Posts Tagged ‘Robinho’

Season Previews 2010/11 – Manchester City


Man City

Last Season: 5th

New Signings: Silva, Boateng, Toure, Kolarov with Milner and Balotelli to potentially come

Key Player: Carlos Tevez

One To Watch: Mario Balotelli if he joins, David Silva if he doesn’t.

Needs A Big Year: Joleon Lescott

Would Quite Like: Everything if possible. Will settle for a trophy and coming above their city neighbours.

Four more players please.

Prediction: 4th

Thoughts: A friend and I spent a couple of hours at work recently trying to predict who would be in Man City’s starting line up. After much deliberation we decided we had no idea. This is probably the biggest issue facing Mancini as he begins his first full season in charge at Eastlands.

Whilst some of the prices he (or rather his bosses) have paid for players would dictate they will start but even then who can you really say is guaranteed to play if fit? Tevez obviously. Silva and Yaya Toure I suppose. Koralov too. But beyond that it appears like it may be a case of adapting to the opponent and seeing who performs.

This is fine but with big games from the very off, there isn’t much room for error if the aim is to challenge for the title. The sheer depth of a squad where Bellamy, Ireland and Santa Cruz aren’t even in the 25 (and are all likely to leave) means a top four finish should be comfortably achieved. Whether they can do even better depends on how quickly things will gel together.

Tactically it looks like City will be playing two defensive midfielders whatever happens, though Toure is known to get forward. At home I’d wager that Tevez and another striker (Balotelli probably) play up front with Silva and Milner pushing from left and right. A fluid 4231. Away from home against stronger teams it may almost be a Christmas tree formation with three defensive midfielders, with Silva and another pacy player supporting Tevez up front on his own.

The options are quite varied to be honest but Mancini is a bit of a safety first manager. My main concern is whether the centre-backs are up to the task. Lescott and Kolo Toure were decidedly average last season meaning it will be probably be Kompany alongside one of them, or possibly even Boateng. Either way it’s not going to be the greatest partnership in the world. What price another defender coming in before the deadline?

No , make that five.

Overall I think City will do well but they’re still a season away from a proper title push. This time next year though they’ll have Champions League football to offer as a carrot to prospective players. Just watch who they sign then…


World Cup Bet Of The Day – Day 22


Running Total: -3.8 units

Hmm it seems any bet I suggest on here is bound to lose. Spain had to wait until the second half before taking the lead against Portugal, therefore scuppering day 19’s tip.

Today we have Holland v Brazil and Ghana v Uruguay. The former should be a good match but I’ve lost count of how many times that’s been predicted. I don’t think Holland should be as high as 7/2 to win that match but Brazil have looked very good so far.

Ghana have done brilliantly so far but in the interests of my Suarez top goalscorer bet I’ll be hoping for a Uruguay win. Let’s go with him to score anytime.

Bet of the day:

Luis Suarez to score anytime vs Ghana @ 2/1.


World Cup Bet Of The Day – Day 5


Running Total: -0.8 units

Another day, another wrong prediction for a match winner. I can’t help it if Paul le Guen in all his infinite wisdom chooses not to play his best midfielder (Alex Song) whist also deciding to play his best striker Eto’o out on the right-wing. I think I’ll avoid picking teams to win until the second set of group fixtures.

There was some success with choosing a goalscorer the other day so I’ll try my luck again. Brazil face North Korea tonight (quite why Portugal vs Ivory Coast isn’t prime time I’ll never know) and it’s likely to resemble shooting fish in a barrel.

Robinho for some reason tends to play twice as well in international games as he does in club football (well before he moved to Santos anyway) and should have some success against a team I know nothing about. Luis Fabiano is obviously another good shout as is Kaka, as is etc, etc.

Let’s go with Robinho over Fabiano due to the marginally better odds. Again I’m playing safe and backing anytime goals rather than first or last.

