Carlos Tevez justifies our armband faith with a goal and two assists against QPR. Steven Fletcher grabs a double on his Sunderland debut, Michu is amongst the goals again, Kevin Nolan nets for West Ham, while Spurs’ faltering start under Andre Villas-Boas shows no sign of abating…
Scoring for the third match in a row, Tevez’s points returns continue to increase by the Gameweek, with a pair of assists also accrued yesterday. City are clearly far from their best right now, their play looks somewhat sluggish at times despite dominating games but their reliance in the Argentine to produce is obvious – Tevez has played a part in six of their eight goals thus far. He’d started the season as a possible option to Sergio Aguero; with his compatriot sidelined due to knee injury, he’s looking near-essential and a real captaincy option every time he sets foot on the pitch.
Edin Dzeko’s goal and assist return may warrant interest, although he still remains under the threat of rotation when both Serigo Aguero and Mario Balotelli are fit and available. The latter is due to have an eye operation on September 4 with assistant boss, David Platt, confirming that the Italian is not expected to be sidelined for a long period..
“It’s not a major procedure and he should be back quite quickly. I’ve heard suggestions he will be out for a month but that’s not true and I’m not sure where that came from.”
The Ivorian picked up attacking returns for the third Gameweek in a row with the opener against QPR. Toure’s form is making a strong case for his selection as our City midfielder of choice right now – while David Silva started on the right of a 3-5-2, he continues to look short of match sharpness and Samir Nasri, playing in “the hole” proved a bitter disappointment for his Fantasy owners. Toure now has two goals and an assist to his name and has already accrued four bonus points in the FPL – at 8.1, he’s set for a price hike over the next fortnight, with plenty of wildcards lined up.
The City Defence
As we mentioned in last night’s Stock Check, the City back four have now failed to collect a single clean sheet in any of their opening three fixtures. This clearly begins to dent the appeal of their expensive options at the back – particularly Joe Hart and Vincent Kompany. The City skipper was, himself, questioned on the failings of the City defence following yesterday’s result…
“No it doesn’t matter. We’ve always proved to be solid come difficult times…Come December, January and February we’ll show it. At this time everyone tries to play the game nicely…We left ourselves exposed but at the end of the season we won’t do that.”
Kompany’s quote would appear to indicate that, while clean sheets are desirable, right now. City are risking an attacking policy that is leaving them more open at the back. This will do little to boost the confidence of those who have already handed the City defence with heavy investment and with Stoke, Arsenal and Fulham to come next, City’s run without defensive returns could go on. Indeed, Roberto Mancini appears to identify the lack of goals when dominating sides, as the main issue with his side right now…
“I think we played well in first half, but we have one problem at the moment – when we have a chance to score we don’t score and the game can change.”
West Ham Defence
While City’s defence fail to offer value, the Hammers picked themselves up after last week’s defeat at Swansea to maintain their 100% home clean sheet record. Having kept out Villa in Gameweek 1, Sam Allardyce’s side swept aside Fulham 3-0 and continue to offer us strong, cut-price value at the back. Jussi Jaaskelainen, at just 4.5 in FPL and 3.8 in the Sky Sports game, boosted his points tally in the former game with eight saves for an eight point return, while Winston Reid’s goal means he has picked up 20 FPL points (pre-bonus) in his two appearances at Upton Park. Guy Demel looks nailed-on at right-back and comes in at just 4.0 in FPL, though further investment may be in hold until we get the lowdown on the injury that forced him off late in the second-half.
For the all success in front of goal yesterday, significantly perhaps, in his recent Evening Standard column, Allardyce hinted that the pursuit of clean sheets will be identified as the key factor should his side be embroiled in a relegation fight….
“What’s the best way to survive in the Premier League? For me, the answer has always been — and still is — keep clean sheets. If you do that, you will survive, if you don’t, you’re in deep trouble. It’s not something which managers will talk about frequently and in public because it’s perceived to be negative but the truth is clean sheets allow you to win games and trophies.”
Certainly it would seem that, while the West Ham attack drew attention as a result of the 3-0 win, the potential of the Hammers back four shouldn’t be overlooked.
Kevin Nolan & Andy Carroll
We drafted him into the Scout Picks squad and handed the Hammers skipper a place on the bench – he justified our faith by scoring his second goal at Upton Park in as many games. Nolan quickly grabbed the spotlight from new boy Andy Carroll with an outstanding opener after just a minute and with Sam Allardyce’s men squaring up to (nor, SUN, qpr, SOT, wig) over the next six Gameweeks, interest in the mid-priced Nolan looks certain to escalate. As for Carroll, while he came away with a blank, interest in the big number nine has picked up as a result of his showing. A hamstring injury has seen him withdraw from the England squad for their qualifiers with Allardyce confirming scans early next week. Right now, there’s clear doubt that Carroll will be fit and available for Gameweek 4.
