Chelsea vs. Newcastle
Chelsea have an abundance of talent in the midfield. It has reached a point where we’re hoping for something, anything, to happen. And then, it happened. Eden Hazard posted five assists over two games in a single game week. It was the midfield equivalent of Berbatov’s 2010-11 performance. Hazard has been added in 134752, as of 23 Aug., and his price has already increased o.1m. The underlying benefit of having been heavily owned heading into the game week is that, at 20.3% selected, his price is stuck at £9.6m. If you want him this season, you better buy quickly.
We would buy Hazard if we didn’t already own him. The Chelsea team looks like it will run through the flanks and Hazard is playing well, pressing up the attack at all times. He may not be the focal point, pulling the strings in the same way that Luka Modric does for Spurs, but he is finding the lethal final pass that is so important for fantasy premier league success. We would not recommend being in the 92679 owners who added Ivanovic.
He has already scored two goals and, being perfectly honest, we’re not expecting more than 3-5 goals from Ivan the rest of the way. If you already owned him, he’s worth holding, but we’re not paying £6.6m for him on the back of what will be his most impressive gameweek of the season. In fact, we would sell him if he hits £6.7m in advance of GW3.
Oscar looked lively, and we would not be surprised to see him playing in the midfield next to Lampard this weekend. 16172 added Ryan Bertrand on the hope that he will make an impact, but late appearances will damage your potential more than they will help. Adding Chelsea (or Reading) players in advance of a blank in game week three is a problem and any fantasy premier league manager should carefully examine their whole squad to avoid panic transfers in a week.
Poor Ryan Taylor. He rescued Newcastle on Thursday night and still isn’t going to be first choice this weekend.
Ryan Taylor’s rescue act for Newcastle United in Europe will not guarantee him a first-team place in the Premier League, according to manager Alan Pardew. ”He is desperate to play in the first team but he has got some good performances from Saturday’s game against Tottenham in front of him, so he has got to be patient.”
There isn’t much else to say. At this point Taylor can only be considered a fifth defensive option and likely belongs buried on your bench or sold. We love Taylor for exactly the skill he showed in the Europa League, but without opportunity he has no value to your fantasy premier league side.
Goals from Demba Ba and Hatem Ba Arfa saw Pardew’s side record an important early season win over Spurs. Those performances saw 52511 bring in Ben Arfa, while 70337 have added Ba. Neither has seen an increase in their price as of Thursday evening.
Swansea vs. West Ham
Fuck. Fuckity fffffuckk fucking fuck. So here is what we wrote in our Swansea Buying Guide:
Michu is a different kettle of fish. The kind of kettle’d fish who are capable of scoring 15 goals in 37 appearances for Rayo Vallecano. He added three assists and made 1.1 key passes per game. For a comparison, Sigurdsson made 2.8 key passes last season for Swansea. Sigurdsson completed 37 passes per game at 84.5% accuracy. Michu, while in Spain, completed 30 passes per game at 68.5% accuracy. Again, it is not apples-to-apples, the systems will be different and the role, but £6.5m is not inexpensive. Other players in that price bracket include: Charles N’Zogbia, Walters, Larsson, Fellaini and Pienaar at Everton. Think before you invest, and for the price we’re trusting the back line to provide better returns at lower investment but careful scouting of Swansea early could provide a quality buying opportunity.
We rated him a Scout, and he rewarded us with two goals, an assist and two bonus points. The boat has sailed, so if you want him in the near future you will have to pay a premium. 164850 have already added him and the midfielder is priced £6.7m on 23 Aug.
— FantasyGaffer (@FantasyGaffer) August 18, 2012
He looked damn good, but he performed better than he had in an average performance a year ago. We stand by our summer analysis, but also note that we love the early season Swansea schedule. If you have bought in with Dyer, Rangle, Williams, Vorm or Graham, they stand as good a chance of any at providing top returns over the next seven gameweeks. The lure of Michu is simply too much for many, and you can not go wrong in investing.
There are some notes to take into the weekend though:
Laudrup confirmed that summer signing Chico Flores missed training on Thursday after suffering from a knock picked up against QPR, with the medical team assessing his chances of featuring against West Ham. Also a doubt for the televised lunchtime kick-off is Itay Schechter following a delay with the paperwork regarding the striker’s loan move from Kaiserslautern.
There is also no movement on the Scott Sinclair front. Unlike the Dempsey problems that are plaguing Fulham (and Cooper’s SimPrem squad), Sinclair does not appear to have an bar to playing while the saga plays out:
However, the Swans boss revealed that Scott Sinclair would be in contention to start at the weekend following his goal last weekend. The winger has confirmed he will not sign a new contract at the Liberty, but Laudrup says that while Sinclair remains a Swansea player, there are no problems from his point of view.
And it appear Wayne Routledge is being targeted as a provider within the squad, so matches like the opener could be routine for the winger.