Bet of the day:

Robinho to score anytime vs North Korea @ 11/10


Fantasy Premier League – End Of Season Review 09/10


So another year of fantasy football ended last Sunday without too much drama. A solid final week meant I held on to my league lead and won it for the first time in the four seasons we’ve played.

Victory at last.

It was an entertaining season and at one stage looked to be a four-way title race. That said I don’t think I let go of the lead since about week 19 so without gloating too much victory is deserved. I was kind of limping to the finish line for the last few weeks and dropped from a position of 7,264 as late as gameweek 31 down to a final ranking of 24,501 out of 2.3m+. Not my highest ever position but still very good and just outside the top 1%.

Sportboy P came a worthy second while longtime leader Amer came third. Too many transfers and dodgy captain choices cost him and he couldn’t pick it back up. Three time winner the Football Guy had his worst ever season in fifth. I expect him to bounce back next year.

On to some awards.


Player of the season:

Frank Lampard wins this for the second straight season. I learnt from my lesson last year and made sure he was in my team when in mattered, not least for the run in. Top scoring player by 42 points and his total of 284 is quite incredible. I only realised while writing this that it’s the highest ever score in a fantasy season, edging out Ronaldo’s 283 points in 2007/08.

I think it was Chelsea’s sheer volume of goals that did it, as although he ‘only’ scored 22 (compared to C-Ron’s 31) he weighed in with a season high 17 assists (only 8 for CR). If you factor in that he wasn’t even the highest recipient of bonus points, or that he played neither game vs Wolves, you start to wonder whether a 300 point season is possible.

An honourable mention too for Cesc Fabregas who matched Lampard for points per game and got the second most bonus points this season but due to his various injuries missed eleven games thus ended up with  214.

Frank Lampard fantasy football

Maverick's 2009/10 Top Gun.

Best value player:

Thomas Sorensen is the clear winner here, gaining 164 points for his measly £4m initial price tag. He even saved three penalties this season. Joe Hart was also a big plus here, with a lower score but higher price rise over the course of the season.

However I think the best bargain to be had this season was Darren Bent. Costing just £7m to start with, he banged in 24 goals for a frankly average Sunderland side. He was quieter in the second half of the season when Sunderland went on a long winless run and Drogba/Rooney/Tevez was the way to go but picked it up again in the final few games.

bent sunderland

Bargain of the season.


Best sub:

Birmingham defenders were this year’s Fulham, providing regular clean sheets at a bargain basement price. Though they faded somewhat once they hit 40 points, they were a great option.


Fantasy bike:

There wasn’t one single player I kept bringing in this season, but looking back it seems Drogba, Lampard and Tevez were all transferred in on three occasions. With expensive players all generally performing this season, you could usually mix and match as fitness and suspension dictated and not have to worry about losing money.


Biggest flop:

Many of last season’s flops bounced back, not least Fabregas, Tevez and Drogba. For his price tag Steven Gerrard has to be up there. A victim of Liverpool’s poor season; he was generally pretty useless until about gameweek 32, before an end of season points binge.

Elsewhere big things were expected of Andrey Arshavin after last year’s four-month cameo but I thought 135 points was poor while Dirk Kuyt has gone back to being a plodder. You could argue Van Persie and Torres were disappointing but everyone knows they’re injury prone. When they played they both had a high points per game average – 5th and 6th overall.

arshavin arsenal

Could have done so much more.


Best improvement:

The way of looking at this is rise in value over the season. Here Richard Dunne and Didier Drogba are the winners, just edging out James Milner. All three had terrific seasons and the former two rose by £1.8m in price.

I would say Dunne was the most unexpected, and he picked up Martin Laursen’s tendency for being a bonus point machine while captaining Aston Villa at centre back. That said, clever old me came up with this gem of a prediction about Drogba in one of my previews.

"I no longer think the Ivorian has the ability to get 20 goals a season."

Good thing I realised the error of my ways!


Biggest surprise:

The under performance of Gerrard – previously a lock for 200 points. Gareth Bale post January (116 points) compared to pre January (2 points).


