Monday, 30 April 2012

FPLH's Players of the Season


Best “Alternative” Premier League Player of the Season:

1st - Clint Dempsey
Overall Reason: Number of goals scored from midfield and impact on team’s results.

2nd - Tim Krul
Overall Reason: Consistent form and sheer number of clean sheets kept.

3rd - Grant Holt
Overall Reason: Goals and importance to his team’s survival.

Premier League Player of the Mid-Season (1st Half) - GWs 1-19:

Overall Reason: The play-making match winner that inspired his team to the top.

2nd - Robin Van Persie
Overall Reason: Goals, goals and goals in saving Arsenal’s reputation and season.

3rd - Gareth Bale
Overall Reason: Providing the creative spark to Spurs’ outside title challenge

Premier League Player of 2012 (2nd Half of the Season) - GWs 20-38:

Overall Reason: Adapted quickly to his new team’s style of play and scored at will.

2nd - Gylfi Sigurdsson
Overall Reason: Supplementing Swansea’s ethos and proved to be a match winner.

3rd - James McClean
Overall Reason: Didn’t start under Bruce, yet proved himself in style under O’Neill.

Friday, 27 April 2012

FPLH Cup - Quarter-finals draw confirmation

FPLH Cup - Quarter-finals draw confirmation

After 35 gruelling Gameweeks, 8 participants out of 32 have been successful in reaching the FPLH Cup quarter-finals.  This includes our blog team which topped the preliminary table.  Congratulations to all remaining participants in our cup competition and may the knockouts commence!

Quarter-finals




Preliminary table


One for the Future Series – Part IV: Victor Moses (Wigan)

One for the Future Series – Victor Moses


Like Scott Parker last season, some people may find it strange, if somewhat undeserving, to be praising a player at the bottom end of the table. Parker, of course, was relegated with West Ham and the end of the 2010/11 season; however, he also scooped the FWA Footballer of the Year Award. He was awarded for his dedication to the cause in the face of adversity, and so, here is another award for a player who is giving everything as he stares relegation in the face.

Moses is worthy of being one to watch for the future, as at the tender age of 21, he is evidently capable of holding his own in the top division. Despite their current league position, Martinez has got Wigan playing a free-flowing, exciting, passing game. This style of play has been successful in recent weeks due to Moses providing the perfect link between defence and attack.

The young Nigerian can operate as either a left sided, right sided or lone striker. His ability to switch so effortlessly between positions ensures that he is difficult for opposition defenders to mark; freeing up space for his team mates. Following the departure of Charles N’Zogbia to Aston Villa in the summer, Moses has become the focal point for Wigan’s attacking play. He has taken up the mantel as the creative player that sparks something special. This is reflected in his four goals and six assists this season. Although this may not be a spectacular return when compared to other players of a similar ilk, it is still a fair return for a team placed 17th in the table. Had only some of his team mates chipped in with similar statistics, Wigan may have already secured Premier League status for next season.

Despite representing England at every junior age level, Moses opted to play for Nigeria on the international scene. This could prove to be a great loss to England, as he is a natural attacking wide player; a position which has yet to be secured by any of the current squad. It is clear to see from his style that Moses is very comfortable on the ball. He continually makes jinking and darting runs down the flanks, and his rapid pace is a match for any athletic full back.

The only draw-back to his current game is that Moses can be greedy in possession. Like a young Joe Cole used to, Moses sometimes shoots when he should pass, and tries the difficult pass when he should shoot. This is not such a bad weakness to have, though, as it is a sign of confidence, and in time, can be nurtured into a fine strength. Therefore, Moses is definitely one for the future, and do not be surprised of some of the big boys come knocking on Wigan’s door this summer

Written by Sam Balls

Brief Biography:

I am a final year English student at the University of Portsmouth. I am extremely passionate about sport, and my burning ambition is to write for a national newspaper. You can find my blog at: samuelballs.wordpress.com or follow me on twitter: @Sam_Balls

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Recommended Player for Gameweek 36

Recommended Player for Gameweek 36 - Rafael van der Vaart (Tottenham)

Time to buck up?

Gameweek 36 is a "Double Gameweek", consisting of 14 matches. With this in mind I have decided to endorse a player whose team is involved in two matches. Not only that, but a player who is capable of making an impact. My recommended player for Gameweek 36 is Tottenham's Rafael van der Vaart. Of course Spurs' league form has been woeful of late with only 2 wins from their last 10 matches. This is quite a remarkable down turn for a team that were effectively outside title challengers as recent as mid-February.

However, I believe that Tottenham will do their best to not let things slip further in their pursuit for 4th position in the Premier League. Van der Vaart started the season in electric fashion with 6 goals to his name by Gameweek 10. Since then he has only added a paltry 3 goals to that tally.  Injuries, indifferent form, being rested and subbed off regularly hasn't helped his on-field performances. The time for excuses has to stop. I believe Tottenham can stop the rot, especially considering their GW 36 opponents:

Match 1 of DGW 36 - Blackburn (H):
Rovers have conceded 41 goals on their travels in 17 matches this season (2.4 goals per match).

Match 2 of DGW 36 - Bolton (A):
Wanderers have conceded 33 goals at home in 17 matches this season (1.94 goals per match).

(Even after DGW 36, Spurs have decent fixtures at hand, with Villa away and Fulham at home).

Indeed, it must be noted that both Bolton and Blackburn are battling against relegation. During this time of the season you would want to avoid playing such teams as they have everything to play for, when it comes to top-flight survival. But remember, Tottenham's season hasn't ended yet. Would they really want to let a Champions League spot slip away with defeats against minor opponents? Definitely not. Spurs haven't packed it all in yet and will do their utmost to win both of their DGW 36 matches.

Admittedly, it will be a semi-calculated risk in picking Van der Vaart due to Spurs' recent run and his personal form of late. But it is time for him to up his game. Aside from Tottenham he has played for the likes of Ajax and Real Madrid which highlights his world class pedigree. In addition to this, he has 93 caps to his name, along with a World Cup finalist medal. A player of his calibre can inspire Spurs' rejuvenation.  DGW 36 provides a perfect opportunity for him and his club. A good performance is overdue from Rafael van der Vaart and now is surely the time for an upturn in Spurs' fortunes.


