EPL Fantasy saw a number of fine performances from Barclays Premier League players in their midweek Champions League encounters. Both Arsenal and Manchester City finished the day with 2-2 draws, one leaving the Gunners in second place and the other all but closing the book on the Citizens European aspirations. We’ve already published one post this week, yesterday’s Up The Tweets!, and will endeavor to have more new content tomorrow.
Manchester City 2-2 Ajax
Yaya Toure 22′
Sergio Aguero 74′
Manchester City starting XI: Hart; Nastasic Zabaleta Kompany Clichy; Nasri Garcia Barry Yaya; Tevez Aguero
Substitutes: Balotelli (Garcia 45′); Dzeko (Tevez 66′); Kolarov (Barry 85′)
While the result does nothing for Roberto Mancini’s side but stave off the inevitable, the goals for Yaya Toure and Sergio Aguero are a welcome site for a side with two goals in their previous three fixtures. In Barclays Premier League action, City was held scoreless against West Ham last time out and managed only one goal in their 1-0 home win over Swansea the weekend before. In the next two calender weeks City will face Spurs, Vila and Chelsea in the League and host Real Madrid in their penultimate Group Stage fixture. Carlos Tevez continues to earn minutes, with 66′ more in this fixture and the Argentine had scored the only goal for Mancini’s men in their previous 180′.
Although Manchester City had only scored one goal in their previous two League fixtures, some defensive frailties were papered over by a lesser class of opposition as they kept consecutive clean sheets for the first time this season. The consecutive clean sheets were only the second and third of their season. We still can not advocate owning any of the Citizens defenders as the combination of price, squad rotation and lack of defensive points — points from clean sheets — make owning the players a high-cost, high-risk proposition.
David Silva did not play again because of his injury. With the Spanish international still the leading provider of chances in the squad, his absent . According to Opta, Silva has created 21 chances, just ahead of Carlos Tevez (19), Yaya Toure (18) and Samir Nasri (17). The collection of exceptional attacking talent currently boasts only two players with better than two League goals this term: Eden Dzeko (5) and Tevez (4). Both are within the Top 10 in the BPL at the moment, but one of the few concerns EPL fantasy managers had at the start of the season dealt with City scoring goals. A brace in Europe is not a minor achievement but it will require dedication to build on it against a Spurs side that have held opponents to one goal or fewer in seven of their 10 BPL matches this term.
Schalke 04 2-2 Arsenal
Arsenal starting XI: Mannone; Sagna Vermaelen Mertesacker Koscielny; Arteta Wilshire; Santi Podolski Walcott; Giroud
Substitutes: Conquelin (Santi 90′); Andre Santos (Podolski 90′)
A return to the starting XI for Theo Walcott paid early dividends as the England winger put the Gunners ahead and looked lively. He has not earned enough minutes and this effort could pave the wave for Walcott to earn additional playing time. After sustaining a freak, and quite serious, injury on international duty, Walcott could do with a bit of luck. EPL fantasy managers may not have much incentive to buy him at this point, but his presence could well open lanes for Santi Cazorla and create more opportunities for Olivier Giroud.
Wenger did address the “Walcott Issue” after the match, but was rather non-committal on the whole affair, odd no?
Wenger refused to elaborate on his reluctance to hand Walcott a regular starting position despite his side’s indifferent form of late. “Theo did well, very well,” stated the Arsenal boss. “He had a positive attitude and was fresh as well. He was the only one you always felt could make a difference and it was no coincidence he had the chance in the final minute as he was still fresh.”
When quizzed on whether Walcott will get the chance he desires to play as an out and out striker, Wenger has this response: “A winger is a striker,” he suggested. “Giroud has Walcott and Podolski with him in this game. We scored two goals. We had more chances and played with three offensive midfielders as well.”
In the back, both Koscielny and Mertesacker both got the start here, and further confused the question of which defenders will be the first-choice defensive unit. The Gunners have kept one clean sheet in their past seven BPL fixtures and have won only one of their last three. We do not love the upcoming slate of fixtures with Fulham — third in the BPL in scoring with 21 goals for — and Tottenham 6th with 17 goals scored — next up in League play. While Andre Santos was a late substitute, he did not earn another start following poor showings against Shalke and Manchester United. Santos was not part of the side that allowed 5 to Reading in the 5-7 win in the Carling Cup, but he should be sixth or seventh choice in a side that boasts several top defensive options.
A fun screen shot from EPL Index – and they can be followed on Twitter @EPLIndex – shows the current TOP 10 most chances created in BPL play this term as of November 6 as Leighton Baines continues to set a breakneck pace which has yet to be matched.
For more fantasy EPL analysis, follow along @FantasyGaffer. EPL Fantasy managers can expect another post Wednesday or Thursday and Last Minute Tinkers to return late on Friday or perhaps early Saturday, as usual.