"Fleet Street says you're shit!" is the new tea cups.
It was interesting reading the reaction to Manchester City's Champions League debut this morning. My take after reading in a few places was that the media as a group were disappointed by City's results. I was at work yesterday and didn't get a chance to watch the match live but after spending some time watching the replay, I was struck by the incongruity between the media reaction I'd read and the match I saw.
I saw a City team that played very well and could easily have scored 3 or 4 goals. They were unlucky to hit the post (flush on one occasion and the inside on another) and not have the ball go in. I will also say that they could easily have conceded more than the one that did go in - there was a crucial goalline clearance after Hart was beaten. Still, if you total the chances that were THIS close to going in for each side, City had a decided advantage and if they had all gone in City would have won comfortably. That this was achieved without the benefit of a true holding midfielder in Nigel de Jong's absence makes it a pretty reasonable Champions League debut against a pretty strong attacking team.
Perhaps the negative reaction in the press was due to the nature of City's impressive early season start in the league. Perhaps the talent available - many with Champions League experience elsewhere - the expectation was dramatically different than say Spurs similar debut last season. Maybe it was the fact that Napoli, regardless of the talent currently on their roster, isn't one of the glamour teams in Europe while people are penciling City into that category due to their assembled talent and the depth of their bank account. Maybe it was concern over the overall quality of City's group. Whatever the reason, I think City will progress to the knock-out stages and gain momentum as the group stage evolves and they become more and more familiar with their new players.
With that relatively brief rant off my chest, we'll move on to the player picks for this week:
- Aguero/Dzeko - If you're sticking with both and only one plays, that would seem to be a bad thing but it would still be working out for you this season. If you're trying to play the guessing game and only go with one, I'd guess Dzeko over Aguero since Dzeko sat out last weekend.
- Chicharito - I'd rather have Rooney over Javier Hernandez all things being equal but Hernandez is significantly cheaper on the heels of last weekend's brace compared to Rooney coming off back-to-back hat tricks.
- Klasnic - As I mentioned in First XI earlier in the week, he's quietly having a strong fantasy season for a reasonable price even when Bolton are getting beaten down by better teams. With Norwich traveling to the Reebok, it seems like a good time to jump on the bandwagon if you need a forward for less than 9.
- Gervinho - Likely to be a bit on the forgotten side for fantasy managers after 3 weeks of suspension. If you need a legitimately cheap forward then you could do a lot worse than Gervinho on the road at Rovers for 5.73.
- Fletcher -
At almost 2 less expensive than Kevin Doyle, the opportunity to get in on Wolves against QPR at the Molineux. He's a little on the expensive side but certainly not a budget buster.According to Mick McCarthy on Wolves' official site, "Fletcher hurt his groin and is a doubt for Saturday."
- Silva - Still my favorite for Most Outstanding Player of the season and still not TOO expensive.
- Osman - Playing in an extremely advanced role in the absence of any good and healthy forwards Osman is a little pricey coming off of a goal last weekend but still worth it at home against Wigan.
- Arteta - His first weekend at the heart of the Arsenal attack wasn't nearly as fruitful for fantasy managers as they might have hoped (he "scored" a -0.5) but he managed to look fairly good in doing it. If his new teammates, most notably Ramsey, had been better in front of goal his numbers would have looked better.
- SWP - Yes, he's on the road but he's cheap and looked very good against NUFC on Monday.
- Hunt - If I were buying a player for my real life team, I'd rather have Jarvis but he's coming off of an injury and he's only got 21 fantasy points this season INCLUDING a goal. Hunt on the other hand has 34.5 points off of phantoms. The extra 0.87 in cost seems to be well worth it in this case.
- Eagles - Chris Eagles has frequently been called a Championship player over the course of his career. He's had a few moments in the Prem but hasn't been able to prove himself as a consistent contributor at this level. The good thing for him and fantasy managers is that he's essentially playing a Championship side this weekend so he could be a pretty solid bargain at home for 7.76. (Yes, I like Eagles cost/production profile better than that of old favorite MPet).
- Bily - If you're not convinced by SWP playing for a newly promoted team on the road (and I'd understand if you weren't) then Bilyaletdinov might be a solid alternative under 6 (he'll cost you 5.25 as of this writing).
- Boyata - Presumably you're sticking close to some of the defenders (like Gibbs) you have on the cheap. If you're looking to buy someone cheap at retail then you're unlikely to get a better deal than Dedrick Boyata for 2.55.
- Brown - I haven't been impressed by Sunderland thus far (other than my man The Bishop) but with a home match against a goal-shy Stoke club returning from a Thursday Europa Cup match in the Ukraine you could do worse than betting on a Sunderland clean sheet at Brown's still rock bottom price of 3.94.
- Baines - I don't have the balls to choose him over some of the high-priced alternatives like Dzeko, Aguero, or Chicharito but he reminded us last weekend how how potent he can be when taking PKs and the majority of EVE's set pieces.
- Hutton - NUFC may sit fourth in the table but they've only scored one goal on their travels thus far and Villa have only conceded one. Hutton is priced reasonably at 6.62, is at least solid when it comes to phantom points, and has a decent chance at a clean sheet. Not one to get wild about but not bad if you need production for a relatively low price.
- Taylor/Rangel - The Swansea defenders have been solid picking up phantom points to the tune of over seven points/match this season. Playing at home to mid-table WBA and still priced at very reasonable prices right around 7 they are both worth a look to help you afford other options.
- Hennessey - I saw a comment somewhere (comments section or FB) last week asking why I didn't endorse Hennessey last weekend since Wolves were playing well and at home. The answer was that Spurs weren't as bad as they'd played and you always have to beware of K2 early in his tenure with a new club. This weekend, with Wolves still at home and QPR the opposition I have no such qualms. That the price is very reasonable at 6.55 is just a bonus.
- Jaaskelainen - Jussi got shelled last weekend and has generally had a rough go of things over Bolton's 3 match losing streak against United, City, and Liverpool. The opposition gets much easier and you can take advantage of a depressed price if you're so inclined.
- Krul - I hate keepers on the road, especially ones not playing for "big" clubs, but Krul has quietly been exceptional this season averaging 11+ points/match while still selling for a bargain basement 6.50. Even more impressive has been his consistent performance - he hasn't scored fewer than 9 points in the Yahoo format yet this season in any match. Villa don't seem a danger to explode so Krul is another nice option in net for relatively cheap.
- Szczesny - See above about not liking keepers on the road but I do like Szcz as a keeper and if you're going with a road match-up then Rovers isn't a bad bet since they've only tallied once at home thus far. His price is surprisingly low coming off a 14 point weekend.
Back tomorrow with Injuries and Suspensions.