Many moons ago, it was common practice within the Fantasy Football community to refer to a combination of Cristiano Ronaldo, Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard as “The Holy Trinity”. The cost was considerable, but many a season was saved by their union in a Fantasy Premier League (FPL) squad. With those days now long past, the opening months of this campaign threatened the establishment of a new Nicene creed of marauding midfielders. Playing just off, or sometimes as, the striker – the mid-price potency of Michu, Marouanne Fellaini and Kevin Nolan was such that Mark and Granville were left pondering whether the current FPL fabric could long contain the latest revelations.
Whilst Michu is still exalted atop the midfield points list, and the progress of Fellaini tempered only by his temper, Kevin Nolan has spent the last 40 days wandering in the wilderness – and given the recent inundation of the West Ham fixture list it’s difficult to blame him. Since Gameweek 10 The Hammers have been plagued by visits from Man City, Stoke, Chelsea, Liverpool and Everton, and endured unhappy exoduses to Newcastle, Spurs, Man Utd and West Brom.
With their Boxing Day blank now behind them, the claret and blue tribe have at last reached the promised land, in terms of fixtures. This Saturday’s trip to Reading marks the start of a seven Gameweek run (rdg, NOR, sun, QPR & ars, ful, SWA, avl) that should afford Sam Allardyce’s attacking assets every chance to go forth and multiply their returns. That run includes a double fixture in Gameweek 23, with two London derbies against QPR and Arsenal on offer.
Bagging four goals and two assists in just eight games before the schedule took a turn for the worse, Nolan has an overwhelming edge over his team mates in terms of bang for one’s attacking buck – and at a current valuation of 6.6 in FPL (4.9 in the Sky Sports game) he is now substantially cheaper than both Michu and Fellaini. Whilst his overall ownership is still high, at 18%, it is likely that amongst active players his ownership is considerably lower, and whilst perhaps not approaching differential status his long barren run has certainly served to sink him below the mainstream radar at a useful time for the more dedicated player.
Andy Carroll’s absence through injury has been cited as another factor behind Nolan’s recent slide but with the giant Geordie expected to return to training next week, Nolan’s potential could be set for an upturn. If Nolan can avoid fifth yellow card at the Madejski and perhaps re-announce himself with a goal, a new bandwagon may well start warming its engines.
As the likes of Gareth Bale and Juan Mata continue to bring home the bacon at the pricier end of the scale, and cut-price alternatives such as Raheem Sterling and Jason Puncheon retain their popularity in the “fifth mid” spot – a squad containing all three of Michu, Nolan and Fellaini (upon the latter’s return from suspension in Gameweek 21) will doubtless represent an unusual setup. With the approach of winter wildcard season affording Fantasy Managers the chance to experiment with a get-out-of-jail-free card in their pocket, though, a reformation to 3-5-2 to incorporate the new Holy Trinity may yet turn water into wine for potential proselytes.