After a whirlwind opening weekend in the Premier League, here are my thoughts and tips relating to Fantasy Premier League.
1. White is the color: Swansea and Fulham finished opening weekend at the top of the Premier League. Two slick European managers and two debut braces helped two teams clad in white to two 5-0 victories. For Michu (6.5), read Mladen Petric (6.0). A quick glance – or, for that matter, a prolonged stare – at this week’s Fantasy Premier League Dream Team yields an awful lot of white. It’s almost blinding. Over the weekend, Nathan Dyer (5.5), Damien Duff (6.0) and Wayne Routledge (5.0) accumulated 33 points among them. And that, by the way, is not an excuse to buy Duff. Duff is inherently inexcusable.
2. Barcahampton: Southampton manager Nigel Adkins has spent a lot of his required media hours talking about attacking football. The Swansea way, he says, is the way to go; the Rodgers model, he opines, is the model for me. Southampton will score goals this season, and Rickie Lambert (5.0) will score most of them. Adam Lallana (6.0), whose energetic play unsettled City debutant and serial sideways passer Jack Rodwell (5.0), is also worth a bet. However, the Saints’ other notable attackers, Jay Rodriguez (5.5) and Guly do Prado (5.5), are riskier options. Lambert may have started Sunday’s match on the bench, but you can be sure he’ll return to the lineup for Southampton’s forthcoming clash with Wigan. That will leave either Prado or Rodriguez out of the team.
3. Big Sam’s back: Somewhere, perhaps in a cave, Sam Allardyce is arranging bits of rock in a 4-4-2 formation. The Andy Carroll (8.5) rock may be missing, but Big Sam isn’t discouraged. After all, he’s got Carlton Cole (5.5). The fact that West Ham was once an attractive, attacking football team is unlikely to bear on Allardyce’s tactics this season. Against Aston Villa, the Hammers’ old-fashioned rearguard ground out an old-fashioned 1-0 win. Of course, that’ll do if your fantasy team happens to feature the defensive acumen of a James Collins (5.0), Winston Reid (4.5), Guy Demel (4.0), or George McCartney (4.0).
4. Arsenal will score eventually: Never read too much into the Premier League’s opening weekend – sunny August gameweeks are notoriously misleading. For instance, while Arsenal isn’t going to light the league on fire – indeed, Wenger’s team will probably struggle to scrape fourth – Olivier Giroud (9.0) and Lukas Podolski (8.5) can’t possibly be this bad in real life (by which I mean on any occasion other than the most magical day in sports – a world of its own, if you ask me.) Arsenal showed enough attacking promise to encourage even cynical fans – who, these days, can be found in droves – despite failing to penetrate a back four anchored by Carlos “Not Even Good Enough For McCleish” Cuellar (4.5). Santi Cazorla (9.0), in particular, looked bright and inventive – kind of like… hmm… every other Spanish midfielder in the Premier League.
5. Ba vs. Cisse: Every time Demba Ba (7.5) and Papiss Cisse (9.5) show affection for each other – every time they kiss the ground together, every time they high five, every time they share an ironic smile after a close miss – I become more and more convinced that, at some point this season, they will clash in a training-ground punch-up. Which clearly means that you’re going to have to take a side (obviously, you can’t have both on your squad – team chemistry has nothing to do with fantasy football, but the enmity that must exist between these two players transcends basic fantasy rules). On the evidence of opening day, Ba, who scored a splendid goal against Tottenham, is the better buy. That makes my recommendation easy. Sign Cisse – Pardew never pushes him out to the wing.
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