Robin Van Persie scores three and misses a spot-kick as United overcome Southampton. Rickie Lambert continues to grab the goals for Southampton, Santi Cazorla dazzles at Anfield as Arsenal’s resilience returns another clean sheet, while Hatem Ben Arfa spares Newcastle’s blushes with a stunner against Villa:
Robin Van Persie
The Dutchman’s goal-getting ability shows no sign of slowing down as he grabbed a hat-trick to seal a superb comeback for United at St Mary’s. His Fantasy owners would have been somewhat worried after a failed Panenka spot-kick attempt but Van Persie more than atoned for fluffing his lines, taking his tally to four in two starts since joining this summer. With Wayne Rooney sidelined for another month at least, Fantasy managers are frantically readjusting their lineups in order to grab Van Persie as his cost continues to rapidly rise ahead of a Gameweek 4 home clash with Wigan.
Just three matches into the season and rotation has bitten hard. David De Gea was dropped to the bench for the trip to Southampton – a decision Sir Alex Ferguson explained post-match:
“In goal, it was a big decision but I thought David De Gea lost a bad goal last week. He has to learn quickly, you know. He’ll be back after the international break but Anders had his first game. I thought he was a little bit nervous at points but he’s a very good keeper also. I don’t think it’s a big issue but it’s something you have to deal with.”
Ferguson’s words are open to interpretation here. It may suggest De Gea will return for the Wigan game but with Anders Lindegaard clearly a viable alternative for United, the Spaniard’s owners could be ready to jump ship soon to avoid any further disappointment; investing in such a pricey keeper looks a real risk now, with Ferguson giving a clear signal that neither are nailed-on over the season.
The United Defence
Like City, United’s expensive Fantasy defensive assets are yet to deliver on their promise. However, Rio Ferdinand’s return did at least point to the potential of Sir Alex Ferguson’s forming a more settled unit at the back and, post-match, he stressed that he is now looking to build on the partnership with Nemanja Vidic…
“I think when you play two centre-backs regularly, you get consistent results…That’s always been the case…Rio was back and did better in the second half. He took time to get into the game in the first half but ended up playing very well for us. Nemanja Vidic is getting there. I think if those two keep fit and we get all the centre-backs fit, it will give us a really good chance.”
If he can maintain fitness, then, Rio Ferdinand appears to be a contention for regular starts, regardless of the availability of Jonny Evans, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones.
A goal and assist yesterday means the Southampton forward has now notched against City and United – a feat matched by only two strikers over the course of the previous campaign. From a Fantasy perspective, Lambert is quickly turning into this season’s Grant Holt; stepping up seamlessly from the lower leagues, he is clearly capable of scoring against any calibre of opponent. Despite his side suffering three straight losses, Lambert continues to flourish up front and looks a strong budget option across the Fantasy games.
We’d highlighted the Spaniard’s attacking potential in last week’s ICT Threat article for Members and he vindicated our faith with a goal and assist at Anfield. Having drawn a blank in the first couple of matches, Cazorla sneaked under the radar ahead of yesterday’s match but, with a home clash against Southampton now to follow, we can expect plenty of investment over the next fortnight as Fantasy managers continue to wield wildcards and restructure their sides at a frantic pace. Priced at 9.0 in FPL and a mere 6.7 in the Sky Sports game and with corner-kick duties and a fair share of free-kicks also in his locker, Cazorla looks a real alternative to fellow goalscorer Lukas Podolski as a route into Arsene Wenger’s attack this term.
Installing Steve Bould as defensive coach could prove to be one of Arsene Wenger’s best moves of the summer. The 2-0 win means Arsenal have now returned a clean sheet in all three of their league matches so far – the only side to do so. Considering the likes of City, United and Newcastle have yet to register a single clean sheet, the Gunners’ work at the back is surely set to pick up interest. Arsene Wenger stressed post-match that his players are intent on maintaining their impressive defensive record thus far…
“As long as that record lasts, the more everybody does defensively because they want to keep the record going. Football is always a good lesson in humility because we had the No 1 and two goalkeepers out and went to Stoke and Liverpool and haven’t conceded a goal. You never know in the game but when you have a good work rate and spirit in the team, you have a chance.”
While Carl Jenkinson offer a cut-price option, Bacary Sagna is expected to return over the next month, making the current right-back’s acquisition something of a risk. With Per Mertesacker and Vito Mannone preferred to Laurent Koscielny and Wojciech Szczesny respectively, Thomas Vermaelen and Kieran Gibbs perhaps seem the most nailed-on long term targets for Fantasy managers eyeing up the Gunners’ options at the back, with the Belgian’s superior attacking threat making him the most obvious option.
Hatem Ben Arfa
We handed him a place in the Scout Picks and the Frenchman justified our faith with another crucial performance for Newcastle. With Papiss Cisse and Demba Ba again failing to fire, Ben Arfa rescued the Magpies with a stunning equaliser against Villa – he has now notched in back-to-back home games and with Norwich ad Reading in the next three, he would well be set to flourish once more. Having played every minute of the season so far, Ben Arfa’s mid-price valuation and consistent form is likely to pick up plenty of new suitors – while the likes of Shinji Kagawa has been hauled off just after the hour mark in his last two for United and with the costlier Spurs midfield proving a huge disappointment, a switch to the Magpies’ mercurial Frenchman is an obvious one. Alan Pardew was full of praise for Ben Arfa in his post-match comments, whilst indicating that his strikers remain somewhat jaded…
“Hatem has been our best player this season so far…He’s always been a massive talent in France. His technique sets him apart and he has fantastic power in his shot. He’s dangerous and he’s a really big player for us…Our front two are just a little below their best at the moment. We’ve tried to rest them and they’ll get up to speed but Villa’s diamond caused us problems.”
The Newcastle right-back was forced off with a hamstring injury, with Pardew utilising new signing Vurnon Anita to cover the right-back area. Newcastle already have Ryan Taylor and James Perch sidelined and the Newcastle boss indicated that Simpson could now join them…
“It’s his hamstring, so that could be a month or a couple of weeks. We will have to wait and see…The versatility of Anita is massive and that’s going to be proven now because he will probably come in at right-back.”
Pardew is, however, hoping that Ryan Taylor can return ahead of schedule…
“He has done a cruciate, but the good news of that particular injury is that usually when you do it, you do some ligaments or you do a cartilage and it really is problematic. But Ryan looks quite straightforward. There’s not a lot of swelling, the cruciate has detached, so it’s purely a case of putting it back and I think he will come back a little bit quicker than most cruciate injuries.”
The Magpies go to Everton next, to face possibly the best left flank attack in the league – Leighton Baines and Steven Pienaar.
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 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