As round 22 of the Irish Times Fantasy Premier League comes to and end it was indeed an interesting week for fantasy football managers, there may not have been the expected fireworks we expected from the the weekend’s fixtures however there were still a lot of fantasy points up for grabs and a number of controversial incidents that fantasy premier league managers will need to be aware of including two sendings off and a few rotation issues.
So as usual on a Monday here are you managers notes which will hopefully keep you up date with all the latest goings on in the world of the fantasy premier league.
Mata makes his mark
Juan Mata was the fifth most transfered in player heading into round 22 of the Irish Times Fantasy Premier League and the little Spaniard didn’t disappoint as he notched up three assists for Chelsea as they beat Stoke 4-0 at the Britannia bringing an end to the Potters unbeaten home record that spans back almost a year. Mata’s impressive return now means that he has returned attacking points in 12 of his last 13 starts for the Blues a stat I’m sure many fantasy managers will undoubtedly be impressed with.
It was certainly a week for the Chelsea midfield with Frank Lampard and Eden Hazard producing a goal a piece. Lampard’s contract negotiations are still ongoing and it would seem that Chelsea are reluctant to offer the 34 year old a new contract but with the veteran England international having scored 4 goals in 6 games fantasy managers may do well to bring in the former West Ham youth in a bid to not only find the points heading into a double fixture week for the Blues but to find a differential too. Hazard also offers a good differential potential with the Belgian now returning attacking points in three of his last four games however due to his listing as a striker in the game this may well put off perspective owners who have filled their attacking slots despite the fact that the blues head into a double fixture week starting this Wednesday against Southampton and then against Arsenal at the Bridge this coming Sunday.
The hype surrounding the move of Demba Ba to Chelsea seemed to be well justified when the Senegalese striker scored twice on his debut in the F.A Cup but last weekend saw him register a blank as he was handed his first premier league start for the Londoners. Ba played 70 minutes against Stoke on Saturday before being replaced by Fernando Torres which might serve as an indication to the managers plans to rotate the pair rather that having them playing a long side each other. So despite the fact that many may be tempted to bring in the former Magpie, he could well be rested come Wednesday with Torres taking his place from the start.
Arsenal having no luck
The Gunners will be bitterly disappointed with yesterday’s game as they went down 2-0 to Manchester City, there is no doubting that Arsenal had their work cut out prior to kick off if they were to get a result against Mancini’s men, but when Laurent Koscielny for wrestling Edin Dzeko to the floor it was always going to be an up hill battle despite the fact that the Bosnian missed the resulting penalty. There was further bad news for Arsene Wenger prior to kick off with the news that Mikel Arteta will be out for up to three weeks with a calf strain picked up in training. With the Gunners facing into a double fixture week in round 24 yesterday’s result will do little to boost the confidence of fantasy managers with both Walcott and Cazorla registering blanks concern could well mount over the viability of the pair over the coming weeks.
Dzeko makes a mends
Fantasy owners of Edin Dzeko will surely have been pulling their hair out when the Bosnian missed a penalty yesterday after he was brought down in the box after 10 minutes but to his credit the big centre forward kept plugging away and got his just rewards. James Milner put city in front 21 minutes and City midfielder turned provider as as his low cross towards the six-yard box was turned goalwards by Tevez. Szczesny made a fine reaction save at full stretch, but could do little as the loose ball dropped to Dzeko who rolled it into an empty net. Dzeko now has four goals in three games and with Sergio Aguero set to be sidelined by injury for a couple of weeks to come the former Wolfsburg man is presenting quite a case for inclusion in many a fantasy football squad, City face off against Fulham,QPR and Southampton in three of their next four and it is hard to see the big man drawing a blank in those based on his current form.
City will appeal
Yesterday’s game at the Emirates promised much in terms of fantasy points and excitement but there can’t have been many who saw what happened coming. Effectively the game was non entity until Vincent Kompany was shown red for what the ref perceived as a two footed takle but reports today suggest that the Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini is set to appeal the sending off which if he does means that Kompany could well be available to play in City’s next game against Fulham. This news will come as a relief to many as the City captain has kept two clean sheets on the trot and will be key to the continued shut out at the back for the league champions.
