Friday, February 24, 2012

Kick-Off: Gameweek 26 Fantasy Preview

Rafa Benitez: Man in favour to replace Andre Villas-Boas should
Roman Abramovich decides to sack the young manager.
Champions League quarter-finals are set to be without Premier League clubs this season after Arsenal's humiliating 0-4 defeat and Chelsea's 1-3 loss against Italian sides AC Milan and Napoli respectively. Chelsea's gaffer Andre Villas-Boas will receive even greater pressure as Champions League knock-out will surely make his job even close to its end. He's on 1/2 now to be the next Premier League manager to go.

Do be reminded that League Cup final between Liverpool and Cardiff City will take place this weekend so there will be no league fixture for the Reds. Bench Liverpool's players or sell them if necessary. You should also be alerted (if you did not get informed earlier) that Valencia is injured, while super defender Assou-Ekkoto is doubtful for this week's match.

Big hopes on
Oxlade-Chamberlain again.
The Gunners will host Tottenham this week as it looks like only Champions League qualification can salvage the club's terrible season.

Arsenal has already been knock out from both local cup tournaments (Carling Cup and FA Cup), and it seems inevitable that they will exit Champions League after being swept down 0-4 by AC Milan. Though they are now sitting fourth in the league, they only led fifth placed Chelsea via goal difference and thus cannot afford to lose more points.

Henry has returned to United States so the team will continue to rely on captain Robin van Persie and bright starlet Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to do wonders in offence. Assou-Ekkoto might be absent so Walcott might have the chance to dominate through Arsenal's right flank.

Their London derby rival meanwhile, is not without problems. Rumours of the club's manager possible employment as England's manager never stops circulating around. As for the players, ex-Gunner Adebayor should be available along with Van der Vaart, but how is the offence is going to be setup remains unknown with Saha around.

Considering Arsenal's rather stable home form, the Gunners should be capable of holding Tottenham off. Not so positive for a home win though.

Prediction: ARS 1-1 TOT
Pick: Van Persie, Adebayor
Drop: ARS defence

Yaya Toure is pivotal in
both City's attack and defence.
Blackburn - the side which never fails to leak goals. What could possibly better for City than to face them at home?

Amazingly the Rovers are yet to collect their first Premier League clean sheet this season. That's a great news for City's attackers, who should be pretty much back on track in offence after crushing Porto 4-0 in Europa league.

Tevez will be back in 2-3 weeks according to Mancini but the return of Yaya Toure serves more importance. It was no coincidence that City won easily with the Ivorian player around as his absence to play African Cup of Nations was reflected in City's recent mediocre results. Now that he's back, City should once again shows better form in league games.

Not to show disrespect Blackburn, but even with Yakubu around, City with Toure is just too tough for them to face.

Prediction: MCI 4-0 BLA
Pick and Captain: Aguero, Silva
Pick: Dzeko, MCI defence, Yaya Toure
Drop: BLA players

Pick and Drop
Pick and Captain:
  • Ba - Very reliable and clinical.
  • Rooney - More responsibility with in-form Valencia not around.
  • Sturridge - Mata has a suspected finger injury going on, so Sturridge is apparently the safest pick.
  • NEW defence  - Should be able to get a good result this time.
  • Zamora - Should be motivated to score against Martin Jol's team.
  • McClean/ Sessegnon - Sunderland now plays like a top four side, and the duo are the leading casts.
  • Nani/ Young  - The duo should operate the flanks in the absence of Valencia.
  • BOL defence/ WOL defence - Both having tough tests this week.
  • NOR defence - Rarely any team can withstand Manchester United's offence.
  • EVE players/ LIV players - Not playing this week.

Transfer Traffic
Green light (buy):
  • Sessegnon/ McClean - Buy in trend continues to bloom.
  • Yaya Toure - £7.5m is a very enticing price for his quality.
  • Ba - Very loved by fantasy managers.
  • MCI defence - Clean sheet probability should increase thanks to Yaya Toure's return.
  • Aguero - Back in form.
Yellow light (watch):
  • Cleverley - It remains to be told whether he will be as productive as before he was injured.
  • Pogrebnyak - Seems to be effective in Martin Jol's strategy.
Red light (sell):
  • Valencia - Injured.
  • Terry - Injured.
  • LIV players - Not playing this week, Arsenal next week.
  • Major League Soccer loaned players (Keane, Henry, Donovan) - End of contract.

