Vito Mannone is determined to nail down the Arsenal number one spot. Brendan Rodgers could be set to welcome back Joe Cole and Oussama Assaidi, Jimmy Kebe expects to be back training within two weeks for Reading, James Perch may be available for Newcastle’s Gameweek 4 trip to Everton, while Goran Popov is keen to earn a permanent move to West Brom…
Vito Mannone is determined to shrug off the challenge of Wojciech Szczesny in the battle for Arsenal’s number one jersey. Farmed out to Hull on loan last season, Mannone racked up a club record six clean sheets – a key factor in his recent performances, he explains:
“I have improved in every part of the goalkeeper position. In my mind as well, I came back stronger and stronger. It is a good fight between the keepers because we know the level is quite high and you need to keep working and improve yourself to get the first spot. The best thing was playing senior football and playing consecutive games and getting the mentality of the number one. When you are number one, you feel important and like the happiest man in the world, that sort of feeling gives me the chance to go onto the pitch with confidence. I would like to be involved more and more and establish myself.”
Certainly, the Italian has staked a strong claim to continue between the sticks for the Gameweek 4 visit of Southampton. Since stepping in for Szczesny, Mannone has racked up back-to-back clean sheets away to Stoke and Liverpool and, with the Gunners the only side yet to concede this season, the Arsenal defence is generating plenty interest right now. Szczesny is expected to be fit for the Saints match, handing Arsene Wenger a real selection headache – if Mannone continues ahead of the Pole, he looks an intriguing option at 4.5 in FPL and 4.1 in the Sky Sports game. Wenger’s team sheet for the clash could well give us more to go on if both keepers are fit.
Brendan Rodgers could be set to welcome Joe Cole and Oussama Assaidi to Liverpool’s first-team squad for the Gameweek 4 trip to Sunderland. The Liverpool boss gave an injury update on the pair’s progress yesterday:
“Joe is working well and the medical department are pleased with his progress. He was out onto the pitch over the weekend doing some work so there’s still a little way to go with Joe yet but he’s on the right track. He (Assaidi) was due to play in the reserve game, but after training he felt a little bit of tightness. We’re hoping in the next couple of days he’ll be ready to train and rejoin the group.”
Cole has been missing since limping out of the season opener at West Brom within 11 minutes of coming on as a sub, while Assaidi has yet to feature since moving from Dutch outfit Heerenveen – with Stewart Downing out of form, Raheem Sterling has started the last two. One of the few positives in a poor start to the season, the 17-year-old has started to pick up interest due to his cut-price valuation across the Fantasy games but Assaidi, in particular, looks the likeliest to rival him for game time – with a similarly pacey and direct style of play from the left, his attacking threat could well prove vital as Rodgers looks for goals to halt the Reds’ stuttering start to the campaign.
Remaining in the Liverpool camp, and Jose Enrique has spoken out about the competition from Stewart Downing for his left-back role, revealing some significant tactical insights in the process…
“With the way we intend to play, that is with the right-back and left-back attacking, Stewart can fit in well…The manager wants me to make more assists and score more goals and play more like a forward. He has told Glen Johnson and Martin Kelly to do the same and Stewart Downing in the left-back role.”
For Fantasy managers, there is significance in Enrique’s statement that again suggests that we will see increased attacking returns from Liverpool’s full-backs under Brendan Rodgers. We’re yet to see this materialise and, given Liverpool’s stuttered start to the season, few are likely to take an early gamble. However, clearly the tactics are in place to see the full-backs come into the equation more often in attacking terms.
James Perch is hopeful of a return to action for Newcastle’s Gameweek 4 trip to Everton. With Danny Simpson all but ruled out due to a hamstring injury and Ryan Taylor facing months on the sidelines with a knee injury, Perch is expected to take up the right-berth berth, providing he recovers in time from a neck problem. Cheick Tiote’s imminent return could see Vernun Anita cover in defence if required, though – the summer signing from Ajax filled in for Simpson against Villa at the weekend, having started the game in midfield due to the Ivorian’s absence.
West Brom new boy Goran Popov has spoken of his delight at moving to the Hawthorns on loan and is already determined to seal a permanent move to the in-form midlands outfit:
“I am so happy that I came here. I have signed a contract and hope that after this first year I will sign for two or three more.”
The left-back’s arrival has the potential to scupper many a Fantasy plan right now. With the Baggies registering clean sheets in both their home matches thus far, and with three of their next four at the Hawthorns looking favourable (RDG, QPR, SOT), the likes of Gareth McAuley and Liam Ridgewell have been subject to plenty investment. If Popov ousts Ridgewell from his current left-back berth, however, the former Birmingham man is likely to battle it out with McAuley for a spot at centre-half – until Clarke’s intentions become clearer, it may well be that Jonas Olsson offers the safest route into the back-four right now, with Ben Foster’s saves points furthering the keeper’s case between the sticks. Certainly, it’s a situation worth monitoring – Popov is priced at just 4.5 in FPL and could well offer the best value route into the Baggies defence if he establishes himself as a first-team regular.
Jimmy Kebe handed Reading a boost yesterday by announcing he should be back training within a couple of weeks. The Royals winger took to twitter to reveal:
“Doctor seen this morning for an injection on my hamstring…it’s getting better though, should be back for training in 10 days hopefully.”
Yet to feature in his side’s two games this season due to a hamstring problem, Kebe’s absence afforded Garath McCleary a chance to benefit in the previous match at Chelsea. The former Forest man provided an assist for Pavel Pogrebnyak in the 4-2 defeat at the Bridge but despite his promising start, could well be set to drop out upon Kebe’s return. While the injured winger has now slipped to 4.9 in FPL, Danny Guthrie is now as low as 4.4 and, playing as the most advance central midfielder in a 4-4-1-1, the latter is far and away the most popular midfielder amongst Brian McDermott’s side right now.
Elliot Ward has been left out of Norwich’s 25-man squad for the Premier League campaign. The centre-half missed the start of the season due to a leg problem but has slipped down the pecking order following the signings of Seb Bassong and Michael Turner over the summer. Ward had offered a cheap potential route into the Canaries backline but is now unavailable until the New Year at least – with fellow cut-price option Marc Tierney losing his left-back role to Javier Garrido, it leaves Leon Barnett as the cheapest alternative. Priced at 4.0 in FPL, he has quickly ousted Turner from the heart of defence after the latter’s dire display in the 5-0 defeat at Fulham in Gameweek 1 – Barnett has struck up a solid partnership with Bassong, helping Chris Hughton’s side bounce back and concede just twice in the subsequent two Gameweeks.
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For Gameweek 38
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|No Change||Hart||MCI||B, Vs|
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“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