Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Week 1 - Player Picks

Week 1 is almost upon us, but sadly the usual excitement about the start of a new Premier League season has been overshadowed by the riots here in England. The country is in turmoil and all Police efforts are understandably focused on things other than stewarding sporting events.

As yet there's been no confirmation regarding postponements but a statement released earlier today by the Premier League suggested some games in London are at risk. That would mean Tottenham v Everton, Fulham v Aston Villa and QPR v Bolton. However, with all games still on I have to write this post as if all games will go ahead.  

UPDATE: Spurs v Everton POSTPONED. Other 9 games are ON.

Now this will be one of the most difficult post I write this season. We have no real idea of starting XI's, we have no true indication of the form or fitness of individual players, we have no way of knowing if new signings will adapt to the rigours of the Premier League, so it's very difficult to produce a list I feel 100% confident with. However, having analysed the Week 1 Fixtures in a previous post, I've identified the sides with favourable matches (Man City, Man United, Liverpool, Arsenal & Fulham in particular) and put together my recommendations based on that.

I've copied my fixture analysis summary below:

MAN CITY v Swansea

Should Win
LIVERPOOL v Sunderland
FULHAM v Aston Villa
ARSENAL @ Newcastle

Could Win

Tottenham v Everton OFF
Wigan v Norwich
QPR v Bolton
Blackburn v Wolves

Now for the players sparking my interest for Week 1. Those marked with an asterix* are still doubts due to fitness/injuries and I'll be able to give more details in my Friday Update post.

Here we go...

De Gea

De Gea may not have had a great start in the Community Shield, but he's a quality keeper, and the opportunity to buy and keep Manchester United's #1 for just 6.03 (5.91 if you were quick enough) when they are clear favourites to win the title again is not to be sniffed at.

If you really don't trust him (and to be fair away to West Brom certainly isn't an guaranteed clean sheet) then I'd be spending the big money on Joe Hart, but De Gea is the smart long term investment. Those are the only two Week 1 options in my opinion - not a Kirkland in sight.

Smalling/Fabio (one should play)

It was all looking so easy for fantasy managers a week ago as the majority of teams I'd seen posted had snapped up the bargain that is Kieron Gibbs for under 2.50 and perhaps the even bigger bargain, Vermaelen at a shade over 7.00. Then, of course, the Arsenal injury curse struck in their final pre-season friendly, with both players picking up injuries. We've had no official news regarding whether they'll be ready to feature on Saturday, but if they are then they remain two of the top picks for Week 1. Hopefully Wenger will provide the info we need in his press conference on Friday - he's usually pretty good at stating who's ready to play.

Aside from them an old fantasy favourite, attacking full-back John Arne Riise, returns to the Premier League at Fulham at a great price and with a good fixture, Daniel Agger is a fine player when fit, has one of the best long strikes I've ever seen in a defender and also had a nice fixture with Liverpool at home to Sunderland. With City being the stand-out fixture of the week it would make sense to consider one of their defensive options and the value pick appears to be Micah Richards. He started the Community Shield at right-full back and there is certainly the opportunity for him to make the position his own this season if he can stay fit.

Next in the list is a 2nd Liverpool defender, Martin Kelly, who impressed everyone with his form when Kenny arrived last season. He picked up a nasty injury which ended his run in the team but he should be fit to start at the weekend with Glen Johnson injured and he's proved to  be a consistent points scorer. Gary Caldwell's appearance above may surprise some but as Wigan's captain he's a guaranteed starter, he has a home fixture against a promoted team and he's cheap at 5.10.

Sunderland's recent signing Wes Brown is a great cheap option at just 3.02 despite a tricky match at Anfield and we await news on who's set to start at right back for Manchester United. It's likely to be Chris Smalling after he was excellent vs Manchester City last Sunday, but it could even be the bargain Fabio. If news suggests it'll actually be his twin brother Rafael then I'd avoid as he's a little too pricey at almost 8.00.

Van Der Vaart

One of the toughest decision of the opening weekend is which premium midfielder to go for and the players I'd be considering are Manchester United duo Nani, new signing Ashley Young and Tottenham's Rafael Van Der Vaart.

