Posts Tagged ‘Berbatov’

Season Previews 2010/11 – Manchester United

12/08/2010

Man Utd

Last Season: 2nd + Carling Cup Winners

New Signings: Smalling, Hernandez, Bébé

Key Player: Wayne Rooney

One To Watch: Javier Hernandez

Needs  A Big Year: Rio Ferdinand

Would Quite Like: To keep City in their place while winning title 19 to overtake Liverpool’s record. Two birds, one stone.

Prediction: 1st

Thoughts: Alex Ferguson came mighty close to another league title last season but ultimately fell a point short of Chelsea, which was impressive given they’d lost both league matches against the Blues. Wayne Rooney carried them with his best ever season but the injury he suffered in March meant the Red Devils stuttered to the line somewhat and were pipped at the post.

Not too much has changed at Old Trafford with just three players joining in the shape of Chris Smalling (who was bought in January), Javier Hernandez and unknown striker Bébé for whom Ferguson has paid £7m or so on the back of a Carlos Queiroz recommendation. This last signing is really out of the blue, and considering how Nani and Anderson have turned out, it might be another case of overpaying.

In terms of the other two, Smalling is clearly being groomed as an eventual successor to Rio Ferdinand, though he wasn’t impressive when he played for Fulham last season. Hernandez or ‘Chicarito’ as he likes to be known is the interesting one. He looked very lively in the World Cup and has had a good pre-season. Double figures in goals could well be possible in his first season.

Bebe Man Utd

The last two Queiroz recommendations (Anderson and Nani) haven't exactly been rip roaring successes.

Elsewhere, there appears to be another crop of good youngsters pushing through, which is probably why Fergie hasn’t spent too much this summer. The likes of Tom Cleverley have been impressive in pre-season and should feature regularly as the season progresses.

The defence is solid if a little injury prone with van der Sar, Rio and Vidic all susceptible to niggles. Evans is a capable deputy at centre back however. Evra was one of the team’s best players last season but a question does remain over right back, where you have the same scenario as last season with O’Shea, Neville and Rafael battling it out.

It might be this for England.

Further forward, there are a huge range of options in midfield and attack. Fergie hasn’t named the same side in well over a 100 games and the likes of Valencia, Anderson, Nani, Park, Berbatov, Owen, Carrick, Scholes and Giggs all provide different options at different times.

Nani especially looked to finally be living up to some of his potential last season and Fergie will hope that he can be consistent over a whole season.

But it's more like this for Man Utd.

Really though it all depends on Rooney. The team is built around him now and he responded with his best ever season last year. After a dreadful World Cup (due to lack of fitness more than anything) he will want to bounce back – he looked half decent in the Charity Shield before being a bit rubbish in the Hungary friendly but I suspect the home comforts of Manchester will see another good season.

As ever, United have a pretty good team and if you come above them, you stand a very good chance of winning the title. I do feel Chelsea won’t be quite as good while Arsenal are still a decent keeper away from being true contenders. Ferguson has seen it all before and still has the same determination to win as he did twenty years ago. I think they’ll come top

T.

Fantasy Premier League – Gameweek 33 Preview

02/04/2010

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

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

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Gameweek 32 Top Gun (aka Tom Cruise Approves):

Frank Lampard fantasy football

Maverick won't leave Fat Frank out again.

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

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

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Three Captain Choices:

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

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

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

Carlos Tevez Man City

Gets a Captain's tick.

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Three Suggested Transfers In:

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

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

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

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

samir nasri arsenal

Might be worth a pick.

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Three To Avoid:

Easy ones this week.

1. Fabregas/Arsenal – Done for the season.

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

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

fabregas fantasy football captain

Are you taking the mick?!

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T.

