The third Sun Dream Team Transfer Window opened last Monday, allowing managers the opportunity to line up another three changes to their squads ahead of the February 1 deadline.
As always, we take time out to asses the factors at play during this window, offering analysis of the fixtures between this and the final opportunity to change our lineups in March. With that data gathered, we then pick out some key targets that should make up the backbone of your January transfer targets.
Transfer Window 3 – Dates and Fixtures
The three changes are available on a “use ‘em or lose ‘em” basis so, even if you’re staring blankly at your starting XI, it’s worth considering some differentials to help push you up the rankings. Given the nature of Dream Team, however, the majority of us will have been gagging for this chance to introduce new blood and shift out some crocks and deadwood.
With this in mind, let’s take a closer look at the fixture schedule between this window and Transfer Window 4 – our next and final chance to tinker. This arrives on March 18, with our trades coming into effect on March 29.
In a nutshell, then, our teams will need to sustain us between February 1 and March 29. When we look at this in terms of traditional Gameweeks, we can see that we’re dealing with a total of eight Premier League fixtures, falling between Gameweeks 24 and 31.
Immediately, then, our members can shift their sights to the Season Ticker and assess how the league schedule will guide their hand. On the members’ ticker you can narrow the selection to Gameweeks 24-31 and sort by difficulty – they can also apply the “Attacking” and “Clean Sheet” filters to get a view on potential attacking and defensive prospects.
However, in addition to league fixtures, Dream Team managers also have to consider those teams involved in domestic and European cup action – often this can be a crucial factor that governs transfer strategy.
Here’s a breakdown of the extra fixtures that fall between Transfer Windows 3 and 4.
Capital One Cup
Fifth and Sixth Round
Round of 32 first and second legs and round of 16 first and second legs.
Round of 16 first and second legs.
While that looks fairly straightforward, it’s made far more complicated by the very real prospect of Premier League postponents. Both Man City and Sunderland, as Capital One Cup finalists, will miss their Gameweek 28 fixture. Similarly, as their opponents in Gameweek 28, both Man United and West Brom also miss out. While today’s announcement of the rescheduling of the United vs City clash drops this back into the frame, we’re yet to get a date on the West Brom vs Sunderland match-up: that may yet slip beyond March 29.
Teams that are involved in the FA Cup sixth round will also miss league outings in Gameweek 29 – as will any side there were designated to play in the league in that Gameweek. Again, we can’t be certain that the postponed matches will be catered for before changes made in Transfer Window 4 come into effect on March 29.
As a result, a tangled web of possibilities lies in front of us, making it almost impossible to anticipate just how many fixtures will be played out in total. Despite this, below we’ve done our best to predict the likely fixture breakdown of each team during this spell:
12 Fixtures – (1 C1C, 2 CL plus at least 1 FAC and 8 PL Fixtures) – Man City
11-13 Fixtures (At least 2 EL matches, plus at 1 FAC and 8 PL Fixtures) – Swansea.
11 Fixtures – (1 C1C, 2 CL plus 8 PL Fixtures) – Man United
10-12 Fixtures (At least 2 EL matches, plus potentially 8 PL Fixtures (depending on Chelsea’s FAC progress)) – Tottenham
11 Fixtures – (2 CL plus at least 1 FAC plus potentially 8 PL Fixtures (depending on FAC progress)) – Arsenal, Chelsea
9 Fixtures – (1 C1C, plus at least 1 FAC plus at least 7 PL Fixtures) – Sunderland
9 Fixtures (At least 1 FAC plus potentially 8 PL Fixtures (depending on FAC results)) – Cardiff, Everton, Fulham, Hull, Liverpool, Southampton
8 Fixtures (8 PL Fixtures (depending on FAC results)) – West Ham, Norwich, Newcastle, Stoke, Aston Villa, Crystal Palace
7 Fixtures (7 PL Fixtures) – West Brom
As we can see above, Manchester City aren’t just the form team in terms of goals, they continue to offer the most bountiful schedule on their quest for four trophies. Swansea and Spurs, with Europa League campaigns, have to remain in our thinking, whilst Arsenal and Chelsea also have FA Cup and Champions League progress to supplement their league fixtures. United complete the picture when it comes to sides competing in Europe, and, having regained their home clash with City today, are back on the radar as a major consideration.
As always, Man City’s attacking assets have to be high on our agenda. While the Capital One Cup final with Sunderland and the two legs with Barcelona will be huge tests for Manuel Pellegrini’s men, in the league, they have an enviable run of fixtures.
City face Chelsea prior to Gameweek 32 but counter this with Etihad encounters with Sunderland, Stoke, Villa and Fulham. Given their home form this season, this quartet of matches promises heavy returns for the likes of Sergio Aguero (£7.0m), David Silva (£5.5m) and Yaya Toure (£6.0m). Meanwhile, while City remain somewhat inconsistent at the back, the value offered by Aleks Kolarov and his marauding left-foot requires our attention at just £3.0 million.
