Sunday, November 20, 2011

Gameweek 13 Fantasy Preview

The man in deep shit: Andre Villas-Boas
Arsenal was the only team that has made it through the knock-out stage this week in the Champions League, with the other three still on doubt of progressing the group stage especially for Manchester City. Bad year for English clubs on the European tournament?

Gameweek 12 Mini Review on the Top 7
Manchester City: Still unmatched upfront, but defence has slightly deteriorated.
Manchester United: Earned 3 points in ugly style. Either they wake up or expect poor run of results coming in.
Tottenham: As long as Adebayor and Van der Vaart take turns to hit form, Champions League is highly probable.
Newcastle: Hatem Ben Arfa should be a major fantasy force soon after a great performance against City.
Chelsea: Get rid of them. Terrible defence. Not looking sharp upfront neither.
Liverpool: Hard to pick them as they are not consistent enough. Defence is reliable though.
Arsenal: You can never go wrong with Van Persie.

Charlie Adam has shown
great vision on the game
against Chelsea.
Wealthy City will travel to neighbouring city Liverpool as they try to demolish Anfield with Sheikh's money.

With annual losses of  £194.9m, City owns one of the highest wage bill across Europe with the likes of Silva, Aguero, Nasri and more. With that kind of money, City has the ability to challenge for titles this season, and has topped the Premier League table currently with a comfortable 5-point lead. Massive, massive season for them.

The Blues travelled to Naples for a Champions League tie against Napoli and that definitely took away some of their fitness, so do not be surprised by rotation. Silva should start though, as he had only played for 30 minutes in the game against Newcastle and less than 45 minutes for two international games before that - might be a strategy that Mancini prepares to play him against both Napoli and Liverpool.

On the other side, Liverpool will have no fitness problems when they host City, and Dalglish had clearly stated that Premier League is their top priority despite having a League Cup tie with Chelsea two days after that. However, Suarez trouble over racism allegations will make their chances of winning this game gloomy, especially if his match ban penalty starts from that game. Big doubts.

Manchester City might just be too tough for the Reds so I'll go for an away win. A narrow one though.

Prediction: LIV 1-2 MCI
Pick: Silva, Aguero

Fantasy Game of the Week: NORWICH v QUEEN'S PARK RANGERS
Heidar Helguson has picked
up 39 fantasy points from
his last 5 games.
With all the big clubs having European tie and League Cup tie before and after this week's game, let's focus on the battle between two promoters of the league.

Both teams are poor in defence, so offensively I can see a big scoreline.

Expect the likes like Pilkington, Holt and Morison to battle all out against Helguson, Barton, Wright-Phillips and Taarabt to grab three points from the tie.

Helguson might be worthy for your captain armband with his spectacular run of form currently.

Prediction: NOR 3-2 QPR
Pick and Captain: Helguson
Pick: Pilkington, Holt, Morison, Barton, SWP, Taarabt
Drop: NOR and QPR defence

Pick and Drop
Pick and captain:
  1. Van Persie - Might play only half of the game, but still too good to refuse.
  2. Walters - Blackburn should be leaky enough for him to perform.
  3. Van der Vaart/ Adebayor - West Brom's defensive qualities won't be enough to stop them.
  1. MUN defence - Should be formidable with captain Vidic leading the line.
  2. SUN defence - Solid and cheap. Against Wigan it's highly possible for another clean sheet.
  3. Agbonlahor - If he can get enough chances, he should defeat Vorm.
  1. NEW defence - A clean sheet at Old Trafford? Negative for me.
  2. FUL defence - RvP is unstoppable.

Transfer Traffic
Green light (buy):
  1. Van Persie - Simply too good.
  2. Hoilett - Cheap. Solid.
  3. Walters - Ultimate influence.
  4. Richards - Seems to outperform Kompany at the moment.
  5. SUN defence - Some good fixtures ahead.
  6. MUN defence - Showing great resolution.
  7. Ben Arfa - Extremely threatening.
Yellow light (hold):
  1. Ramsey/ Arteta - See if something develops to make one of them more superior than the other.
Red light (sell):
  1. Suarez - Should be match banned soon.
  2. MUN offence - Shaping into a 1-0 team.
  3. NEW defence - Collapsing against big teams.

