Friday, 15 October 2010

And we're back

After a miserable and frustrating start to the season where my choices and decisions have gone against me, I have taken the international week to take a complete two week break from all Premiership and Fantasy football.

With the break almost over I am back with a much more optimistic view on the season ahead than I did before heading into the break.

My team has been very inconsistent so far with only some players producing in fits and spurts which has been exacerbated by the infuriating performances of Chelsea players, Drogba and Malouda singlehandedly saving everyone’s teams and Anelka doing absolutely nothing while the rest of the team plunder goals and assist left right and center.

Obviously my reliance on Rooney has been a big hindrance and finding a suitable captain replacement hasn’t been the easiest of tasks.
I’ve also been plagued by unlucky choices in midfield where I’ve constantly chosen the player who is comprehensively outscored by my alternate choice. I’ve felt confident going into each weekend that the choices I made were the best given the circumstances and the logic behind them were solid. To illustrate this, this is what I did and what the results were.

Week one. I choose Valencia over Nani, Fletcher and Scholes due to Valencia’s good performance in the Community shield and despite my prediction that Nani would have a good season and Fletcher and Scholes were much cheaper.

Result – Valencia drops in value and subsequently gets injured and is out for the season after producing a total of zero goals and zero assists. Scholes continues his good form with a goal, three assists and seven bonus points. Nani is having a breakout season and is currently the highest scoring midfielder. More on him later.
Net result = 6 – 8 points lost.

Week two. After Nasri’s untimely injury in which he looked good I had a choice of Ireland or Diaby. I had Nasri in my team specifically as they had Blackpool in the second game but I wanted Ireland from the start of the season after it became clear he would move to Villa. I thought he would be able to perform at the level he had a couple seasons back for Man City.

Result - Alas he has been disappointing so far with a few injuries and no assists or goals. Diaby, meanwhile, would score 13 points that week.

Net result = 11 points lost.

Week three. A somewhat return to form after a wildcard use but my choice of Milner instead of Arshavin produces poor results. After Milner’s nine point outburst against Liverpool I thought he would be able to reproduce that form against Sunderland. I had reservations about Arshavin going against Blackburn who were looking solid and didn’t think Arshavin would be able to do much.

Result – Milner scores two points and Arshavin gets a goal and a bonus point for eight points.

Net result = 6 points lost.

Week four. Just an overall shambolic week even though I selected Torres to be captain instead of Rooney who didn’t play, only three players got more than two points and Foster kept a clean sheet on the bench.

Week five. A brilliant start with Fabregas, newly drafted in, getting an early goal but disaster strikes with him going off injured after 28 minutes negating any bonus points he would have picked up and also not being there to take and score the penalty that Rosicky eventually blasts over.

Result – One injured captain, one goal, 3 bonus points and a clean sheet bonus down the drain.
Net result = 18 points lost.

Week six. Even with my reservations of having two Spurs players on my team I pick up Van der Vaart as he looks very good after two games. Unfortunately Spurs decide they would rather concentrate on the Champions League and don’t turn up for the following league game. Meanwhile Nani continues his amazing form with a 12 point display making me look the fool for correctly predicting his future and not selecting him.

Result – Bale and Van der Vaart score two points each with Bale being close to undroppable due to his good form in the cups and general play while Nani is outperforming all Man United’s midfielders.

Net result = 10 points lost.

Week seven. After finally coming round to the fact that I really need Nani in my team I had to make some sacrifices to get him. Namely dropping Van der Vaart and Evans for Nani and a cheap Sunderland defender. Spurs were playing Villa so I thought it would be a tight game, probably a scoreless draw whilst United were playing Sunderland and I expected Nani to be able to continue his good form.

Result – United play poorly and should have lost the game with three points for Nani whilst Van der Vaart has his best performance yet with a 15 point display. Bale continues his non productive form with one point. Also to add insult to injury of spending four penalty points to acquire Nani, the cheap Sunderland defender I selected was Elmohamady who got nine points. Suffice to say my Sunderland reserve keeper was Mignolet who got six points leaving a further 15 points on the bench.