I will post My GW 36 Blog Team (with confirmation of my selected captain and vice-captain) at least a night before the Gameweek commences. 

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Gameweek 35 Summary

Cool, Calm and Collected Chelsea Cech Off Van Persie

Following their surprising triumph against Barcelona only a few days earlier, the Blues held their nerves for a credible draw against Arsenal. Cech's five saves were important in maintaining Chelsea's five match unbeaten run and means that Van Persie has only scored one goal from his last seven matches. However the draw leaves Chelsea in 6th place with the daunting realisation that they may have to go all the way and win the Champions League if they are to definitely play in the elite European competition next season.

Black Cats fail to get their claws into Villainous Lions

Coming into this match, both teams had failed to win in their last few league matches. Going out of it, the abysmal winless record continued for both as the match ended in a goalless draw. Villa's inability to win has made them shock last minute relegation candidates as Sunderland's recent poor form is sufficient for them to accept mid-table mediocrity.

Hoilett halts the rot for Rovers

Blackburn ended their five match losing streak with a much needed win at Ewood Park. Goals from Formica and Hoilett were enough to defeat Norwich. Rovers are now three points away from safety and could still be in with a shout for survival. It all now depends on how much they wish to fight until the end.

Elegant Eagles' goal not enough to down Swift Swans

Bolton were denied three points at home as they fight to avoid the drop. A draw seemed to be the inevitable outcome as Bolton's home record hasn't been that great this season, which was complemented by Swansea's poor away performances.  And so it ended in a 1-1 draw. See below for the outcome of Bolton's second GW 35 match...

Pog Riises and Sends Martinez's men back to the drawing board

Wigan came back down to reality with defeat at Craven Cottage, following back-to-back victories against Arsenal and United. Goals from Pogrebnyak and Senderos were enough to secure three points for Fulham, despite Boyce's goal for the Latics. With 3 games to go Wigan are 3 points above the relegation zone and must avoid complacency to avoid being dragged back down to the drop zone.

Geordies order Cab ride for Stoke in three goal rout

Newcastle continued to defy the odds as they recorded their sixth consecutive league victory with a comfortable win against Stoke. A brace from Cabaye and yet another goal from Cisse ensured that the Geordies remain 3 points above 5th spot and only 3 points away from 3rd. Never in their wildest dreams could the Toon Army have imagined such a tantalising scenario at the start of the season, of Champions League football within touching distance...

"Queen Kenny's" six appeal saves the day at Loftus Road

Half a dozen saves from QPR's goalkeer, along with an Adel Taarabt goal secured three unlikely points against fellow Londoners Tottenham. Taarabt may have got himself sent off later in the match but that wasn't enough for Spurs to score. The win leaves QPR 3 points safely above 18th place with 3 matches remaining.

Moyes' Boys shock Fergie's foxes in 8 Goal Thriller

He may have been at Everton for 10 years in a trophyless reign, but Moyes showed that his shoestring budget team can from time to time raise their game against the big teams. A win for United would have semi-sealed the title race. At 0-1 down they were in trouble. At 3-1 up they were cruising. Even at 4-2 up they were cruising. But perhaps United became complacement? With 7 minutes of time left, Everton blew open the title race with two late goals to finish the match 4-4. United may be regretting their poor defending and missed chances, but will have to avoid defeat in GW 36 at City to prevent losing complete momentum in the title race.

Hodgson comes back to Anfield and piles more misery on Liverpool

He may have been sacked in an unjust manner last season, but since then he has prospered and Liverpool have stagnated. This proved to be the case as West Brom defeated a wasteful Liverpool team at Anfield for the first time in 45 years. The once formidable Liverpool have unfortunately relegated themselves to the status of a cup team this season. Talking of relegation, Liverpool would be right in the mire if you look at the Premier League table from January 2012. The victory was West Brom's 3rd from their last 4 matches and puts them only 1 point away from Liverpool.

City beat and relegate Wolves (as well as reducing league lead)

Mancini's men made the most of United's lost two points at Old Trafford by picking three points of their own at the Molineux Stadium. Their 0-2 victory, courtesy of goals from Aguero and Nasri, automatically relegated a Wolves team whose fate seemed sealed weeks before. City will now hope to beat United in GW 36 and win their remaining matches to stand any chance of winning the Premier League.
and finally...

Eagles and Pets plunge Villa into relegation Dog Fight

Aston Villa may have been lacking three of their key players (Collins - injury, "Stan" Petrov - Illnes and Bent - injury), but this was no excuse to lose to a struggling Bolton team. Warnock's goal gave Villa some hope for victory. But that lasted seconds, as complacency set in and withing three minutes Villa were 1-2 down. The defeat means they have only won one match in their last ten where as Bolton now remain one point away from safety with a game in hand.
---
A mixed gameweek for me. On the one hand 8 of my starting XI scored 2 points or less. No one from my defence kept a clean sheet other than Gibbs whose points will not count as he was unfortunately my third substitute. On the other other hand, Rooney's two goals complimented nicely with my GW 35 captain/endorsement Martin Petrov's assist and goal which added respectability to my score. Looking to DGW 36, I already have made one change by replacing the injured Walcott. I am willing to take a -4 for the first time in almost three months to accomodate another DGW player. RVP could surprisingly be axed from my team. His turnover of 1 goal in 7 matches has been unimpressive when the cheaper likes of Jelavic and Cisse (who have two matches in DGW 36) have scored freely. I will provide thought to my second transfer before carrying it out. I will upload my recommened player for Gameweek 36 shortly. Until next time ciao!

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

One for the Future Series – Part III: Martin Kelly (Liverpool)

One for the Future: Martin Kelly


With Jamie Carragher on borrowed time as a first team regular at Liverpool, young Martin
Kelly may be looking to become the new Kop hero of Dalglish’s back four. Born in Whiston,
Merseyside, Kelly is a local boy who made his way through the academy ranks, before
breaking into the senior side in 2008.

A versatile defender who can play at either right back or centre half, Kelly has all the
ingredients to mould himself into a successful Premier League player. He has pace, strength,
and great positional awareness. However, with an unfortunate string of injuries during his
short time at Anfield, Kelly is yet to make the right back position his own.

