Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The story so far

This blog begins at the end of gameweek 4 in the Engligh Premier League fantasy season.
The season has gone well so far so I decided I needed a place to discuss the fantasy season with other fans as the season progresses.

Pre Season
The basic strategy for my team this year was to have a full squad available on a weekly basis (the league I am in allows four subs).
Last season I was often caught playing only 9 men due to a total lack of talent and playing minutes on my bench.
To get a decent bench you can either:
(a) Spread your budget (£100m) equally throughout the team, or
(b) Identify some key sleeper picks who will get regular playing minutes (and therefore points) despite only costing a few million.

Strategy (a) leaves you in a position of pricing yourself out of the market for the top tier players so I decided to go for (b) identifying the following potentially cheap players:

Pre Season Sleepers
Luke Young - 4.5 - well cheaper than his new Villa teammates, and Villa were a decent defnsive side last year.
Mario Melchiot - 4.5 - Wigan have improved since last year and Mario is guaranteed to play every as club captain. These minutes are vital for a bench player.
Hayden Mullins - 4.5 - I figured Mullins would play most weeks due to his versatility.
Maynor Figueroa - 4.0 - inexplicably priced at 4m, seemed too good to be true. Even takes a few left sided free kicks.
Scott Parker - 5.0 - should play every week and may chip in with the odd goal or assist.
Liam Lawrence - 5.5 - does everything for Stoke and got in double digit goals last season. Having seen him dissapoint at Sunderland I thought I'd wait and see him before I take the leap.
Lassana Diarra - 5.5 - excellent player but not sure on his fantasy impact.

Due to my desire to build a decent squad I pretty much limited myself to one superstar. Torres was very tempting, but at 12.0 seemed just a bit too steep. I am huge Cesc fan but he was nicked up to open season so I stayed away (as was also the case with Drogba). This led me to Lampard, who seems to rack up bonus points whenever he plays and adds those meaningless real world goals that all count the same in fantasy land.

The impact of fixtures should not be underestimated when picking your intial team, although most simply pick their favourite eleven.
Arsenal really stood out which led me to van Persie even though I'm not totally convinced he can consistently hit the back of the net.
United were due to not play in Week 3 so I shyed away from their players, who I will buy into later in the season.

Opening day
My team for the opening weekend was:
GK R.Green - 5.0
DF G.Clichy - 6.5
DF M.Laursen - 6.0
DF P.Evra - 6.5
MD F.Lampard - 11.0
MD A.Young - 8.5
MD M.Arteta - 7.5
MD D.Bentley - 8.0
FW R.van Persie - 9.5
FW D.Ashton - 6.5
FW D.Bent - 7.5

GK M.Schwarzer - 4.0
DF L.Young - 4.5
DF M.Melchiot - 4.5
MD H.Mullins - 4.5

The season so far
A solid week 0ne saw the team gain 67 points led by captain Lampard who chipped in with 20. Ashton's brace was encouraging though his fitness will always be a concern. The defense flattered to deceive but an overall lack of cleansheets reduced the damage.

I had intentionally left out the Man U players as I knew they weren't playing in week 3 due to the World Club Championship against Zenit. I therefore dumped Evra in week 2 and decided to try and double up with Arsenal adding Sagna to Clichy. This was a poor move as Evra got a clean sheet and an assist whilst Sagna conceded against Fulham and was left with just 2 points.
The team as a whole played poorly with Laursen adding the only goal for the team resulting in a dissapointing 38 points.

In hindsight D.Bent was a poor pick that was made purely on
his circumstances rather than the fact I rate him as a player. I had figured that due to the abundance of talented midfielders around him and no other strikers on the books (except for Berbs who Ramos wouldnt play) Bent would be there to knock in all the scraps.
After watching him in the first two games i had seen enough and went with a hunch pick who I'd seen play well the week before - Amr Zaki. Zaki repaid my faith notching two goals, an assist and three bonus points. Van Persie added a brace of his own and the defense rebounded well with clean sheets from Clichy, Sagna and Laursen. Finally Green added a penalty save to round out a good week for 75 points.

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