Robin Van Persie is amongst the goals yet again in his first match against former club Arsenal. Marouane Fellaini bags a brace as Everton draw at Fulham, Gareth Bale stutters at home once more, Eden Hazard’s away toils continue, while City’s defensive resilience produces a third clean sheet in four…
The Consistent Captain
At 13.5 in FPL, many have argued the Dutchman is simply too pricey an acquisition; that his cost has too much of a knock-on effect on the rest of our squads. Yet Van Persie once again produced the goods yesterday and is offering a stunning source of consistency that no other Fantasy option can touch. A goal within three minutes against former club Arsenal continues his record of producing attacking returns in every start for United this season – he has now picked up 67 points in his eight first-team appearances. The Red Devils’ upcoming schedule suggests Van Persie has plenty opportunity to maintain his spree; with (avl, nor, QPR, WHM, rdg) their next five opponents, it’s difficult to see past the Dutchman as an armband option over those fixtures. Wayne Rooney’s missed spot-kick could well see Van Persie also handed penalty duties, further boosting his already overwhelming appeal. Ferguson had this to say on his side’s continuing troubles from the spot – United have missed four of five spot-kicks this term…
“When you take a penalty you should hit the target so at least the goalkeeper has to save it…Normally Wayne Rooney can hit great penalties, but that was a bad one, he knows that.”
Attack from the Back
Santi Cazorla’s late goal for Arsenal ensured United’s clean sheet record remains at two after the opening 10 matches. While the above-mentioned run of fixtures may be appealing for those eyeing up Sir Alex Ferguson’s attacking assets, investment at the back continues to look decidedly dodgy. With Nemanja Vidic ruled out until Christmas by his manager on Friday, United’s defensive assets will likely need to produce attacking points to make any transfers in worthwhile – Rafael and Patrice Evra highlighted their potential with an assist and goal respectively yesterday; the Brazilian is now up to 45 FPL points, with two goals and a couple of assist accrued thus far. While Phil Jones and Chris Smalling are nearing fitness, Rafael appears to have made the right-back role his own with his manager lavishing praise on him post-match…
“Maybe he had rashness and the impetuosity of a young boy but somewhere along the line that maturity comes along and the rashness disappears. His form this season has been brilliant and the boy is really tough now.”
Cazorla’s Class Wins Through
Sold by almost 60,000 Fantasy managers ahead of Arsenal’s trip to Old Trafford, Cazorla’s late consolation spoiled the hosts’ clean sheet. While he has produced just a single assist at home so far this season, the Gunners playmaker has now grabbed three goals and a couple of assists on his travels. With Arsene Wenger’s side now on the cusp of a superb run of fixtures, the summer signing from Malaga will surely pick up more new owners – if the Gunners can find someone to finish off the multitude of chances he creates, Cazorla would be verging on irresistible.
Goals Flow for Jol
Yesterday’s 2-2 draw with Everton took Martin Jol’s side to 21 goals for the season. The Cottagers are now the third highest scoring side in the top-flight and have notched just one less than Chelsea, with Jol’s starting forwards Dimitar Berbatov and Bryan Ruiz supplying an assist apiece against the Toffees. Berbatov has now producing attacking returns in four of his five starts since moving from United this summer and while the Bulgarian garners most of the attention, Ruiz continues to offer a viable alternative. Priced at 5.8 in FPL, the Costa Rican is just one point behind Berbatov and, with a goal and five assists already, an ownership of less than 1% makes Ruiz a possible differential.
Jol has a host of options up front, with Mladen Petric currently frozen out of the picture, although the Fulham boss did shed some light on this when discussing his attacking players…
“I needed another striker, so I started with Hugo Rodallega and Dimitar Berbatov at Wigan and that was OK and Rodallega scored, so I left it, so that cost him his place. But after that, he played two weeks ago at Craven Cottage with Berbatov and now Ruiz has come back, so I’ve got a choice of playing Ruiz or Petric with Berbatov…It’s all about momentum. If Rodallega scores against Wigan, I want to leave him in. Never change a winning team is the principle. But Petric is such a good player, it’s tough to leave him out. He feels that he should play and I think he’s right, but I can’t play all my best players up front. We would have to play 4-1-5 and that would be ridiculous. But that is what I want, competition for places.”
Fellaini Bridges the Jelavic Gap
Sold by over 320,000 Fantasy managers over Gameweeks 8 and 9 after he was ruled out of Everton’s trip to Loftus Road with a knee problem, Fellaini served a timely reminder to those who had moved him on. The Belgian’s brace at Fulham may have been the first time he has found the net since Gameweek 5 but with Steven Pienaar notching just once this term, Fellaini is now forging ahead as Everton’s main midfield Fantasy asset. With five goals to his name already, he has overtaken Nikica Jelavic as the Toffees top scorer and with 52 FPL points (pre-bonus) is just a single point behind Santi Cazorla in the rankings. Priced at 7.0, the investment is set to snowball once more, despite the fact he sits on four yellows, with another caution enough to earn him a one-match suspension.