Net result = 21 points lost.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Ring the changes

After another pretty dismal week with a score just about above average I have decided to use my customary early wildcard. You may think it’s too early to use a wildcard and that you should be saving it for late in the year when fixtures pile up and injuries mount up but I tend to disagree.

If your team isn’t performing the way you thought and/or some of your players then using a wildcard to make mass changes is a good idea which I’ll explain below.

1. Form is temporary but class is permanent.
Well in fantasy, class counts for jack if the player doesn’t perform. It’s no good having a big name doing nothing but pick up appearance points, especially if he’s your captain. Get the form players in your team as form doesn’t evaporate after one or two games and usually can carry for a half season or more (see Zaki last year).

This also has the added benefit of gaining from the players price rise as form players attract managers which added with their high points scoring output tend to increase their price fast in a short period of time (eg. Drogba this year has already increased £0.3m in just two weeks).

Form is also important when using your emergency captain as it is one of two ways you can use to decide who your emergency captain will be. You’ll want to capitalise on a players hot run of form if your regular captain fails to play for whatever menial reasons such as a stomach bug.
Obviously you need to keep a keen eye and know when to dump the player for a better performing player and not hang on hoping for a repeat of his early season exploits.

2. Bench warmers
If you’re like me then your bench will consist of the cheapest players possible. Now considering their prices they’ll mostly come from the bottom end of the table or are unproven youth players that you wouldn’t consider including in the first 11. But even if they don’t feature in your team you still want them to be playing regularly so that in the case of one of your first 11 missing a game at the last minute you at least get some points from your bench.

At the start of the season no one knows for certain which of the bottom table team players will play, unless you support them, and so you settle for a random collection of bench warmers. But after the first few weeks you’ll be able to gain a reasonable estimate of who is playing regularly and who is not. The wildcard gives you the perfect opportunity to change these non playing bench warmers who would never get transferred in normal circumstances as there are usually more important players to transfer in or out and no one seriously think that their bench will feature in their first 11.

If players don’t play they’ll start to depreciate in value and by changing the non playing bench players you’ll also have the added bonus of not losing value on your players and the overall team value which can be important in certain circumstances.

3. Knowledge is power
Before the season starts everyone is playing Mystic Meg, looking at the fixture list and trying to pick players they think will have great seasons. With so many choices and combinations of players available and pre season games which are more often than not poor indicators of future performances it’s hard to pick that perfect team right off the bat.

After a couple of games you can get a feel for each manager’s preferences and formations and see how each player has come back from the offseason and performing. This makes it much easier to pick an inform team (see point 1) and players that are in favour that you didn’t expect or hear of before (Albrighton).

Obviously the more you wait the better information you’ll accumulate but by waiting on using the wildcard you lose out when the price rises, they can lose form (see point 1) and the more knowledge you gain by waiting may be useless after a while. This leads onto my next point.

4. Why wait?
The usual argument against using the wildcard early is that it’s too early in the season and that you need it later when fixtures pile up and when teams start rotating.

My counters to this are that it’s never too early to use your wildcard if you feel the team you assembled were based on wrong assumptions and some players and team are not performing to expectations, using a wildcard later doesn’t mean you’ll make better changes and the rotation policies and fixture lists are near impossible to gauge correctly.

No one can know if a fixture will be postponed due to unforeseen weather conditions or a double gameweek will happen due to fixture clashes. It is also wrong to think that you need to change your team when players start to be rotated. Most good teams rotate their team throughout the season with the exception of a few indispensables, and trying to second guess managers is a fool’s game. A player you brought in a wildcard week may not play the following week and vice versa. In the late stages of the season good players on good teams are no more or less likely to play than other good players on good teams so it basically becomes a crap shoot picking players. Obviously if a team is knocked out early in a cup competition or are far behind in the league they might prioritise one or the other but you won’t know until much later.

