Monday, 27 February 2012

Gameweek 26 Summary

In a week when Liverpool scraped through and won the League Cup (a pointless competition) v Cardiff, exciting Premiership matches stole the limelight.  Newcastle threw away a 2-0 lead to draw against Wolves at home.  Spurs also threw away a 0-2 lead, as under-fire Arsenal fired five past poor old Brad Friedel.  AVB's Chelsea ended their winless streak with a comfortable win at home v Bolton.  On-form West Brom deflated former on-form Sunderland by a four goal cricket score margin. 

Man City as expected beat Blackburn, where as United's old timers turned back the time and secured a valuable win against the Canaries at Carrow Road.  Swansea's bad run of league form continued against Stoke with a 2-0 defeat, as QPR's relegation worries continued with a 0-1 defeat to Fulham.  Finally, Wigan's match v Aston Villa was a damp squib with the top flight's only goalless match of the gameweek.

I have to say folks that I got a lot of stick for endorsing Ashley Cole for this gameweek.  Fortunately he didn't let me down and as projected he kept a clean sheet v Bolton.  Of course, Cahill would have been better in terms of cost and Luiz's goal further highlights his attacking threat.  But I still stand by Ashley Cole, as he is irreplaceable for Chelsea as a left back.  Though I may cash him in for a cheaper Chelsea defender if I wish to free up funds.  As for my gameweek, it was very mixed.  My recommended player (Cole), captain (Aguero) and vice-captain (Silva) all did reasonably well (collectively scoring almost half of my GW points). 

I lost out on 6 points with Micah Richards not starting for a second consecutive week.  This has given me reason to replace him.  Moreover, Vorm's injury/illness meant that I lost at least 2 more defensive points, as my back up goalkeeper (Lindegaard) was also injured.  Joey Barton has been a major let down in his last three easy-ish matches and is now ear marked for the FPL dustbin.  Fortunately I have my wildcard still at hand and may be tempted to use it very soon to make relevant changes.

Here are some players for you to consider as you plan your next transfer:

David Luiz (6.3) - 2 goals in his last 3 matches
(away to West Brom next).

Joe Hart (6.8) - 3 clean sheets from 3 matches.
(at home to Bolton next).

Peter Odemwingie (7.2) - 5 goals from his last 2 matches
(at home to Chelsea next).

James Morrison (5.3) - 1 goal and 2 assists from his last 2 matches
(at home to Chelsea next).

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Recommended Player for Gameweek 26

Recommended Player for Gameweek 26 - Ashley Cole (Chelsea)

After taking time out from FPL, due to the FA cup weekend, I have decided to endorse a mildly surprising pick.  My recommended player for Gameweek 26 is Chelsea's Ashley Cole.  Ok, so Chelsea are going through a bit of a temporary slump and a crisis.  We know that it's not FPL 2009-2010 (When Cole scored 4 and assisted 4 during the season).  And we know that Chelsea are on a five game winless streak in all senior competitions, with AVB on the brink.  We are also fully aware that Ashley Cole is a publicised love rat.  But let us put that all to one side and see the contemporary footballing facts at hand.  Ashley Cole is only selected by 7.9% of FPL gamers and could be a differential for your team.  

Amazingly a staggering 20% of FPL gamers have selected his teammate Gary Cahill even though he has only started one Premier League match for Chelsea.  The fact of the matter is that Chelsea are known for their squad rotation policy but Ashley Cole has been their nailed on first choice left back for years.  Of course he hasn't scored a Premier League goal this season (or last season), but he still possesses attacking prowess with a credible 6 assists thus far.  Under Mourinho Chelsea were known for their regular maintenance of clean sheets, but AVB's Chelsea have only kept 6 paltry league clean sheets out of 25.  I believe that despite them being under pressure they have a good chance to turn things around and keep a few more clean sheets, especially with the following upcoming fixtures:

Bolton (H)
West Brom (A)
Stoke (H)