Nani is my top pick but with a price over 21 he may prove slightly too expensive for some managers (including myself) despite his brace and impressive performance against Man City. Over 3.00 cheaper is Mr Young, who I currently have in my team, who looks like he'll get the majority of set pieces, looked at home in a United shirt and assisted Smalling's goal with a beautiful cross last Sunday. Van Der Vaart is the only man of the 3 likely to be on all free-kicks, corners and penalties, so by that logic alone he'll be a fantastic pick, but I'm less confident if a Spurs victory than I am of a United win, so that dents his potential slightly.

Another player who should be at the fulcrum of everything his side does is newly promoted QPR's Adel Taarabt. Given his price I think he should be in everyone's team for Week 1 as he could be this season's Charlie Adam, but it remains to be seen whether he'll cut it in the Premier League. The guy is hugely talented but also incredibly stroppy when things aren't going his way, he can be greedy and unbelievably lazy. He's worth the risk for Week 1 but it'll be an interesting one to monitor. While on the subject of Adam, I don't feel spending 15 on him is worth it until we see what share of free-kicks/corners he gets. Even in Gerrard's absence, Downing & Suarez are likely to pinch many of these from him.

David Silva is my pick of the Manchester City attacking midfielders (as he's the only one guaranteed to start) and should have plenty of space to operate against newly promoted Swansea. A slightly controversial call follows with Damien Duff my Fulham midfield pick for the game against Aston Villa, ahead of Clint Dempsey. My reasons? He's 3.00 cheaper, on set pieces and Dempsey is unlikely to find himself played as a striker this season with Zamora, Johnson & Dembele now all fit, which will hurt his fantasy return.

At the cheaper end of the scale is Arsenal's Aaron Ramsey, who should be key to Wenger's plans now Fabregas is finally on his way (and possibly Nasri to follow). He's priced under 4.50 and should play further forward than Wilshere, so expect a better fantasy return than young Jack is likely to ever bring. Live-wire Junior Hoilett is the sole Blackburn representative as he has that N'Zogbia-like ability to make things happen, Victor Moses will be expected to fill the N'Zogbia-sized hole in the Wigan midfield and Obertan is a dirt-cheap filler option being tipped to start at his new club Newcastle.

Van Persie*

More doubts in the 'Strikers' section, with Arsenal's Robin Van Persie another player injured in that pre-season friendly. He had been in my team before it happened and if he's fit then I'll probably look to get him back in, but if there's any chance he may not start then he's simply not worth the risk of spending almost 22.00. Again, we await Wenger's press conference for an update. Doubt #2 is Luis Suarez, who played a full part in the Copa America and has not featured in Liverpool's pre-season. He returned from his holiday this week and has trained but is unlikely to be match-fit, so again we need Kenny to confirm this before the deadline. If he'll start he's is a must-pick for Week 1 given his match-up.

Hernandez is still recovering from concussion and Berbatov appears out-of-favour, so the only Manchester United striking option is Wayne Rooney. Sir Alex believes this pre-season has shown Rooney close to his best so if you're looking for a premium striker and don't want to risk Van Persie then he could be your man. Back at Arsenal, and Gervinho has got fans excited with his pre-season performances. Pace, strength and goals, he's exactly what the Gunners need to take the burden off RvP and he's at a game entry price of 6.58 against a generally porous Newcastle defence.

I currently have Suarez in my team but if he's out then I could move to Andy Carroll who should be in much better condition than he was at the end of last season after 3 months out injured. On his day the man is impossible to play against and as a Geordie he'll be bang up for it against Sunderland. Aguero is the 3rd striker listed who's a doubt and for the same reason as Suarez - he's had no pre-season matches and has hardly trained since he arrived. If he's set to start it's hard to leave him out, but if not then the Manchester City striker interesting me is Edin Dzeko. Hehad a disappointing start to his career in England but he should've settled now and I'm expecting big things from him this yea

Finally if you're looking to do something a bit different then you could do worse than going for one of the Fulham strikers. Bobby Zamora is a certainty to start when fit and Andy Johnson has been scoring goals for fun in the opening rounds of the Europa League, so I expect the pair to line-up together against Villa.

That's it!

My current team looks like this:

De Gea

Caldwell, Richards, Riise

Silva, Taarabt, Duff, Young

Gervinho, Dzeko, Suarez

Still waiting on team/injury news regarding Gibbs, Verm, Aguero, Suarez & Dzeko before making any final decisions and may still try to go Young > Nani. Things will become a lot clearer as we aproach the Saturday deadline.