The Six Pointer – Same old Arsenal, Man Utd’s 2nd best striker & more…

08/02/2010

1. It’s getting boring writing the same thing each week but if Arsenal make the same mistakes each week then what choice do I have?! Unlike last Sunday against Man Utd, there was at least something resembling a performance against Chelsea, but once again Arsenal failed to win with their traditional combination of poor defending and not taking chances.

the wanderer clichy

Clichy the Wanderer

Quite where Gael Clichy was wandering to for the first goal I’ll never know but it was really rather stupid to leave your post as the ball was being played into the danger area. One Terry flick on later and Drogba is stealing in at the far post to slot home the opener. As I mentioned last week, Clichy has been in a funk for probably 18 months now but with Traore just as poor positionally and Gibbs injured there’s no other option (Silvestre is NOT an option).

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2. When Chelsea smashed Arsenal 3-0 at the Emirates in November, Wenger made an interesting point about how Drogba doesn’t really do that much (this was after having scored twice). To a certain degree he’s right but only because so often opportunities are given to him on a plate when facing what masquerades as an Arsenal defence.

drogba arsenal

Easy.

The second goal was made by Clichy drifting inside as Chelsea were counter-attacking. The failure to realise until too late that Drogba was on the right meant the Ivorian could easily cut inside him and blast a powerful shot past Almunia.

Considering how highly Wenger values pace, it’s distressing to see how devastating counter attacks have been from Everton, Man Utd and Chelsea in recent weeks. I’m probably being a touch harsh in thinking Almunia could have made a better effort but Drogba’s shot was pretty powerful. That said, I think a top keeper would have reacted.

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3. Theo Walcott was at least visible in this match. Only for his appalling touch however. What was confusing though was both him and Bendtner have come back from long injuries yet it is only the former who is getting starts at the moment.

You can understand that neither are fit enough to play 90 minutes at the moment but surely someone like Bendtner would be more effective starting, as opposed to coming on when the game is lost. Likewise, surely Walcott is better suited to a sub role where his only reliable skill (pace) could be used against tiring legs rather than fresh ones.

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4. Man Utd’s second top scorer this season is Own Goal with ten goals thus far. He scored a hat-trick on Saturday against Portsmouth and now has as many as Berbatov and Owen combined!

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5. It’s a little depressing if Liverpool end up as the 4th best team this season. Despite their good recent form, to me they are fundamentally a flawed side but years of finishing in the top four has given them a head start in knowing what it takes. We saw last season how Aston Villa fell away and it seems like no one of Man City, Spurs or Villa can string a set of results together to make a charge this time round.

gerrard liverpool everton

Yay, I play for an average team!

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6. The form of the bottom eight or so teams is so poor right now that a win shoots you right up the table. Two games ago Hull were in the relegation zone but a draw against Chelsea and win against Man City later they are up to 14th. Of course it’s still very tight with just four points separating seven teams so it’s anyone’s guess who will go down. For what it’s worth I still think Hull will be one of them.

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T.

Fantasy Premier League – Gameweek 9

16/10/2009

There were a measly 33 goals last week (down from 37 the week before) and even a couple of clean sheets! Might the entertainment be winding down?! No, of course not but I do think slowly but surely we’ll start averaging under three goals a game. While there were a few 2-2 draws, it was Arsenal’s 6-2 demolition that really bumped up the average.

I somewhat regretted bringing in Torres for Van Persie given their respective weeks (2 pts/7pts and a price rise) but while the Spaniard has a somewhat tricky run I think long term he will score more points. This week I am getting rid of one of my big two midfielders. Will it be Lampard? Will it be Gerrard? You’ll just have to wait till Saturday to find out, even though I actually made the change last Monday!

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Gameweek 8 Top Gun (aka Tom Cruise Approves):

Maverick approves of not having to produce a new image for Fabregas

Maverick approves of not having to produce a new image for Fabregas.

Yes, I was lucky enough to watch Cesc Fabregas‘ destruction of Blackburn in person but not lucky enough to have him in my team when he once again scores 22 points for most and 44 for those sensible enough to have him as captain. Let me assure you that it will be third time lucky and I will snag that next high score. I hope!