His instant impact at Swansea yesterday went some way to vindicate Martin O’Neill’s summer-long chase for the Scotsman’s signature. The Black Cats’ pre-season was disastrous from an attacking perspective – they failed to score in four of six friendlies and also drew a blank in their opener at Arsenal but Fletcher’s eye for goal saw him net twice on his league debut for Sunderland. The creative potential of the Sunderland midfield could well be boosted by his eye for goal – Seb Larsson grabbed an assist at the Liberty as the Swans’ 100% record came to an end. Post-match, O’Neill was quick to praise the player, but stressed he is still short of full fitness…
“Darren Bent did very well here and Steven has come here to score goals. But he can also do well for us outside the penalty area, he has a lovely touch, but it was very pleasing for him to get off the mark. With all the euphoria of Adam [Johnson] signing for us he was maybe in his shadow a bit, but he is a very good player….He’s not properly match fit and he scores two goals today and it’s great. The crowd chanting his name, it’s fantastic and I think he’ll do very well when he is properly fit.”
While the backline faltered and conceded for the first time this term, Michael Laudrup’s midfield continued their strong start to the season with points aplenty yesterday. Michu yet again was amongst the goals, taking his tally to four already – he is currently on 35 FPL points, pre-bonus. Wayne Routledge and Nathan Dyer bagged a goal and assist respectively, meaning the trio have produced attacking returns in all three of their games so far under Laudrup. With Danny Graham failing to net, the Swansea midfield looks set for further investment over the fortnight international break due to an upcoming strong set of fixtures, though new signing Pablo Hernandez seems primed for a start on the flank, with Routledge perhaps the most likely to make way. At the back, the problems are quickly racking up for Laudrup – Chico will serve a three-match ban after his dismissal yesterday, while Neil Taylor is gearing up for a lengthy absence after fracturing his ankle. With both set to be sidelined, the likes of Ben Davies or Alan Tate could benefit at Taylor’s expense and both offer a cut-price route in the Swansea backline, while Tate also offers cover in the centre for Chico, along with Kyle Bartley and Garry Monk.
West Brom Defence
With (LIV, tot, EVE) to kick off their season, many were sceptical over the Baggies chances to hit the ground running. Steve Clarke has proved the doubters wrong so far, with seven points and a single goal conceded from their opening three matches. At the back, in particular, form and consistency of selection offer a couple of tempting defensive alternatives – Gareth McAuley added to his assist at Spurs last week with a goal and clean sheet, while Liam Ridgewell is also excelling in the mid-price defenders range.
Peter Crouch and Jon Walters
We highlighted the duo’s potential in a Members article late last week and Crouch and Walters both produced the goods in a 2-2 stalemate with Wigan. A goal and assist apiece earned Stoke a third straight draw, with Walters’ classification in the FPL game enough to earn his a double figure points haul. It’s unlikely we’ll see much investment in the pair right now, though; Stoke’s horrendous run of fixtures over the next five Gameweeks (MCI, che, SWA, liv, mun) will deter even the most optimistic of snapping up any Potters players in the near future.
It hasn’t been the best of starts for Andre Villas-Boas. As Tottenham continue to stutter under their new manager, Fantasy faith is starting to waver after just three goals and no clean sheets in their opening trio of matches. It’s a real worry for Fantasy managers right across the team – Gareth Bale has failed to fire at all despite home matches against West Brom and Norwich in the last two, while Gylfi Sigurdsson’s game time looks concerning. We’d expected the Icelandic star to be more certain of minutes after Rafael Van der Vaart’s departure but he was afforded less than an hour yesterday – Emmanuel Adebayor continues to be utilised as a sub, with match-fitness a definite issue. Spurs still have a decent run of fixtures up next, with (rdg, QPR, AVL) in the next four but, such is their form, departures look more likely than transfers-in.
The veteran keeper was perhaps the one success story from the day for Spurs and, having sealed the capture of Hugo Lloris in the transfer window, Andre Villas-Boas was quick to reassure Friedel that, for now at least, the American keeps the number one jersey…
“Brad deserves to keep his place at the moment…He saved us a couple of times from going 1-0 down, so he was outstanding…Obviously the competition increases for him but the place is his because he is a tremendous goalkeeper and he deserves that spot.”
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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 am happy with the way I’ve started, but on the other hand, I should have scored four or five more, so that’s something for me to work on.”Robin Van Persie talks about his early form at United ahead of his first Manchester derby