Friday, April 29, 2011

Gameweek 35 Fantasy Preview

Wayne Rooney
Wazza on fire.
Congratulations to Manchester United to step one of their feet into the Champions League finale after a 2-0 away win at Gelsenkirchen against Schalke. Despite Neuer's godlike performance, Die Knappen were unable to stop Rooney's fantastic performance. Thumbs up.

On the other hand, Messi outstanding performance outshone the whole team of Real Madrid, only to be shadowed by *you know who* ridiculously exaggerated post-tackle actings. Pepe's sent off was unjustified honestly. Still, Barca deserved the victory and it's like a mission impossible now to Jose Mourinho.

Now, let's depart away from UEFA Champions League and step into the world of Barclays Premier League as the season reaching its finale...

Arsene Wenger
"Should I help Man Utd or Chelsea?"
Arsenal v Manchester United
All the rest of Premier League fans except the Red Devils' will hope Arsenal to defeat Manchester United to make the Premier League challenge more interesting.

The Red Devils are only one step away from the title. Should they beat the Gunners, it's only the matter of time to get their 19th. With Champions League final almost in Ferguson's grasp, it's likely that the Scot will deploy his best squad to face Wenger's.

On the other hand, the Gunners had hardly something to cheer for, after losing eight points from the last Premier League games. Defence has been a constant problem for the London club as they conceded so many silly goals. That's the reason why Arsenal has collapsed once again in the final part of the season in my opinion.

Things should go pretty even this time given Arsenal's all-time low morale and Manchester United's stamina disadvantages. I should be pretty narrow, and I'll vote for a draw as it's enough to satisfy Sir Alex Ferguson in pursuing United's 19th glory.

Prediction: Arsenal 2-2 Manchester United

Fernando Torres and Didier Drogba
Both to start together?
Chelsea v Tottenham Hotspur
There are fighting for different reason, but they will fight with the same thirst.

All of a sudden the Blues are now only six points from leader Manchester United, and should the Red Devils lost at Emirates Stadium, Chelsea will have all the chance to surpass them on the week after.

On the other hand, Tottenham still has the chance to qualify for Champions League for another year. But more importantly, they will have to defend their fifth place against Liverpool for Europa qualification.

Torres and Drogba may join forces but their effectiveness when combined together remains a question. But since the former has broken his duck and the latter is on his prime, there should be no problem for Chelsea's offence especially when there are also in form Lampard, Kalou and Malouda on service.

Meanwhile, Tottenham continues its horrible form, finding themselves only one win from last six. Another draw or defeat will give them extreme pressure from Liverpool, especially when Spurs have fixtures disadvantages.

It's an intense London derby, but at Stamford Bridge, I can hardly believe Redknapp to outmuscle Ancelotti...

Prediction: Chelsea 3-0 Tottenham

The Rest
  • Blackburn v Bolton (1-1) - The former has more reason to fight on.
  • Blackpool v Stoke City (2-0) - Will Mr Charlie Adam finally create something spectacular? I will have to have faith on him.
  • Sunderland v Fulham (1-1) - Both are safe, so results do not matter much to them.
  • West Brom v Aston Villa (2-1) - My vote goes to Roy Hodgson and Odemwingie who's on much better form than Hollier-less Villa.
  • Wigan v Everton (2-2) - Wigan are really pathetic throughout the season. Not much of confidence on them.
  • Birmingham v Wolves (2-1) - It will be interesting to see whether the Wolves are hungry enough to bite the Brums.
  • Liverpool v Newcastle (3-0) - Fantasy game of the week. Captain Suarez or Kuyt.
  • Man City v West Ham (2-1) - Premier League survival quest looks hopeless for Avram Grant.

Luis Suarez
Will lady luck finally give him the permission to score a double digit fantasy score?
Captain Picks

  • Suarez/Kuyt - Newcastle are known to be awful on the road.
  • Drogba - Tottenham don't have good defence to stop him.
  • Odemwingie - If you are adventurous enough.
  • Kuyt - Seriously on form, seriously underrated by me before.
  • Odemwingie - The remaining fixtures are quite easy.
Squad of XV
GK: Hart
DF: Flanagan, Luiz, R Johnson
MF: Kuyt, Lampard, Adam, Silva
F: Suarez, Drogba, Odemwingie

Subs (in order): Foster, Sessegnon, Tamas, Samba

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Saturday Stage

Fernando Torres
Broke his duck with a goal and an assist from the bench.

