DEMBA BA IS THE NEW BLUE
We’ve just gone through a ridiculous schedule of Premier League games for the past few weeks, roughly four matches per club in 12 days (the busiest period of the season). Luckily for Fantasy owners, the FA Cup took precedence this past weekend, allowing most of us to sit back and relax and watch the games without having to worry about Fantasy teams.
It was a nice break, but now we find ourselves in one of the most important periods of the campaign, the transfer period. While clubs have their eyes on new players to add to their squads, Fantasy owners also have new players in mind to boost their teams. To help, everyone gets a free wildcard to use at premierleague.com, which has to be used before Gameweek 25.
First, let’s look at some of the bigger news from the past week.
Demba Ba went to Chelsea while Daniel Sturridge moved on to Liverpool. These are the two biggest transfers of the period so far.
What does this mean for your Fantasy team? Ba’s move doesn’t change a lot of things, because he was already one of the top scorers in the league at Newcastle with 13 goals and three assists. The move to Chelsea will hurt his minutes a little bit, but he should also get more chances in front of net with a better overall club. This will also hurt Fernando Torres’ minutes, as he’s had to start every match of the year so far. He was already rested in their FA Cup game and could see more time on the bench in the Premier League.
As for Newcastle, Ba’s departure could mean a return to relevance for Papiss Cisse, who thrived at the end of last season when Ba was off the squad. He’s still a little too expensive for my taste until he shows he can score again.
[caption id="attachment_32917" align="alignright" width="420" caption="<em><strong>Demba Ba shouldn't have trouble finding time in Chelsea's starting eleven. </strong>Photo Credit: Smalltown Boy</em>"][/caption]
While at Chelsea, Sturridge only started one match this season, but a lot of that was due to injury. He started his first possible game with Liverpool in their FA Cup win, and he scored the team’s first goal. Sturridge admitted himself that he’s still far off from being fully match fit, so he probably isn’t the best addition at the moment. But two weeks down the road, that’s a different story.
In other news, Sergio Aguero tore his hamstring and will be out for an unknown amount of time, but likely up to a month. Also, it’s being reported that Emmanuel Adebayor will be playing in the African Cup of Nations, according to Togo at least.
As mentioned previously, you need to use your free wildcard in the next month. The only reason not to would be if you’re the best Fantasy player in the world and don’t have any changes to make to your squad. Assuming you’re not beating 2.5 million other people out there, here are some tips to use when adding new players to your roster.
Target Arsenal and Chelsea players now. Both clubs have a double gameweek approaching in the next two weeks. The Blues are the overall better option, as they have a stretch against Reading, Newcastle and Wigan after their double.
Juan Mata and Eden Hazard are obvious options to look at, as are Ba and Torres at this point. Victor Moses and Frank Lampard are a tad cheaper and might be worth a gander. Lampard has started three of the last four matches and takes PKs. Moses only has one Premier League goal on the year, but he has started five of the last six games and has shown he has what it takes, scoring four goals outside of the EPL.
Defensively, Branislav Ivanovic is the most expensive option for a reason; he has seven goals and four assists in all competition. A cheaper route to take would be Cesar Azpilicueta at only 5.7m. He’s as cheap as they come for the Chelsea back line starters. Goalkeeper Ross Turnbull is a definite option, as he’s only 4.3m and will be between the pipes for a few weeks. Petr Cech is dealing with a groin injury at the moment.
The Gunners have just as many players to look at. Lukas Podolski is the top forward and should be added before Olivier Giroud. Theo Walcott is on fire lately and is a tad better option than Santi Cazorla for the time being. If you want to go the cheap route, Jack Wilshere is available at 6.4m.
Wojciech Szczesny is a solid play at keeper, but may not be worth his 5.3m. Kieran Gibbs and Bacary Sagna are their two best valued defenders that cost less than 6m. Both have the ability to get an assist in any given match as they push forward a ton.
Outside of the doubles, the clubs you want to look at with favorable fixtures are Everton, Sunderland and even Aston Villa.
I’ll get Villa out of the way, as the only player you probably want on your team is Christian Benteke. He’ll face Southampton, West Brom and Newcastle over the next three weeks.
Sunderland doesn’t have many options either, but that’s why they don’t cost all that much.
Simon Mignolet and Carlos Cuellar should be popular defensive targets. Their scoring options fall on three players, Stephane Sessegnon, Adam Johnson and Steven Fletcher. There hasn’t been much to separate their worth this season.
Everton’s upcoming stretch includes three home games in their next four matches, with their lone road game coming at Southampton.
Oft-injured forward, Victor Anichebe, has actually been playing better than Nikica Jelavic lately with two goals and two assists in his last four games. At only 4.3m, he’s a nice third forward complement to someone like Robin van Persie. Marouane Fellaini is back from suspension and assisted last week. He and Steven Pienaar are top midfielder options for their price.