The 31 year old is an accomplished international with 93 caps to his name.  At 7.1 Ashley Cole is not cheap (though cheaper than his injured teammate John Terry).  But at least with him you have the peace of mind that he is less prone to be squad rotated than the mercurial likes of his other comrades - Ivanovic, Bosingwa, Luiz or Cahill.  If you already have another Chelsea defender in your team, don't buy Ashley Cole.  But if you are looking to purchase a Chelsea defender and willing to spend a bit, then do consider him.  I only purchased Ashley Cole as a like-for-like replacement for John Terry who according to media outlets is injured for up to eight weeks.  Don't over think it and do ignore Chelsea's recent poor form.  Surely things can only get better for them?

My captain for Gameweek 26 will be Sergio Aguero and my vice captain will be David Silva.

Transfers: John Terry (OUT) / Ashley Cole (IN)

My GW team can be found here within 12 hours of the first Saturday Premier League kick off.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Gameweek 25 Summary

In the week when Capello quit as England manager, the title race continued to hot up with wins for all of the top three teams.  Manchester United won 2-1 against Liverpool in an electric encounter, whilst prospective England manager Harry Redknapp's Tottenham thumped Newcastle United 5-0.  Man City managed a dour one-nil victory at Villa Park, where as Chelsea continue to implode with a 0-2 defeat to Everton.  Blackburn won 3-2 against QPR, whilst Swansea's rock-solid defence conceded three at home to Norwich.  Wigan won 1-2 in the relegation battle at the Reebok Stadium, as Theirry Henry ended his Arsenal league return in fantasy style with a goal in a 1-2 victory against Sunderland.  Finally, Fulham won 2-1 at home to Stoke, where as West Brom's sensational away form continued with a 1-5 win against Wolves, courtesy of an Odemwingie hat-trick.

A mixed GW for me folks.  Pre-bonus points I have ended up with only 46 points.  I don't think I am alone in low-ish score and I suspect many teams would have missed out on points, especially considering the fact that many of the established Premier League midfielders did not score many points.  This was further complemented by the lack of clean sheets (only 3 from 10 matches).  Unfortunately, I captained another City player and again was let down.  It was Silva last week and Aguero this week.  Perhaps I should have gone with caution and not captained Aguero as he has been abysmal of late when playing away, especially with City's "park the bus" mentality upon taking a lead away from home.  Ekotto and Graham's double digit scores contributed to approximately half of my GW score and has ensured that I will have comfortably scored well above the average GW score.  With hindsight I am relatively satisfied with my team's performance (apart form the choice of captain), especially considering the fact that my bench carried three injuries (Lindegaard, Terry and R Taylor).

There will be no Premier League matches next week due to FA Cup fixtures.  But there is no harm in planning ahead.  I am inclined to ditch Richards for a cheaper alternative.  Moreover, I could be tempted to buy Rooney who has now rediscovered his form.  Replacing Sessegnon for McClean could also be an option to free up cash.  I may have made a mistake in buying Joey Barton and could potentially replace him as well.  I have lots to think about but I only intend to make one transfer.  Here are some players for you to consider (some were also featured last week) as you plan your next transfer:

James McClean (4.7) - 3 goals and 2 assists from 6 games.
(away to West Brom next).

Anthony Pilkington (5.1) - 3 goal and 2 assist from 7 games.
(at home to Manchester United next).

Joe Hart (6.8) - 2 clean sheets from 2 matches.
(at home to Blackburn next).

Joleon Lescott (6.1) - 19 points from his last 2 matches.
(at home to Blackburn next).

Wayne Rooney (11.9) - 4 goals from his last 2 matches.
(away to Norwich City next).

