Fantasy EPL managers will need to watch Capital One Cup contests this midweek with a bit of concern as a number of Barclays Premier League sides have already sustained substantial injuries. Liverpool were the latest side to succumb to the wave of injuries carrying defenders into physio’s rooms across England and Wales.
The Reds will be without first-choice defenders Martin Kelly and Daniel Agger as both sustained injuries in the 1-2 loss against Manchester United at Anfield on Sunday, with Kelly facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines:
The England international [Kelly] will now require ACL reconstruction. Meanwhile, fellow defender Daniel Agger, who was stretchered off the pitch 13 minutes before Kelly limped out of action, has suffered a significant bone bruise to the left knee. No ligament damage was sustained but further tests will be carried out before it can be established when he will be able to return to training. To add to Brendan Rodgers’ woes, Fabio Borini has considerable swelling to the inner aspect of his right ankle though no fracture was detected on the X-ray.
Brendan Rodgers made headlines recently for his statements that Liverpool need to shoot more and that his side lacks a player with the “DNA” necessary to pull the trigger:
Rodgers wants his players to threaten the goal more, especially as they have scored four times in five Premier League matches, but is happy with the way everything else is developing despite his side being in the bottom three. ”You have to shoot otherwise you don’t score – that is something we know across the board we need to improve on. There’s no reticence to shoot but it is in the DNA of the player, the type of player. That is what we hoped we could bring in over the summer and we weren’t able to do that, ” said Rodgers. ”"So we’ve got to go with what we’ve got until January and you bring in the certain type of player who can help that.”
Liverpool have taken 89 shots and recorded only 21 on target. Opta counts shooting accuracy from the pool of shots that
make it through — in other words ‘blocked’ shots are removed from the equation — and have the Reds with a dismal 31% accuracy. 21 of 76 shots were on target (22 were blocked), resulting in four goals. None of the Liverpool attackers has seperated himself from the pack. Luis Suarez leads the team with 30 shots with eight on target and two goals. He is shooting 32% — eight shots on target, 17 off target and 5 blocked — which is in line with the other two leading shot takers on Liverpool this season. Steven Gerrard is second the team with 13 shots, two on target, 29% shooting accuracy and no goals. Fabio Borini has taken nine shots, two on target, 29% shooting accuracy and has also failed to score in the Premier League. Fantasy EPL managers cringe but we continue to tout Suarez because of the volume of chances he receives. This news should be viewed by fantasy EPL managers as a welcome sign that Suarez will be given more latitude to take the attack to opposing defenders.
There is some good news on the injury front for Newcastle. Alan Pardew will welcome back Cheik Tioté and Fabricio Coloccini. From the Guardian:
Pardew trusts the return of Cheik Tioté and Fabricio Coloccini at Manchester United in the League Cup on Wednesday night will help his Newcastle United side recapture their former bite and fluency. ”Tioté gets a grip of a game and gives you a platform to play,” said Pardew. “You can start to dominate with somebody like Cheik. He’s one of our most important players. We need to get him back as quickly as we can and he’ll feature on Wednesday. Coloccini will get some minutes too. He gives us an assurance we’ve missed.”
Pardew did touch briefly on the topic of Papiss Cissé. The Senegalese striker is without a goal this season and missed a penalty that would have put the Magpies match on Sunday out of touch. Instead, he missed and Newcastle were forced to deal with a few tense moments as they saw off the Canaries challenge. The return of Tioté could mean we will see even more from Hatem Ben Arfa. Ben Arfa has already created nine chances this season, by far the most in the squad, and embarked on 34 of NUFC’s 77 dribbles — he has completed 59% of them. With Tioté in the fold there should be fewer defensive responsibilities for the winger, allowing him to range farther into attacking play.
The BBC is reporting ‘sweeping changes’ for Roberto Mancini’s Manchester City side when they host Aston Villa on Tuesday in the League Cup. Fantasy EPL managers take note: not least of those changes are a reported front pairing of Carlos Tevez and Mario Balotelli:
Carlos Tevez and Mario Balotelli are likely to start up front while youngsters Denis Suarez, Abdul Razaq and Luca Scapuzzi will be in the squad. Roberto Mancini will undoubtedly field a much-changed side from the one which drew with Arsenal on Sunday. But given the abundance of riches at his disposal, the City team which walks out against Villa should still possess plenty of ability.
