Steve Rothgeb

The Free Kick

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The Free Kick - Week 34

Wednesday, April 09, 2014


 


Are we really down to the final five weeks of the season already? Say it isn't so!

 

Last week, I found myself being stretched emotionally from both ends. Things began as hoped as Yaya Toure delivered yet another goal from the spot, a role he may not want to give up so easily when Sergio Aguero returns. The rest of my Saturday was spent rather frustrated to be honest, with the phrase "For (crying out loud) Michu, do SOMETHING!" being the most overheard exclamation if you live anywhere within a two mile radius of me. The late Rooney scratch made me go in and tinker at the midnight hour, and the butterfly effect was worse than, ...well an Ashton Kutcher movie I suppose would be an appropriate comparison.  I dropped Nemanja Matic, who I had bought when he was only 2m in order to accommodate Rooney and I basically removed cheap bench players with value and replaced with the cheapest of bench players who have virtually no value. Ended up with 99 points. Thanks again Michu, all you had to do was NOT PLAY, and I am at least hitting the century mark.

 

Now we are getting down to what they call in certain circles - the nitty gritty. The final five weeks and a double gameweek at that. Just as a reminder the following squads have two matches to play this week, and investment should be concentrated among:

Manchester City, Everton, Crystal Palace, Sunderland

Conversely, we have two clubs with the weekend off due to one being cup tied:

Manchester United, Hull City


That's right. The moment Juan Mata became relevant again, he goes unavailable this week along with several others. I am not going to sugar coat it for you folks - this is going to be a very difficult week when it comes to making decisions for your XI. It seems like all the best prospects have inflated prices beyond what they normally are, clubs with normally heavy investment like Liverpool have a tough opponent, and all the cheap buried treasure is not as attractive this week because there isn't much to emerge from the bargain bin at this stage of the season. That does not mean that yours truly was unable to dig and dig and dig until he eventually found some players for you to consider.

 

Remember the goal of this column is to find that player or two to fill out your squad when the money gets tight, or you want to find a player with high potential and low ownership to try and close the gap on the rivals above you. Let' take a look...

 

 

 

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



 

Goalkeeper




The Standard


Vito Mannone - (Sunderland) Let me just throw a curveball in right off the bat and recommend AGAINST a double gameweek option. You may be thinking "he's playing twice and is the cheapest of the keepers with two matches." And it is not impossible, given two games, that Mannone does do well in one of them. But you must remember how volatile the keeper position is in fantasy. A bad day can go REALLY, REALLY bad, with negative scores galore. At other positions, you might feel a bit of a sting when a player puts up a blank, or even a -1 or -2, but unless that player gets sent off, the suffering does not go beyond that. With keepers, the ceiling of negative points is much higher, and the way the Sunderland defense have been playing, you have to imagine at least one of either Everton or especially Manchester City to absolutely thrash the Black Cats. If you want Sunderland coverage, just in case they pull off something spectacular, go for a defender, where the risk is less. Right now, Santiago Vergini is under 4m, and has started the last three matches, but again beware the double gameweek for Sunderland.

 

 

The Free Kick

 

Artur Boruc/Paulo Gazzaniga - (Southampton) If you do not want to spend big at keeper this weekend, I like this sneaky little play. Boruc was a late scratch last weekend due to a back injury and Gazzaniga stepped in to deputize. With a trip to the Etihad, it was never bound to go too well for either as City netted four times. But the normally dependable Saints defense will now host Cardiff City, a side that begs defensive investment from the opposition, especially when the Bluebirds are on the road. Boruc is expected to start, but with Gazzaniga at 1m, you can have the latter on your bench as a backup ready to go. As long as they can stop Jordon Mutch, a clean sheet looks a sound bet.

   


 


Defender



The Standard


Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea) Remember that obscure left back that used to play for Chelsea once? Oh yeah! I think he may have been capped once or twice for his country....yes, there was an Ashley Cole sighting at Stamford Bridge last weekend, as he came on to play out the final 13 minutes against Stoke. Jose Mourinho is happy with his preferred back four of Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry and Azpilicueta, and the four served him well yesterday in helping advance to the next round in the Champions League. With sights on that major trophy and with the World Cup coming up this summer, I think Cole is going to get a league start or two before season's end and I think Azpilicueta is the one that is most at risk of rest. Surely, being thought by many as the best left back in the world in recent years, Cole will require a tune up before the summer, so it only makes sense to find space for him. Away to Swansea isn't a slam dunk environment for a clean sheet either.

