The Tottenham juggernaut rolled on relentlessly at the Hawthorns, once again providing Fantasy managers with plenty of attacking options to consider. Newcastle showed their steel at Old Trafford and now have their sights set on Chelsea, ahead of a kind run of upcoming fixtures…
For the past few weeks, the vast majority of the Tottenham focus had been on Rafael Van der Vaart and Gareth Bale as the midfield duo racked up the Fantasy points. When fit, the Dutchman’s consistency is never in question but Bale’s continually impressive returns presented many Fantasy managers with a quandary- acquiring both players seemed a viable proposition, given the club’s run of fixtures.
Saturday’s win at West Brom brought Emmanuel Adebayor firmly into our thinking once again. The Togo international had drifted off the radar slightly after a six game scoring drought but a brace against Aston Villa last Monday was followed by another double at the Hawthorns- in the space of five days, then, Adebayor bagged as many league goals as Luis Suarez has all season.
Harry Redknapp’s acquisition of both Adebayor and Scott Parker has turned Tottenham into one of the most lethal attacking sides in the Premier League- of the ten games the duo have played, the club have won nine and drawn one. Adebayor has now returned more Fantasy points than both Van der Vaart and Bale and is the sixth top scorer in the Fantasy Premier League (FPL) game with 75 points- priced at 8.8, he still looks a bargain right now.
A closer look at his points sums up his consistency- only twice in those ten appearances has Adebayor failed to either score or assist and with Spurs’ upcoming schedule still looking promising- added to a double gameweek 20- a move for all three of the Tottenham “Holy Trinity” over the next couple of weeks doesn’t seem such a bold move after all.
While there’s little doubt they led a charmed life at Old Trafford on Saturday, the bottom line is that Newcastle came through unscathed. Many had expected a result similar to the previous week’s trip to the blue half of Manchester but Alan Pardew’s side clung on and remain in the top four.
This week’s home clash with Chelsea should hold little fear for Newcastle; with that 3-1 defeat at City their only loss, a defeat to Andre Villas-Boas’ side would be a far bigger shock that we could have possibly perceived at the beginning of the season. Yohan Cabaye’s guile and steel, Demba Ba’s goals and Gabriel Obertan’s pace and directness have added to the solid foundation and work-ethic already in place and Newcastle look ripe for Fantasy investment once again after what many had expected to be a tricky three-match period.
With Hatem Ben Arfa returning from fitness, a defence that has conceded just 12 goals this season and includes, in the shape of Ryan Taylor, the second-top scoring FPL defender, there are plenty of options available ahead of a run of four games that sees Pardew’s side face (nor, SWA, WBA, bol). Ba, in particular, should see plenty of Fantasy managers acquiring his services for that stretch- similar to Emmanuel Adebayor, he’s proven to be one of the most consistent Fantasy performers this season, scoring or assisting in seven of his previous eight gameweeks and at 6.8 continues to offer outstanding value.
The Talking Point
Yesterday’s off-field events concerning Gary Speed put everything into perspective. At times, football can bring unbridled happiness and fuel the passion of millions around the globe but Speed’s untimely death served a harsh reminder that, essentially, it’s really nothing more than twenty-two men kicking a ball about a patch of grass.
Clean sheets and points accrued have never seemed so insignificant with the news of the Welshman’s heartbreaking passing. Swansea took the decision to play their game against Aston Villa but with many of the protagonists clearly affected, the game itself seemed a secondary matter, dwarfed by the horrifying circumstances that had gone before….
The action moved on to Anfield, where Roberto Mancini adopted a far more conservative approach than many had expected. We can only speculate, but the previous day’s result at Old Trafford may have affected the City manager’s thinking. With a draw at Liverpool enough to preserve a five point advantage over United, Mancini adopted a 4-5-1, with Mario Balotelli and Edin Dzeko both benched.
Their attacking edge blunted, City were fortunate to escape with a draw; their average shots per away dropped significantly, Sergio Aguero could barely get into the game and in the end, only Joe Hart’s heroics kept their unbeaten record intact. The decision to rein in their attacking tendencies almost backfired yesterday and Fantasy managers will be hoping Mancini banishes such notions with immediate effect.
With 9 goals in his previous ten games, Balotelli was City’s form striker coming into this game and his frustration boiled over when Mancini finally introduced him to the proceeding halfway through the second half. Two yellows in quick succession saw him dismissed- he will now miss the Carling Cup match with Arsenal tomorrow evening.
In a sense, this could even boost Balotelli’s chances of a start against Norwich next weekend; with Dzeko likely to start against the Gunners on Tuesday evening, the Italian will be the fresher of the two come the weekend. City’s crucial Champions League home clash with Bayern Munich next midweek could also play a part in Mancini’s thinking, though- Sergio Aguero seems the likeliest starter of the trio against Paul Lambert’s side and a viable captaincy option, at that.