Robin Van Persie grabs a spot-kick winner for United at Anfield. Carlos Tevez drops to the bench as City draw with Arsenal, Gareth Bale sparks Spurs into life as Andre Villas-Boas’ side register back-to-back victories, while a Demba Ba goal is enough to see Newcastle edge past Norwich at the Sports Direct Arena…
Robin Van Persie
Having been dropped to the bench last time out at home to Wigan, the Dutchman returned to the first XI for the Anfield trip. Van Persie’s spot-kick duties came to his rescue after a relatively quiet display; despite missing a penalty at Southampton, he remains number one in Wayne Rooney’s absence, with his winner continuing his record of at least one goal per start this season. Sir Alex Ferguson had this to say on the spot-kick, perhaps offering indication that Van Persie could retain the duties on Rooney’s return…
“It wasn’t easy for him [van Persie], but he’s taken it well, just the way I envisaged he would take these penalties. When he was at Arsenal, either side he would thunder them home. [Pepe] Reina’s had a good attempt, he got a hand to it, but the power of the shot has made it safe.”
Having notched five times already, Van Persie leads the way in the scoring charts and with a home clash against a Spurs side that has yet to return a clean sheet up next, many will be backing him with the armband next weekend.
The United Defence
Nemanja Vidic’s omission from the trip to Liverpool means that not one United defender has started the first five. The Serbian was looked upon as nailed-on by many but yesterday’s team sheet highlights just how difficult it is becoming to navigate the United backline when considering their Fantasy options. According to reports, Vidic was feeling tightness in his knee having played two matches in the space of week for the first time since November. With another goal conceded yesterday, they have just one clean sheet so far and are offering little appeal, though Rafael’s attacking returns continue to prove the exception. Similar to Vidic, he has started four matches but his goal and maximum bonus return yesterday took his FPL tally to 27 point – given that his skipper has returned eight points, the Brazilian’s 5.6 price is looking strong value right now.
The Liverpool skipper opened his account for the season in the United defeat to make his way onto Fantasy radars. There’s little doubt it’s been a disappointing campaign thus far for Gerrard but his home returns have been decent, averaging over six points per game at Anfield so far. With a trip to Norwich followed by a couple of home clashes against Stoke and Reading, Gerrard may be a decent differential over the short-term for Fantasy managers looking to freshen up their five-man midfields. Raheem Sterling remains the most popular option in Brendan Rodgers’ midfield, however, with over nine times as many transfers in than the Liverpool skipper so far in Gameweek.
Starting the game at left-back yesterday, the Welshman’s switch to the wing after the break proved instrumental in Spurs turning the game around. Andre Villas-Boas’ decision to begin with Clint Dempsey on the left and Gylfi Sigurdsson in “the hole” failed to pay off and, 1-0 down at half-time, he subbed off the Icelandic international as Dempsey moved central. Bale provided the assist for Jermain Defoe’s winner and with the maximum bonus in the bag, he has now picked up 19 points in the last two matches – the third most transferred out midfielder in FPL, he’s dropped 0.2 in price but the suitors will surely start to return as he begins to pick up consistency.
The striker justified his selection in the Scout Picks this week by notching the winner for Spurs, his fourth goal of the season. Defoe continues to attract interest from Fantasy suitors, although there is always the threat from Emmanuel Adebayor causing concern for would-be investors. Interestingly, however, Andre Villas-Boas has offered some reassurance that Defoe remains untouchable while his form continues to flourish…
“I wouldn’t force a change when a player is producing at these levels…The competition is making him tick.”
Another goal from the QPR forward continued his strong start to the season. Dropped for the opener with Swansea, Zamora has started the last four matches and has now scored three times – yet his name is rarely mentioned when considering our cheap third striker option. In a weekend that saw Rickie Lambert, Steven Fletcher and Dimitar Berbatov demonstrate their mid-price worth, Zamora – priced at just 6.4 in FPL – also staked a claim. Currently with a mere 1.4% ownership, Zamora has three home fixtures (WHM, EVE, RDG) that offer a decent chance of points if he can maintain his current form.
