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English Premier League

2014/15 Fantasy Premier League Preview: Who’s in, who’s out?

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With the Premier League kickoff only a week away, the time for budding managers to pick their fantasy league sides is in full flow. The time where everyone starts with good intentions, promising themselves they will be loyal to their *insert witty team name* FC, checking up on the squad every week and making suitable changes. We know deep down that for the majority of Fantasy League gaffers, three weeks will go by and fantasy league will be binned for yet another year. Whether you are a budding football coach or a complete football novice, we have some Fantasy League selection tips for you – at least before you throw in the towel (again).

Goalkeepers

Goalkeeping choices can go one of two ways. The majority of points awarded to goalkeepers either come from clean sheets, or total number of saves per game. While most managers go for a goalkeeper playing for a potential top four side, others point to one guaranteed to start for their mid to lower table club. This second option has proved fruitful in the fantasy football era. Not only do you save money to be used on a star striker, but the sheer bulk of saves to make means almost guaranteed points every week. For example, the highest scoring goalkeeper last season was David Marshall of relegated Cardiff City. On the flip side though, you are also running the risk of a top side putting five goals past your number one. Petr Cech was the most widely selected goalkeeper last season despite being one of the most expensive, but finished in the top three highest scoring keepers. With two routes to take, the choice is yours.

Recommended bargain Goalkeepers; Vito Mannone, Tim Krul, Allan McGregor, Kasper Schmeichel, Asmir Begovic

Recommended expensive Goalkeepers; Tim Howard, Hugo Lloris, David De Gea, Joe Hart, Thibaut Courtois

Defenders

The baseline requirement for a defender in fantasy football is one who is playing in a team capable of keeping clean sheets. Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal were the three sides to keep the most clean sheets last season in the Premier League, something which fantasy football points to the respective defenders displayed. As a bonus, the highest point scoring defenders also chip in with the odd assist and headed goal from a corner. Everton’s Seamus Coleman finished the 2013-14 season as the highest scoring Defender in the league, with 6 goals, 2 assists and 15 clean sheets. Since most fantasy league managers look to spend big money on two defenders in a back four, make sure the money is spent wisely on a complete defender who also has a good disciplinary record as yellow and red cards mean penalty points.

Recommended bargain Defenders; Steven Caulker, Ron Vlaar, Jose Fonte, Dejan Lovren, Daryl Janmaat

Recommended expensive Defenders; Gary Cahill, Jan Vertonghen, Leighton Baines, Laurent Koscielny, Pablo Zabaleta, Vincent Kompany

Midfielders

Midfield is arguably the most important part of a fantasy league side. Goal scoring midfielders/wingers are awarded handsomely per goal, as well as assists and a clean sheet point too. The big money last minute move of Mesut Ozil to Arsenal last summer enticed many fantasy league managers, but the German only just made the top 10 point scoring midfielders. It was Yaya Toure who finished as the highest point scoring Midfielder last season after his incredible season on all fronts for Manchester City. The Ivorian’s value on Fantasy Premier League increased a massive £2.1million during the course of the season. Despite lengthy injury spells, Aaron Ramsey finished as the 7th highest scoring Midfielder in England, and started last season priced only £5.5million. Bargains are there to be had in the midfield department, especially with many new signings coming in from foreign leagues being quite under-priced. Some transferred midfielders with more playing opportunities may surprise too.

Recommended bargain Midfielders; Remy Cabella, Siem De Jong, Emre Can, Dusan Tadic, Jack Rodwell, Nemanja Matic, James Ward-Prows, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Jordan Mutch, Jordan Henderson, Ross Barkley, Jason Puncheon, Jonjo Shelvey, Steven Davis, Moussa Sissokho, Robert Snodgrass, Fabian Delph, Marko Arnautovic

Recommended expensive Midfielders; Erik Lamela, Yaya Toure, Steven Gerrard, Eden Hazard, Samir Nasri, David Silva, Aaron Ramsey, Raheem Sterling, Christian Eriksen, Juan Mata

Strikers

The most expensive players in fantasy football tend to be strikers, and for good reason too. Strikers generally finish the season with the highest points tallies of all. Luis Suarez’s 31 goals and 21 assists left him as the highest scoring player comfortably last season, but which marquee man will do the business this season? The biggest name striker to come into the Premier League this summer is £32m man Diego Costa. His physical playing style looks perfect for the Premier League as he looks to build on his 27 league goals for Atletico Madrid last season. Despite Swansea’s rocky start to the season, Wilfried Bony finished the season as the best Premier League newcomer. Bony joined Swansea after a terrific goal scoring season for Vitesse in Eredivisie, so could another Eredivise import; Graziano Pelle, do the same thing for Southampton this coming season? Dutchman Robin Van Persie will be hoping to put the disappointment of last season behind him, after being reunited with his former Netherlands manager Louis Van Gaal, and replicate his form of the 2012-13 season where he finished with the most fantasy league points. Another interesting thought is whether players like Charlie Austin and Danny Ings can carry their superb Championship form with them to the new heights of the Premier League. The striker position is another where bargains are available – especially with unpredictable foreign imports.

Recommended bargain Strikers; Bojan Krkic, Mauro Zarate, Graziano Pelle, Danny Ings, Steven Fletcher, Charlie Austin, Loic Remy, Dwight Gayle, Steven Naismith, Shane Long, Fraizer Campbell,

Recommended expensive Strikers; Diego Costa, Stevan Jovetic, Wilfried Bony, Daniel Sturridge, Wayne Rooney, Robin Van Persie, Romelu Lukaku

 

Stats and fantasy league facts via fantasy.premierleague.com. To join the TBR fantasy competition use the following code – 275208-73981!