5. Two wildcards
This season you have two wildcards making the use of an early wildcard not so detrimental if you find half your team got sold overseas in the January transfer window. Although only available for a month it does provide you with a solid back up should your early wildcard fail to bring about the desired effect.
Never be afraid to use your wildcard and don’t think about what other people say!

Friday, 20 August 2010

Gameweek 1 roundup and gameweek 2 preview

It was a fairly disappointing week with a score less than the average and Harewood top scoring for my team (on the bench) which tells you all you need to know about my teams’ abysmal start.

My main grumble about the week was the collapse of West Brom against Chelsea allowing Drogba, a somewhat unexpected starter, an undeserved hat-trick coupled with the fact that Anelka didn’t score more points and that most people who had Drogba seemed to have him as captain and have Malouda as well. Although they performed well my thoughts were that Chelsea won’t get an easier win this season, though with Blackpool, Wigan, West Ham, Newcastle still to play I will probably be proved wrong.

There was a 15 minute stretch when Harewood scored two goals and got an assist whilst sitting at the end of my bench and Howard dropped a clanger costing me two clean sheets that really summed up my week and had me facing the prospect of a 30 point game week.

Things didn’t get much better with only Cole’s nine points being the highlight. Rooney still looks below his best and is a serious candidate to be replaced when I make my customary early wildcard change. Valencia also didn’t shine and of the Man united midfielders I considered (Scholes, Fletcher & Nani) he performed the worst and cost the most. Not the combination that will win you any fantasy league. There isn’t really a clear cut choice if you’re looking to select a United midfielder although I may have to relent and get Fletcher given his likelihood of playing every game and that he is £1.5m cheaper than Valencia. I am tempted by Scholes but after a month or two he probably won’t be playing week in week out and I’ll need to replace Evans once Ferdinand comes back which is scheduled at around the same time meaning it will be too complicated to manage the changes (cheap defender for a probable expensive defender and really cheap midfielder with a mid priced midfielder) without using a wildcard which I probably won’t have at that point of the season.

My initial reaction to my first week was that I needed to nuke my squad and make some radical changes but after taking a look at gameweek 2 fixtures I couldn’t think of many changes I could make that would improve my team. The only change that was forced was Nasri who is now out for a month. I had gotten him in for the Blackpool game but after seeing Blackpool demolish Wigan and being reminded how poor Almunia can be, I was stuck with a dilemma. Either replace him with Diaby or go for Ireland, who was £1m cheaper and would become a fixture in my squad for the rest of the season. I’ll probably go for Ireland but am very wary of Arsenal destroying Blackpool this week.

The only other doubt is Modric who I want to keep in my squad but if he isn’t playing then I will be lucky to get two points from my bench. Although Harewood performed well, recent history suggests he won’t repeat his goal scoring performance any time soon and even with Almunia in goal I don’t think he can get the better of Vermaelen and whoever is the backup center back.
My choice of going for an 11 man squad shows its weakness when multiple players get injured at the same time but it doesn’t happen too often and the only way to maximise the value of your 11 players who do play.

The only remaining issue is the captaincy. Do I trust Rooney to suddenly perform well against Fulham away who United have struggled against in recent seasons or do I go for Anelka and hope that Drogba doesn’t hog the ball and goals? It’s a tough choice and one that can make or break a gameweek.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

My team for the start of the season

I am going to introduce my team and explain the selection and thought process that occurs when I pick my squad.

First off, I pick my ‘definites’. These are players that I need to have in my squad to start with either because I think they will perform or because I like them that much. Coming into the season I had in mind six definites; Rooney, Robin Van Persie (RVP), Fabregas, A. Cole, Lee and Nani.