He took a different route to 22 this time via four assists, a goal and three bonus and thus wins the Top Gun award for the second time this season. I told you to get him for last week. I just wish I had taken my own advice. For what it’s worth Zayatte and Dunne were next with 12 and 11, the former achieving that rare feat of being a defender who gets taken off while keeping a clean sheet.

On to the tips…

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Three Captain Choices:

1. Fabregas or perhaps Arshavin/Arsenal – A case of after the Lord Mayor’s show? Perhaps, but that’s not to say Cesc still can’t get a good score this week. Birmingham are the visitors to the Emirates tomorrow and with their defence being pretty solid I think this may be a game where you pick a midfielder as captain rather than a striker.

Fabregas will be rested after missing the second of Spain’s internationals for personal reasons and you have to fancy him to dictate things against Birmingham’s somewhat workmanlike midfield. Arshavin is a good alternative option as his dribbling skills might be the key to opening things up. His direct opponent is Steve Carr after all.

2. Berbatov/Man Utd – With Rooney possibly a doubt due to his calf strain, the onus falls on the Bulgarian to continue his good recent form of two in two and produce a match-winning performance against Bolton. Gary Megson’s side had a good result against Spurs last week but they’ll be no match for Utd at Old Trafford. Berba scored against Bolton last season and if his reputation as something of a small game player is anything to go by he should be a good shout in this match.

3. Dunn/Blackburn – A gamble but if you consider that he has three goals in four games and faces a Burnley side terrible away from home, it’s suddenly not that far fetched that he could have a good weekend.

Gets a Captain's tick

Gets a Captain's tick

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Three Potential Transfers In:

1. Baines or Saha/Everton – I don’t really buy Heitinga despite his two straight assists. He’s an accident waiting to happen and I would avoid him. Baines on the other hand is very much to his Wigan form of a few seasons ago and has been for a while now. He has much of the set piece duty while Arteta is still out and with games against Wolves and Bolton coming up, has a good chance of clean sheets. Similarly, Louis Saha should relish facing those teams and will look to add to his five goals. He’s a good alternative at £7.2m if Bent is now out your price range.

2. Adebayor or Bellamy/Man City – Many of you will already have Adebayor in your team so this may not apply but he could be someone to bring in if you’re concerned over Rooney’s form or Torres’ run of games. Man City’s next four games are Wigan (A), Fulham (H), Birmingham (A) and Burnley (H) and while a couple of those sides are tough to break down, I’d imagine Adebayor will be the striker to get the goal in a 1-0 win. His price has gone back down to £10m too. Bellamy too has been on fire recently and fully deserves a starting spot. Between them they should be scoring the bulk of Man City’s goals in their upcoming fixtures.

3. Geovanni/Hull – About the only player worth having from Hull (though I suppose Zayatte merits a mention) and about the only player in form for Hull. He has two goals in two games and home matches against Portsmouth and Stoke coming up in the next few weeks.

Might be worth a pick.

Might be worth a pick.

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Three To Avoid:

1. Wolves players – Whilst the likes of Ebanks-Blake and Kightly have been making their comebacks for Wolves, their upcoming fixtures are horrendous. Everton (A), Villa (H), Stoke (A), Arsenal (H), Chelsea (A) is not a run where you can easily identify point scoring opportunities. I’m sure they’ll score a goal or two along the way but good luck trying to predict the scorer.

2. Upson/West Ham – Judging by the 10,000 people who have got rid of him this week, it seems he is in quite a few teams. West Ham have been a shadow of the side that did so well last season and have let in eight goals in three games. This is strange considering the 4-5-1 Zola employs but with games against Stoke away and Arsenal at home unlikely to bring clean sheets for now Upson is too highly priced at £5.7m to warrant inclusion.

3. Kranjcar/Tottenham – According to Physioroom Modric is back next week apparently.

Are you taking the mick?

Are you taking the mick?

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T.

