Don’t forget that this afternoon (or evening, depending on what part of the world you live in) starts a new gameweek. Gameweek 14, to be exact, with all 20 Premier League teams playing over the next 48 hours.
Here are some FPL tips to help you with your decision-making:
The funny thing about Ryan Shawcross: The recent England v. Sweden friendly was all about Zlatan Ibrahimovich: his goals, his skill, his aura of unrelenting f**kyouness. Most fans forgot about England debutant Ryan Shawcross (5.2), and rightly so. Shawcross was awful — awful in ways I am still coming to terms with — and I hope as fervently as any England fan is capable of hoping that he never plays for the Three Lions again. But my fantasy team? Now that’s another matter entirely. Shawcross has accumulated 17 points in his last three games and is a cheap, solid fantasy option.
Van Persie’s drought: A prolific striker only has to go one or two games without scoring before his lack of goals becomes A Major Premier League Talking Point, and only another three or four matches before the talking point becomes a drought. And once a striker of Robin van Persie’ (13.7)’s caliber enters a drought…well, just look at Fernando Torres (9.5).
West Brom’s attack: By my count, three different strikers scored for West Brom on Saturday afternoon. Two years ago, West Brom was a yo-yo club for whom heartbreaking final day relegations were such regular occurrences that they had actually ceased to be heartbreaking. Back then, a four-goal away haul would have been cause for celebration. Not any more. Not under Steve “He’s Finally Got His Own Pulpit” Clarke. This is what the new, streamlined WBA does: it wins. Shane Long (6.2) and company won’t qualify for the Champions League, but wouldn’t it be just so…so perfect if they did.
A new manager for Queens Park Rangers: QPR looked good. Not great, but good – good enough to stay in the Premier League. But don’t get too excited. I think it’s safe to assume that most of you aren’t exactly salivating over Jamie Mackie’s (5.1) low price tag, but I still think it’s important to get this out there: Harry Redknapp isn’t a magician, and Adel Taarabt (5.5) is more trouble than he’s worth. QPR is still one of the worst teams in the league. Don’t sign Stephane M’bia (4.9).
Ignore established goalkeepers: This wasn’t a great weekend for Premier League goalkeepers. Ali Al Hasbi (5.0) is occasionally brilliant, but more often than not he’s a total disaster. Simon Mignolet (5.0), on the other hand, is generally reliable – he’s the reason Sunderland released Craig Gordon, whose save against Bolton was voted the best in Premier League history during last year’s 20th anniversary celebrations. But let’s put Saturday’s mistakes aside for a moment. The top three goalkeepers in the Fantasy Premier all play for “lesser clubs.” John Ruddy (4.7), Asmir Begovic (5.1) and Jussi Jaaskelainen (5.2) are outperforming Petr Cech (6.6) and Joe Hart (6.9). Ruddy has already picked up 59 points this season, which is more than David De Gea (5.6) and Anders Lindegaard (5.4) combined.
Silva’s return: David Silva (9.3) is a member of what is, quite possibly, the Greatest Generation of Creative Footballers Ever. We expect a lot of him, and between August and January of last year, he lived up to those expectations. But success spawns elevated expectations, and elevated expectations spawn more pressure, and more pressure can be extremely debilitating, so it’s no surprise that, until Saturday, Silva had failed to recapture his 2011 form. He’s back in the groove now, however — even if it was only Aston Villa.
Pilks: Norwich City’s 1-0 win over Manchester United was about as comprehensive a 1-0, still-hanging-on-in-stoppage-time win as you’re likely to see. Chicharito Hernandez (7.7) and Robin van Persie (13.7) failed to build on their recent form, and Anthony Pilkington (5.7) – who, for the record, has been really good for a really long time – scored a brilliant header. Wayne Rooney (11.8) has tonsillitis, which is kind of funny.
Walcott wants to play through the middle: Arsenal is arguably the most dysfunctional club in the Premier League and, as such, it boasts its fair share of contract rebels, disgruntled attackers and American owners. Enter Theo Walcott (8.7), who’s a contract rebel because Arsene Wenger insists on keeping him a disgruntled winger, rather than letting him morph into a contented center forward, and also because Arsenal is committed to an antiquated wage structure that a) militates against genuinely ambitious transfer expenditure; b) ensures that players like Walcott make a whole let less than they might at, say, Liverpool or Manchester United or Chelsea or Tottentham; and c) is inherently American. It’s about time Stan Kroenke loosened the old purse strings. For his part, Arsene Wenger needs to play his team’s top scorer up front.
Michu’s back: The Fantasy Premier League seems to think that Michu (7.2) is a midfielder, which is OK by me. As you all know, Michu is not a midfielder (yes, he played in attacking midfield this weekend, but, generally, he doesn’t); he is in fact a center forward (even if he doesn’t want to be), and he’s scored six goals in nine games this season, including Swansea’s opener in Saturday’s 2-1 win over Newcastle. (That game was also notable for the absence of Papiss Demba Cisse (8.8), who didn’t play for Senegal in midweek and has since suffered the consequences – rightly, in my opinion, but that’s an argument for another day.) If you haven’t already taken advantage of Michu’s erroneous categorization, then you should – before the Fantasy Premier League corrects its mistake.
Luis Suarez is more than a racist: Luis Suarez (10.2) didn’t score 81 goals in 110 Ajax games by accident. (Cracks about the Eredivisie are not welcome at this moment.) Some pundits thought that Suarez had bitten off more than he could chew (deliberate reference to Suarez’s, erm, checkered past) by taking over Fernando Torres (9.6)’s role as the Christ figure destined to lead Liverpool to Premier League success – or, indeed, any success, because any success would be nice in these difficult post-Benitez times. Those pundits have been silent for a while now. Suarez is a genuinely brilliant player and, more important, he’s a goal-scorer.
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