Best performance:

Last season’s high was 21 points from Arshavin. I think this score got beaten six times this year. In reverse order:

Joint 3rd: Benayoun and Kalou – 24 points

2nd: Defoe – 25 points

1st: Lampard – 28 points versus Aston Villa through four goals, an assist and three bonus. Needless to say that was one of the few weeks he wasn’t in my team, let alone in my team as captain.

Credit to Fabregas for getting 22 twice and Rooney for getting 32 in a double gameweek.

And Arshavin’s high score this season? 11…


Cesc Fabregas award for cheap bonus points:

Wayne Rooney with 46 (matching Lampard last year). Cesc was second with 41.

rooney man utd

Bonus. Om om om.


Biggest fall from grace value wise:

Biggest price drop was Diamanti of West Ham and surprisingly Nicolas Anelka. Both went down £1.2m. I assume the latter was a victim of people going with the three highest scoring strikers and just sticking with them. Of the other renowned players Carrick fell by £1m while Arshavin again plays a part here, falling £0.9m.


Biggest fall from grace performance wise:

Aaron Lennon was fantastic until December, then got injured and only returned for the last few games. Perhaps it’s a little harsh to include him here. Jermain Defoe on the other hand had 14 goals before January and just four afterwards. Antonio Valencia was also pretty poor in 2010 with just four assists and no goals.


Best impact:

Gareth Bale was immense after the turn of the year, scoring well over 100 points. I didn’t bring him in though due to his price.

From a personal point of view I was pleased with the transfers of Martin Olsson and Adam Johnson. The former was listed as a £3.8m defender yet played in an advanced midfield role, while the latter made a big impact after joining Man City in the January transfer window. Both were nice differentials who scored steady points in the run in.



I mentioned the Drogba one earlier and how I fancied Anelka over him this season. Other specials included tipping the likes of Ebanks-Blake, Zhirkov, Scotland and Robinho while being negative on players like Bellamy, Lennon and Valencia. In my defence, I had Milner, Bent plus more expensive guys like Fabregas and Rooney to have good seasons.


Finally lets take a look my team in August:

fantasy premier league week 1

Ebanks-Blake, what was I thinking?!

and the team I ended the season with:

fantasy premier league week 38

The league winning side.

Pretty different as you can see. I think Sorensen was the only player to make it through the season without being transferred out, surviving even the wildcard. I played a three-man defence for much of the season and given how well strikers did it was usually three up front.



Fantasy Premier League – Gameweek 19 Preview


On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me the Sportboys gave to you… a fantasy football preview for gameweek 19. I tell a small lie as I’m writing this on Christmas Eve and very little team news is in yet but we’ll do what we can. Gameweek 18 was quite bad for me personally and I only just scraped a slightly higher than average score of 40 points.

Only Richard Dunne and Andrey Arshavin scored more than 2 points and it was all in all a week to forget for me and many others. To add insult to injury I was knocked out of the fantasy cup by someone who had a really random team which hadn’t been changed in months but just happened to have a certain Abou Diaby in it. More on that below.


Gameweek 18 Top Gun (aka Tom Cruise Approves):

abou diaby arsenal

Maverick approves of Diaby's 2nd Top Gun of the season

craig bellamy man city

Some Christmas Goose approval for Bellamy

In what is now a regular occurence, we have a tie for last week’s Top Gun award with Abou Diaby and Craig Bellamy both scoring 14 points. Diaby scored, assisted, kept a clean sheet and got three bonus for his second Top Gun of the season while Bellamy scored, assisted twice and picked up a couple of bonus for his trouble. Elsewhere Crouch and Santa Cruz both scored 13 points while Bobby Zamora hit the net again for 12 more points.

On to your Boxing Day picks…


Three Captain Choices:

1. Tevez/Man City – The overpriced Argentinian has a few things going for him this week. Firstly he’s been in great form having scored four in his last four games while picking up nine bonus points in his last five. Secondly he faces Stoke at Eastlands – Stoke are terrible away from home and Man City have no trouble scoring lots (if not always winning). Thirdly you have the new manager syndrome which usually results in a positive result for that team. No one really know how Mancini will line things up but I’m fairly certain Tevez should be involved.