Season Previews 09/10 – Manchester United

13/08/2009

man-utd

Last Season: 1st plus a Carling Cup win, Champions League final and FA Cup semi final.

Say hello to your new teammates: Michael Owen, Gabriel Obertan, Antonio Valencia

Close the door on your way out: Cristiano Ronaldo, Carlos Tevez, Frazier Campbell.

Predicted star: Wayne Rooney has it all set up. A central role should be his at last and he’ll now be the key creative outlet following Ronaldo’s departure. He undoubtedly has the talent to score 25 goals in all competitions as well as hand a bucket load of assists, it’s just a question of can it all fall into place.

This is my town now.

This is my town now.

Needs a big year: Antonio Valencia. Mr Ronaldo’s shoes are big ones to fill and Valencia is no 42 goal a season man. Indeed he only got six last season, but he has enough pace and skill to get into double figures at a team like Man United. I think the fact that no one expects him to be as good as Ronaldo means there should be less pressure on him. He has plenty of Premier League experience so should slot right in. I could add Michael Owen to this section too. Everyone seems to have written him off and while he will spend time out injured at points in the season, he will get at least ten goals if not 15 in all comps. For a free transfer you can’t really argue with that.

One to watch: It looks like there’s another crop of talented youngsters coming through the Old Trafford ranks and the likes of Federico Macheda, Danny Welbeck, Darron Gibson and the da Silva twins should provide plenty of interest and talking points over the course of 2009/10.

To me, to you.

To me, to you.

What they want to happen: Title number 19 preferably with Liverpool in 2nd again.

Nightmare scenario: Ronaldo’s transfer sees them drop all the way to 4th as they struggle to replace his goals and influence.

Plan A: With C-Ron gone it looks like it will be back a traditional 4-4-2 this year. The defence is solid and picks itself and Evra and Rafael will provide support down the flanks. Carrick will sit and playmake while a variety of options will compete to play alongside him. Valencia will have much less of a free, roaming role compared to Ronaldo and his job will be to feed Rooney and Berbatov with the latter playing further forward.

Plan B, just in case: Bring Owen off the bench and play it into the six yard box.

Predicted finish: 1st.

Why? So how come I think Man Utd will win their fourth straight title despite losing their best player? I’m not entirely sure to be honest and I’ve changed my mind quite a few times whilst writing these previews. The top four will be very tight but I believe Fergie’s men have the most solid base in their defence. A measly 24 goals were conceded last season and this included a record run of thirteen straight clean sheets. If you don’t concede at all in 24 of your games, it puts a lot less pressure on the attack who thus need to find just one goal.

Ronaldo dug them out of many a game but Rooney is capable of providing a similar level where week by week he finds a way of breaking through a stubborn defence. Owen is an interesting gamble and should prove a match winner on several occasions. If you think Tevez only got five league goals last season, then Owen will certainly beat that. As mentioned before, several youngsters were beginning to make a mark last year and Ferguson seems quite happy to go with the three experienced strikers plus Welbeck and Macheda in reserve.

Owen fears a merking.

Owen fears a merking.

Another of United’s great strengths is the ability to beat poor teams with no fuss, home and away. They failed to win just one game against the bottom twelve last year I believe and that was the opening game against Newcastle United. If you think that their record against the other members of the big four could actually be improved then you begin to see why it’s not unfeasible a fourth successive title is on its way.

The chequebook is apparently closed for the summer but I would be surprised if no one came in, though perhaps it won’t be until January. In any case, every year people think Ferguson is finished and Man Utd will step aside for someone else and nearly every year they are proved wrong. I’m happy to tip them for another and as the old adage goes, if you finish ahead of them you’ll probably be Champions yourself.

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T.

Betting Preview – Top Goalscorer

05/08/2009

I’m not a huge fan of long term betting just as it takes ages to get your money. That said, betting on top goalscorer is one of the markets that does hold appeal as you can get some quite good value on each way bets (i.e. to finish in the top four). Last season saw the lowest figure required to win top goalscorer for ten years – Nicolas Anelka with just 19 goals.

