Sunday, February 15, 2009

On the horizon

Cast you eye over the upcoming fixtures and two teams' schedules stick out as particularly attractive: Arsenal and Everton. Over the next 6 weeks, Everton and Arsenal each have 5 green rated fixtures, with the average goals per game conceded by their opposition coming in at 1.69 (Everton) and 1.56 (Arsenal). With that in mind, the following attacking options become very interesting buys this week:

Arsenal

Denilson - the cheapest of the big name midfielders (6.2) has had a decent season, though his last 5 games have seen him contribute just 13 points. With 5 assists and 3 goals for the season, along with a much improved defense, mean that Denilson could be a decent, and steady (16 straight starts) point contributor in the next month or so.

Nasri - the highest potential scorer in midfield is a bit overpriced (7.6m) and I would not generally suggest buying him ahead of similarly priced studs like Cahill and Ireland. Considering Cahill's recent advanced role and comparably easy fixtures, I would still rank Cahill ahead of Nasri, though Ireland owners may consider the move due to City's brutal fixtures (opposition averaging less than a goal per game in the next 6 games). Nasri has 5 goals for the season, though has found the net just once since his impressive brace against United in week 12. With van Persie in decent form, Arshavin added during (or just after) the transfer window and Fabregas touted to return to action this month, the goals should start to flow for Gunners and Nasri looks as well placed as anyone to benefit.

Van Persie - starting to really show his class this season in both the Premier and Fantasy league. The Dutchman has 4 double digit gameweeks so far and could easily add to this total in the next few weeks. Van Persie has 9 goals and 7 assists in just 17 full appearances this season, though has only 1 goal in 2009 in the league. I would recommend swapping Robinho, Anelka and to a lesser extend Berbatov for the Arsenal forward who looks set to hit a rich vein of form.

Everton

Cahill - the Aussie forward hit an impressive run of form in his advanced role notching 4 goals in 9 games, averaging over 5 points a game in that span. Anichebe is back for Everton though he is far from an established striker which means Cahill could continue to partner new arrival Jo up front. Soft defences like Newcastle, West Brom and Portsmouth will provide great opportunities for Cahill to add to this season's tally of 6 goals.

Arteta - the Spaniard has been in incredible form of late, running the Everton team and being at the centre of all good things that come their way. This is reflected in his 24 bonus points for the year, 10 of which have come in the past 7 weeks. With Arteta taking on penalty duties as well as all free kicks and corners, the goals and assist are likely to continue to flow and Arteta is best placed of all to capitalise on the favourable fixtures coming up for the Toffees. Outside of the big three (Ronaldo, Lampard and Gerrard) I would sell anyone for Arteta right now, even blog favourite Ashley Young (who will see welcome Chelsea and Tottenham as well as visiting Liverpool and United in the coming 6 weeks).

Leon Osman - not well heralded and not incredibly cheap (5.9m) Osman is nevertheless a decent option who is all but guaranteed to play (15th in minutes among all midfielders) and will cheap in with odd goal and assist (3 of each so far this year). Personally, I'd prefer Milner (6.1m) or Murphy (5.6m) but nevertheless the little Evertonian is decent value for now.

Jo - incredible debut for the Brazilian last week who had a miserable time in his first few months in England. He took his first goal majestically and then slotted in a penalty in the dying minutes of the game. Whilst we can't expect any more penalties (Arteta is still the taker) a few more goals are not too much to ask. At 7.7m though I feel he is a bit overpriced and does not provide better value than say Kenwyne Jones (7m), Craig Bellamy (6.9m) or Amr Zaki (6.6m). On the other hand I like him more than Keane (8.3m), Santa Cruz (8.5m) and even Robinho (9.5m).

Not so bright

Aside from aforementioned City, Pompey, Boro and Liverpool also have daunting looking fixtures and it may be time to move along any players you hold from these clubs. A further caveat for Liverpool players is the return of the Champions League, which Benitez has often held in higher regard than the league. This could change this year though don't be surprised to see key players rested in games that immediately proceed the midweek European games.

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