THE RETURN OF STEVEN GERRARD
It's been over a week since last weekend's games, but in case you forgot about some of the bigger ones, here's a mini recap.
Sunday’s doubleheader produced two quality matches between four top clubs. Maybe there wasn’t an overwhelming amount of goals, but there were some battles.
Chelsea got out to an early two-goal lead just 16 minutes into their match with Arsenal at Stamford Bridge. Two mistakes (debatable) by the Gunners led to two goals for the Blues. Juan Mata scored the first on a counter and Frank Lampard got the second on a Penalty Kick. From there, it could’ve got even worse, but Arsenal held strong and looked the better team in the second half.
Theo Walcott grabbed one back on a typical finish from him just 13 minutes into the half. Arsenal made a valiant effort, but still came up short in the end with a 2-1 loss.
In the next match at White Hart Lane, Robin van Persie put in a header at the 25 minute mark and Manchester United coasted from there, maybe too much as Spurs finished with 20 more shots than the Red Devils. It worked out to plan until the final seconds when the American, Clint Dempsey, grabbed a late goal to draw even at 1-1. It was a deserved result for both sides.
Those reviews were in case you missed the biggest matches of the weekend. Now, instead of reviewing the other matches one-by-one, I’ll lay out some key Fantasy strategies for the last few months of the campaign.
FIVE FOR FIGHTING
Maybe Demba Ba isn’t worth it.
Wait, what?! Am I saying that the 500,000 people that grabbed Ba last week made a mistake? Yes, sort of.
Ba basically started in every match at Newcastle because he was their best chance at scoring. Chelsea plays more games (FA Cup, Capital One Cup, Europa League) and has a deeper roster. Ba will not be starting every match, which is what we saw this past weekend. Fernando Torres was rested for a few games, but got the start against Arsenal. Ba will definitely get his chances to score, but at 8.9m do 37 percent of owners need him on their roster? No. Forwards like Rickie Lambert, Christian Benteke and Dimitar Berbatov will get more playing time and score plenty at a cheaper value.
Don’t spend on defense.
This wasn’t really something we just found out, but it’s still important and something you need to know. Look at these numbers at each position.
No. 5 Goalkeeper: Jussi Jaaskelainen, 83 Fantasy Points
No. 15 Goalkeeper: Ben Foster, 54 FP (29-point difference)
No. 5 Defender: Daniel Agger, 84 FP
No. 30 Defender: Ashley Williams, 62 FP (22-point difference)
No. 5 Midfielder: Eden Hazard, 122 FP
No. 30 Midfielder: Damien Duff, 72 FP (50-point difference)
No. 5 Forward: Steven Fletcher, 112 FP
No. 20 Forward: Peter Crouch, 74 FP (38-point difference)
I used different numbers at GK and FOR because obviously, there are fewer players at those positions. It’s pretty evident where you want to spend your money and it’s not either defensive position. Going even further for goalkeepers, Joe Hart costs between 1-2m more than every other GK in the game and he’s still only the third best.
Why is Leighton Baines the third most owned defender when he’s also the most expensive? He’s not RVP. Everton actually had a streak of 16 straight games without a clean sheet which makes that even more questionable. Save a couple million and buy someone like Joey O’Brien who only has 16 less FP. That price is the difference between having Suarez or Nikica Jelavic on your squad. That’s a big difference.
Midfield is the way to go.
Van Persie and Luis Suarez are the top strikers in the Fantasy game, far and away. Those two have a chance at scoring in every single match no matter where or who they play.
I mentioned Ba earlier, who’s the second most owned forward. Carlos Tevez, Jermaine Defoe and Fernando Torres are next in line in ownership percentages. Tevez has fallen off lately and is getting outscored by Edin Dzeko as of late, not to mention Sergio Aguero just returned from injury. Defoe has one goal in his last eight starts, which isn’t going to cut it. Torres is Torres.
Why not focus on the top echelon of midfielders who have been dominant this season? Mata leads the way along with teammate Eden Hazard. Gareth Bale is always a threat and Theo Walcott is playing in a new role and is scoring for fun. The latest Spaniards to have taken the Premier League by storm are Michu and Santi Cazorla.
I can keep going with this list too. David Silva. Marouane Fellaini has been great this year. Aaron Lennon is having one of his best years in the BPL. Adel Taarabt has bonus points in five of his last seven matches.
The return of Leiva Lucas has given Steven Gerrard a more attacking role and he’s relishing it, looking like the Gerrard from his 2008-09 days. This current scoring version of Gerrard, we have not seen in a long, long time. All of a sudden, Stevie G has four goals and eight assists in his last 10 games. He had just two goals and three assists in the first 13 games. In the two previous campaigns, he had combined for only nine goals and seven assists. We are now in the days of Gerrard.
