Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Fitting in with the Fixtures

This week seems to be a metaphor for the financial crisis at Portsmouth - we all knew it was coming but our plans were probably insufficient. With 6 teams not playing at all and only 2 enjoying a double, many of us are going to struggle to field a full strength side this week without drastic changes. In truth that gives us an advantage as the average punter will either stay put with their weakened side or overreact and spend 20 points bringing in new players.

If you do need to make transfers, let's look at which of your players with a bye week should be sold and which would be better kept:

Aston Villa - Hold
With no game in week 28 either, many of us sold the likes of Milner last week in anticipation of their double week vacation. If you stuck by your Villains then it might be worth holding on again if you can given their double gameweek in week 30 (@Sto, @Wig) followed by a home derby against Wolves. I think these boys should have been sold in week 28 but if you made it through that I'd stick again and hold out for the richer rewards of week 30.

Blackburn - Sell
Not many owners will be too concerned with Allardyce's men in fantasy terms though to be fair Gamst Pedersen has been in good form of late while Ryan Nelsen has been a nice rotation prospect all season. With games @Tot and Che to follow their bye I think Blackburn players need to be sold, especially given that if you really fancy the games @Bur and @Por in weeks 32-33 then you should be able to bring your players back at the price you sold them for.

Chelsea - Hold if you can afford it
Obviously you never want to sell your best players, especially if you're sat on a big profit but this may be easier said than done as it would be tough to bench say, Lampard, Drogba and Ivanovic and leave 30.8m to go relax in the South of France while you take your team of Wolves and Burnley misfits off to battle for your side this weekend. Chelsea's next game is West Ham at home which looks decent and then they get a double (@Bla, @Por) but then a run of Ast, @MNU and @Tot looks very tough and thus Lampard and co might be sellable.

The natural choice to replace Lampard is Fabregas who was sensational last week against Stoke and who gets the best fixture a team can have - Burnley at home. With the return of Torres, Gerrard too becomes a viable option but remember he also has to travel to United in a few weeks (GW31). As for Drogba, it would the aforementioned Torres or the irrepressible Rooney. Perhaps against better judgement I actually like Torres to score more points that Rooney from here on in given the fixtures and the workload Rooney has already faced.

With all that said, Drogba could well be the best player to own in the final few weeks of the season so if you own him at a profit the best decision is probably to stay put.

Fulham - Sell/Hold
If you hold any Fulham players (particularly defenders) and you're not sat on a huge profit then it might be time to temporarily part with your reliable overachievers. With a bye week followed by a trip to Old Trafford and a home fixture with City, the returns look seriously limited over the next 3 weeks. My general rule is that I can accept keeping a player on a 1 or 2 game skid but 3 weeks of next to no contribution is too much to take, even for a bargain loaded side like Fulham.

Man City - Sell
I know, I know, they have a double gameweek in week 31 but @Ful (0.64 GPG conceded) and Eve (1.69 GPG conceded and improving) doesn't do much to get my fantasy blood boiling. Tevez is in great form and their performance at Chelsea showed they can win on any ground but nevertheless fantasy football for me is about playing the odds and with only Wigan at home in week 32 coming against a team who concede more than 1.5 GPG (along with the aforementioned Everton game) I think City's fantasy boom may have run its course. At 9m Tevez is really tough to replace, for this week and beyond (given that Defoe and Agbonlahor also have bye weeks this week). Long term I like Agbonlahor's fixtures though I don't believe he is in great form while Darren bent continues to provide good value in this week and the foreseeable future.

Tottenham - Hold A great fixture next week (Bla at home) followed by a series of decent games leads me to favour Spurs slightly over City as a fantasy force in the next few weeks. That said, without Lennon your Spurs options are somewhat limited to Defoe and a rejuvenated Modric to go along with their stellar back line. If you can hold these guys through the week then I think you'll be well placed in week 30 but it wouldn't be a disaster if you had to sell.

Stay tuned later in the week for the usual weekly preview. In the meantime please post your thoughts/comments/questions below or @plfantasy.

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