Premier League Fantasy Football 2013-14: 5 Players You Must Have in Your Team
Now is the time when the fantasy football aficionados amongst us display our mettle and, as the English Premier League shapes up for an exciting conclusion, we look to steal any and every point on offer.
We have witnessed both editions of the Manchester derby, the North London derby and the Merseyside derby. The formalities have been completed of the 2013/14 season, now all we need is a victor.
"The business end," "squeaky bum time," "the home straight"—call it what you will but the next few weeks are going to be pulsating, pivotal and passionate.
Liverpool are now top of the table, in pole position to regain the league trophy which has alluded them since 1990, but Chelsea and Manchester City will look to shake off their winless weekends and reinvigorate momentum.
Furthermore, with the World Cup less than 100 days away, EPL players are now not only chasing silverware or survival but also their places on a Brazil-bound aeroplane.
This list has been compiled by examining those players who are in the best from, the respective statistics and the fixtures that their teams have coming up.
How did Theo do in Gameweek 32?
84 points (total to date: 1,898)
Fantasy football stats from Fantasy Premier League.
Fantasy Price: £6.3 million
Fantasy points so far: 133
Selected by: 12.1 percent
On the cusp of finishing his ninth season with the west London club, Petr Cech continues to be, in age-belying fashion, the bedrock for Chelsea’s success.
Now playing under Jose Mourinho again, the Czech international has been the one constant in the turbulence which occasionally dogs the club.
Having consistently featured under the eight managers who attempted to replicate the Portuguese manager’s success in between him leaving in September 2007 and rejoining last summer, all (Carlo Ancelotti, Guus Hiddink, Rafael Benitez et al.) have been in agreement that Cech does not need replacing.
And this is despite Chelsea owning Thibaut Courtois, the highly impressive Belgian keeper who has been consigned to three seasons on loan at Atletico Madrid.
This season, having conceded the fewest amounts of goals (23), Chelsea have the honour of boasting the leanest defence in the league. Whilst John Terry's decision to retire from international football has reaped dividends for his club team, one can't look past the preternatural agility of their goalkeeper.
With Arsenal's recent shaky form leaving them six points off the summit, it looks set to be a three-horse race between Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City. One trump card that the former have is the possession of a goalkeeper who has tasted success and has the necessary experience to keep calm under pressure.
Other goalkeepers present strong cases for inclusion. Manchester United's David de Gea has been a sole bright point in a turgid season whilst Norwich's John Ruddy, the fourth-highest point scorer, is a cost-efficient choice. But, put simply, you cannot argue with Cech's consistent class.
Club: Stoke City
Fantasy Price: £4.9 million
Fantasy points so far: 93
Selected by: 0.8 percent
A left field addition? Maybe. Firstly, however, he features on the right-hand side of the field and, more pointedly, he is making a strong case to be considered one of this season's most underrated players.
As Stoke manager Mark Hughes last week said, his team can "win the league"—albeit the league which involves the EPL's bottom 11 clubs, a claim reported by the Stoke Sentinel—confidence is clearly high at the Britannia Stadium. Established American international Geoff Cameron is one of the players riding the crest of that wave.
One of the last players to be signed by former manager Tony Pulis in 2012, it is this season where he has thrived: Under the guidance of Hughes, he has featured in 30 of the Potters' 31 games.
Whilst he has contributed to the team's six clean sheets, the only caveat to his inclusion is that he doesn't score the goals of, say, Seamus Coleman or Steven Caulker. With two goals and one assist this season, this is a part of his game that the 28-year-old can work on.
At just £4.9 million though, he is a bargain-priced addition who is guaranteed to play 90 minutes (all the games he has played, he has remained on the pitch for the duration).
Other than a trip to Chelsea, Stoke's last six games should yield valuable points—particularly as they take on three of the league's five bottom clubs. With this in mind, Cameron could be a shrewd transfer who, with just 0.7 percent of participants selecting him, has escaped the gaze of most.
Club: Manchester City
Fantasy Price: £10.4 million
Fantasy points so far: 197
Selected by: 46.0 percent
As we brace ourselves for the closest title race in recent memory, it could be said had Manchester City not been able to boast this one player in their ranks, they might not be in contention.
Currently strong favourites for the title—a claim bolstered by taking four points from last week’s visits to Manchester United and Arsenal—that may not be the case had Yaya Toure not been in such irresistible form.
Not content with scoring 17 league goals, his five assists have not only brought his colleagues in to play, but they also displayed the sheer class and perspicacity of the Ivorian international.
Despite being renowned as one of the EPL’s most powerful and physically imposing players, his game has many more nuances to it than just sheer physicality.
For example, his wondrous strike against Sunderland in the League Cup final, when his team were 1-0 down, was not just a breathtaking slice of individual genius, but it provided the catalyst for the Citizens to win 3-1.
When the end-of-season awards are announced next month, few present a case as compelling as that of Yaya Toure: Those in the media as well as his fellow professionals will certainly cite him as a leading contender (alongside Chelsea’s Eden Hazard and Liverpool’s Luis Suarez).
At £10.4 million, he is second only behind Hazard in terms of expense—in regards to real value and the points they can contribute, Toure is the league's in-form player.
Fantasy Price: £9.4 million
Fantasy points so far: 160
Selected by: 14.1 percent
In a season where his performances have been virtuoso, what superlatives can be used to describe Steven Gerrard that haven't been used already?
"Captain Marvel" has always been applicable, whilst his teammate Daniel Sturridge recently revealed his preferred moniker for the midfielder is James Bond (as the Daily Mail's Joe Ridge reported).
Whichever adjectives or analogy you use, it is beyond doubt that Gerrard is, at 33, rolling back the years to play with real pizzazz: With 160 points so far, he is on course to surpass the 216 points he accumulated in 2008/09.
The 11 goals he has scored puts him ahead of recognised prolific strikers such as Christian Benteke and Edin Dzeko, and on par with Robin van Persie.
If that didn't escalate his appeal suitably, the 10 assists he has contributed—and eight clean sheets he has been part of—make him a very worthwhile addition.
And then there are the stats. Averaging 62 passes per game, he boasts an accuracy of 86 percent, stats which make him Squawka's highest-rated midfielder.
Club: Manchester United
Fantasy Price: £11.5 million
Fantasy points so far: 175
Selected by: 14.7 percent
In the soap opera which has engulfed Manchester United this season, many stories and sub-plots have swirled around Old Trafford, resulting in more column inches than ever before.
Through signing a new contract last month, the 28-year-old quelled the controversy regarding his club future. Since then, his league form has been irresistible with six goals, one assist and contributing to three clean sheets.
Whilst Liverpool's Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge are generating the plaudits for their prolific partnership, Rooney is thriving now he's being trusted to lead United's frontline (albeit the return of Robin van Persie from injury may present problems).
With his game divided between being a striker and performing the role of playmaker, his average of three shots per game and a 51 percent shot accuracy, he could have scored more.
What's more, he spearheads a group of England strikers—alongside Sturridge and Southampton's Jay Rodriguez and Rickie Lambert (the four have scored 12 between them in the last three games)—who are hitting top form in optimal time ahead of the summer's World Cup.
Rooney is clearly a player who channels his confidence into world-class performances—right now, his confidence and self-belief are sky-high. With only 11 percent of participants having selected Rooney (as opposed to 13.6 percent for his injured teammate van Persie), he could be a real asset for you.