Typically, things don’t look quite so rosy on the red side of Manchester. While their Champions League tie with Olympiacos appears more promising, in the league, David Moyes’ men face a series of tough tests with little respite. A home clash with Fulham looks to be their only favourable league match-up before March 29, with five away trips, one of which takes them to the Emirates on February 11.
Once again, then, United’s assets look easy to avoid although Juan Mata, at £7.0 million, is likely to gain significant traffic in this Window. The Spaniard has been dead to us as a Dream Team asset to this point but will surely be in the mix for consistent 7+ ratings and Star Man awards once established in Moyes’ lineup.
We only have to look to last season for evidence of Mata’s Dream Team appeal – the top ranked player in the game, Mata amassed 331 points made up of 18 goals with 15 Star Man awards, having earned 7+ ratings on 44 occasions – more than any other player. Mata is, however, a slight gamble given the likely adjustment time and the unknown variable of just how he will fit in alongside both Robin van Persie (£8.0m) and Wayne Rooney (£7.0m).
While Arsenal do at least have four home league fixtures, they have three testing away trips at Liverpool, Spurs and Chelsea to contend with before Transfer Window 4 kicks in. With the toughest of Champions League ties against Bayern Munich ahead of them, it could be that, for the first time, we’re driven to look beyond Arsene Wenger’s outfit.
Aaron Ramsey (£2.5m) is worth holding given that he’s back in the Gunners squad for tomorrow’s trip to Southampton but other attacking targets look a risk. Defensively, while Arsenal have excelled to this point, we could see them struggle to chain together shutouts in February and March, given their opponents. Even so, with Per Mertesacker (£5.0m), Laurent Koscielny (£5.5m) and Bacary Sagna (£3.5m) ranked as the top three Dream Team defenders, they are hard to ignore.
That leaves Chelsea amongst the Champions League and title contenders. They, too, look to have a testing time prior to Transfer Window 4 with fixtures with City, Everton, Spurs and Arsenal on their agenda. The last three are all at the Bridge, handing them some advantage and perhaps giving us room for optimism that the likes of Eden Hazard (£6.5m) and, to a lesser extent, Oscar (£4.5m), will go on providing points. Chelsea also look the best bet for European progress – they will be firm favourites for their two leg affair with Galatasaray.
Looking at the Europa League representatives, Swansea and Spurs do clearly offer potential, although in both cases there’s a real fear that league form will suffer as a result of continued progress in Europe.
The promise of up to four additional fixtures before March 29 is alluring and certainly Spurs, with Ukrainian’s FC Dnipro lined up next in the Europa League, look worth backing for further progress. Emmanuel Adebayor (£3.5m) and Christian Eriksen (£4.0m) have both emerged as prime targets in recent weeks and they have to come into consideration in this window. The league programme looks tough, however, with Everton, Arsenal and Southampton three of the four teams due at the Lane prior to March 29.
Swansea’s Europa League progress is in doubt given the two-leg tie with Napoli but their domestic fixtures do look favourable enough. They have just three of their eight scheduled fixtures at home but with Cardiff, Palace and West Brom the opposition, there should be opportunity for Wilfred Bony (£3.5m) to add to his goal tally and burgeoning reputation. His two strikes in the FA Cup at Birmingham on Saturday took him to six goals in his last five Dream Team appearances and, with 33.7 points per million, he’s offered exceptional value to this point.
While the Ivorian looks a strong differential to adopt, you can look to Everton for a few more faces to liven our lineups. Roberto Martinez’s men have five home fixtures prior to March 29 with Villa, Palace, Cardiff, West Ham and Swansea due on Merseyside. That should give Romelu Lukaku (£4.0m) the chance to revive his ailing goalscoring form, although Kevin Mirallas, as a £3.5m midfielder, is the better option for me. The Belgian has offered five goals from 25 Dream Team appearances so far but is backed by manager Roberto Martinez to kick-on in the final third of the season. I’d support that view, despite likely competition from Gerard Deulofeu (£1.5m).
The Everton defence, impressive to this point, is also worth backing given their strong array of Goodison fixtures. Seamus Coleman, at just £3.0m million, has provided superb value and, despite a minor injury, he remains the prime route in the Martinez rearguard.
On the other side of Merseyside, Luis Suarez (£7.5m) maintains essential status despite a lack of European action – second only to Sergio Aguero in the ranks this season, the Uruguayan will be expected to continue reaping points at pace. Strike partner Daniel Sturridge (£5.0m) is also worthy of consideration but, with slots in our front line so competitive, he could well be overlooked by many, in favour for the Aguero/Suarez template with Rooney or a punt on Bony or Adebayor looking the likely set up for the majority coming out of this Transfer Window.
The Sun Dream Team Scout League
There’s £1,000 at stake for the winner of this season’s Fantasy Football Scout league. In pole position is Geoff Pryor, who has accumulated 1,305 points thus far – that gives him a 25-point on second-placed Charles Mouzon, whilst Dan Ward completes the top three on 1,270 points. Geoff is ranked 60th overall in the race for the top prize.