As the dust settles on Gameweek 24, it’s time to find the lessons learned. We consider crashing Wayne’s world, curse Rafa’s puppeteering, admire Theo’s appetite and wonder if Suarez can still conjour the magic whilst toiling on the touchline…
There’s still merit in considering Rooney…
While United were far from impressive in last night’s stilted victory over the Saints, Wayne Rooney came out of the game having underlined his importance to their title charge, as a brace of goals overshadowed Robin Van Persie. The Dutchman chose this match to return his first blank since Gameweek 13 which served to offer contrast to Rooney’s strong returns – his sixth and seventh goals in his last five league starts. That kind of output pushes Rooney forward not only as differential against the relentless Van Persie tide, but also a potential partner in our Fantasy lineups. Pairing the United duo is expensive but, with City’s strikers failing to achieve consistency and, with few attacking options elsewhere in Sir Alex’s lineup, it is a tactic that may yet have legs for the title run-in.
Rafa’s crippling Demba Ba’s potential….
With the Senegal striker sitting out the 2-2 Cup draw at Griffin Park, the path seemed clear for Demba Ba to be unleashed on the Reading defence in last night’s Madejski encounter. Instead, Rafa Benitez opted for Fernando Torres to lead the line and watched on while Reading rallied to grab a dramatic late point. It’s questionable whether Ba would have put the game beyond doubt had he started but, for his Fantasy managers, the disappointment of a brief appearance from the bench will stick in the throat. Ba will surely start against his former club, Newcastle, on Saturday and that might be enough to curb the exodus for now. However, it’s pretty clear that the doubts will linger before every match and with competition for our forward lines still strong, Ba is looking a Fantasy liability whilst Rafa pulls his strings.
Walcott’s on the wing but doesn’t need a prayer…
Olivier Giroud’s form kept him in the centre-forward role in last night’s end-to-end thriller with Liverpool, leaving Theo Walcott again deployed on the flank. Regardless of position, however, Walcott’s new-found hunger for goals looks insatiable as he drifted inside to fire a beautifully struck equaliser for the Gunners. That’s three goals in three starts for Walcott from a flank position. While Giroud’s scoring form has denied him the central role he craves, Walcott is settled and in the form of his life down in North London; he remains a seemingly irresistible midfield acquisition.
Post-match, Walcott reiterated his desire to lead the line but, with Giroud flourishing, acknowledged he may have to be patient:
“You must play to your strengths and if you are against slow centre-backs, play me. I think the manager knows what’s best for the team, I do as well. Arsene Wenger has shown that faith in me and given me the chance to play up front recently. Hopefully I’ve shown him something Arsenal haven’t had in recent years. In the long term I want to be a striker but it won’t happen overnight.”
Suarez will have to fight the system to grab the Golden Boot…
The Uruguayan is another who has suffered a shift in position of late. The arrival of Daniel Sturridge on Merseyside has seen Brendan Rodgers exploit Suarez’s attacking versatility and deploy him wide on the left. That was all too clear last night as Suarez tracked back to put in some defensive work, leaving the speedy Sturridge to sit on the shoulder down the middle. While Sturridge was hauled off just after the hour-mark to allow Suarez to shift back to the centre, once he gains full fitness, you’d expect the former Chelsea man to complete 90 minutes and keep Suarez in his new position. The Golden Boot contender wasn’t to be denied another goal in the 2-2 draw but it’s clear that, in order to maintain his level of output this season, he’ll have to put in some serious shifts and take the opportunities that come his way.
Laudrup is grinding his way to mathematical certainty…
The 0-0 stalemate at the Stadium of Light was the Swans’ third in four away trips – a run that has now seen them established as the meanest defence on the road in the entire league. While that’s all good for Ben Davies owners, it’s pretty clear that the new steely attitude employed by the Dane has decayed the Swansea goal threat away from home and left Michu struggling to maintain any form of output. Having topped the scoring charts, the Spaniard is now without a goal in his last five league starts: his previous goals away from home being the brace at Arsenal on December 1. While Laudrup has clearly instilled a new resolve in his side and is grinding out the draws to ensure another season in the top flight, Michu owners need a return to the cavalier stuff that saw the former Rayo Vallecano man return a stream of strikes in the early season.
Mancini so wants the Tevez and Aguero partnership to work…
Despite watching the pairing of Carlos Tevez and Sergio Ageuro toil for several weeks without significant returns, Roberto Mancini fielded them in tandem at Loftus Road on Tuesday, leaving an in-form Edin Dzeko on the bench. Whilst the Bosnian missed opportunities against Fulham last time out, it was his shot that set up David Silva’s opener and his direct play and poachers instinct had seen City begin to look an attacking force in recent weeks. Instead, Mancini gave Tevez the nod alongside Aguero against the bottom club and then watched on while the pairing produced little, leaving it to Silva to carry the threat from midfield. With Mario Balotelli back on Italian shores, the City boss has fewer options up top and it will be interesting to see if he wavers and restores Dzeko to lead the line against the Liverpool rearguard at the weekend.
Begovic is no longer a fire and forget option…
It had looked so simple: stick Asmir Begovic in nets and forget about goalkeeper rotation. Having gathered nine clean sheets by Gameweek 18, the Stoke back line was amongst the best in the league and seemingly on their way to rivalling the likes of Man City for defensive returns. How that picture has changed since. Begovic has now conceded 16 goals since the last shut-out, an alarming decline that has lead to him suffering negative transfers for the first time this season, having enjoyed a huge price rise in the Fantasy Premier League game from 4.5 to 5.8. Stoke had looked to have steered their way past some tricky fixtures and fetched returns in the face of schedule adversity but now, even though they face kind opponents at home in the next six Gameweeks, we have to wonder whether we can afford to keep patience with the Bosnian or cash in and look to the likes of Simon Mignolet or even Julio Cesar. At least with Ryan Shawcross there’s the potential of goals and bonus thrown in and, once Marc Wilson is fit enough to take to the pitch, we will surely see a Begovic exodus that will see his price slide at a quickening rate.
Double GW Dilema!
A. Berbatov -> Sturridge
Mata -> Gerrard - 4 pt hit
B. Berbatov -> Suarez
Mata -> Gerrard
Ivanovic ->Enrique - 8pt hit - wont be able to afford to buy Mata back a week later
C. Berbatov -> Suarez
Mata -> Gerrard
Ivanovic ->Williams - 8pt hit - WILL be able to buy Mata back
I already have Michu and Davies.
- 4 months, 17 days ago
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Team of the Season 2012/13
- van Persie
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|No Change||Hart||MCI||B, Vs|
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“I love to attack and I love to go up front...It is a little more difficult than when you are playing centre-back. If you play the way that I want to play, I think my influence is better as a left-back. For the team, it is best that I play as a centre-back. I like to bring the ball out. You need to move the game quickly, and that is one of my qualities as well.”Jan Vertonghen outlines what he feels is his best position for Andre Villas-Boas