Now you may be thinking ‘Nani, what the hell?’ and you’d be right to question my decision making but let me explain. I know that Fergie rotates his midfield more than any other position. This is mostly due to there being no outstanding players in midfield due to age (Scholes & Giggs), talent (Park) or otherwise (Anderson, Carrick). Probably the only player certain to play every week is Fletcher and he would have been in my team had he been just £0.5m cheaper but I didn’t think he was worth £7m and so I needed another Man United player to fill my quota of three.

Let the record show that I predict that Nani will have an amazing season and will really come of age this year. Also the fact that he missed the World Cup was a plus so I quickly determined he would be in my team.

Next I try to search for bargain players. These don’t have to be players at the £4m – £5m range but rather their value being deflated due to poor points performances in the prior year either due to injury or mitigating circumstances. From here I found three; Modric, Evans and Jagielka.

Modric and Jagielka scored fewer points than they normally would due to various injuries last season. You could make a case that Modric is Tottenham’s best midfielder and Jagielka is Everton’s best defender. In any case I thought they were a steal and they quickly became definites in my team.

Evans was an easy decision to make due to Ferdinand being injured making Evans a certainty to start. Plus his low price of £5.5m for a top three defender makes him even more of a bargain (Vidic is £1.5m more expensive but I can’t see Vidic out performing Evans). What happens when Ferdinand returns is something I’ll consider at a later date with a probable wildcard at hand.

Now I filled in the rest of the spots with role players who might feasibly play and who were the cheapest in their position. I had to fill one goalkeeper spot, two defender spots, a midfield spot and the third striker spot. To do this I went to each position and selected the cheapest price players available who scored some points last season.

This gave me a basic team that I could now tweak. I purposefully didn’t change my team from my original selection made in July as there would be many transfers and injuries occurring between then and the start of the season and so that I wouldn’t constantly think about when the season would start and go mad changing my team every day.

The serious tinkering began last Sunday with the Community Shield. It was a useful game in getting to know who were likely to play in the first game and how they performed.

After the game I realised that Valencia could be an even better option than Nani while being more likely to play (although being £0.5m more expensive), I would love to have Scholes in my team but it was a shame he couldn’t play every week, Drogba was likely not going to start the season and Chelsea have a very easy fixture list to start off with and Ferreira might be a better (cheaper) option than Cole.

Looking at Chelsea’s starting fixtures I quickly decided I needed Anelka in my team. Drogba wasn’t certain to start and Anelka would probably still play even if Drogba came back.

To make that happen I had to sacrifice RVP which I was loathe to do since their second game was Blackpool and so therefore I needed a replacement Arsenal player. I couldn’t find anyone suitable in midfield and so the only place was defence.

Vermaelen was too expensive for a one season wonder and I knew nothing about the new kid Koscielny so it was down to Sagna and Clichy but I thought Sagan was better going forward so he was selected.

By getting Cole and Sagna I was over budget and I also started wanting to get Arteta who looked more and more like good value at £8.5m. The only way I could see Arteta, Sagna and Cole in the same team was to sacrifice Rooney or Fabregas. I wasn’t prepared to get rid of Rooney so Fabregas had to go.

As much as I love Fabregas as a fantasy guy, there are still question marks over his commitment, fitness and the burden of captaincy. I decided to replace him with an Arsenal midfielder as I wanted at least two Arsenal players for their second game against Blackpool so I went with Nasri as Diaby was a doubt for the game.

Getting rid of Fabregas brought more balance to my team and I think it has improved it overall. Now I’m not entirely happy with Nasri or that Harewood is in my team at all so I am planning on changing them after the second week with a free transfer in hand. At the moment I have two Manchester players in mind, who are most likely going to move within the next week, to replace Nasri and Harewood.

The goalkeeper position was considered last and I went for a mid priced keeper in Howard who would get a few clean sheets and wouldn’t be a huge detriment compared to other players in his position.

