Sunday, November 30, 2008

Gameweek 15 Diary Part II

Here we are, a super sunday if ever there was one. The Manchester derby, the two biggest London teams squaring off along with a couple of other interesting fixtures featuring fantasy studs such as Defoe, Johnson, Arteta among others.
With minutes until kick off at the Middle Eastlands I am literally giddy for the action to start though I am (regrettably) predicting a United win. I can see City starting the brighter, perhaps even taking the lead though United's power and depth will possibly shine through in the end. Robinho to score first and 2-1 United pays 90-1, interesting.

13:31 We're under way and the main fantasy news is that Berbatov will start alongside Rooney and Ronaldo. Rafael gets his turn at right back making him a useful pickup for next week if Neville or Brown haven't returned.

13:38 Measured start by both teams, who are both trying to keep their shape. Rafael has been bombing forward though which could leave space in behind him as the game moves on. I think the idea is to force Robinho to track back, which the Brazilian maestro has no intention of doing. Something has to give on that far side.

13:39 I still look in wonder that the supposed richest club in the world still play Hamann and Vassel! Imagine upgrading in one day from that pair to Xavi and Podolski: two rumoured targets.

13:40 Best chance so far falls to Rooney who should have scored but shot straight at Hart who then bobbled the ball, but City managed to clear their lines. It was another good run by Rafael that created the chance.

13:44 One time Juice player Javier Garrido is in the side once again which gives him four starts in a row. At 4.3m he is excellent value when he's playing and Hughes seems to be have settled on his first choice back four whether at home or on the road. If the Spaniard holds his place he's a definite buy prospect once more.

13:45 Ronaldo's first look at goal sees him head a corner just over. It wasn't easy but the winger is good with his head and might have done better. United the better team after 14 minutes though its still pretty tight.

13:47 Vidic and Richards have a coming together which sees the Serbian with stud marks streaked down his chest. The hard man shrugs it off though without much concern though - a real centre back that one. Richards is also okay and the game restarts.

13:50 Whilst their is a lull in the action I must take the opportunity to say that the most annoying story line in the build up to this game was the constant suggestions that Robinho thought he was signing with United when he joined City. Is this even remotely feasible? I mean, okay he may not speak fluent English but I'm sure he can distinguish between City and United. My Spanish is not much beyond GCSE but I am fairly certain I can pick between Athletico and Real. The story reeks of United jealousy and is exactly the kind of elitism that is killing this great league of ours. What is so wrong with a world class player wanting to play for a club - shock horror - outside the big four (even if he is handsomely rewarded).

13:53 Okay back to the action and Rafael is booked for throwing the ball away after a foul on Robinho, who has been lively without much product after 20 minutes.

13:54 Great flicked header from Berbatov requires a decent save from Hart. The cross again came Rafael who City have failed to track (as anticipated) so far.

13:58 United are getting closer and it changes are made its a matter of time before they break the deadlock. This time its Evra who goes close after Rooney couldn't get his shot away. City need some possession quickly and to attack down the left hand side where Rafael has been bombing forward and is on a yellow card.

14:03 First chance of the game for City and its the best so far for either team. Van der Sar flaps at a free kick which falls to Ireland who doesn't catch it properly and the ball skips through and off the outside of the post. Richards left it, presumably thinking he was offisde, but could have scored if he's gotten the slightest of touches.

14:05 Fletcher joins Rafael in the book and City have another free kick, this one closer than the last: about 30 yards out. Robinho shoots wide having never gotten hold of it.

14:07 Evra bursts into the box but his cross is blocked twice and out for a corner which comes to nothing. Rooney's corners have been absolute garbage so far today.

14:09 Perhaps I shouldn't judge a player on his performance against a quality team like United but Benjani has been totally silent for 37 minutes. On this showing he is off my watch list for the time being.

14:10 Evra is moaning about first a Richards arm then a Vassell leg. Evra is way too soft to be a world class left back and can easily be taken out of a game by hitting him early with a few strong challenges. Against Bolton, Davies went in hard, but fairly, early on and Evra winged for the remianing 85 minutes and never made an impact. Quality players should not have such a glaring weakness for opponents to expose. Clichy will be the best in Premiership by next season for me.

14:13 Robinho is almost slipped in by Hamann but Van der Sar is out well to sweep up the danger. Seconds later, Ireland is booked for a challenge on Fletcher.

14:14 GOAL Carrick's shot can only be parried by Hart and it falls to Rooney 2 yards out who sticks in the back of the net. Mr 'once a blue always a blue' Rooney then does the classy move of running along all the City fans and grabbing his United badge. Why is this guy so loved in English football? It is beyond me. That's Rooney's first goal in 7 games by the way.

14:16 Benjani has an opening after a great flick from Ireland. He shoots wide though and never threatened the United goal. Ireland has been City's best player by a mile, always looking to play a killer ball but settling to hold possession when it isn't on. His workrate has also been good. He's at the top of my fantasy watch list now, although I fear that the horse has already bolted.

14:18 Vassell is booked. The yellows are adding up and you wouldn't bet against a red some point in this one even though it isn't really bad tempered.

14:18 Ronaldo has been non-existent and is playing quite withdrawn from the front two. I am starting to worry that he is not worth his 14.5m at the moment.

14:19 Half time comes and United lead 1-0. Probably deserved based on chances and possession though Hart has only made a couple of decent saves. City never really got going which is the opposite of what I expected. Hughes will need to lift his team, but if they come out too gung ho United will pick them off for the second and this one will be over.

14:23 Team news from Fratton Park brings a smile to my face as both Traore (in midfield) and Defoe get the start. Kranjcar is still on the bench. Santa Cruz and McCarthy up front for Rovers.

14:28 At White Hart Lane, Pavlyuchenko and Bent will be up front with Lennon and Bentley both keeping their place in the side. Lennon was awesome last week and could be a buy prospect over the coming weeks. Saha is only on the bench for Everton with Steven Pienaar replacing him in the side.

14:40 Two subs from Hughes and for me they are spot on. Zabaleta and Elano on for Hamann and Vassell. Richards will shift to centre back to accomodate Zabalata with Kompany moving to centre mid. The move will make them more athletic over the whole pitch and Elano will hold possession much better than Vassell did. They look better after 5 minutes with Elano winning a free kick and Kompany lashing a shot wide. 69% possession for City.

14:45 Good defending from Dunne to block Park who was almost through one on one. United look fairly dangerous on the break which should be the pattern of this game for the forseeable future.

14:46 Great run from Wright-Phillips who then slips in Benjani who rattles the side netting. Much better from City this, quick clean passing and some passion to get the ball back when not in possession.

14:50 Ronaldo is booked and could have been off after he the sarcastically applaudes Howard Webb. Lucky for him (and fantasy owners) Webb is pretty sensible and ignores the gesture. Its been a frustrating day for Ronaldo though and he looks jaded. 14.5m looks too high at this point.

14:55 The fight back is petering out and United are taking back control. Evra is the 6th man booked as he pulls down Wright-Phillips. Can City do better from this free kick, around 25 yards out?

14:57 Its Garrido who takes it and its about 2 feet wide but a decent effort. About half an hour left and time is starting to be a factor for City.

14:59 Massive decision here for this game and the fantasy league. Ronaldo goes into the box and hand balls the cross and Webb shows him his second yellow. The United players claim Ronaldo was pushed or that he heard a whistle which is why he raised his hands. With 25 minutes to go that could change this game.

15:03 Sky replays with sound suggest no whistle was blown and Ronaldo probably had to go. Disaster for all the Ronaldo owners out there, especially if you also own Lampard who is the natural replacement. Ronaldo will get 0 points for the week.

15:03 We're under way at both Fratton Park and White Hart Lane.

