Season Preview. Part 4

August 10, 2011

Swansea City

Norwich scored the goals. QPR had the defence. Swansea played the football. Brendan Rodgers seemingly picked up where Roberto Martinez left off, sticking to neat, yet penetrative passing football. There were near misses in the previous few seasons, stalling at the play off stage. The difference last season was the addition of a goalscorer. Scott Sinclair bagged 22 goals, including a hat trick in the play off final to get Swansea promoted. And Sinclair’s the obvious pick of the team when considering your fantasy options. He’s listed as a midfielder for this season, but I’d still expect him to be the main goal threat. They have also added Danny Graham, who got 23 Championship goals last season. This could be the partnership that gets them enough goals to survive. There’s potential in the midfield too. Routledge and Dyer are nippy, effective players at Championship level – it remains to be seen as to whether they can make the step up. As with Norwich and QPR, defensively, they’re a risk. Although their back four have played consistently together for the last few seasons, and the likes of Williams and Rangel have been courted by Premiership clubs in the past.

  • Pick – Scott Sinclair. Not sure he should be listed as a midfielder. May score a few goals.
  • Bargain – Joe Allen. Local boy. Welsh international. Crowd favourite. Promising player.
  • Avoid – Leroy Lita. Always been nothing more than a decent Championship level striker.

Tottenham Hotspur

Spurs are not an obvious place to pick up good fantasy league players. Yes, they’ll finish top 6, and they’ve a chance of sneaking a top 4 place again. They’re capable of beating any team in the league on their day, and they have the current PFA player of the year in their squad. However – defensively, they’re often a shambles. They can’t maintain a regular back four. Possibly a major reason behind them not keeping that many clean sheets. That, and their keeper being the occasionally brilliant, but mostly bonkers, Heurelho Gomes. Their loyalty to Ledley King is admirable, but it might be time for them to buy a proper centre back – a one with knees. Gallas ain’t getting any younger, and Kaboul and Bassong don’t seem to be favoured too much. They have four strikers, all of whom seem to float in and out of favour and form. Their midfield is their strength. Van Der Vaart averaged over 5 points per game last season, yet isn’t immune to silly niggling injuries, and Modric could be off. 

  • Pick – Gareth Bale. He wasn’t worthy of the PFA award, but keep him fit for a season, and he will score and assist freely.
  • Bargain – Kyle Walker. Could become the established right back this season following a good loan spell at Villa, and a few England call-ups.
  • Avoid – Robbie Keane. One of a few forgotten men at Spurs. See also Jenas, Kranjcar, Palacios, Hutton.

West Bromwich Albion

West Bwom only kept two clean sheets last season, and Woy hasn’t addwessed the pwoblem at all. But Woy did manage to turn awound the teams fortunes. They looked like they were heading towards a welegation battle until his appointment. They stated to win games, and win them well. They looked a changed team, and most pundits believe they’ll be more than safe this year. Ignore the defence. In midfield they posses a lot of good attacking players capable of goals and assists. And expect lots of assists to land at the feet of Peter Odemwingie, who averaged over five points per game last season, and Shane Long. Odemwingie, with perhaps the exception of Charlie Adam, was the bargain buy of the last campaign. Expect more of the same. And Shane Long was the Championship’s top scorer. It’s a step up many people think he is capable of making.

  • Pick – Peter Odemwingie. Will be aiming to go better than the 14 goals he got last season.
  • Bargain – Chris Bwunt. Goals, assists, captain, wegular starter, fwee kicks, corners. 6 million well spent.
  • Avoid – Nicky Shorey. A one cap wonder, and with good weason. He can’t defend.

Wigan Athletic

Wigan are quite rightly one of the favourites to be relegated. They’ve only added Ali Al-Habsi to their squad – turning his loan move of last season into a permanent one for this. Al-Habsi is a very consistent performer. The defence are bad, so he needs to be. Across the squad, there are some decent players. But when you consider that they only have  one £6million plus player in the squad (Hugo Rodellaga)…it doesn’t say a lot for their fantasy football worth.  Rodellaga will be expected to get the goals. I’d expect a large chunk of the N’Zogbia money to be spent on a new….Charles N’Zogbia. Defensively, they’re lumped in with the promoted teams, Wolves, Bolton, Newcastle and Blackburn – don’t go there, unless you’ve no choice in the matter.

  • Pick – Ali Al-Habsi. Only ben Foster made more saves than him last year. He’ll be busy again. But don’t let that put you off.
  • Bargain – James McCarthy. Tipped for bigger things. Creative and talented, unlike the majority of the players around him.
  • Avoid – Franco Di Santo. Cows arse. Banjo.

Wolverhampton Wanderers

I can’t actually remember Wolves winning a game last season, or scoring a goal, or playing any games. I suppose they must have at some point. Look at the league stats and you see how they JUST survived. Didn’t score many, but scored enough; conceded quite a lot, but not as many as others; were OK at home, worse away; and had one player in double figures for goals. Of all of the “last resort” teams, however, Wolves look the best bet. Some useful 4-6million sized holes can be filled with the odd Wolves player. Kevin Doyle was an injury casualty last season. A fitter season should lead to a more productive one. Steven Fletcher has scored 18 in two Premiership seasons, which isn’t terrible. Matt Jarvis has received England recognition, and Jamie O’Hara came in for the second half of the last campaign,  and picked up, on average, four fanny points a game.

  • Pick – Matt Jarvis. An effective winger
  • Bargain – Kevin Doyle. If he stays fit, he could reach double figures.
  • Avoid – Karl Henry. Likes a booking.
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