A pretty entertaining Saturday with Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool all winning their games. Here's some highlights:
Maxi Rodriguez
Only the best coach can lead a second-string player to score a hat-trick.

  • Liverpool won their biggest margin game of the season after demolishing Birmingham 5-0, breaking their record of nine winless games against the Brums. Maxi, surprisingly, claimed the match ball with his wonderful hat-trick. With yet another clean sheet, you really have to admire the brain and wisdom of Kenny Dalglish. As long as he stays, Liverpool have a fair chance of winning the title next season!
  • Also spectacular for Liverpool are Dirk Kuyt and Luis Suarez. Do you know Kuyt has scored 63 fantasy points from the last six games?!! That's averaging 10 for each! Suarez was not lucky for not scoring the second goal himself, but as long as he plays, he will create enough troubles for others to score.
  • The Reds' arch-rivals, Manchester United, decided the game in the final minutes again as Javier Hernandez scored the victory goal. He may had blocked Nani's shot with his butt, but then, his goal compensated that. Chicharito, too good for his age.
  • Of all, Chelsea fans' should be the happiest ones yesterday as Mr 50mil finally broken his duck and scored his first goal for Chelsea. A good goal I shall say. In addition, he has also provided an assist for Malouda! But will he open his floodgate now, as what he has promised?
  • Meanwhile, Malouda and Lampard were on the score sheet again as they return to their prime. It will make the title race interesting if they manage to beat United at Old Trafford.
  • David Luiz almost scored a long range cannon yesterday. Still, his great display - both attack and defence - earned him another bonus point.
  • West Ham has made Chelsea's day tough - unlucky for them for not scoring.
  • Tottenham failed to take down West Bromwich Albion and they will suffer from the consequences. Liverpool are now only three points behind and Spurs are yet to battle Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool!
  • Odemwingie is really red hot now after collecting 50 fantasy points from his last six.
  • Sunderland finally got their last needed victory to safety zone as Henderson and Sessegnon starred the game.
  • Wolves v Fulham, Blackpool v Newcastle and Aston Villa v Stoke all ended 1-1. The only thing that concerns me though, is that Adam has finally contributed something more than two points after three average games.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Gameweek 34 Fantasy Preview

Gareth Bale
PFA Player of the Year. Even Dirk Kuyt has better statistics than him on the league.
Raul Meireles
PFA Fans' Player of the Year. Well deserved.
Scott Parker
Football Writers Association Footballer of the Year. What a great year for a great leader.
Congratulations to all three of them for winning their awards respectively. This season has gone pretty far isn't it? Still, there are three horses running for the title and five clubs struggling on the quicksand of relegation. Excitements continue...

Back to this gameweek. Four more teams on a double this week, with Fulham having the best fixtures among them. Will you invest heavily on double gamers given that the top clubs are having relatively easy fixtures this week? A big gamble to be honest.

Daniel Sturridge
Can he continue his magic in this gameweek double?
Double Gamers
  • Stoke City (Aston Villa @ away, Wolves @ home) - Fantasy managers won't be enjoying too much from this double with two tough opponents. The Villans had regained their long lost form and will give a hard time to Bolton at their home ground. Wolves on the other hand are still distance away from survival and will again fight their best for points. Still, start your Begovic, Huth and Etherington - they are all great in collecting fantasy points. Prediction: AST 2-0 STO, STO 1-1 WOL.
  • Wolves (Fulham @ home, Stoke @ away) - Interestingly both of their opponents this week are double gamers. They should at least salvage a point at Molineux given Fulham's inability to win an away league game since 2nd of February. Stoke at away is a tricky one, but with nothing else to lose, they will fight out their best. Jarvis is the best Wolf, but those who are willing to take risk may stock Ebanks-Blake or Milijas as well. Prediction: WOL 2-1 FUL, STO 1-1 WOL.
  • Fulham (Wolves @ away, Bolton @ home) - The Cottagers are quite on fire now with the return of Bobby Zamora, and it's quite possible to take four points from these two games. Dempsey and Zamora are worthy for your captain armband this week. Prediction: WOL 2-1 FUL, FUL 2-1 BOL.
  • Bolton (Arsenal @ home, Fulham @ away) - First, they have neither European spots to pursue for nor relegation crisis to fight for; Second, one of their opponents is Arsenal (I know the Gunners have been quite unreliable recently, but still). Don't put too much on hope for them except for one - Daniel Sturridge! Prediction: BOL 1-2 ARS, FUL 2-1 BOL.
The Rest
  • Man Utd v Everton (1-0) - The Red Devils are not as slippery the Gunners, but you never know.
  • Blackpool v Newcastle (2-1) - The Magpies are quite safe. Will they lend a helping hand?
  • Liverpool v Birmingham (3-0) - The Reds now have more than enough weaponries to kill any team who park their buses.
  • Sunderland v Wigan (2-2) - One point from last nine games for the Black Cats. I'm quite sure they will not win this time as well.
  • Tottenham v West Brom (2-0) - It's VdV's time again.
  • Chelsea v West Ham (3-0) - Expect complete demolition by the Blues (if Torres doesn't start).
  • Blackburn v Man City (0-1) - City needs to win to protect their Champions League spot.

