Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Week 5 Tips

Play Forwards/Midfielders

Three matches stand out this week as games in which the fantasy points could flow.

Liverpool v Stoke

Liverpool looked good last week against United and have looked okay so far tonight (its currently half time in Marseille). Stoke have conceded 5 so far in their two away games despite only travelling to Bolton and Middlesbrough.
The obvious man to capitalise on this game is Fernando Torres though at 12m it will take some maneuvering to get him into
your team. Steven Gerrard is of course another safe bet and will look to grab a goal in the league after his great strike vs Marseille.
However, it is the cheaper options who look to b
e great value this week with Xabi Alonso and Ryan Babel looking to be good buys. Javier Mascherano played midweek and having just returned from South America is likely to be rested, allowing Alonso to continue his decent run of league form. Babel has been somewhat of an enigma this season since returning from the olympics. I really fancied him to take off this season after seeing him single handedly destroy Bolton at the Reebok last season (although perhaps that isn't too much of an achievement these days). He hasn't managed to lock down a first team place and has had to make do with scraps off the bench getting 26 minutes against Boro and 20 at the weekend against United, where he scored the winner.
At 6m Alonso is probably the better option though if he plays, Babel at 7.5m could be a steal this week.

West Ham v Newcastle
Newcastle have shipped 4 goals in their two away games this season though these were against United and Arsenal so we shouldn't judge too harshly. However, the team appears to be in
disarray at the minute and this coupled with injury problems and a lack of a manager appear to suggest a decent day for the likes of Dean Ashton and Carlton Cole.
West Ham on the other hand should be buoyed by the arrival of Gia
nfranco Zola as the great man returns to English football. West Ham will hope to benefit from the much-quoted 'new manager lift' that does often seem to accompany the arrival of a new chief. If Ashton can shake off his injury from last week he'll be a solid pick again this week (6.6m) and I am set to keep him for a few weeks yet. Cole is an interesting choice in that he only costs 5.4m but has already racked up a goal and 6 bonus points, second only to Frank Lampard. Having such a cheap player in the ranks or on the bench should open the door for you to get in the likes of Torres or the returning Cristiano Ronaldo so Cole is one to consider in the coming weeks.
I'm not a big fan of the West Ham midfield but I do think Scott Parker at 5m represents decent value. He chipped in with an assist in week 3 but has been largely unproductive as a fantasy force as yet this season. Still for 5m you're at least guaranteed 90 minutes which in a post-Europe week is nothing to be sniffed at.

Hull v Everton
I normally place a huge premium on home sides but I think Everton are due a good performance boosted by the goal scoring return of the excellent and underrated Tim Cahill. I have been struggling all week with whether to get him in the team which I always had in mind when I picked Mikel Arteta to open the season. However, Arteta has been even better than expected and still took all the set pieces and free kicks last week despite Cahill's return. I'm loathed to have two Everton players as I already have three Arsenal and three West Ham players and I like to keep a diversified squad. I would however, heartily encourage anyone else to get Cahill in before the inevitable rush of recruiters when the realise he's back after he scores again this weekend.
I'm not that high on Yakubu though being the figurehead
of this talented side as well as taking the penalties does make him an asset. At 8.1m I think he is slightly overpriced with Defoe (8.1) and the continually impressive Agbonlahor (8.2) being better options. Nevertheless if you have the Yak keep him in as this week is as good as any to get on the score sheet. As I will discuss later in the week, a look ahead at Everton's fixtures is not pretty reading so caution should be taken when adding them to your squad as they face Liverpool, Arsenal and United in the next 5 weeks.

WBA v Aston Villa

Villa were impressive on Monday at Spurs and I like
the chances of them continuing their form this week. West Brom have given up 4 goals at home in games against Sunderland and West Ham whilst Villa put two past both Stoke and Spurs on the road. I thought Barry was man of the match, though the boys at premierleague.com only gave him 1 bonus point (as mentioned previosuly, Laursen and Young took the top two awards). Young is another good option and I'm pleased to keep in Pure Juice for another few weeks. Finally , Gabriel Agbonlahor looks like a good bet to get on the score sheet having not found the net since his week 1 hat trick. John Carew picked up a knock on Monday and will miss the Thursday Uefa Cup match with Litex. If he shakes off the ankle injury by Sunday he should also be a decent bet to notch a few points (and decent value at 7.6).

Play Keepers/Defenders

Liverpool v Stoke
It's hardly controversial to pick one of the big four against a newly promoted side but this really should be a one sided affair. Liverpool are yet to keep a clean sheet at home despite having kept two on their travels (okay maybe that back the home team theory isn't such a great idea). My only concern is a Champions League hangover which could allow Stoke to nick a goal, as they have done in both their away games so far. However, I think Liverpool have enough physical presence to deal with Delap's long throws and should come away with a clean sheet which have been at a premium so far this season.
My problem with the Liverpool defense (which I'm remembering as I read this) is the constant uncertainty on who
will play alongside Jamie Carragher. Alvaro Arbeloa looks to be the best option having played all but 8 minutes this season. At 6m he is will priced and is a notch below the other premium defenders from the big four. At 5.9m Martin Skrtel is a decent bet having played 90 minutes in the last three league games as well as nothing two bonus points last week. Reina is perhaps the safest bet of all and at 6m is well valued if your keeper has a tough fixture. As with Everton above, caution should be taken in investing too heavily in Liverpool as the next five games after Stoke all rank as Medium-Hard on my rankings.

West Ham v Newcastle
Okay this is getting repetitive now but such is my concern for the abilities of Newcastle at the moment I had to include this game again. Or perhaps its the fact I've had Robert Green in my team since week 1 and so far he's conceded 1, 3, 1 and 3 goals and I'm desperate for him to turn it around. This could well be Green's last week in the Pure Juice team as the 1.4m in the bank is burning a whole in my pocket and I might upgrade to Cech (6.1m) or Van der Sar (6m) after this weeks clash of the big two.
As for this week, Callum Davenport at 4.5 may be a decent sleeper pick although the chances of him getting on the score sheet must be slim after scoring in week 3.

I don't have strong feelings on the other defensive prospects for the week with Chelsea and United facing off on Sunday and Arsenal facing a usually difficult trip to Bolton.Wigan have impressed me so far this season but a trip to Spurs this week is unlikely to pay high dividends. Meanwhile my newly acquired sub Armand Traore faces a difficult trip to Eastlands and so will remain on the bench again this week.

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