Routledge provided the assists for two of Swansea’s five goals at QPR last Saturday, plus a major role in Michu’s opener
West Ham put in a good shift of their own, taking a 1-0 win over Aston Villa in their return to the Premier League. FantasyGaffer favourite Kevin Nolan did what we expected, scoring the only goal in the match. This fixture does not look good for the Hammers, however, as their weakness is the Swans strength. In last weekend fixture, West Ham held 34.2% of possession and completed 202/267 passes – a paltry 76%. They created only three chances from open play, though their goal came one of the three chances they created from set pieces. They will need to be similarly proficient at scoring on limited chances if they’re to have any chance on Saturday. We do not believe they will and are starting Vorm, Rangel, Williams without qualms as well as Michu and Dyer. Danny Graham should have a chance or two and we expect Swansea to be able to exceed their seven chances created against QPR.
With that in mind, we can not play any West Ham defenders and believe that holding Nolan, Noble and any strikers you’ve purchased would be the wisest path. There have been a rash of Hammers selection following the 1-0 win, with 11186 owners buying Jaaskelainen, 28189 adding Demel and 18358 McCartney. They have a decent schedule – Fulham, Norwich, Sunderland & QPR – but this is a side who allowed 12 chances, eight from open play, and most EPL sides will capitalize on even half that number. If you’re in need of a £4m defender to facilitate a more expensive purchase elsewhere, Demel and McCartner are worth adding.
Bigger news is that Matt Jarvis has finally arrived – reportedly – from Wolves. Just a joke, it’s actually official:
Jarvis becomes West Ham’s club-record signing after agreeing a contract until 2017 - with an option for a further year - and could be in line to make his first appearance in claret and blue in Saturday’s game at Swansea City.
He has been added to the FPL game – we tweeted it when it occurred - with a price of £6.0m. He is worth adding as West Ham face lesser opposition over the next five EPL fixtures.
Aston Villa vs. Everton
It was Aston Villa who created 12 chances against West Ham a week ago. While they did not create any clear-cut chances, the Villans were massively wasteful with the ball. As a squad they managed 13 shots — led by Ron Vlaar with three — but they found the target with only two. Bent, Holman and El Ahmadi each took two shots, with one off-target and one blocked. Aston Villa held 65.8% of the ball, completing 452/557 passes – 81% – and winning 46/75 ground duels (61%) and 29/47 aerial duels (62%).
Villa has seen a modest uptick in selection, with Bent (1613) and Nathan Baker (5683) leading the way. Baker is being purchased based on his £4m pricetag, but there are a number of other options – see also: Ham, West – that have a more attractive schedule than the Villans upcoming slate. After Everton, they face Newcastle and Swansea. We’re not expecting much from Aston Villa’s defense these next few weeks. Owning Bent has been discussed at length in the Buying Guide, and we’re not moving off of that opinion. He will score goals, but we’re not expecting assists and remind you – it will require patience and a number of two fantasy premier league point outings, just like gameweek 1.
N’Zogbia got only 73′ but put in a yeoman’s shift, he won all three of his tackles and led the match winning 10 of 16 ground duels. He created a chance and embarked on two dribbles. In truth, it was Stephen Ireland who created more chances (3) and El Ahmadi who led the squad in passing (completed 77/91 passes – 85%) while N’Zogbia had only 54 touches and still lost possession the most of an Villan (22, level with Ireland and Baker). We’re not giving up on him, but he needs to show he is the dynamic attacking force he was two seasons ago before we would trust him to start every week. Against an Everton midfield than played level with Manchester United a week ago, we’re not expecting that dynamism this weekend.
For Everton – it is all hands on deck. Fellaini, Jagielka, Baines and Jelavic all have experienced more than 10000 additions this gameweek. The good will engendered by the 1-0 win over Man Utd is blinding some to the fact that is was a towering header from the tallest man on the pitch over an out of position midfielder than finally secured the win. We love the potential of Everton’s squad, particularly for fantasy premier league purposes where there are a number of good values, but his side that once more relied on Leighton Baines to generate most of their chances. Baines created five of Everton’s 13 chances, with goal scorer Fellaini (3) the only other member of Moyes’ squad to create more than one. The two of them remain good options, but the arrival of Naismith and Mirallas should be giving FPL managers pause before leaping for Jelavic – who we believe will have a good season – blindly.
“Naismith could be in line for a first start after coming off the bench for his debut against the Red Devils, while Mirallas is set for his Everton bow.”
Those the words coming from Everton’s own site on Aug. 23. We’re not moving off of our summer decision to buy Jelavic, but would have added a “Buy” rating for Fellaini. Keep in mind just a few weeks ago Moyes was preaching caution with the new boy:
Despite that, Moyes says he will bide his time with the striker, who is still working his way back to fitness following a nine-month spell on the sidelines with a cruciate knee ligament injury.
If he is going to be used to take the last 20-30′ of Jelavic’s pitch-time, that would drop the Blues striker value significantly and it would be difficult to justify Jelavic’s £8.5m price tag.
Manchester United vs. Fulham
These two sides are coming off of vastly different fixtures. While United was starting Valencia and Carrick in defense, Fulham thrashed the Canaries 5-0. We’ve already covered a bit of Fulham in this post at EPL Index – Cottager’s Heartbeat – but suffice to say, we continue to believe in Dembélé. Petric has already been added in 71544 FPL sides. Backed by the single highest EA Sports Player Performance Index (EAS PPI) score of the season to date, Petric will face another rise in price with continued investment. As of 23 Aug., he is owned in 6.1% of Fantasy Premier League sides and his price sits at £6.1m.