But even in his brief Liverpool career, Kelly has demonstrated that he does not shy away
from the big occasion; having produced man of the match performances against Everton
and Chelsea in the 2010/11 season. These accolades were a credit to his attacking surges.
They were also evidence of the quality of his attacking play, having dislodged regular attack
minded right back Glen Johnson during this period.

His attacking style is from the Bale school of football – the knock and run tactic. With the
full back beaten, Kelly will then whip in a cross for one of his teammates to fire home from
inside the box. It is a simple, yet effective form of attacking play; one that brought him to the
attention of former England boss Fabio Capello.

The young defender has already played at Champions League level, proving his worth against
tough opposition in Lyon and PSV. Coupled with this, Kelly has represented England at
Under21 level, scoring a headed goal on his debut against Uzbekistan.

Liverpool has a wealth of top quality defenders at their disposal. With Kelly learning his
trade under the watchful eyes of the likes of Carragher, Skrtel, Agger and Johnson, Kelly
is sure to develop into a very assured defender. If he can steer clear of injury woes, Martin
Kelly is definitely one to watch for the future.

Written by Sam Balls

Brief Biography:

I am a final year English student at the University of Portsmouth. I am extremely passionate about sport, and my burning ambition is to write for a national newspaper. You can find my blog at: samuelballs.wordpress.com or follow me on twitter: @Sam_Balls

Recommended Player for Gameweek 35

Recommended Player for Gameweek 35 - Martin Petrov (Bolton)

Will he entertain us with goals?

After my 2 point fail from a player battling against relegation a few weeks back, I have decided to take a calculated risk and endorse another player in a similar situation.  My recommended player for Gameweek 35 is Bolton's Martin Petrov.  He may not have been a prolific goalscorer this season, but he is arguably Bolton's most important midfielder.  He has only scored 2 goals this season with 6 assists.  Petrov probably should have done a lot better, but what else can you do in a struggling team that has lacked creativity and a natural goal poacher upfront?

Admittedly his last two matches were 2 pointers against a dogged Fulham (H) and high flying Newcastle (A) respectively.  Though prior to that he managed a goal and an assist in the last two matches of March.  To give you some peace of mind he has started Bolton's last five matches, which is a rarity for a midfield that has been squad rotated and ravaged by injury.  Crucially, Bolton's next 4 fixtures are played over the next 2 Gameweeks.  This means that they have two consecutive Double Gameweeks (DGWs) that should act as an incentive for you to purchase him as follows:

DGW 1 - GW 35:
Swansea (H) - They have conceded 1.76 goals on average away. 
High potential for Bolton to score 1-2 goals.

Aston Villa (A) - They have conceded 1.38 goals on average at home. 
High potential for Bolton to score at least 1 goal.

DGW 2 - GW 36:
Blackburn (H) - They have conceded 2.41 goals on average away.  
High potential for Bolton to score at least 2 goals.

Tottenham (A) - They have conceded 1.00 goal on average at home.  
Some potential for Bolton to score at least 1 goal.

Bolton's average home scoring record for this season: 1.19 goals per match
Bolton's average away scoring record for this season: 1.06 goals per match

With the above in mind it's possible for Bolton to score approximately 4-6 goals over the next four matches/two gameweeks.  If that is the case, I believe that Petrov may at the very least be involved in some of those goals as an assister or scorer.  The 33 year old Bulgarian international is no stranger to scoring goals (see video).  He has scored a respectable 19 goals in 89 matches for Bulgaria (21.3% strike rate) and has had similar success earlier in his club career with 31 league goals in 126 matches for Vfl Wolfsburg (24.6% strike rate).

Of course, it will be hard for Petrov to replicate his former high strike rates at his age.  But sometimes when a team is under pressure and is battling against relegation their decent players' true class emerges, regardless of age.  I believe Petrov will play a pivotal role in Bolton's next few matches.  At 5.1 he is a steal and won't harm your funds too much.  Sometimes it takes a small investment to provide a big return.  This could be your final chance to do so for this FPL season...

I will post My GW 35 Blog Team (with confirmation of my selected captain and vice-captain) at least a night before the Gameweek commences. 

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

FPLH's Player of the Year Nominees

Following the publication of the PFA Players' Player of the Year nominations (as nominated/voted by the players); FPLH has decided to publish its own alternative list of nominees for:

a) The complete Premier League season.
b) First-half of the Premier League season.
c) Second-half of the Premier League season.

The three lists aspire to be broad and varied.  Nominees for all three categories are as follows:

Fantasy Premier League Hints' 
Alternative Premier League Player of the Year

List of Nominees:

Demba Ba (Newcastle) - Free Transfer Sensation.  Who'd have thought it?

Clint Dempsey (Fulham) - Captain America / West London's resident super hero.

Grant Holt (Norwich) - Second highest scoring Englishman in the league and yet is uncapped.

Tim Krul (Newcastle) - The Coming of Age of an aspirant Dutchman?

Antonio Valencia (Man Utd) - Provided much needed creativity in a transitional team.

Michel Vorm (Swansea) - Has been instrumental in his team's Premier League survival.

Fantasy Premier League Hints'
Premier League Player of the Mid-Season (1st Half) - GWs 1-19

List of Nominees:

Emmanuel Adebayor (Tottenham) - Key to Spurs' new look attack.

Gareth Bale (Tottenham) - Electric pace as and when required.

Vincent Kompany (Man City) - The captain and rock of the team.

Luis Nani (Man Utd) - Proves that United can move on without Cristiano Ronaldo.

David Silva (Man City) - Man City's talismanic playmaker.

Robin Van Persie (Arsenal) - The jigsaw to preserving Arsenal's credibility.

Fantasy Premier League Hints'
Premier League Player of 2012 (2nd Half of the Season) - GWs 20-38

List of Nominees:

Hatem Ben Arfa (Newcastle) - France's under-rated answer to Messi, Maradona and the like?

Papiss Cisse (Newcastle) - A goal poacher that looks befitting in the iconic "Number 9" shirt.

Patrice Evra (Man Utd) - Mr Consistent and an outstanding vice-captain.

James McClean (Sunderland) - A diamond geezer that only O'Neill could invigorate.