Gameweek 26 Dream Team
Simpson -- O'Shea -- Shawcross
Silva -- Nani -- McClean -- Sessegnon
Ba (VC) -- Aguero (C) -- Rooney
Subs: Sorensen -- Moses -- G Cahill -- Caldwell

Friday, February 17, 2012

Fantasy Shocker: Antonio Valencia Injured

Save your free transfer to take him out.
Yes, bad news for all who own him. Manchester United most pivotal player at the moment, Antonio Valencia, has injured his hamstring and will be out until mid of March.

His absence will definitely cause a big trouble to fantasy managers as he is not only a consistent performer, but is also very cheap relative to his production. Managers will find trouble to replace him, though it looks like cheaper players such as McClean, Sessegnon and Oxlade-Chamberlain could provide similar returns of the Ecuadorian.

Good luck to all fantasy managers.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Best Partner: Gameweek 25 Fantasy Review

The duo of Adebayor and Saha worked out together incredibly.
Manchester United 2-1 Liverpool
A convincing victory for the defending champion. Suarez refused to shake Evra's hand though that was forgiven by the FA.

The first half was rather boring thanks to the many passing mistakes done by both sides. In the second half Rooney scored goals in quick succession and they were enough to seal three points for United.

Rooney and Valencia were the aces as usual, with De Gea making one of his better games with two important saves. On the other side, Downing was pathetic ever since he joined Liverpool, while Enrique didn't look that sharp after making a quick return to the pitch. Suarez marked his return with a goal and that should be taken a note.

Pick: Rooney, Valencia
Watch: Suarez

Tottenham Hotspur 5-0 Newcastle
Crazy win! A comprehensive victory which recorded the rebirth of Adebayor after such a long scoring drought. 4 assists and 1 goal, that's five star performance. Credits to debutant Louis Saha too as he was the reason why Adebayor managed to give such a wonderful display. The French striker scored 2 goals in this game, which equaled his tally at Everton this season.

Assou-Ekkoto scored yet another goal this season to continue his super productive season. He is already £6.1m currently and is expected to rise again after such a fine gameweek.

Sad day for Newcastle as they were totally outclassed by Spurs.

Pick: Adebayor, Saha, Ekkoto

Blackburn 3-2 QPR
A sensational return by Yakubu as they led the game by three for a big part of the game. N'Zonzi scored a rare double digit gameweek, but he's never a fantasy pick.

Mackie scored twice as a sub as that effectively questioned the need of buying Zamora and Cisse during this transfer window when they have clinical finishers like Helguson.

Pick: Yakubu
Watch: Mackie

Bolton 1-2 Wigan
Another defeat for Bolton and I really wonder why Owen Coyle is still on the seat. At home, with a good crop of players, and yet lost to possibly one of the weakest sides in Premier League. That's unforgivable. Nevertheless, it's good to see the growth of Mark Davies.

No good fantasy prospects from Wigan despite the win, so I'll skip discussions about their players.

Watch: Mark Davies

Everton 2-0 Chelsea
All eyes will be on Steven Pienaar after this game. The South African played marvelously in his return to Goodison Park and provided the missing creativity that the side needs to score goals.

 A good game by Stracqualursi, but there remains a lot of uncertainties in Everton's frontline.

For Chelsea, it's an absolutely terrible game and the rumours about Chelsea's crises will continue to escalate after such a poor display.

Pick: Pienaar
Watch: Stracqualursi
Drop: CHE players

Fulham 2-1 Stoke City
A fine debut goal by Pogrebnyak. The forward stroke immediate impact into the team and therefore should be observed. Meanwhile, Dempsey continued his great form, assisted one and shot one on the post.

Shawcross earned three points of bonus surprisingly thanks to his set piece goal.

Pick: Dempsey
Watch: Pogrebnyak

Sunderland 1-2 Arsenal
Youngster McClean scored again as Sunderland thought they will win, only to be equalised by Ramsey and then defeated by Henry's last goal for Arsenal this season.

A rare silent game by Robin Van Persie, but with Henry leaving and the Gunners Champions League on the verge of exit, he's sure to perform for the rest of the season.

Pick: McClean
Watch: Ramsey

Swansea 2-3 Norwich
It was a battle between Holt and Graham, with the former winning it with two good goals after a goal drought of eight matches. Given his inconsistency, he should not be considered as a member in your fantasy team, yet.

Graham on the other hand is a better fantasy pick. He has consistently scored in every 2-3 games and is the cheapest on the top ten fantasy forward list.

Pick: Graham
Watch: Holt

Wolves 1-5 West Brom
It's no coincidence that Wolves is now at the bottom three. The wonderful combination which led to Steven Fletcher's goal won't erase the fact that the club's performance is very woeful recently. Bassong's purchase didn't help to improve the defence at all.