Obviously things will change before the transfer window closes and if one or two transfers happen (Ozil & Schwarzer) like I hope they will then a wildcard use will be imminent.

My team for the start of the season:

GK - Howard, Myhill
Defence - Sagna, Jagielka, Evans, Cole, O'Brien
Midfield - Modric, Arteta, Nasri, Valencia, Ferguson
Forwards - Anelka, Rooney, Harewood

Friday, 13 August 2010

A new season and thoughts on formations

After three months of painful waiting, negated somewhat by the World Cup, the Premier League season is about to kick off again! More importantly, it means that a new season of Fantasy Football is upon us to consume our every working hour.

After a long hiatus I’m back to start my blog once again and hopefully post more regularly, though I say that to myself every time.

The Fantasy Football website has again undergone some minor changes and with it some rule changes (two wildcards for the season and the indefinite carryover of a free transfer). Go check them out if you haven’t already.

Putting a good squad together this season seems to have been a harder challenge than ever before with many staple players’ prices being inflated after a decent season or new signings being overvalued, as always (see Hernandez, Javier - £7.5m). Of course not every player is overvalued and there are some that are comparative bargains of which I think I have found five.
Now one of the main decisions when selecting your squad is formation. Although there are only seven formations you can select it is the composition of the positions which is the dilemma. Two seasons ago one of the most effective strategies was to have four/five defenders from the top four clubs and rack up the clean sheets. This was less effective last season when the optimal strategy was to invest less in defenders and get prolific strikers instead as there were a dearth of clean sheets.

The decision to play 3-5-2 or 3-4-3 rather than 4-4-2 or 4-3-3 will be tempting as you get rid of one defender and replace him with a midfielder or striker who is more likely to score goals and get assists. While this is true for the top end of the market, as can be evidenced by points totals every season (Dunne, the top scoring defender last season, would have ranked just fourth best amongst midfielders and fifth best amongst strikers), this is less likely when you get to your 10th or 11th player. Although this disparity in points earned is balanced by the higher prices for midfielders and strikers the difference is only marginal when comparing cheap midfielders like Bowyer (£5.5m; 123 points), Song (£5.5m; 101 points) and Gera (£5.5m; 84 points), to name three, to cheap defenders such as Givet (£4.5m; 107 points), Bramble (£4.5m; 85 points) and Knight (£4.5m; 75 points).

Your third striker or fourth/fifth midfielder is no less likely to score more points than your fourth defender, assuming you haven’t gone for a top heavy strategy and have fillers for your defenders.

This season I have gone for the traditional 4-4-2 which was made possible by two great value defenders and four moderately priced midfielders. Sorry Cesc and Frank, your sacrifices have made my team better overall.

I’m sure I’ll be tinkering with my team right until deadline but I am pretty confident of my team as it stands.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Follow the competition

There is now just one week to go in the premier league and by this stage there aren't many things to sort out in terms of league places, both FF and the Barclays Premier.

In the Premier League the only significant issue to be settled is the title (hard to see how Chelsea will fail to beat Wigan at home as Wigan are safely 15th with nothing to play for) and who ends up third (again can't see Arsenal losing at home to Fulham with Fulham having the Europa League final to play the following Wednesday).

So the Premier League table will probably end up pretty much as they stand at the moment, give or take a few teams moving one or two places. But what about your FF and head to head leagues?

In many cases, mine included, the winner of the FF league will probably already be known. A lead of around 30 points should be sufficient to withstand any last gameweek shenanigans, barring wholesale team changes or a five goal game by the opposition's captain (unlikely but not impossible).

But what happens when you still have a lot to play for, in terms of final position, or are in the final of the head to head? You could stick with what you have and play like you have been doing for the whole season, or you could try following the competition.

What the tactic entails is, as the name implies, to copy what your opponent has. That is by using your transfer(s) to create a team that contains as many of the same players as your opponent has.
Now this tactic works best if you are in a position of strength (in terms of relative position and squad make up) and have a wildcard or two free transfers but could also be applied if you have the utmost confidence in your squad players.