Gameweek 13 Dream Team
De Gea
Shawcross -- Brown -- Walker
Van der Vaart -- Walters -- Pilkington -- Barton
Helguson -- Van Persie (C) -- Holt

Subs: Vorm -- Taarabt -- Hutton -- Weather

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Kick-Off: Gameweek 12 Fantasy Preview

Michael Owen to out for six weeks... Little fantasy relevance, no?
Due to personal reasons, they will be no reviews for the next two gameweeks. Previews might be squeezed into simpler version as I try my best to make them a worthy read. A deep apology to all my fellow readers.

Congratulations to Portugal, Ireland, Czech Republic and Croatia for winning the play-offs and through the Euro 2012 Finals. With all these strong teams going through, expect a intense tournament next summer.

Back to the fantasy world, here's a list of major international casualties occurred in this recent internationals week:
  1. Van der Vaart
  2. Suarez
  3. Aguero
  4. Leon Best
Also, Suarez is now charged with racism allegations so stay away from him if you do not have him yet.

All the players above are suffering from minor injuries, so you might need to monitor again on Friday/Saturday to see whether it's necessary to make a transfer or two.

Game of the Week: CHELSEA v LIVERPOOL
Frank Lampard on fire.
The rivalry that formed in the last decade since Mourinho-Benitez era. Chelsea against Liverpool.

The Blues are suffering a bit at the moment and only managed to climbed out from back-to-back defeats with a sluggish victory against Blackburn. Defence has been a serious problem for them currently as last game was their only second clean sheet of the campaign, and that's due to Blackburn's ridiculous chance wasting ability.

Surprisingly, Lampard has started to find some extraordinary form which saw him climbing fast to the second spot of the fantasy midfielders table after a slow start in this fantasy season. Definitely one for the Reds to fear.

On the other side, Liverpool are struggling to score with 11 reflected off the goal frame already this season. Their finishing certainly needs to improve significantly if they were to snatch anything away from Stamford Bridge.

Should be a close call due to Liverpool's norm of getting stronger against stronger teams, but this time I think Andre Villas-Boas should earn his first victory against Liverpool.

Prediction: CHE 2-1 LIV
Pick: Lampard

Fantasy Game of the Week: NORWICH v ARSENAL
The return of Vermaelen has
boosted Arsenal's strength
on both ends significantly.
Well Manchester United are visiting the almighty Vorm at Liberty Stadium, while their noisy neighbours are hosting formidable Newcastle... So let's switch to Gunners, who aim to get five-in-a-row victories.

Norwich has been playing some fine football in the top-flight league and is currently standing higher than their promoting counterparts. They've been providing some great offensive sparks with Morison, Holt and Pilkington leading the casts.

But their defensive fragility is all for Arsenal to take advantage of. Captain Robin van Persie is scoring goals for fun at the moment and has collected 68 fantasy points from last 7 games. 68. Fantastic form.

With the players gelling nicely and their morale on high, Arsenal should win again and get closer to the top four.

Prediction: NOR 1-3 ARS
Pick and Captain: Van Persie
Pick: Gervinho, Vermaelen
Drop: NOR defence

Pick and Drop
  1. Bendtner/ Sessegnon - Fulham's defence is much fragile than last season.
  2. STO defence - Should be strong enough to hold QPR.
  3. Hoilett/ Formica - They should be able to convert something against the worst team in the league.

  1. FUL defence - Not reliable especially on the road.

Transfer Traffic
Green light (buy):
  1. Van Persie - Instills fear to any defence.
  2. Eagles - On form to terrorise from the flanks.
Yellow light (watch):
  1. Formica/ Hoilett - Good run of fixtures for them to take advantage from.
  2. Bale - Showing some kind of consistency.
Red light (sell):
  1. Bosingwa - Out of starting XI.
  2. A Young - Out of form with price dipping fast.