 

 

The Free Kick


Vincent Kompany (Manchester City) This may be the easiest pick in any Free Kick column yet. A red card and some missed time dropped Kompany's price to below 10m, an absolute steal for a nailed on City defender playing one match, let alone TWO. While expectations may need to be tempered for the first leg trip to Anfield, at least from a clean sheet perspective, that is just the sort of fixture one can picture a goal from a Kompany header. Any points gathered there will be gravy next to the main course of a home match with Sunderland. I try to recommend cheap and low ownership together, but this one is too important to ignore because of the price. Expect your rivals to own him as well, if not some form of Manchester City defensive coverage. Take the cheap route and spend the extra cash elsewhere.

 

 

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



 

Midfielder




The Standard

 

Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal) Sidelined since Boxing Day, Ramsey finally made his return to the Gunners last week as a substitute, and all signs point to his starting gig being reclaimed against West Ham. Ramsey was a must own in the first half of the season, the long layoff has seen his price drop to an affordable one and Arsenal have perhaps the lightest schedule for the run in. My thing is - I want to see it first. You would be lying if you expected Ramsey to be as dominant as he was when the season started as he took a massive leap forward. Well, this is a long injury layoff, and I want to see a bit more than a 25 minute run out of a match already decided before feeling confident in using him. This is one of those situations to monitor though. If Ramsey indeed looks the business, immediately bring him in next week before his price goes up and plan on keeping him for the remainder of the season. But having scored just four goals in their last six games, I don't find any Arsenal attacking players to be essential this week.

 

 

The Free Kick

 

 

Gareth Barry (Everton) Normally, I am not a fan of deeper lying midfielders when it comes to fantasy prospects, but the climate is such that I think Barry is a safe investment this week as a cheap double gameweek option to add to any of the more dependable Toffees you may be betting on. He is averaging 6 points a game this season. While that may not be impressive, it isn't bad when you double that number, and with the opponents being Sunderland then a home game against Crystal Palace, the odds are he will finish above average in points against these below average opponents. Though to be fair, Palace are doing well for themselves at the moment. Still, barring injury, you are looking at 180 minutes from a prospect with a couple of goals and four assists to his name, not to mention the other stats he fills as a defensive mid.
 
*UPDATE: As our esteemed reader Radu Ogrezeanu-Ghica pointed out in the comments section below, Gareth Barry is in fact on 9 Yellow Cards at the moment, meaning if he aquired one in the first match of Everton's double, he would then be suspended for the second, nullifying the value he would otherwise represent this week. If you have an additional million to spend, as Radu points out, and I am in total agreeement, the better be would be Seamus Coleman, of course that is if he isn't in your Everton-filled XI's already.

 


 

Forwards 


 

 

The Standard


Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool) This is a tough call to make and it is based on circumstances. If you do not own Sturridge already, no problem. A quiet week last time out and Manchester City as opponents this time around is enough to be put off by his 23m price tag. But if you DO own him already, it is a matter of how much you stand to lose by selling him. They way I see it, you have to have Luis Suarez, no brainer. You have to have Steven Gerrard, no brainer. But as dependable as the Liverpool attack has been, can you really feel confident about the typical returns with the opponent they have? One of the big three Reds needs to be sacrificed for this gameweek if you can live with whatever extra cash you will have to pay up if you want that player back. You may be like me and find themselves a victim of circumstance as I would lose 8m in selling him. I think in that case you stick and hope for the best, but if you stand to lose say 4m or less, with time running down on the season and his replacement being a potential double gameweek forward, then I think you take the chance and drop him..

 

 

The Free Kick


 

Marouane Chamakh (Crystal Palace) Like Andy Carroll was a couple of weeks ago, this is the best way to free up cash to accommodate as many double gameweek players as you can, and like Carroll, Chamakh's situation is rather similar. After a four game injury layoff, Chamakh emerged as a substitute last week and garnered an assist in his cameo. There is no reason to think Tony Pulis won't insert Chamakh back into the XI this weekend, and there is a good chance he starts both games of the double. Priced at under 6m, one goal from these two matches will immediately pay for the investment, and anything beyond that would turn him into a super bargain. His ceiling is admittedly not as high as the usual cast of characters at the forward position, but again, from a "pound for point" perspective, Chamakh represents good value if the money saved is redistributed wisely.

*As a final reminder, the Rotoworld PL Cup has its next round this week. Nik Argiropoulos will have more on that with his Player Picks column tomorrow. 



Steve Rothgeb is a contributor for Rotoworld.com and WorldSoccerTalk.com, a self-proclaimed fantasy sports oracle, and Tottenham Hotspur fanatic. He can be found on Twitter @FuzzyWarbles.
Email :Steve Rothgeb



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