The premise to this tactic is that if you are in the lead or ahead of your opponent, then by having the same players, their ability to catch and surpass you will be greatly diminished as they have fewer players to outscore you with. So in effect you are lowering your risk that you will be outscored and force your opponent to rely on other squad players to get points that they typically don't get.

There are different degrees to which this tactic can be used. You could try copy the whole squad, player for player or you could just get the same team defenders or a player of similar value and total points score.
By this point of the season there will be players that many squads have (Dunne, Milner and Tevez to name three) and you'll find that there will be at least some overlap of players in both squads. This will help you narrow down who you want to copy and give you a general idea as to how good the plan will end up being.

The idea is to copy the high points scoring players, players who generally get goals, assists, clean sheets and 3bonuspoints, meaning players like Lampard, Fabregas and Rooney. This will leave your opponent relying on their cheaper squad players to outscore your cheaper squad players. Will Rodallega outscore Jerome? Maybe but I don't like my chances if I'm relying on Rodallega to win me my head to head final.

In a season there are generally two to four players who are head and shoulders better than the rest of their position piers, points wise, followed by a large group of players just below them with little to separate them individually. These elite players are who you need to look out for and copy along with the hidden elite players, who are players not at the top of the points list due to injury or being a January transfer, most notably Robin Van Persie this season.

Now if you already have these players covered or you don't have the money to get these elite players but you still want to lower the chances of being overtaken then you can opt to copy defenders. More specifically individual team defenders. Reason being defenders don't generally score goals or get assists and bonus points and all defenders get the same clean sheet bonus. So if your opponent has Dawson, you could do worse than get Assou-Ekotto (though I would never recommend anyone get Assou-Ekotto).

For example, I am currently in the lead going into the last gameweek with the title in the bag and only the head to head league final to play for. My final opponent also happens to be second in my main FF league and so I know his team very well and I don't have to worry about anyone else. But by looking at his team I see we have four of the same players; Drogba, Lampard, Pienaar and Sorensen. You can see that already Drogba and Lampard, who are certainties to be in both starting 11's for the last gameweek, cancel each other out. This means I don't have to worry about how well Lampard or Drogba will do (fantastically most weeks) and just look at the other nine players.

I'm predicting that Pienaar plays and is in both our starting line ups. I also have Bale which neatly cancels out his Dawson. That reduces the available different players to seven and from there I can choose who I want to copy, looking at his squad probably Modric or Tevez.

Now if I get either Modric or Tevez or possibly both then the only way I would be able to lose is if his remaining five/six players score more points than mine. Comparing current squads this means that Jensen, Hangeland, Evra, N'Zogbia, Rodallega and Modric/Tevez would have to do better than Hart, Distin, Nani, Fletcher, Van Persie and Cuellar/Collins for me to lose.
Looking at the comparative lists I can't help but feel confident about my chances.

Obviously this isn't a fool-proof plan as it is impossible to predict what changes your opponent is going to make and who their captain choice will be. It is also less effective if you have more than one team chasing close behind you but by copying what they have as much as possible, it reduces your risk and makes their task of closing the gap even harder.

Monday, 26 April 2010

When is a foul not a foul?

I'm talking more specifically about times when a defender slides in for a tackle on the attacker and gets the slightest of touches on the ball while bundling the attacker down. Now most people will say in those circumstances that the defender 'got the ball' or he got the ball before the player and they'd be right.
But in some cases is getting a slight nick on the ball enough to say that the defender has actually 'won' the ball fairly and squarely?

Now the way I see this is that there are many occasions where a defender makes a tackle, wins the ball whilst bringing the attacker down and is rightly applauded for his skill in making a brilliantly timed challenge and stopping an attack. In these cases you can actually see the ball being diverted out of touch, to a teammate or to safety as the defender makes decent contact with the ball. But what about the times when the contact with the ball is negligible and the path of the ball isn't drastically altered?