Fulham has made an official complaint against Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers over his pursuit of Clint Dempsey. Manager Martin Jol has left Dempsey out of the side again for this weekends match with United, and expecting the Cottages to romp to consecutive 5-0 wins without the American talisman is laughable at best. Jol has said:
“It’s the same situation. There has been no formal bid on the table and nothing has changed,” Jol said. Jol is frustrated by Liverpool’s conduct and feels a distracted Dempsey – who arguably hit his best form last year, notching up 17 goals in the Premier League last season – is unfit to play once more.
Without Dempsey in the fold, Bryan Ruiz and Mladen Petric are the two top options to replace the goal void left by Dempsey. We’re usually high on defenders Brede Hangeland and JA Riise but with United likely steaming from their opening day loss, we’re avoiding any of Jol’s defenders this weekend.
The flip side of that coin – we’re starting Rooney, Van Persie, Nani, Valencia, well you know the list. United’s defense remains rife with injury. While a number of the papers are speculating that Jonny Evans will return this weekend, there has been no official word. His return from an ankle injury could help offset the loss of Rio Ferdinand to a groin injury. Man Utd also completed the signing of Alexander Buttner. The left-back, rated at £5.5m, will challenge for Evra’s starting job. However, he could also be utilized as cover for the injured Ferdinand, Smalling, Jones and Evans.
There was some speculation that Rafael was left on the bench vs. Everton over height concerns. The 5′ 8″ back certainly couldn’t have done any worse than Michael Carrick, in retrospect. He is fit, and we expect to see he back and deployed in containment of Leighton Baines. Last season he won 42/49 tackles, 71/116 ground duels and, notably, 12 of 24 aerial duels. In 916′ he was dribbled past just six times. Rafael is priced £5.5m in FPL and selected in 3.7% of sides.
In terms of the rest of the defense, Sir Alex has said that Buttner does NOT look like he will start this weekend, but that Evra could be drafted to start in the centre regardless:
“It’s pretty much the same as Monday night injury-wise. Alex will be involved tomorrow because he gives that back-up. Evra could actually play centre-back. He has done in the past. But I don’t think Alex will start tomorrow, I think he’ll be on the bench.”
We also expect to see the first of many games started by Wayne Rooney and Robin Van Persie. It will be interesting to see their interaction, with both players capable of playing out-and-out striker or slotted in the second-striker role, we expect that there will be considerable movement between the two. We expect that Kagawa has earned another start. He led the Red Devils with four chances created, all coming from open play, while he and Danny Welbeck each completed 2/3 dribbles. Nani only completed 32/36 passes. In contrast, Paul Scholes completed 92/95 passes – 97% – in the top passing performance of the match. Nani’s only contribution was attempting crosses. He made eight crosses, but none of them found the intended target. Hopes that Valencia and Nani would link up well down the flank were not realized in the opening gameweek, and each player could be dropped in favour of Ashley Young.
Norwich vs. QPR
0-5. Twice over. Both the Canaries and Rangers got crushed in the opening gameweek but it was a tale of two losses. For QPR, it was almost against the run of play that they conceded five. QPR held 49.9% of possession and created 15 chances to the Swans seven. However, their finishing would prove their undoing as 21 shots saw just four on target. Adel Taarabt was the poster boy for the frustrating outing. He took eight shots but six were blocked before they ever reached the ‘keeper. Junior Hoilett was simply wasteful, with all three of his shots ending up off target.
There were a number of positive to take. Ji-Sung Park and Adel Taarabt are both worth owning moving forward. The former led the match with six chances created (Swans only created seven, as a team) while the later created five of his own and embarked on a match-high six dribbles, completing two. The duo are both priced at £6m but few FPL managers have been willing to invest - 1498 transfers in for Park, 1030 transfers for Taarabt. We’re still all-in on Adel. QPR will still be without Alejandro Faurlin, lack of fitness, but should be able to field an otherwise full-strength side.
As for Norwich – well this an different kettle of fish. We simply can not recommend investing in their defense at any level, from ‘keeper Ruddy through to the defensive midfielders. We will always have a place for Grant Holt, but his current price £6.5m does not provide you any room for growth. The idea that he will challenge last years goal tally is not grounded in reality, particularly if Norwich are as reliant on the big man to create the chances himself. In their opening match Holty created three of the sides seven chances – he had one dribble – and managed just one shot attempt, which did not find the target. Anthony Pilkington was the Swans most frequent shot-taker, his four efforts all failed to find the target, two being blocked and two simply missing.
If there was on Canary who surprised it was Bradley Johnson. He is priced reasonably at £5m and led the side in both passes attempted and completed, he attempted the most ground duels and was active in the midfield. If he is able to continue to provide the work, Holt could be left free to chase goals. Another discount midfield option would have been Elliot Bennett, but an injury could limit his time on the pitch. Despite playing on 35′ in the opening match, Bennett won all four of his tackles and six of six ground duels.
Part 2/2 will be up later this evening.