Fantasy Premier League Tips: International Break Edition

1. The game never stops: No one likes FIFA weekends – or, for that matter, FIFA Friday to Tuesday cycles. The matches are boring (England 5, Whipping Boy 0; Spain 5, Money-Spinning Friendly Opponent 0), news is slow and, this weekend, half the tennis was rained out. Worst of all, there are no point-scoring opportunities.

There is, however, some time to think…

2. Big Z: Bobby Zamora’s Premier League career has alternated between the hilariously inept and the surprisingly brilliant. These days, no one thinks Zamora (6.4) has any chance of getting into the England squad — the fact that he once did have a chance tells us more about England than about Zamora) — but, nevertheless, he’s an interesting fantasy option. Two goals in three games is a very impressive return, especially considering the quality of his teammates.

3. Cazorla-mania: Last Sunday, Santi Cazorla (9.0) scored his first Premier League goal with the help of a Pepe Reina (6.0) error and a smart Lukas Podolski (8.4) assist. It wasn’t pretty, but, well, neither is his face – Cazorla looks a bit like rat whose last piece of cheese didn’t quite agree with him. Really, though, that’s not important. Not at all. I mean, physical beauty, or lack thereof, shouldn’t have any bearing on your transfer decisions. Cazorla, a Spanish midfielder straight out of the Andres Iniesta textbook, will rack up lots of points this season. That’s what matters, right?

4. Sad footballers: Sometimes even the mega-rich feel a little blue. Just ask Cristiano Ronaldo, who recently announced on international television that, for an unspecified reason, “I’m sad.” Mind you, he still scored two goals against Granada and one against Lichtenstein. He’s still the best player in the world who isn’t named Lionel Messi.

It’s worth remembering, however, that sadness is contagious. After Ronaldo’s bombshell, Cesc Fabregas mumbled something to Radio Marca about an “unhappy face.” Before long, someone else – probably someone with no right to complain about anything – will spend his own 20 dramatic minutes crying in an empty dressing room. And if that someone is on your fantasy team, watch out. Not everyone handles general melancholy as impressively as Cristiano Ronaldo does.

5. Definitely not The Stadium of Sh*te: You’re not going to believe this, but Sunderland are — wait for it — kind of exciting. Memories of Steve Bruce – and, let me tell you, we’re talking painful memories here – are fading fast. James McClean (6.4) has joined the ranks of obnoxious Twitterers, but Martin O’Neill’s got Adam Johnson (7.0) up his sleeve. Steven Fletcher (7.0), bought for a ridiculous 12 million pounds, is scoring goals. Last weekend, the Black Cats nearly stole an unlikely victory at the Liberty Stadium. Michael Laudrup suddenly seems a little less handsome. Sunderland are fantasy gold.

Join the EPL Talk mini-league within Fantasy Premier League to play against The Gaffer and thousands of other EPL Talk readers from around the world.

Read more by David Yaffe-Bellany at In For The Hat Trick and follow him on Twitter @INFTH

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  1. Matt September 12, 2012
  2. Fabio September 12, 2012

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