Gylfi Sigurdsson (Swansea) - On the cusp of being Iceland's all-time best player.

Theo Walcott (Arsenal) - Shoots of maturity at last? or Shoots of the same old?

Thoughts and feedback will be most welcome from now to the penultimate week of the season.  We will declare our winner for each category after consulting with members of our readership.  Get involved and have your say now!

Gameweek 34 Summary

Tevez hat-trick inspires Sky Blues to rain down heavily on Canaries

Man City scored their tenth goal in two matches as they smashed 6 past Norwich. 5 goals from City's Argentinian strikers showed their potent capability. It only serves to raise questions as to how well City could have done had Tevez been fully available and played through out the season.

Wolves succeed in rare goalless stalemate at the Stadium of Light

Sunderland failed to inflict defeat on a wounded Wolves team that had lost seven matches in a row. The goalless draw was Wolves' first clean sheet in 31 matches. The result will only act as a consolation prize for Wolves as they look to make the best of a dire situation in their relegation battle.

"Siggy Stardust" shines as Swansea rumble ragged Rovers

Blackburn lost their fifth match in a row courtesy of a three goal rout by Swansea. Sigurdsson once again got on the score sheet, with an impressive seventh goal from fourteen matches, as the Swans secured their first win in five matches and passed the magical 40 point mark (now on 42 points).

Baggies bag a goal to beat beleaguered Hoops

QPR's woeful away form continued as they lost at The Hawthorns. West Brom could have scored more had Kenny not made vital saves for QPR. The Hoops remain two points above the relegation zone, though 18th placed Bolton have two games in hand.

Four-goal United are triumphant and reinforce their intent for the title

Man United bounced back from their humiliating defeat to Wigan with a comfortable win against Villa at Old Trafford. They probably should have scored more than four goals had their players not missed a number of easy chances. United maintain their five point lead against City and will now be looking for victory against Everton at home.

Lethal Latics shoot down Gunners with shock victory at The Emirates

Wigan recorded their first ever away win against Arsenal, in part due to their unexpected brace of goals in the first ten minutes of the match. A lacklustre Arsenal should have hit back with more goals, yet failed to and instead raised more questions about their vulnerability. The Latics are now five points above the relegation zone (unbeaten in 8 of their last 10 matches), a remarkable achievement considering their poor form earlier in the season.

---

On paper this was a fantastic GW for me.  My Blog Team regained its placing among the Global Top 500-ish by having almost double the average GW score.  This was all the more decent as I bagged an impressive 77 points from only 9 active GW players.  26 of those points came from my GW captain, Wayne Rooney.  But I must also lament at the fact that I was within touching distancing of smashing the "80 points in a GW barrier", which has become a final frontier for me this season.  All I needed was for either Van Persie or Walcott to assist or score, yet shockingly they failed to do so against a plucky Wigan team.  Perhaps I should have taken a -4 hit and sold the injured Gibbs for another defender? 

To top things off my team sensationally crashed out of an invitational quasi-Champions League competition at the quarter-finals stage, following the completion of the second leg, despite my team being a top seeded dark horse.  C'est la vie.  Looking to GW 35, I will almost certainly buy a Bolton player for their DGW.  I was thinking of buying a Villa player in addition but will give them a miss and focus on Bolton as they also have a DGW in GW 36.  It will be a tough call on who to purchase but I have an idea as to who it may be.  I will reveal the appropriate purchase in due course, coinciding with my recommended player of the week.  Until then, aurevoir!

Saturday, 14 April 2012

GW 35’s Double Gameweek - Scraping the barrel?

The upcoming Double Gameweek (DGW) for Aston Villa and Bolton in GW 35 is a small taster before the main course of DGW fixtures in GW 36. Villa and Bolton are two sides that will have seen scant investment across the season.  GW 35 provides an appetising pair of fixtures for both sides as follows:

The fixtures in question

Aston Villa v Sunderland
Bolton v Swansea
Aston Villa v Bolton

Villa host Sunderland first. The Martin O’Neil effect seems to be fading as of late with 2 losses, 2 wins and 2 draws in the last 6 games seeing them in mediocre form. More notably they have conceded 14 goals in their last 6 games away from home.

Bolton host a Swansea side in poor form who have lost 4 on the bounce. They have conceded 8 goals in their last 6 away fixtures. It appears as if teams have figured out how to stop Barcelona Lite as of late.

The final clash takes place at Villa Park. McLeish showed last year that you can get relegated AND keep a lot of clean sheets. This season however they have only one clean sheet in 12 at home. Bolton have kept only two clean sheets all season conceding the third most goals in the league. However home advantage gives the fixture edge to Villa and means they perhaps warrant greater investment.

The players

In goal Shay Given and Adam Bogdan are the two options. Given was expected to be a bargain when the prices for the season were announced but that has failed to materialise. Down to 4.7 he offers a good budget option and with two strong fixtures he should be a consideration if you have a transfer spare. Bogdan is the cheapest starting keeper in the game at 4.0. Clean sheets with Bolton are always improbable but with 4 fixtures in 2 GWs he could sneak one perhaps, if not then save points should at least compensate for minus points from goals scored.

In defence James Collins appears the only nailed on option and offers a decent goal threat with an impressive 7 shots in his last 5 games second most in defence only to David Wheater. Whilst Collins comes in at 5.3 Wheater is available at only 4.4. Beyond Collins the Villa defence looks like a bit of a minefield, Alan Hutton appears to be nailed on but is a liability or to quote one villa fan “Alan Hutton leaves so much space behind him you could put on a music festival there”. Eric Lichaj is a budget option at 4.0 but far from guaranteed from starting. Fit again Cieran Clark is an interesting option likely to find himself out of position in midfield and priced at 4.5 is a decent option. American Tim Ream is the Bolton budget option at 4.0 and is nailed on but for the small amount of extra budget Wheater appears to be a better pick.

In the midfield the pickings are pretty slim. Enigma Stephen Ireland has found a place in McLeish’s side and in an advanced position. Picking up an assist and 2 bonus points in GW33 he has however failed to fire off a single shot in his past 5 games. Former fantasy hero Charles N’Zogbia is a possible differential punt if your budget stretches that far. With Villa short on creativity he may find a starting place after returning from injury but remains a very risky pick. For Bolton speed demon Ryo Miyaichi could be a steal and has set-pieces in his Arsenal however he has seen rotation over the past two games. Martin Petrov could be the safer pick – having worked his way back into the side he has started the last 5 games in a row and does spot kicks as well.