Gameweek 12 Dream Team
Woodgate -- Vermaelen -- Kompany
Lampard (VC) -- Brunt -- Walters -- Ramsey -- Sessegnon
Van Persie (C) -- Hoilett

Subs: Vorm -- Vellios -- Jagielka -- Brown

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Fergie's Golden 25: Gameweek 11 Fantasy Review

Sir Alex Ferguson with his record 25 years of excellence. Well rewarded with a Sir Alex Ferguson Stand.
Manchester United 1-0 Sunderland
MUN: Yet another mediocre display by the Red Devils, but three points, again. Good enough to celebrate Ferguson's 25 year anniversary at Old Trafford anyway.

Lack of confidence is the situation that perfectly describes Fergie's team right now, just give them some time and they will bounce back.

SUN: Not surprising to see them struggling upfront yet again. Brown was generous enough to present his ex-manager a big gift. It should be yet another mid table finish for them, despite constant investments into the team.

Watch: Nani

Newcastle 2-1 Everton
NEW: Another good victory to make sure that they are still third place on the league. The first goal was rather lucky, but Ryan Taylor's fantastic strike was a perfect piece of beauty, both the trajectory and power of the shot.

Defensively it's still solid, but that should be the end anyway with Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea coming up next.

EVE: The same old story about finishing ability. Tim Cahill was far from his best in goal poaching form, and Saha was never sharp enough to score frequently.

Maybe an ala Chicharito forward is what Moyes needs in January.

Drop: NEW defence

Arsenal 3-0 West Brom
ARS: The Gunners surely are on full throttle now with their fourth consecutive league victory. Van Persie's greatness is certainly unmatched across the league. A must have at this stage given the easy fixtures ahead despite such scary price.

Vermaelen provided a strong return with a goal, a clean sheet and 3 points bonus. Still, wait and see if he can reorganise the defence and continue his strong presence in attack as well. Great potential as always.

WBA: Another painful defeat. Continue to play over defensively against stronger teams. Stay away at the moment.

Pick: Van Persie, Gervinho
Watch: Arteta, Brunt, Odemwingie

Aston Villa 3-2 Norwich
AST: Agbonlahor continues to terrorise defences as he provided 1 goal, 2 assist performance at Villa park. Undisputed form especially in fantasy at such low price.

Darren Bent scored two, but I don't see the value in him when Agbonlahor is cheaper and more consistent. Unless you are planning to get both of them.

NOR: Holt has finally found his old self as he continues his pivotal performance with 2 assists. Great hope for survival if he can maintain such form.

Pick: Agbonlahor
Watch: Holt, Bent

Blackburn 0-1 Chelsea
BLA: Constructed the game well but finishing is really an issue. Will need to seriously get a decent goal poacher in the winter transfer market.

CHE: Lampard scored a crucial goal for them. He is surely returning with his form but whether he can hit 10 goals again this season is still a big riddle.

Torres was very disappointing with another open goal miss.

Watch: Lampard
Drop: BLA players

Liverpool 0-0 Swansea
LIV: Their fantastic 'shot on frame' form continues as Carroll made it the eleventh time for them to hit the crossbar and post this season in a clear cut chance. Wasted.

The old problem to score goals persist and remains a big headache for Kenny Dalglish. Stay away from their attackers.

Reina need to work out much more than usual in this game to hold the team goalless. Good news for Enrique owners anyway.

NOR: Vorm made a spectacular save against Glen Johnson's hi-speed volley. Incredible shot, but even better save. Marvellous fantasy keeper.

Pick: Vorm, Enrique
Drop: LIV offence

QPR 2-3 Manchester City
QPR: Strong fighting spirit. Jay Bothroyd was magnificent and should become the focal point for Neil Warnock's team to attack. Watch him.

MCI: Tough game due to Champions League fatigue, but won eventually. Silva remains a hot commodity, playing the most minutes among the productive attackers.

Savic looked very shaky at the back, but thankfully Kompany should return the next game.