How's your team shaping up? Any players you feel I've missed from the lists above?



Azree_Msia said...

Thanks Nik

Azree_Msia said...

My team look like this at the moment:

Riise, Kompany, Agger
Taarabt, Silva, Nani, Moses
Suarez, Holt, Aguero

kwyjibo said...

Well, at least Suárez has been deemed fit to play against Sunderland.

Luis Suarez Fit to Face Sunderland

Maya Rani said...!/groups/238427806177777/

Cap said...

Obertan has been transferred.

Assistant Manager said...

kwyjibo - I'll wait for a more reputable source (e.g. Liverpool Official Site or Kenny's press conference) before being certain that Suarez will feature, but for if it's confirmed he'll start I'll definitely go with him.

Cap - Obertan was transferred to Newcastle & costs less than 3, a bargain for a winger like him if he's set to start

Cap said...

Thanks. Didn't think of that. What's the ratioanale for picking Caldwell?

Chaos said...

Wow currently 8 of the same players as Nik. Normally only 4 or 5.

We both finished in the top 70 overall last season though, so am pretty content with it.

Assistant Manager said...

Caldwell - Guaranteed starter (captain), chance of a clean sheet (home to Norwich), cheap (5ish).

Naois said...

First time following the blog but here is my current squad:

Still with 21+ left over for moves.

capiTeno said...

surely there's got to be some luvin for dempsey, mid playing as forward home to villa
at the mo i'm
de gea, richards, riiiiiise, gibbs, tararararbt, silva, demps, young, suarez, aguero, gerv
tho half that team are "injured" !

Anonymous said...

Torres out injured in the friendly against Italy.

jimmy said...

Hey all and thanks nic 4 all the great posts!!!

Im not so happy but this is what i have

D gea
Riise caldwell smalling
vdv taarabt silva obertan
suarez rooney gervinho

Pls comment.

Assistant Manager said...

With Zamora, Dembele and Johnson fit (and scoring) I can't see Dempsey playing as a forward, so 15 for him is too expensive

MB said...

Gibbs, Richards, Riise,
VDV, Taarbat, Duff, Silva
Holt, Rooney, Aguero

pretty happy with that but i haven't done any last minute changes since last season so who knows what could happen in the next three days

Michael said...

Thanks and best of luck to you this season!

Anonymous said...

am i too fancy about moses?
he scores 4 goals in 4 games in pre season

Chikuera [AM.Blog]

Saul said...

Great picks AM! May I just add O'Hara to that equation?

My Team:
Suarez/Gervinho/Aguero(or Holts)

neil said...

de gea
gibbs vermaelen riise
taarabt hunt silva hoilett
v.persie dzeko carroll
i think i'll get at least 100 points :)

Geoff said...

Thoughts on C. Adam? Gerard out injured - have to assume he's on all kicks and pulling the strings in midfield?

azri said...

When we'll know if the game will be played or postponed? Hope to get confirmation as early as possible.

Currently looking at:
De Gea
Riise Caldwell Agger
Nani Silva Moses Taraabt
Gervinho Suarez Dzeko

Anonymous said...

With the possibility of Torres being out, Sturridge should get the start after doing well in preseason.

Anonymous said...

Bolton's forwards don't seem too exciting. Could be a good idea early on to have defenders of the team playing against Bolton.

bean said...

Sturridge is serving a three match ban after seeing red for Bolton the final match of the season

Kellz said...

@jddh: A reminder for you that Sturrage is suspended the first 3 league games for a red card he picked up on the final day of last season with Bolton. Torres is a doubt with a concussion so I expect Drogba to start flanked by Kalou and Malouda. I expect a very traditional chelsea starting 11 for the first match.

As for me I am going with currently:

De Gea
Richards Luiz(until team news) Riise
Watson Nani Taarabat Silva
Dzeko Carrol Gervinho

I am choosing Luiz for now but have 8mil for another defender. Watson is in because Zog has left so he should be on PKs and corners and he's playing Norwich. I don't see a repeat of last seasons opener. I took Nani for now but I am on the fence over AY. Sure AY will take corners and FK but Nani looked too good against Citeh and we all know what his phantom point scoring is like. I can see Nani getting the better points over AY. I took Carrol over Suarez because he's a doubt due to fatigue and hasn't played any preseason. But Carrol should be rearing to go especially after his most hated rival sunderland. Gervinho is in since Arsenal look set to lose Nasri Cesc and have RvP an injury doubt.