2. Rooney/Man Utd – I’ve had Rooney in my team for the past few weeks and have felt disappointed with his production, even though he technically has five in five (includes a hat-trick vs Pompey). He faces Hull this week, who despite their recent upturn in form are still a poor side and he should hopefully find the net.

3. Torres/Liverpool – One final striker to consider this week as the Spanish hitman will hopefully play against Wolves at home. The risk is that Rafa will save him for the Villa game on the 29th but the way Liverpool are playing right now this is more important. A goal is virtually guaranteed if he does play, it’s your call if you think he will.

Carlos Tevez Man City

Gets a Captain's tick.


Three Suggested Transfers In:

1. Milner/Aston Villa – We suggested him not so long ago and it’s time to do so again. In the last seven weeks he’s scored five points or more six times and got into double figures three times. Aston Villa look like they can last the pace this season and Milner will be doing his utmost to ensure they a) finish in the top four and b) he get’s in the World Cup squad. Great value at £8m too.

2. Zamora/Fulham – It feels weird to suggest this but you can argue that Zamora isn’t in form right  now. Three goals in his last three games plus five bonus points suggests a man who is finally harnessing his talents at the highest level. I still don’t think it is a permanent thing but you may as well ride the wave until it stops seeing as he’s only £5.7m and plays twice next gameweek.

3. No transfer at all – With four teams playing twice in Gameweek 19 why not save this week’s transfer and get two free for then? Or be able to change three players for just a four point hit. Arsenal, Fulham, Stoke and Bolton all play twice and provide options longer term then just gameweek 19. Something to consider.

James Milner Aston Villa

Might be worth a pick.


Three to avoid:

1. Man City players you don’t have – With any new manager comes two things; an upturn in performance but also uncertainty over who will play as he works out his favoured side. Mancini is generally someone who plays 4-4-2 with wingers which leaves question marks over people like Stephen Ireland. Additionally Adebayor and Robinho were dropped in Hughes’ last match in charge – will they find their way back in. Hold off a few weeks.

2. Chelsea strikers – With Drogba off to the African Nations, Anelka nursing a minor injury and Kalou being a bit rubbish, the onus will fall on the midfield in the next few week. People like Lampard, Ballack and Joe Cole should be monitored in the next few matches.

3. Anyone going to the African Cup of Nations – Time to think about who to bring in as replacements, gameweek 18 will be their last for a month.

Stephen Ireland Man City

Are you taking the mick?!

Good luck this week and a merry Christmas to everyone. I’ll try to do a gameweek 20 preview on Sunday but might not get a chance. Needless to say you should be going with Arshavin or Fabregas as captain and getting in a player or two from Bolton or Fulham.



Season Previews 09/10 – Manchester City



Last Season: 10th.

Say hello to your new teammates: This will take a while. Emmanuel Adebayor, Roque Santa Cruz, Kolo Toure, Carlos Tevez, Gareth Barry, Stuart Taylor.

Close the door on your way out: Elano, Ched Evans, Daniel Sturridge, Valeri Bojinov, Joe Hart, Jo, Felipe Caicedo (the last four are loans out)

Predicted star: Robinho. He scored 14 in his debut season despite many a tiff with Hughes as well consistently anonymous performances away from home. With the added steel purchased in defence and midfield as well the additional talent up front, he should be pushing around 20 this time round. Alternatively, what’s the betting they still struggle to succeed and Shay Given is relied upon to stop things getting embarrassing?

Needs a big year: Mark Hughes himself has no excuses now – this is his team playing out his ideas. On the pitch, Adebayor will want to show he’s worth a second double your wages deal in two years. He’ll quickly frustrate if he plays anything like last season where the only effort he put in was to stray offside. Roque Santa Cruz will look to score more than five league goals for only the second time in his ten year European career.