If midfield pickings were slim then the forwards are size 0 supermodels. Bolton really have no good options. Ivan Klasnic scores goals but doesn’t start, David N’Gog starts but never scores and Kevin Davies doesn’t start, doesn’t score but does have a penchant for yellow cards. Avoid. Villa don’t fare much better; Gabby Agbonlahor had a strong start to the season but hasn’t scored or assisted since December. The only real prospect up front is Andreas Weimann. Priced at 5.0 and owned by 0.1% of players he could prove a real differential. He reportedly has a great eye for goal and has scored twice when being eased into the side in recent games. With McLeish talking him up in the press this week he should start both games. Weimann is a good pick for those chasing in mini leagues

With all of that in mind, it's up to you to decide on whether scraping the barrel could make a difference to your team.

Written by Billy Mac
(Follow him on Twitter!)

Have Wolves lost their bite?

Terence "Terry" Connor (born 9 November 1962) was appointed manager of Wolverhampton Wanderers on 24th February 2012 following the sacking of Mick McCarthy, after an embarrassing 5-1 home defeat by rivals West Brom. Connor, an inexperienced manager but a key member of the Wolves back room staff was appointed caretaker boss with 13 games remaining.

He was armed with the task of saving Wolves from the dreaded drop. Things started well with a decent 2-2 draw against Newcastle and the fight to stay in the Premier League was on. Seven straight defeats later and the recent display of in-fighting on the pitch leaves Wolves almost ear marked for the drop. Question marks over the team's morale are hardly needed at this key time of the season. Of note, things looks ominous with the upcoming schedule:

GW 34 - Sunderland: Away
GW 35 - Man City: Home
GW 36 - Swansea: Away
GW 37 - Everton: Home
GW 38 Wigan: Away.

Currently 9 points behind 17th place Wigan, with only 15 points left to play for, Connor will be under pressure to start taking points from the teams left in mid-table obscurity starting at Sunderland this weekend. They must improve their goals for tally currently standing at 34, only Wigan and Stoke have scored less. Steven Fletcher provides a good threat with a return of ten goals this season followed by Jarvis (5) and Doyle (4) respectively.

It is surely crunch time for Wolves to see if they are Wolves by name and Wolves by nature and time for big signings Johnson, O'Hara and the like to come to the fore. Otherwise it's life back in the Football League and that is surely where all Wolves fans don't want to be as it's a long way back which most teams do not bounce back from. It's up to Connor to save this sinking ship and in the same week that the Titanic sank, but this ship may also run aground and Connor may be the fall guy for this.

He has done his best in difficult times. The board must take some responsibility for Wolves' malaise and maybe a stronger head is needed to lead this crew? Connor has already said on record that he will be happy to take another managerial role at another club but I believe his focus should be on Wolves' fight against relegation and to not seek employment elsewhere. In my eyes his situation is another case of a fantastic back room staff member wanting to do the best for his club but ultimately falling short. Let's hope he can do his best in helping Wolves despite the obvious diagnosis.


Written by Marco Del Wattsio
(Follow him on Twitter!)

Friday, 13 April 2012

Truncated GW and Double GWs Alert (Gameweeks 34-36)

Truncated and Double Gameweeks Alert (GWs 34-36)

As you may know, the next three Gameweeks will be slightly different than usual due to the FA Cup and re-scheduled fixtures. With this in mind it is best you plan ahead with transfers, alongside your captain and vice-captain picks.

The changes are as follows:

Gameweek 34 - Truncated/Shortened

Not Playing:
Liverpool, Everton, Newcastle, Bolton, Chelsea, Stoke, Tottenham and Fulham

Gameweek 35 - Double Gameweek

Aston Villa and Bolton are due to be involved in three fixtures (two matches each) as follows:

Aston Villa v Sunderland
Bolton v Swansea
Aston Villa v Bolton

Gameweek 36 - Double Gameweek

Liverpool, Everton, Newcastle, Chelsea, Stoke, Tottenham and Fulham are due to be involved in ten fixtures (two matches each) as follows:

Everton v Fulham
Stoke v Arsenal
Wigan v Newcastle
Norwich v Liverpool
Chelsea v QPR
Tottenham v Blackburn
Liverpool v Fulham
Stoke v Everton
Chelsea v Newcastle
Bolton v Tottenham

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Recommended Player for Gameweek 34

Recommended Player for Gameweek 34 - James McClean (Sunderland)


James McClean, pre-Sunderland, 2011.
(Shirt Number 11 and scores the opener)


Sunderland's league form may be patchy of late, but that will not stop me endorsing a player from the Black Cats.  My recommended player for Gameweek 34 is Sunderland's James McClean.  The Irish international didn't start a single league match this season under Steve Bruce and had to wait until the start of 2012 (Gameweek 19) courtesy of Martin O'Neill's stewardship.  Since then he has started every single league match and has scored 4 and assisted 3 in 15 matches.  He has tended to do well at home as well as against weak or mediocre teams as is evident with the following:

GW 20 - Wigan (A) - scored a goal
GW 22 - Swansea (H) - assisted a goal
GW 23 - Norwich (H) - assisted a goal
GW 24 - Stoke (A) - scored a goal
GW 25 -  Arsenal (H) scored a goal
GW 30 - QPR (H) scored and assisted a goal

With the above in mind, I believe that he should do well at home versus a dire Wolves team that has been conceding approximately 3 goals a match under the interim management of Terry Connor.  In fact the next few Gameweek seem reasonable for Sunderland as follows:

GW 34 - Wolves (H)
GW 35 - Aston Villa (A)
GW 36 - Bolton (H)

At 5.0, McClean is an absolute bargain, a steal purchase.  He has the highest points per game average (4.4) for any player priced at 5.5 or less.  This makes him an automatic must have, especially to play against weaker opposition or as a first sub bench warmer at the very least.  Of course he hasn't scored or assisted regularly of late.  But against a Wolves team leaking goals at will what is to stop him getting on the score sheet again?

