Nik Argiropoulos

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AM's Week 2 Player Picks

Thursday, August 22, 2013

One week of the fantasy season in and things could certainly be better.  Chelsea may well have swooped in at the last minute and picked off from Spurs preventing them from completing their Gareth Bale replacement set before the big announcement that appears to be coming soon.  Looking at my own fantasy weekend was far from great on a personal level, as I wasted money on Walcott and Tonev, and picked the wrong captain in Hazard. That left me on 139 points, some way off the pace outside the top 25,000 overall. It's safe to say I need a better week, so I'll begin the recovery with a look at the Week 2 fixtures.


The fantastic news is that we're back to a single week for all twenty Premier League teams, which means there's no need to focus on "double-game" teams as we were forced to in Week 1 with Chelsea and Aston Villa. The fact you get unlimited transfers in the Yahoo game means you really can rip it up and start again when you want to, and that's what I intend to do this week.


From the 10 match-ups there is a stand-out fixture, and that is Manchester City's trip to Wales to visit Cardiff. In Week 1 City were extremely impressive against a Newcastle side packed with top-flight experience, with quick, slick interplay in the attacking third causing Alan Pardew's men endless problems. Cardiff are the best equipped of the three promoted sides to stay up this season, but I can't see them living with the likes of Sergio Aguero, Jesus Navas, David Silva and Yaya Toure, so I'm predicting a big away win.


I also like the look of big-spending Tottenham at home to a Swansea side reeling from that heavy home defeat against Manchester United last weekend, and Everton at home to West Bromwich Albion. Do not underestimate the huge impact Romelu Lukaku had on West Brom's success last season; without him the system the team is set up to play doesn't look anywhere near as dangerous (Nicolas Anelka is not in the same league anymore) and I think they might struggle against the Toffees, who are notoriously strong at Goodison Park. Over at Craven Cottage there's a tiny part of my that thinks Fulham could get something, but when I really analyse it I believe Arsenal are good enough - despite their injury problems and lack of activity in the transfer market - to take the three points.


Aston Villa proved they were a threat against Arsenal and were unlucky against Chelsea, but I still fancy Liverpool to beat them at Villa Park. I actually think Villa will find more success on the road than at home this season as they are set up perfectly to counter-attack, so this one is an away win for me - the Reds really impressed against Stoke. On the subject of Stoke, I expect them to dispatch a limited Crystal Palace side at the Britannia in Mark Hughes' first home game (probably to nil), and Norwich have a chance of an away win at Hull. The remaining matches are tough to call either way. Newcastle versus West Ham and Southampton versus Sunderland are evenly matched in my opinion and both will be going down as 1-1 draws when I enter my Premier League predictions on Friday.


Finally, a quick word on the big game on Monday night between Manchester United and Chelsea. It's one to watch and enjoy for sure, but not one to get too invested in from a fantasy stand-point as it's very difficult to predict. All three results (home win, away win or draw) are possible and I don't expect a clean sheet for either side. I'm going with Robin van Persie but plan to drop all of my Week 1 Chelsea players.


 Check out Neal's Week 2 Schedule Analysis | Jeremy's First XI


With all that in mind, here are my player recommendations.


Asmir Begovic - The Bosnian keeper was sensational against Liverpool, pulling off numerous excellent saves and keeping the score respectable for Stoke. It should be more comfortable against Palace at home but he should get a couple of saves and has a very good chance of a clean sheet. He's in my team.
Joe Hart - If you're not a fan of the Begovic pick then you could spend a bit more on Joe Hart. As mentioned earlier, City are the stand-out fixture and I have no doubt he'll end the weekend on positive points.
Artur Boruc - And here's your option if you're looking for a cheap keeper who has a chance of a good fantasy week. Boruc is priced around £6million and has an okay home game against Sunderland. If you're picking a lower priced guy in net you should always go for one playing at home.


Joleon Lescott - If you're not going for Hart in goal then it makes sense to pick up a City defender to cover the potential clean-sheet of the stand-out fixture. You could spend on Pablo Zabaleta, but I feel Lescott offers better value priced almost £6million cheaper. He's guaranteed a start with Vincent Kompany out injured.
Sylvain Distin - Everton have a winnable home game against West Brom and Distin can be a right nuisance in the opposition's box at set pieces, so he's certainly worth a look this weekend.
Luke Shaw - The future England left-back has all the attributes one looks for in a fantasy defender. Shaw is powerful, quick, loves attacking, can deliver a decent cross and doesn't mind taking a shot from distance - essentially a Gareth Bale clone - so he's someone to consider for Southampton's home game against Sunderland.
Michael Dawson - Tottenham's club captain is going to find his place under threat from Younes Kaboul in the near future, but for now he;ll continue alongside the excellent (but expensive) Jan Vertonghen, so he's my pick to cover the possible Spurs clean sheet against Swansea.
Kolo Toure - Very unlucky not to score against Stoke, Kolo should keep his place in the Liverpool back-line against Villa. He's not an outstanding pick, but he's cheap and will therefore allow you to spend the big bucks elsewhere.
Marc Wilson - The most affordable way to get in on the Stoke defence this weekend, even though Wilson was deployed in midfield against Liverpool. We need to monitor team news on this one as some sources are suggesting he could lose his place.
Dejan Lovren - The Croatian was impressive on debut, grabbing 12 points, and he's still very well priced. If you fancy a Southampton clean sheet but can't afford Shaw then Lovren could be your man.
Steven Whittaker - This is a bit of a "points-chasing" pick really, but the Norwich man was clearly being encouraged to get forward on the overlap against Everton and he'll get similar opportunities for attacking points against Hull.

