As we start to see trends emerge for the new season, we are able to rely more and more on the season’s data, and discard that from last season. However, given that we are only 3 weeks in, I think it is too early to suggest that St James’ Park will yield 6 goals for every visitor and City will always fail to score an away goal. I have therefore maintained my reliance on my hybrid 2009/11 league table using both this year’s and last year’s data and I will incorporate 10/11-only data when it is more reliable (right now Blackpool are expected to concede 12.56 goals this week given their opponent (Newcastle) average 6 goals at home and their average goals conceded per game on the road (3.00) is over twice the league average).
- Aston Villa (0.28)
- Birmingham (0.44)
- Man City (0.49)
- Arsenal (0.50)
- Newcastle (0.58)
- Fulham (0.60)
- Liverpool (0.85)
- Wigan (0.91)
- Stoke (0.93)
- Chelsea (0.98)
- Man Utd (1.13)
- West Brom (1.20)
- Sunderland (1.20)
- Everton (1.39)
- Tottenham (.165)
- Wolves (1.78)
- West Ham (2.30)
- Blackburn (3.00)
- Blackpool (3.21)
- Bolton (3.50)
The lesson is that these rankings are only a guide and sometimes statistical anomalies can cause what appear to be odd-looking predictions. That said, in GW2 West Brom kept a clean sheet at home to Sunderland while United, Villa, and Liverpool shipped a combined 11 goals in their 3 road games, so go with the stats not the reputations.
1. Didier Drogba @West Ham The unstoppable force of the league to date. I foolishly dropped him to number 2 last week, but I won’t make that mistake again this week. The closest thing to Ronaldo in his prime as we have ever seen.
2. Florent Malouda @ West Ham Turning into the player we thought he could be when he transferred from Lyon. The second name on the Chelsea and fantasy team sheet at the moment.
3. Cesc Fabregas vs Bolton He hasn’t hit form yet but the extra week will have done him good and he should be back himself sooner rather than later.
4. James Milner vs Blackburn Has hit the ground running at City and is taking up very promising positions at his new club. Appears to be a lock to start and should deliver excellent value for the foreseeable future.
5. Frank Lampard @ West Ham Hasn’t reached the dizzy heights of last season’s form yet and the potential loss of penalty duty hurts his value, but I’m not ready to write him off yet. Ancelotti has said he is confident Lampard will be fit this week.
6. Richard Dunne vs Stoke Like Lampard he hasn’t reached last season’s peaks yet and the abandonement by the bonus Gods is a concern but Villa have the best defensive rank this week and are yet to concede at Villa Park
7. Wayne Rooney @Everton 15 points in 2 games for a man considered to be out of form is not bad going. His goal came through a penalty so his goalscoring touch cannot be considered fully back yet but would you back against him heading up to his old hunting ground? Me neither.
8. Carlos Tevez vs Blackburn Inconsistency is the name of the game for Tevez and City’s attack as a whole but you’d back them against an average Blackburn side at Eastlands and Tevez should lead the line once more.
Andy Carroll vs Blackpool Carroll has taken to the EPL as well as any Championship player in recent memory and his dominant style has caught the eye of the bonus Gods too. Newcastle put six past Villa last time at home and they welcome a Blackpool side who shipped six of their own at Arsenal in GW2. The game therefore would seem to have goals in it and Carroll is a very nice filler option for the week if you need a budget striker.
Kevin Nolan vs Newcastle As for Carroll above, Nolan has taken well to the EPL and he looks more like the Nolan of his early Allardyce-Bolton days rather than those spent wallowing under Gary Megson. He is playing just off the striker and his keen eye for goal should lead to points throughout the season. Good value at 5.7m for the season and great value as a pickup for this week.
Bobby Zamora vs Wolves Zamora has managed a useful 14 points to date, managing to avoid the dreaded 2 pointer in any of his games. He faces a Wolves side who struggled on the road last year and still represents excellent and consistency value at 6.5m.
On the Block
Gary Cahill – Bolton defended very well in their first two games, only giving up a somewhat dodgy Carlton Cole penalty. However, they didn’t look good in GW3 against Birmingham and the upcoming games are simply brutal (@Ars, @Ast, MNU).
John Terry/Ashley Cole/Thomas Vermaelen – Chelsea defenders have been golden so far this year and so it may seem crazy to dispose of Cole and Terry right now. However, @WH, @MNC, Ars, @Ast in the next 5 games is a tough run and they will struggle to deliver value at their hefty 7.0m and 7.5m price tags. I still like Alex during this run at his lower price but if your squad is pretty settled you might look elsewhere during this run of tricky games for your premium defenders.
The same can be said for Vermaelen who faces trips to Sunderland, Chelsea and City in the next 6 weeks. Again, the cheaper Arsenal defenders give decent value but Vermaelen looks overpriced given the reduced chance at clean sheets he will have.
Mikel Arteta / Tim Cahill – Everton have not started the season well, managing just 1 goal in 3 games (though the fixtures have been fairly tough). The games get even tougher from here though with MNU, @Ful, @Bir, Liv and @Tot to come in the next 6 games. After that Cahill and Arteta might be useful once more but for now this whole teams looks a fantasy minefield.
Ryan Shawcross – Stoke are another team who have looked to have taken a step back from last year, but again have played decent opposition so let’s not write them off just yet. That said, a 0.136 PPMS and 0.67 PPG for Shawcross is unacceptable and at 4.9m better options are available.
Javier Hernandez – There was quite a lot of excitement over the little Mexican in the pre-season and I agree that he looked useful in the warm up games. However, Berbatov’s form has prevented his from gaining any serious minutes and now Rooney is fit I can’t see Hernandez getting sufficient playing time to generate fantasy value. He might steal a few games from Berbatov once the Champions League starts but in the long term I see him as overpriced until further notice.
Gareth Bale – I am not pulling another 180 degree turn on Bale yet but I am concerned by the injury to Assou Ekotto which forced Bale to left back as well as the arrival of Van der Vaat whose presence in the team makes the midfield look very crowded. Add to this the recent quote from Redknapp stating he feels that Bale’s best long term position is at left back, and you have a worried fantasy manager concerned about dropping 6.5m on a left back who won’t score defensive points. He isn’t on the block yet but we need to monitor this very closely as a move to left back will see his price collapse in days.
As always thanks for reading and why no get in touch below or @plfantasy.