Friday, October 29, 2010

Gameweek 10 Fantasy Preview

Theo Walcott
Will he run to the top spot in FPL?
My life is getting busy recently and I would like to apologize for the reduced number of posts in the coming month. Anyway, let's review the recent League Cup tourney:

  • Theo Walcott scored a brace which will certainly draw plenty of managers into the fantasy bandwagon.
  • Javier Hernandez scored in three consecutive matches as Manchester United marched forward.
  • West Ham progressed through the next round thanks to Obinna and co.
  • Downing scored an extra time winner for Aston Villa.
Also remember that Carlos Tevez will out for the next one or two gameweeks so hold on before you buy in.


Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez
Will his scoring streak end?
Manchester United v Tottenham Hotspur
This match-up at Old Trafford often ends with a total domination by the home side, but things may get different this time as Tottenham reaches a new level in offence piloted by Bale and Van der Vaart.

There are a lot of negative factors of United to be exploited by Tottenham, particularly:
  • United played a Carling Cup fixture during this midweek whilst Tottenham had a full week of rest.
  • Nani will have more difficulty guarding Bale than the other way round.
  • Modric-Huddlestone CM combination is as solid as, if not better, than Scholes-Fletcher partnership.

However, I don't think that's enough for Tottenham to make up a victory at Manchester. United's defence is unarguably one level higher than Tottenham and Berbatov-Chicharito combination will possibly destroy away's defence. Crouch will need to double up his accuracy if they are to grab points from Manchester United, in my opinion.

Prediction: Man Utd 3-1 Tottenham

The Rest
  • Arsenal v West Ham (3-1) - Captain Fabregas, captain Nasri, captain Chamakh.
  • Blackburn v Chelsea (0-2) - Samba is back, but that won't change the outcome much.
  • Everton v Stoke City (2-0) - The Toffees are back on track and shouldn't lose this one.
  • Fulham v Wigan (1-1) - The cottagers are losing themselves and Wigan should be able to sneak in.
  • Wolves v Man City (0-2) - No Tevez but does that matter? No.
  • Aston Villa v Birmingham (2-1) - Zigic starts to find his form but Birmingham can't be trusted at away, yet.
  • Newcastle v Sunderland (2-2) - Newcastle are still short of home wins other than the 6-0 demolition of Villa.
  • Bolton v Liverpool (1-2) - Victory shouldn't be a problem for the Reds if they can play like how they play against Blackburn.
  • Blackpool v West Brom (2-3) - The Baggies are quite familiar with their former Championship opponent and should be able to outplay the Seasiders again.

Marouane Chamakh
A good chance for goals.
Captain Picks
  • Fabregas/Nasri/Chamakh - It's quite hard to guess who will cast the main character, but he should be one of them.
  • Brunt - A good gambling pick.
  • Bosingwa - His price should rocket the next 2-3 weeks.
  • Tevez - Keep if you believe that he'll only out for one week; otherwise sell.
Squad of XV
GK: Howard
DF: A Cole, Coleman, Warnock
MF: Nasri, Fabregas, Brunt, N'Zogbia, Nolan
F: Chamakh(C), Torres

Subs (in order): Friedel, Richards, Bosingwa, Carroll
Captain: Chamakh
Emergency Captain: Value
Starting XI Value: £80.2m
Total Team Value: £103.0m

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

RIP, Paul

Paul the Oracle
All the best in your afterlife.
The hottest commodity of World Cup - yes, not Muller, not Villa, not Sneijder - Paul the Octopus, has passed away.

In case you can't remember, this miraculous creature has recorded a 100% prediction record in FIFA 2010 South Africa.

Paul died much earlier than its life expectancy, but don't you worry Paul, you will always be remembered.

Have anything to say to Paul? You can leave your comments at the link below.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Sunday Sparks

Sotirios Kyrgiakos
Fantastic performance at both ends on the pitch.
Congratulations for Manchester United for recording their first away victory this season and Liverpool for securing their second victory of the season. Here are some highlights:
  • Javi Hernandez scored both goals of United. The lad is still far from becoming a sure-fire fantasy pick as Rooney will soon be back, but he might be able to squeeze Berbatov out should the latter dips his form.
  • Both Nani and Berbatov failed to provide any fantasy returns this week and this frustrates a lot of managers including me.
  • Liverpool overpowered a game for the first time this season, against Blackburn. Kyrgiakos has been superb all the while and Hodgson should list him as the first choice centre back of Liverpool as the Greek's reward.
  • Liverpool's midfielders has been combining brilliantly during the first half and it was no surprise that Cole and Gerrard were on the assist sheet.
  • Torres finally scored his second league goal (and smiled).
  • A silly foul by Dedryk Boyata costed Manchester City a possible three points. Joe Hart owners will not be sad though as he caught five points with a precious penalty save.
  • Nasri scored again! That is his six out of seven games. Magnificent.
  • Tevez limped out with an injury. Stay updated with his status, fantasy managers.
Good night.