Odemwingie finally ended people's waiting on his goals and it was three in a row from this game. Hopefully he can build on this and move forward towards a good fantasy season like his last one.

Watch: Fletcher, Odemwingie
Drop: WOL defence

Aston Villa 0-1 Manchester City
Cold sweat for City as they failed to break the deadlock until the late stages. They were completely dominating the game but their finishing ability has really been poor recently.

The defence continued to be solid thanks to Kompany's return. Unarguably tough to beat.

Pick: MCI defence

Friday, February 10, 2012

Kick-Off: Gameweek 25 Fantasy Preview

The handshake routine will not be cancelled for Man Utd-Liverpool encounter.

A pretty two poled feelings last week with Van Persie's owners laughing happily and the rest left stunned. Can RvP repeat the feat? Not so positive against in-form Sunderland.

The shocking news this week is no other than Fabio Capello's resignation. The Italian coach is not happy with FA's decision to strip Terry's captaincy and thus decided to leave. Harry Redknapp tops the list to replace him.

Can Berbatov get a start
and hat-trick again?
Old Trafford will surely welcome Suarez with a great deal of abusive chants as Liverpool travel to Manchester for this number one rivalry in English football.

The usual handshake routine will not be cancelled according to FA and it will be interesting to see how Evra and Suarez react to each other. Strong personal rivalry. Luis Suarez will be eager to pay a revenge through his fancy footwork so expect tough times by defensive partnership of Evans and Ferdinand. In form Carroll could also be a big threat if he can get good aerial supplies by his teammates. Two big man to watch.

On the other side, all key players including the long missing Cleverly could be available for this game. It would be hard to predict the starting midfielders and forwards correctly, but I believe both Valencia and Rooney would still get the right to start and produce some havoc to one of the best defensive line (which might be without Jose Enrique) in the Premier League.

Surely it would be an intense game, but Liverpool's poor away attack (14 away goals only this season) will hinder their chances at Old Trafford. Expect good performances by the Red Devils.

Prediction: MUN 2-1 LIV
Pick: Valencia

Fantasy Game of the Week: SWANSEA v NORWICH
Sinclair has been pretty
impressive this season.
Spurs are welcoming the challenge of Newcastle, while City's away form has been mediocre recently, so I will change my focus to the battle between the two promoted teams this season. The Canaries beat the Swans 3-1 earlier this season, but we all know how different it will be at Liberty Stadium.

Sigurdsson has a flying start in the Premier League, while both Sinclair and Dyer are very threatening in the flanks. Up front they have Danny Graham who does a decent job as a forward. Expect goals from this quartet of attackers.

I will not be surprised if Norwich can score past the rubber hand Michel Vorm, but Swansea should really get a victory here.

Prediction: SWA 3-1 NOR
Pick: Sigurdsson, Sinclair, Dyer, Graham
Drop: NOR defence

Pick and Drop
Pick and Captain:
  • Aguero - Broke his goal drought and that might be the opening of floodgate.
  • Mata - Very pivotal in Chelsea's offence.

  • N'gog - Should score against Wigan.
  • Zamora - Samba-less Blackburn will not have the quality to stop him.
  • Van Persie - Always start him regardless of his opposition.
  • Sessegnon/ McClean - Arsenal's defence is weak.
  • Jarvis - Played well last week and should continue to perform.
  • NEW defence - Against Tottenham, clean sheet is hardly likely.
  • AST defence - City's blades are sharp.

Transfer Traffic
Green light (buy):
  • Richards - Good fixtures oncoming.
  • Oxlade-Chamberlain - Sensational form.
  • Demba Ba - His price sky leaped by £0.4m since his return.
  • Van Persie - Get him before his price reaches a prohibitive level.
  • McClean - Superbly cheap and in form.
  • Sigurdsson - The bandwagon should start in the next few gameweeks.
Yellow light (watch):
  • Yakubu - Observe Blackburn's performance before getting him in.
  • Assou-Ekkoto - Fantasy managers are overly optimistic on him.
  • Mata - Chelsea's form is quite unstable at the moment.
  • Kompany - Still not sure whether he will play this week.
Red light (sell):
  • LIV players - United this round, League Cup final next round (no league fixture), and Arsenal after that.
  • Adebayor  - Terribly out of form.
  • D Cisse - Red carded.

