Now that we’re in the international break, it’s a perfect opportunity to review your Fantasy Premier League team and to think ahead about some of the changes you may want to make.
The beauty of Leighton Baines (7.4): A Bob Dylan fan who spends vacations wandering around Greenwich Village. A defender who keeps clean sheets, takes penalties, and scores free kicks. You can’t go wrong with this guy.
Chelsea’s triple threat: Roberto Di Matteo has built one of the most dangerous attacks in the Premier League, and you should really take advantage of it. Eden Hazard (10.3), Juan Mata (8.9), and Oscar (7.8) will earn plenty of points this season, especially with seasoned fighters like Frank Lampard (8.7) and John Obi Mikel (4.5) supporting them from deeper in midfield. And no, signing Obi Mikel (or Mikel Obi – anyone claiming to know the correct order is definitely lying) would not represent a good bit of business. He’s played regularly for five years but still hasn’t scored a single goal. You couldn’t make a bigger fantasy blunder if you tried.
Stay away from the Southampton back four: Jose Fonte (4.0) is probably a nice guy. I bet he’s caring and generous and a great ambassador for Southampton Football Club. His two-goal performance against Fulham was, I’m sure, the result of years of hard work. It’s just that, well, he commands a back four that, for lack of a better expression, has stunk it up this season. Jos Hooiveld (4.4), I’m looking at you. Southampton are marvelously entertaining, but their defenders shouldn’t be trusted.
Olivier Giroud?: He had “the next Chamakh” written all over him. He was clumsy and inefficient. He couldn’t score in a brothel. And now he’s on fire. Perhaps we wrote off Giroud’s Arsenal career too soon – sure, he played badly against Sunderland and Stoke, but last season wasn’t an accident. It’s important to remember that Giroud (8.4) didn’t score his Ligue 1 goals for a traditional powerhouse like Bordeaux (Chamakh’s old team) or Marseille; he scored them for Montpellier, who, this year, are fighting relegation. Against West Ham, Giroud finally played like the established center forward Arsene Wenger was supposed to have bought.
Time for change: Some things I’ll just never understand. Reality TV, The Bermuda Triangle, Carlton Cole (5.1). Oh, and one other: why, with so much statistical information available to the living-room football fan, the Fantasy Premier League doesn’t award points for anything more complex than goals and clean sheets. How about pass completion points to boost undervalued players like Joe Allen (5.1)? Or some kind of tackling bonus for the Cheik Tiotes (4.8) of this world? A statistical upgrade would not only make for a more nuanced fantasy experience (something on a par with our fantasy cousins in the United States, perhaps), but it might also – gasp! – force fans to think seriously about how real football teams operate.