Question 1 - Are picking players from banker fixtures still the way to play?
An often successful formula to a decent fantasy week is to select the best players from the week's banker fixtures. As the weekend past had two stone cold bankers it would seem a suitable time to reflect on the success of the idea and the players from the favoured team.
Chelsea hosting West Bromwich Albion was as one sided as it appeared. Chelsea are playing some very good football at home and are the clear dominant team in the league approaching the tricky Christmas period. With 10 clean sheet in the previous 13 homes the keeper and defence where in many of our thoughts and averaging over 2 goals a game at home any attacker joined them. A comfy 2 nil home win produced the points for the popular picks.
- Courtois - Clean sheet and win but just the 12pt return thanks to a Chelsea performance that was too good for their own good fantasy wise.
- Ivanovic - 9pt so an even more disappointing return and that was his cost on Saturday morning. A pattern has developed in the easy home games where he picks up the clean sheet and little else. No doubt the time I don't pick him up he gets that goal we all keep predicting. His fellow three defenders scored 13, 11 and 9 pts all at a higher cost price.
- Cesc Fabregas - Finally a flop week for many peoples 5m hero with a 5pt return. Avoided a booking which may have been the most important return.
- Eden Hazard - In fantastic form scoring at home again and returning 21pts without a penalty this time.
- Diego Costa - 21pts and a predictable goal the only surprise was that he did not add to his goal tally. Most of you hold him at 5m and if you do he like Cesc isn't going away where is he.
Manchester City the league second best side and champions hosted Swansea in a must win tie.
- Sergio Agruero - Most of you held King Kun at discount. Despite playing well he finally had an off day fantasy wise scoring 5pts.
- Samir Nasri - I had pointed out the idea of picking set piece taker and well rested Nasri who according to the reports walked away with a few man of the match ratings but also failed on the fantasy front with a big fat ZERO. Good idea but bad call Stall.
- Yaya Toure - After weeks and weeks of falling very flat, last year's Yaya returned for a massive 24pts and not a penalty or free kick in sight.
- Stevan Jovetic - Like Yaya a player I couldn't pull the trigger on buying, Jovetic returned 15pts including his goal.
- Jesus Navas - The complete opposite of Nasri in that he had a poor game yet presented fantays fans 13pts.
Looking at week 13 the obvious choices are Manchester United playing home to Hull and then a matter of opinion but perhaps Liverpool home to Stoke. Many of you will not risk the breakup of the power trio Sanchez, Costa and Kun meaning your bankers options are the Utd/Liverpool defence which really is not what you could call an option, or the likes of Di Maria, Raheem Sterling and co in midfield.
Question 2 - If you answered yes to question 1 then is Manchester United home to Hull a banker home win?
Coming into the fixture on the back of 2-1 win at Arsenal you would normally say so. At
moment this Utd squad are struggling with their performances partly due to an injury crisis in defence and hold a top four place thanks to problems at other clubs.
News that Luke Shaw left the ground on crutches suggests he will be yet a further defender missing from LVG selection. This early in the week it is hard to know what he will do but I will take an early guess he rewards those who played against the Gunners. That may mean a few fillers to be had with Paddy Mcclair 3.35m, Tyler Blackett 2.97m and Chris Smalling 6.77m. Their average scores if it interests are 3pts per game for all three. United's star player 17pt David De Gea will set you back 11.78m and you feel he may need to continue making a few saves even in this fixture.
Into midfield in our search ignoring the obvious Di Maria and you have Michael Carrick 9m (8pt ave), Marouane Fellaini 9pts (7pt ave), Antonio Valencia 6.55m (5pts ave) with old BFAY that's blog favourite Ashley Young to the newbees 5.46, (5pt ave).
Finally up the top and its a choice of Wayne Rooney 18.07m (9pt ave) or RVP 11.21m (6pts ave). Rooney is the form horse of the two and RVP has been way off the boil. I wonder if he is now becoming a player more useful in home games where in theory Utd control possession and create more chances, what do you think? He also has penalty duty and while not the force of old is still very tempting this week.
If you believe Liverpool will find their 2013/14 feet this week we have in order of price the following. Steven Gerrard and his penalties 13.99m (7pt ave), Adam Lallana 12.47 (7pt ave), Raheem Sterling 10.92 (10pt ave but off the boil), Rickie Lambert 9.87 (forget the ave as only 1 start), and if fit Mario Balotelli 9.61m (5pt ave).
There are two bargains though. Jordan Henderson is 7.92m (7pt ave) but keeper Simon MIgnolet is just 6.31m and the reason? his average is 2pts per game. I always think these bad runs end with a hard fought 1 or 2 nil win. If so Mignolet is a great option for those of you looking away from Courtois this week.
