Fantasy Premier League managers your long wait is over. Last Minute Tinkers is here to address all of your needs. It’s a short one this week. We’ve written at length about the Champions League here and here and the injury news for the week seems set, with few impact players – from a fantasy premier league standpoint – due to undergo late fitness tests. Onward with part 1/2.
Swansea v Everton
This is not a simple match for either side. The corresponding fixture a season ago ended in a 2-2 draw and featured a free-kick goal from Leighton Baines that would do many Fantasy EPL sides a bit of good this weekend. We have made an exception to our mantras of ‘no high priced defenders’ and ‘you can not predict defender scoring’ for the new England left-back. Until his price climbs into a new, higher tier he is undervalued for the production he provides. Steve Pienaar is frequently the subject of our praise, and he remains an exception fantasy premier league player and recorded two assists in gameweek 4.
The only negative for David Moyes’ squad are the absences:
Moyes: Gibson (thigh), Jelavic (bruised knee) both out for Swansea. Hibbert a doubt, Oviedo available.
— Official Everton (@Everton) September 21, 2012
If you own Swansea defenders, you are riding them out in this match unless you’ve significant depth assembled. We’re looking to sit Michel Vorm, Angel Rangel, Ashley Williams and the rest in favour of other rotation defenders like Guy Demel (home v SAFC), Aaron Hughes (away to Wigan) or William Gallas (home v QPR). The favoured attackers in this lineup — Michu, Wayne Routledge and Danny Graham — will have trouble finding the space in a midfield bosses by Maroune Fellaini and Pienaar. This could be a long day for Vorm and a five or six save outing is reasonable. If he could avoid the inevitable goals, he would be in line for a big day.
Chelsea v Stoke City
We’ve read a bit between the lines here, but we think that Eden Hazard has guaranteed a goal and an assist against the Potters:
With that level of confidence, coupled with Stoke’s defensive liabilities on the road and Andy Wilkinson’s absence –violent conduct charge — will see Roberto Di Matteo’s men press the attack from the opening whistle. After seeing a brace from Oscar fail to deliver three points in the Champions League, we expect that the front line of Chelsea will keep their boot on the throat of the Potter’s defense until full time.
Concerns about Hazard being rotated out for this match should be alieviated both by his outstanding performance against Juventus and by the absence of Daniel Sturridge:
RDM: “Daniel Sturridge is better but tomorrow will be too soon, if he doesn’t make the League Cup game it shouldn’t be much longer.” #CFC
— Chelsea FC (@chelseafc) September 21, 2012
Juan Mata has been coming off the bench of late and did not feature in gameweek 4. RDM’s decision for the starting XI should be between Bertrand and Oscar to play the left wing while Torres lines up in the centre of the line, flanked by Hazard on the right. We are starting Chelsea defenders, if they’re still owned, but caution against long-term investments in Terry/Cole/Ivanovic/Luiz as the Blue’s slate runs: Arsenal, Norwich, Tottenham, Man Utd, Swansea, Liverpool, West Brom, Man City.
For the Potters, it is all Jonathan Walters and Peter Crouch. Walters has scored once and assisted on two goals over the past two matches. Crouch scored the other two goals and assisted on Walters loan goal. Michael Knightly scored the only other Potter’s goal this season, an unassisted strike in the 1-1 draw with Reading on the opening day of the season. Fantasy premier league investment the list is two names long.
Southampton v Aston Villa
This will be Rickie Lambert’s triumph. Call it a hunch, but the player who has two goals, one assist and 10 chances created in 275′ this term. Southampton have scored five goals in their opening four fixtures, including two against both Manchester sides. The only side who held them without a goal was Wigan, who defeated the Saints 0-2 at St. Mary’s. The one negative to their season – Nigel Adkins’ side has not taken a point in the Barclays Premier League, or kept a clean sheet in all competitions after allowing one to Stevenage 28 August. Get Lambert in your side if you’re able, but avoid the rest of the Saints.
Aston Villa posted their first clean sheet of the season in gameweek 4 in a 2-0 victory over Swansea City at Villa Park. It was a 16′ strike from Matt Lowton giving the Villans the lead before substitute Christain Benteke secured all three points with his 88′ strike following his 71′ bow for Andreas Weimann. We like Benteke but it is the £4.9m-rated midfielder Barry Bannan that deserves Fantasy EPL attention. He has created seven chances this season and played the full 90′ in the last two BPL fixtures. The rest of the options are discount defenders and we’ve covered the Villans defense here.
