With Fantasy Premier League tips needed as the League returns to action, Last Minute Tinkers are back following the international break a few players light. Theo Walcott, Bryan Ruiz, Kieran Gibbs and David Silva all look set to miss out while Dimitar Berbatov and Mladen Petric are reportedly fit to return. Plenty more names face late fitness and we recap the season to date below. Part 1/2 Available Here.
Manchester United v Stoke City
The Red Devils will welcome back Ashley Young following two months on the sidelines with a foot injury. The trio of Young, Nani and Antonio Valencia will likely continue to rotate. While the offense is remarkably consistent, the plethora of attacking options make owning any of the midfielders a difficult proposition.
We’re not covering United in much depth because until we see the rotation of a fully healthy squad we can not handicap the value in FPL against playing time and price. Our love of Nani is well documented and we do not care to own Shinji Kagawa at this point in the season. Low cost options like Tom Cleverley provide an inexpensive route to playing a five-man midfield but frankly we’d prefer to start James Morrison, Matt Jarvis or Raheem Sterling. We’re fully in the Wayne Rooney camp and have moved off of Robin van Perise as the chances created by and provided to the Dutch playmaker are decreasing as the season wears on and he remains far off the pace set last season with Arsenal. That said, this is a good opponent, historically, for van Perise to score against, per OptaJoe:
6 – @persie_official has scored six goals in five Premier League appearances against Stoke City. Thorn.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) October 19, 2012
The Potters have nearly a full squad with only Glenn Whelan facing a late fitness test. The midfielder was injured before the break and missed out on Republic of Ireland’s World Cup qualifiers against Germany and the Faroe Islands. Michael Owen also faces a late fitness test but seems unlikely to supplant Peter Crouch at the head of Tony Pulis’ attack. The lanky forward has been exceptional this term with four goals and an assist. Crouch plays in an offense that runs through himself and Jonathan Walters and that means it will be feast or famine with the striker having three matches with 9+ FPL points and three matches with two FPL points. Fantasy Premier League tip is that the £6.7m-rated player is still owned in fewer than 10% of FPL sides (9.2%), the second-most of any forward priced under £7.0m — Rickie Lambert is priced £6.3m and 10% selected.
Against Manchester United we are benching, where ever possible, Stoke’s defenders and GK. The 18.2% of FPL managers who’ve selected Ryan Shawcross had hope they have depth in their fourth/fifth defenders and have not simply purchased their back line for the discounted price.
Captains Choices: van Persie (7/10), Rooney (7/10), Crouch (4/10)
Swansea v Wigan
Swansea will want to build on their 2-2 draw with Reading by getting the full three points this weekend. Fantasy Premier League managers have moved from Michu in modest numbers and the Spanish forward is regressing in price for the first time this season. At £7.2m and 31% selected he is higher priced and owned that Nathan Dyer. That may have been a problem earlier in the season but the Swans inability to rely on either Danny Graham or Luke Moore to provide goals may have manager Michael Laudrup pushing Michu further up the field. The key to Michu’s value is his goal scoring as he does not create enough, and Swans offense is too weak, to provide the level of assists required to post elite-level FPL points. He has a 15-goal campaign under his belt and could reach that mark this season if he is deployed as the second-striker. It is a reversal for our position, but we do believe in a tactical switch is coming. The rest of this side is not worth much in FPL, with the notable exception of Wayne Routledge.
Routledge has created 15 chances to lead Swansea and rate level-11th in the BPL, having created one more chance this term than Juan Mata. He has 41 FPL points, is priced a scant £5.2m and is selected in 11.5% of sides. There are a number of midfielders in a similar price but only LFC’s Raheem Sterling provides better value for the price in midfield than Routledge.
This is an important game for both sides with Laudrup and Roberto Martinez looking for a much-needed three points. While Swansea is likely to field an unchanged XI, the Latics have a few issues to resolve before kickoff:
Wigan will be without defender Antolin Alcaraz and winger Albert Crusat. The former has not played since the Capital One Cup win over Nottingham Forest at the end of August because of a groin injury and is likely to be out for another couple of weeks, while Crusat has a knee problem. Latics boss Roberto Martinez will also monitor Maynor Figueroa and Jean Beausejour closely after their long international trips with Honduras and Chile respectively.
We frequently end our section of Wigan by writing something to the effect of “Shaun Maloney (1o chances created), Arouna Koné (nine) and Emmerson Boyce (eight) lead the team in chances created and are the only three Latics we would trust. Despite our lack of faith, £5.4-rated Franco Di Santo continues to provide goals. His three goals are level with Koné for best in the squad but we continue to prefer Reading’s Pogrebnyak for similar production at a steeply reduced rate.”