15:12 Not much threat has materialised from City and Ronaldo's departure hasn't made a great difference in the end.

15:14 Berbatov comes off for Giggs. The Bulgarian played well first half but has not been as involved in the second 45. Might be worth a bonus point for his first half display, though no doubt the clowns in charge will give in Rooney as he scored and is English and therefore must be man of the match.

15:15 Carrick cynically brings down Wright-Phillips which brings a small smile to my face as I bet high on the number of cards in the game at 7.5 and that puts me over the edge I think. I'd have preferred a Ronaldo hattrick to be honest but c'est la vie.

15:16 Yakubu (knee) has limped off at White Hart Lane and is replaced by Saha.

15:21 4 minutes of injury time.

15:25 Dunne and Rooney both had chances cleared off the line but United hold on and get the 3 points. A decent game on the whole though City never really showed their potential.

15:30 We can now look forward to the Chelsea where I am counting on Alex playing and Lampard scoring at least one to save my fantasy week. I could also do with Anelka not scoring.

16:02 More dissapointment for my team and Alex finds himself on the bench. He will be replaced by Olsson (1 point) if he doesn't come on. Only a Lampard hattrick can save me now.

16:04 Still no goals in the other two games as they come out for the second half.

16:09 Chelsea start the brightest but no concrete chances as yet. Almunia flaps at a couple of crosses which casuses a bit of panic but he claims at the third attempt to snuff out the danger.

16:10 Kranjcar is on for Pompey in place of Little. Perhaps a suggestion he will operate on the right and Traore will keep his place in the Portsmouth side under Tony Adams who has appeared reluctant to play the French man.

16:12 A good run by Kalou is stopped by Clichy but his clearance falls straight to Anelka who scuffs his shot but wins a corner. All Chelsea at the moment.

16:12 GOAL Pienaar sticks one in for Everton after a quick free kick catches Spurs out. Redknapp won't be happy with that defensive effort.

16:13 Pompey take the lead at Fratton Park and its that man Crouch again. The assist goes to Johnson who is in absolutely scorching form.

16:21 GOAL Defoe provides a rare bright spot for my the Juice and sticks one home to probably sink Rovers. Blackburn are absolutely woeful and I fancy Ince to be the first casualty of the season. This will be no wins in 9.

16:21 Darren Bent off for Spurs, Campbell on. Dissapointing for all those with Bent in their side (he says smugly).

16:23 GOAL Rovers pull one back through Matt Derbyshire and thats Traore and co's clean sheet out of the window.

16:25 Arsenal are looking better at the Bridge but Chelsea fashion a chance for Lampard who heads into Almunia's arms. Good football from Chelsea there.

16:29 GOAL Unbelievable stuff at Fratton Park. Pompey have lost their second 2 goal lead in a week as Rovers equalise through Tugay.

16:30 Chelsea have a free kick right on the edge of the area but Ballack cannot get it up and over the wall. Chelsea do win another corner though.

16:32 GOAL Almunia gives the ball away cheaply and Chelsea play in Bosingwa who plays a great ball in to the danger zone which Djorou turns into his own goal. Meanwhile at White Hart Lane, Saha has limped off (suprise) and Everton are down to the bare bones of their squad.

16:38 GOAL Pompey retake the lead through Sean Davis and Blackburn look set remain next to bottom of the league.

16:43 Gareth Bale comes on Spurs and the BBC point out an extraordinary stat - Spurs have not won a single Premier League game that Bale has been involved in. Astonishing!

16:49 Lampard almost rolls Anelka in but he underhits the pass and Anelka has to check his run somewhat and the chance is gone. And that's the last action of the half. Decent game, similar to the first really with the better side leading and the other looking a bit impotent.

16:55 Full time in both the 3pm games and it's Everton and Portsmouth who take all 3 points.

17:20 GOAL Arsenal equalise through Robin Van Persie! The game had been drifting along and not really going anywhere but that has all just changed. On replay it looked like the Dutchman was offside though the linesman suggested Bosingwa was playing him on. That makes me fell better for Alex not playing.

17:21 Terry is booked for a two footed challenge and he can have no arguments. Meanwhile the news from White Hart Lane is that Yakubu is out for the season with a ruptured achilles.

17:23 GOAL 2-1 Arsenal! Can you believe it, he's done it again. Adebayour knocks down a free kick with his head and van Persie spins and drills the ball into the bottom corner. Sublime finish. Now we'll see what Chelsea's reponse is. Game on!

17:27 The game is suddenly wide open and is promising a thrilling final 25 minutes. Arsenal will not sit on this and they look to counter whenever possible.

17:28 Ivanovic fouls Clichy on the edge of the area and gives Arsenal a golden chance to extend their lead. Van Persie is all over the ball and it certainly suits his sweet left foot, though it is a bit central. He's lifted it over the bar though.

17:30 Malouda is on Mikel as Chelsea start to throw men forward.

17:35 Arsenal threaten again though Denilson's final ball is poor. Then Adebayour turns Ivanovic brilliantly but checks his run. The ball eventually falls to Fabregas who is finally bundled off the ball.

17:36 The ball is immediately back with Chelsea who have won a free kick about 22 yards out to the right of the goal so as to suit a left footer, perhaps Malouda.

17:46 Ivanovic is booked and is lucky as he should have been booked earlier too. Cech claims the free kick and the danger is over. 5 minutes plus injury time remain.

17:49 Maybe its my Alex bias but Ivanovic is not up to the pace of the Premier League and Chelsea are missing Carvalho badly. He is the only world class defender in their ranks for me. Bosignwa is brilliant going forward and Terry is fully committed but both can make the odd mistake that Carvalho normally covers for. When he returns stock up on your Chelsea defenders (including him at 6.4m) as a rash of clean sheets may follow.

17:51 Four minutes to play as Ivanovic committs another cynical foul.

17:52 Bendtner robs Bosignwa who has defended poorly and slips in Denilson whose first touch is terrible and Cech saves comfortably. Almunia is taking an age to take this free kick as Arsenal look to milk the clock.

17:54 Wegner is as emotional as I have seen him for a while and I love it. The greatest manager in Premier League history for me takes a ridiculous amount of criticism, and is one of the major reasons that our league is the way it is today.

17:56 Its all over at the Bridge and Arsenal have added Chelsea to their scalp of United a few weeks ago. Chelsea have now lost 2 in 4 at home having been unbeaten in 86. Gallas walks off with a sly smirk and who can blame him. Brilliant stuff by the Gunners, a good game to save what has been a rather poor weekend of football.

Let me know your thoughts and how your teams have performed this week. I've had a third consecutive stinker and my team is in dissaray at the moment. Serious changes are needed with the benching of Alex and upcoming Ronaldo suspension. Oh dear.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Gameweek 15 Diary

Apologies for the lack of action this week, I've been away for a few days, but thankfully back in time for this week's action. I've brought in Figueroa this week for the injured Dawson as I go 4-5-1 to allow for Zaki's injury and Cole facing Liverpool.

14:57 The team news is in from around the country with a couple of fantasy impacting moves. Luke Young has been passed fit to face Fulham which makes him a great buy at 4.4m. His team mate Carew misses out which will likely mean Ashley Young playing a more advanced role. Still no Dawson for Hull, whilst Daniel Cousin drops to the bench as Phil Brown goes 4-5-1. Bolton are unchanged, where as Sunderland welcome back Scotland international Craig Gordon between the posts. Melchiot has failed to fully recover for Wigan so Taylor retains his spot at right back.

15:00 News comes out that Jimmy Bullard is wearing a scarf! Come on Jimmy, I thought you were a man's man. I will now boycott him until at least March for my team.

