Our series of articles focussing on key targets from the promoted clubs continues with a look at one of West Ham’s defensive assets. Hammers centre-half James Tomkins missed a single league game last term and was one of only two players from Sam Allardyce’s side to feature in the npower Championship team of the season, along with midfielder Mark Noble:
A product of the Hammers’ youth academy, Tomkins signed for the club at the age of seven and has worked his way up through the ranks. The centre-half made his debut in the 2007-08 campaign after a spate of injuries handed him a chance and went on to win the Young Hammer of the Year award after making six first-team appearances. Aside from a brief five-week loan spell at Derby the following season, Tomkins has been a one-club man.
The centre-half has struggled with injuries and failed to gain the trust of certain managers over his time at Upton Park; prior to Sam Allardyce’s arrival last summer, he had made just 60 league appearances in his first four seasons at the club. Installed alongside Winston Reid at the heart of the Hammers backline, Tomkins – who occasionally featured in a defensive midfield role under the former Bolton boss – was a stand-out performer as Big Sam guided the club back into the Premier League at the first attempt, returning four goals and a couple of assists. In total, he has played 104 league matches, scoring six times and providing three assists, and has represented England at youth level from Under 16 – Under 21.
Costing 4.5 in Fantasy Premier League (FPL) and 4.1 in the Sky Sports game, Tomkins is pricier than his fellow Hammers defenders in the latter game, with Reid matching his valuation in FPL. His guaranteed game time, however, has helped him pick up plenty of suitors and he is, resultantly, the most popular West Ham defender in both games, despite cheaper alternatives in Allardyce’s backline.
While many Fantasy managers are eyeing up the Hammers defence as we look for cut-price rotation options, it’s worth bearing in mind that Allardyce’s side were statistically more impressive away from home in the 2011/12 campaign. Not only did West Ham win more games on the road (13 to 11), they picked up 10 away clean sheets compared to just seven at home and also conceded less goals on their travels (22 v 26). A repeat pattern could well prove frustrating for Fantasy managers looking to mainly utilise their Hammers defensive assets at home, perhaps suggesting Jussi Jaaskelainen may be more reliable in FPL due to save points, though Tomkins’ ability to register blocks could prove essential in boosting his EA SPORTS Player Performance Index score and help him pick up bonus.
Tomkins’ involvement with the Great Britain Olympic squad has many worrying over his game time at the start of the season but even if Stuart Pearce’s team reach the final on Saturday August 11, it still gives the defender a full week before the Hammers get their season underway at home to Aston Villa – considering how integral Tomkins was to the team’s defensive performances last term, it seems unlikely this will affect Allardyce’s selection policy.
With (FUL, SUN, SOT) all set to visit Upton Park by the end of Gameweek 8 and trips to Swansea, Norwich and QPR also on the agenda, the Hammers are picking up plenty investment due to what is clearly one of the kindest opening schedules around. If Allardyce can engineer a quick start out the blocks, Tomkins has the potential to immediately flourish and establish himself as one of the best value defenders on offer to Fantasy managers for the season ahead.
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For Gameweek 38
- van Persie
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“I love to attack and I love to go up front...It is a little more difficult than when you are playing centre-back. If you play the way that I want to play, I think my influence is better as a left-back. For the team, it is best that I play as a centre-back. I like to bring the ball out. You need to move the game quickly, and that is one of my qualities as well.”Jan Vertonghen outlines what he feels is his best position for Andre Villas-Boas