Pick: Bothroyd, Silva

Wolves 3-1 Wigan
WOL: It's all about Jamie O'Hara. He has created lots of troubles to Wigan's defence. Superb.

WIG: Al-Habsi was busy throughout the game with several double saves but being attacked continuously it's impossible to keep the goal clean.

Pick: O'Hara
Watch: Al-Habsi

Bolton 5-0 Stoke City
BOL: Sweet revenge as the early referee dispute surely helped them a lot. Eagles and Klasnic as usual are the strong bargains upfront.

STO: Begovic never really recovered from the early shockingly unfair goal.

Pick: Eagles, Klasnic

Fulham 1-3 Tottenham
FUL: Pretty unlucky as they face a very formidable Brad Friedel on that day.

TOT: Bale continued his form surprisingly with one goal and one assist. Solid.

The most impressive one is of course the 40-year-old stopper, Friedel, who made several key saves to ensure Spurs' victory.

Watch: Bale

Friday, November 4, 2011

Kick-Off: Gameweek 11 Fantasy Preview

Yaya Toure got a brace in Champions League match but hardly
sparkle in Premier League, yet.
Mixed fortunes in the Champions League as the Manchester (City and United) duo won comfortably while the London duo (Chelsea and Arsenal) had to satisfy with a draw. So no English clubs will get through early.

A couple of fantasy friendly matches will be commenced in this coming gameweek so make sure that you have enough coverage of Liverpool, Aston Villa, Arsenal, Chelsea and Man City players. Might be a gameweek with sky high average.

7-Gameweek Fixtures Analysis (Published Monthly)
In heaven run:
  1. ARS (WBA, @NOR, FUL, @WIG, EVE, @MCI, @AST) - Easy enough for Van Persie to climb himself to the summit of fantasy.
  2. BLA (CHE, @WIG, @STO, SWA, @SUN, WBA, BOL) - Pretty crucial for them to perform well in this coming run of fixtures to avoid relegation.
  3. EVE (@NEW, WOL, @BOL, STO, @ARS, NOR, SWA) - Time for their redemption after being caught stuck at the bottom half of the table.
  4. MUN (SUN, @SWA, NEW, @AST, WOL, @QPR, @FUL) - Nothing too tough for the defending champion.
  5. TOT (@FUL, AST, @WBA, BOL, @STO, SUN, CHE) - Considerably easy especially when Van der Vaart is on red hot form.

In hell run:
  1. CHE (@BLA, LIV, WOL, @NEW, MCI, @WIG, @TOT) - Playing against four of the top seven in the next 7 games is really a tough test for Andre Villas-Boas.
  2. MCI (@QPR, NEW, @LIV, NOR, @CHE, ARS, STO) - As tough as Chelsea. Further worsened with some crucial Champions League games (especially the one against Bayern Munich) sandwiched in between.
  3. FUL (TOT, @SUN, @ARS, LIV, @SWA, BOL, MUN) - Martin Jol will have to give some emphasis to defence to survive through this period.
  4. NEW (EVE, @MCI, @MUN, CHE, @NOR, SWA, WBA) - Back to back games against the leading pack? They will need to play with 120% to record some impressive results.

Game of the Week: NEWCASTLE v EVERTON
With R Taylor's value rocketed
to £5m, Simpson is the only
defender at Newcastle who's
easily accessible (£4.2m).
Two interesting teams to play against each other. Newcastle, which don't look so good on paper but play extremely well at the moment; Everton, which has the quality but not the form.

The Toon Army is now on an unbelievable form, standing proudly on the third place of league standings. Resolute defence, coupled with a great striking pair - namely Demba Ba and Leon Best - are consistently bringing Alan Pardew the right results. Everton, on the other hand, didn't play as poor as their league points shown. However, poor goal poaching ability are constantly dragging them behind, as what we saw last week against Manchester United.

Newcastle defenders are certainly worthy to be considered against such poor scoring Everton, which failed to score 4 times this season. Proceed with caution though, as Newcastle will be facing the Manchesters and Chelsea for the next 3 gameweeks.