A Sweet Dilemma?

Chelsea got another clean sheet yesterday, and that left me a big dilemma - dilemma to pick whether Ashley Cole, Yuri Zhirkov or Jose Bosingwa as one of my fantasy defender (Yes, I'm still not exposed to any Chelsea defender until now). Now let's compare the pros and cons between them:

Ashley Cole, £8.1m
Enjoying a spectacular season at Stamford Bridge.

  • Sure starter
  • Adventurous in attack
  • Bonus magnet
  • Expensive
  • Indifferent to your competitors
Yuri Zhirkov, £6.2m
Enjoying more playing time recently.
  • More and more playing time.
  • Has been decent in attack all the while when he's playing.
  • Proven in Champions League Fantasy.
  • Most susceptible to rotation.
Jose Bosingwa, £5.6m
Recovered and looking good.
  • Incredibly cheap for a Chelsea defender who can surge forward.
  • Fantasy proven two years before.
  • Might be struggling to find his form.
  • Might need to compete with Ivanovic when Alex recovers.

Personally I will pick Ashley Cole if I have the cash; otherwise I will stick with Bosingwa. How about you?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Wayne Rooney to Stay At Manchester United

Wayne Rooney
Looks like he will still wear the red jersey next season.
Amazing. Days before he said he will definitely leave Manchester United, and days after he penned a five-year contract. Is this real?

Yes. And I wonder why is he changing his mind in the "speed of light". Maybe this is Ferguson's strategy to divert public attention away from his prostitution scandal? God knows.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Gameweek 9 Fantasy Preview

Carlos Tevez and Wayne Rooney
Duo to reunite at Manchester in blue?
Wayne Rooney steals all the media attention this week with his intention to leave Old Trafford. It is predicted that his next destination will be out of these four: City, Chelsea, Real and Barca.

Gareth Bale
A fantastic hat-trick.
Meanwhile, Bale produced a terrific solo performance to avoid a humiliating defeat to the defending Champions League champion Inter Milan. The 21-year-old should have already rose his market price to more than £20m with that play.


Emmanuel Adebayor
The notorious ex-Gunner will face his former employer again.
Manchester City v Arsenal
The Gunners is quite unfortunate to travel to Eastlands in such time when Manchester City is on their best.

Tevez has been in a thunderous form and it's no surprise that he is leading the golden boot hunt currently with seven goals. Meanwhile, his substitute, occasionally his strike partner, Adebayor, has just hat-tricked on a Europa League match yesterday and is set to preform his best against the club he left. Not to be forgotten of course is the Silva-Johnson competition where both are playing very well to snatch a long term starting position for themselves.

On the Gunners side, Fabregas has returned to action with a solid performance in the 5-1 rampage against Shaktar Donetsk. Walcott is ready to play this week but his form is pretty unsure. Chamakh and Nasri should be the more assuring picks than the former two.

I think Arsenal's defence will continue to pull the team down with the absence of Vermaelen and Koscielny and City will record a four consecutive victories against the London club.

Prediction: MANC 2-0 ARS

The Rest

  • Tottenham v Everton (2-1) - Everton's unbeaten streak will come to an end at White Hart Lane with the magnificent Rafael Van der Vaart on the score sheet again.
  • Birmingham v Blackpool (1-1) - Blackpool will have another solid performance to snatch a solid point.
  • Chelsea v Wolves (3-0) - Heavily one-sided on the paper but Chelsea's form has not been that good recently.
  • Sunderland v Aston Villa (0-0) - Houllier will play it patiently to find a chance but the game will end with nothing.
  • West Brom v Fulham (2-1) - Odemwingie is struggling to fit but Premier League veteran Chris Brunt should be able to sort things out.
  • Wigan v Bolton (1-0) - N'Zogbia has been spectacular and that form should continue.
  • West Ham v Newcastle (2-2) - Things have not been right for the Magpies recently.
  • Stoke City v Man Utd (2-2) - The Red Devils is still struggling to defend when they are leading.
  • Liverpool v Blackburn (0-1) - Liverpool sucks a big time under Roy Hodgson.