The article notes that the League Cup will be well at the bottom of City’s priorities this season and it is interesting to see Tevez dropped from the starting XI this weekend past should he be slated to start Tuesday. Fantasy EPL managers should not discount this selection rotation but do not believe Tevez has fallen in the pecking order, though it was disheartening to see him on the bench at the start of the match vs. Arsenal. We all know the loan Manchester City goal came from Joleon Lescott while Tevez was not introduced until late on. He failed to post a goal or assist in his 23′, the first match in five tries that he failed to post a goal, a Fantasy Premier League assist or both. Fantasy EPL is fed by snap judgments and Tevez has fallen under 50% ownership as we await Tuesday’s kickoff.
Everton also have some good news on the injury front as Nikica Jelavic is fit for the League Cup. We tweeted this earlier and this is the full story:
The Croatian striker missed the win at Swansea with a knee problem sustained in the 2-2 draw with Newcastle United. He is deemed fit enough to return at Elland Road, but the game has come too soon for Tony Hibbert (calf) and Darron Gibson (thigh). Assistant boss, Steve Round, said: “The manager might make one or two changes but the squad is the same. Jelavic is fit and comes back in but otherwise it will be the same. “We are still without Tony Hibbert and Darron Gibson. The manager will pick the team on Tuesday and it will be a strong team no matter who he goes with.” Bryan Oviedo will once again be involved having made his Blues debut as a late substitute at Swansea.
In Jelavic’s absence there was a cacophony of attacking prowess as strikers Anichebe and Mirallas both scored in the 0-3 victory over Swansea City. However, the dissoance came from the positioning of Maroune Fellaini, pushing the attack in the first half and deployed as a second-striker — if not outright striker — late in the match and the continued presence of defender Leighton Baines in the attack. Fellaini was widely touted as playing a deeper-lying role to combat Swansea’s desire to push their attack through Wayne Routledge via Pablo, Michu and Dyer. If he continues to find himself in that role, his fantasy EPL potential is sky-high and his possible value could be immeasurable as the Belgian is priced £7.1m, eligible as a midfielder and owned in 25.6%. Baines price continues to rise and we expect he will be pushing £8.0m before too long.
Everton’s Phil Neville makes an astute point about Swansea and Steven Caulker:
Swansea City are missing Steven Caulker more than Joe Allen and Scott Sinclair according to Everton veteran Phil Neville. The former England defender says Caulker’s absence has hit the Swans’ capabilities at the back. ”He really impressed me – [an] out and out defender,” said Neville. “He was technically good on the ball, but he did like to defend. And I think out of all the players that Swansea have lost this season, maybe Caulker was the one that they probably miss more than anything because in the Premiership forwards are getting quicker, better technically and goal-scoring this season has been frightening. And I think if you keep clean sheets you’re going to win most games and at the moment Swansea are probably finding that difficult.”
Without Allen, Sinclair and Caulker, Laundrup’s Swans have struggled to keep clean sheets and it may be time for fantasy EPL managers to realize there will not be many more to come. Stoke City, Reading and Wigan are the next three and if Swansea aren’t able to right the ship by the end of the three-match stretch it will be time to sell Angel Rangel and Ashley Williams.
Another side that will be without an influential defender is Manchester United. Word out today is that Nemanja Vidic is out for a minimum of eight weeks:
Manchester United has issued the following statement regarding club captain Nemanja Vidic: ”Nemanja Vidic has had a meniscus operation on his right knee and will be out for around eight weeks. Sir Alex, as a precautionary measure, rested Vidic at the weekend, after he complained of tightness in his knee, however, further medical investigation revealed the underlying problem. The central defender was operated on this week and will be sidelined for about eight weeks.”
With Vidic out, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones are already sidelined and Tottenham, Newcastle, Arsenal and Chelsea slated for the next five gameweeks, we are expecting United to concede liberally over the next two months. Fantasy EPL managers should shy away from David de Gea or Anders Lindegaard, though investing in relatively inexpensive options like Rafael and Alexander Buttner could result in rewards in the offensive end.
It’s a full week of footy and a full slate of Fantasy EPL analysis, as well. Please follow us @FantasyGaffer, email email@example.com and check back to the site for updates every weekday.