Good luck everyone its sooooooo close to kick off!

bean said...

@Kellz - hello. I like the Watson pick, think he's on penalties. Lots of hype around Moses, but Watson seems a good pick as well.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the Stur heads up. Completely forgot about that.

Vatsa said...


My team looks like this

De Gea
Kompany Vermaelen Coloccini
Sessegnon JamieOH Ethers Mulumbu Emerton
Carroll Walters

Looks different, feels ok, let us see how this team works in fantasy play



Eric said...


Are you out to sea, or in range of net access?

Check the leaderboard!

Eric M

AdmiraLord Nelson said...

Duff but no Dempsey????

D said...

No love for Adam??? Home to Sunderland, should be taking lots of set pieces and will be central to all good things for Pool.

What about Malouda, no mention? He's had a storming preseason, looks set to start as part of an attacking 3, will take some corners...

Anonymous said...

Current Team

De Gea
Riise Agger Richards
Nani Moses Ramsey Silva
Carroll Gervinho Ba

Taraabt may come in if the game is on
Ba is my gut pick, maybe wishing for a 4-4 repeat of last year..... Thoughts?

lipanboy said...

thanks's my lineup..spend heavily in midfield. :)


Jeremy said...

De Gea
Agger, Richards, Gibbs
Taarabt, Cabaye, Silva, Adam
Rooney, Sinclair, Carroll


Rick said...

Some good advice here, but any news on Bale?


奸人 said...

De Gea
Agger, Vermaelen, Riise
Taarabt, Moses, Anderson, Nani
Rooney, Holt, Gervinho

Any advice?

Assistant Manager said...

UPDATE: Keeper & Defender analysis DONE. Please see post...

kendo said...

I agree with folk on choosing Adam with Gerro missing. (actually prefer Adam) doubtful about aguero wait and see

Figuroa anyone???

Gibbs is so cheap if he is doubtful will have to make other changes

So far

De gee
Gibbs Figueroa Riise
Adam taarabt silva Vdv
Aguero Suarez gervihno

Assistant Manager said...

UPDATE: Midfielder & Striker analysis DONE. Please see post...

ali said...

I have been an avid fan of your blog for last three/four seasons. I have been away for the last month so missed out on all your leagues which I am gutted about.. If anyone drops out/dupilcates any chance you could put me in one?
team name is: Poppy Tigers

Cheers mate

GGMU said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mrtwig said...

Great work AM and looking forward to the new season

Some really difficult choices to make but I am determined at least in week 1 to have 11 opportunities to take points so I am playing safe (ish!)

De Gea
Kelly Richards Riise
Ramsay Moses Tarbat Young
Rooney Carroll Gervinho

Actually quite like it but who knows what'll happen, because I also want Nani, VDV, Suarez, Aguero and an interesting one, MPet...

Petrov should be an option in my view because of his price - 11.x, the fact that Bolton are playing the unknown QPR force, his history as a YFF high scorer when he plays, and also apparently he has been on good form in pre season...

Actually, I am have convinced myself now that he should be in the team!! Off to make some changes...

Boss said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kendo said...

Spurs game is called off Vdv for kuyt???

mrtwig said...

Confirmed, breaking news on BBC that Spurs is off...

Just looking at other fixtures done a little risk based note...

Blackburn v Wolverhampton - nothing reported so far in Blackburn - LOW RISK
Fulham v Aston Villa - In London but unlikely to be trouble in this area, very posh! - LOW RISK
Liverpool v Sunderland - currently no trouble in Liverpool reported but its a big city - MEDIUM RISK
QPR v Bolton - In London and trouble relatively close - MEDIUM RISK
Tottenham OFF Everton - already gone
Wigan v Norwich - NO RISK
Newcastle v Arsenal - Big city but no trouble so far - LOW RISK

Stoke v Chelsea - midlands town, nothing so far - LOW RISK
West Brom v Man Utd - In Birmingham, people have died there this week - HIGH RISK

Man City v Swansea - In Manchester and on Monday evening - HIGH RISK

Anonymous said...

For the exact same price it's either:

Nani and Silva


Young and Duff


AdmiraLord Nelson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chaos said...

"currently no trouble in Liverpool reported"

That's not true is it?

Assistant Manager said...