Charles N'Zogbia
Will he become the superstud again?
Captain Picks
  • Drogba/Malouda - Who wouldn't take advantage against Wolves?
  • Chelsea players - Round two of long easy fixtures for them.
  • Arteta/Cahill - Quite an easy going fixtures for long term hold.
Squad of XV
GK: Kirkland
DF: A Cole, Alcaraz, Elmohamady
MF: Malouda, Nani, N'Zogbia, Van der Vaart, Brunt
F: Drogba(C), Tevez

Subs (in order): Robinson, Dann, Varney, Jara
Captain: Drogba
Emergency Captain: Value
Starting XI Value: £83.4m
Total Team Value: £101.2m

Friday, October 15, 2010

Gameweek 8 Fantasy Preview

Torres (right) returns but Kuyt absents.
Well, it has been a long break with lots of international actions so let's see the list of Premier League casualties due to international games:

  • Dirk Kuyt (LIV)
  • Daniel Agger (LIV)
  • Darren Bent (SUN)
  • Yossi Benayoun (CHE)
With Bent's injury causing the most concern for sure. My last gameweek's score was a catastrophic one - but I was well expected.

Will the international break halts Drogba and co's outstanding form?
Aston Villa v Chelsea
This meeting has been one of the most exciting match-ups over the last few seasons. The Villans may sometimes shock us with victories, yet they may lost emphatically to the Blue Lions as well.

Chelsea has lost Terry (doubtful) and Benayoun (long injury) during the break, while Lampard and Agbonlahor from each side are still recovering from injuries and will miss the match-up. The latest news also states that Drogba will be out of the clash following a fever. The long missing Chelsea right back Joes Bosingwa though, is recovered and might be playing this game.

The main problem for Villa is definitely the right flank defence with Luke Young guarding Malouda. The right back will be on big trouble facing the French who's in superb form.

The outcome is expected to be narrow, but I think Villa should be able to surprise us with a draw as they are still under the new manager effect of Houllier.

Prediction: AST 1-1 CHE

Sylvain Distin
His job became tougher with the return of Torres.
Everton v Liverpool
A pretty embarrassing Merseyside derby with both clubs got stuck in the bottom of the table. But things just get interesting with such circumstances as a victory will leave one side away from relegation zone.

Liverpool fans will be more interested in the ridiculous court battle series thanks to Mr "Pathetic and Desperate" Hicks who is still determined to delay the takeover by New England Sports Ventures (NESV). However I believe he will lose all the things he has got including his fame after the case and the fans have nothing much to worry about. The club should eventually enjoy financial freedom, which will affect the Reds performances positively.

Back onto the pitch. As mentioned earlier, striker Fernando Torres will be fit for the derby, which should be a big boost to Liverpool, especially after the injury of Kuyt and Agger. Aurelio is claimed to be "physically" ready, but let's just see. On the other hand, Everton has been free from any injury woes over the weeks and should be able to play their best squad.

Nevertheless, both sides have a lot of tactical problems that need to be revised. Hodgson's tactics have exposed all the Liverpool weaknesses without giving any advantages, while Moyes has much to do to improve his forwards' accuracy. A goalless match is pretty likely for me.

Prediction: EVE 0-0 LIV

The Rest

  • Arsenal v Birmingham  (2-0) - Birmingham doesn't have a good away record, let alone facing Arsenal. Take note that fantasy favourite Walcott will be back along with Nicklas Bendtner.
  • Bolton v Stoke (2-1) - Both team will have a good fight but I think Elmander will defeat Jones in this one.
  • Fulham v Tottenham (2-2) - Tottenham is far from their best form and may again get frustrated this week.
  • Man Utd v West Brom (3-0) - An easy game for United. Captain the usual prospects - Nani or Berbatov.
  • Newcastle v Wigan (2-0) - The Magpies have no excuse to disappoint the fans again after two consecutive home defeats.
  • Wolves v West Ham (1-2) - The Hammers are in a better form with Piquionne-Obinna partnership on fire.
  • Blackpool v Man City (0-2) - City aren't Liverpool. It'll be hard for Blackpool to escape from a defeat.
  • Blackburn v Sunderland (2-2) - The Rovers like to make games tough for any opposition.

Luis Nani
Will we see it this week?
Captain Picks

  • Nani/Berbatov - West Brom looks great in attack, but not defence.
  • Tevez - A less popular option but Blackpool defence shouldn't be too much for him.
  • Man Utd defenders - More clean sheets are expected with Ferdinand pairing Vidic instead of Evans.
Squad of XV
GK: Fabianski
DF: Elmohamady, O'Shea, Toure
MF: Nasri, Nani(C), Arshavin, Malouda
F: Tevez, Berbatov, Elmander

Subs (in order): Krul, Martin Petrov, Williamson, Skrtel
Captain: Nani
Emergency Captain: Value
Starting XI Value: £83.3
Total Team Value: £103.0

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Fantasy Pit Stop 1: Part Four

To start reading from PART ONEclick here.

