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Posted by John Culea on 07/29/2012

As we get closer to the kickoff for the August 18 Premier season-opener, Sir John is offering thoughts on players to be considered for the 15-player fantasy rosters.

This will not be an all-encompassing list; however, it will include many of the new faces in the Premier League. One of the keys for fantasy managers is to have players who consistently are in the lineup. Future stars bring no benefits for the present.

Yesterday Arsenal, Aston Villa, Chelsea, Everton, and Fulham were considered. Here is the second group of five teams (player budget values listed in parenthesis):

• The Reds were the most underperforming team in the Premier league last season and it cost Kenny D his job. With Luis Suarez’s suspension and little productivity from Downing, Henderson, Adam, and Carroll, what is there to choose from this season for fantasy managers?
• Henderson (6.6), Downing (6.4), and Adam (6.3) give no indication they will rise above mediocrity and Carroll’s (7.1) status is fluid.
• Suarez at 7.5 offers potential for a big season; however, the chances to increase your budget are good with newcomer forward Borini who comes at 6.6.
• Midfielder Lucas returns after a long injury recovery and with a salary of 6 is a good, cheap choice.
• How much Steven Gerrard can give for a full season is debatable. His 7.6 salary is stiff.
• As for Joe Cole, even at 5.6, pass on this hustling but mediocre player.
• Skrtel is pricey at 7 but gives good points on defense, as does Pepe Reina at 7.2.
• Craig Bellamy is a joy to watch, but even with a low salary of 6, you wonder about his playing time. If Andy Carroll goes out on loan and Bellamy stays, he may get more PT. The team could also give Dani Pacheco a shot. As of this writing, the Spaniard is not listed on ESPN Soccernet’s available players.

Manchester City:
• Roberto Mancini says City will be announcing more signings in the next two weeks; however, so far the reigning Premier League champions have had more “outs” than “ins” with Micah Richards (6.7) now in the transfer speculation headlines. City is also one of the teams linked with Van Persie.
• Kompany (7.9) and Lescott (7.6) are rocks in the City defense as is Joe Hart who at 8 has the highest fantasy salary for a GK despite scoring fewer points than Vorm or Krul.
• Silva is a baffling dilemma for fantasy managers. Second in salary (8.9) and third in points last season, Silva faded badly in the second half of the season.
• Samir Nasri (7.8) is inconsistent and occasionally is relegated to the bench.
• On the front line, Aguero (8.8) was third in scoring; however, if RvP joins City, what will that do to Kun’s productivity?
• Also in the mix is the volatile Mario Balotelli. Priced at 7.8, the Italian head case had only 96 points because of suspensions.
• Contrast that with Dzeko who has a lower salary (7.2), yet scored 126 points.
• And then there is Tevez. Missing most of the season after his Champions League snit, Carlito posted just 49 points and is valued at 7.6. If RvP shows up, how does Mancini play all these guys? That is the rub for having too many Man City players on your fantasy team. Mancini’s lineups are the least predictable. If your fantasy players are on the pitch for Champions League, FA Cup, and Carling Cup matches, that does nothing for your fantasy team.

Manchester United
• Sir Alex vows to have Man Yoo back on top and has added very little to last season’s team that was edged out by Man City on the final day of the season.
• The biggest signing could be the best in the Premier League. Kagawa comes from the German top flight and has looked comfortable with his teammates. If players like RvP and Dempsey make late moves to new clubs, it will take time for them to gel. Kagawa has hit the pitch running and carries a low 7.5 salary.
• Kagawa’s influence will likely lessen the importance of Valencia (8.4) and inconsistent Ashley Young (7.9).
• Defensively, Evra was the top point-getter last season; however, his salary of 7 is 12th among fantasy players. In preseason, the Frenchman looks to have lost a step but not any degrees from his occasional hot head.
• Also showing signs of decline is Rio Ferdinand (7.2).
• Man Yoo supporters are hoping for a full recovery by Vidic who is due back August 20 and has a hefty 7.7 salary after scoring only 30 points last year before he got hurt.
• Phil Jones (6.4) started well last season and then unwound.
• DeGea (7.5) will likely begin the season in the nets. Lindegaard would be a good cheap choice for your #2 GK.
• Wayne Rooney is at the top of his game and tied for the highest salary (9). Rooney was held out of Man Yoo’s marathon world summer tour and should be well rested for the Premier start.
• As for Chicharito, his influence in friendly competitions has been minimal and last season did not play that well with Rooney.
• Nearly lost in the shuffle is Danny Welbeck (7.2).
• Berbatov (6.8) is the star without a galaxy and Macheda (5.9) has too many better players in front of him.
• And finally, just like at Man City, what if RvP comes to Old Trafford? His presence would bump players like Hernandez and Welbeck further away from the starting XI.

• The Magpies had a magnificent season, finishing 5th in the league. Equaling that or improving on the finish will be a difficult task for Alan Pardew who operates on a beer league budget.
• Last year many players combined to have their best season ever, including forward sensation Papiss Cisse. His success is reflected in a relatively high (8) salary.
• The arrival of Cisse reduced the impact of Ba up front, yet his 7.4 salary didn’t slip as much as his influence in the Newcastle attack.
• A great acquisition was Cabaye from France. He carries a 7.3 salary and promises more than the four goals and six assists he had in 34 games.
• The wild card for Newcastle is another French import, Ben Arfa (6.8). Although he had five goals and five assists, Pardew only started him in 16 of the 26 games he played.
• Tim Krul (6.8) is a much better bargain at GK than Joe Hart, but City is likely to continue their success while the jury will be out on Newcastle.
• Coloccini (6.7), Tiote (5.7), and Gutierrez (6.5) are OK but not great.

Norwich City
• After considering the merits of potential fantasy players on the previous four teams, there aren’t great fantasy options from Norwich City. The Canaries had a fabulous first season in the Premier League, tied with Swansea and finishing 12th on Goal Differential. However, Paul Lambert’s team is not likely to sneak up on unsuspecting teams as they did last year.
• The Canaries have only one player with a fantasy salary of more than 6. Forward Grant Holt (6.4) gives NC good quality up front; however, getting the ball to him and his fellow striker Morison (5.7) is the challenge.
• Pilkington (5.9) and Hoolahan (5.5) have had their moments while Barnett on defense (4.7) and Ruddy (5.3) in goal all understand the value of teamwork and esprit de corps.

Next: Queens Park Rangers, Reading, South Hampton, Stoke, and Sunderland


Posted by Qasim Hassan on 07/29/2012

Would you have Nani on the left wing (I'm not sure he's in the starting XI for MU)? If not, any great options besides Bale for that position? Additionally, is having a strike partnership of Rooney and Aguero seem worth it?

No disrespect, but I have never been a big Nani guy. He is a Ronaldo wannabe.

Rooney and Aguero would be a good tandem as strikers. Pairing two forwards from the same team is something I would not do (i.e. Aguero with Tevez, Balotelli, Dzeko, etc.).

Posted by Roger Dela Rosa on 07/30/2012

I think you're right on the money about Kagawa. He's looked great in the exhibitions. I really hope SAF plays him. he'll add some speed, creativity + excitement to the Man U midfield.

I think SAF has a winner and a guy who plays within his system. He could be a key to the title.

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John Culea John Culea is an American living in San Diego who became hooked on football while serving in the Navy for two years in London. A former TV news Emmy award-winning anchor/reporter, John manages the Premier Fantasy league MCMUARTN and goes by the Fantasy honorary title of "Sir John". John is a devoted Chelsea supporter and offers candid, often off-beat commentaries on the Premier League from an American perspective. He invites open discussion on his blog and can be contacted at

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