I will post My GW 34 Blog Team (with confirmation of my selected captain and vice-captain) a night before the Gameweek commences.

Gameweek 33 Summary

Sublime Toffees stick four past Sunderland

Moyes may have rested Baines and Jelavic (with a view to their FA Cup match over the weekend), but that didn't stop Everton winning in style. They have rarely scored more than a goal per match this season, yet victory over Sunderland ensured that they recorded their third win from their last four league matches.

Who needs Messi when you have "Bessi" bolting away!

Ben Arfa ("Bessi!") helped secure three more points for the Geordies and continued to show his class with a "Maradonnesque" wonder goal. This was complimented by Cisse scoring his eight consecutive goal from five. It means that Bolton are back in the relegation zone, where as Newcastle have now won their last five league matches and are now on equal points with Tottenham.

Bennett's bullet makes Spurs "Sick as a Parrot"

Spurs did their Champions League hopes no favours with a shock home defeat to Norwich. Redknapp may have rested players like Moyes due to the FA Cup Semi Finals but it back fired for Tottenham with a pointless loss. It's amazing to think that they were shock title challengers as recently as early March, but have only won one in their last eight.

Draw at Villa Park - Huth have thought it?

With a mid-table match up it was not surprising that this fixture would end up as a draw. Huth scored his second goal in as many games before Weimann equalised for Villa. The match had no impact on the Premier League as a whole, but Villa would hope to gain a few more points so as to avoid being last minute relegation candidates.

Dempsey equalises late against Chelsea and becomes Captain Planet!

I keep on calling him "Captain America", but how else could you describe an American player that regularly saves the day for a mediocre Premier League team? "Captain Planet" perhaps? Lampard put Chelsea in front before Dempsey scored his 16th Premier League goal of the season. Such was its significance that it has impacted on Chelsea's Champions League hopes with them now trailing Newcastle and Tottenham by two points.

Five Goal Thriller at Ewood Park goes against Rovers

Liverpool took a quick 0-2 lead in this match courtesy of Maxi Rodriguez. But that was only the start of things to come. Doni got himself sent off as Yakubu missed a penalty. Yakubu then made up for the miss by scoring two goals to level things up. With 90 minutes on the clock and the match deep into injury time it should have finished 2-2. Unfortunately Carroll didn't read the script and scored a much needed winner for Liverpool and plunged Rovers back into the relegation zone.

Tevez inspires City Slickers to victory against West Brom

With City trailing United by 8 points, this match appeared to be an exhibition match at best on paper. But it wasn't so as City hammered four past West Brom, courtesy of Tevez starting his first City match of 2012. Not only did he start, he scored, along with Aguero and Silva. The win proved to be crucial following the outcome of United's surprise result against Wigan...

Malaysian Born Scotsman's goal gives Latics famous victory over United

He may not have started for Wigan for the majority of this season and it's a surprise to think why. Shaun Maloney scored a life line of a goal that enabled Wigan to jump out of the relegation zone. The goal also reactivated the title race, by reducing United's lead to 5 points His winner came against a United team that won eight league matches in a row. But the Latics are a team on form with a credible three wins out of four, despite their league positioning.

Arsenal gun down 10-man Wolves

Van Persie scored his first goal in four matches to ensure that Arsenal further secured their hold of third spot. Walcott and Benayoun also got on the score sheet as Arsenal pummeled Wolves to their seventh consecutive league defeat and put them nine points away from safety.

Super Hoops score three for much needed win

QPR secured a crucial victory against visitors Swansea in a match they could not afford to lose. The win was their third in five matches and gives them a two point cushion from the dreaded 18th place. The defeat on the other hand was Brendan Rodgers fourth defeat in a row and is a far cry from the Swans' fantastic form from earlier in the season.

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On two fronts I had a relatively good Gameweek, but that was about it really. My recommended player of GW 33 did well, as did my captain (Robin Van Persie). But I believe it could have been so much better had Gibbs not picked up a knock (a clean sheet lost as Arsenal didn't concede), if Suarez wasn't rested (Liverpool scored 3) and if Wigan didn't score (de Gea in goal and Evans in defence). The aforementioned hiccups led me to lose approximately 20ish points, but on the upside at least it could have been far worse as 8 of my players (after auto-subs) scored 2 points or less

It was a good call by me to sell Walcott for Bale, as Bale only scored 2 points and would have been a disaster for me had I kept him. Looking at the truncated GW 34 I have already made a transfer to ensure that I do not get hit by the lack of fixtures. I am even willing to take my first -4 hit since December provided I can justify a long-term transfer from GW 34 onwards. But this is not the time to panic buy or panic sell. I will post my recommended player for GW 34 shortly. Until next time, adios!

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Recommended Player for Gameweek 33

Recommended Player for Gameweek 33 - Theo Walcott (Arsenal)

Coming of Age?

He has shown more consistency than usual in recent matches and is finally conveying his true class.  My recommended player for Gameweek 33 is Arsenal's Theo Walcott.  His shock inclusion into the 2006 England World Cup squad and shock exclusion from the 2010 England World Cup squad sums up the inconsistency that once surrounded his nascent career.

But with the departure of Fabregas and Nasri, I believe he has matured and truly come of age.  Of course he had a slow start to the season, with a paltry 1 goal and 1 assist in the first 9 matches in a transitional team.  But since Arsenal's emphatic 3-5 cricket score victory at Stamford Bridge, Walcott's proven skills have without a doubt converted into regular match winning performances.  This is evident with his 3 goals and 4 assists in his last 9 matches that has included him facing the likes of Tottenham, Liverpool, Newcastle and Man City.  It is interesting to note that Arsenal have won 8 of their last 9 matches and it's no coincidence that Walcott has aided their rejuvenation.

Aside from his form, Arsenal's upcoming two fixtures* are another reason as to why you should select him, as follows:

GW 33 - Wolves (A)
GW 34** - Wigan (H)

*I am planning to keep him in my team for the next two Gameweeks but may replace him with a player involved in a Double Gameweek in Gameweek 35 or Gameweek 36.

