their announcer who died on Monday.

6 mins: Torres win a corner off Lescott who follows through on him and leaves him limping slightly. It would be quite funny if El Nino got injured. Not for him obviously but for Rafa and everyone else.

7 mins: The corner initially comes to nothing but then Alonso gets the ball outside the box and pings a low 30 yarder just wide.

8 mins: Villa already two up on Doncaster and Sunderland lead Blackburn. Riera volleys off target.

10 mins: Would Angela Someoneorother or Jordy Whatshisname contact their nearest steward. That was a very loud announcement.

12 mins: Hansen and Dalglish sit in the crowd. As is always the case with teams who play each other lots in quick succession, the teams know each other inside out meaning it’s quite a measured game so far. Liverpool probably have more possession.

15 mins: Benayoun is warming up… It appears to be Gerrard struggling though not Torres. Liverpool fans should be concerned.

16 mins: A massive roar goes around Goodison. Gerrard off, Benayoun on. Fergie delighted.

Happy Fergie

Happy Fergie

18 mins: Fellaini fouls Alonso but despite a long lecture escapes a booking.

19 mins: Cahill challenges Carragher. Suspicion of an elbow as they rose. Cahill looked and lent in. He knew what he was doing and gets booked for his troubles. It’s just beginning to get feisty.

21 mins: Carragher now has every touch booed. To be fair it was his teammates making a big deal of it not him. Riera late on someone, no booking.

22 mins: Torres late in on Lescott, again just a free kick. 

24 mins: Arteta spreads the play and Hibbert’s cross is punched away by Reina. Kuyt gives away a free kick.

25 mins: Arteta’s free kick cleared by Lucas. Osman then has a half chance on the volley but it goes over. Gerrard has a hamstring problem apparently.

27 mins: Dossena and Hibbert are involved in a slow motion sprint to the ball. Hibbert is the wrong side of him and Dossena just kind of falls over and wins a free kick.

28 mins: Alonso’s delivery is woeful.

29 mins: All sorts of action in the Liverpool area. Bit of a scramble and then Cahill goes down while trying to shoot. Arteta dinks it to Baines (I think) who then wins a free kick outside the box on the left by stepping past Arbeloa who just sticks his leg out. Arteta drives the free kick straight at the first defender. 

31 mins: Couple of Riera shots go straight at someone.

32 mins: It’s calmed down for about 30 seconds. I smell red cards in this game though.

34 mins: Carragher blocks an Arteta shot. 

35 mins: Arteta tackles Dossena as he gallops down the left wing. The Italian moans about it in that classically Italian way, all arms and gestures.

36 mins: Torres involved in another little niggle, this time with Phil Neville. 

37 mins: Pienaar mistimes a challenge on Lucas. No foul but Everton give it back to Liverpool when play resumes.

40 mins: Dossena crosses well once, the ball gets worked back to him and second time round it goes straight in the crowd. Italy’s first choice left back apparently. How I’ll never know.

42 mins: Fellaini gives Skrtel a little dig in the back of the leg as the ball goes out. Wiley again lets it go.

43 mins: Pienaar catches Lucas again. He’s late and stamps on top of his foot and is finally booked. He has the temerity to moan about it too.

45 mins: Pienaar goes down with a hamstring problem. He might not make it out for the second half. Tyldesley makes a good point about why players get them in such games. He seems to be walking it off though.

47 mins: Liverpool win a corner right at the end of the half… Comes to nothing.

Half time: Well that was erm, interesting. A dull half to watch in terms of chances (precisely none) saved only by a few flashpoints and fouls, only a couple of which have been punished. Andy Townsend sympathises with the game of course. I’m sorry but it was pretty bad to watch. Bruce Grobbelaar reckons it will go all the way to penalties. I reckon if Bruce Grobbelaar was playing, I’m sure he could ensure it didn’t. Anyway, let’s try and make it through the second half…

He can sort you out...

He can sort you out...

46 mins: Everton kick off the second half. Please can we have a goal. I really don’t want extra-time.