15:08 Quick note to delight SilentJay among others, Ryan Taylor is taking the corners which makes him an absolute steal at 4.2m. If he can keep his place somewhere in the side when Melchiot returns he becomes a must buy.

15:12 First goal of the day goes to Sunderland and its that man Djibril Cisse once again, four in six for the man with an orange-pink mohawk. Cisse is heading the list of the mid-range strikers and playing two of three is looking like a good strategy.

15:21 Matty Taylor equalises at the Stadium of Light and its another assist for Steinsson. So much for the 0-0 potential I said this game had. Thats three goals in two games that have been scored and assisted by Taylor and Steinsson.

15:22 Bolton take the lead through Gary Cahill, incredible turnaround and a miserable return for Craig Gordon. What with Cahill's goals and Steinsson's assists, Bolton defenders are turning into legitimate studs.

15:24 Young torturing the Fulham defense and puts in a great ball to Barry who should have scored. Young looks back to his best and could be in for a rash of bonus points over the coming weeks.

15:31 Kenwyne Jones rattles the bar and it falls to Cisse who smashes it home, however the assistant has flagged and its disallowed. More evidence of Cisse's fine form though.

15:33 Bolton miss an open goal and fail to make Gordon pay for rashly charging out of his goal. Hope they don't come to rue that one.

15:38 A couple of poor sounding games around including Stoke-Hull, Wigan-WBA and Boro-Newcastle. All seem to have absolutely nothing going on!

15:40 Bolton lead 3-1. Collins tries to control the ball but lets it through his legs and Elmander pounces and slots the ball through Gordon's legs. The Scot will be wishing he was back on the physio table, nightmare start for the keeper.

15:48 Deadlock broken at the Brittania Stadium and Hull lead through Marlon King.

15:49 Halftime around the land and its been a pretty dull half outside of the Sunderland game. Hopefully more to come in the next 45 minutes, especially from Ashley Young who has nothing to show for a good half of football.

16:04 Miller scores for West Brom and blows Wigan's clean sheet; the mistake came from Bramble (as usual). Wigan are so frustrating at the moment.

16:08 In Pure Juice news, Marney has been credited with the assist for Hull which gives me my first non-appearance points of the day.

16:15 4-1 at the Stadium of Light! Sunderland try and play their way out trouble again but only give it to Nolan who puts in Elmander to finish for his second of the afternoon. Is the Swede starting to discover the scoring form that made him leathal at Heerenveen? If so, he will certainly garner mid-price striker attention.

16:18 Goal at the JJB, Camara has equalised for Wigan. Robinson tries to head back to the keeper but Camara intercepts and finishes well. There has been some shocking defending today.

16:31 Dummies fly as Martins (Newcastle) and Taylor (Wigan) both take exception to being subbed and don't hide their feelings from their managers. Might be bad news for Taylor's chance of retaining his place in the side.

16:32 Penalty to Stoke, Myhill commits the foul on Fuller. Fuller takes it himself and puts it away though Myhill does get a hand to it and might have done better. Another clean sheet bites the dust for all you Hull owners out there.

16:41 All the games are drawing to a close and nothing much seems to be happening. Its another dissapointing day in the fantasy league although we should expect much more excitement tomorrow with another 4 games to come including the big four and free scoring City.

16:44 Deadlock broken at the JJB and Wigan have nicked it through Emmerson Boyce, his first in 98 games.

16:50 Villa keep their third consecutive clean sheet since I dumped Laursen and I'm extremely bitter. Oh well, congrats to Brad Friedel to mark his record consecutive start with a clean sheet.

16:51 Full time in the 5 premiership games and no late drama aside from the aforementioned Boyce goal. The diary will resume tomorrow to pick up the big games of the weekend starting with the Manchester derby in the early afternoon. Another poor day for the Juice will likely see me slip further in the standings and allow others to pull closer in my leagues. I need a big day tomorrow to keep the wolves from the door.

Gameweek 15 Last Minute News

Lets get down to business with just an hour until the deadline closes for the week.

Arsenal
Nasri, Adebayour and Sagna are all doubts though the BBC suggests they will all play. Arsenal don't have great fixtures for the next 5 weeks so if you have a free transfer left move these guys on, if not, I'd feel okay about starting them due to their injury status, though the pickings will be slim against Chelsea.
Diaby, Walcott, Eboue, Toure, Rosicky and Eduardo are all definately out and should not be held at this time.

Aston Villa
Reo Coker, Carew and Cuellar are all doubts which is a shame as Villa are against a poor Fulham side this week. Luke Young appears to have shaken off his injury concerns and looks set to take his place in the side (and is a great buy at 4.4m). As for the other three, I would not buy them at this time (as I learnt with Defoe last week) though owners could probably stick them in on the assumption that if they don't start they won't come on either and so will be auto subbed.

Blackburn
No big news here. If anyone still owns any Rovers players they are all fir though Olsson is suspended.

Bolton
As with their North West rivals above, Bolton have no new issues to worry about. The game with Sunderland looks like a potential 0-0 and the Wanderers defense might be a decent play this week with regulars Jussi, Samuel, Cahill, O'Brien and Steinsson all set to feature.

Chelsea
Belletti, Carvalho and Drogba are out whilst Cole looks doubtful. Alex appears to be fit and will likely displace Ivanovic alongside the ever present Jon Terry (though this is not a lock to happen). Scolari should name a largely unchanged side from last week though look for Malouda, Cole, Kalou and Ballack to be rotated over the coming weeks.

Everton
Anichebe, Saha (suprise!) and Pienaar are all injured and the Yak will likely start up front alone or possibly alongside Cahill who looks attractive at the moment. The Everton defense is largely intact though isn't a great play this week against and improving Spurs side.

Fulham
No concerns for Hodgson in terms of injuries though a tricky visit to Villa Park will limit the effectiveness of his players' fantasy status. Feel free to keep budget options like Paintsil, Schwarzer and Zamora in the team but look to use your bench if you can.

Hull
Dawson looks set to miss out again though he can be replaced by McShane if you have a free transfer left. Hull are playing Stoke which is a great opportunity for a clean sheet and the defenders should garner strong consideration for a start this week for all those owners with them stashed on the bench.

Liverpool
Torres and Aurelio join Degen and Skrtel on the sidelines which should mean a start for the bargain Dossena (5.6), if only for a game or two. West Ham have only 6 on their travels this season and so Liverpool's defense looks like the play of the week once more. Torres owners should look to offload the Spaniard with possibly candidates including Adebayour, Anelka, Berbatov and Defoe.

Man City
No fresh concerns and Robinho looks set to take his place in his first Manchester derby. Not great plays this week, but City have done against their cross town rivals in recent years and I wouldn't be selling at this point, though perhaps not worth buying either.

Man Utd
Berbatov still a doubt and would a risk at this point though if he likely won't come on a sub so you could start him on the assumption of him being auto subbed if not fit.

Middlesborough
Riggott and Huth are still out whilst Mido is a doubt. Boro have a good fixture at home to Newcastle though the defese looks weakened by injury though still might be worth a punt. Attacking wise, Downing and Tuncay are our men this week.

Newcastle
Duff and Ameobi are the newest long term casualties and should be divested if held. No Newcastle player is worth holding right now due to injuries, inconsistency and squad rotation.

Portsmouth
Diarra and Campbell are out, though Kranjcar and Utaka may return. Defoe also looks set to retake his place in the side to face Blackburn and is a good buy this week. Traore owners are still left in the dark for even though he starred in the draw with Milan, he may still miss out due to Adams' inexplicable misstrust of the Frenchman - proceed with caution.

Stoke
Nothing new here. Don't hold any Stoke players except Delap unless you're desperate!

