The final Sun Dream Team Transfer Window closes with Saturday’s first kick-off, giving us less than 24-hours to assess our options as we prepare to tinker for the last time.
With three more “use or lose ‘em” transfers to mull over, we once again offer analysis of the fixtures at play to identify the key sources of talent, before discussing specific targets that may trigger the concluding trades of the Dream Team season.
Transfer Window 4 – Dates and Fixtures
Our changes kick in from Saturday’s fixtures onwards, taking us right through until the end of the season. Quite simply, then, we have to consider all the remaining fixtures for all sides when assessing our targets.
In the main, Premier League sides have seven or eight fixtures left in the locker, although, as always, European fixtures boost this for some teams, while there are also two teams still involved in the FA Cup, with two additional fixtures a possibility as a result. A full breakdown of the potential fixtures per club is listed below.
At least 9 Fixtures – (7 PL plus at least 2 CL fixtures) – Chelsea and Man United.
9 Fixtures – (9 PL fixtures) – Man City and Sunderland.
Potentially 9 Fixtures – (8 PL Fixtures and at least 1 FAC fixture) – Arsenal and Hull City.
8 Fixtures – (8 PL Fixtures) – Everton, Aston Villa, Crystal Palace, West Brom.
7 Fixtures (7 PL Fixtures) – Cardiff, Fulham. Liverpool, Newcastle, Norwich, Southampton, Stoke, Swansea, Tottenham, West Ham.
Chelsea’s appeal is rather obvious given that they are competing for the title and Champions League glory, with the promise of reaping wins and Dream Team points in both. Man United’s potential is undoubtedly lessened by their current form and the toughest imaginable European match-up with Bayern Munich. It’s fair to say that Jose Mourinho’s side would seem more likely to progress and bank another two Champions League ties, whilst, in terms of league form, there’s a clear gulf.
Equally, Man City’s assets have to remain firmly in our thinking given their drive to the title and nine-fixture programme. Sunderland aren’t quite comparable but should still be considered as a likely source of budget talent if you’re needing to free up funds with one of your three trades.
We can then favour those sides with eight fixtures, with Everton likely to be the most attractive prospect. Then again, there has to be interest in Liverpool, despite only having seven fixtures remaining, given their goal power and continual involvement in the title race.
We can start looking at those schedules above in more detail when assessing targets – while we have some likely sources, do we focus on defence, attack or both?
The targets within Jose Mourinho’s squad remain set in stone. Defensively the Blues have wavered of late but remain a top source of clean sheets, whilst also boasting a back four and keeper that have been cemented for most of the season. John Terry (£5.0m), as the top ranked defender in the game, with fellow centre-back Gary Cahill ranked second and offer exceptional value at just 4.5 million. The Chelsea run-in is the kindest of all the title contenders and further shut-outs look guaranteed as Jose’s side look to grind out the victories required.
In attack, Eden Hazard (£6.5m) continues to dominate our thinking. Ranked second only to City’s Yaya Toure (£6.0m) in the midfield, the Belgian has notched 15 Dream Team goals, earning 11 Star Man awards in the process – more than any other midfielder. Andre Schurrle (£4.0m) has come into the equation of late and he certainly represents a punt with the potential to explode points. His classification as £4.0 million striker is a major stumbling block, however.
United’s prospects remain gloomy while David Moyes battles the doubters and attempts to assemble the talent at his disposal into a unified and fluid outfit. It’s debatable whether he’ll achieve this before the season is up, leaving Wayne Rooney (£7.0m) as the only credible target in this window.
The story is very different on the other side of Manchester. Tuesday’s 3-0 Old Trafford win not only issued another sobering indication of the gap between the clubs, it confirmed City’s return to form following the 2-0 away win at Hull. Manuel Pellegrini’s side have won five on the spin, without conceding a goal, and Dream Team managers have to re-assess their assets from back to front.
