Arsene Wenger is likely to hand Lukas Podolski a start against Sunderland. Martin O’Neill intends to hand James McClean game time as a right winger this season. Spurs seem intent on replacing Brad Friedel, Gael Clichy expects City to revert to 4-4-2, while Wigan land Arouna Kone from Levante…
Arsene Wenger has admitted Lukas Podolski has a good chance of beginning Saturday’s opener with Sunderland – despite the fact that the German forward is far from fully fit:
“We are very pleased with him. He will make the squad in any case and he has a very good chance of starting the match. He’s not at 100 per cent physically. The running is still missing a little bit but we will sort that out. We know that he can score goals.”
Priced at 8.5 in FPL, Podolski has already acquired over 13% ownership thanks to a brace in his previous match at former club Cologne – a game he was intriguingly handed spot-kick duties for, though it’s worth noting that neither Mikel Arteta (or Robin Van Persie, should he stay) were on the pitch at the time. The Black Cats arrive at the Emirates having lost four and drawn one of their six pre-season matches; dire form ahead of Saturday’s showdown and with of Podolski, Santi Cazorla and Olivier Giroud all seeking to impress their new supporters, O’Neill’s men could be in for a long afternoon.
Martin O’Neill has revealed he plans to alternate James McClean’s position for Sunderland over the upcoming campaign:
“I genuinely don’t think it’s tough for him to learn to play on the right. He’s capable of cutting inside on people and showing that type of spark. I’ve tried him on the right-hand side where I think he can play pretty adeptly. And we’ll continue to try to shift him around and see how he does. The best way for him to learn is for him to play for 10 or 15 minutes in those positions.”
With Stephane Sessegnon struggling for match-fitness and the club’s attempts to sign Steven Fletcher continuing to be rebuffed by Wolves, McClean’s threat over the opening schedule will surely be crucial to his side’s cause; despite his displays last time round. At the moment, though, he has just 3.5% ownership, almost a third of Seb Larsson’s 9.7%, despite costing the same price as the Swede; if he can replicate his 4 points per game from 2011/12, he may well be a decent differential if O’Neill continues to get the best out of him.
Lyon have revealed they have turned down a bid from Tottenham for the services of keeper Hugo Lloris. The news certainly indicates the London outfit are shopping around for a new keeper as Andre Villas-Boas looks to put his stamp on his new side and surely casts considerable doubt over Brad Friedel’s future at the club. With a schedule that reads (WBA, NOR, rdg, QPR) between Gameweeks 2-5, plenty Fantasy managers will be keen to snap up Spurs’ assets and Friedel is currently their fourth most popular player with over 7% ownership – while the fixtures look great, Villas-Boas’ intentions suggest the US international may be cast aside soon.
Gael Clichy reckons Man City will revert to their usual 4-4-2 formation for the season ahead, despite the success of their recent dalliance with 3-4-1-2. Ironically, the new system was more promising for the City full-backs in terms of attacking potential and game time – Roberto Mancini’s penchant for rotation was so often the source of frustration last term but last Sunday’s match with Chelsea saw three full-backs finish the match, with Aleksandar Kolarov fielded as part of the midfield four. Once the likes of David Silva is up to match fitness, however, City are expected to return to their old system, meaning Vincent Kompany is likely to be the only reliable member of their backline for starts once again.
Wigan have completed the signing of Arouna Kone from Levante for an undisclosed fee. The Ivory Coast start notched 15 times in La Liga last season and is set to afford the Latics a vital edge in front of goal as they seek to push on from last season’s finish of seven wins on nine games. A delighted Roberto Martinez said yesterday:
“He’s a player that we’ve been chasing for a long long time. We know Arouna really well, he got tremendous experience in European football and we’ve really enjoyed watching his goal scoring talent. He’s a strong payer with a clinical touch and someone who will bring us something different up front.”
Bearing in mind that Franco Di Santo and Hugo Rodallega scored nine times in 35 starts between them last season, it’s clear Martinez’s men need a more clinical edge in front of goal and Kone’s record certainly suggests they may have found the answer – bad news for those Fantasy managers lining up a place for Mauro Boselli, then. A starting price of 5.5 in FPL seems likely – the same price as Di Santo and Boselli – and if Kone can bring his form to the Premier League, the creativity of Jean Beausejour could be set to benefit further. The latter provided seven assists in 15 games since moving from Birmingham last January and may well be set to pick up plenty more. Di Santo and Boselli look set to drop in our estimations, then, with Martinez preferring a lone striker system – Kone’s likely absence for the African Cup of Nations in January may be their best bet of starts if the new boy hits the ground running.