Feel free to cut-and-paste that into our Wigan analysis until otherwise notified.
Captains Choices: Michu (7/10), Koné (7/10)
West Ham v Southampton
First up – the injuries, naturally:
Guy Demel (leg) and Winston Reid (back) are both facing races to be fit after being forced to miss out on international duty for Ivory Coast and New Zealand respectively. Joey O’Brien and James Tomkins are fit and standing by to come in, if required. France midfielder Alou Diarra continues to be sidelined by a thigh injury.
Demel and Reid are the biggest questions with Fantasy Premier League with Reid (11.3%) and Demel (10.7%) among the most selected Hammers. 17.8%-selected goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen will be without at least one of the defenders who’ve provided him ample cover this term. Hammers gaffer Sam Allardyce did not provide much clarity and it is best to presume neither play:
“We are OK other than the shock of Senegal versus the Ivory Coast in which we had two players involved in a horrific situation. One (Guy Demel) was injured so he didn’t play but they have both come back OK. Andy Carroll has got back and he is OK. Winston Reid did not get back until late on Thursday but he was called up despite being injured and had to fly 26,000 miles to not play. Everybody else is doing well. Our main problem is that Winston had a back problem before he left and we do not know how he has responded to treatment over in New Zealand. Guy has a thigh problem and will probably not be ready for Saturday and we have a few other injuries but internationals-wise they have come back OK.”
Jussi does lead the BPL with 32 saves (by Opta, FPL credits him with 28) and will likely need to significantly add to that tally to prevent the Saints from scoring here. We like Matt Jarvis over Mark Noble or Kevin Nolan as Ricardo Van Te’s long-term shoulder injury will necessitate one of the wingers pushing the attack in the final third and Jarvis’ skill-set fits the bill nicely. Andy Carroll does have one defender capable of matching height – Jos Hooiveld is listed at 1.93m while Carroll is listed 1.91m (both via espn.com player profiles).
The Saints Rickie Lambert had a dream match in gameweek seven. On paper. We should mention that dream match was on paper. Our paper. Instead it was defender Jose Fonte netting a brace with assists to Daniel Fox and Adam Lallana. Lambert posted two points and was withdrawn after 66′ with the Saints leading 2-0. They promptly surrendered the lead and could have used their most influential attacker in the later stages. We expect he’s back for 90′ and good for a goal in this one. Lallana remains a viable FPL midfielder with four assists including one in each of Southampton’s past three BPL fixtures.
As for jumping on the Fonte bandwagon, we would advise against it. In the previous six outings he recorded 1, 1, 1, -1, 2 and 1 FPL points.
Captains Choices: Jarvis (5/10), Lambert (6/10)
Norwich v Arsenal
Canaries are due for another difficult tilt with the Gunners set to start an attacking lineup filled with players who will press the attack in a similar style to Liverpool. Unlike LFC, we expect the Gunners to remain solid at the back and limit the chances for Grant Holt and Anthony Pilkington. Robert Snodgrass did not play in gameweek seven and may be dealing with an ankle injury. His absence makes it easier on Arsenal and if he was fit we would not start him as he will likely carry significant defensive responsibilities in this match.
Arsene Wenger is facing a few injury issues, but nothing that will impact the Gunners ability to score a bushel against the Canaries:
Theo [Walcott] is out for Saturday, for sure. He has an injury to his chest and lungs. We have to treat that clinically. It’s no major concern but it will take we think about two weeks to be back to a normal level. Kieran Gibbs is out for Saturday because he went off against West Ham. He’s not healed yet. He has a little chance to be ready for Wednesday and a bigger chance for QPR. Szczesny I think is two weeks away. Rosicky is still a few weeks away and Diaby as well.
These injuries have very little Fantasy Premier League impact as Walcott has not secured a staring role and the rest of the injuries are mostly long term. The loss of Kieran Gibbs is not a surprise, and we’re not selling him unless necessary, but he should recover and reclaim a starting role.
Elsewhere, Laurent Koscielny is reportedly absent while Bacary Sagna and Jack Wilshire still need more reserve team action before Wenger will consider re-introducing them in the first team. This all means that Per Mertesacker will be in the starting XI. The German scored his second goal in 84 appearances for his National team. Don’t count on offensive contribution but play the centre-back with eyes on a cleansheet.