One to watch: All these stars are being signed but youth product Nedum Onouha could prove to be a rock alongside Toure if they fail to get in another centre back. He’s surely ahead of the fast regressing Richard Dunne in the pecking order now.

What they want to happen: Champions League qualification, no more no less.

Nightmare scenario: The team fails to gel and another season of inconsistency sees no higher than 7th.

The best signing they've made.

The best signing they've made.

Plan A: Looking at the players available you can expect Barry and De Jong/Kompany in the middle of the pitch with Ireland down the right flank and Robinho down the left. Tevez should partner Adebayor up front. Expect a fluent direct style which will utilise the skills of Ireland and Robinho who will be playing quite narrow. Wright-Phillips and Petrov are options if they want a system with traditional wingers.

Plan B, just in case: Play four up front, goodness knows they have the attacking players for it.

Predicted finish: 5th.

Why? A £100 million shopping spree is all very well but let’s not get too ahead of ourselves. Last season City finished in 10th place some 22 points behind 4th place Arsenal. You can’t make that kind of deficit up just like that. The signings made are on the whole good and solve a lot of the problems from last season but we mustn’t forget that it’s people like Barry and Tevez coming in not Kaka and Ribery.

Toure will improve the defence but I can assure you he isn’t the player he once was. He has a rather large behind these days and has certainly lost a yard of pace since getting malaria at the last African Nations Cup. The need still exists for a Lescott or an Upson alongside him. Barry is an excellent signing and perhaps the best value of everyone they brought in. He will provide the much needed solidity away from Eastlands and should form quite the midfield partnership with Kompany.

A lot of money for not a lot of goals.

A lot of money for not a lot of goals.

I’m willing to back Ferguson on the issue of Tevez. He had two years to look at him and obviously decided that he wasn’t worth keeping. Tevez is a hard worker and very skilful but he doesn’t score enough for a £25million striker. Adebayor on the other hand does, but I wonder if he will have lost his attitude problem and his offside problem to return to the striker of two seasons ago. He will still score plenty even if he hasn’t and I already foresee a badge kissing incident after he inevitably gets a goal against his old team in the fourth game if the season.

So overall I reckon the players bought are good enough to leapfrog five teams and become the best of the rest. They aren’t yet good enough to become the best of the best however and I wonder if they ever will be with Mark Hughes in charge. Big players and egos are needed to reach the elite and whilst he has them, I don’t think handling them sits especially comfortably with him.

He needs to 4th place to manage City in 2010/11 but I don’t think he’ll get it. This leads to somewhat a vicious circle. You can throw lots of money at second choice players to try and get you into the Champions League but fail because they’re second choice options, but the players who you really want will never join because you’re not in the Champions League.



Betting Preview – Top Goalscorer


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.


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


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.


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)


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?


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.


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...



Fantasy Premier League Preview 09/10 – Draft Teams & General Strategy


After previews on goalkeepers, defenders, midfielders and strikers it’s time for some more general strategy and team selection thoughts.


Draft teams

I’ve written a lot over the past week about players to possibly choose but not actually showed you any potential teams. We’ll go through a few examples where the focus is on a particular area before going for something with a little more balance.


Spending it on defenders:

Solid defence

Solid defence

The team has a focus on a strong defence where all five plus the keeper play each week. In this example I’ve used Liverpool and Man Utd. Hit on both teams getting clean sheets and you have a base of 36 points before any attacking players have even played. It’s a little risky as one goal conceded screws up your week competely. Also you’ll lack money for the superstar attacking players but you can still afford people like Robinho and Van Persie as well as some good top half players. If you consider that each week there’s a high chance either United or Liverpool or both will be keeping clean sheets it’s certainly an interesting tactic.


Blowing it on midfield:

Assists, assists, assists. A few goals too.

Assists, assists, assists. A few goals too.

