European soccer is a lot different than any other major sport. There are frequent bye weeks and a lot more out of league games. This week is an international break. It’s not the first, and it won’t be the last for this season.
During the break, top players from each club go and train with their countries to play in one or two matches throughout the week. Imagine if there was an international break mid-NBA season. One week, Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol would be playing side-by-side and a few days later they could go head-to-head if USA played Spain. It just adds more miles to the legs of everyone involved, which leads to more injuries.
Club managers don’t like it, but it’s a part of the sport. The funny thing about it is that MLS doesn’t take a break. There are still MLS games being played throughout the week without top players in the game. So if you’re playing Fantasy MLS, the best players in your lineup will be missing a week or two.
In the English Premier League, there were no matches played this past weekend. The first injury to come from the break was to Liverpool forward, Fabio Borini, who broke a bone in his foot while training with the Italian national team. Because of injuries, it’s important to wait until the Friday before matches to make any moves in your lineup. Injuries can come at any place and any time. With more tread on the tires, it gets worse.
Before we get to predictions for next weekend, it’s always important to look back and see who was playing good the previous week.
Also, check out the latest edition of Premier League Plus – http://www.blogtalkradio.com/rotoradio/2012/10/12/premier-league-plus, which covers in-depth all matches from last weekend. The show is live every Friday at 4pm EST. Send your Fantasy questions in to be answered on air.
GAMEWEEK 7 REVIEW
Defender Aleksandar Kolarov led all players with 20 total Fantasy Points. He had a goal and an assist. However, don’t add him because of that. It was only his third start of the season and Man City has plenty of defenders to sub in and out each week.
Branislav Ivanovic got his third goal and first assist of the season. He leads all other defenders by more than 10 points.
Tottenham defender Steven Caulker also needs to be looked at. He scored against Aston Villa and has started two straight games. At 4.7m in the Spurs backfield, he’s very likeable.
Wayne Routledge continues to make noise as a cheap midfielder for Swansea. He scored again and is tied for the third most points ahead of Juan Mata and Hatem Ben Arfa.
The same can be said about James Morrison, who had a goal and assist against QPR. It looks like the 26-year old is starting to figure things out for West Brom, as long as he stays healthy.
Juan Mata, who started the campaign slow, now has a goal or assist in three straight games.
The biggest news from the forward spot was Arsenal’s offseason signee Olivier Giroud getting his first goal and assist in the Premier League. His value has dropped a bunch since the start of the year and could be on its way back up.
Like old times, Fernando Torres and Wayne Rooney were also at the top of the list. Torres is getting closer every week to reaching his 2009 self, whereas Rooney is figuring out life with Robin van Persie can be really nice.
One of the top players this year that no one is talking about, and I mean no one, is Arouna Kone. It may be because he plays for Wigan, but he already has three goals and two assists. He’s only on 0.5 percent of teams and could be a difference-maker for your squad.
And now, time to set your Gameweek 8 lineup.
BEST OF THE BEST
David de Gea, GK, Manchester United
He started their last game and recorded a clean sheet (although he only had to make two saves). United isn’t playing great defense, but Stoke City isn’t an offensive power. They’ve scored six goals in seven matches.
John Arne Riise, DEF, Fulham
Aston Villa is miserable on the road, allowing eight goals while scoring just two and Craven Cottage is not an easy place to play. Riise could find his way to an assist and should get a clean sheet.
George McCartney, DEF, West Ham
Let’s just call him GMac. He’s only worth 3.9m right now. He had an assist last week and will probably get another start due to injuries for West Ham’s back line. His opponent, Southampton, has three losses in three road matches.
Angel Rangel, DEF, Swansea
Swansea is playing terrible right now. They have not won since Gameweek 2 and their goal differential in that period is -7. After the international break, they have a great chance to get back on track at home against Wigan.
Damien Duff, MID, Fulham
As mentioned before, Villa is a bad team and are even worse on the road. Duff is taking over Clint Dempsey’s spot in the midfield and already has three goals. He hasn’t scored in two weeks and he’ll get one in this game.
Santi Cazorla, MID, Arsenal
The Spaniard is playing awesome for the Gunners this year. He has two goals and three assists and is frequently the best player on the field for them. Norwich has allowed 17 goals, which is second most in the league. Cazorla will get at least an assist.
Steven Gerrard, MID, Liverpool
It’s been a while since I’ve recommended Stevie G, but the time has come. He’s at home against Reading, which is a solid matchup. Gerrard has two goals and two assists and is playing his best soccer of the past three years.
Kevin Nolan, MID, West Ham
Nolan is continuing what he did for Newcastle two years ago. He has three goals and an assist through seven matches. The Hammers will get at least a couple goals in this one and Nolan will be involved.
Wayne Rooney, FOR, Manchester United
Rooney and Robin van Persie are close to being equals right now in Fantasy worth. The difference is that Rooney is a couple million less than RVP. That’s reason enough to go with Rooney at the moment. The perfect touch, the perfect strike.
Nikica Jelavic, FOR, Everton
He’s back from injury and now has three goals in his last two matches. Everton has another friendly match against a QPR defense that’s been inconsistent all season. Make it three straight games with a goal.
Luis Suarez, FOR, Liverpool
Suarez has scored in every other game this year. He didn’t score last week. You know what that means? Mark up goal No. 6 and possibly No. 7 for him against Reading.
Mark Schwarzer, GK, Fulham
Again, Fulham is playing Aston Villa.
Rafael, DEF, Manchester United
The Red Devils have a very good shot at a clean sheet against Stoke City. They’re scoring less than one goal per game.
Michu, MID, Swansea
Much like his club, Michu has slowed down lately. He tabbed a goal last week and has a good chance for another against Wigan.
Lukas Podolski, FOR, Arsenal
Podolski is taking the Premier League in stride. He’s looked very good working with Cazorla and has two goals and two assists on the season.
Steven Fletcher, FOR, Sunderland
He’s Sunderland’s best chance at scoring. Newcastle still has problems with an injury-ridden back line, which only means Fletcher is in line for another goal.
This list is a little different than one you’d normally find. Void of it are Tottenham, Chelsea and Manchester City players. I’m not saying drop those guys, I’m saying don’t pick any of them up this week.
Chelsea has to go to White Hart Lane to fight Spurs. They are two of the hottest clubs in the Premier League and this match is way too hard to predict. Just take a look at the books and there is no favorite in this game. Because of the unpredictability, you’ll want to stay away from adding and captaining any one from either team. All of the above players are in better situations.
The same can be said about Manchester City. They have to go to West Brom and face a team that hasn’t lost at home yet. The Baggies already beat Liverpool and Everton at the Hawthorns handedly. This isn’t a for sure win for Man City.
YOU’RE THE CAPTAIN
- Robin van Persie/Wayne Rooney, Manchester United
- Santi Cazorla, Arsenal
- Luis Suarez, Liverpool
- Nikica Jelavic, Everton
- Kevin Nolan, West Ham
I’ve already talked about most of these players so I won’t get too in depth here.
You have to go with one of those United forwards whenever they are at home. They are scoring three goals per game in home matches this year which is not unusual.
Cazorla is the next safest option because he’ll be involved in Arsenal’s attack no matter what and they will score at least two goals.
I’m going Suarez because he’s in form right now, playing really well and at home.
QPR gives up goals, Jelavic scores goals.
I have Nolan over Gerrard because he’s a bigger part of his team. Nolan doesn’t have a Suarez up front to score for him.
*Stats up-to-date as of Oct. 13