Evra rising to the top
With two assists to his credit yesterday as United beat Liverpool 2-1 at Old Trafford fantasy investment in the French international looks certain over the coming days. Having provided the assist for Robin Van Persie’s opener, the United full back was awarded the assist for United’s second after his header found the net via a deflection from Nemanja Vidic. He’s now produced four goals and five assists and has climbed to second in the defender standings – given his form, he looks more than capable of finishing the season as the top scoring defender for the second year running.
Stoke defensive worries
Having one of the toughest defences in the league is certainly something that the Potter pride themselves on and as a result their back line has seen plenty of investment as a result but after Saturday’s 4-0 home defeat to Chelsea, Stoke have now shipped 10 goals in their last three games as apposed to the grand total of 14 in their previous 19 games.The Potters back line have managed only the one clean sheet in the last six games and as a result may not be the safest option heading into the next few fixture weeks.
Black Cat’s bounce back
Adam Johnson it would seem has woken up and the former City winger’s form at the Stadium of Light has been particularly crucial for the Black Cats as Martin O’Neill’s side start to pull away from the drop zone – he has scored or assisted in four or his last five in front of his own fans and, is looking a real differential ahead of a superb run of fixtures, with an ownership of just over 1%. Steven Fletcher currently has a pair of assists from yesterday’s match although one looks almost certain to be removed and handed to Stephane Sessegnon, while the first for Johnson’s goal, is also somewhat dubious. At the back, O’Neill’s side delivered their eighth clean sheet of the season; just one less than Stoke, for example, despite losing Carlos Cuellar and Danny Rose to hamstring injuries. The Black Cats have kept out their opponents in four of their last six home fixtures and could well be set for further defensive returns, with clashes against Wigan, Swansea and Reading in the following three weeks.
Lukaku strikes again
Having managed to secure his services for the remainder of the season there is little doubt that West Brom will be pleased with his impact this season despite their dramatic 3-2 loss at the hands of Reading on Saturday. While his brace at the Madejski ultimately proved fruitless as Reading stormed back to take the points, Romelu Lukaku’s Fantasy potential continues to rapidly climb. With Shane Long missing out due to an injury picked up in training, the giant Belgian was handed his fourth start in the last five and vindicated Steve Clarke’s faith with another barnstorming display for the Baggies.
Tottenham tough at the back
While there is little doubt that many fantasy premier league managers will have been disappointed by Tottenham’s attacking returns as they were held to a 0-0 draw at Loftus Road their is no doubting their resolve at the back. Andre Villas-Boas’ side have now racked up four clean sheets and conceded just two goals in the last six weeks, which is all the more impressive when you consider they had only managed two clean sheets in their opening 16 fixtures. Kyle Naughton is beginning to suggest he could well be worth our consideration as a real cut-price option. Naughton was given the nod ahead of fit-again Benoit Assou-Ekotto at left-back and has now started five of the last six – he has also picked an assist to his credit as as well. Like Michael Dawson, who has started four of the last six, Naughton’s situation requires monitoring. Spurs have United at the Lane next, before a run of three away games in four Gameweeks.
Feed the Pog and he will score
Reading’s forgotten man Pavel Pogrebnyak is forgotten no more after his late winner against West Brom at the weekend and the former Fulham man is showing signs of form that we saw from his at Craven Cottage which is good news not only for fantasy managers but fot the under pressure Royals. Pogrebnyak has now started the last six as the lone forward and has managed to score in his last three on the bounce and at £5.6 million he could well offer a cheap differential for fantasy managers looking to free up some cash for investment elsewhere. Although the fixtures coming up are not the easiest the Royals do face three home games in their next five and with those games against Chelsea, Sunderland and Wigan the big Russian could surprise quite a few.