This option is to spend all your money on the best midfielders possible and then hope that you pick the right cheap players who prove to be the bargains of the season. In my opinion Gerrard, Lampard and Arshavin are all guaranteed locks for 200+ points barring injury. You still have enough money for a relatively solid defence which takes in the cheaper starting options. Up front it’s lacking a bit though Bendtner and Beattie will both get around 120 points I’d say. You could always swap one of the big three in midfield for someone slightly cheaper and buy a better striker. It’s worth investing in midfield though just as goals are worth five points and you have several guys in the league who are capable of double figures.


Striking prowess:

Scoring goals for fun.

Scoring goals for fun.

The riskiest option of all I would say is to put your money in strikers, just as very few are consistent scorers one season to the next. Even the top guys we’ve chosen here are risky as strikers will often do nothing in a game if they don’t score. They are not the bonus point hoggers that midfieders are. Someone like Torres who usually scores when he plays is a risk just due to his fitness record whilst at Liverpool.

However, assuming you are unconcerned by seasons past and only with what the this coming season holds then this could all be a worthwhile gamble. Having him, Rooney (who should be United’s top point scorer this year) and last year’s top striker Anelka gives you a formidable front line. As the best strikers are cheaper than the best midfielders, you can still afford a decent team with the rest of the money you have. People like Modric and Young are at the hub of their team’s creative play so are good value to get around 150-160 points if not more. The defence is not terrible and again you can play around with the exact players to upgrade other ones.

We’ll look at a mixed team later in the post.


General Strategy – Captains

My biggest error last season was not having a range of reliable captain choices. By this I mean I only had Ronaldo in my team but not Gerrard or Lampard meaning I would usually have to pick him as captain. Now of course towards the end of the season there’d be too many gameweeks where Ronaldo did not much at all so I would get ten points from my captain while people with Gerrard would be getting twenty. I was however stuck in picking him (or Arshavin to be fair) as it was too late to change things around.

Moral of the story is: the big players will always come through so get them in your team as early as possible. A big change this season is the backup captain who will come in if your first choice doesn’t play. I would strongly suggest leaving the setting on value rather than form 90% of the time. Any random cheap player can have a few good weeks but then suddenly stop scoring well. You don’t want to have him coming in as captain the week that happens.

Lampard double

Lampard double


Double Gameweeks

These are perhaps the biggest opportunity for making up lost ground, and come more into play in the second half of the season when a lot more games get rescheduled. That said I am fairly certain that the six teams who miss gameweek two will be playing those fixtures at some point before Christmas.

Anyway by double gameweek I mean a team who plays twice in one week, thus giving you the chance to pick a captain who plays twice. If someone like a Gerrard or Lampard has two easy home games you could be looking at the region of 50 points from just one player. Chuck in a defender or two from the same team and you’ll have a three figure score for the week.

You should try and be aware of when these games get played but at the same time you shouldn’t make too much effort to get players playing twice. Of course if it’s a strong team then you should try and have as many players of theirs as possible. If it’s someone like Hull playing twice then you should probably just take the hit rather than be stuck with the players for the weeks that follow.



I was previously of the view that wildcards should be kept hold of until at least the January transfer window but I think I’ve changed my mind. While saving it till then can definitely provide a bump in performance, if you’ve picked a bad squad to begin with it’s best to change things as soon as possible before the gap to your rivals gets too big. Bear in mind that the more successful a player the higher his value will go up, so there’s no point waiting as it will only make it harder to get all the star performers into one side.

You only get one of these.

You only get one of these.



One of the biggest changes this year is the rollover free transfer. Every week you get one free transfer and then any more will cost you four points each. This season though, if you don’t use the free transfer it rolls over to the next week, allowing you to change two players for free. It only rolls over once so you’d never get more than two in any given week but it’s definitely something to try and ensure you have when double gameweeks are looming. Being able to change three players for the cost of just four points could allow you to significantly revamp your team whilst not having to use the wildcard.