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I have a feeling we’ll be back to mid-twenties this season and the clear favourite with the bookies is Liverpool’s Fernando Torres. He’s around 5/2 on the high street and 9/2 on Betfair. I reckon it’s probably best to avoid this bet. Whilst I think he will very likely be top scorer, there’s always the risk of how many games he’ll actually play. It remains to be seen how Liverpool adjust their system without Alonso too. I’d be more tempted with an over/under bet on El Nino but I haven’t been able to find one as yet.

38 goals in 57 league games

38 goals in 57 league games

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I’m going to avoid any Man Utd strikers or ones from Man City for that matter. It will be interesting to see how United cope without Ronaldo and I think it will be through sharing the load. If Owen, Rooney and Berbatov all get around 10-14 goals they’ll have done well. Robinho scored plenty for Man City last season but with all the new signings it’s again a question of goals being shared around. I (reluctantly) think Adebayor is a decent bet for outright scorer and both him and Robinho can be had at 22/1. Of the Chelsea players I would look beyond Drogba and Anelka and go for Frank Lampard at 28/1. With his new advanced position at the top of a diamond midfield he should score more scuffed pea rollers than ever.

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Moving on, I maintain the focus should be on each way picks however. The odds get quartered but I don’t think it’s too hard to finish in the top four goalscorers. In the last five seasons the total required has been:

08/09 – 14 (Robinho/Torres)

07/08 – 19 (Santa Cruz)

06/07 – 14 (Rooney/Viduka)

05/06 – 16 (Keane/Lampard/Rooney)

04/05 – 13 (5 players)

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As you can see these kind of totals are not beyond the majority of first choice strikers in the Premier League. The ones I think could do it this season are as follows:

Arshavin/Arsenal @ 28/1 – The Russian maestro scored six goals in twelve after arriving in January. This time round, with a full pre-season and Premier League experience under his belt I would back him to be Arsenal’s top scorer ahead of Van Persie and Eduardo.

Will I be top scorer? Who knows.

Will I be top scorer? Who knows?

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Bent/Sunderland @ 50/1 – I think this is potentially a fantastic bet. I know Harry Redknapp obviously doesn’t rate him but I think he will thrive at Sunderland. Let’s not forget the man was Spurs’ top scorer last year despite starting just 11 league games.

Brucie's price is right.

Brucie's price is right.

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Ebanks-Blake/Wolves @ up to 100/1 – This one is certainly worth a pound I’d say. While I reckon Wolves will be battling relegation for much of the season I’d say they should be scoring plenty of goals in the process. It’s their defence which will be their downfall not the attack. Ebanks-Blake has been Championship top scorer two seasons running, and whilst it’s an obvious step up to the Premier League, I think he has the attributes to spring a few surprises.

I score for fun. In the Championship...

I score for fun. In the Championship...

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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.

.

T.

Champions League Quarter Final, Second Leg Preview – Porto vs Man Utd

15/04/2009

If I was a Man Utd fan I’d be a little concerned about tonight’s game at Estadio do Dragao against Porto. Following a 2-2 draw in the first leg at Old Trafford, Fergie’s side have somewhat of an uphill battle tonight in my opinion. Consider the following:


  • In eleven home games against English opposition Porto have never lost.
  • Of their nine Champions League games this season Man Utd have only actually won three matches Aalborg away and Celtic and Inter at home. Only one of those teams are any good.
  • If Porto score, United need two goals which given they are the joint lowest scorers of teams remaining might prove difficult.
  • Ronaldo has one solitary goal in Europe this year, in the last round against Inter.