There are so many midfielder options right now that you should be starting four or five every week and if you aren’t, you’ll be left in the dust.
As a reminder, Gameweek 24 starts on Tuesday, Jan. 29. FA Cup matches take place this weekend which isn’t always a good thing. Keep an eye on lineups because your captain choice may be decided on who’s starting over the weekend.
- David de Gea, Man United, 5.5m, vs. Southampton
- Joe Hart, Man City, 6.9m, at QPR
- Asmir Begovic, Stoke City, 5.8m, vs. Wigan
- Hugo Lloris, Tottenham, 5.9m, at Norwich
- Petr Cech, Chelsea, 6.4m, at Reading
- Patrice Evra, Man United, 7.1m, vs. Southampton
- Gael Clichy, Man City, 5.6m, at QPR
- Branislav Ivanovic, Chelsea, 7.1m, at Reading
- Phil Jones, Man United, 5.6m, vs. Southampton
- Leighton Baines, Everton, 7.5m, vs. West Brom
- Kyle Walker, Tottenham, 6.1m, at Norwich
- Glen Johnson, Liverpool, 6.4m, at Arsenal
- Bacary Sagna, Arsenal, 5.2m, vs. Liverpool
- Sascha Riether, Fulham, 5.0m, vs. West Ham
- Ben Davies, Swansea, 4.3m, at Sunderland
- Juan Mata, Chelsea, 10.0m, at Reading
- Theo Walcott, Arsenal, 9.4m, vs. Liverpool
- David Silva, Man City, 9.4m, at QPR
- Gareth Bale, Tottenham, 9.8m, at Norwich
- Steven Gerrard, Liverpool, 9.4m, at Arsenal
- Michu, Swansea, 8.3m, at Sunderland
- Marouane Fellaini, Everton, 7.6m, vs. West Brom
- Frank Lampard, Chelsea, 8.4m, at Reading
- Aaron Lennon, Tottenham, 7.2m, at Norwich
- Frank Lampard, Chelsea, 8.4m, at Reading
- Robin van Persie, Man United, 14.1m, vs. Southampton
- Luis Suarez, Liverpool, 10.5m, at Arsenal
- Edin Dzeko, Man City, 7.5m, at QPR
- Carlos Tevez, Man City, 8.9m, at QPR
- Christian Benteke, Aston Villa, 6.5m, vs. Newcastle
- Wayne Rooney, Man United, 11.8m, vs. Southampton
- Demba Ba, Chelsea, 8.9m, at Reading
- Fernando Torres, Chelsea, 9.5m, at Reading
- Lukas Podolski, Arsenal, 8.3m, vs. Liverpool
- Nikica Jelavic, Everton, 8.0m, vs. West Brom
YOU’RE THE CAPTAIN
- Robin van Persie, Man United
- Juan Mata, Chelsea
- Luis Suarez, Liverpool
- Theo Walcott, Arsenal
- David Silva, Man City
Robin van Persie will be playing at home against a club that has allowed the second most goals on the road this season. It doesn’t get any better than that. RVP has 10 goals in his last 10 league matches to go with four assists. He leads the Premier League in goals and has the second most assists for a forward.
While there are some nice matchups this week, it might be harder than you’d think for choosing your captain outside of RVP. Man City has a tricky road battle against a QPR side that has been playing well. Arsenal and Liverpool face each other at the Emirates. Tottenham travel to Norwich, a team that’s struggling, but has also only allowed 13 goals in 11 home matches. Chelsea have what looks to be an easy match at Reading, but the Royals have been playing well as of late, winning three straight matches in all competitions.
Reading may be playing better, but I’m still going with Mata as the second best captain this week. He’s been extremely consistent as of late with four goals and five assists in his past nine matches. That includes a goal or assist in five straight road games.
This next choice is the toughest. I’m going with Luis Suarez because I think there will be goals in that game and he and Daniel Sturridge will cause problems all day for the Gunners back line. Not to mention Suarez is on fire with six goals and two assists in his last six games.
Walcott is in that same conversation with Suarez. He’s playing a more central role which has opened up opportunities for him. He’s scored at least six Fantasy Points in six of his last seven matches and one of those was a 26-point outburst. Liverpool has been better defensively in recent weeks, but this road test could bring trouble.
My last choice goes to David Silva. He deserves it after last week’s two-goal performance against Fulham. The absence of Yaya Toure allowed him more range in front of the net. Even though QPR will be a tough task, City should be able to score at least once and Silva will be around it.
*Stats up-to-date as of Jan. 28
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