Gameweek 25 Dream Team
Ekkoto -- Richards -- Senderos
Bale -- Sessegnon -- Silva -- Sigurdsson
Aguero (C) -- Ba -- Van Persie (VC)
Subs: Hennessey -- McClean -- Knight -- Bassong

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Rise of the Anfield Cat: Gameweek 24 Fantasy Review

"Pass me the ball, I am free!" spoke The Anfield Cat while waiting for the killer pass.
Chelsea 3-3 Manchester United
Howard Webb once again went into United's favour as the two penalties awarded were proven crucial to snatch one point for the Red Devils. 17% of Howard Webb's Premier League penalties were awarded in favour of Manchester United. I shall let you judge this unusually high statistic yourself.

Rooney played an okay game but his owners would be happy as long as he takes penalties when they come. On the other side, Torres made a fantastic cross but otherwise did terribly as a striker (crossing is a winger's role by the way). Mata was the star of the game obviously with yet another five-star performance.

Pick: Rooney, Mata
Watch: Sturridge, Gary Cahill

Liverpool 0-0 Tottenham Hotspur
Poor conversion continue to dent Liverpool's Champions League hopes. 17 shots, 0 goal. How pathetic.

Suarez returned with his usual trick but still, his shooting accuracy was far from his best. Carroll failed to shine this time, while Bale wasn't sharp enough to get one pass Reina.

Watch: Suarez, Enrique (injury)

Arsenal 7-1 Blackburn Rovers
RvP did it in the MVP way again, scoring three and made two. 23 points is by far the second best fantasy score this season (Ekkoto's 24 points in gameweek 20 is the highest but that was accomplished in a gameweek double).

Oxlade-Chamberlain was given a start again and he didn't disappoint Arsene Wenger. Equipped with speed, technique and vision, the future of England scored 14 points. His teammate Theo Walcott also played very well with a hat-trick of assists.

It's hard to be positive about Blackburn and if Samba continues to sulk, they can say goodbye to Premier League.

Pick: Van Persie, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Walcott
Drop: BLA players

Manchester City 3-0 Fulham
It's glad to see Aguero to score finally despite the fact that it was only a penalty. Silva had a rare unproductive game but in long term, he's still the one of the best buy around. A clean sheet without the command of Kompany is pretty encouraging too.

Chris Baird proved to be a calamity in the back and it is expected that Riise will return and take that left back spot. Still, avoid Fulham's defence which failed to secure a clean sheet for eight consecutive games.

Pick: Aguero, Dzeko
Drop: FUL defence

Newcastle 2-1 Aston Villa
Say hi to the Senegalese duo. The senior, Demba Ba, scored a wonderful rebound opener; the junior, Papiss Cisse, scored a screamer to take three points for the Magpies. Such a wonderful combination. With this kind of strike force don't be surprise if Newcastle took the ticket to the Champions League.

Robbie Keane continues to impress with yet another goal. This makes me wonder why he was doing so bad during his time at Liverpool.

Pick: Ba, Papiss Cisse, Keane

Norwich 2-0 Bolton
The Canaries continue to secure their spot in Premier League next season. Russell Martin played surprisingly thanks to Daniel Ayala's injury and proved to be pivotal after providing an important assist.

Richard Surman played pretty well recently. At the price of £4.4m, you can do much worse than to pick him as your fifth midfielder.

Watch: Martin, Surman

QPR 1-2 Wolves
Djibril Cisse almost became the hero again but all turned to zero thanks to his overreaction. That red card certainly butthurted many fantasy managers to bring him in after his wonder last midweek.

Zamora scored a debut goal nevertheless, but in the end it was Jarvis and Doyle's day as both of them played very well. With O'Hara returned expect better performance from Big Mick's squad.

Watch: Zamora, Jarvis, Doyle, O'Hara

Stoke City 0-1 Sunderland
Sessegnon has collected 71 points in 11 games from the time where Martin O'Neill appointed as the new manager - impressive stats. Obviously a fantasy must own now given his unstoppable form. Youngster James McClean is even more impressive, scoring 44 points in his last 6 games. The defence has also collected 3 consecutive clean sheets. At this rate it's silly not to own any Sunderland key players.

On the other hand, The Potters became increasingly poor. 4 clean sheets only at home at this stage. Britannia Stadium has lost its fearful aura.

Pick: Sessegnon, McClean, SUN defence
Drop: STO defence

West Brom 1-2 Swansea
All is going well for Swansea's new boy Gylfi Sigurdsson. The lad has scored 25 points in just four fantasy gameweeks, making him a decent midfield pick.

