Premier League Fantasy Football 2013-14: Top Player Picks for Gameweek 2
The Premier League is back, which means it's fantasy football time, kids. And each week we will be guiding you through the top three players to start and the top three players to sack off.
On the opening weekend I was Arsene Wenger-esque in my fantasy football team selection.
I stubbornly refused to pay the hefty price tag for a much-needed star player, mine being Robin van Persie.
My starting strikers were either French, or injured.
I risked Theo Walcott even though he surely can't have been fully fit.
And my biggest mistake was thinking that the Arsenal team was that of 2005 (not 2013) and forgetting their back line had a defender who had been sent off 16 times (as of now) in just four seasons.
But that was then, and this is now. And I have selected three hot players to get into your fantasy team, and three to be dropped faster than Steve Brookstein from his record label.
So read on to see who you should be transferring in and out of your fantasy team this week.
Football stats from www.squawka.com
Fantasy football stats from www.fantasy.premierleague.com
In: Kevin Nolan
Club: West Ham
Fantasy Price: £7.0m
A solid dependable player who creates and scores goals sees Kevin Nolan a fantasy favorite with 15 percent of managers including the midfielder in their team thus far.
He has already showed why he is a popular pick, scoring one against Cardiff on Saturday and controlling the play from the middle of the field for West Ham. And the game against his old team Newcastle should be no different.
The Magpies were run ragged against Manchester City at home, and West Ham looked like a solid outfit versus Cardiff in their opening game; not many would be backing Newcastle to get a result this weekend.
Add on to the fact that the Hammers' next few matches after a trip to the Northeast include Stoke City, Southampton and Hull City (I refuse to use the word Tigers), and Kevin Nolan could be picking up quite a few points over the next few weeks.
In: Ross Barkley
Opponent: West Brom
Fantasy Price: £4.6m
It's been a good few weeks for Ross Barkley. The young midfielder scored his first international goal when England U21s smashed Scotland U21s 6-0, and then the lad notched for Everton in the league just a few days later.
His teammate Phil Jagielka told the Mirror, "If he keeps going like this then we will have quite a player on our hands," so who are we to ignore Big Jags?
With Everton playing a Lukaku-less West Brom this weekend, it could be another chance for Barkley to pull out a star performance. And at just £4.6 million, you could say it was a steal.
But we won't, because that's too clichéd.
In: Christian Benteke
Club: Aston Villa
Fantasy Price: £9.0m
Liverpool's record of giving away penalties since 2010-11, when Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel finally started to become a more regular center-back pairing, is worrying. They've seen the referee point to the spot 18 times in three seasons, not including the one against Stoke on Saturday.
Christian Benteke can take penalties and scored from two on Saturday (albeit one being a rebound). If the pace of Gabby Agbonlahor, Fabian Delph or Benteke himself becomes too much for the Liverpool defense, you could well see another penalty awarded.
Or he could just score from open play of course. He's pretty good at that too. Just ask Chelsea.
Out: Simon Mignolet
Opponent: Aston Villa
Fantasy Price: £5.5m
With the aforementioned Christian Benteke seemingly continuing his run of form from last season into this, Simon Mignolet is looking unlikely to keep a clean sheet at the weekend.
Fantasy football managers may be looking to the Belgian as the top keeper choice after claiming 15 points on opening day.
But lest we forget he only kept a clean sheet against Stoke thanks to the crossbar for Robert Huth's shot, and the ever-undependable Jonathan Walters giving Mignolet the best chance of saving his penalty by going the same way he had gone for four of his last five spot kicks.
If Villa can also get their taller players under Mignolet's nose for crosses and corner kicks, the Belgian may well struggle as he did against Peter Crouch on Saturday. And there's only so much flapping one keeper can do.
Out: Romelu Lukaku
Opponent: Manchester United
Fantasy Price: £8.0m
The team sheet for both the Hull City and Aston Villa matches had Romelu Lukaku named on the bench, which would have depressed a lot of fantasy football managers who had opted for the striker in Chelsea's double-game week.
Starting with Fernando Torres in Game 1 and Demba Ba in Game 2 shows that the striker rotation that was in place with He Who Shall Not Be Named (also known as Rafa Benitez, shhh) is in full effect with Jose Mourinho.
The question may be asked that if Mourinho has three strikers, perhaps Lukaku will be named in the XI in Game 3? You can never predict what Mourinho is going to do, but surely it's worth opting for a definite starter rather than one who will come on for the last 15 minutes to earn a measly point?
Out: Nemanja Vidic
Club: Manchester United
Fantasy Price: £6.0m
Nemanja Vidic plays for Manchester United. Fernando Torres plays for Chelsea. Chelsea are playing Manchester United this weekend. Nemanja Vidic doesn't really handle Fernando Torres all that well.
Can you see where we are going with this?
The way Chelsea have been passing the ball about, it would be foolish to expect a clean sheet (as it would be foolish to expect a clean sheet for Petr Cech either, with Robin van Persie around). But it is Vidic's innate desire to get himself sent off against teams that contain Fernando Torres that is the major factor in dropping the Serbian this week.
As detailed by the Daily Mail, "Fernando Torres's scoring form dramatically improves when he is facing Nemanja Vidic, while Vidic misses tackles and his disciplinary record plummets."
It all points toward one thing: You would be wise to remove Vidic from your team.