In terms of offence it will be up to Ba, Best as usual and possibly Cabaye to break through Everton's defence with tough players like Jagileka, Distin and Fellaini providing the cover.

As for the Toffees, Drenthe's speed will be one powerful weapon to penetrate the solid defensive unit of Newcastle. Players like Cahill and Saha will definitely need to improve their shooting accuracy though if they want to win at St James' Park.

I am expecting a home win anyway for the zebra stripes to maintain their third position for another week before they march into the hellish fixtures.

Prediction: NEW 2-0 EVE
Pick: NEW defence, Ba, Best, Cabaye
Drop: EVE defence

Fantasy Game of the Week: LIVERPOOL v SWANSEA
Can Carroll score two match in
a row?
Three points will be crucial for Liverpool in order for the Reds to play the next two games after this (Chelsea and Man City) with confidence.

Suarez has started to find his form, and his miraculous runs can give fantasy managers a blazing trail of points. Surely a strong captain choice this week. Adam should also take advantage of Gerrard's latest injury and become the primary set piece taker of the team.

Defensively Enrique is still the best candidate so far with the lowest price of Liverpool's back four and his ability to surge forward. Stud.

Swansea might have been pretty good defensively, but bear in mind that all of that performances were at Liberty Stadium. 14 goals in 5 away games conceded suggests that they might suffer a heavy defeat at Anfield.

Scott Sinclair might be able to take away one goal or assist from here, but I think it's all about the Reds at their home ground.

Prediction: LIV 3-0 SWA
Pick and Captain: Suarez, Adam

Pick: Enrique, Carroll
Drop: SWA defence

Pick and Drop
Pick and Captain:
  1. Robin van Persie - Ultimate form and is unstoppable.
  2. Agbonlahor - Against newcomers' defence it should be easy for him.
  3. Torres, Mata - Their pace and footwork should be able to slice the worst defence of the league into pieces.
  4. Aguero - QPR's defence is too far away from his class.
  1. Gervinho, Ramsey - They are the main suppliers and receivers to and from RvP.
  2. MUN defence - The return of Vidic should provide the stability on the back.
  3. Van der Vaart, Adebayor - Solid pick for every gameweek.
  4. Doyle - Looks good and should create lots of troubles inside of  Wigan's penalty box.
  5. Sturridge - Severely underpriced.
  1. WBA defence - Hardly believable to a keep clean sheet.
  2. NOR defence - Agbonlahor is too fast.
  3. BLA defence - One of the worst league defence.
  4. QPR defence - Poor coverage.
  5. Gerrard - Injured.

Transfer Traffic
Green light (buy):
  1. Adam - The key playmaker and set piece taker as Gerrard continues to be sidelined.
  2. Van der Vaart, Adebayor - Smooth easy fixtures coming ahead.
  3. Van Persie - A no-brainer.
  4. Gervinho  - From zero to hero.
  5. Walters - Low price, great role.
  6. Mata - Complete player who can both score and assist.
Yellow light (monitor):
  1. NEW players - Hellish fixtures ahead. See how they cope.
  2. Carroll - Picking up some form.
  3. Bale - Gaining form or just 1 week marvel? Time will tell.
  4. Sessegnon - Against Man Utd it might be wiser to hold on for another week.
  5. Kompany - One week suspension. Whether it's worth to hold him or sell him instead is a pretty subjective matter.
Red light (sell):
  1. Rooney, Young - Massive sell trend. Sell to preserve your team value.
  2. Gerrard - Constantly plagued by injuries.
  3. CHE defence - Have not kept any clean sheets after gameweek 1.

Gameweek 11 Dream Team
Simpson -- Jones -- Enrique
Ramsey -- Mata -- Adam -- Van der Vaart
Van Persie (C) -- Suarez (VC) -- Agbonlahor
Subs: Krul -- Eagles -- Ward -- Knight

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Wide Race for Third: Gameweek 10 Fantasy Review

Demba Ba is the first player who scored his second hat-trick in Premier
League this season.
Another frenzy Premier League weekend with 35 goals recorded. Splendid. Still the best league in the world.