West Brom is another disappointing team apart from Stoke City, and Odemwingie has not scored any goal in his last 6 Premier League matches. Where's the prolific Peter we all knew before?

Pick: Sigurdsson
Drop: Odemwingie

Wigan 1-1 Everton
Phillip Neville deflected the ball into his own net unfortunately. Thankfully, substitute Anichebe equalised. He deserves to get more playing minutes in my opinion.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Kick-Off: Gameweek 24 Fantasy Preview

Djibril Cisse scored his first goal on his debut for QPR.
Gareth Bale continued his C. Ronaldo-esque performance after bagging 15 fantasy points last gameweek, while Fraizer Campbell's return provided immediate effect as he led Sunderland to a 3-0 victory. Manchester City's surprise defeat took the title race back to square one for the Manchester clubs.

Transfer Deadline Day Deals
Some significant deadline signings are as follows:
  • Djibril Cisse - Obvious enough. The former Liverpool and Sunderland man scored his first goal on his debut for QPR.
  • Zamora - While he should become automatic selection at Loftus Road, you should also notice that Bryan Ruiz should play further upfront for Fulham.
  • Jelavic - One of the rare "big" spends by Everton. He is expected to improve the offence upfront.
  • Saha - The Frenchman is moving to Tottenham to rediscover his long lost form.
  • Pogrebnyak - Replacing Zamora is this 28-year-old Russian who came from Vfb Stuttgart. With the height of 188cm one would expect him to play the targetman's role.
  • Bridge - The almost forgotten man in the Premier League will now play at Sunderland on a loan basis. Interesting to see whether Bridge has forgotten his footwork or not.
  • Kyrgiakos - The former Liverpool giant will also join Sunderland, which will definitely boost the Black Cats' defence to another level.
  • Miyaichi - Bolton wrapped up the deal for the young Japanese. We shall see whether he could make great impact in Owen Coyle's team.
  • Pizarro - Quite a surprise move in my opinion. But Pizarro is experienced and should be capable to take over Yaya Toure's void before he comes back, at least.

Can Torres score this time?
Time for a revenge at Stamford Bridge?

The Red Devils took down the Blues 3-1 at Old Trafford earlier in this campaign, with Torres missing the miss of the century. The Spaniard should still start though, given the fact that Andre Villas-Boas is short of strikers.

Daniel Sturridge looked sharp on the midweek game but was lack of any shooting accuracy. Meanwhile, it remains clueless whether Gary Cahill was brought in as Terry's partner or as a benchwarmer. It should be revealed this week.

For the red side, Nani and Rooney should be fit to play in this tie, while Lindegaard is expected to out for four weeks. That means David de Gea will have yet another chance to prove himself despite poor performance against Liverpool.

Personally I think Ashley Cole's suspension will provide the edge for United. Valencia should take full advantage of that and United is going to frustrate Chelsea again.

Prediction: CHE 1-2 MUN
Pick: Valencia

Fantasy Game of the Week: MANCHESTER CITY v FULHAM
Time for Aguero to end his
goalless streak.
Mancini will not allow his team to make mistake again as City hosts Fulham.

Aguero has not scored any goal in his last three league games, but that should end against Martin Jol's Fulham. Expect him and Silva to combine and perform finally.

The addition of Pizarro should provide the creativity to compete deep in midfield, though it remains to be seen whether he will make a start.

It's time for City to end the embarrassment and continue to move forward and lead the pack.

Prediction: MCI 2-0 FUL
Pick and Captain: Aguero, Silva
Pick: MCI defence
Drop: FUL defence

Pick and Drop
Pick and Captain:
  • Van Persie - With Samba refused to play, Blackburn's defence is worthless.
  • Ba - Return to take charge of Newcastle's offence.
  • Suarez - Freed from "jail" and should be full of power.
  • Djibril Cisse - Looking forward to continue his fine form against woeful Wolves.
  • Ashley Cole - Suspended.

Transfer Traffic
Green light (buy):
  • Ba - The super striker returns.
  • Sessegnon - Unstoppable.
  • Assou Ekkoto - His price rises without limit.
  • Suarez - Reunites with better Liverpool.
Yellow light (watch):

  • Cisse - See whether it's debutant's luck or his real class.
Red light (sell):
  • Van der Vaart - Limped off last game.
  • Ramires - Won't be back soon.

Gameweek 24 Dream Team
Kompany -- Simpson -- O'Shea
Sessegnon -- Silva -- Valencia (VC) -- Bale
Aguero (C) -- Ba -- Cisse
Subs: Szczesny -- Dyer -- Martin R -- Shorey