Didier Drogba
Another scoring spree for the Ivorian?
Captain Picks

  • Drogba - On his peak currently.
  • Suarez - They will be plenty of opportunities for him to strike.
  • Zamora/Dempsey/Sturridge - Double gamers with fantasy excellence.
  • Drogba/Malouda - Back to their prime.
  • Van der Vaart - Starts his scoring engine again.
  • Dempsey/Zamora - Fantasy proven.
  • Man Utd players - The toughest period of their season is coming soon.
Squad of XV
GK: Schwarzer
DF: Huth, Hangeland, Luiz
MF: Malouda, Dempsey, Etherington, Van der Vaart
F: Drogba, Suarez, Zamora
Subs (in order): Begovic, Jarvis, Flanagan, Gary Cahill

Captain: Drogba
ECS: Value

They Will Need to Learn How to Take Care of the Trophies to Get More of Them...

Great sarcasm. Real Madrid has finally won their first trophy after years, but it seems like they will not add a new trophy to their trophy cabinet after their vice captain, Sergio Ramos, dropped their Copa del Ray Cup while celebrating on the roof of the bus.

The Cup was then deformed by the bus. The extent of damage? Only them will know.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Game of the Season: Arsenal 1-1 Liverpool @ Emirates

Lucas Leiva
Conceded two important fouls which helped Liverpool to equalise.
Unbelievable DRAMA.

The game didn't promise much in the first 80 minutes. But it started to get crazy after that with a van Persie's one-on-one parried by Reina, and then the longer than usual eight minute stoppage time due to Carragher's time dragging injury. Now that's where the great drama started.

96th minute. Fabregas dribbled into the box and was continuously challenged by Spearing. The ref whistled! Penalty! Van Persie took it with a great angle and power and sent Pepe Reina the wrong way. 1-0! The Dutch took off his shirt and celebrated, but he would never believe what happened next...

98th minute. Lucas was challenged on the edge of penalty box, with the ball inside the box already but not him. Just a free kick. After a long set piece preparations, Suarez fired the ball and it was well deflected by the defenders. But the story didn't end...

Lucas took the ball and tried to maintain the possession, but Eboue made a silly push on the Brazilian. A payback penalty! Kuyt again took it in the absence of Gerrard. 1-1 and the whistle signaled the end of the game! Great game!

Now some of my reflections from this game:

  • A very very fantastic display from the Reds' two youthful full backs. Both John Flanagan and Jack Robinson have contained the Gunners' flanks very very well. This is indeed totally out of my expectations. Liverpool need not to worry about the future of their defence with them and Martin Kelly.
  • On the other hand, the men in the middle, Skrtel and Carragher, were much more vulnerable to attacks.
  • How respectable is Jamie Carragher? It was totally shown on his injury. The claps were so loud, even when it's not Anfield. Salute.
  • Van Persie again showed how important he is for Arsenal to challenge for the title. Numerous golden chances he has today, only to be denied by godly Reina. Bad luck. Five pre-bonus fantasy points weren't too bad for his fantasy managers anyway.
  • Another man on bad luck was Koscielny. If his attempt on the first half hit the net instead of post, things would go very differently.
Drama of the season. Do you agree?

Also featured on today was Stoke's 5-0 humiliation to Bolton in the FA Cup semifinals.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Treble Gone Away From United

Gnegneri Yaya Toure
Scored the only goal to take Manchester City to Wembley.
An unfortunate day for Manchester United as they were outshone by their local rivals Manchester City.

