Playing Fantasy Premier League each week, you begin to look at the actual games in different ways. Here are some of my findings from this past weekend’s action:
1. Nikita Jelavic- It’s always risky to praise a player after just one game, but Jelavic’s Goodison Park debut warrants immediate excitement. He scored the only goal in a slightly dull 1-0 win over Spurs, and also demonstrated an underrated facet of top-class strike play: the ability to hold-up the ball and introduce midfielders to the attacking phase. Jelavic’s poise with his back to goal should help sustain Everton attacks, thereby guaranteeing more goal-scoring opportunities for attacking midfielders like Osman and Cahill.
2. Ignore Wolves- Don’t be swayed by that managerial empathy. Ignore Terry Connor. As coaches ourselves, we all know how it feels to stumble through a rough patch. True, we don’t have to deal with the media or contemplate relegation, but getting teased by our “friends” sucks too. So resist the temptation to splash out on O’Hara or Doyle or Fletcher. Let them rot. Wolves play Manchester United next week (see point #4 below for why that fixture spells doom).
3. No beach balls allowed- Last time Sunderland beat Liverpool 1-0 at the Stadium of Light, they benefited from divine intervention or — depending on where your loyalties lie — the idiocy of a teenage Scouser. Unfortunately for us, neither the beach ball, the Scouser nor God comes standard in the official Premier League Fantasy Game, and that sad fact probably left many readers slightly disoriented when, just minutes before the gameweek deadline, they made their team selections. Well, Nicklas Bendtner (who has as much ability as a beach ball’s with ten times the ego) did the business on Saturday afternoon, scoring the only goal. I’ve warned you against signing Bendtner too many times to go back on that now. My recommendation? England international striker Frazier Campbell.
4. Rooney- It’s turning into a vintage year for Wayne Rooney. After scoring consecutive hat tricks early in the season, he lost form in the wake of — you guessed it — England failure, but he has since regained the scoring touch. Two goals against West Brom catapulted him above Sergio Aguero in the scoring charts, mirroring the ascendance of United, who now lead City by a point. Count on more Rooney goals in the weeks ahead.
5. A week for defenders- Attackers score points; defenders score fewer points. Fantasy Football is no friend to the men at the back, so, by virtue of my allegiances to The Game That Is Better Than The Real Thing, neither am I. Sometimes, though, especially after a weekend of clean sheets, you have to eat crow. Mind you, I don’t intend to enjoy said crow. Indeed, I mean to consume it with speed. Here goes: Congratulations to Jonny Evans, Ashley Williams, John O’Shea, James Collins, John Terry and Michael Turner for terrific achievement in The Art Of Defending. Phew!