On the defensive end, Phil Jagielka is the cheaper option, but he won’t be getting the same number of points as Leighton Baines, who takes free kicks for the Toffees. The American Tim Howard would be a better option except he hasn’t kept a clean sheet since Sept. 22. That is a long time.
- Ross Turnbull, Chelsea, 4.3m, at Stoke City, vs. Southampton
- Simon Mignolet, Sunderland, 5.2m, vs. West Ham
- Mark Bunn, Norwich, 4.1m, vs. Newcastle
- Hugo Lloris, Tottenham, 5.9m, at QPR
- Mark Schwarzer, Fulham, 5.1m, vs. Wigan
- Branislav Ivanovic, Chelsea, 7.1m, at Stoke City, vs. Southampton
- David Luiz, Chelsea, 6.6m, at Stoke City, vs. Southampton
- Patrice Evra, Man United, 7.0m, vs. Liverpool
- Leighton Baines, Everton, 7.5m, vs. Swansea
- Russell Martin, Norwich, 4.1m, vs. Newcastle
- Carlos Cuellar, Sunderland, 4.7m, vs. West Ham
- Brede Hangeland, Fulham, 4.8m, vs. Wigan
- Rafael, Man United, 6.0m, vs. Liverpool
- Glen Johnson, Liverpool, 6.4m, at Man United
- Kyle Walker, Tottenham, 6.1m, at QPR
- Juan Mata, Chelsea, 9.9m, at Stoke City, vs. Southampton
- Gareth Bale, Tottenham, 9.8m, at QPR
- Robert Snodgrass, Norwich, 6.2m, vs. Newcastle
- Eden Hazard, Chelsea, 9.5m, at Stoke City, vs. Southampton
- Michu, Swansea, 8.2m, at Everton
- David Silva, Man City, 9.4m, at Arsenal
- Santi Cazorla, Arsenal, 9.6m, vs. Man City
- Anthony Pilkington, Norwich, 5.8m, vs. Newcastle
- Steven Gerrard, Liverpool, 9.4m, at Man United
- Chris Brunt, West Brom, 5.5m, at Reading
- Robin van Persie, Man United, 14.0m, vs. Liverpool
- Luis Suarez, Liverpool, 10.4m, at Man United
- Demba Ba, Chelsea, 8.5m, at Stoke City, vs. Southampton
- Christian Benteke, Aston Villa, 6.7m, vs. Southampton
- Lukas Podolski, Arsenal, 8.2m, vs. Man City
- Dimitar Berbatov, Fulham, 7.1m, vs. Wigan
- Edin Dzeko, Man City, 7.3m, at Arsenal
- Fernando Torres, Chelsea, 9.8m, at Stoke City, vs. Southampton
- Nikica Jelavic, Everton, 8.1m, vs. Swansea
- Jermaine Defoe, Tottenham, 8.5m, at QPR
YOU’RE THE CAPTAIN
- Robin van Persie, Man United
- Juan Mata, Chelsea
- Gareth Bale, Tottenham
- Luis Suarez, Liverpool
- Christian Benteke, Aston Villa
- Robert Snodgrass, Norwich
If you don’t have Robin van Persie on your squad, you’re probably asking yourself why not. This is just one of those weeks when having him would make things so much easier. Most of the top players have tough matchups, which means the best option to captain is a toss-up… aside from RVP that is.
RVP has a goal or assist in eight straight matches; that’s all that needs to be said. I’ll still put him over a Chelsea player, who may or may not play in both matches this week.
Mata was a late addition to this list after their double gameweek was announced with Southampton. Not only does Chelsea get two matches, but one of them is at home against Southampton, one of the weaker clubs in the league.
Suarez isn’t in the best spot on the road at Old Trafford, but United hasn’t been all that great defensively this year. Suarez has been on fire, with five goals and two assists over the last four matches. He has the ability to get by the Red Devils back line.
Bale isn’t a great choice, but there isn’t really anyone else you can put here. While Tottenham is on the road, they still get QPR.
This is the kind of week it is, my next two options are rarely captain choices. Benteke plays for lowly Villa, yet is putting together a nice season. There will be goals in this game and Benteke is usually the one to score for Villa.
Snodgrass? Snodgrass. Some people will call this a risky move, but I actually see it as pretty safe. Norwich is at home against a reeling Newcastle, who just fell to Brighton in FA Cup play. Snodgrass is the Canaries highest scorer this season with four goals, four assists and 16 bonus points. You gotta think he’ll be able to get something in this match.
I have Ba listed above Benteke in my rankings, but I find it hard to captain someone who just moved to his club a week ago. Who knows what Rafa Benitez will do with his lineup for the two matches this week.
*Stats up-to-date as of Jan. 6
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