Balance & Substitutes

Fantasy football may let you pick a squad of 15 but it’s ultimately all about the first choice XI. All you want from your subs is that they are guaranteed starters for their clubs, so if they were to be used you’d be getting the minimum two points. As I mentioned in the positional previews, four weeks out of five your subs won’t come into play at all as your first team will all be playing. It’s only when Rio hurts his back in the warm-up or Rooney is serving a one match ban for five bookings that you will call upon those options. With this in mind you should spend as little as possible on the four subs – £4m for GK & DF, £4.5m for MF and £5-5.5m for the striker (no good £4.5m options).

This does depend on what formation you plan to play of course, but whatever position your subs end up taking, just make sure they’re cheap. There are loads of players from the promoted teams and the strugglers from last season who would fit into this bracket. They will play 30 games minimum (60 points) as well as contribute enough to get 30-40 points from saves/clean sheets/assists/goals or bonus. The money you save will upgrade the first choice XI enough to more than compensate for this.

An example of a balanced side.

An example of a balanced side.

Looking at the team above you have three studs in Arshavin, Gerrard and Fat Frank. One top quality striker in Berbatov who despite his critics was fifth best striker last year. The defence has three top four representatives. They’re not the obvious picks but Song will play nearly every game, O’Shea is a placeholder for whoever ends up right back at Utd while Insua has a fair chance of playing some games early on.

Of the other starters Beattie will do well again as Stoke are geared to his strengths, Ferdinand/Sunderland will concede less than many other teams this year while what little creativity Birmingham have will go through Seb Larsson. As mentioned before, the subs are cheap and will play and can always be changed.


It’s Only A Game

As the Football Guy mentioned in one of his previews the other day, it’s a only a game. Utimately this is meant to be a bit of fun between mates and a way of making games like Bolton vs Hull mean a little more interesting! Feel free to ignore some or all of what I’ve written, and I welcome anything you agree/disagree with in the comments.



Fantasy Premier League Preview 09/10 – Strikers


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.


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.


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.


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?


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.



End of Season Reviews – Liverpool, Man City, Man Utd, Middlesbrough



Where they finished: 2nd

Season in five words: Home draws cost the title

Successful season? Yes, for the first time a serious title challenge to Man Utd was mounted. Consistent, difficult to beat and in Torres and Gerrard, a lethal front two. Ultimately there were too many draws against lower opposition and considering Liverpool did the double over United, they will be disappointed to have finished behind them.

Defining moment: Rafa’s rant perhaps? Whether or not he was right is besides the issue. The draws and poor form that followed are what cost Liverpool the league. I don’t think it was a coincidence.

Player of the year: Steven Gerrard is the obvious choice but credit must be given to Xabi Alonso too. Dirk Kuyt has suddenly turned into a key player with his best season since joining.

Goal of the season: Torres vs Blackburn.

Flop of the season: Dossena was another addition to the long list of left backs who have flopped at Anfield. A bit fat and a bit slow. He did score great goals against Man Utd and Real Madrid though. Ryan Babel hasn’t lived up to expectation, or even come close to doing so.

Highlight: The destruction of Real Madrid was impressive (if not surprising) and having a real go at Chelsea in the Champions quarter final second leg was entertaining (if ultimately doomed). They ended Chelsea’s long unbeaten home league record too. There can only be one choice though and that’s the 4-1 spanking of Man Utd at Old Trafford.

Summer homework: Keep Gerrard but specifically Torres fit and playing together. Don’t sell Alonso, buy a striker, a left winger and possibly a left back too.



Man City

Where they finished: 10th

Season in five words: Big spending but poor results.

Successful season? Not really. Expectation was high after a summer takeover and there was enough time to splash a British record fee on Robinho from Real Madrid. Mark Hughes’ side were pretty poor however and for much of the season were towards the bottom of the table. Though recovery was made, via more big money January signings, City won’t be playing European football next year. Domestic cup exits were made to lower league opposition and most of the season was a case of win at home, lose away.

Defining moment: Towards the midnight deadline for summer signings, City announce the signing of Robinho for £32.5million. Having been rejected by Berbatov, with his signing the Abu Dhabi owners announced they meant business. The flip side of this was paying £17million for Nigel De Jong in January when he could have been bought for £2million this summer.