**GW 34 is a truncated gameweek where only six Premier League matches are taking place.

The 23 year old is still remarkably young enough to play for the British Olympic Football Team, despite obtaining his first senior cap 6 years ago as a teenager.  At 9.4 he is reasonably priced when compared to Lampard (11.0), Gerrard (9.9) and Silva (9.5).  Considering his regular attacking output and prowess of scoring and creating goals, he should probably be valued at 10.0+ easily, which makes him value for money.

In the unlikely event that he fails to perform in Arsenal's next two matches you could always replace him with a player that is involved with a Double Gameweek (GWs 35 or GW 36).  If you still doubt him, please don't.  I believe that Walcott will continue to perform in the remaining part of the season and will probably be one of England's integral players at Euro 2012.  Is that not reason enough for you to sign him?

I will post My GW 33 Blog Team (with confirmation of my selected captain and vice-captain) a night before the Gameweek commences. 

Gameweek 32 Summary

No ceasing to Cisse's goals

Newcastle United converted their outside Champions League challenge spot into a reality with an impressive win at the Liberty Stadium.  Cisse scored his sixth league goal in three matches as the Magpies humbled the Swans into submission.

Black Cats deflect blunt Spurs

Sunderland extended their unbeaten run to three matches after a goalless draw at home to Spurs.  Conversely Tottenham have now only won one in their last four and risk losing out on a Champions League spot.

Captain America saves the day (again) for Fulham!

Two goals from Dempsey was enough for the Lilywhites to secure victory against Bolton.  It was Fulham's second consecutive league win and ended Bolton's three match winning run.

Juan goal difference enough for Chelsea

A resilient Wigan felt hard done by against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.  Following Ivanovic's controversial opening goal (that appeared to be offside), Diame scored an equaliser.  But this wasn't enough as Mata's last minute strike denied Wigan a much needed point.

Liverpool "Herded" into stalemate at Anfield

Liverpool ended their three match losing streak with a damp squib draw against Aston Villa.  Herd put Villa in front before Suarez grabbed a much needed equaliser for Liverpool.  Despite the draw, Liverpool have only won one match in their last nine, where as Villa too have only won one in their last nine.

Jelavic brace secures draw for tough Toffees

Everton extended their unbeaten run to three matches, courtesy of a brace of goals from Jelavic.  Holt's thirteenth league strike of the season contributed to Norwich's tally and surely puts him in line for a shock England call up?

Fortune favours the brave at The Hawthorns

Three goals from West Brom ended their four match winless run in the Premier League.  The defeat to Blackburn was their third in a row and re-plunges them back into the relegation mire.

"Crouch"-ing Tigers defeat weak Wolves

Crouch scored his second goal in three matches as Stoke added to Wolves' misery, despite Kightly's lone strike.  They have now lost six matches in a row and face almost certain relegation.

Scholes in with the goals as United extend lead

Man United showed their true class by increasing lead at the top of the league to 8 points.  However, QPR will feel hard done by with their early red card that consigned them to 10 men and inevitable defeat.

"One-Nil to the Arsenal" enough to extinguish City's title hopes

City spectacularly failed in their quest of adding pressure to United following a late defeat to Arsenal.  To add to their woes and buffoonery, Balotelli got himself sent off at the end for reckless behaviour.  The 0-1 loss all but ends their title hopes (only one win in five) and means that United could wrap up the title well before the Manchester derby later this month.

Friday, 6 April 2012

One for The Future Series - Part II: Steven Caulker (Tottenham / on-loan at Swansea)

One for The Future: Steven Caulker


At the beginning of the Premier League season, bookmakers across the country were earmarking Swansea City as certain relegation candidates. Their apparent rejection to acknowledge the script that had been written for them is largely due to their defensive heroics. At the heart of these heroics is 20 year old, on loan Tottenham centre half, Steven Caulker.

Caulker already has football league experience, having had successful loan spells at Yeovil Town and Bristol City in the previous two seasons. The leap to the country’s elite league is a test for any young player. However, Caulker has proven that he has the potential to excel at this level.

Taking heed of manager Brendan Rogers’s playing style; Caulker ignores the easy option of playing the long ball game. He is comfortable on the ball and always looks for a progressive pass. His strong relationship with Wales international Ashley Williams is the foundation for much of the Swans’ attacking passages. He is also capable of influencing attacks further up the pitch, as was evident with his chipped pass which led to Sigurdsson’s opener away at Wigan.

Not only is he a calm head in possession, but a fine athlete. Caulker was borough champion at 400 metres for four years in a row during his time at secondary school. Due to Rogers’s football philosophy of building attacks from the back, it is only natural that, at times, players will be caught in possession. But with Caulker’s pace an important component of Swansea’s back four, he is often relied upon to cover his defensive teammates and halt any counter attacking threats from the opposition.

Swansea have kept twelve clean sheets in the current campaign; an achievement in itself for a team that was promoted through the play-offs last season. Being such an integral part of a successful Premier League team will only breed confidence into the young defender. His evidently mature displays have consequently highlighted a likeness to that of a young Rio Ferdinand.

The fact that Caulker has impressed playing for a team that likes to play eye-catching football will only increase his chances of breaking into the Tottenham XI next season. If he is able to build on this success, and maybe get on the score sheet more times that at present, he is sure to be a stalwart of a Tottenham team with a bright future.


Brief Biography:

I am a final year English student at the University of Portsmouth. I am extremely passionate about sport, and my burning ambition is to write for a national newspaper. You can find my blog at: samuelballs.wordpress.com or follow me on twitter: @Sam_Balls

Recommended Player for Gameweek 32

Recommended Player for Gameweek 32 - David de Gea (Man United)


Many labelled him a £20M flop earlier in the season, but he has defied critics and bounced back.  My recommended player for Gameweek 32 is Manchester United's David de Gea.  Of course I probably should have bought and tipped him a few weeks back.  But I had to be cautious after his previous below par form. 