As a reminder, for this pit stop I am going to write about:
  1. Some major news/events related to the team;
  2. Predicted season finish; and
  3. Top three rated fantasy players along with their ratings.
The arrangement of teams will be according to current league rankings, in reverse order.

Currently in 5th
Tottenham Hotspur

News - N/A

Predicted Season Finish: 5th
We all predict that Tottenham will be much better with the addition of Rafael Van der Vaart, but in reality Tottenham still doesn't reach the new level yet. While Van der Vaart has been stylishly brilliant, his new club's form is very shaky. They won Wolves easily and yet they lost to West Ham the next week without any proper explanation.

Nevertheless, we just can't deny how great is Van der Vaart to the team. He adapted the club at god speed and has now replaced Gareth Bale as the most important player in the Tottenham. This is obviously seen in Bale's recent fantasy scores - 2, 5, 2, 2 and 1. One of the most important reason for this is the position of Bale with VDV's presence. Sometimes he has to play as left back - and that effectively reduces his fantasy potential.

Still, with Van der Vaart and Bale combining, Tottenham will remain their status as the black horse, but they will most probably miss the Champions League qualifying next season as the clubs in front are much more superior and experienced.

Top Three Fantasy Players:
  1. Rafael Van der Vaart (9/10) - A no-brain pick that is so terrific in offence.
  2. Gareth Bale (7.5/10) - A dominant force in Tottenham's left flank. Also a dominant bonus magnet.
  3. Jermaine Defoe (7/10) - The chief scorer of Tottenham last season is expected to have some reduction in fantasy score due to the existence of Van der Vaart.

Currently in 4th

News - N/A

Predicted Season Finish: 4th
Wenger is indeed the most successful manager in overall, but in terms of performance on the pitch, he still has much more to do. Their head to head meetings against all the title contenders had been weak, and that's the reason why the Gunners were far away from title for so many years.

Another reason for their absence of title is the frequent injury of key players. This is especially true for Fabregas where the absence of him will make Arsenal a very much different team. With him around, every Arsenal attackers is a fantasy stud.

On a side note, I love how Chamakh added a new dimension to the team, but he really has to increase his shot accuracy to convince me to buy him.

Top Three Fantasy Players:
  1. Francesc Fabregas (9.5/10) - A superb captain with superb vision but flawed with fragility.
  2. Theo Walcott (8.5/10) - The little tiger has emerged from slumber to become one of the most dominant fantasy force.
  3. Andrey Arshavin (7.5/10) - The big-game type player who has a much better body than most of his team mates.

Currently in 3rd
Manchester United

Coca Cola takes Rooney off cans after allegations - A good reminder to the public to keep your private life clean. Rooney's career at United is in danger because of this.

Predicted Season Finish: 2nd
United needs to thank Ferguson for maintaining the competitiveness of them. With clubs like Manchester City and Chelsea keep ploughing their money in, it's a great achievement for Ferguson to keep United in the first tier of Premier League.

While Rooney is in his career low, it's a relief for the Red Devils to see both Scholes, Nani and Berbatov step forward and maintain United's threat in attack. In terms of defence, Evans is a big problem at the back but fortunately Ferdinand is back now. The rule in fantasy for United's defence is simple - you can buy any of their back four when Vidic is pairing Ferdinand in the middle, but if there's Evans, none of them should be bought.

In my opinion, Manchester United will have a close fight with Manchester City all the way for the second place, but the Red Devils will eventually win.

Top Three Fantasy Players:
  1. Luis Nani (9/10) - The Portuguese is stunning in both club and country matches and is slowly closing the gap with Christiano Ronaldo.
  2. Dimitar Berbatov (9/10) - With he's as effective as Nani (sometimes even better), he's more susceptible to competition at United.
  3. John O'Shea (7/10) - The cheapest defender in United.

Currently in 2nd
Manchester City

The dressing room bust-up - Mancini has been taking a lot of pressure both internally and externally.

Predicted Season Finish: 3rd
City has a lot to prove this season after Al Murbarak's big splash. The multi billion club has more than enough talent to grab a spot to the Champions League, especially when you see the likes like Santa Cruz can only bully the reserves this season.

The club indeed has much potential to challenge for the summit. They have, in my opinion, the best goalkeeper in the world currently - Joe Hart. Their captain, Carlos Tevez, is on his peak since he arrived City last season. Adam Johnson, one of the England's best left footer over the years, has much more to provide than his playing time suggested.