47 mins: Torres has been in a mood all game. Everything is annoying him. Meanwhile people are throwing socks on to pitch. No me neither.

48 mins: The Neviller is late on Alonso and is booked. There’s something about Alonso in this game and on Sunday against Chelsea. He’s been acting very petulant and making meals of every challenge. Good player but I can see why he’s getting tackled like he is. Liverpool fans are told in no uncertain terms to sit down by a female announcer.

49 mins: Lucas booked.

50 mins: Jagielka easily deals with Torres and a ball down the line. Torres is struggling a bit tonight.

52 mins: Gosling on for Fellaini. He’s a central midfielder. This is so boring. I could be watching Grand Designs, something called New Tricks on BBC1 or a programme about Terry Pratchett and Alzheimer’s. Instead I’m trying to make a minute by minute on the niggliest, chance free game I’ve seen in ages interesting.

56 mins: Cahill tries a long range half volley which goes wide. Reina had slipped but it was mile off target.

58 mins: “And it goes to Dossena, who can cross the ball…” Needless to say the next thing that happened was a piss-poor cross behind any attacking players and posing no danger at all.

59 mins: Alonso free kick finds Torres but the ball was out before he could head it back across. Random things still raining down on to the pitch.

60 mins: Lots of socks. I don’t get the reference. 17 year old Jack Rodwell comes on for Pienaar.

That'll be the famous Scouse humour...

That'll be the famous Scouse humour...

62 mins: Woah was that a chance? I think it was. The ball is thread through by Alonso to Riera who is racing Howard to it. He reaches it first but his shot is blocked by the keeper. Torres sort of pulled up during all that.

65 mins: Nothing really happening.

68 mins: Torres tries to make space for a shot but it lacks sting. A follow up is wasted by a heavy touch.

70 mins: Tyldesley and Beglin admit that it’s unlikely the game will end 4-4. I take one goal at this stage, let alone eight.

71 mins: Everton hit the post! The best chance of the game falls to Osman who smacks a half volley against the post. Alonso lost the ball in midfield and then Cahill lays the ball to Osman in the box but he can’t take advantage. Should have scored, but I probably would say that. Arteta then got booked.

73 mins: Aston Villa have once again made it nervy against lower opposition but are through 3-1. Derby meanwhile came from 2-0 down to beat Nottingham Forest 3-2 away. Nigel Clough faces Fergie’s United in the next round. That will be your TV match for sure.

76 mins: RED CARD! Lucas Leiva gets booked again and thus sent off. A needless foul on Lescott in the middle of the pitch means he has to go. Right in the centre circle, there was really no need to go in like that.

77 mins: Monster Mascherano prepares to come on. I reckon it could be for Torres.

79 mins: Everton enjoying all the possession now but yet to do something with it.

80 mins: Mascherano comes on but it’s for Albert Riera.

82 mins: Everton win a corner. Ten minutes to avoid extra time. Lescott and Cahill look up to something. Arteta plays it short and then drives in the return ball. It’s dangerous but goes through everyone and is cleared.

83 mins: Rodwell has all the time in the world to size up a shot but skies it.

86 mins: A useful cross Rodwell is played into the Liverpool box but it’s just behind Cahill. Neville and Torres then clash in the centre circle and Torres stays down. Everton want to play on but eventually put it out. Torres gets up. Torres is booed.

89 mins: Alonso fouls Hibbert and is booked. He only brushed behind him but was deliberately stopping a counter attack.

90 mins: Arteta floats the resulting free kick straight to Reina. Four minutes of added time.

91 mins: Kuyt wins a corner. Please score, I don’t think I can handle another 30 minutes of this dross. First corner headedd out. Second corner cleared. Grrr…

94 mins: Everton corner. Last chance of the game. Cahill gets to it but it’s headed away. It then comes in again and Cahill tries to set himself up for a volley. Carragher clears, final whistle blows.

Full time: Everton 0-0 Liverpool. Wonderful. What an amazing game. Let’s enjoy the next 30 minutes. It’ll be like a third of the game being replayed. The only salvation in all this is that we’ll get a penalty shootout. Time to make a quick cup of tea.

