Finally, we’re back in the saddle. To be fair, Euro 2012 did take some of the sting out of the summer months but there’s nothing quite like a return to domestic action to stir our Fantasy affections. With a double Gameweek to kick us off, what more could we ask for? As we roll out the first set of picks for 2012/13, all at the Scout wish you good luck for the Fantasy season ahead.
To kick us off, we have Adam Federici in goal. The Reading stopper has, of course, a double Gameweek on the agenda and gets his season underway at home to Stoke – a side that scored 11 goals on the road over the entirety of last term. With Reading racking up 12 clean sheets from 23 matches at the Madejski in 2011/12, their strong home defensive form will be crucial to their chances before Brian McDermott takes his troops to the Bridge on Wednesday evening.
For much of last season, Vincent Kompany was practically a nailed-on Scout Pick and there’s little surprise to see the City skipper make his way into the starting XI once again. With City handed a home clash against Southampton to open the defence of their title, the odds of a clean sheet look strong – despite the success of their recent 3-4-1-2, Roberto Mancini has hinted at a return to 4-4-2 and, with that in mind, Kompany’s security is enough to get the nod, just in case his manager decides to tinker.
We can’t ignore Thomas Vermaelen’s points potential at both ends of the pitch ahead of Arsenal’s Emirates opener with Sunderland. Put simply, the Black Cats have been dire in pre-season and have found the net in just two of their six matches – Vermaelen notched in the Gunners’ final summer friendly against Cologne last Sunday and looks in the mood to better last term’s six-goal haul in his first campaign as the new club captain.
Branislav Ivanovic is our preferred Chelsea defender for the double Gameweek. While a trip to Wigan may not be quite as straightforward as many think, the Serbian is likely to offer greater offensive potential than the likes of fellow full-back Ashley Cole for Roberto Di Matteo’s side – the midweek home clash against Reading looks a strong proposition for points at both ends of the pitch.
We can’t overlook Juan Mata here. Granted, the Spaniard has not long returned to Chelsea following his Euro 2012 and Olympic duties but was handed a role in “the hole” behind Fernando Torres in last Sunday’s Community Shield match prior to the dismissal of Branislav Ivanovic, with Eden Hazard preferred out left. Mata’s more attacking role gets the nod over Frank Lampard ahead of the Blues’ double Gameweek and with set-piece duties also in his locker, his creativity will be crucial to ensuring his side get off to a decent start.
Mata’s compatriot Santi Cazorla makes his Scout Picks debut with a home clash against out-of-sorts Sunderland on the agenda. As mentioned above, Martin O’Neill’s men have struggled for any semblance of form this summer and Cazorla arrives on the back of a goal for Spain against Costa Rica in midweek. Although Arsene Wenger admitted the player will be assessed due to his travelling time, we’re confident that Cazorla will feature and with a strong chance of set-pieces in light of Robin Van Persie’s departure, the ex-Malaga man is a mouth-watering proposition.
We wanted a City midfielder and behind the scenes, there was much debate. Some preferred Samir Nasri but ultimately we’ve plumped for Yaya Toure for the champions’ game against Southampton. The Ivorian has notched three times in pre-season for Roberto Mancini’s side, including the vital equaliser against Chelsea last weekend, and gets the nod down to his more consistent form.
The final place in our midfield quartet goes to QPR new boy Junior Hoilett ahead of a home clash with Swansea. Mark Hughes made Loftus Road something of a fortress in the previous campaign – his side dropped just seven points in nine home games after he replaced Neil Warnock and the Loftus Road outfit enter the season in strong form, having remained unbeaten over their six fixtures. With Swansea looking a little more susceptible at the back under Michael Laudrup, Hoilett’s trickery and attacking thrust on the R’s left flank could create plenty damage to the visitors’ rearguard.
Owner of the Golden Boot in Euro 2012 after his exploits for champions Spain, Fernando Torres returns to league duties with the sceptre of Didier Drogba no longer lingering at Chelsea. El Nino’s coolly taken finish against City in last Sunday’s Community Shield suggests the confidence has returned and so far, plenty of you agree – he currently has 50% of votes cast in the Gameweek 1 Captaincy Poll ahead of the trip to Wigan and home showdown with new boys Reading.
Carlos Tevez may have impressed in Sunday’s Community Shield but not quite enough to oust Sergio Aguero from our thoughts. For our money, the latter is still likely to rack up more goals than his compatriot over the course of the campaign and with three goals already in pre-season, looks primed to put Southampton to the sword on Sunday. Indeed, given his home form of 2011/12, Aguero seems a decent armband differential for the opening Gameweek in spite of having just a single fixture on his agenda.
We’ve opted for one of the form forwards over the pre-season for our final slot. Mladen Petric has notched five times already since joining Fulham this summer and, having worked under Martin Jol before at Hamburg, has slotted in seamlessly to the Cottagers’ first XI. With Clint Dempsey currently out of the picture and looking likely to leave, Jol will be heavily reliant on the Croatian to provide the main attacking threat against Norwich tomorrow – bearing in mind that only five teams scored more goals at home all last season, the 6.0 priced forward looks a decent bet for returns.
Onto the subs, then, and no real surprise to find Pavel Pogrebnyak here. His record of six goals in 12 games for Fulham last season highlights his Premier League capabilities and with Stoke picking up just three points from their last nine away games last season, the Russian could be quids in before he makes the trip to Chelsea for his second match of the Gameweek.
Brede Hangeland also looks an enticing proposition. The Fulham centre-half welcomes Norwich to the Cottage and with Chris Hughton’s men failing to score in their last three pre-season games, it’s clear they are struggling to maintain the same attacking threat from the previous campaign with their new manager’s tactics. Although he failed to notch last term, Hangeland went close on a number of occasions and his aerial threat from set-pieces is enough to get the nod.
Charles N’Zogbia squeezes his way onto the final place on the bench. We’ve far more faith in Villa under Paul Lambert this time round and the Frenchman has already looked a different proposition – handed the lion’s share of set-piece duties, he provided two assists in Villa’s final friendly of the summer. Lambert’s men face a tricky trip to Upton Park but when you consider the Hammers registered just seven home clean sheets in 23 games last term, the visitors could well be set to grab a goal or two, with N’Zogbia looking instrumental to their chances.
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For Gameweek 38
- van Persie
Next Six Ticker
|No Change||Hart||MCI||B, Vs|
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|No Change||Mignolet||SUN||B, Vs|
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|Down||van Persie||MUN||A, Vs|
|Up||Lukaku||WBA||B, Vs, Rest|
|Down||Aguero||MCI||B, Vs, Inj|
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“We have dynamic players with good movement, so if he can link with them fine. He can play a bit higher because his timing getting into the box is very good.”Rafa Benitez talks up the role that Frank Lampard can play in his Chelsea revolution