While the kind of players that matches that of a champion team, the cohesion between them is still far from champion and thus I am not expecting them to win the league this season. But they surely will in the years coming.

Top Three Fantasy Players:
  1. Carlos Tevez (9/10) - The dominant figure in Manchester. He's fast, he's hardworking, and most importantly, he's lethal.
  2. Joe Hart (8/10) - Watch the highlights of him against Tottenham this season and you will realise how great he is.
  3. Adam Johnson (7/10) - His superbness is greatly limited by his playing time.

Currently in 1st

News - N/A

Predicted Season Finish: 1st
You don't often see clubs to score 21 goals in their first five matches. It's considered a tough task even for clubs like Barcelona and Real Madrid, whereby La Liga has been pretty much a two horse race.

But Chelsea did it. Malouda and Drogba are the joint league top goal scorer with six goals apiece - the latter even provided five assists. The top five fantasy players from Chelsea have totalled a incredible score of 239 points, which averaged 47.8 points per player!

That pretty much summarises the performance of Chelsea. Superb, terrific and effective. They will lose surprisingly at times, but that won't stop them from crowning the champion again.

Top Three Fantasy Players:
  1. Didier Drogba (10/10) - He scores a lot, assists a lot, takes a lot of bonus, and is from a top class team. What else can you hope for?
  2. Florent Malouda (9/10) - The French is playing happily at Chelsea with his great touch of goal.
  3. Ashley Cole (8.5/10) - The only first class fantasy defender that worthes his price.

Fantasy Pit Stop 1's Best XI


Elmohamady - Alex - Ashley Cole

Nani - Van der Vaart - Adam - Malouda

Berbatov - Drogba - Odemwingie

That's all for the quick review. Hope you enjoy it. Goodbye.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Fantasy Pit Stop 1: Part Three

To start reading from PART ONEclick here.

As a reminder, for this pit stop I am going to write about:
  1. Some major news/events related to the team;
  2. Predicted season finish; and
  3. Top three rated fantasy players along with their ratings.
The arrangement of teams will be according to current league rankings, in reverse order.

Currently in 10th

Zamora aiming a February/March return - The usual glass feet. All the best for him.

Predicted Season Finish: 10th
Mark Hughes has indeed changed Fulham for better. They are more adventurous going forward now, while maintaining their trademark defence. The thing that the new Fulham manager has really impressed me is that Fulham now really work as a team and there is no specific reliance on any players.

As a low budget team, I think the rank of 10th is rather great and reasonable for the Cottagers.

Top Three Fantasy Players:
  1. Bobby Zamora (7/10) - The target man of Fulham is fantasy wise effective but constantly plagued by injuries.
  2. Clinton Dempsey (7/10) - One of the best American footballer currently.
  3. Brede Hangeland (6.5) - The chief commander of Fulham's defence is quite expensive now.

Currently in 9th

News - N/A

Predicted Season Finish: 18th
Blackpool fans may be ecstatic about their ranking currently, but the football season has still a long way to go. I particularly aren't that surprise for their current ranking. They have the gift of luck in terms of fixtures for facing Wigan and Liverpool in the right time.

For me Blackpool is like Burnley of the last season - they come with a thick layer of mystery, but as the pages of the calendar are tore, they are slowly dissected. Their performance gets poorer and poorer and eventually the team may relegate.

Nevertheless, I can't deny how great Charlie Adam is as a leader. It is not exaggerate to say that he single-handedly took Blackpool to the Premier League.

Top Three Fantasy Players:
  1. Charlie Adam (8.5/10) - Cheap, has good scoring and assist record, and is the primary bonus scorer of the team.
  2. Matthew Gilks (6.5/10) - Definitely one of the busiest keeper in the league.
  3. N/A

Currently in 8th
Aston Villa

News - N/A

Predicted Season Finish: 6th
Martin O'Neill's early exit does brought some little "chaos" to the club, but fortunately now there's Gerard Houllier - a more credible, more experienced manager than the former. I believe the French manager will be able to take the team to greater heights, especially in European match-ups.

As the squad has more or less the same strength as last year, I think they will end the season in more or less the same ranking.

Top Three Fantasy Players:
  1. Marc Albrighton (7.5/10) - A winger less than £5.0m from a upper half team. Certainly a valuable addition to your squad.
  2. Ashley Young (7/10) - The ace of the team with some great free kick skills.
  3. Luke Young (6.5/10) - The cheapest defender of the team with a guaranteed starting spot.