Sunderland
Gordon is still a doubt though the rest of the team is largely fir to play Bolton. Could be a good week for your Sunderland players with the likes of Richardson, Malbranque, Cisse and Jones all looking tempting. The defense is also a decent play as Bolton might come looking for a 0-0.

Tottenham
Jenas and King look set to return and Corluka and Pavlyuchenko are both back after being cup tied in midweek. Could be a decent game with a few goals against Everton and Paylyuchenko could add to his tally and looks like a decent buy. Lennon has also been in top form and might be worth a look at.

West Brom
No fresh injuries here and WBA might actually be worth looking at as they travel to Zaki-less Wigan. Anyone with Baggies defenders on the bench might consider taking a punt on them if feeling adventurous.

West Ham
No new concerns and it'll probably be as you were from last week. The Hammers travel to Anfield so don't be looking to bring these guys in this week, and with a tricky run of fixtures to come you might want to move on if other options are available.

Wigan
Zaki is out again and Melchiot is 50-50. This makes the decision to start him or Ryan Taylor a tough one. Melchiot owners with a free transfer left might consider swapping out for Figueroa who will definately take the field against a very poor West Brom side.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Differentiators

As is the case every year, by November-December alot of players' teams are starting to look very similar and it is increasingly hard to differentiate your team on a weekly basis. This is proven by the fact that when certain players do well (Ronaldo, Anelka etc) like in week 13 we all get 70+ points but when these players draw blanks you find that everyone is kicking around with 30 and 40 point totals.
The following team is made up of players held by at least 20% of ALL fantasy players:


The key going forward therefore is to differentiate your team wherever possible, whilst still holding on to those must have players that underpin any championship team (such as Ronaldo 2007/08). As a side note, it is interesting to note that only 6 of the 15 players above feature in the season dream team.

Potential buys
Many of my potential buys from the early part of the season (Zaki, Traore etc) are now widely held so we need to look elsewhere for the next wave of players. Here are a few ideas, focused on midfielders and forwards and defenders/goalkeepers are harder to differentiate as they play as a unit.These players have been overlooked for a number of reasons so far this season. Players like Gary O'Neil and Fabrice Muamba play every week but do not post massive numbers to catch the eye. Nevertheless, a guaranteed 90 minutes is the busy Christmas season is very valuable and O'Neill in particular has shown a knack for getting on the score sheet every so often. He is a great buy for anyone looking to implement a rotation system between 2 or 3 moderate midfielders.

Others on the list have been ignored due to injury. This applies to Kranjcar and Benjani, who have both misses large chunks of the season to date. Benjani appears to be the concrete number two option for City which puts him alongside Robinho and co on a weekly basis for just 6.7m. I have never been a huge admirer of his talents but he does get goals and has already netted twice in the cup since his return. Whilst not an every week striker, Benjani is perfect as a rotation man, throwing him in for City's home games and easier road games. Kranjcar is yet to fully recover from his ankle injury and may be worth holding off on for now.

It is noticeable that three Spurs players are on the list, and Modric (4.8%) could also be added to the list. Spurs have turned a corner since the departure of Ramos and Huddlestone, Lennon and Pavlyuchenko all look to benefit from the move. Huddlestone has played the last 6, and whilst he has only notched one assist, Redknapp has described the youngster as his 'quarterback' who will pick out the killer pass to the considerable talent ahead of him. That sounds very interesting for just 5.4m. Lennon is a tough one to call as he hasn't been a fixture in the side under Redknapp or Ramos. However, against Blackburn today he was sensational and shredded Olsson to the point of submission as the Rovers left back got himself sent off. Finally, Pavlyuchenko has flourished the most under Redknapp, scoring 3 in 5 games and looking impressive against Blackburn today. With Everton, West Ham, Newcastle, Fulham and West Brom coming up in the next 6, Spurs are suddenly a potential gold mine for bargains that might give you the edge over your league opponents.

Let me know your thoughts on these tips and any other scarcely held bargains for the next few weeks.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Gameweek 14 Diary

My team is a total mess at the moment. I stupidly chanced replacing Berbatov with Defoe who I thought would recover from his cramp - wrong! Anyway, lets see how things play out before I give up just yet:

FIRST HALF

15:03 Traore, Alex and Defoe all miss out so I'm using my bench (which is weak) to the max this week. Unless Ronaldo goes nuts I'm looking at a 40 point week at best here, especially if Zaki doesn't make it back on Monday.

15:05 The big news at Arsenal is that Almunia will captain the side (keeping it warm for Cesc I bet) and Gallas is out. I used to thing Gallas was asound player but his actions of late have been disgrace. Its a young side for the Gunners with Hoyte, Djorou, Song and Bendtner all featuring. The bench is full of kids including Vela and Ramsey. Good game to watch for potential fantasy bargains.

15:07 Going back to Pompey, Traore is a sell now for me. With Kranjcar and Diarra both missing out he should be in that side but Adams obviously doesn't rate his as high as Redknapp did. Belhadj is the natural replacement you would think.

15:08 Steinsson gets the first goal of the day at the Riverside. The icelandic right back is having a very nice season and is now held by 7% of players, which will surely rise after his second goal of the campaign.

15:10 Two nil to the Wanderers after a strike from Matt Taylor who adds to the assist earned 2 minutes ago. Great day for 0.3% of people who own him (ie his girlfriend and his auntie). Sorry Matty, you're overpric at 5.7m

15:19 Not much going on, so a quick chance to speculate on future transfers. Benjani (6.7m) is in City's lineup again and it looking like a genuine buy prospect. A new emerging strategy would be to own 3 mid range strikers (Saha, Yakubu, Zaki, Benjani etc) and rotate 2 of 3 and splash the cash saved on getting Liverpool and Chelsea defenders.

15:22 Unbeliveably Crouch scores for Pompey to heap my misery on. I was going to get the big man but I decided at the last second to risk Defoe. My new number one rule is to make sure I get 11 x 90 minutes every week and go from there.

15:31 Really slow day today and very little to talk about. Hopefully it'll be a quiet week for everyone and I can get by on a Liverpool clean sheet and a Ronaldo brace. Hull knocking on the door at Fratton Park and Marney has one cleared off the line - gutted. That would have been a nice bonus from my sub.

15:38 Paul Merson describes the Stoke-West Brom game as as the worst he's ever seen and hopefully my 0-0 prediction will come true and Olsson will storm off my bench with a 6 pointer.

15:47 City take the lead and its that man Ireland again. I cannot believe he keeps doing it, i just didn't think he was that good! Luckily that should take points from some managers with Arsenal defenders but Ireland is so widely held that the scorer could have been much better!

15:50 A pretty dire first half from both a neutral football fan and fantasy manager perspective. The key this week so far seems to be clean sheets and I think you will need at least three to have a decent score. Ireland the only scorer who is widely held. Not a peep from big names like Anelka, Lampard and Torres. Hopefully the second half will be much better.

SECOND HALF
16:05 A quick check of premierleague.com which is finally functioning shows that Steinsson is credited with the assist for Taylor's goal and so has 10 points already and is half way to a clean sheet. Could be a monster game for the Icelandic hard man. I'd make a snide comment about his homeland's economy but I'm actually a big Steinnson fan and wish I had enough faith in Bolton to sign him.

16: 11 Despite my recent discussion that I don't like Ireland, the City chat rooms are buzzing with praise with many saying he's their best player. At 6.4m he is still not overpriced and is well on my radar to replace Valencia, even though his price is sure to rise again this week.

16:13 All Chelsea at the bridge and Newcastle surely can't keep this up for 40 minutes. Chelsea aren't peppering the goal but the ball hasn't been in their half in the second half.

