Our final glance at Gameweek 11 focuses on Fulham’s maverick Bulgarian, the resilience and strong Fantasy value on offer at Upton Park, and wonders whether imminent one-match bans should be enough deterrent from investing in those flourishing Fantasy assets currently balancing on the suspension tightrope: :
It’s difficult not to admire the languid talents of Dimitar Berbatov. The striker was summed up by the way in which he stroked his spot-kick past a static Vito Mannone at the Emirates on Saturday: there was a tinge of arrogance about the finish but, undoubtedly, it reeked of class.
Berbatov has taken no time in settling at Craven Cottage. Under the familiar stewardship of Martin Jol, the Bulgarian has scored five goals in just six Fulham starts, contributing three assists along the way. As the pivotal figure in the West London outfit, he’s also assured bonus returns and with nine to his name already, it’s clear that Berbatov is set to deliver outstanding value on his Fantasy price tag.
That modest valuation (7.0 in the Fantasy Premier League game) was formed whilst languishing in United’s reserves but now, as the centre-piece of Fulham’s Premier League campaign, Berbatov is in bloom again and displaying the form that took him to Old Trafford and established him as one of the top flight’s most accomplished marksmen.
Fantasy managers are acquiring Berbatov’s services with a frenzy, with over 72,000 snapping him up since Saturday in the FPL game. That looks to assure him a steady rise in price over the next fortnight and with Sunderland at the Cottage next weekend, the odds are in favour of Berbatov’s bandwagon rolling for several weeks.
Should there be any reservations? With Fulham having scored 24 goals – only five less than United, it appears that he is the key talent in a side bristling with goal threat. Berbatov’s returns at the Emirates were perhaps unexpected but that could merely highlight that his talent, coupled with Jol’s new attacking outlook, could make him fixture proof and assure consistent returns over the remainder of the season.
Berbatov’s attitude has been called into question in the past but, now back as a big fish in a smaller pond, it’s clear that he is reveling in the responsibility bestowed upon him. With Bryan Ruiz also in seemingly inspired form, the immediate future looks bright for Fulham and that can only benefit those who fetch the Bulgarian into their Fantasy lineups.
West Ham’s victory at Newcastle, off the back of the resolute display against City the previous weekend, demonstrated just how far the Hammers have come on their return to the top flight.
Sam Allardyce has, once again, proven himself to be a manager who can both inspire and tactically tune a Premier League side to earn results. While his team cannot rival the likes of Fulham and Everton as mid-table sides intent on blowing over the opposition’s defence, it’s clear that the Hammers have set themselves up as immovable objects with an attacking ploy that works.
Allardyce’s acquisition of both Andy Carroll and Matt Jarvis made his intentions clear: in attacking terms, West Ham will serve the physical presence of Carroll and look for knockdowns from the supply for their skipper Kevin Nolan.
While Carroll has yet to find the net himself, his disruptive influence has allowed Nolan to find pockets in the opponents’ penalty box to put his undoubted finishing ability to use. Nolan has now struck five goals and is delivering outstanding value for his Fantasy owners as one of those “in the hole” midfielders that appear to be humbling the traditional heavy-hitting midfielders on a regular basis.
While Nolan is currently the sum of the attacking talent worthy of consideration, at the back, there is further value on offer. Winston Reid and his keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen have enjoyed a flood of investment that have seen their FPL prices rise from the budget bracket to 4.9 and 5.0 respectively and Sunday’s performance offered further endorsements for the pair.
The Finnish stopper emerged with two save points to compliment his clean sheet – Jaaskelainen has now gathered 12 points from saves this season and has made more stops than any other FPL keeper. As for Reid, he’s emerged from the shadow of James Collins to establish himself as first-choice alongside the Welshman in big Sam’s defence and picked up his seventh bonus point at St James’ Park. Like Jaaskelainen, Reid sits on top of the FPL value rankings for his position. While the likes of Guy Demel and George McCartney offer cheaper routes to the Hammers backline, Reid remains a constant that offers security for the extra funds.
With a change of philosophy and tactics unlikely, it seems assured that Nolan will go on providing the cutting edge for Allardyce, while a resolute defence will be the platform on which top flight survival is built. That seems a world away: right now, the talk around West Ham will be about European football, rather than a New Year survival scrap.
The Talking Point
Saturday’s pre-amble brought the subject of the suspension tightrope to the fore and questioned whether the Fantasy gods would curse us with a flurry of yellow cards this weekend. They failed to arrive and instead, while Michu continued to struggle in an impotent Swansea attack, both Luis Suarez and Marouane Fellaini notched heavy returns from their perch on the tightrope.
All three remain just one booking away from a one-match ban but that has not perturbed investors who are acquiring both Fellaini and Suarez at pace after their recent avalanche of points.
While it’s perhaps against better judgment, it’s also difficult to question the merits of such of move. Both players look in irresistible form and are so pivotal to their respective teams they offer security and threat in equal measure. Of course, the nightmare scenario is that both, along with Michu, earn their fifth yellows in the same Gameweek, crippling our teams for the following weekend. That seems an unlikely situation but one which we can somewhat prepare for by saving a transfer to allow us to swap out two players in any given Gameweek. Such a ploy would seem a sensible tactic, rather than to turn our backs on the talent and form of two players who seem almost unstoppable.
As for Michu, he could well be the fall guy unless he can help revive the Swans’ flagging attack. He’s suffering significant sales in the FPL right now as Michael Laudrup’s side suffer their second dip of the season. Swanse do have stronger fixtures to come, however, and there is surely merit in holding on to a player with a proven goalscoring record, playing in a striker’s role.
Fantasy football’s version of Russian roulette appears to be a game worth playing, then.