As of now he has kept an impressive 4 consecutive clean sheets in the Premier League, courtesy of his rejuvenated confidence.  In total he has kept 9 clean sheets from 22 league matches.  I am fairly certain he will continue to improve and build upon his clean sheet record, especially due to United's upcoming fixtures:

Gameweek 32 - QPR (H) - High Clean Sheet Possibility
Gameweek 33 - Wigan (A) - High Clean Sheet Possibility
Gameweek 34 - Aston Villa (H) - High Clean Sheet Possibility
Gameweek 35 - Everton (H) - High Clean Sheet Possibility

As is evident from above, the next 4 fixtures possess a decent United clean sheet possibility in each of those matches.  At 6.2 De Gea is not cheap, but not excessively priced either.  He is surprisingly only the 7th most selected goalie in FPL despite United being top of the league

The 21 year old Spaniard currently has no senior international caps to his name, but will almost certainly be a mainstay in the national team for the future.  With United currently topping the league, surely they will strive to keep more clean sheets and park the bus as often as possible when taking the lead in their remaining matches?

I will post My GW 32 Blog Team (with confirmation of my selected captain and vice-captain) a night before the Gameweek commences.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Fantasy Premier League (FPL) Cup Run: And so it ends in Round 14 / The Final 256 out of 2.7 Million‏

On Monday 2nd April the equation was simple.  United faced Blackburn: My remaining GW players of Rooney (c) and Evans had to over turn a deficit of 3 points against a team of Rooney, Evans and Valencia.  In effect I had to hope that Rooney outscored/outpointed Valencia to ensure my entrance to the Final 64 of the FPL Cup.  With 80 minutes gone I still had hope until Valencia scored a goal out of nothing.  Any hopes of Rooney scoring a goal to cancel that out ended after Valencia then assisted the second goal of the match. 

When the full-time whistle blew at Ewood Road I ended up with my joint third worst GW score (48 points) of the 2011/2012 season as my FPL cup opponent was "lapping it up" and scored 10+ points more to defeat me.  The cup defeat in GW 31 ended my run at Round 14 / The Final 256 out of 2.7 Million.  It was my best ever performance in the FPL cup.  To think that my cup adventure begun during the winter gloom of December and ended during the spring bloom of April gives me some joy. 

But to lose when I was so close to winning it with form on my side doesn't digest well for me.  Having said that there were close scrapes where I could have been knocked out a lot earlier, i.e. GW 26 where my cup oppo scored 2 points more but took a -4 hit and GW 24 where I managed to claim a fluke win courtesy of Enrique not playing as well as Ekotto keeping a clean sheet at Anfield.  Moreover, the opponent who finally defeated me is ranked in the Global Top 10 for those that started in Gameweek 3. 

I went into the GW with an overall Top 500 rank for those that started in Gameweek 1.  Alas it wasn't to be.  Sure it was fun, but I am gutted that I was so close, yet so far.  In layman's terms 14 unbeaten matches would would constitute two consecutive FA Cup trophies for a real life Premier League team. Though the cup is over I can re-focus on other FPL competitions with the hope of bouncing back from the cup exit and maintaining overall progress.

Gameweek 31 Summary

"Four"nando Torres inspires Chelsea to win

Fernando Torres ended a six month league goal drought by scoring against Aston Villa.  He also bagged two assists, which complemented Ivanonic's brace of goals.  The defeat for Villa means that they have only won one match in their last eight.

(PS - Get Well Soon Stiliyan "Stan" Petrov)

Super Sub Anichebe makes West Brom look like Anchovies!


Everton secured their second consecutive victory in a row after defeating West Brom at Goodison Park.  It was a third defeat in four for the Baggies whose form has dipped of late.

Captain America saves the day at Craven Cottage

Clint Dempsey returned to match winning ways after scoring and assisting Fulham to victory over Norwich.  It ended Fulham's three game winless streak and has pushed their home win-rate to 50%.

Thrilling Draw at Etihad dents City's title hopes

Sunderland ended City's 100% winning home record in a match which they could have won.  After securing the lead and extending it to 1-3 (in part due to Larsson's goals and Sessegnon's assists) a famous victory seemed inevitable.  But late goals from Balotelli and Kolarov prevented that.  City's failure to win further dented their title hopes.

Arsenal become "Taraabt" and lose to QPR in London Derby

QPR ended the Gunners' 7 match winning streak with a shock result at Loftus Road.  Walcott's solitary goal for Arsenal wasn't enough as Taarabt and Diakite sensationally scored their first ever Premier League goals and secured an unlikely win for QPR.

Alcaraz gives Wigan hope to escape from the Premier League's Alcatraz!

The Latics won only their second home win out of sixteen this season with a much needed victory against Stoke.  Goals from Alcaraz and Moses ensures that Wigan still have some hope of escaping the relegation zone.

Trotters stamp all over relegation bound Wolves

Wolves lost their fifth consecutive match in a row as Bolton scored three goals at the Molineux Stadium.  Goals from Alonso, Petrov and K Davies secured the win for Bolton and has pushed Wolves six points away from safety.

Liverpool fail to "Cisse" Newcastle's sublime run of form

Newcastle added to Liverpool's recent misery courtesy of Demba Cisse's brace of goals.  He has now extended his tally to 7 goals in 7 matches as Liverpool lost their sixth league match in seven.

Plucky Swans downed by Sharp Spurs

Tottenham ended their five run winless streak with a triumphant win against Swansea.  Goals from Adebayor and Van der Vaart were sufficient, despite Sigurdsson's initial equaliser.

Dogged Rovers silenced by "A-Tonic-of-Valencia"

For 80 minutes of the Blackburn v United match you would have been witness to a somewhat lop sided see-saw match where Rovers on occasion pushed for an unthinkable win.  However, Valencia's goal and assist ended Rovers' resilience.  The result meant that Blackburn re-entered the relegation zone and allowed United to extend their lead over City to 5 points.

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An abject Gameweek for me.  To record my joint third worst GW score (48 points) of the season and be knocked out of the FPL cup when I had form on my side leaves me with a sour feeling.  Crucially, I had one extra free transfer that I could have used which remained unused.  Would I have brought in Valencia with hindsight?  Of course.  Will I be buying him now? No.  Would I have captained Dempsey instead of Rooney? Yes.  Will I be captaining Dempsey in GW 32? Probably not.  On a brighter note I still have that extra free transfer that I will probably save for an upcoming Double Gameweek (DGW).  In terms of transfers I have already made one which I will reveal later in the week.  I still have confidence in my team and don't intend to ditch the majority of the squad any time soon.  With this in mind I will be posting my recommended player for GW 32 shortly, until then stay tuned.