16:14 Michael Turner nets for Hull and gets his third of the season. That makes me feel better over the benching of Traore! Marney crossed but it was flicked on so I doubt he'll get the assist. Tony Adams is my new nemesis after his treatment of Traore so I'm all over Hull for this one.

16:16 Robinho (my other consideration to replace Berbatov) makes it 2-0 at blue camp and Arsenal are in dissaray. By all accounts the goal was a peach and worth watching later.

16:21 Bendtner misses another chance and is showing he really isn't the answer for a title challenging side (consider that United, Chelsea and Liverpool have subs like Tevez, Anelka and Babel when everyone is fit). This teams needs about 4 new players (although the same could be said about Pure Juice!).

16:23 Pompey back in front through Glen Johnson who scored from 30 yards.

16:25 Robinho denied a second as he is given offside after following up an Ireland shot that was bobbled by Captain Almunia (that phrase just does not sound right does it?)

16:27 Chelsea and Liverpool still being held at home and its a big 25 minutes for the top two, as both look to land a body blow to their title rivals. Chelsea seem to be more likely to score though Liverpool have been exceptional in the last 15 minutes this season.

16:30 Alonso on for Mascherano. Wow calm down Rafa, don't go too gung ho! What does Ryan Babel have to do to get a chance with his team. Yes, he's incredibly inconsistent when he's on he's all but instoppable.

16:31 Got to think that Scolari will earn his money now. I fancy Kalou or Ballack to come on and nab the winner. Total shots: Chelsea 11, Newcastle 2. Can they make it count though?

16:35 Adams compounds my Traore related misery by bringing him on, denying my ability to sub him. Meanwhile, Pogatetz scored for Boro and denies Steinsson a monster day. Still a great outing mind.

16:36 Its all over at the Riverside as Bolton's record signing Elmander gets his second the season.

16:42 Stoke take the lead over West Brom and there goes Olsson's clean sheet. What a miserable performance from my team so far. I dread looking at the league table as I'm all but certain my once 100 point lead at the top has been evaporated in 3 weeks. If Fulham score in the last 10 I;m down to single digits!

16:45 Robinho limps off at Middle Eastlands to put a worrying footnote to an otherwise great day for Mark Hughes. More on that injury when info comes through.

16:47 Hull have equalised, have that Adams! Pamarot own goal under pressure from the legend that is Deano Windass, his first in the prem since 2002.

16:50 Penalty for City, and its Sturridge who sticks it away. 3-0, would you believe it. City now have 19 goals in 7 home games, incredible. What might happen when they can start spending money in January?

16:55 No late drama today for Liverpool and they have to settle for a home draw with poor travellers Fulham. Nothing lost on fellow leaders Chelsea as they are held by JFK's Newcastle. United with a chance to claw 2 points back on their rivals when they entertain Villa in half an hour. Hopefully that one will be 3-3 with Ronaldo and Young notching 3 a piece.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Injury update

Damn those friendlies, my team is in shreds. Here's a quick run though of the injury news, with further updates to come in the week.

Arsenal
The big news out of the international break for the Gunners is that Walcott is out for as long as three months (shoulder). He is an obvious sell for anyone who has him. In terms of replacements, Eboue will get a game over the next few weeks, especially because Sagna is also injured (ankle). Eboue has been injured himself though maybe back this week to face City, though don't expect a clean sheet as City have scored a massive 16 in 6 at the Middle Eastlands this season.
Van Persie and Adebayour both return, though Fabregas will miss out due to suspension. The seemingly out of favour Toure has also picked up a knock and will probably not figure. A rare bright spot is that Eduardo is close to returning to training.

Aston Villa
Martin O'Neill is sweating on the fitness of Carew this week though he could be set to return having been named in the Norway squad for midweek but then not selected. The big man is not worth a gamble yet (particularly against United) but Villa have some decent games on the horizon and he may be worth consideration if you're in the market for a mid-range striker.

Blackburn
Warnock is set to miss out through suspension and he joins Emerton and Dunn on the sidelines. The rest of the team, include Santa Cruz, appears fit though are not a great play this week at Spurs. Should be a few goals mind, and I suppose Roque may be worth a punt.

Bolton
The Wanderers have a full strength side as they prepare to travel to Boro in what has 0-0 written all over it. If you have Bolton defenders then hold, but with Chelsea, Villa Pompey and Wigan coming up its time to start planning your exit strategy.

Chelsea
Physio room lists Chelsea as having 9 injuries at the moment, though all but Alex and Essien could figure this week. Its unlikely Lampard will miss out and Carvlaho may be rushed back due to lack of cover, if not Ivanovic becomes a steal. Start Cech (as always with 50-50 keepers) though Joe Cole is too risky right now. Drogba is still suspended.

Everton
Pienaar and Fellaini are both questionable, though Fellaini should hold his place in the improving Everton side. Yakubu and Saha are both fit and will hopefully start to forge their potentially sound partnership over the coming weeks, giving us two more decent mid-range striking options.

Fulham
Nothing to report here as Hodgson is free to name his best team. However, on the road to Liverpool is not a great place to be and Fulham players should be avoided this week.

Hull
Andy Dawson looks set to return (hopefully) as does long term casualty Anthony Gardner, though he won't be breaking into the first team any time soon due to the solid play of Turner and McShane.

Liverpool
Skrtel is still weeks away from returning so feel free to stick with Agger (surely Hyypia is an afterthought these days?). Keane looks to be a doubt, and with the return of Torres he looks a likely candidate to miss out. Gerarrd did not feature for England in midweek, though that doesn't seem to mean a great deal. Fulham have a very solid road defense but Liverpool are still a great play and I'd stick Gerrard in on the assumption that if he doesn't start he probably won't feature at all and therefore your sub will be brought in.

Man City
Joe Hart is out, though for less time than first suspected. If you're desperate to save cash Schmeichel at 3.9m will now feature, though that could be for two games against Arsenal and United so probably best to stay clear. No return date in sight for long term casualties Michael Johnson and Martin Petrov.

Man Utd
Berbatov joins the growing list of Pure Juice injuries after limping off for Bulgaria in midweek. He looks set to miss one or two games. Ferdinand and Rooney both missed the England game but will no doubt return when it matters for their club (that wasn't sarcastic, I really believe players should choose their club over a friendly).

Middlesbrough
The impressive Riggott and defensive partner Pogatetz are both doubts and should probably be avoided. This also devalues Turnbull and co and Boro lose some of their appeal this week though Bolton at home is still appealing. Meanwhile, Mido should be available.

Newcastle
Joey Barton is the only new injury concern for JFK (see football365) though as they are travelling to Chelsea they may as well all be out.

Portsmouth
Defoe could be out after getting injured for England which is a real blow for his owners as Pompey have a great run of fixtures coming up. Diarra is questionable and could be replaced by blog favourite Armand Traore. Sol Campbell and Kranjcar also look set to miss the match.

Stoke
Liam Lawrence is still a doubt and should be avoided. Everyone else is fit and the defense might be worth a punt at home to WBA is you have the nerve for it.

Sunderland
Craig Gordon looks set to miss out again though the outfield is looking healthy for Roy Keane. Cisse and Jones will look to flourish against a poor Hammers side coming to town.

Tottenham
Modric is still out though the likes of Bent and Bentley look like intriguing buys. Frazier Campbell may also prove to be a decent buy if he can force his way into the first team in Modric's absence.

WBA
No new injury worries here not that anyone owns any Baggies outside of their bench.

West Ham
New fresh injuries for West Ham as Zola looks to restart his faltering side's campaign. Hopefully that will be in the form of Carlton Cole who has gone off the boil what with his suspension and lack of goals in recent weeks.