This incident came up in the Second City derby on Sunday (Aston Villa v Birmingham) when Agbonlahor was tackled by Roger Johnson, who slid in, got a slight touch of the ball and then brought down Agbonlahor, in the box and consequently conceded a penalty from which Milner scored the winner. Roger Johnson who along with a number of his teammates complained quite forcibly to the referee that Johnson had 'got the ball' and had so won the tackle and it should have been a corner not a penalty.

Now whether the referee actually saw the contact on the ball by the player is another matter for me. What interested me was, did Johnson really win the ball and didn't he bring down the attacker who probably had a chance to regain possession had he still been on his feet?
Looking at the multitudes of match reports today seems to suggest the referee made a mistake, it was indeed a fair challenge and that Birmingham were hard done by.

I disagree. I think that although Johnson did get a touch on the ball, it was a minimal contact at best. It didn't divert the path of the ball in any significant manner or make the ball travel faster towards the byline for a corner. If anything, what I saw was the ball given an insignificant touch and the defender bringing the attacker down when, there was a good chance that had the attacker not been felled, he would have been able to regain possession and had a clear chance at goal.

The distant cousin to this scenario is when the referee calls a foul on a defender who wins the ball unfairly but thinks that by coming out of the tackle with the ball means that it was a legitimate challenge. Afraid not. If a foul wasn't committed you probably wouldn't have won the ball. It always infuriates me when the play is stopped after a defender obviously fouls the attacker who then proceeds to look bemused by the referee's decision and points to the ball in disgust as if to say 'Look I have the ball, so I must have won it cleanly'.

Sometimes getting a touch on the ball doesn't mean that the tackle was fair or that 'you have won the ball'.

As much as I agreed with the end result here (Agbonlahor wins penalty, Milner scores goal) I hated it from a FF perspective. The simple reason being I had Hart in goal and many people around me had either Milner or Agbonlahor, captain or otherwise. But I'll console myself with three clean sheets as opposed to four plus no Milner goal and 3bonuspoints.

Friday, 5 February 2010

Gameweek 24 roundup

It's been a long time since I've updated the blog but I have been managing my team fairly regularly (pretty much all the time). Of course being in the top three for most of the season gives you an incentive to carry on and aim for the title, not that that wouldn't be the case if I was mid table...

Points wise it wasn't a bad week of scoring but it could have been so much more. The big Arsenal vs Man United game didn't help matters but most of all Chelsea only just scraping a win at Burnley coupled with their one all draw against Hull meant that the majority of people who went for a Chelsea captain ended up disappointed. Considering that only Anelka on the Chelsea team scored more than Rooney (10 to 9), even after playing an extra game there were very little points to be picked up in general.

This week will go down as yet another one of those 'what if' gameweeks.
I decided I was going to get Lampard in my team for the double gameweek and make him my captain fairly soon after gameweek 23 finished and in order to carry that out I had to make a double trade, more specifically Kenwyne Jones for Agbonlahor which enabled Lampard for Arshavin. Ouch.

I was pretty happy with the trade since Agbonlahor had done nothing since I got him back into my team and Arshavin was up against a good if not dominating defence and had been labouring up front on his own ever since Van Persie succumbed to injury.
Jones was the makeweight in the trade and I was OK with him in my team as Sunderland were playing Stoke and any slack would be taken up by Lampard.

Of course, as always with Sod's law, Agbonlahor grabbed two goals and 3 bonus points ending up on 13 points while Lampard could only muster up an assist to finish the week on seven points. So instead of 15 points I could have had with my previous players I got nine points with a four point penalty deduction thrown in for good measure. A 10 point swing.

You could argue that my captain might have been Ballack or Cole, Ashley if I didn't have Lampard but I don't know if I wouldn't have had my regular captain (Rooney) on duty instead.
A points losing trade in the end but I think I'm marginally happier with my team now than before.