Chelsea's defeat certainly made the race for third wide open with the Blues, Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham and Newcastle all aiming for the precious Champions League ticket. Intense competition to be expected.

Chelsea 3-5 Arsenal

Pick: Van Persie, Gervinho, Mata, Lampard, Ramsey
Watch: Arteta, Lampard (overpriced)
Drop: CHE and ARS defence

Everton 0-1 Manchester United
EVE: Good play, but failed at the front as usual. Unlucky as well as Baines' free kick was close to perfect but hit the bar.

Seamus Coleman had an extraordinary game in a game which shown  that he has pace and he has skills. But he is still overpriced and is short of playing time.

MUN: Played four consecutive poor Premier League games, yet picked up 7 points from a possible of 12. But that just tells us something: Champions need not to play well every time. They just need to get the right results.

Chicharito as usual shown his extraordinary goal poaching skills. He is definitely on the course of becoming the next Inzaghi for this whole decade. Solid, solid player.

Pick: Chicharito
Watch: Coleman

Manchester City 3-1 Wolves
MCI: Struggling to get the first goal but Hennessey sent them a big gift. Aguero continued to be influential upfront. A season long hold and one must own either one of Rooney, Van Persie and him.

In the middle it's always Silva. Super consistent and leads the midfielders table. Another season long hold.

Worth mentioning is Kolarov who got ahead of Clichy for a start and bagged 11 points. Definitely more offensive oriented than the latter who is good at set piece as well.

Kompany got a red and should be banned for 3 games. A long ban and certainly should be sold. 1 game. Won't be too costly to hold him, unless you are planning to convert him to Richards who is more offensive oriented (thanks to Moe Vawda for pointing out the error).

WOL: It's just too hard to sustain bombardments from Citeh so the defeat was expected.

Defensively they had failed to keep any clean sheets since gameweek 3. Avoid.

Pick: Aguero, Silva
Watch: Kolarov
Drop: WOL defence, Kompany

West Brom 0-2 Liverpool
WBA: Harsh penalty against them but they were too contained either to win. Nothing sparkling about them.

LIV: Suarez was yet again the influential man to create one penalty for Adam and assist one for Carroll. Good to see the striking partners start to gel.

Downing hit the post once again as Liverpool accounted for 10 shots on the frame this season, averaging 1 per game. Poor luck?

Enrique's consistency both up front and at the back has earned him 1 bonus points apart from 4 clean sheet points. Cool enough as a season long hold.

Pick: Suarez, Enrique
Watch: Adam, Carroll

Stoke 1-3 Newcastle
STO: Walters scored from the spot again as he has become the ace of the team. Solid third/fourth midfielder of any fantasy team.

NEW: Demba Ba scored his second hat-trick faster than Rooney, Aguero and RvP. Incredible form in an incredible low budget team (thanks to Moe Vawda again).

Best's provided two assists for him, but fellow fantasy managers should certainly go for Ba as long as you have the money.

Defence is still solid as the goal was conceded through a penalty.

Pick: Walters, Ba, Best

Tottenham 3-1 QPR
TOT: Solid display yet again by Van der Vaart. His superb positioning will ensure that he will poach more goals and squeeze Defoe away from starting XI.

The man of the match is certainly Bale who finally bursts this season. A very volatile player to own though with 2-1-2-10 trend of gameweek scores. I will opt for VdV at any time.

Adebayor didn't score this time, but don't worry, he has class.

QPR: Never really has any stand in the game. Helguson performed in 3 successive games and is a good choice for your third forward.

Pick: Van der Vaart, Helguson
Watch: Bale

  1. Sessegnon: Found the form which pundits predicted on him before the season starts.
  2. Sinclair: Hogs set pieces and has some good chances upfront.
  1. Holt: Looking good since his return from bench.
  2. Dempsey: Dominates for Fulham.