Player of the year: Stephen Ireland. The shaven headed maestro was one of the few highlights of a Jekyll and Hyde season at Eastlands. Robinho has shown enough in his debut season (at home at least) to suggest he could get 20 goals next year.

Goal of the season: Robinho’s lob vs Arsenal.

Flop of the season: Dunne and Richards. The former looked slow and prone to mistakes while the latter seems to care more about his physique (ironic given his fat arse) than his positional sense. Oh and Robinho away from home.

Highlight: A 3-0 win over Arsenal was quite impressive in November, as was an early 6-0 battering of Pompey.

Summer homework: Sign a good strike partner for Robinho, get Petrov, Dunne and Richards playing like they did in 2007/08, buy a left back better than Wayne Bridge. Quality not quantity (see strikers).



Man Utd


Where they finished: 1st, Champions League finalists and Carling Cup Winners.

Season in five words: Liverpool equalled, outclassed by Barcelona.

Successful season? Yes. Their record equalling 18th league title was won unconvincingly but at the same time without too much trouble. Liverpool tried hard but didn’t have the experience of closing it out. A record run of clean sheets built up enough of an advantage to concentrate on Europe. Though they reached the final again, Barcelona taught them a footballing lesson in Rome. They won the Carling Cup too.

Defining moment: Macheda against Aston Villa perhaps? The day before Liverpool had grabbed a vital last minute win over Fulham to go top so momentum was with them. United played poorly and were losing 2-1 before staging a comeback in the last 10 minutes. In the last minute 17 year old debutant Federico Macheda, controlled, turned and hit a great winner past Brad Friedel. Momentum restored to United, league title heads to Old Trafford.

Player of the year: Nemanja Vidic was great until the spring and undoubtedly lay the foundations for the record breaking defence. He got found out by some nimble strikers towards the end but overall was excellent. Wayne Rooney had a great season, and Fletcher has pretty much established himself as first choice central midfielder.

Goal of the season: Cristiano Ronaldo’s 40 yard toe punt against Porto.

Flop of the season: Flops in a title winning side? No one really. Berbatov gets another season to prove that he can fit into Utd’s style of play. He hasn’t flopped but he hasn’t impressed that much. Nani is beginning to look like a lost cause though. Van der Sar will be doing well to still be first choice come 2010.

Highlight: Equalling Liverpool’s title record is an overall highlight. Outclassing Arsenal at the Emirates in Europe and Macheda’s goal against Villa were particular highlights.

Summer homework: Make a decision on Carlos Tevez and sign a pacey replacement if he goes. Get Hargreaves fit and playing in the big games.





Where they finished: 19th

Season in five words: Lack of goals means relegation.

Successful season? No. Despite all the mocking of Schteve McLaren, he usually had Boro pushing the top half and in a cup final or two. Gareth Southgate has taken them further down the table with each passing season. Boro’s problem was selling their best players and not replacing them, and not having anyone capable of scoring on a consistent basis. England’s best left winger™Stewart Downing had a miserable season scoring zero goals, while the less said about Alves and Aliadiere the better.

Defining moment: Losing Mark Schwarzer to Fulham last summer. A big reason why Fulham went from 17th to 7th this year while Boro went down.

Player of the year: Erm, Tuncay was the one highlight suppose. He reminded me of Juninho a few years back where he was the only one trying to keep them up but no one else was good enough/cared enough to help.

Goal of the season: Not hard to choose given there have been so few. Tuncay’s bicycle kick late in the season against Villa wins it.

Flop of the season: When you pay £12 million for someone you exect more than six league goals in return this season. Southgate will be judged by his transfer deals and Alves will go down as one of his biggest errors. Playing Brad Jones over Ross Turnbull in key end of season games was a stupid idea too. Jones is incredibly useless. Terrible hair too.

Highlight: A 2-0 win over Liverpool of all people in February.

Summer homework: Get rid of players who don’t want to be there, sign someone who can score goals in the Championship. Try and get £15 million for Downing from Spurs even though he’s injured.



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