I'm so bored with this stuped game.

I'm so bored with this stupid game.

Extra-time: 

91 mins: Everton kick off the first half of extra time. No changes. Torres tries to go on a run but loses it. He’s not even bothering trying to close people down. Something is definitely being nursed.

92 mins: Baines send a low cross in from the left which thanks to Carragher just evades a sliding Cahill.

93 mins: In case you’re wondering (I know you’re not), Blacburn and Sunderland are also in extra time. They at least have had two goals to cheer.

94 mins: Mascherano fouls Arteta. Free kick. It’s played short and rolled to Osman in the area who turns but can’t get any power on his shot.

95 mins: Liverpool are playing for penalties, no question. A man down and their best player on the pitch is barely walking.

97 mins: Mascherano misses an interception allowing Osman to shoot. Reina palms it to a onrushing Gosling but the shot is well blocked by the Spaniard. Cahill gets his head on the corner and it goes just wide.

98 mins: Everton are having a real go, as well they might being at home with a man advantage. They’re camped in Liverpool’s half.

100 mins: Hibbert is at the byline but his cross is over everyone.

101 mins: Torres trudges off to replaced by Ryan Babel. He looks knackered and may well have a knock. Babel will push Everton back a bit as he can actually close people down.

102 mins: He wins a corner straight away. Kuyt helps it on but it goes straight to Timmy Howard.

105 mins: Liverpool give away a free kick 30 yards  out. Arteta sizes it up. It deflects off the wall for a corner. Reina was not entirely covering it. The corner is cleared.

Halftime: All Everton but they still search for the decisive goal. I would slightly favour Liverpool if it went to penalties I think.

106 mins: Quick change of ends. Liverpool kick off.

107 mins: Andy van der Meyde comes on for about the first time in 18 months (literally). He replaces Phil Neville. He looks, how shall we put this, a bit Frank Lampard around the waist area. 

108 mins: What is about linesmen that they always look so dishevelled and as if they just found some bloke down the pub?

109 mins: Liverpool have only ever lost one of the eleven penalty shoot outs they have contested in their history.

110 mins: Babel wins a free kick. He’s look lively since coming on. Alonso overhits it, again.

111 mins: Can we just fast forward the ten minutes please. Blackburn scored a winner four minutes from time through Benni McCarthy. They’re through to play someone or other.

113 mins: Hibbert booked for fouling Alonso who during this game I’ve grown an irrational dislike for.

114 mins: A deep Alonso free kick actually reaches a teammate for once. Benayoun wins a corner. It’s swung in again by Chavvy Alonso but it’s cleared for another corner but from the other side. Alonso takes again, foul given to Everton, I just lost 90 seconds of my life.

117 mins: Jagielka gets the Man of the Match. I don’t care enough to disagree. 

118 mins: We lose ITV pictures. Brilliant. It goes to ad breaks. What’s going on?!

119 mins: GOAL! Everton 1-0 Liverpool! That’s just bizarre. We return to ITV pictures showing Everton players jumping on each other. We missed a bloody goal! Typical! The replay showed van der Meyde play it in to Gosling in the box. He’s surrounded by about three defenders but showed quick feet to make enough space to get a shot away. He curls it past the outstretched Reina. A slight deflection off Skrtel perhaps but a nice goal all the same.

120 mins: I still can’t get over how we had to sit through two hours of turd and then ITV screw up and we miss the goal. This why people say they shouldn’t show football. 

Full time: Everton 1-0 Liverpool. Steve Rider apologises to those who missed it – erm, that’ll be everyone then. No one really deserved to win, it was a dire match. Everton made their man advantage pay in the end though and are through to play Aston Villa at home. ITV are absolute amateurish mugs, someone will be getting the sack in the morning. It’s like me trying to make a point about –SORRY AD BREAK, BE RIGHT BACK– and yeah so that’s why I think Liverpool didn’t win. Stuff the full time analysis. Thanks for reading.

A genuine photo of my ITV picture five minutes after the programme ended.

A genuine photo of my ITV picture five minutes after the programme ended.

 

T.


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