Neither side is as strong a banker as Chelsea/Man City last week but are they still bankers?
Question 3 - What to do with those Saints?
Perhaps the story of the season so far has been those wonderful Southampton players who as a team and as fantasy gems have delighted us. The hard won point at Villa Park has left then on second place coming into a run of games where their top four aspirations will be tested. Between Sunday lunch and a week on Monday they face Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester Utd back to back. Two of the three are at St Marys and they have a almost fully fit squad to choose from. In our fantasy world we have some tough choices on Tadic, mane, Pelle, Bertrand and Forster. All have been picked up on cheap prices and returned or exceeded their value most weeks.
The decision is what to do now the fixture toughen but the question maybe do they toughen at all? In a normal season a point in any of those games is a good one and a win in any is an excellent one. This season is different.
To start Manchester City where the key to City's mindset is the game taking place the evening before. Should Chelsea win at Sunderland they will move 11pts ahead. Regardless City will need to go for the win and based on the saints performances at home I don't see a City clean sheet. This is a fantastic fight between the leagues best player and top goalscorer against the leagues best defence. It should be a great watch with a number of goals and the ultimate test of the saints backline.
MIdweek the saints visit Arsenal who have just had their worst opening 12 game return in 32 years before facing a Manu side with just the 1 away win since April at St Marys next Monday night.
Not including the arrival of a certain Argentina international, the three ties are just nowhere near are scary as they once were. Add to that Southampton have the best defence in the league and Arsenal, Utd and City will be under huge pressure to win these games I suggest the great Saint run may not be coming to a halt just yet.
I doubt I ever could convince you to sell Tadic but those of you holding Bertrand, Forster, Pelle or Mane may not want to look elsewhere yet. How do you see the points returns of the blogs favourite side?
Question 4 - Name me a must pick keeper, defender, Midfielder and forward for week 13
Nice and easy one this, who are the must haves for each position this week who will ensure their owners a healthy points return to base their team around. ONE PLAYER PER POSITION PLEASE. So something like
Keeper - Courtois
Defence - Trippier
Midfield - Di Maria
Forward - Kun
Question 5 - Now give me a dark horse pick keeper, defender, Midfielder and forward for week 13
ONE PLAYER PER POSITION PLEASE. Here are my early thoughts.
Keeper - Mignolet
Defence - Taylor - Swansea
Midfield - Barton
Forward - Kane
Question 6 - After holding this season's surprise teams West Ham and Southampton back to back can Aston Villa keep the form going?
If you like to base your picks by looking ahead to the upcoming games and those sides/players who have a nice run have a look at Villa's fixtures. Burnley, Palace, Leicester and West Brom are next for Villa and that run of games has to perk your interest. True 3 of the 4 are away but as we all know under Paul Lambert Villa are much better away than at home. Add to that the lack of squad rotation and the interest increases.
So with that lovely little run can we find any value in their squad, who said nope?
Alan Hutton has the best pts average with 9 and will cost you 8.59m so you get your point per million. Or you have Cissokho costing 7m and averaging 6pts per game. Villa have three quality players in Ron Vlaar, Fabien Delph and Christian Benteke. The first two are injured the third is banned for one more game. All three look like they will be leaving either January or July and the club looks under relegation danger as much as any season in the Premier League. We however are selfish fantasy souls so for the point of the question we are only looking four games ahead. Delph is out for shoulder injury for that period while concrete Ron is over 10m. That leaves us with old favourite Tekkers himself. Benteke will cost you around 6m when he returns for the game against Palace.
So have I just wasted effort writing that question, yeah I think I have. Anyone out there with a different view?
Question 7 - Does Sunderland away feel like a Costa yellow card game as much to you as it does to me?
Sunderland have a rep for making it tough for the big boys of the Premier League. Last season alone they won 1-0 at Man Utd, beat Chelsea 2-1 away to end Joses unbeaten run and lost a narrow game at home 34 to the same opponent. Against champions Man City they drew 2-2 away and beat them 1-0 at home (think that is a four year run of the same score). That is an impressive set of results for any side.
Chelsea will be heavy favourites but you have to assume Sunderlands hard working players and load crowd will as they say "give them a game". Experienced players like John O'shea and Wes Brown not to mention a certain Mr Cattermole will be pressing, tackling and nibbling away the stars of Stamford Bridge. Costa has a rep for being easy to wind up. The man likes a battle but oftens gives back a little more than he takes.
If I am right and the yellow comes he will miss the nice home midweek game against unsure Tottenham. If he doesn't and Chelsea are a couple goals clear would Jose bring him off early? How do you see it going for Mr Costa on Saturday evening under the floodlights, in the rain and in the north east chill?