While Fellaini continues to flourish playing up with Nikica Jelavic, the Croatian has struggled to recapture his scoring form of last season – he’s now without a goal in three starts, with David Moyes highlighting his lack of form in his post-match comments…
“The way we are playing, we are creating plenty of chances…I think we were playing that well in the second half of last season and earlier in this one. Perhaps the difference was that Nikica Jelavic was fully firing and at the end of all that good play he was the one that was getting us the goals…I think he is just a little bit off colour as far as his goals go at the moment. Its form, it comes and goes.”
Bale Blows Cold
The Welshman is another midfielder who has struggled in front of his own fans. Bale has produced double figures in each of his last three away games but headed into yesterday’s game against Wigan at the Lane with just one assist at home all season. Spurs had offered a consistent source of goals in recent matches, scoring two or more in each of their previous six, and many had handed Bale the armband as a result – while the Latics upset the odds with a 1-0 win, Bale’s poor home form shows little sign of abating. Trips to City and Arsenal in the next two will test his owners’ patience with the likes of Fellaini, Cazorla and, if fit, Juan Mata, all looking well placed for further acquisitions.
Norwich Find Resilience
A 1-0 win over Stoke means the Canaries have now conceded just one goal in the last three Gameweeks. The narrow win at Carrow Road takes Norwich’s record to three clean sheets in their last four home games, with a 5-2 home hammering by Liverpool sandwiched in between. Chris Hughton’s side have now registered more clean sheets than the likes of United this term and are clearly stepping up in performance as the season progresses – John Ruddy’s save point potential has now taken him to 39 FPL points, the fourth top scoring keeper so far. If Hughton’s side can maintain their home form at the back, Ruddy – at 4.5 – could well prove a decent acquisition. The Canaries did suffer injuries at the back, however, which could cause disruption ahead of the weekend trip to Reading. Both Michael Turner and Javier Garrido were forced off, with Chris Hughton hopeful on their prospects, along with those of Russell Martin who missed out with a back problem…
“For me the most pleasing thing is the clean sheet. To change the defence with injuries to Turner and Garrido was a blow, and it disrupted the back four, but for my players to get the clean sheet was great…We took Turner off, and I don’t think Garrido’s injury is too bad. Russell Martin’s back is still giving him problems, he tried it yesterday and it wasn’t close. It’d be nice to get at least one of those three back for next week.”
Travel Sick Hazard
Initially, the Belgian’s Fantasy owners were more than content after Juan Mata missed out for Chelsea’s trip to Swansea. Hazard had been outscored by the Spaniard in four of the previous five Gameweeks but Mata’s absence had a detrimental effect on the Blues and Hazard resultantly returned no more than a mere two point haul. While the 10.3 priced midfielder flourishes at the Bridge, he is struggling when Roberto Di Matteo’s side hit the road – Hazard has now drawn a blank in three of his last four away matches but now has three home games in the next four (LIV, wba, MCI, FUL) to atone for yesterday’s disappointing display. Confirmation of Juan Mata’s fitness for next weekend could yet see further sales of the Belgian by those lining up the switch to the Spaniard. Post-match, Roberto Di Matteo fielded the inevitable question as to whether his side struggled without Mata’s presence…
“He is an influential player for us, especially in the form he is in, but Eden Hazard was fantastic for us today and Oscar did well also. The players who played gave everything. Hazard has showed all the time this season that he has good technical ability but he also works very hard for the team. He is a team player.”
Hernandez Finds His Feet
The Spaniard continued his recent strong displays by notching Swansea’s equaliser at home to Chelsea. Having nailed down a role on the right at the expense of Nathan Dyer, Hernandez has now scored in back-to-back Liberty games for Michael Laudrup’s side and also netted in the midweek Capital One Cup win at Liverpool. At 6.1 in FPL, he could well appeal to Fantasy managers looking for a cheaper alternative to Michu amongst the Welsh outfit’s midfield right now. Laudrup was unreserved in his praise for the Spanish winger post-match…
“I know what Pablo can do. Nearly every foreigner coming into a league, you always need time to adapt. But he’s getting better and better. Not because he scored against Wigan and today – his performances have been very good. You can see from the last few games that he is fast, good on one-on-one situations and moves into space. Technically, he does a very good job with the full-back when we are under pressure.”
City Keep It Clean
While the champions continue to stutter in front of goal and Sergio Aguero remains little more than a substitute option for Roberto Mancini in the league right now, their backline goes from strength to strength. Having failed to return any clean sheets in their first six, Mancini’s men have now registered three in the last four, with just a single goal conceded since the end of Gameweek 6. Gael Clichy is currently offering a consistency of starts that is a rarity for a full-back under Mancini; the Frenchman has now started six of the last seven on the left of City’s back-four and at 5.7 in FPL, compared to Vincent Kompany’s 7.3, the former Arsenal man now has home clashes with Spurs and Villa to follow. Joleon Lescott missed yesterday’s game after suffering further spasms in his back, whilst James Milner suffered a hamstring problem in the warm-up: both are doubts for the Champions League tie with Ajax in midweek.