As the dust begins to settle on Round 9 of the Irish Times Fantasy Premier League, the fall out from the weekends fixtures continues to dominate the headlines but for fantasy managers there is little or no time to dwell on what went before as we gear up for Round 10. Last weekend saw a number controversial decisions with Luis Suarez’s last minute winner in the Merseyside derby wrongly ruled out of offside, Fernando Torres sent off after he was adjudged to have dived and Javier Hernandez’s winner at the Bridge was allowed stand after replay’s show he was clearly in an off side position. controversial decisions aside it was however a weekend full of goals as no fewer than 28 goals were scored over the course of the weekend and only four clean sheets on the board.
So let us dive into the weekends action and see what lesson’s can be learned ahead of Round 10.
Sunday’s clash at the Bridge seems like as good a place as any to start and controversy aside it was a good week for Robin Van Persie and his fantasy owners as he notched up a goal and an assist and was unlucky perhaps not to have more, worryingly though for fantasy managers who have opted for Wayne Rooney’s services up front the England international has been pushed further back into the United midfield which is going to have an effect on his potential points return and will leave managers with a tough decision as United welome Arsenal to Old Trafford in round 10. The United defense is another source of worry for many as they continue to leak goals and despite some good performances recently from Johnny Evans the reliability of the back four leaves a lot to be desired.
Chelsea of course will feel hard done by after they saw both Ivanovic and Torres sent off at the weekend and with many fantasy managers relying on the services of Ivanovic the three match ban will mean that a suitable replacement will have to be found ahead of this weekends action, but on a brighter note Juan Mata continues to impress and for the fourth time in five games he has out shone Eden Hazard. Mata has continued to show he is capable of returns against the big teams and at the moment looks like the best attacking option for fantasy managers looking for a Chelsea coverage in their fantasy team ahead of their game against Swansea in Round 10.
Liverpool are anther side who will feel hard done by last weekend as they saw Luis Suarez’s last minute winner wrongly adjudged to have been off side, but in terms of fantasy potential Suarez is certainly one to be considering ahead of the visit of Newcastle this weekend. Suarez has six goals and three assists already this season meaning he has now had a hand in nine of Liverpool’s 12 goals this term; a clear indication of his importance to their attacking forays. He is now up to fourth top scoring forward in Fantasy Premier League and, while many other forwards are prone to rest and rotation, Suarez offers a consistency of game time and selection which many will find to hard to ignore. The only worry from a fantasy perspective is of course the amount of chances he requires to find the net, but if he can reduce this over the coming weeks he will surely become a must have for most.
Gareth Bale returned against his former club and produced the goods on the road once again – he has now scored in each of his last three away matches and has averaged nine points per game from week 4 onwards. Jermain Defoe provided an assist for his Fantasy owners and has now produced attacking points in seven of his nine appearances for the north London outfit – little wonder he continues to get the nod over Emmanuel Adebayor as the lone forward. Elsewhere, Clint Dempsey is starting to offer an alternative to Bale in the midfield – the US international grabbed a goal and has now scored or assisted in three of his last four under Villas-Boas.
Once again, the Newcastle forwards produced the goods as Alan Pardew’s men won for the first time since Round 5. Ba went into yesterday’s game having scored six and assisted one of the Magpies first nine goals and fired the hosts ahead at St James’ Park before being forced off with a knock midway through the second-half. While Papiss Cisse grabbed the headlines with a late, late winner, Pardew will be sweating on Ba’s fitness for next weekend’s trip to Liverpool, with his contribution crucial to their chances of goals; with West Ham, Swansea, Southampton, Stoke and Wigan to come after the Anfield clash, Ba will undoubtedly pick up huge interest if he’s fit and available ahead of next weekend’s game.
Manchester City it seems are struggling to find goals at the moment and had to rely on a long distance effort from Carlos Tevez to seal the three points against Swansea. City’s attack has lost it’s bite compared to this time last season having scored 15 fewer goals than at this time last year. At the back however City look to have sorted out their sinking stats having now only conceded 1 goal in their last three games, however with the injury sustained to Micah Richards on Saturday he is now likely to be out for at least four weeks which will mean further disruption at the back for City and with both Pablo Zabaleta and Maicon currently on City’s list of casualties. That could force Mancini into a system with three at the back, unless Kolo Toure is called to take up the right-back role.
Swansea too have an injury concern of their own as they saw Michel Vorm stretchered off with a groin injury picked up while trying to stop Carlos Tevez’s goal. Swans boss Michael Laudrup has siad he expects Vorm to be out for anything up to 6 weeks with the groin injury which means fantasy managers who currently rely on his services are going to have look elsewhere for a shot stopper ahead of round 10.
Santi Cazorla ia with out doubt Arsenal’s best summer signing, yet he continues to frustate Gunners and fantasy managers in front of goal, the Spaniard had a number of chances against QPR at the weekend the most promising from 12 yards out which he managed to blast over the bar. Cazorla seems to struggle infront of the Emirates crowd with only one assist to speak of at home this season, while on the road he has mustered up 2 goals and 2 assists on his travels, these must be worry stats for fantasy managers as Arsenal prepare to travel to Old Trafford in round 10, before facing both Fulham and Tottenham at home, a big performance will be needed in round 10 from Cazorla if he to avoid being transfered out by a large number of managers, but judging on recent performances he is certainly capable, he just needs to find his finishing boots.
While we are on the subject of Arsenal fantasy managers will have noticed that Bacary Sagna made his return for the Gunners last weekend as Carl Jenkinson was rested. This will have undoubtedly frustrated many fantasy managers as Jenkinson at £4.0 million was the cheapest option into the Gunners back four but it would now seem likely that with the return of Sagna the young Welshman will have to be content with a place on the bench.
Fulham could have been forgiven for thinking that scoring three times away from home would be enough to secure a rare win on the road for them, but Reading it seemed had different ideas as they fought back for a 3-3 draw and truth be told probably could have won it at the death. Bryan Ruiz was undoubtedly the bright spark for the Cottagers as he came off the bench on the hour mark to chip in with a goal and an assist that could surely see him gain a starting place this weekend as Fulham face Everton at home and at £5.7 million offers a cheaper alternative to Dimitar Berbatov for fantasy managers. The bulgarian was not to be outdone however and netted Fulham’s third, however if reports are to be believed Berbatov picked up a rib injury in the first half and was playing in a lot of pain, so we could well see him rested for the visit of Everton, so fantasy managers who currently employ his services will do well to watch that one closely over the coming days.
Having dropped to the bench for Villa’s game at Fulham last week after his exertions with Belgium during the international fortnight, Christian Benteke returned to the first-team fold for the visit of Norwich. The summer signing grabbed the opener for the midlanders in the 1-1 draw with Norwich and has now started four of the last five weeks. Darren Bent was once again was the man to make way and has now featured in only one in four of Lamberts starting eleven . Villa’s next four fixtures look dire as they face Sunderland, Manchester United, Manchester City and Arsenal but the schedule begins to ease slightly from round 14 onwards and Benteke – priced at £5.5 may well be one to watch from that point on.
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