Yaya Toure scored the only goal of the game but the Red Devils can only have themselves to blame for. Berbatov especially, has wasted a big deal of chances at the beginning of the game.

It looks like Mancini will win a trophy to secure his place. Good luck.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Gameweek 33 Fantasy Preview

Carlos Tevez
Out for up to a month, out of Golden Boot race.
Quite a number of bad news occurred in the soccer arena, including Tevez's moderate injury ahead of FA Cup tie against Manchester United and the tragedy of Drogba's family. My deep condolences to Drogba.

Back on track. Only six gameweeks left to improve your season rankings, and with Chelsea and Arsenal having a gameweek double this week, are you ready to fight till the end?

Andy Carroll
Will pose tremendous threat to Arsenal's defenders.
Arsenal v Liverpool
The Gunners will face a decisive week to their title race as they host Liverpool as the first game of their gameweek double.

The Reds just pissed Manchester City away from Anfield with a classy 3-0 victory thanks to the marvel of Andy Carroll. With the Geordie opened his account with Liverpool, you can expect huge pressure to be faced by the Koscielny and co. That is even worse with Suarez providing different dimension of attack to complement Carroll.

Meanwhile, Arsenal finally got back on track with a victory against Blackpool last week. But just as we all know, inconsistency has been a consistent problem for Arsenal. Van Persie needs to stop wasting chances if they are to continue their pressure against Manchester United on the table.

Despite having home advantage, I don't think three points are on Wenger's grasp. Carroll alone is enough to crush Lehmann (or Almunia?).

Prediction: Arsenal 2-2 Liverpool

Aaron Lennon v Theo Walcott
A contest of agile wingers.
Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal*
An interesting replacement fixture as we see Arsenal battling Tottenham to continue their pressure on the leader Manchester United.

Tottenham might get demoralized after their Champions League exit with a silly goal conceded by Heurelho Gomes. But they do have stamina advantage on hand as Arsenal will get exhausted after battling Liverpool this Sunday.

Viewing on their stars, Van der Vaart and Bale are still struggling to back to their best. But they've Peter Crouch who just scored a brace last week and will be looking to do the same in this match.

On the other hand, Arsenal have almost all of their attackers available for this game and will do everything to crush Tottenham's defence.

It's a contest of determination, and I believe the Gunners have the thirst for victory.

Prediction: Tottenham 1-2 Arsenal

The Rest
  • Birmingham v Sunderland (1-0) - A very vital game for Brums' survival. They simply must win.
  • Blackpool v Wigan (2-1) - A win will bring Wigan above Blackpool. But with the poorest offence in Premier League, can they? I am negative about that.
  • Everton v Blackburn (2-0) - The Toffees have been quite good on attack recently. Do invest on their attackers.
  • West Brom v Chelsea (2-3) - Hodgson is indeed a mid-table club maestro. Chelsea will need to beware.
  • West Ham v Aston Villa (2-3) - Wide areas has always been the Hammers' problems, and that's the Villans' advantage.
  • Newcastle v Man Utd (1-2) - I don't expect rock solid United to slip this. But don't expect a big win either after a massive FA Cup derby.
  • Chelsea v Birmingham* (2-0) - No reason for not winning this one.
*Replacement fixtures

David Luiz
A possible captain pick for this gameweek double with his wonderful bonus magnet-ing skills.
Captain Picks
  • David Luiz/Lampard/Drogba - Put your double on them on top of their double with easy fixtures.
  • Van Persie - Two tough opponents. But does he ever pick his opponent to score?
  • Adam - Well, he faces Wigan. Poor defenders.
  • Carroll - Adapted to Liverpool.
  • Luiz/Ivanovic - You might consider both of them. It's quite possible to get two clean sheets.
  • Tevez - Out for a month.
Squad of XV
GK: Foster
DF: Ridgewell, Luiz, Ivanovic, Clichy
MF: Adam, Lampard, A Young, Walcott
F: Van Persie, Bent
Subs (in order): Kingson, Carroll, Jagielka, Smalling

Captain: Luiz
ECS: Value

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Andy Carroll Unleashed His True Power

EPL : Andy Carroll - Raul Meireles, Liverpool v Manchester City
Andy Carroll
Looks like £35m is worthier than £50m.

Liverpool blown Man City 3-0 at ease. What's better? Carroll scored his first for Liverpool. And his second too.