All the other 9 games should go ahead. The only reason Spurs has been called off is because Tottenham High Street is still closed due to crumbling buildings/clean-up and they can't get a safety certificate. No other clubs had as much trouble so close to their grounds so fingers crossed they will all be OK.

Must say, I'm gutted my team won't be playing on opening weekend, it just won't be the same :(

mrtwig said...

Just heard that postponement is also becasue all the police in London are tied up looking after the streets and there will be none left to police the games...
If that's true then I am more worried about other games in London - but we will hopefully find out before Sat 12 noon so it will be ok...

Also worried about Manchester on Monday night - might have to avoid... even though stadium is nowhere near the centre, the police resource will be tied up in the centre and might decide they can't afford to let any go for the game...

Chaos said...

Mrtwig. The official reason is because tottenham high street is still closed and the council say they don't have enough time to clean everything up

Not sure where you heard that's its due to police not having the numbers. Maybe dont trust that source in future.

Ken M. said...

I want to get Holt classified as a defender?

Should not be hard. Just change the word Forward to Defender.

Just send me the "link" and I will do all the work.

Who can I talk to???

OR....How about a 2-5-3 formation?

mrtwig said...

Chaos, I saw what the official statement said, but other sources (in this case the Independent) are reporting different reasons. That's the media I guess - not always 100% clear...personally I think that if they have postponed 1 game that there is a risk of some others going too but I hope not.

As noted, it would be nice to think that by 6pm today we have the full picture so we can plan our teams.

MIZ said...

wat about reina ?? @10 and a home match and cheaper then hart ..

Chaos said...

Agree mrtwig, I hope by 6pm today we know a lot more.

kendo said...

enrique @8.88 will he play for the pool?

Azree_Msia said...

I think other players that can be considered are: Benayoun (@3.84), Rodallega (13.06), O'Hara (10.01), Al-Habsi (8.57), Gohouri (6.37), Cleverly (8.81), Holt (6.58), Hoolahan (6.01), Yaya Toure (8.12), Kompany (10.92),

Chaos said...

Premier League confirm all 9 other matches are to go ahead....

kendo said...

lol @ kenm ..

kendo said...

Have to share this guys was sitting right at the front where he scored from

Who needs messi?

lucidswirl said...

Methinks I am going to give Aquilani a looksie.

Anonymous said...

@lucidswirl Interesting. But I think he might be on his way back to "Eataly".

kwyjibo said...

Well, I switched Kompany for Agger so I could trade up VdV to BFAY. If I drop Agger down to Caldwell, I could switch BFAY for Nani, so I'll have to consider that, too, but I've still got Gibbs in my lineup and may need extra cash to switch him out.


Is there a reason why N'Zogbia isn't on the list? Also, what do people think of Sinclair as a cheap option?

bio said...

@AM how do you rate kunyt? he's been doing well ever since Kenny arrived.

Mell 10-11 said...

Yeah, Nzog deserves something as he will be the focal point of Villa's attacking threat and Bent could be relishing on his delivery. I doubt Kun Aguero will play (scores a hattrick) but do everybody thinks Swansea don't have any chance at all?

Vans_Guy said...



DarkZero said...

Everyone, take note of this =)

Weddy's Blog said...

What's about chelsea? i don't see any of u pick chelsea's players

Eddy E said...

no Kolarov???

Mighty Red Army said...

My current team:

Riise, Richards, Gibbs
Taarabt, Silva, BFAY, Moses
Gervinho, Carroll, Rooney

Players I'm still considering...
IN - Suarez, RVP, Nani
OUT - Rooney, Moses, Gibbs

But I'm quite happy with this team

kendo said...

Kwijibo my team is the same as yours except I have Adam not nzogbia from the arsenal team news Gibbs might be a good call

ezulham said...

My current team:

ANy suggestions?

gman26 said...

Any chance Cleverly starts for ManU?

Anonymous said...



hangeland dawson hughes

Obertan Bale Dempsey Nani Toure

Ranger Rooney

kami pencinta kucing said...

ben arfa?

StarSpirit said...

Going to take a stab at a 3-5-2 formation.

G - D. De Gea
D - M. Richards, John Arne Riise, Gary Caldwell
M - D. Silva, A. Taarabt, Ashley Young, G. Obertan, F. Malouda
F - A. Carroll, E. Dzeko

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