The return of Sergio Aguero saw Carlos Tevez drop to the bench for the first time this term as rotation hit hard for the visit of Arsenal. Roberto Mancini also replaced Mario Balotelli with Edin Dzeko – with the Champions League now playing a major part in the City manager’s thinking, Fantasy managers will have a real dilemma if the up front situation continues. Roberto Mancini had indicated earlier in the week that he was looking to pair Aguero with Tevez, although he also stressed he had further options…
“He’s [Aguero] a top striker, he’s quick, he’s strong in the box and instead we lost him for four games and I was upset for this. They can play together because they are Argentinian but we have four strikers that can play together.”
Tevez had produced attacking points in all of his appearances prior to yesterday but handed just 23 minutes against the Gunners, he returned a single FPL point on his 50% FPK ownership. The Van Persie/Tevez combination has been hugely popular so far and with the Dutchman also warming the bench last week, many are starting to consider mid-price alternatives who offer us guaranteed game time. Bearing his penchant for rotation, though, it would seem unlikely that Mancini will bench Tevez twice in a row; a trip to Fulham next weekend looks worth holding for.
The City Defence
It’s five games and no clean sheets for the champions. Such a source of consistency for defensive returns last term, Mancini’s backline seems currently incapable of keeping out their opponents right now and the sales are set to escalate ahead of a trip to buoyant Fulham. The fragility of the City defence has not escaped Roberto Mancini, who again emphasised that this has become a key focus for him…
“I think we need to improve our defending at set-pieces because this has been a problem for us this season…We can do better and we need to work on this area. We are finding it hard not to concede at the moment and we are probably two points worse off than we should be so far this season.”
With the likes of Chelsea registering four clean sheets already and Leighton Baines racking up the points, there’s strong options available for those looking to trade Vincent Kompany and co for similarly priced defenders, while further down the price bracket, West Ham and West Brom continue to offer strong value, with a single home goal conceded between them so far.
Handed a starting berth alongside Papiss Cisse on the back of his brace off the bench at Everton, Ba maintained his impressive early-season form with the winner against Norwich. While Cisse continues to toil – with a missed spot-kick indicative of his lack of confidence – Ba has now scored four of his side’s six goals this term as he begins to hint at a return to the form produced in the first half of last season. With three lots of maximum bonus points in FPL, he’s now moved up to 34 points, which sees him sit in second place in the forward ranks- with a trip to Reading up next, plenty more will be looking to pick up 7.8 priced Ba’s services over the next few days.
Newcastle’s Penalty Taker
With Demba Ba, Hatem Ben Arfa and now Papiss Cisse in the mix for spot-kick duties, there is real confusion on where the responsibilities lie. Pardew has, at least, attempted to clear things up following yesterday’s miss from Cisse.
“The players wanted to let Papiss score his first goal of the season, but that was not a wise decision as we need our best penalty takers stepping forward to give us the best chance of converting the chance…In the end, that miss could have hurt us as Norwich threw everything in our direction in the second half and it would have been a very different game if we had gone in at half-time 2-0. I want Demba Ba or Hatem [Ben Arfa] taking the penalties in future, that’s for sure.”
Hatem Ben Arfa
The Frenchman produced the goods at home once again with the assist for Ba’s goal. Ben Arfa has yet to pick up the points on his two road trips but in front of his fans, the Frenchman’s contribution is crucial. He has now scored or assisted three of the Magpies four goals at the Sports Direct Arena and with seven FPL bonus points also accrued in those matches, has averaged nine points per home game. Next week’s trip to Reading looks the perfect opportunity for him to break his away duck – with four home games in the following six after the Royals clash, his price looks set for a hike this week. Not surprisingly, Alan Pardew was full of praise for Ben Arfa in his post-match comments…
“Hatem did a couple of other things (apart from the assist for the goal) which you could put in the 1970 World Cup or wherever…It’s unbelievable stuff and he really is playing well for us.”
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For Gameweek 38
- van Persie
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|No Change||Hart||MCI||B, Vs|
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|No Change||Lloris||TOT||C, Vs|
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|No Change||Mignolet||SUN||B, Vs|
|No Change||De Gea||MUN||A|
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|No Change||Cuéllar||SUN||B, Vs, £|
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|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|
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