The game was indeed concluded too early, after the Geordie scored the Reds' third and his second at 36th minute. That effectively makes City's fourth place shaking, with Tottenham right behind them.

Meanwhile, Dirk Kuyt continues his outstanding form by scoring eight fantasy points. Astounding.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Gameweek 32 Fantasy Preview

Fernando Torres
The next Shevchenko?
So Fernando Torres's goal drought has now been extended to nine games. Never expect that for a £50m striker don't you? Can he end the embarrassment this week against Wigan?

David Silva
Looks sharp to get something at Anfield.
Liverpool v Man City
Tough problems are on Dalglish's hands currently as he has to lead his team to finish the season with an incomplete squad.

Agger, Kelly and Gerrard are all out for the rest of the season and with Johnson and Shelvey on the injury camp as well, the Reds' squad depth is definitely been wiped out - they have now only four fit first team defenders! It much worse when you know that Kyrgiakos and Wilson are the ones who join Carragher and Skrtel on defence.

Man City also has problems on their defence department but theirs are much much easier to solve compared to Liverpool's. Furthermore, their attackers such as Silva and Yaya Toure are also on form, and that will make their task to conquer Anfield much easier.

Fragile defence - this reason is convincing enough for me to go for a City victory.

Prediction: Liverpool 1-3 Man City

The Rest
  • Wolves v Everton (2-1) - Always believe in those still with targets to fight for.
  • Blackburn v Birmingham (2-1) - The outcome might be crucial for the fate of both clubs. Expect a big scoreline.
  • Bolton v West Ham (2-2) - The Hammers will continue to fight crazily for survival.
  • Chelsea v Wigan (3-0) - A golden opportunity for Torres to end his goal drought - but will he take the chance?
  • Man Utd v Fulham (2-0) - No Rooney this time, but no problem still.
  • Sunderland v West Brom (2-2) - I bet on form Baggies will be able to extend Black Cats' unwinning run to eight games.
  • Tottenham v Stoke City (2-1) - The long missing VdV/Bale effect should be back finally.
  • Blackpool v Arsenal (0-4) - It will be catastrophic if Wenger cannot take this. It will be disappointing is Van Persie cannot score more than one.
  • Aston Villa v Newcastle (2-0) - Injury and suspension will prevent Newcastle from doing well in this.

Robin van Persie
Will he fail us again? Hope not.
Captain Picks

  • Van Persie - Blackpool will open a lot of holes for him.
  • Lampard/Drogba - Wigan are no match for them.
  • Nani/Hernandez - They will share the boots left by Rooney.
  • Van der Vaart - Domestic results will affect his chance of staying.
  • Bent - He is the key for Villa's survival.
  • Nolan - Suspended coupled with a bad run of fixtures awaiting.
Squad of XV
GK: Van der Sar
DF: Vidic, Luiz, Dawson
MF: Lampard, Nani, Van der Vaart, Jarvis
F: Van Persie, Hernandez, Odemwingie
Subs (in order): Robinson, Parker, Walker, Samba

Captain: Van Persie
ECS: Value

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Interesting Week of Champions League

Peter Crouch
An early red card has crushed Tottenham's hope of progressing to the semis.
A pretty unexpected Champions League week with numerous strange results. Here are some highlights:

  • Tottenham lost 0-4 to Real Madrid at Bernabeu. A loss is expected, but such big loss is not, especially when the London Club has such a good record against the Milan brothers before this.
  • Inter's loss is even more shocking as they were humiliated by Schalke at home by conceding five goals. Dejan Stankovic scored a spectacular 25 seconds opening goal anyway.
  • Rooney continues his stylish form as he scored an incisive goal to end Manchester United's embarrassing nine-match unwinning streak against the London Blues at Stamford Bridge.
  • Barcelona 5-1 Shaktar Donetsk. Perhaps the most expected results?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Ill-Mouthed Rooney Faces Two-Match Ban

Wayne Rooney
FA rewarded his hat-trick with match-bans.
Looks like there won't be a transfer bandwagon for Wayne Rooney as the FA has decided to award him a two-game ban after his misconduct on the game against West Ham United.

He scored a marvelous hat-trick to give Manchester United a spectacular comeback victory, but this ban has effectively halted fantasy managers' decision to buy him in.

Fortunately enough though, he will only miss one Premier League game as one of the ban is scheduled on the FA Cup game against Manchester City. Those who have already owned him can afford to keep him.