David Silva - I'm a big fan of the little Spanish midfielder and he's been a fixture in my fantasy team over the past two seasons, which is why I feel especially frustrated that I didn't pick him for Week 1. No mistakes this time, Silva is in my team for City's trip to Cardiff.
Marouane Fellaini - Some of Fellaini's play against Norwich was phenomenal, with his work rate and strength in both boxes really standing out. Unfortunately this didn't result in many fantasy points but he generally scores better at home and will cause West Brom all sorts of problems.
Philippe Coutinho - There was a time when Steven Gerrard was at the heart of Liverpool's best play, but times are changing and Coutinho is now the most important player in Brendon Rodgers' system. Expect shots, crosses, through passes and even a few tackles won - this boy has it all.
Theo Walcott - I made a last minute decision to add Walcott to my team last weekend and it did not pay off at all. It's especially galling when you consider Frank Lampard was available for a cheaper price, but alas, I have a hunch the winger will open his goal account for the season at Fulham this weekend so I'm likely to stick with him.
Jesus Navas - The new signing slotted in well on his debut but the fantasy returns were a touch disappointing, although it has helped keep his price low. I prefer Silva this week, but there wouldn't be any harm finding room for them both.
Nacer Chadli - Tottenham's new winger could have (and maybe should have) scored a couple of goals against Palace last Sunday, missing a header at the back post and shooting marginally wide when through on goal. There were positive signs however, as he took up a very advanced position on the left in support of the striker and this will lead to plenty of points scoring opportunities over the season.
Ross Barkley - Don't you just love the British football media? After one goal Barkley is apparently the next saviour of English football, rather than a young lad enjoying just the 7th start of his Everton career. He did play very well at Norwich, should keep his place in the team against West Brom and loves to shoot.
Matthew Etherington - Mark Hughes is a big fan of wingers so expect Matty Etherington to feature prominently in Stoke's 4-4-2 this season. He's been a consistent performer in the Yahoo format in the past, although the removal of Corners Won points from the game (why?) will have a slight impact on his output.
Joe Cole - JC has been experiencing something of a revival since moving to West Ham last season and he popped up with a fine goal in the opening game. Playing in an advanced role behind the striker, he's a good value pick for the trip to Newcastle and one not many other managers will go for.

Robin van Persie - I made another mistake last weekend. I didn't pick Robin van Persie. I will not make the same mistake again. Since January 2011 Van Persie has scored 75 Premier League goals - 26 more than any other player. He is locked in to my squad at £24.85million and will remain there for the season unless he suffers a long term injury or a Luis-Suarez-esque suspension.
Sergio Aguero - Despite not playing a minute of pre-season due to injury, Aguero looked sharp against Newcastle and as we all know, a fully-fit Aguero is up there alongside Suarez and van Persie. I'm not only considering him for Week 2, he could also be my captain. It's between him and RvP.
Roberto Soldado - A well-taken penalty aside, Soldado's all-round play was immense against Palace and showed the Spurs fans exactly what they've been missing since Dimitar Berbatov left the club four seasons ago - a proper striker who will work hard for the team and be in the box to score goals (I realise Berbatov never looks like he works hard, but that's just his style). He should do well against Swansea.
Daniel Sturridge - With Suarez missing for another five games it will be down to Sturridge to score Liverpool's goals. He did his job against Stoke and must do it again at Villa. I expect him to succeed.
Christian Benteke - Three goals in two of the toughest away games Villa will face all season shows us that Benteke plans to pick up exactly where he left off last season. Yes, two of them were penalties, but he was a handful throughout both matches and looks deadly when he gets a chance. At the moment he's not in my team for Week 2 and that makes me nervous.
Ricky Lambert - The majority of fantasy managers will pick three from the five strikers above, so what if you want to go in a slightly different direction? I give you Southampton's penalty taker Ricky Lambert, the people's hero, at home to Sunderland.
Ricky van Wolfswinkel - Is part of me only listing him in my picks because he has a funny name? Yes. But he did look dangerous against Everton and is clearly very good in the air, so Hull will need to beware of the Wolf(winkel).


Follow the RotoWorld_PL team on Twitter: Galin | Jeremy | Neal | Nik


So those are the players I'm considering for my Week 2 Yahoo team. For now I have the following saved on my own team page:

Starting XI: Begovic, Dawson, Distin, Lescott, Fellaini, Coutinho, Walcott, Silva, Soldado, Aguero (c), van Persie
Subs: Elliot, Coates, Spence, Palacios


As you can see I'm sticking with a bench full of cheap fillers to allow maximum spending on my outfield XI, although I may move Distin to Kolo Toure in order to free up some money to have one half-decent substitute (e.g. Navas) in case a player in my starting XI fails to make the pitch. I'm also still concerned about a lack of Benteke, but I'll make a final decision on that one closer to deadline.


Check back here on Rotoworld on Friday for all the team and injury news coming out of the manager's press conferences to assist you with your final decisions.


How's your Week 2 team looking? Who's your captain choice?

Nik Argiropoulos is a London-based soccer writer for Rotoworld and co-founder of Never Manage Alone. You can find him on Twitter @nikarg.
Email :Nik Argiropoulos

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