Currently in 7th
Stoke City

News - N/A

Predicted Season Finish: 16th
Defence has been the main ingredient for Stoke's survival in top-flight league, but I don't think that will last long. The defenders have been far from their best for a long time, while Delap the grenadier is losing his effectively as teams start to understand their tactics.

But well, I think Tony Pulis himself knows that and therefore splashes £8m for the Potters' record buying Kenwyne Jones. I believe Brittannia will remain as one of the Premier League stadium next season because Mr Jones will use goals to cover Stoke's defence.

Top Three Fantasy Players:
  1. Matthew Etherington (7.5/10) - The commander of the team who has been superb since last season.
  2. Kenwyne Jones (7/10) - He will have all the time to prove himself at Stoke.
  3. N/A

Currently in 6th
West Bromwich Albion

News - N/A

Predicted Season Finish: 14th
The Baggies had been in the Premiership-Championship elevator over the past decade, but I expect them to stay this season mainly because of Odemwingie. He has been great until know and is a constant threat to any defenders.

Combined with Brunt, Olsson and Scharner who all has Premier League experience, West Brom should undergo a very nice season under Robert Di Matteo.

Top Three Fantasy Players:
  1. Peter Odemwingie (9/10) - He's still new at West Brom, but he's already the star.
  2. Chris Brunt (7/10) - He has good experience in the league and decent attacking capabilities.
  3. N/A

To be continued in PART FOUR.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Fantasy Pit Stop 1: Part Two

To start reading from PART ONE, click here.

As a reminder, for this pit stop I am going to write about:
  1. Some major news/events related to the team;
  2. Predicted season finish; and
  3. Top three rated fantasy players along with their ratings.
The arrangement of teams will be according to current league rankings, in reverse order.

Currently in 15th
Newcastle United

Predicted Season Finish: 15th
Newcastle is a team with a rich history. It's squad isn't that rich though. The team is still backboned by the old faces like Nolan, Barton and Gutierrez, while the news faces don't have much calibre to make some big differences aside from Hatem Ben Arfa - who is currently suffered from a serious injury.

However, I don't think the team will repeat their fortune two years ago - where they were relegated. Newcastle is in a better shape now - most notably the vast improvements of Carroll. The 6-0 victory against Aston Villa doesn't have much element of fluke. They might struggle in the relegation zone for a small part of the season, but at the end they should be able to reach the shore.

Top Three Fantasy Players:
  1. Andrew Carroll (8/10) - Great third striker with high potential.
  2. Joey Barton (7/10) - The "bad boy" has been less violent and more effective on the pitch.
  3. Kevin Nolan (6.5/10) - One of the important force in the Magpies' attack.
Honourable mention: Hatem Ben Arfa (8/10) - A very talented winger. Very unfortunate for him to be sidelined.

Currently in 14th
Wigan Athletic

News - N/A

Predicted Season Finish: 19th
I like how Roberto Martinez implements his offensive team play, but that doesn't always work out especially against a much superior opposition. The Latics have only two victories up till now - one against the so fluctuating Tottenham and another against the poorer Wolves - none are convincing.

While they do have some great additions this season - particularly goalkeeper Al Habsi and defender Alcaraz, I don't think that will be enough for them to stay. Barring N'Zogbia, the rest of the midfielders are particularly weak in terms of Premiership standards.

As their fixtures get tougher and tougher in the final third of the season, I think Wigan will eventually collapse and the lads will meet Wolves next year in the Championship.

Top Three Fantasy Players:
  1. Hugo Rodallega (7/10) - A quite productive strike force.
  2. Charles N'Zogbia (7/10) - Had some furious times with the club but things should start settle and he should start performing.
  3. Antolin Alcaraz (5.5/10) - One of the quality signings of Wigan this season. However, you need to be wary of the number of emphatic defeats that Wigan will face.

Currently in 13th
Blackburn Rovers

News - N/A

Predicted Season Finish: 13th
They don't play pretty football, but it's fine as long as they get the results. Blackburn is a tough opposition no matter what team you are due to their aggressive approach in defence. They have all the chances to sneak away with points against tougher oppositions.

With a pack of quality defenders with offensive capabilities, added with some evenly matched strikers in a strong competition, I predict that the Rovers will end the season quite comfortably.

Top Three Fantasy Players:
  1. Christopher Samba (7/10) - A decent defender with a decent scoring record.
  2. Paul Robinson (5.5/10) - Not the best keeper in the league, but he'll give you quite an amount of saves.
  3. Nikola Kalinic (5.5/10) - Has a steady start this season.

Currently in 12th
Bolton Wanderers

News - N/A

Predicted Season Finish: 11th
Bolton might have almost the same team from last season, but still it's much better. Owen Coyle coaches the team right from start of the season, Elmander on form, Martin Petrov activating the attack... all these signs show that the club is in a good shape.