 

I’m not completely writing United off, there are plenty of stats that work in their favour too but essentially it’s win or bust as I don’t see a high scoring draw. Porto do have the worst defence of any quarter finalist, with just two clean sheets thus far against Arsenal and Atletico. Ferdinand will be back to play alongside Vidic at the back, thus greatly improving their chances of a clean sheet. Up front Ferguson will have both Rooney and Berbatov available, important given they both have four Champions League goals this season. Tevez will be available from the bench as well as Macheda who has won two consecutive league games. I reckon much will depend on Michael Carrick’s ability to control things from midfield. I’m a bit undecided about him truth be told. He seems like the kind of player who plays well when United win convincingly but is rarely the guy who drives them to a gritty victory away from home. I’m willing to stand corrected by any Man Utd fans, it’s just the impression I’ve got from watching him.


 

Will it be something akin to this?

Will it be something akin to this?

 

 

Porto will do well to take heed from Chelsea’s performance last night. Though they don’t have a commanding 3-1 lead from the first leg, the advantage is with them and they won’t want to sit back and invite United forward. A goal from Lisandro or Hulk would make things very difficult for Fergie, as I’m sure he’s looking to play for a 1-0 victory. This game goes one of two ways; either United produce one their memorable European nights and are defensively solid whilst nicking the goal they need OR they are frustrated by Porto who score early and control the game whilst riling Rooney and Ronaldo into bookings and tetchy performances. If C-Ron turns it on tonight against his former rivals than I think United will sneak it. But, given how he hasn’t really performed in Europe this season (big game bottler? ahem…) I think the Portugeezer will be beaten by the Portugeezers.

  

Or more like this? (I couldn't find a decent pic of Leverkusen '02)

Or more like this? (I couldn't find a decent pic of Leverkusen '02)

 

 

T.

Fantasy Football – Gameweek 25

06/02/2009

Interesting gameweek this weekend. Plenty of new players to choose from and plenty of old players moving to new clubs for a fresh lease of life. Well that and old Spurs players moving back to Spurs. Four teams play twice this week – Man Utd, Fulham, Portsmouth and Man City. Portsmouth are at home twice while Fulham are away twice. I’d *probably* avoid those two and focus more on the two Manchester clubs. Schwarzer may be good for points from saves though. Anyway, on to the picks. 

 

Top 3 alternatives to Ronaldo as Captain:

1. Berbatov or Vidic or Ferdinand/Man Utd – Of the teams playing twice, United look most likely to provide you players with good points. To be honest you could go with pretty much anyone you have from United as captain but you’d look to Berbatov for the goals or Vidic for the clean sheet.

2. Robinho or Ireland or Bellamy/Man City – Games against Boro and Portsmouth should provide at least a goal or assist. As inconsistent as Man City are, I can’t imagine them not scoring in both games. Robinho hasn’t scored for a few games but is always a good bet to be involved in any wins. Ireland and Bellamy are good alternatives.

3. Crouch/Portsmouth – Pompey are struggling but play twice and if they’re going score, Crouch is your man. Liverpool and Man City are not easy games but they are at home and Adams has to win sometime.

Yay

Yay

 

Suggested transfers in:

1. Arshavin/Arsenal – Our transfer suggestions will all be Premier League new boys this week. We’ll start with new Arsenal signing Arshavin. Even though he’s annoyingly listed as a striker when he’ll probably play in midfield, he’s definitely worth a look even at £9.5m. The Spurs game may come a bit too soon but once playing he should hopefully be involved in quite a few goals and assists. 

2. Quaresma/Chelsea – Scolari’s side have struggled to offer any real width recently, what with Joe Cole being injured and Malouda being rubbish. Quaresma will definitely be a inconsistent player but I reckon Big Phil will get some big games out of him. He should go straight in the team and an opening home game against Hull is a good place to start.

3. Beattie/Stoke – Not strictly a new boy in the sense he has Premier League experience but his impact at Stoke has already started with two goals and an assist in his first three games. His style of play suits Stoke’s perfectly and he’s certianly worth a go as a cheap third striker.