Liverpool

Three Liverpool men who need to capitalise on rotation

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Photo: Getty Images.

With the Champions League semi-finals occupying all of Liverpool‘s mind and attention, it has represented a fresh chance for some players on the fringes of the squad.

For three men in particular, the next few seemingly meaningless Premier League fixtures could represent a chance to rescue their Anfield careers.

Danny Ings

The ex-Burnley striker had rotten luck in picking up a serious knee injury in training days after Jurgen Klopp’s appointment and has only just started his first two Premier League games under the German coach up against Everton and West Brom.

His poachers’ finish at The Hawthorns was an emotional moment for the striker and whilst it seems inevitable that his future lies on loan next season at least, good form from the Englishmen could see him make a case to be a back-up option in 2018/19.

With Dominic Solanke not pulling up trees when given the chance earlier on in the campaign, Danny Ings may feel that there is a place up for grabs.

(Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images)

Ragnar Klavan

The Estonian central defender was never signed as a long-term solution at the back and whilst usually reliable, he has let the team down at times.

The arrival of Virgil Van Dijk has pushed him further down the pecking order and it still looks likely that another defender may arrive in the summer to join the Dutchman in favour of Dejan Lovren or Joel Matip.

Klavan has seen the latter half of this season disrupted by injury but by leading the way in an inexperienced backline in the upcoming league fixtures could be pivotal to defining his Anfield future.

Alberto Moreno

The Spaniard has always been a controversial figure on Merseyside, but at the start of this season he appeared to be on the right track and became a regular in Jurgen Klopp’s selections.

An injury picked up in the Champions League forced him onto the sidelines and led to the emergence of Andrew Robertson, who rapidly became a fan favourite and one of the first names on the team-sheet.

The left-back had shown his defensive improvements earlier on in the season and will need to maintain that if he is to convince Klopp that he is worth keeping around for 2018/19.

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English Premier League

Tottenham fans reminded why they sold Federico Fazio for just £3.8m

The Argentine was poor against Liverpool, reminding Tottenham Hotspur fans why he was sold.

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Last night Liverpool put one foot in the Champions League final. They raced into a 5-0 lead against AS Roma at Anfield. Inspire by the best attacker in the world right now, Mohamed Salah, Liverpool put the Italians to the sword. Whilst the Giallorossi did manage to grab two goals to make the second leg a contest, Liverpool will feel confident of progress.

For Tottenham fans, the game represented a reminder of why they sold a player they were regretting a couple of weeks ago. When Roma turned around a 4-1 deficit against Barcelona, the performance of Federico Fazio caused a stir. He was a man-mountain in the Stadio Olimpico, as Roma won 3-0.

It left some Tottenham fans wondering why they sold him for a fee in the region of £3.8 million in 2017 – as reported by talkSPORT – after just 32 appearances for the North London club.

Last night showed exactly why.

(Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images)

Fazio, along with the other members of the Roma back three, was poor against Liverpool. He was not helped by the decision to play a high-line. However, his physical attributes were exposed by Liverpool. Slow, sluggish and clumsy, this looked like the Fazio that Tottenham fans remember from his time at White Hart Lane after joining from Sevilla in the summer of 2014.

But a high-line is not his game, he is a combative defender who is excellent in the air. Well, that did not look the case when he wimpishly challenged Roberto Firmino for a header that the Brazilian dispatched.

Tottenham fans were impressed with his performance against Barcelona in the last round and, with Toby Alderweireld set to leave, having Fazio around again might have appealed to some Spurs fans. Based on this performance v their Premier League rivals, they will be happy he is in the Italian capital.

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Liverpool

Statistics show Jordan Henderson’s display against Roma was his best for Liverpool

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Photo: Getty Images.

In the build-up to the Champions League semi-final, there was one joke which was repeatedly told, “imagine the sight of Jordan Henderson lifting the Champions League trophy”. On Tuesday night, the Liverpool captain showed just why it’s a distinct possibility.

The midfielder completely dominated the experienced Italian trio of Daniele De Rossi, Kevin Strootman and Radja Nainggolan, teaming up perfectly with James Milner and Georgino Wijnaldum, who replaced the injured Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, to put their stomp on the game and dictate the tempo.

Sitting deep and playing balls over the top, Henderson showed what he can do as a playmaker with his impressive range of passing on show once again, completing as many passes in the final third as Sadio Mane.

Of his 54 passes, only 16 were backwards, compared to 22 forwards, and Henderson was consistently looking to move the ball forward and find a breakthrough against Roma’s high defensive line.

(Photo credit should read FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images)

Defensively, Henderson was even more impressive. No player completed more ball recoveries than Henderson’s 12, so much so that the next best tally on his team was seven, almost half of what the captain contributed.

The location of his recoveries too showed his influence, playing in the holding midfield role and breaking up play before looking to rapidly start counter-attacks.

Restricting himself to an entirely central role, Henderson got the better of the likes of De Rossi and Strootman and put them on edge right from the off, causing them to be sloppy in possession and panic, which only got worse as the goals started flowing for the Reds.

In addition, he was successful in more tackles than any other Liverpool player as he made the midfield his own in arguably the highest profile fixture he has ever played in.

Many have questioned the credentials of the former Sunderland man, who is also in contention for the England captaincy, but performances like on Tuesday should soon convince any doubters that he is a key piece of Jurgen Klopp’s puzzle. Post-match, a number of fans and pundits aired their praise for his display.

The tie may only be at half-time but Jordan Henderson must show such leadership on the field of play again in Rome after his team lost their focus in the closing stages of their first leg clash.

Leading by example is pivotal to Henderson’s style and displays like his performance on Tuesday night at Anfield go a long way to justifying his role as captain of Liverpool.

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