Season preview. Swansea – West Ham

August 15, 2013


Wilfried Bony is the big addition to the Swansea squad. He was prolific in the Dutch Eredivisie last season, scoring 31 goals in 30 games. And early signs are that he’ll be more than capable of getting in among the goals this season. Michu, as you’d expect, has been upgraded from mid price to high value, yet retains his midfield position. In other fantasy games he’s been classed as a striker. He started at 6.5 million last season, but starts this year at 9 million. Don’t let that price put you off. Together, they scored 3 of the 4 goals in their comfortable defeat of Malmo in their Europa League qualifier, and the potential is there for them to be the highest scoring strike partnership in the league this season. Squad rotation will be key for Swansea this season as they tackle the Europa League. There have been plenty of  other new additions to take the strain. Laudrup’s been plundering the Spanish leagues again. Alex Pozuelo and Jose Canas are new midfielders, but their starting prices suggest they’ll be back up to more familiar players like Nathan Dyer, Wayne Routledge and Pablo Hernandez. Jonjo Shelvey looks like a good buy at 5.5 million. Game time will be easier for him to come by at Swansea than it was at Liverpool. They kept 14 clean sheets in their first Premier season, and 10 last year. There are high expectations of Swansea this season. Many think they’ll be the best of the rest. They’ll need to get closer to the 2011-2012 clean sheet total if that’s to come to fruition, and if they manage that, then there are plenty of fantasy options in their defensive line up.

Buy:- Wilfried Bony. I predict a 20 goal season.

Avoid:- Neil Taylor. Back from a long term injury to find Ben Davies above him in the pecking order at left back.

Bargain:- Jonjo Shelvey. If Swansea’s forwards rack up the goals, their midfield are going to pick up lots of assist points


Tottenham Hotspur

Gareth Bale will not play against Crystal Palace. That’s been confirmed. It’s an injury apparently. You wonder whether it is or not. It’s easier for Spurs to claim he’s injured than get drawn into loads of questions about his future at the club. It’s also been reported that he’ll never pull on a Spurs shirt again, and that Real Madrid are determined to get him, but are convinced that Daniel Levy will play silly buggers and sell him at one minute to midnight on transfer deadline day. Basically, it looks unlikely that Bale will be involved in this years game. There’s still plenty of class in the Spurs squad. There’s money to spend. And there might be a 100 million more by the end of the month. They’ve got their pick of players, and the purchase of Paulinho and Roberto Soldado in particular suggests they’ve got the pulling power and the ability to bring in big names. They’ll need to keep at least 5 more clean sheets than the 9 they kept last season to give them a chance of top 4. Stoke, West Ham and Sunderland all kept more. The four Champions League qualifiers all kept more than 13.

Buy:- Roberto Soldado. Another who could hit 20.

Avoid:- Gareth Bale. Spend that 12 million elsewhere

Bargain:- Michael Dawson. If the defence gets sorted, 5 million could be a snip for their captain.


West Bromwich Albion

West Brom made great strides last year in Steve Clarke’s first year in charge. They’re no longer the classic yo-yo side, and are well established with plenty of Premier class performers. James Morrison and Chris Brunt always contribute a healthy quota of assists and goals from the midfield. Jonas Olsson, Gareth MacAuley and Liam Ridgewell are reliable enough for their price at the back to get you clean sheet points. A lot of their success last season came with the loan deal struck for Romelu Lukaku. Lukaku’s back at Chelsea, so he had to be replaced to give the Baggies any chance of replicating their 8th place finish of last season. They’ve brought in a mix of experience and youthful promise in the shape of Nicolas Anelka and Matej Vydra. Both are available at 5.5 million pounds, which promises great value for money. Vydra was last years Championship player of the season scoring 20 goals for Watford. Anelka plays for his 6th Premiership club. By the end of the season he’s very likely to have moved into the top 10 Premier League goalscorers. He’s scored 7 goals in 7 games in pre-season. An all West Brom attack would allow you to overload elsewhere.

Buy:- James Morrison. Ever present and consistent.

Avoid:- Peter Odemwingie. Is he still there?

Bargain:- Nicolas Anelka. Way too cheap surely


West Ham United

West Ham finally tied up the transfer of Andy Carroll from Liverpool over the summer, but it’s unlikely he’s going to be available for their first game of the season due to injury. West Ham play to Carroll’s strengths way more than Liverpool ever did, but they need to get him playing regularly. 7.5 million, down on last year’s 9 million starting valuation, still seems too much of a risk to take on a player who can’t seem to string a run of games together. Which leaves West Ham a little short up front. Midfielder, Kevin Nolan top scored for West Ham last year, and at 7 million, still looks good value. Yet Ricardo Vaz Te and Mobido Maiga only managed 5 between them. It was in defence that West Ham surprisingly excelled last time out. Juusi Jaaskelainen made more saves than any other keeper, alongside 11 clean sheets. In front of him they had a back line that rarely changed through the season. Winston Reid was virtually ever present. Joey O’Brien contributed 2 goals and 4 assists to his total. He and Guy Demel started out at only 4 million and saw their values rise considerably through the season. They’re not quite as cheap this time round, but James Collins, who, but for a 5 week injury absence in January, would probably have played every game, comes in at 4.5 million. A similar defensive record to last season could make him at attractive proposition.

Buy:- Kevin Nolan. Double figures again?

Avoid:- Matt Jarvis. The addition of Stewart Downing could reduce Jarvis’ game time

Bargain:- Ravel Morrison. 6 in 6 pre season games apparently


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