- Newcastle have the 4th best attack this year overall and the 3rd best at home.
- Seven players have scored for the Magpies this year but only three (Nolan, Carroll and Ameobi) have more than one.
- Midfielders account for 10 of Newcastle's 19 goals so far.
- Newcastle players have been awarded 38 bonus points to date, joint 3rd highest in the league behind only Chelsea (47) and United (40), and level with Arsenal.
- Newcastle rank as the 5th best attacking team based on strength of schedule over the next 6 weeks and the next 12 weeks.
I will always have a soft spot for Nolan due to the role he played during Big Sam's glorious run in charge of the Wanderers (the goal at Arsenal was particularly awesome). He is also maddeningly frustrating. His eye for goal rates him among the top midfielders in the league and he is a genuinely good finisher who can also hit them in from a distance. I don't think he always puts in enough effort for a central midfielder but he's often been deployed of a lone striker which has eased his defensive duties (interestingly though he played in a 4 man midfield today). Looking at his passing chalkboards do not inspire confidence that the goals will continue to flow but he did manage 7 shots so he's clearly willing to take a punt. Of similar priced midfielders I only really like Adam and Etherington to come close to Nolan and it would not surprise me if he led all midfielders available for under 6.5m when all is said and done.
Andy Carroll (5.5m)
Carroll burst onto the fantasy scene with a GW2 hat trick and he's been in most of minds at some point this year I'm sure. If you want to own one or two premium strikers you will need a cheap compliment and at this point I'd rank them as below, based on value for money:
Jonas Gutierrez (4.8m)
I'm a big admirer of Gutierrez's abilities and have been since his days in Mallorca. That said, I think he is a better real player than fantasy as he doesn't hit the back of the net enough (5 in 77 games for Newcastle) though he has managed 3 assists this year. He isn't a bad option but I feel Nolan is worth the extra 0.9m if you have it.
Joey Barton (4.7m)
Much like Gutierrez I think Barton is a better player in reality than for fantasy. His play makes alot of goals but he tends to play the pass that sets up the assist rather than playing the killer ball himself. The attraction of the pundits is an added bonus (sorry!) but even this has dried up of late and so I would look elsewhere for your squad men.
Shola Ameobi (4.2m)
His incredibly low price makes Ameobi worth a look, especially considering he has more goals than Torres, Rooney and Adebayor and as many as fantasy favorites like Chamakh and Anelka. However, he has just three starts on the season and Carroll didn't start one of these. I don't think Hughton will permanently go two up top and so you're starting minutes are always going to be limited. What's worse is the fact that he has seen action as a sub in every game but one, meaning your chance of a painful 1 pointer is pretty high.
If Hughton sticks with two front at home and away then Ameobi becomes a great bench guy/good rotation player but until that is proven I can't waste a bench spot on someone who might give 1 point, no matter how cheap he is.
I was fairly high on Newcastle coming into the season but I saw Nolan and Gutierrez as spot players and I wasn't on Carroll at all. I now feel that Nolan and Carroll deserve to be played every week, especially considering their favorable fixtures (even though next week's trip to Arsenal is obviously tricky). Rarely do I condone - let alone execute - an early transfer but if you want Nolan you might want to do it now as his price might rise 0.2 this week alone. My strategy is to see if either he or Lee would make my team next week anyway and if not, then I will pull the trigger on the trade I should have made 2 weeks ago.