The club has all the strength to remain on the Premier League and finish with a good ranking.

Top Three Fantasy Players:
  1. Johan Elmander (7.5/10) - A sudden burst of form has made him the top fantasy choice of Bolton.
  2. Martin Petrov (7/10) - He's capable of doing a lot of damage from attack.
  3. Kevin Davies (6.5/10) - Still the leader of Bolton with potential to grab plenty of bonus points.

Currently in 11th

News - N/A

Predicted Season Finish: 9th
It's interesting to see that five out of six Premier League goals of Sunderland were from Darren Bent, with another from new signing Asamoah Gyan. But will that pose a threat for Sunderland's survival? Absolutely not.

The Black Cats is still the team who can frustrate any tougher opponents. They actually get better with the arrival of Elmohamady. The Egyptian defender is very proactive in surging forward and has become the "Glen Johnson" of the season. Combined with the usual faces like Bent and Henderson, Sunderland will enjoy their best top-flight finish over the past decade.

Top Three Fantasy Players:
  1. Ahmed Elmohamady (8.5/10) - A constant threat from the back of the flank. Has been impressive so far.
  2. Darren Bent (8/10) - One of the all time fantasy favourite that you should start against any opposition.
  3. Jordan Henderson (7/10) - The 20-year-old midfielder is a promising gem.

To be continued in PART THREE.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Fantasy Pit Stop 1: Part One

Since there's a two weeks break for internationals, it will be no harm for me to write some short fantasy reviews for now. For this pit stop I am going to write about:
  1. Some major news/events related to the team;
  2. Predicted season finish; and
  3. Top three rated fantasy players along with their ratings.
The arrangement of teams will be according to current league rankings, in reverse order.

Currently in 20th
West Ham United

Bid to take over Olympic Stadium - A good thing for the club's finance.

Predicted Season Finish: 17th
Despite an awful start, I think West Ham will stay in the Premier League for at least another season. The early run of four defeats with three goals conceded each may just be an adjustment period for their new coach Avram Grant.

Of course, it can't be helped  that they have Robert Green, one of the silliest goalkeeper in England's history and also a group of under-par defenders, but that weakness can be made up by their offence. Scott Parker is quite a spiritual figure of West Ham who plays the same character as Steven Gerrard in Liverpool, while the partnership of Obinna and Piquionne is looking better and better. It will only be even better when Carlton Cole finds back his touch.

Top Three Fantasy Players:
  1. Victor Obinna (6.5/10) - There must be something inside a player loaned from Internazionale and he's slowly showing it.
  2. Scott Parker (6.5/10) - A superstar look-alike midfielder who is indeed the star of the team.
  3. Frederic Piquionne (6/10) - He has become more decent recently. Still not a good buy though.

Currently in 19th
Wolverhampton Wanderers

News - N/A

Predicted Season Finish: 20th
It's quite a mess for Mick McCarthy's team. The Wolves are yet to win since their season opener and I think this kind of form will sustain throughout the season. The return of Stephen Hunt might help a bit, but still, I think it's the end of their fairytale.

Top Three Fantasy Players:
  1. Stephen Hunt (5.5/10) - He's a creative talent, but Wolves is quite a reserved team for him.
  2. Steven Fletcher (5/10) - He was quite influential for Burnley last year but has a limited playing time currently.
  3. Matthew Jarvis (5/10) - Occasionally collects bonus.

Currently in 18th

The court battle between RBS and Hicks and co - A crucial fight for Liverpool's future.

Predicted Season Finish: 8th
A big club in a big trouble. It's not a surprise, as this is the long term effect of ownership by the notorious G&H.

However, I expect things to start to turn around after the takeover by NESV, which is owned by another American but has passion in sports. This will at least provide a stable financial platform for the Reds and the players should be able to concentrate more on the pitch.

Still, Hodgson will need to revise his tactics. Fulham tactics certainly doesn't suite Liverpool at all. Glen Johnson is all the while clumsy with his more contained position, while Poulsen's Italian approach is totally unsuitable in England. Liverpool needs to be more offensive in order to make out the best from Torres, Gerrard and co.

Top Three Fantasy Players:
  1. Steven Gerrard (8/10) - He steps out every time the team needs him. The team needs to get better though before you buy him.
  2. Fernando Torres (7.5/10) - He is a better choice than Gerrard if he can stay out of injury.
  3. Joe Cole (6.5/10) - He will need to communicate with his mates better on the pitch in order to fully utilise his creativity.