Wigan

Koumas, Melchiot, Heskey and Zaki are all "50-50" for the visit of Everton. Zaki has a 'virus' and was sorely missed last week. Without him Wigan just aren't the same side: for the sake of the Juice I need him to return!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Gameweek 13 Running Diary

With 8 games today, 6 at 3pm, its a great opportunity for a running diary to discuss all things fantasy.
14:53 Just finished watching the Bolton-Liverpool in which Liverpool cruised to victory with goals from Kuyt (who I tipped to lose form) and Gerrard (who I keep saying is overpriced). On the bright side, I bought Agger this week, who along with Reina, has given me 2 clean sheets early on in the week. Reina also got 2 save points which gives me a great start to the week. It looks like it'll be needed as both Alex and Dawson are injury doubts and my bench is garbage right now.

14:56 Team news from around the league sees Ronaldo and Berbatov in the starting line up (phew!) though Rooney (chest and calf) and Ferdinand (back) do not even make the squad. Arsenal name an unchanged side that leaves Adebayour and Toure on the bench once more. Potential steal Bendtner and blog favourite Nasri are both in. Cisse and Jones start together in Sunderland in what looks like a potentially very dangerous strikeforce. There's no Zaki in Wigan which is worrying for Pure Juice, though Cole is back for West Ham to take his place. Still no Traore for Portsmouth and Kranjcar will also not feature.

15:04 Ryan Taylor gets the first goal in the 3pm games with what is described as a beauty. And Ronaldo repays his managers' faith by scoring a cracking free kick (Sorensen should have done better mind) and I am delighted all the loyal readers told me to captain him!

15:20 Not a great deal going on, though Villa have just been awarded a penalty after Young was felled in the box. Highs and lows in a few seconds, Young unexpectedly stepped up and then missed. I was checking the rules to see if Young gets the assist and then he goes and misses it costs me 2 points. I am officially off Young and he's gone next week unless he does something incredible in the second half.

15:28 Goals are still hard to come by this afternoon and a couple of seemingly dull games are playing out. I am still fuming about Young and I am totally off Villa right now. Their fixtures are up and down over the coming weeks but I think the European games are taking the toll on O'Neill's small squad. Young and Agbonlahor have looked jaded of late and they aren't playing that powerful fast flowing football they played in the opening weeks. At the moment Nasri is the favourite to replace Young though with games @MC and @Che the timing could be better.

15:34 Gomes has another nightmare in the Spurs goal and may have cemented his place as the worst keeper in the premier league. What was Ramos thinking? I could have told you he was useless on crosses and set pieces after seeing him for 10 minutes at PSV and these are two vital qualities for a Premiership keeper. Simon Davies has been credited with the goal.

15:39 Not much going on at Old Trafford with United on top but Stoke hanging in there and doing alright. They certainly don't look like rolling over.

15:47 Sorry Stoke fans, its 2-0 United, Ronaldo to Carrick (boy am I am glad I captained him). In other good news for Pure Juice, Traore came on for Diarra after 18 minutes and so would be eligible for a clean sheet should Portsmouth keep one.

15:48 Blackburn take a deserved lead through a Samba goal, having bossed the first half by all accounts. Is Ince turning things round at Ewood? Perhaps the likes of Santa Cruz are worth taking another look at in the coming weeks.

15:51 Half time in games across the land, and that brings to a close a decent half for Pure Juice, led by 9 points for Captain Ronaldo.

16:07 Blog tip Modric is hauled off at half time after a poor display by Spurs. Huddlestone is also off as Pavlyuchenko and Lennon come on.

16:10 Berbatov makes it three and my United boys are serving me well. Tevez gets the assist. Meanwhile Sunderland equalise through Kenwyne Jones is a definite watch if you need striker in that 7m range.

16:12 Portsmouth on top at West Ham and Defoe seems to be knocking on the door. Don't be surprised if he gets on the scoresheet against his old club here today.

16:16 Emerson Boyce is off for Wigan after two yellows. That could open the door for Newcastle to get back into this. BBC suggest that the player clearly got the ball - Bruce is not impressed to say the least.

16:27 Its all gone quiet again but hopefully we'll get a flurry in the last 15 minutes. I'm hoping Ronaldo can nick another and that Traore gets a clean sheet, that should lead my team to over 50 for the week, which I'll take.

16:28 Young cuts the ball back to Agnolahor and its in the back of the net (also suspicions of a Gale Clichy own goal). Phil Thompson says Young has been fantastic and maybe, just maybe, he has a chance of staying in the Pure Juice side for next week.

16:29 Fulham 2-0. Bullard corner nodded down to Andy Johnson who finishes past Gomes. 5 in 5 for Johnson in the league.

16:33 Sunderland in front after turning it round in the second half. Cisse adds to his tally, and I repeat, that strikeforce looks intriguing.

16:38 2-0 at the Emirates, surely Arsenal are out of the title race now. Agbonlahor finishes well for his 8th of the season. He, along with Young, seem to have played much better today and perhaps i was too hasty in suggesting Villa were lacking form.

16:40 Spurs have pulled one back against Fulham, and its Frazier Campbell who is having a terrific week. Owen equalises for Newcastle having come off the bench for the Magpies.

16:44 Young has not been credited with the assist for the first goal and Laursen was given the second, giving him 9 points for the week - glad I transferred him out!

16:45 The youngster Danny Wellbeck gets on the scoresheet for United - probably not even his relatives have him in their fantasy team, mind.

16:49 Newcastle have won it through Martins. Wigan have been robbed. Meanwhile, Ronaldo has bagged his second - oh how I am glad I captained him (watch Lampard get a hattrick now!).

16:51 Wigan have pulled it back! Justice has been done and Wigan will go home with a point. It would have been robbery if Newcastle had won based on that shocking referee decision.

16:53 The afternoon games come to a close and we can now look to Chelsea coming up against West Brom. A decent afternoon though Young and Valencia end up contributing very little. It might be time for them to move on - more to come on this in the coming days. Ronaldo has proven he is the undoubted fantasy man of the minute and I will never doubt his captaincy again.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Market Watch

Back on October 4th I made a few recommendations of players to buy to make a capital gain over the coming weeks. The 'portfolio' saw initial success, but a month on it is time to look at the players and see how they've performed. I will then make some more predictions for the coming weeks.

Portfolio performance Here's the tips I made back on October 4th:Not too shabby at all (especially in today's economic climate). I would have removed the sell rating on Bent a couple of weeks ago too, and in fact he's on the shortlist to be a buy at the moment (as first noted by blog reader SilentJay). Of course, at premierleague.com you only realise half the price rise as profit, but still, its over a million made in a month that could make the difference between a Sol Campbell and a Gael Clichy, or a Joe Hart and a Pepe Reina.
Of the above tips I think Ronaldo has perhaps a small margin to rise, so I consider him a hold. I think Zaki ha reached his ceiling for now unless he goes on a goal streak so I'd call him a sell. At over 7m, Bosingwa is probably at his peak too. Nasri is the best buy of the tips and still has plenty of room to rise, perhaps as high as 8.0m. Berbatov is a hold and may rise 0.1m or so if he finds his scoring boots. Kompany and Traore have had their day and are both off the buy list.

New tips for November
Daniel Agger As long as Agger keeps his place under Skrtel returns, he should rise to around 6.4m based on Liverpool's fixture list. Carragher is 7.1m and Arbeloa is 6.4m (and rising) so Agger should really be valued at a similar price provided he's playing every week.

S.Nasri As demonstrated in my buy tips in October, I am really high on Nasri and think he could become a Robert Pires type scorer for the Gunners. Nasri is averaging 6.4 points per game when he's played over an hour, which is a great return for 7.6m. Arsenal's midfield will only get better as the depth returns (and is maybe strengthened in January) and Nasri will look to benefit.