We love Santi Cazorla, Gervinho and Olivier Giroud in this matchup. Santi given his role in the attack is our highest rated captains choice of the week with a 9/10 confidence rating. Giroud scored against Iker Casillas over the break and we expect to see him in the starting XI with Gervinho, Podolski and Santi Cazorla in the attacking midfield roles. It is possible that Oxlade-Chamberlain gets the nod, but we’re not investing in OX at this stage in his career.
OptaJoe validates our assesment:
9 – Santi Cazorla has scored more goals from outside the box than any other player in the top 5 European leagues since Aug 2011. Belters.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) October 19, 2012
5 – Norwich City have conceded the most goals from outside the box this season in the Premier League. Screamer.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) October 19, 2012
Captains Choices: Santi (9/10), Giroud (7/10) and Holt (3/10)
Sunderland v Newcastle
The Black Cats have one FPL player selected in better than 5.5% of sides – Steven Fletcher in 10.9%. The Black Cats have one player who has scored a goal in Barclays Premier League actions – Steven Fletcher who has netted 5/5 SAFC goals since joining from Wolves. The Black Cats have one player who has taken more than 10 shots (12 with eight on-target) and has scored a clear-cut chance (two such chances for two goals). It is the £7.4m-rated Fletcher who should be first name in your FPL squad sheet with only Seb Larsson and Adam Johnson in contention within the squad.
Only two Black Cats have posted better than 20 FPL points this term, Fletcher and ‘keeper Simon Mignolet (23) while Larsson’s 20 pace the midfielders. This is one of the few matches we would have considered but news from St. James is all positive for Alan Pardew’s side:
Captain Fabricio Coloccini is back in contention following a hamstring injury, while defender Steven Taylor and goalkeeper Tim Krul are also available for selection having recovered from respective calf and elbow complaints..
This is excellent news for Magpies and FPL managers alike. The return of Taylor and Coloccini should strengthen a depleted back line and Krul’s return will re-establish most of the foundation that posted 15 clean sheets last season. Newcastle has only one clean sheet to their credit this season and this will be a good test as they deal with one of the best out-and-out poachers in the game. Sunderland are also
Newcastle do have a midweek match in the Europa League and Pardew may elect to exercise caution with his trio of returning stars. We’re not ready to invest in Newcastle’s defense at this time but discount options Williamson and Tavernier have significantly less value moving forward.
This season Demba Ba has outshot Papiss Cisse 25:16, put more on-target 10:4, out-scored his countryman 6:0. Add to that, Ba and Cisse have each created six chances but Cisse is priced £9m in FPL. It is no surprise that Ba commands 30% selection while Cisse rests at 4%. We had Ba as a massive bargain before he went and scored five in three between gameweek four and six. As he approached £9m and is owned in nearly 1/3 of FPL sides, there is far less upside to owning the Senegalese forward. One positive, as we noted on Twitter, Senegal is out of the African Nation’s Cup and the Magpies duo will not be absent on international duty this winter.
Captains Choices: Fletcher (6/10), Ba (6/10), Ben Arfa (6/10)
QPR v Everton
This post has gotten far too long. Fortunately, these final two sides do not provide much by way of intrigue. We do not advocate owning any of Mark Hughes’ side with few exceptions. £6.4m-rated forward Bobby Zamora has scored three goals in 522′. Zamora is not inexpensive enough to sit and does not produce enough to warrant a place starting in a three-man front. We continue to point to Ji-Sung Park as an under-appreciated leading the squad with 13 chances created. FantasyGaffer favourites in Hughes’ side do not fare well (Shaun Wright-Phillips, Adel Taarabt) and Park is no different. We believe he will have three goals and 10 assists at the end of the season but those numbers will not make for interesting reading for most FPL managers.
Toffees are easier the other way. There are so many quality Fantasy Premier League options that it is hard to go wrong. One quick note:
NEWS ALERT: Marouane Fellaini to miss Everton’s game at QPR with knee injury.
— Official Everton (@Everton) October 19, 2012
We’re buying Steve Pienaar (20 chances created, level-fifth in BPL with Lennon and Bale) and Nikica Jelavic, selling Fellaini while he is injured and using whatever funds necessary for Leighton Baines. Baines is the designated penalty-taker and takes most of the free kicks from dangerous wing positions. We like Everton to draw a number of fouls in the match against a side that has 10 yellow cards and a dismissal. Everton have won 91 fouls (conceded 88) while QPR have concede 82. We infrequently captain a defender, but Baines 30 chances created and continued presence in the final-third have us believing he could be a valuable captain this week.
Captains Choices: Baines (8/10), Jelavic (7/10)