May(be)

May(be)

 

Players to avoid:

1. Defoe/Spurs – Injured for ten weeks, and with the resigning of Keane it will be interesting to see what happens with the Spurs strikeforce when everyone is fit. 

2. Anichibe/Everton – Even though he’s just about Everton’s only fit striker right now (well there’s Jo I guess), I think Moyes is the kind of guy who bears grudges. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if he’s played his last game of the season.

3. Newcastle & Portsmouth players – Sinking faster than a lead balloon. I know I suggested Crouch as a captain but that’s only if you somehow have no Man Utd & Man City players.

May(be)

Nay

 

T.

The Six Pointer – FA Cup Fourth Round Edition

26/01/2009

This will be a quick one as these days I find it hard to take interest in the FA Cup before the latter stages. Too few shocks and too many boring games. Here goes…

 

1. Rafa shouldn’t really be surprised that Everton came for a draw given they were missing Arteta, Fellaini and several strikers. He should instead worry about being unable to beat them for the second time in a week. Once Everton scored they weren’t exactly going to push on for a second – David Moyes is more than confident in his defence being able to hold out. In the event they didn’t quite manage it, but only because Howard should really have done better with Gerrard’s equaliser. As for Liverpool, it’s another extra game they could do without and it wouldn’t surprise me to see an even weaker team played in the replay. Maybe that will mean Keane getting a game!

Has never, ever played negatively. Ever...

Has never, ever played negatively. Ever...

 

2. Beyond draws for Aston Villa and West Brom, the only real shock was Swansea dumping out Portsmouth at Fratton Park. Tony Adams has really struggled since taking over as manager and seems unable to get the best out of his players in the same way Redknapp did. Of course Defoe is a big loss but they really lack quality in midfield at the moment, especially since Diarra’s departure. With Kranjcar and Diop out, Porstmouth fielded Nugent, Pennant, Hughes, Davis and Traore on Saturday. Three of those are plodding journeymen while Traore and Nugent are not yet the finished article. Compare this with the midfield in last season’s final against Cardiff – Utaka, Mendes, Diarra, Kranjcar, Muntari – and you begin to see why Portsmouth have regressed this season.

 

3. It was inevitable that Spurs wouldn’t hold on and that Berbatov would score the winner. I’d suggest Spurs’ season ended on Saturday but then I remembered they’re in a relegation fight. Taarabt was all stepovers and no end product (though to be fair C-Ron was once too) and Alnwick meanwhile looks even dodgier than Gomes. Right now it’s difficult to say who is having a worse season out of Redknapp and Adams. 

The new C-Ron? Perhaps. Not.

The new C-Ron? Perhaps. Not.

 

4. Was Sunderland 0-0 Blackburn the most predictable result of the weekend? They have played each other four times in the last two months and are evenly matched at a 2-1 away win a piece and now two goalless draws. They will be glad to see the back of each other after next week’s replay.

 

5. Arsenal didn’t have it all their own way against a good Cardiff side but should have too much in the replay at home. It was a pretty dull game truth be told and Adebayor was guilty of a pretty poor miss. I still wonder why Wenger persists in playing Eboue, Diaby and Song and then wonders why there is no creativity. Nasri can’t do it all himself.

 

6. The draw for the fifth round isn’t that exciting really and obviously depends on replay results. If Villa get through their game will probably become tie of the round, while Arsenal may face Burnley for the second time this season following the Carling Cup quarter final. I think potentially the most interesting thing will be if Derby beat Forest as that will see Clough Jnr take on Fergie. Only Premier League and Championship teams left too.

Maybe gets a shot at Fergie

Maybe gets a shot at Fergie

Sheffield United v Hull City

Watford v Chelsea

West Ham v Middlesbrough

Sunderland/Blackburn v Coventry

Derby/Nottingham Forest v Manchester United

Swansea v Fulham

Liverpool/Everton v Doncaster/Aston Villa

Cardiff/Arsenal v West Brom/Burnley 

 

T.


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