Friday, 10 February 2012

Recommended Player for Gameweek 25

Recommended Player for Gameweek 25 - Gylfi Sigurdsson (Swansea City)

Some of you may not have heard of him and he may appear to be an unknown in the Premier League thus far.  In spite of this I have decided to endorse him - my recommended player for Gameweek 25 is Swansea city's on-loan sensation Gylfi Sigurdsson.  Gylfi who? He was shrewdly signed during the January 2012 transfer window and will be at Brendan Rodgers disposal until the end of the season.  Interestingly both were previously acquainted during their time at Reading FC, before Gylfi's lucrative move to Hoffenheim. Hoff who you may say?  The same club where West Ham snapped up Demba Ba who has now become a regular goal scorer at Newcastle United.  Aged 22, he is remarkably experienced and has an eye for goal.  19 league goals in 43 matches at Reading and 9 league goals in 36 matches at Hoffenheim is a decent return ratio for any midfielder, let alone goal shy-striker.  I believe that his flair could be the difference between Swansea staying up or being relegated, in a mirroring way to Vorm's successful command of their defence.  Gylfi has so far played four matches in which he has managed to attain a credible three assists and one goal.  Moreover, I feel that with Swansea's upcoming three fixtures he is worth having in the team:

Norwich (H)
Stoke (A)
Wigan (A)

Norwich are a different team away from home, Stoke have had mixed league results at the Britannia and Wigan have only won one home match all season.  All three of those matches are winnable for Swansea.  At 5.0  Gylfi is a steal - if not as a first teamer, a first sub bench warmer at the very least.  I don't think he is yet another bog standard Icelandic footballer with a hard-to-pronounce name.  He is probably one of their best prospects since Eidhur Gudjohnsen at his peak.  I bought him by selling Ben Arfa who has reverted back to bench duty with the return on Ba and signing of Cisse at United.  Buy Gylfi now before his value shoots up!

My captain for GW 25 will be Sergio Aguero and vice-captain will be Clint Dempsey.

Transfers:  Ben Arfa (OUT) / Sigurdsson (IN)

My GW team can be found here within 12 hours of the first Saturday Premier League kick off.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

In Defence of a Foreign England Manager

Stuart Pearce has been appointed as the caretaker England manager whilst the FA deliberate on who full be the next full-time England manager.  Who should be the next England manager you may ask?  Popular and media acclaim would have you believe that the permanent vacancy will be filled by an Englishman - the favoured candidate is Tottenham Hotspurs' manager Harry Redknapp.  The desire of having a British born manager is also supported by the FA.  Redknapp may have done a fantastic job at Spurs and will probably be the next full-time England manager, but it must be noted that there are more qualified and able managers around whose only mistake is that they are not born in England.  Not only that, but the alternative candidates in question have the key following credentials and ingredients:

  • Proficiency in English (better than Capello)
  • Managed in England
  • Media savvy
  • Won multiple major trophies
  • Experienced

To automatically reject them purely on the basis that they were not born in England could be interpreted as a mild form of xenophobia by some quarters of society.  It must be acknowledged that the last time the argument of "an English manager for England" was championed it led to the futile appointment of Steve McClaren.  Sure he was media savvy, but apart from one meager League Cup management honour to his name he lacked world class credentials and it showed with his Euro 2008 qualification failure.  Interestingly the two foreign managers that the FA have appointed did far better than their English predecessors as follows:

Sven Goran Eriksson - 59.7% win rate and 3 tournament quarter finals, as opposed to:
Kevin Keegan - 38.9% win rate and group stage failure at Euro 2000.

Fabio Capello - 66.7% win rate and reaching the knock out stage of a World Cup, as opposed to:
Steve McClaren - 50% win rate and failure to achieve qualification for Euro 2008.

The ingredients of the next full-time England manager have been outlined above.  With this in mind, I believe that the following non-English managers should be considered as the next full-time England Manager:

Arsene Wenger
English speaker, media savvy, managed in England for almost 16 years, promotes youth talent, has multiple league titles and cups to his name.

Jose Mourinho
English speaker, very media savvy, managed in England for 3 years, has multiple cups and league titles from around Europe (including England) to his name.

Guus Hiddink
English speaker, media savvy, has had a successful managerial stint in England, has won domestic competitions and a record of international management experience.