I am currenly top of my league on 1385 points, nine points clear of second place.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Gameweek 5 review

Well gameweek 5 has finished and I've ended up with 46 points, barring any bonus points going to Larsson. Very annoying for me as I have lost my head to head game by 1 point.

Now usually I'm happy when my first 11 plays and my bench players don't get a look in, usually as my bench is about as useful as a chocolate fireman, but this week all of my bench score points which was very surprising. The player I had least expectations of was O'hara and he managed two assists and eight points making him my highest scoring player this week.

There were two surprising results this weekend, Man City beating Arsenal and Chelsea just managing to beat Stoke. I didn't expect City to beat Arsenal as I didn't really rate their team and don't think their squad is good enough to end up in the top four. (Bridge wasn't good enough for Chelsea, Tevez wasn't good enough to start for Man United, Robinho wasn't good enough for Real Madrid and similar could be said of Adebayor, Barry, Santa Cruz, Richards, Wright-Phillips. If you catch my drift.

My new acquisition Diaby was unlucky not to get a goal or an assist and I really like him in fantasy as he is very cheap and I think he is very good at attacking and a good replacement for Arshavin or Fabregas.

The Chelsea last minute win wasn't so much as surprising as disappointing. I'd rather they win big or not win at all. I had Drogba as my captain and he scored to justify it but no bonus points or assists was a let down as I expected more from the two games against Burnley and Stoke. Anelka didn't start but still managed to get an assist but I think he will soon be replaced by a certain Dutchman.

My only other concerns about my team regards Man United players, Carrick and O'Shea. Carrick has been a big shock this season with just 3 points this season and losing 0.3m in the process. I'm not sure what I'm going to do about him but I will probably end up replacing him.

There haven't been many clean sheets this season from anyone so far so it's hard to pick any good defenders who justify their price at the moment. I think this is part of the reason why my front loaded squad has been doing better than I expected. I couldn't pick up good cheap defenders after getting all the attacking players I wanted in my team so I went with the best alternatives.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Thoughts on the opening weekend

I had a couple of thoughts after the first weekend of games were over.

1) How did I miss Fabregas?
2) Why didn't Carrick play?
3) Damn Chelsea were lucky but I'd take Drogba's two goals anyday.
4) Wow my team is off to a great start and it looks better than my rivals...
OK the last point is very judgemental and obviously very biased but nearly everything worked out for me in gameweek 1. Carrick didn't play but that enabled my sub Figueroa to play and get me a clean sheet. All of my strikers scored points and Rooney should definitely have had more if only for the profligacy of Owen and Berbatov.

That I never thought about Fabregas when selecting my team is mainly due to the fact that I was set on getting Arshavin and Van Persie in my team, therefore blocking out Fabregas from my thoughts. There was also a small matter of interest from Barcelona that left me wary of selecting him. I have no doubts that Fabregas will get a lot of points this year as he has in the past, getting a lot of assists and the odd goal, but I couldn't select him over Arshavin when looking at the fact that Arshavin plays further up the field and is now classed as a midfielder and not a striker as he was last year. So I'm basically gambling that Arshavin will cover the extra £0.5m he costs by scoring more points than Fabregas.

At first I was planning to have Torres in my line up with Ferdinand as my Man Utd defender. But then I remembered he plays for Liverpool and they just sold one of their best players. Plus I don't really like Liverpool's chances this season and I was put off their players for the start of the season.

Changing Ferdinand for O'Shea worked out as good as it could have done. With Ferdinand having injury concerns, Vidic being too expensive and unlikely to repeat his points tally and Evra being a temperamental liability I had limited options to select from. O'Shea seemed as good a choice as any and it has duly paid off with Brown and Evans being less than 100%.

The second gameweek follows immediately and the deadline for changes is today 18th August 19:00. Be sure to get your changes in as there are only 6 games being played.