The transfer window has closed once again with key players moving teams and a couple of fresh faces arriving from overseas. There’s not too much time to let the dust settle though as another gameweek roles round, which looks promising for the Manchester teams, while the headliner match on Sunday will give us a good opportunity to assess whether Chelsea and Liverpool have really turned the proverbial corner after both have struggled (comparatively) in recent times.
Clean Sheet Rankings
(clean sheets kept at home/away – opposition failed to score at home/away)
- Man City (7 – 6)
- Chelsea (8 – 4)
- Tottenham (4 – 4)
- Aston Villa (5 – 5)
- Stoke (4 – 4)
- Man Utd (3 – 2)
- Fulham (3 – 3)
- West Ham (3 – 4)
- Sunderland (4 – 3)
- Everton (3 – 5)
- Arsenal (4- 2)
- Wigan (2 – 3)
- Birmingham (2 – 2)
- Blackpool (5 – 2)
- Blackburn (0 – 3)
- Wolves (2 – 3)
- Newcastle (3 – 2)
- Bolton (0 -3)
- Liverpool (3 – 1)
- West Brom (0 – 3)
- Man City
- Man Utd
- West Ham
- Aston Villa
- West Brom
Berbatov has been pretty average away from home with 4 goals, 1 assist and just 3.18 PPG. His form is sensational and he’s had some huge games of late, but I would look elsewhere this week if you have other top options.
Malouda has been great at home (7.0 PPG) and against teams who average more than 1.5 GPG conceded (6.78 PPG) and looks well placed to continue his rejuvenated form. The arrival of Torres (who will surely play in a more traditional forward role than Anelka) may hurt his value a bit but with 8 goals in their last 2 games, Chelsea look like they might be back on form.
Like teammate Malouda, Drogba has also been very impressive at home (6.45 PPG) with 8 goals in 11 appearances and may actually benefit from the presence of Torres (despite popular opinion he actually flourished when playing alongside a second stiker).
The form forwards in the league are Rooney and Van Persie, who have 10.0 and 9.4 PPG over the past 5 gameweeks respectively. Both get a decent fixture this week though neither opponent have been easy to beat at home. At a certain point form can be more important than the fixture though and one or both of this pair might be in that zone right now.
Fabregas has been very impressive on return from injury and his bonus tally of 10 points over his last 6 games is very encouraging. He has only had one huge game since his return but has also only failed to score at least 4 points once and is averaging 7.5 PPG.
Not sure whether this category should be named after Robbie Keane or Darren Bent. Probably Keane on the basis of his “I’ve always dreamed of playing for my current team, having grown up idolising one their best players. I remember walking down that famous street to the legendary stand where I watched this team have great success”. Either way, I like these boys this week as one week fillers:
Ciaran Clark (4.4m) – the Villa back line looks a bit crowded when everyone is fit but with Steve Warnock and Luke Young out as long term casualties and Cuellar being in and out all year, the versatile Clark has played several positions which should all but guarantee him a game again this week. Houllier has been complementary of the youngster this year, drawing comparisons to Gareth Barry and Clark has already added 3 league goals (as well as one in the cup last week). I still don’t fully trust Villa’s defense week in, week out but Fulham have scored just 9 away goals all year and so Clark is a great short term pickup.
Morten Gamst Pedersen (6.0m) – on the face of it Gamst Pedersen is having a very nice fantasy year but he scored 38 of his 100 points in a four game period and has been largely average for the remainder of the year. That said, those big games came against weaker defensive teams which is exactly what they face this week. Wigan have conceded 7 goals in the last 3 league games and Pedersen might be worth rolling the dice on in an all or nothing type pick.
Transfer Window Roundup
A brief roundup of the transfers with the greatest potential fantasy impact:
Fernando Torres (11.8m) – From a fantasy perspective, Torres might be in a similar position to before his move. He’s on a better team and surrounded by more playmakers but his rotation risk is increased and he is no longer the alpha dog on the front line. That said, even if Torres only returned to his form from prior year but would be very good value and with just an 11% ownership he does provide some differential value over alternatives like Berbatov, Drogba and even Van Persie. Chelsea’s fixtures look pretty good, though I might wait and see how he looks alongside his new teammates this week.
Edin Dzeko (9.4m) – The early signs from Dzeko have been promising and he took his goal against Notts County well. He hasn’t hit the heights of his Wolfsburg days just yet but I’ve seen enough to put him into fantasy consideration. From a fantasy point of view I have been slightly concerned by him playing quite deep sometimes but other forwards have been successful with this role and I think long term he may prove to be one of City’s best signings. City rank as the best attacking play of the week so he could be a great differentiator (1.5% owned) if you’re not gaining any ground with the likes of Berbatov or Van Persie.
Luis Suarez (9.0m) – I am generally reluctant to swoop on players arriving from overseas in January as, whether true or not, their managers generally perceive them as too weak to play every week in the “tough” Premier League and so they suffer through more rotation than their peers. With a lack of alternatives, Suarez looks well placed to avoid this fate though I would still like to see him start a couple of games before I select him ahead of the likes of Berbatov and Van Persie.
Darren Bent (8.8m) – So far Bent has scored against City (2), Arsenal, Liverpool (2), and United and that might be his best asset: you can play him every week and he has a real chance to score. Assuming he takes penalty duties from Young (if not his value takes a big knock), Bent has some use, especially considering Villa have the best attacking fixtures of any team over the next 6 weeks. My problem with him is that he doesn’t tend to have huge games (one double digit game this year) as he really only contributes goals (one assist and just 8 bonus points this year), thus making him tough to captain. Worth a look but higher upside exists elsewhere for not much more money.
Andy Carroll (6.0m) – This moves looks better from a fantasy perspective than reality, though I’m not sure that is saying much given his price tag. He is clearly playing with better players now and, at least on paper, his partnership with Suarez looks very promising. Liverpool don’t play with wingers in quite the same way as Newcastle so the crosses into the box will be reduced and Carroll’s headed goals could go the same way. Without wishing to use the tired “big man with good feet” cliché, he is more than just a good target man and I like the idea of Gerrard slipping in balls to him while Suarez’s vision should result in a few tap ins. For the low price tag, when fit, Carroll becomes very close to must own status again.
David Luiz (6.0m) – Presuming Chelsea have signed Luiz to start (pushing Ivanovic to right back), he should slot into a defense who have improved of late (2 clean sheets in their last 3 games) after their poor mid season patch. Anytime you can get a defender for a million less than his teammates you are in good shape and Chelsea still have still conceded the fewest goals in the league to date. Defenders generally haven’t provided great value this year but at 6.0m Luiz could be a very useful pickup.
Stephen Ireland (5.8m) – if he was cheaper I’d be interested based on his upside but he really hasn’t played well for a long time and at at 5.8m he is competing with the likes of Chaz Adam, Matt Etherington and Charles N’Zogbia, which I am not ready to accept yet.
David Bentley (5.7m) – see Ireland, Stephen
Robbie Keane (4.8m) – already off the mark for West Ham, Keane could be extremely good value for under 5m. Admittedly, it was a favourable fixture, but West Ham have a few of them on the horizon so if you’re planning on going big in midfield, Keane deserves some attention as your rotation forward.
Carlos Vela (4.4m) – struggled by all accounts in his West Brom debut but has some value due to his extremely low price tag. Doesn’t deserve weekly contention but if you’re looking to save money, Vela is a nice matchup play (including next week vs West Ham) for a very low price.
As always, good luck for the week ahead.