The three aforementioned alternative candidates are far more qualified and successful than Harry Redknapp on paper.  In fact, it can be argued that in terms of a British manager Roy Hodgson and Martin O'Neill are as as successful as him.  Harry Redknapp only has an FA Cup honour to his name as a manager.  Of course he has the nostalgia element in his favour (i.e. having played with England legend Bobby Moore), as well as discovering young English talent (particular at West Ham) as well as having turned around Spurs and achieved Champions League qualification with them.  But unfortunately for those that champion the "English manager for England" argument it still doesn't put him in the same class as the highlighted foreign candidates.  Admittedly, Redknapp at this moment in time, is probably the best British/English manager around.  If Redknapp wishes to be the next England manager there is no real reason why he can't do better than Fabio Capello.  Moreover, it would be hard for him to fail in the same way as Keegan or McClaren.

In summary, for those that only want an English manager for the England job please consider the alternative points at hand.  It is time for England "to do a Spain", by removing the perennial tag of tournament under achievers and win a major tournament since the 1996 World Cup.  We have talented players at hand.  The question is - do we have the manager that will make England a formidable force in international football?

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Gameweek 24 Summary

The gameweek ended surprisingly goalless (Liverpool 0-0 Tottenham), but for the most part it was packed with goals, goals and goals!  This was the gameweek in which the established strikers rediscovered their goalscoring form.  Van Persie started the goal rush with his hat-trick, as Arsenal sunk a woeful Blackburn 7-1.  Rooney scored twice as United came back from 3-0 down to sensationally draw 3-3 at Stamford Bridge.  Aguero also managed a goal with City's comfortable 3-0 win over Fulham.  Newcastle won 2-1 at home with Cisse scoring on his debut  and Ba scoring on his return, as Swansea managed a rare away win in part due to Danny Graham's goal.  Wolves' Doyle scored to upset QPR at Loftus Road with a 1-2 score line.  Norwich won 2-0, where as Sunderland's fine run of form continued with a 0-1 win at the Britannia Stadium.  Finally Everton held Wigan to a 1-1 draw.

I have to say folks that despite scoring over 70 points (which in normal circumstances is a decent tallly) I am truly gutted with this gameweek.  I recommended Aguero (11 points) and vice-captained Van Persie (23 points), yet I unfortunately decided to captain Silva (obtained a paltry 3 points for this gameweek).  In spite of this, Graham (7), Sessegnon (6) and Ekotto (6) carried me through, along with my named strikers.  I think I have captained midfielders far too much this season and with Arsenal's easyish home match to Blackburn, as well as City's easyish home match to Fulham I should have captained a striker.  A lesson learnt the hard way, but learnt nevertheless.  Fortunately my -4 hit paid off with Aguero's points performance, though Barton (2) was hardly spectacular.  Alas, it looks like I will have to make another transfer change due to the following player concerns:

Terry short-term injury (though I won't sell him).
R Taylor injured (I won't sell him unless he is out for months).
Hatem Ben Arfa (a glorified bench warmer now that Ba and Cisse have returned from ACON).
Lindegaard (apparently out for weeks)

The most probable change I will make is by replacing Ben Arfa with a cheaper alternative.  I am surprised I kept him for so long (though he rewarded me occasionally) but I think he is past his shelf life for the time being.  Ironically with him not playing on Sunday I obtained 7 autosub points from Graham.  In terms of replacing Ben Arfa, I am currently considering the following:

Gylfi Sigurdsson, Swansea (5.0) - 1 goal / 3 assists from his 4 appearances so far. 
- Budget Quality.

Scott Sinclair, Swansea (6.5) - 7 goals / 2 assists out of 24 gameweeks. 
- Worth considering.

James McClean, Sunderland (4.6) - 2 goals / 2 assists from last 5 appearances. 
- Galvanised by O'Neill.

Anthony Pilkington, Norwich (5.1) - 2 goals from last 5 appearances. 
- Starts often, but lacks consistency.