L.Saha The oft-injured Frenchman has three in the last two and has featured in 8 straight games suggesting he is getting his fitness back. Everton have been poor so far but should improve with only Chelsea to play from the big four. If fit, Saha will almost definately play and looks to be great value in that tricky 6m - 8m striker range.

L.Modric Spurs have been a new side under Redknapp and Modric appears to the man best placed to capitalise. Two assists and three bonus points in the last three have given Modric a decent return, though only a handful of players have transferred him in (now owned by 6%). Over the next 12 weeks Spurs only play United from the big four, and have games against the likes of Blackburn, West Brom and Stoke to feast upon.

D.Bent As with Modric, Bent is a new player under Redknapp having netted 5 in the last 5. So long as he stays in the first eleven, the sky is the limit for the ex-Pure Juice early season flop. The emergence of Pavlyuchenko and Campbell is a situation worth monitoring though.

D.Kuyt The Dutchman has been a revelation this season, looking more like the player Liverpool thought they were getting from Feyenoord (where he scored 71 in 101). However, with the return of Torres and Keane finding his feet, Kuyt's playing time is bound to shrink and this could see player's dumping him for the likes of Young, Barry or Wright-Phillips. I don't think his price will plummit, though I can see it losing 0.2m or so over the coming weeks.

N.Anelka As with Kuyt, Anelka has been in great form though his playing time is also in jeopardy because of the return of a teammate. Drogba scored on his return from injury midweek (though could now be suspended for throwing a coin at the Burnley fans). When Drogba is back and fully fit, you have to imagine he play will play most games, which will leave Anelka out in the cold, especially in away games where it is highly unlikely that Scolari will go with two frontmen. Anelka is a hold for now but I can see his price falling below 9.5m by Christmas.

S.Ireland No one would have predicted that of all the players to perform for City, it would be a home grown player that scored the best (well one point less than Robinho). However, the points have dried up of late and Ireland hasn't scored any extras for 4 weeks despite playing Stoke, Boro, Bolton and Spurs. Ireland is held by a massive 31% of all players and has risen 0.9m since the game opened. This gives him a long way to fall and with back to back games against Arsenal and United on the horizon after a tricky trip to Hull this week, we could see the fall start to happen sooner rather than later.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Who gets the armband?

For those of you with Ronaldo in your team - that's a quarter of you - the weekly question is whether anyone should take the armband from your premium midfielder. Since I bought him in week 7 I have captained Ronaldo every week and he has had 2 poor weeks, 2 good weeks and 2 monster weeks, averaging 8.33 points over that 6 game stretch.
Last week was a stupid move captaining him against Arsenal rather than Lampard against Blackburn, and I am now cautious about captaining him again this week.

I know I know, Stoke have shipped 10 in 6 on the road, and 19 in total, and I know that Ronaldo has now scored in his last 10 domestic home games, but my question is whether he will play.
Looking back to last year is encouraging as Ronaldo featured in 34 league games, and of the 4 he missed, three were due to suspension. However, with his injury over the summer potentially still lingering, will Ferguson be tempted to drop his leading man?

On the other hand, you can be almost certain that Lampard will play, earn a point for the clean sheet and get a couple of bonus points, so as captain he all but guarantees you 10 points.

So what would you guys do? Are you going to captain Ronaldo this week? Let me know your thoughts

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Defensive Strategy

After this week's disaster (34 points) I am planning a reshake and I was hoping to trigger some debate as to the best way forward. My basic strategies are to either:
- lose Laursen and eventually Alex and replace them with budget defenders
- replace the aforementioned pair with premium defenders based on availability.
The focal point of the argument is basically whether you are better off with premium defenders, midfielders, or strikers for that matter. Lets looks at the facts:

Pretty good scores from some of the defenders on offer. Alex is the pick of the bunch so far and should be held by everyone until Carvalho is out. A surprise for many (including me) is the inclusion of all four Bolton defenders who have been great value so far this season. I think Steinsson is the pick due to his desire to push forward but O'Brien is a lock in that team and is great value at 4.3m. The premium players are generally towards the bottom with the notable exception of Bosingwa who has been brilliant so far this season.
Lets compare these PPMS with the midfielders on offer:


Decent PPMS scores again but surprisingly less than the defenders available. However, the actual points scored are slightly higher for midfielders - 4.94 PPG vs 4.12 PPG.
PPMS is a decent measure but if you always get the best value players you will only spend around 80m. Therefore you need to balance out good value players (high PPMS) with good scorers (high PPG). This strategy suggests I am on the right lines with Ronaldo and Lampard, who have a combined 17.05 PPG, which becomes well over 20 when assuming that one of these two is captained.

Pure Juice
Excluding my two sub defenders Olsson and Dawson who I can replace whenever I have a free transfer, my midfield has the lowest PPMS, where as my midfield has the highest:

On this basis I should be looking to replace my midfield rather than the defense. However, as mentioned above, PPMS only takes you so far, and it is real points that win championships, of which my midfield is contributing by far the most. My weakest defender is Laursen, and my weakest midfielder is Young, and these are therefore the top candidates for replacement. Lets look at my options:

Defenders - 6.2m budget
Basically, I can get anyone who doesn't play every week for the big four (except Agger, who is a serious consideration). No defense has a schedule over the next 6 games that I love, though Liverpool's over the next four is pretty sound (@Bol, Ful, WH, @Bla) which I why I am interested in Agger. However, after playing with two Arsenal defenders earlier in the season and getting burned I am loathed to double up on Liverpool defenders (with Reina).
Sunderland and Blackburn also have favourable fixtures but Blackburn's defense is garbage and Sunderland's defenders are overpriced. I rate Fulham and Bolton's schedule as approximately equal to Villa's so I could pick up one their budget defenders and save around 1.6m on Laursen to upgrade the midfield or strikeforce (namely Carlton Cole).

Midfielders - 8.6m or 10.6m budget (if I replaced Laursen with Paintsil)
For 10.6 I can buy anyone except Gerrard, and for 8.6 I can get anyone bar Gerrard, Fabregas, Deco, Cole, Kuyt and Ballack. Looking through the midfielders above one notices that the premium guys are largely absent (except Ronaldo and Lampard) so maybe the money saved from Laursen wouldn't be well applied here. If I were to get, say, Nasri for Young, that would free a further 1m leaving 8.5m to use to replace Cole. This opens the door to the likes of Defoe, Agbonlahor and Santa Cruz to pair with Zaki and Berbatov giving me a must start front 3.

Conclusion
So what do people think? Where is it best to hold your assets at the moment? The strikers and scoring midfielders get the glory but its the defenders who have been the best value to date. As a side point, Zaki has the best PPMS of all strikers but is just 19th overall in that category.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

One to watch: Antonio Valencia

Valencia has been very quiet of late, earning just 10 points in his late 4 outings. However, these games included trips to Liverpool, Portsmouth and Fulham who have three of the best 7 home defenses in the league. Previous fixtures had seen Valencia notch 27 points over the same period when the opposition was Hull, Sunderland, Spurs and City.

A quick look ahead sees games against Stoke, Newcastle, Everton and West Brom who all rank in the bottom 5 in total defense this season. This will hopefully see Valencia (and in all likelihood Zaki) return to top form and he should be a good producer for the next month or so.

Valencia is being sold right now (-35000) in the past few weeks so his value could fall to 6.1. However, even at 6.2 he could be a great replacement for the slumping Denilson, Ireland or Downing.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Strength of Schedule

One of the most overlooked aspects of Fantasy Football is the matchups our players face each week. Most players seem to simply follow trends (which can sometimes work) and pick those players who have racked up alot of points to date or in the previous week. However, this obviously ignores the fixtures on the horizon and often leads to wasted transfers and point chasing.
By assigning a figure (1, 2 or 3) to each team based on their performance to date - in terms of goals scored and conceded whilst at home and away - we can generate a strength of schedule for defensive and attacking players.

