A Gameweek which saw Fantasy managers dealt both the familiar and the unexpected, as a Dutchman shot to prominence and a formerly fragile back four continued to show resilience. We’re now in a two-week limbo, coveting potentially “essential” assets, while failed stars begin to depreciate. There’s plenty to digest…
It took just two full appearances in a United shirt for Robin Van Persie to turn our Fantasy squads on their heads. A devastating St Mary’s hat-trick hammered home the message that the Dutchman remains every bit as potent in his new surroundings. It also arrived on day that saw Shinji Kagawa provide little evidence that he could be maintained as a supplier of suitable cover within United’s attacking lineup. Factor in the captaincy at home to Wigan next weekend, when both Carlos Tevez and Eden Hazard face tricky away games, and it’s pretty clear that Van Persie’s stock has soared and will go on doing so.
Four goals in two games, with a missed penalty thrown in, is evidence enough to suggest that Van Persie will push his incredible 30-goal tally of last season. There’s little doubt that Sir Alex Ferguson will be putting emphasis on scoring goals and killing teams off given the significance of goal difference in the previous campaign. In addition, United’s fragility at the back seems to ensure that they will need two or three goals every game to ensure victory. The platform is there, then, for Van Persie to provide huge returns for his owners.
With Wayne Rooney sidelined and the likes of Kagawa and Antonio Valencia threatened by rotation and role changes, Van Persie clearly offers not only the most profitable route to United’s attacking returns, but also the most secure.
While there were several contenders in the Gameweek, notably West Ham and West Brom, it was Arsenal’s victory at Anfield and the key performers on show that perhaps had the biggest impact on our Fantasy seasons.
The emergence of Santi Cazorla as a Fantasy asset was signposted over his two appearances prior to Sunday – any of our members privy to his stats from the Sunderland and Stoke games will have known just how he’s teetered on the edge of strong returns. Anfield saw that potential come to fruition and there’s little doubt that the Spaniard is now firmly in our minds from this Gameweek on.
Lukas Podolski also came out of the shadows to show his worth, delivering a goal and assist haul in the 2-0 win that will rouse some interest. The German is likely to be overlooked in our crowded forward lines, though, in favour of the pivotal Cazorla in midfield.
The foundation for Sunday’s attacking returns was, however, Arsenal’s defence, which has now delivered three consecutive clean sheets. Steve Bould’s appointment as coach can be cited as key to this new resolve and, what’s even more impressive, is that the shut-outs have been achieved without Bacary Sagna, Wojciech Szczesny and Laurent Koscielny – all first choice in their respective positions.
While that’s offered decent short-term value options, owners of Carl Jenkinson and Per Mertesacker will now be anxiously awaiting Wenger’s teamsheet in a fortnight, wondering if their assets will go on delivering value. Sagna was on schedule to return after the international break, while Koscielny and Szczesny were kept on the bench at Anfield. It remains to be seen if Wenger will keep faith in light of the defensive performances so far.
One thing is certain, however – Arsenal’s defence is currently standing alone in terms of form and returns with some coverage looking essential. Thomas Vermaelen is, of course, the jewel in the crown. With goals and bonus likely over the season, already he is looking a stronger option for those holding City and United defenders.
The Talking Point
The international break is a testing time. With three Gameweeks down and a host of talent emerging, Fantasy managers now face a fortnight of deliberation, with patience tested to the full.
While the likes of Van Persie, Carlos Tevez and Eden Hazard look a new powerful holy trinity, it’s left assets such as Gareth Bale and David Silva floundering and their owners surely twitching over the transfer button.
Both Bale and Silva are class players, assured of Fantasy returns over the season but the question remains – just how long to keep the faith while others are stealing a march with form players?
Bale, in particular, along with Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez, finds himself a key attacking threat but within a side short on confidence and fluidity. Both Tottenham and Liverpool will likely need time to find the form that will see their players deliver on their potential and, in the meantime, there appears to be assured routes for returns elsewhere – across all the price brackets.
The volatile Fantasy Premier League prices is driving increased transfer activity and it’s genuinely difficult to sit still on proven, but out of form assets, when viable alternatives are spiraling out of sight.
In many ways, Van Persie’s showing will have made the decision easier. Wildcards will surely be thrown at the “problem”, with United’s striker the key target. That will surely see continued sales of Bale, Silva and even Kagawa who, overnight, appears to have slipped in favour as a result of Van Persie’s output.
Showing patience will, undoubtedly be costly in terms of team value. In the short-term, it could also cost points unless Bale and Silva can quickly wake from their slumber to challenge the protagonists so far.
I, for one, adopted a policy of patience with my squad last season – but then I had the comfort of a lineup based on a free Gameweek 2 wildcard which could anticipate the early transfer trends and form. Having twitched severely on Sunday, I can empathise with the dilemma faced over the break and fear that we’ll see many squads scrapped and templates formed that could well take a month or so to break up. Those who “stick” will be doing so in hope that the courage of their conviction pays off, to almost earn them a “differential”, but it won’t be a decision made with any degree of comfort.
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For Gameweek 38
- van Persie
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