I may or may not replace Ben Arfa in the next gameweek and the proposed replacements are not confirmed, but merely musings.  I will post my recommended player for Gamweek 25 in due course, stay tuned!

Friday, 3 February 2012

Recommended Player for Gameweek 24

Recommended Player for Gameweek 24 - Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)

Even though the Sky Blues suffered a surprise defeat against a shoe-string budget Everton team in the previous match, my recommended player for Gameweek 24 is Man City's Sergio Aguero (aka "Kun Aguero").  Since his arrival in the summer he has proven to be an instant hit in the Premier League by bagging an impressive 14 goals (+ 5 assists) in 22 games.  Despite City's squad rotation policy, he has been immune from the subs' bench by being a regular starter that has played at least 60 mins in 14 of their last 15 league matches.  With Balotelli being suspended for the next few matches, Aguero should hopefully shine, especially with the following upcoming fixtures:

GW 24 - Fulham (H)
GW 25 - Aston Villa (A)
GW 26 - Blackburn (H)
GW 27 - Bolton (H)
GW 28 - Swansea (A)

Of course City can be less attacking and a bit more prone to defensive football away from home, but 3 of their next 5 fixtures are home matches.  At 11.2 Sergio Aguero is not cheap, but should hopefully do well and play regularly, especially consider the fact that City are out of the Champions' League and domestic cup competitions.  Moreover, I doubt he will be starting any Europa League matches, as Mancini's priority is the Premier League.

My captain for GW 23 will be David Silva and vice-captain will be Robin Van Persie.

Transfers:  Gerrard (OUT) / Barton* (IN)  &  Beattie (OUT) / Aguero (IN)

My GW team can be found here within 12 hours of the first Saturday Premier League kick off.

*I am not usually keen on signing Joey Barton in FPL.  However, Mark Hughes has not lost in his las two matches and has made some interesting January transfer window signings that could rejuvenate QPR.  Interestingly, they (like City) have some decent fixtures coming up as follows:

GW 24 - Wolves (H)
GW 25 - Blackburn (A)
GW 26 - Fulham (H)
GW 27 - Everton (H)
GW 28 - Bolton (A)

Joey Barton is a regular QPR starter, capable of taking set-pieces and scoring/assisting, valued at 5.8 which makes him an interesting differential candidate.  Hence this is why I signed him.

Gameweek 23 Summary

What an interesting post-transfer window gameweek of sorts - Man City's surprising 0-1 defeat to Everton (courtesy of an ex-Man United player's goal) ensured that United joined them level on points at the top of the table, with a 2-0 victory over Stoke.  Swansea were held to a commendable 1-1 draw, via a last gasp injury-time equaliser, whilst an unimpressive Arsenal drew 0-0 to relegation strugglers Bolton.  Liverpool won by three goals against Fulham, as did Sunderland versus Norwich.  Fulham drew with West Brom, as did Aston Villa with QPR.  Finally, a Ba-less Newcastle dealt a 0-2 defeat to a Yakubu-less Blackburn, whilst Spurs beat Wigan 3-1.

Despite last minute injuries/withdrawals of Lindegaard, Gerrard and Terry I had a very decent Gameweek by accumulating 65 points.  My best points scorer was my captain (20), Sessegnon, which massively added to my points tally.  I got that pick bang on!  I accumulated a further 18 points jointly from Evans and R Taylor's clean sheets and bonus points, a long with a further 9 from on-form Dempsey and 6 from Ekotto.  In addition, it has to be said that it was an extremely quiet gameweek for strikers with many popular selections not scoring, i.e. RVP, Aguero, Adebayor, Sturridge, etc.  After using my wild card I didn't intend to tinker too much with my team, but it looks like I will have to now due to a injuries/player inconsistency.  Moreover, QPR's and Man City's favourable fixtures are enticing me to invest in their players.  I might take a -4 hit to capitalise on the aforementioned.  Whether I will or not will be shown in my next post.  So stay tuned!