Last weekend it was Dimitar Berbatov, this evening it’s Rickie Lambert that will be wandering into our minds mid-conversation, over the Saturday evening tipple. Prompting nagging doubt, questioning our best-laid plans.
Lambert is the latest to cause cracks in our established Fantasy thinking. Like the Bulgarian, he arrives in a Gameweek where, once again, the likes of Eden Hazard and Michu – assets who were cemented in our squads – returned blanks. The foundations of the template team again come in question then, with Lambert joining the queue to find a place in our forward lines that looked so settled just a fortnight ago.
There’s little doubt that, as we suggested in the midweek Watchlist article, Lambert has emerged as the budget striker of choice. However, we also spent some time in said article pondering if he could be more than that. If he could displace the array of mid-price assets fighting for our attentions – Dimitar Berbatov, Steven Fletcher, Jermain Defoe. Tonight, I’m even wondering if he can threaten to break up the heavy-hitter pairings.
I’ll be watching Carlos Tevez carefully against Arsenal. While he’s flourished in the opening matches, Sergio Aguero’s return to fitness and Roberto Mancini’s “nine lives” approach to Mario Baltoelli raises a cause for concern. That’s before we consider that Eden Dzeko has, as he’s done so often, found the net when he’s given pitch time.
A Tevez blank or, worse still, an early withdrawal against Arsenal, could trigger a rethink. There’s little doubt that City have the fixtures to find goals in the coming weeks, but growing concerns about their defence and Mancini’s insistence that it must approve, has raised alarm bells for me.
I remember when City battened down the hatches, when they fought for 1-0 wins away from home. Should Mancini take that route again, we could see 4-5-1 with Yaya Toure behind Aguero away from home, something that would hurt Tevez’ scoring potential immeasurably. While Sir Alex appears to be going all out for goals, will Mancini dare to tweak his tactics to tighten up?
Such thoughts crop up before I even consider the merits of sticking with the ultra-expensive Robin Van Persie, under the threat of rotation and rest. I’m trying to fight those doubts off, however.
There is clearly a very attractive plan B forming. Lambert, like Berbatov, offers assured starts. He offers the “big fish in a small pond” scenario. He offers spot-kicks, assists and he faces a long line of fixtures that could bring further returns. The temptation to go with this option, even over the proven class of Tevez, does begin to mount when you consider that Mancini’s whims can waver and throw us the unexpected.
This kind of talk is almost sinful, “Knee Jerk” material of the highest order. We’re talking about supreme Fantasy assets here, while Lambert is perhaps just a noisy new arrival at the party. Four goals in five games is a decent entrance, however, and certainly Tevez will need to offer a reminder of his class on Sunday if tonight’s bout of puzzle-head isn’t to transform into a fully-fledged plan of action.