Darren Fletcher returned to action for Man United last night in a benefit match for former Aberdeen player Neil Simpson. Although the midfielder managed his 30 minute sub appearance without any problem, Sir Alex Ferguson admitted he is determined to be cautious with his compatriot after the player’s nine-month absence:
It’s been quiet progress for the boy. He joined in training a couple of weeks ago and it’s one of those situations where you say: ‘Let’s see how he does because he has had a really difficult time in the last year’. Therefore, I wasn’t really placing too much hope in it but let’s see how he does. He’s got to the stage now where he feels he needs a game. I let him join Scotland this week but he wanted a game so I said: ‘Come to Aberdeen and join up afterwards’. I’ll give him 20 to 25 minutes.
While Fletcher’s combative nature has undoubtedly been missed in the centre of the pitch, it’s unlikely we’ll be seeing him in the Premier League any time soon. Having added Nick Powell to the central midfield ranks this summer, Ferguson also fielded new boy Shinji Kagawa in a deeper role in United’s previous match against Hannover and, with Tom Cleverley also adding to the equation, is clearly in no need to rush Fletcher back to action, with the midfielder likely to be gradually reintroduced to the squad over the coming months.
Michael Laudrup has offered us some interesting tactical insight on his approach for the new season. While the Dane has stressed he isn’t looking to disrupt the style of football installed by Brendan Rodgers, he has revealed that he has tweaked the role of Swansea’s wide players:
“I haven’t changed that much, but I think maybe the two positions I have changed the most are the two wide players…I don’t know if I’m wrong, but from what I’ve seen last year they always had to be very open — they stayed wide with and without the ball. I want them to come in and try to find space between lines. They have proved they are so irritating for the other team.”
Based on that, we’re set to see both Nathan Dyer and Scott Sinclair tucked inside, supporting lone striker Danny Graham. Wayne Routledge has also had pitch time in pre-season and he may well make an impact. In Fantasy terms, it will be interesting to see the effect of this change on the output of the players involved. Graham was, undoubtedly, starved of support at times last season and already he appears to have benefited from Laudrup’s tweaks with his pre-season goal returns.
Commenting is now closed for this post.
For Gameweek 38
- van Persie
Next Six Ticker
|No Change||Hart||MCI||B, Vs|
|Up||Robles||WIG||C, Vs, £|
|No Change||Lloris||TOT||C, Vs|
|No Change||Foster||WBA||C, Vs|
|No Change||Vorm||SWA||C, Vs|
|No Change||Mignolet||SUN||B, Vs|
|No Change||De Gea||MUN||A|
|Up||Boruc||SOT||B, Vs, £|
|No Change||Kompany||MCI||B, Vs, Rest|
|No Change||Vertonghen||TOT||A, Vs, Rest|
|Up||Luiz||CHE||A, Vs, Rest|
|Up||Boyce||WIG||C, Vs, OoP|
|No Change||Cuéllar||SUN||B, Vs, £|
|No Change||Rangel||SWA||C, Vs|
|Up||Clyne||SOT||B, Vs, £|
|No Change||Mata||CHE||C, Vs, Rest|
|Up||Hazard||CHE||B, Vs, Rest, Inj|
|Up||Maloney||WIG||B, Vs, £|
|No Change||Y Touré||MCI||B, Vs|
|No Change||Silva||MCI||B, Vs, Inj|
|Up||Tevez||MCI||A, Vs, Rest|
|Up||Koné||WIG||B, Vs, £|
|Down||van Persie||MUN||A, Vs|
|Up||Lukaku||WBA||B, Vs, Rest|
|Down||Aguero||MCI||B, Vs, Inj|
|Up||Rodriguez||SOT||A, Vs, £|
|Up||Defoe||TOT||B, Vs, Rest|
|Up||Ba||CHE||C, Vs, Rest|
|A, B, C||Current Form|
|Inj||Injured/Returning from Injury|
|OoP||Out of Position|
“I understand you don't consider Dempsey a striker. He has developed into playing in different positions, but for me he is a pure striker. ”Andre Villas-Boas reveals his views on Clint Dempsey's best position.