Currently in 17th

News - N/A

Predicted Season Finish: 7th
Everton repeated their poor season start, but we all know they will bounce back into the upper half when the season ends. They have too much of quality to stay at the relegation zone and the likes of Arteta, Cahill and Pienaar won't fail them for too long. Their strikers will need to buck up though, as they are still goalless in the league currently.

Top Three Fantasy Players:
  1. Mikel Arteta (8/10) - I'm surprised why he is still without any assists although his passes are very good this season. A superb bonus magnet as well.
  2. Tim Cahill (7.5/10) - The header king has already trademarked himself in the Premier League.
  3. Seamus Coleman (6.5/10) - He's securing his position on the right back. Comes at a surprisingly cheap price.

Currently in 16th
Birmingham City

News - N/A

Predicted Season Finish: 12th
As one of the clubs with the most solid defence, Birmingham should be free from any relegation threats. There's no Joe Hart at the back this season but Ben Foster at least does a decent job. With the same tough team added with some new faces in the offence, they will finish the season with a good position again.

Top Three Fantasy Players:
  1. Ben Foster (7.5/10) - Unarguably the best keeper under £5.0m in FPL.
  2. Scott Dann (7/10) - One of the cheaper choice of Birmingham defenders.
  3. Barry Ferguson (7/10) - Still as mighty as ever in collecting bonus points.

To be continued in PART TWO.

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Fugly Fuss of Roy Hodgson v The Magnificent Minds of Carlo Ancelotti

Roy Hodgson
You are not the man...
The lights were supposed to be all focused on the Chelsea's victory this week, but Roy Hodgson is just so genius and managed to bring Liverpool onto the headlines. Now we will look at both teams in detail...

Liverpool: On The Stairways to Hell
When we talk about Liverpool we always expect Champions League, and even league title. Benitez failed last season so he left. But there came Roy Hodgson, who was far more mediocre. ME-DIO-CRE.

All right, he's the caretaker manager before the management shifts away from the two notorious bosses. But still, any man with decent football knowledge will expect that any manager of Liverpool should be able to at least qualify the club for Europa League next season. What Hodgson has done? 18th. The first time the club is at the relegation position over the past 26 years. The worst season start for Liverpool over the past 50 years. One victory over seven league games.

What causes this? Bad formation. AWESOMELY bad. At the end of Rafa's era people were furious with Lucas for his uncreative and sluggish style of play. But Hodgson still bought Christian Poulsen - one who plays an even fuglier football than the former. Lucas+Poulsen is unarguably the worst midfield combination in any top-flight league in the world. And this is the main reason why Liverpool always fails to dictate games.

Christian Poulsen
England is not a place for a pure defensive midfielder like him.
Now let's look at the back line. Carragher? Slow and sloppy. Skrtel? Sloppy as well. The two subs at the centre, Agger and Kyrgiakos, are the better combo in my opinion. They will provide better aerial defence and offence which obviously are Liverpool's fatal weaknesses. Another questionable decision by Roy is the departure of Emiliano Insua. This youngster is too good to be let gone and while Konchesky looks good in defence, I am certainly curious why Hodgson couldn't accommodate Insua for backup.

The above two major tactical failures had brought Liverpool down to 18th and I will not surprise if the Reds sit at the bottom of the table in a week or two by now if Roy still stick to his mid-table team approach and is not fired. Liverpool 1-2 Blackpool at Anfield? That's way way way out of any Liverpool fan's imagination. When you have two five star players like Torres and Gerrard and yet the team failed to perform, it's certainly the manager's problems - either tactical or man management impotencies.

Chelsea: The Efficient Lions
It's no surprise that Chelsea out-muscled  Arsenal for a fifth consecutive victory against the Gunners. Both Drogba's and Alex's goal can be listed for nomination for goal of the season and you really have to admit that Chelsea's attack is terrifically effective.

You have to admire Carlo's vision. At the very moment he came Chelsea he has effectively induced offensive mentality to his players. The 1-0 idealism disappeared, and the Blue Lions will attack as hard as they can until victory is assured. Beautiful, effective, and confident style of play.

Carlo Ancelotti
He has successfully trained some brave lions.
Unlike the boring combination of Lucas-Poulsen, Chelsea's defensive midfielder are all daring to roam forward and feed good passes forward. Essien, for example, has already got three goals in his pocket currently.

Upfront we see Drogba who is still in his best at the age of 32 and Malouda who is in an incredible form. It is their efficiency that has made the team managed to score numerous goals in limited attempts.

With Ancelotti, every player in the team is transformed into a lethal killer capable to score. And that's the reason why Chelsea is on the summit with an incredible goal difference figure.