While rotation continues to trouble Aleks Kolarov (£3.0m), both Vincent Kompany (£6.5m) and, to a lesser extent, Pablo Zabelata (£5.5m), remain secure options in the back four. Martin Demechilles (£4.0m) may also be worth a punt given the ongoing injuries suffered by Matija Nastasic (£4.5m). Further forward, Yaya Toure (£6.0m) dominates in the rankings, although David Silva (£5.5m) picked up his second Star Man award in three matches on Tuesday and continues to offer appeal in his price bracket. Certainly there’s merits for doubling up here – City’s attack remains in flux as Sergio Aguero (£7.0m) continues to be blighted by injury, while Edin Dzeko (£4.0m) is an unpredictable beast perhaps best avoided, despite his price point.
Like United, Arsenal are faltering badly with Arsene Wenger acknowledging that their title tilt has been derailed by the Stamford Bridge rout and dropped points to Swansea in midweek. The back four is weakened by the recent injury to Laurent Koscielny (£5.5m), whilst going forward there’s been little on offer from Santi Cazorla (£6.0m) with Mesut Ozil (£5.5m) laid up through injury. Olivier Giroud (£4.0m) has had decent months but remains an inconsistent scorer and a risk too far in Dream Team terms.
Liverpool are undoubtedly a stronger source of talent, with their SAS strike force now almost established as a no-brainer. Such is their goal output, it’s difficult to look beyond Luis Suarez (£7.5m) and Daniel Sturridge (£5.0m), even if you’re deploying a Dream Team 4-4-2. Quite simply, few strikers can keep pace and with both Robin van Persie (£8.0m) and Sergio Aguero (£7.0m) stricken by injury, there’s little on offer to rival them.
Brendan Rodgers’ back four boasts a six-goal defender in Martin Skrtel (£4.0m), while Jon Flanagan (£2.5m) offers a cheap route in for those looking to liberate funds and trusting the Liverpool rearguard with securing shut-outs. Elsewhere, Steven Gerrard (£5.0m) and Jordan Henderson (£3.0m) deserve a mention given the consistency of their performances this term but, in Dream Team terms, both are a gamble: Gerrard is just one booking away from a two-match ban with another three fixtures to navigate before he’s clear of that particular threat.
Everton have to be considered given the sudden upturn in form that has seen them pressure Arsenal for a top four place with four straight wins. Romelu Lukaku (£4.0m) has struck four goals in five Dream Team appearances since his return from injury and presents a viable third striker option in the 4-3-3. Ross Barkley’s (£1.5m) recent form and the motivation of a potential place on the plane for Brazil has to be a consideration, although Roberto Martinez may continue to rotate his midfield protégé. Gerard Deulofeu’s (£1.5m) Star Man showing in midweek offered a reminder of his talents, although he’d fill a precious forward slot and, like Barkley, will be threatened by regular rotation. There’s few issues when considering the back four, however, with Seamus Coleman (£3.0m) and Leighton Baines (£6.0m) continuing to offer strong returns – Coleman has undoubtedly been one of the finds of the season having delivered six goals from right-back and over 48 points per million.
Outside of that little lot, you’re in the realms of differentials and, as a result, taking a few risks. Tottenham’s inconsistent season, coupled with Tim Sherwood’s propensity to rotate in midfield damages Christian Eriksen’s (£4.0m) potential somewhat but the Dane remains a clear option, having returned to form with a brace against Southampton last time out. The Saints, for their part, offer up Adam Lallana (£2.5m) and Jay Rodriguez (£2.5m) as convincing value options in midfield and attack – two players who should go on producing given the incentive of the opportunity of a summer in Brazil with England.
Aston Villa’s Christian Benteke exploded over the run-in last term with eight goals in his last nine matches and has notched three in his last three to suggest he may embark on a similar run; at £5.5, however, he remains an expensive gamble. If you’re set on taking a risk up front, Wilfried Bony (£3.5m) or Michu (£4.5m) look more favourable routes. The latter has just returned from injury and may take time to adjust back, making Bony the favoured option here. The Ivorian has 19 Dream Team goals in his first campaign and has a season run-in that presents a decent platform to add to that tally.