Defensive players
Based on the next 6 games, the best strength of schedules for defensive players are:

- Liverpool 1.3
- Sunderland 1.3
- Aston Villa 1.7
- Blackburn 1.7
- Chelsea 1.7
- Hull 1.7
(an average schedule would be 2.0)

This clearly shows that Liverpool have a combination of the league's second best defense along with the easiest defensive schedule, which should lead to bumper points for the likes of Reina and Carragher. The slight downside with Liverpool is that aside from these two, no Liverpool player is a guaranteed start, though Arbeloa appears to be playing his way into this club. If you're budget can stretch, I would recommend Reina as the best man to capitalise on this run. Chelsea are also an obvious pick with Alex and Bridge being potential bargains so long as Carvalho and Cole remain out, which should be for at least the coming gameweek.

On the flip side, the following teams have a difficult 6 defensive games:
- Tottenham 2.3
- Portsmouth 2.3
- Man City 2.3
- Bolton 2.3

Tottenham, Portsmouth and City all have fairly ordinary defences and you probably only hold these players based on attacking potential (such as Traore or Kompany). Bolton however have been a useful source of reliable bench men, and it is a shame to lose this option for the next 6 games. However, with 4 road games and home games against Chelsea and Liverpool, you should divest your Bolton assets now, or prepare to stash until Christmas time rolls around.

Attacking players
The best attacking strength of schedules over the next 6 games are:
- Portsmouth 1.7
- Wigan 1.7
- Chelsea 1.8
- Fulham 1.8
- Middlesbrough 1.8
- Sunderland 1.8

As with the defenders, Chelsea are of course an attractive option though fitting in the likes of Lampard and Anelka is easier said then done. Anyone who owns Gerrard or Fabregas though should in my opinion switch to the bonus machine that is Lampard.
The other teams contain some cheaper options that could be very useful players over the coming weeks. Zaki and Valencia will hopefully return to the stunning form of the opening weeks, with Zaki already getting back on the scoresheet in gameweek 11. Bullard has 11 points in the past 2 weeks and could be a nice mid range option, as could his cheaper teammate Gera. However, the pick of mid range midfielders is possibly Niko Kranjcar who returned from injury against Liverpool and scored his first of the season last weekend against Wigan. At just 6.1 he could be a decent replacement for the likes of Denilson whose early form appears to be tailing off.

The pick of the striking options, aside from the obvious Zaki, Defoe and Anelka could be Cisse (if he can stay out of Keane's dog house), Crouch and Alves. All three strikers have 3 goals to their name this term, and it wouldn't be suprising to see one of these three double that tally over the next two months.

On the flip side, the following sides have the worst strength of schedules:
- Blackburn 2.8
- Arsenal 2.3
- Man Utd 2.3
- Bolton 2.3
- Newcastle 2.3
- Stoke 2.3

Blackburn's schedule is devastating and I would recommend selling all Rovers players right now. Despite the schedule I would not necessarily sell Utd players such as Ronaldo and Berbatov, although fringe players like Fletcher and Carrick become less attractive. The same goes for Arsenal with Adebayour, who remains an elite prospect despite the tough fixture list. The other teams don't have anyone who is worth holding through this tough spell and should be divested as soon as possible unless no other options are viable.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Gameweek 11 Running Diary (Part II)

16:09 Back under way in the Premier League with no notable substitutions to comment on.

16:12 100 league goals for Lampard as the goals keep flowing at Stamford Bridge. Lampard is in delicious form and is a must have for fantasy teams if your budget will stretch to it. I can almost feel the 3 bonus points.

16:13 Anelka hattrick! Okay so maybe it'll be 2 bonus points for Lamps. Another assist for Malouda too. Chelsea are rampant 5-0.

16:16 Bednar makes a claim to the top sub-6m striker title with his 4th of the season. At 5.4 he might be worth a look.

16:17 United get their 4th through Vidic, assisted by Rooney. That's Vidic's first this season.

16:22 West Brom take the lead as they punish 10 man Blackburn, no points for identifying the turning point of that game! This time its a sub-5m man, Ishmael Miller, who has tempted me in the past. If he continues to play he is a steal at 4.9m. Only the second time this season the Baggies have bagged two.

16:26 As we stand Pure Juice have 60 with Ronaldo (22) and Alex (15) contributing over half the team's points. With three players to come it could be a good week.

16:30 Hull pull one back to make it 4-2 through former Bolton legend Bernard Mendy (okay legend is a stretch but I liked him). Vidic did his best to clear but the linesman gave it and Hull have a lifeline.

16:32 Drogba is on for Chelsea as if Scolari is just reminding people how good his squad is. Chelsea are pretty unreal when they're on and will take some beating this season. Their defense is a notch above United at the moment and their attack is a couple of notches ahead of Liverpool. Definitely my favourites at the moment.

16:34 Delap creates more havoc and its 2-0 at the Britannia, incredible! Arsenal's title challenge looks to be over and they look really poor at the moment. I think Wenger has gone a step too far thinking he could replace Gilberto and Flamini as Song and Diaby are clearly not up to it, and Denilson lacks any defensive bite. Even a big defensive signing at Christmas looks like it will be too late.

16:37 Van Persie is off at the Britannia as that old temper of his flares up. The Dutchman has gone flying into the keeper with a leading elbow and Wenger is incensed. Disastrous day for Arsenal which is great news for fantasy owners like myself who divested all my Arsenal assets weeks ago (including the recently disciplined Van Persie). BBC suggest it isn't a red where as Thompson on Sky says he deserved it. In true Arsene style "I did not see the incident".

16:41 Mido scores for Boro who have been knocking at the door for a while now. In the meantime Geovanni has made it 4-3 at OT! That's the third different team Geo has scored against United for! Surely Hull cannot come back, what a job Phil Brown is doing!

16:43 I keep thinking Geovanni will fade but he looks like the real deal. I was going to comment that his age will catch up with him but someone the boy is only 28! I'm sure I remember him on Championship Manager about 15 years ago!

16:45 Pompey equalise through Kranjcar who confirms my suspicions that he is a buy prospect. Valued at just 6.1m the Crotian maestro could be an absolute steal.

16:49 United hanging on at home to Hull, being forced to bring on O'Shea for Anderson. Phil Brown must be gaing Manager of the Year votes already. He's the new Big Sam (no coincidence as Brown was Sam's assistant).

16:50 10 man Rovers draw level through Paul Ince favourite Keith Andrews. I still won't be rushing to bring in the former MK Dons man mind.

16:52 Alex seals his clean sheet and with it 15 points (plus any bonus points). I'm very smug with my subsitution this week.

16:54 Arsenal get a consolation through Gael Clichy, the player who supposed to have been dropped this week for being "close to tears" last week.

16:55 Wigan win it at Fratton Park, Heskey with the winner! By all accounts Pompey have been the more threatening but Steve Bruce's men take the points.

16:58 Its all over at Fratton Park and Bruce is jubilant. Unlucky result for Tony Adams whose Pompey side played pretty well.

16:59 Stoke get the 3 points and Wenger will be livid. Arsenal have had a disasterous week and it looks like they must focus on the Champions League after just 11 games.

17:00 Full time throughout the league to bring to an end a great afternoon's entertainment. Liverpool play Spurs later in what could be a decent game too. Pure Juice have 66 points with Young, Laursen and Garrido (if he plays) to come. If Garrido doesn't go then Marney will come in who notched 2 points. I'm hopeful for bonuses for Ronaldo and Lampard which should take me over the 70 point mark. Not a bad days work though I think this will be a high scoring week for alot of players.