He's going to prove Hazard-ous to Stoke this weekend.
I've had an absolutely abysmal start to my Yahoo fantasy season, with AM FC currently slumming it down in 7000th position overall, mainly because I got my Robin van Persie related decisions completely wrong in both Week 3 and 4. In fact, had it not been Jussi Jaaskelainen then Week 4 may have been my lowest weekly total ever. But onwards and upwards, it can only get better from here - right? With Week 5 being the 1st Round of The NMA Blog Cup, it bloody well better be.
Week 5 is a single week for all teams and includes a cracking double header on Sunday - Liverpool v Manchester United followed by Manchester City v Arsenal. Although they aren't derby matches these fixtures are notoriously hard fought and difficult to predict, so unless you're holding players at a discount e.g. Santi Cazorla and Carlos Tevez, I don't think it's worth getting too invested in full prices additions.
The teams that do interest me are ...
Chelsea v (Stoke City)
Tottenham (v Queens Park Rangers)
Newcastle (v Norwich City)
West Brom (v Reading)
Despite a difficult 0-0 draw at Loftus Road last weekend, Chelsea are playing well, while Stoke (a point against the Champions aside) are struggling a bit and I can see a comfortable home win here, possibly to nil. I'm also feeling a lot more confident re: Spurs' chances of a first home win of the season after they played very well at Reading, with the midfield shape and high positions held by Bale and Lennon quite fun to watch. I also feel you have to fancy Newcastle to pick up 3 points in front of their home fans again a spirited by limited Norwich side and I would be shocked if West Brom don't turn Reading over.
I also quite like the look of ...
Southampton (v Aston Villa)
West Ham United (v Sunderland)
Fulham (@ Wigan Athletic)
Yes, Southampton have lost 4 from 4 while shipping a ton of bad goals, but they were very good at home to Manchester United and I think they have enough attacking prowess to beat Villa. West Ham have had a cracking start to the season and are another side who really thrive on their own patch which could see them sneak past Sunderland. Finally, I'm tipping Fulham to beat Wigan. Yes, they are generally appalling away from home but I don't rate Wigan much either and a certain Mr. Berbatov is going to make a massive difference to their performances on the road. His touch and ability to hold the ball up to relieve pressure used to help Spurs a lot and he can do the same for them.
As for Swansea City v Everton, it really could go either way.
That brings us to the players and I've reverted to my standard format of 3 keepers, 8 defenders, 10 midfielders and 8 striker recommendations. Here it goes ...
Cech - Probably the safest choice with Stoke coming to town, especially for those of you holding him at discount. Chelsea generally look very solid, as does Petr Cech.
Jaaskelainen - Jussi has had a sensational start to his season and it could continue at home to Sunderland. He may be a bit pricey if you don't hold him at his previous barndoor prices of 3.91 or 6.60.
Harper - If Jussi costs too much then injured Newcastle keeper Tim Krul's backup Steve Harper could be the perfect option at home to Norwich.
Ivanovic - He's pricey but he keeps putting up the points and an average of 14 after 4 games can only be bettered by Jussi and Tevez. I'm seriously considering him if I can find the funds.
Vertonghen - He looked so classy in defence and on the ball against an admittedly limited Reading and is still down below 6.00. It may be time to get back on the bandwagon as he's also very much in the Thomas Vermaelen mould when it comes to attacking in the opposition's box and QPR haven't looked great.
Vidic - Class is permanent and he's starting to look fitter game by game. I'm expecting a big score soon so if you want him long term it could be time to pounce - if not now then on the barndoor.
Fox - Fullback with an eye for goal and with a winnable game against Villa he could be worth a look
Buttner - What a debut this young man had, a goal and an assist and doing more than Patrice Evra has done for the past 12 months. But will he keep his spot for the Anfield cauldron? We await team news.
Santon - By far the cheapest option if you want to add a Newcastle defender for that potential clean sheet v Norwich
Reid - Winston Reid is a beast and one of West Ham's best chances of staying up. If you can't afford Jussi but want a defensive representative from the Hammers he's your man.
B.Jones - Jones should cover the right-back slot with Steven Reid injured again and he's far more affordable than any other WBA defender for their match-up with Reading.
Bale - He wasn't actually very good against Reading but still popped up with a goal and 16 points. As I've mentioned he seems to be playing much higher up the field in AVB's 4-3-3 and that will only benefit his fantasy production.
Lampard - Frank Lampard has really stepped up his game this season despite playing a deeper role and with tricky players all over the place he'd going to get plenty of free-kick and penalty chances against a rough Stoke side.
Ben Arfa - Pure quality and continues to improve - I wouldn't be suprised to see him add another goal against Norwich.
Cazorla - Erm, also pure quality. He has adopted to English football quicker than any import I've seen and was the best player on the pitch again against Southampton. If you hold him, do not drop him, despite the tough fixture.
J.Garcia - Another man who had a very impressive debut with a goal, looking constantly dangerous in the air from set-pieces. There's always a rotation risk with City but I expect him to start again and he's very affordable.
Ramirez - Southampton's Gaston Ramirez rather than Chelsea's version, is going to play a big role if they are to stay up. Nigel Adkins says he's ready to start and I'm tempted to throw him in.
Morrison - James Morrison has taken over from Chris Brunt as the man behind West Brom's good work and he could be a slightly obscure pick if you're looking to something different.
Lallana - Yet another Southampton option, likes to shoot does the captain, and as I've said it's a winnable game.
Michu - I'm giving him another week despite a tricky match vs Everton. He deserves it after 4 games in his first 3 matches.
Lennon - A cheap way to get on the Tottenham bandwagon.
Hazard - Did you like the pun? In all seriousness I think Eden Hazard has to be in your team for the Stoke match. Their defenders are hardly the most nimble and this man is one of the most nimble players I've ever seen.
Defoe - He's on fire and will keep his spot after 2 goals in Week 4. Shoots on sight, a fantasy manager's dream when on form.
Tevez - Subbed early at Stoke (surprisingly) but If you have him I feel you should keep him given his start to the season. However, with Sergio Aguero on the verge of a return it is one to keep an eye on.
Berbatov - To repeat an earlier statement "His touch and ability to hold the ball up to relieve pressure used to help Spurs a lot and he can do the same for Fulham". Wigan aren't the most solid, he's on penalties, he should do well.
P.Cisse - May seem an odd selection but he will hit form again and is much cheaper than Ba and Norwich don't travel too well.
Lukaku - A true bargain alert now Peter Odemwingie will miss a few games due to his idiotic red card. He should get the nod to start against Reading and costs less than 5.00
Lambert - Yes, another Southampton player.
Miralles - My hunch for the week, although I very much doubt I'll have the balls to pick him. I really like the look of Kevin, he came from a Greek club and with Jelavic possibly injured he should have a prominent role to play.
I'm going to have to leave it there for now but please check back here on Friday for all the team and injury news. There's likely to be plenty of it after a full round of Champions League and Europa League matches this week and some of the players listed may already by doubts by the time you read this.
My own barndoor team is currently this:
Jaaskalainen, Vidic, Fox, Buttner, Garcia, Cazorla, Michu, Bale, Hazard, Defoe, Tevez
I won't keep two United defenders so may bring Vertonghen in and I'm still unsure on Garcia; I need a Newcastle player in there somewhere so he could be swapped with Ben Arfa. Upfront I think I'll keep Hazard and Tevez so it will be between Defoe, Berbatov (held at discount in Hazard's place) and Cisse for my final striker spot.
How's your team shaping up?