Arsenal, Villa, Chelsea and Everton: Fantasy Football studs and duds
The official Premier League Fantasy Football game for the upcoming season is now live, with managers all around the world umm-ing and ahh-ing over who to pick, who to leave out, who’s going to be their full season players, captain and vice captain. It's all stressful stuff but I’m here to make those decisions a little easier for you guys with my weekly round-up of fantasy studs and fantasy duds.
Seeing as it is pre-season, I’m going to go through all the clubs and pick out people to look out for, people to not touch with a ten-foot barge pole and the golden boys of fantasy football. I’d like to keep it interactive, so comments a plenty are welcome. Well, let’s get to it, here is part one.
Arsene Wenger's team made it to a solid third on the table last season with 74 goals for, the majority of them from their club captain Robin Van Persie. Suffering an 8-2 defeat to Manchester United hurt the London club, but with new signings Lucas Podolski and Olivier Giroud the Gunners will be looking to push even higher up the table.
The indomitable Dutchman RVP is the biggest stud in the Arsenal line-up, with 30 goals last season, the golden boot and one of only four players to break the 200 point barrier for the season. Inevitably though he is the game's most expensive player, priced at £13m. A must buy if and only if he stays at Arsenal, otherwise I cannot see him not getting the same amount of game time at Man City or United. Centre backs Vermealen and Koscielny are studs in my book because of the great season prior. Vermealen is a high priced defender (£7m) but Koscielny is the bargain at £5.5m, and this lower price could come in useful if you need to splash the cash somewhere else.
Arsenal’s midfield doesn’t get me excited at all and that’s why I’m on the fence with both Arteta and Walcott. Both had decent fantasy seasons last year, but Walcott’s inconsistency is why I tend to stay away and Arteta is not as influential as he once was at Everton, especially with RVP hogging the free kicks.
Another on the fence for me is Lucas Podolski. Similar to Walcott, his performance over the years can be described as inconsistent. Adapting to the Premier League is definitely an issue for the foreign players, but if he can score 18 goals in 29 appearances like he did last year for FC Köln, then his £8.5m price tag could be worth it.
Bendtner and Chamakh are both duds if they stay at Arsenal. Bendtner had a great season at Sunderland, but another loan or transfer is the only way he is going to get game time. Arshavin is also a dud playing only 724 minutes last season scoring just a single goal. Like Bendtner, the little Russian's only hopes are getting sent away to another team.
Alex McLeish had a poor 2011/2012 season with Aston Villa, finishing 16th, just outside of the relegation zone. A pitiful seven wins and only 37 goals doesn’t bode well for those of you looking to grab some bargains from the Birmingham club, but new manager Paul Lambert will be trying to rectify this, and has started on his way with the purchase of Dutch player Karim El Ahmadi.
No definite studs from this lacklustre Villa side, as I’m on the fence with both strikers, Agbonlahor and Bent. If they can produce more goals than the handful they managed last year then their £7m and £8.5m valuations will justify it, but I just can't see it happening. El Ahmadi is a good price at £4.5m but won’t score many goals in defensive mid, but he could pick up a few assists and could be a good acquisition as a cheap midfielder for the bench.
Duds for me are the entire Aston Villa defence, as I can’t see them getting many clean sheets (only eight last year) and thus I think money is better spent elsewhere.
Two words. Eden Hazard. If he lives up to expectation he could be what Ronaldo was to the fantasy game a few years back. A full season purchase and a definite captain week in week out, with 24 per cent of fantasy managers already signing him up. Also a big note is that Chelsea start the fantasy season off with a double game week, with games away to Wigan and home to Reading. So studs for me are Peter Cech and the Chelsea defence. Surely they can get at least one clean sheet against a renowned slow starter and a Premier League newcomer.
I think this season is gong to be the one for Fernando Torres but because of Hazard I can't see Roberto Di Matteo playing both Sturridge and Torres at the same time. So the issue here is game time and a £10m striker not guaranteed a start is a risk to take at your own peril. Frank Lampard is a solid acquisition in the centre of midfield and has performed year after year in the fantasy game, but with him ageing and the new signing of Oscar to take game time away from him, I don’t think he’s going to replicate his stunning performance of the 2009/2010 season.
A transfer watch player is Romelu Lukaku. If he goes out on loan he could be a bargin player if he becomes starter. He is a strong and skilful forward who has proven this for Belgium. But if he is stuck on the bench for Chelsea, I can only see him getting cup appearances.
The sale of 32-year-old Tim Cahill to that drinks company for a scant £1 million is mind boggling. Lots of fantasy managers will be hurting with the out of position second striker but classified as a midfielder in the official Fantasy Premier League leaving. But I won’t. Tim just didn’t perform on the fantasy points enough for me to select him. He only collected 83 points last season and that’s just not good enough for a £8.5m player.
Everton have Manchester United first up, so the defence is going to be hard pushed for a clean sheet here, but for the rest of the season Hetinga is a fair priced defender who could score a few goals. Leighton Baines is a fantasy favorite and a stud because of his spot kick abilities. A full season with Jelavic and new signing Stephen Naismith, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Baine’s assists treble from last season.
Swapping the blue of Rangers for the, well, blue of Everton, Jelavic rocketed nine goals in 13 appearances at the end of last year. This season he is a definite stud, and with a new partnership with another ex-Ranger Naismith, I’m predicting both of them to score in the double digits. Everton's midfield is lacklustre on paper, but Rodwell and/or Barkley are ones to keep an eye on, but probably a few weeks down the track.
Article by Greg Hall
Remember to come back tomorrow for part two of Greg Hall's Fantasy Football studs and duds.
Calling all football fans: Do you agree with Greg's analysis? Who are the studs and duds at your team? Who is in your fantasy team? Whatever your views, we'd love to hear from you.
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