West Brom v Reading
Oh the Baggies. We’ve touched on Peter Odemwingie already here, and we’re not sold on any of the other attacking options except Romelu Lukaku. We wrote:
A start for Lukaku against a porous Reading defensive is a dream start for Fantasy EPL managers. If you’re struggling to make a mark in your mini-league, taking a punt on the £6.5m-rated forward could yield immediate results. WBA face Reading, Aston Villa and QPR in their next three matches. Odemwingie will begin his three-match ban against Reading for his gameweek 4 red card. He will miss the next two gameweeks and be eligible to return for the 6 October fixture.
Reading allowed six in their last fixture against Arsenal and Lukaku has the class to bag a brace if given the start.
Defensively, this is as good a time as any to invest in and start your Baggies. Reading is followed by Aston Villa and QPR, so another clean sheet or two is well within reach over the coming gameweeks. No preference given, though recent production points the finger at £5.2m Gareth McAuley and his one goal, one assist season to date.
Reading remain without ‘keeper Adam Federici which means another start for the £4.0m-rated Alex McCarthy. We preach owning bench options that will play, better to get one point than none, but McCarthy doesn’t look capable of keeping a clean sheet and Reading faces a tricky set of fixtures for clean sheet purposes. Following the trip to West Brom, they host Newcastle, have back-to-back away fixtures against Swansea and Liverpool and then return home to host Fulham. The injury was just coincidental, reports the BBC:
Reading manager Brian McDermott says keeper Adam Federici was dropped for Sunday’s game against Tottenham because of poor form and not due to injury. Federici had made mistakes in both of Reading’s opening two fixtures. The Australian keeper had been injured, but McDermott says it was form and not fitness that prompted his decision. ”I really like Adam and he works very hard but things have not gone his way, so Alex has come into the team,” McDermott told BBC Radio Berkshire.
We’re not investing in much at the back and none of these defenders are worth more than a fifth defender spot given their absurdly low (£3.9m) price tags. Up front, Reading lacks a Rickie Lambert figure to invest in. The do not have a creative force with a lethal finishing touch. But they do have Pavel Pogrebnyak and that is enough for fantasy EPL purposes. His price is down to £4.9m and he has one goal scored in 234′ over three fixtures. That’s not a heady pace, but if he were to carry it through the season he would finish with 13 goals – an excellent tally for the minimal investment. Danny Guthrie is also worth a punt as your fifth midfielder. He has played more than 80′ in all three fixtures, starting out in slotted behind Pog in a 4-4-1-1 and sliding into the middle of the pitch when Le Fondre is introduced to the 4-4-2. He’s priced £4.4m and selected in only 5.4% of FPL sides.
West Ham v Sunderland
Get your Steven Fletcher comments and questions out of the way early. If you have not read this yet – TOP Poachers - go and read it. We’ll wait for you…. Good. So now we’ve answered all your Fletcher queries – buy him, start him, revel in the majesty that is his final (and frequently only) touch.
We are not expecting Andy Johnson back for this match and the number of potential Black Cats grows. Carlos Cuellar should also miss out and they join Phil Bardsley and Wes Brown in the physio’s room for this weekend, at least.
On the horizon, there is the hope that Andy Carrol could return for the October 6 match:
Carroll has now resumed light training and, if all goes well, the striker could be back for the visit of Arsenal on October 6, which would put him back in the contention for England’s next World Cup double header against San Marino and Poland.
That is not definitive, but we can continue to use Ricardo Vaz Te without fear of his losing his sport in the starting rotation for at least the next two gameweeks. Kevin Nolan is losing his luster as he falls to third in the creative cue behind Vaz Te and Mark Noble. Also interesting to note that manager Sam Allardyce is expectinge more from his fit strikers:
Now, Allardyce expects more from his stand-in strikers. He said: “It depends on the likes of Carlton Cole and Modibo Maiga stepping in and doing the business, making sure we use the strength of the squad when we need to.
Maiga is priced £5.2m with 0.1% selection. West Ham face this slate over the next five gameweeks: Sunderland, QPR, Arsenal, Southampton and Wigan.
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Part 2: Available HERE.