Fantasy Football Gameweek 4 Review and Tips for Gameweek 5

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Just four matches down in the 2013/2014 Premier League season and already we are learning a lot about the players who will make impacts and the teams that will be successful. Few would bet against the current top six of Liverpool, Arsenal, Spurs, Manchester United, Manchester City and Tottenham occupying the league’s top six positions come the end of the season. The bottom three of Sunderland, West Brom and Crystal Palace also seems to be taking shape as we see the teams who are struggling to score goals occupying the relegation zone at this early stage.

New Kids On The Block

Gameweek 4 saw a number of players on debut, following the end of the Summer Transfer window; but did any of these new additions show enough to represent value for your Fantasy Team in the weeks to come? The graphic below shows some key performance stats for some of the Summer’s biggest movers.

Marouane Fellaini started on the bench for Manchester United and was introduced for the last half an hour, during which he demonstrated his aerial strength and looked a real goal threat at set-pieces. I would anticipate he will become a regular starter and will also get his share of assists and goals in the weeks to come.

Samuel Eto’o had a couple of half chances, but generally had an ineffective game against Everton. He was expertly neutralised by an impressive Gareth Barry (another weekend debutant, but a player who rarely troubles the fantasy league scorers in any meaningful way).  Eto’o will get sharper with game time, but I would still expect him to be subject to the rotation system at Chelsea, so at £9.0 I would want to see a consistent run of games and goals before I consider adding him to my squad.

Watching Saturday’s fixture, Christian Eriksen looks likely to take over the set-piece duties at Tottenham and you would expect him to pick up some assists as a result. He was lively throughout his debut, creating an assist for Sigurdsson and laying on another couple of decent chances. At £8.0, I would suggest Eriksen is a sound addition to your squad, if he can hold down a regular starting berth. He is a quality player and appeared to settle straight into the pace of the Premier League at the weekend.

Mezut Ozil has the advantage over the other three players of being a near guaranteed starter for Arsenal. His passing was fantastic against Sunderland, not only accurate (90%) but often with real intent. I can already image he will snatch the  ‘King of the Assist’ title from Juan Mata this season. At £10m, Ozil is currently the most expensive midfielder in the game. At that price, I would want to see five plus points week in and week out, and after one performance against a pretty average Sunderland side, it feels a little too early to judge how likely this is; but a very strong start from the German.

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Team of the Week

Jussi Jaaskelainen (West Ham) 9 points

Gareth McAuley ( WBA) 9 points
Phil Jagielka (Everton) 8 points
Rio Ferdinand (Man Utd) 9 points

Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal) 15 points
Gylfi Sigurdsson (Spurs) 16 points
Hatem Ben Arfa (Newcastle) 13 points
Christian Eriksen (Spurs) 7 points
Jonjo Shelvey (Swansea) 12 points

Olivier Giroud (Arsenal) 11 points

Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool) 7 points
Alan Pardew described Ben Arfa as “magnificent” and “unplayable” against Aston Villa, and I would have to agree; and following the weekend’s fixtures he was the highest scoring midfielder in the game with 27 points. I called Ben Arfa out in my Gameweek 3 review, and he was even better this time around. The graphic shows the quality of his all round game on Saturday, where he led the way in the shots, passes, take-ons and ball recovery stats. He was a deserved recipient of the full three bonus points and would be my tip for your Captain in gameweek 5; not only is he full of confidence, but the Magpies have a home fixture against Hull City, whose defence will struggle to contain him in his current form.

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Aaron Ramsey is another player I have raved about in recent weeks and is the undoubted star of my own Fantasy Team so far this season. His price is rising, but he is still only £5.7m and in his current form you would expect him to retain his place in the side, even with the signing of Ozil and the impending return to fitness of Arteta. He was brilliant again on Saturday in all aspects of his play. He had three attempts at goal, 81 successful passes at >92% accuracy and made 7 important tackles at an impressive 88% success rate. He looks a different player to last season and is still only 22. In eight games in all competitions for Arsenal and Wales this season, Ramsey has scored 6 goals.

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Like Arsenal, Spurs are now a team with an embarrassment of riches in their midfield positions. Sigurdsson will undoubted be rotated this season, but at £6.9m he might just be worth a gamble as part of your fantasy squad. He was fantastic on Saturday, reminding us of the positions he was getting into regularly during his first season in the Premier League with Swansea, where he picked up 7 goals and five assists in less than 17 full matches with the club. Tottenham’s apparent change in attacking emphasis from counter attack (previously supported by the pace of Lennon and Bale) to more patient possession, will suit Sigurdsson’s game and mean he more often finds himself in the goal scoring positions we saw him in at the weekend. 

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I like West Brom defender Gareth McAuley, I think he’s a player whose game lends itself to some high scoring gameweeks in the fantasy football league. With Sunderland coming to The Hawthorns in Gameweek 5, he could be a sound addition to your defensive set-up. He was dominant in the defensive areas of his game against Fulham on Saturday, as you will see from the ‘ball recoveries’ stats below. He is also likely to pitch in with a few goals, as he did on Saturday when his 92nd minute header earned his side a much needed point.

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Luckily for managers with Jonjo Shelvey in their fantasy teams, players are not penalised for providing assists for the opposing team; and so Monday night’s game saw Shelvey score 12 points despite him assisting both of Liverpool’s goals. Apart from these two mistakes, for which he was punished heavily, Shelvey had a tremendous game – he looked very much at home against the quality midfielders that Liverpool have at the centre of their team. Shelvey scored, gained an assist (for the right team) and deservedly secured all three bonus points. He was at the heart of everything Swansea created during the match; the passing graphic shows just how active he was during the game. Unfortunately for Shelvey, he still felt the need to apologise after the game, saying “I just want to say sorry to the Swansea fans for two bad mistakes. You want to go into a hole where no one can see you but it’s happened to great players in their time. It’s a horrible feeling – you don’t wish it on anybody, even your worst enemy.” He will now though be determined to kick-on in the next game, when Swansea face Crystal Palace – at £5.5m, he might be a sound investment if you are looking for a midfielder in that price range ahead of Gameweek 5.

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Thoughts for Gameweek 5

Manchester United haven’t scored from open play for over four and a half hours of playing time. Gameweek 5 sees the Red Devils visit The Etihad, where they’ll play a Manchester City side who haven’t conceded in over three hours of play. Is it time to accept that £14m for Robin van Persie doesn’t give you the required return on your precious investment? Wayne Rooney looks an option though now that he has returned to fitness and Moyes clearly seems him as a partner, rather than an alternative, to Robin van Persie. Looking at the stats, Rooney has now scored or assisted 40 goals in his last 44 Premier League appearances – at a massive £3.5m less than Van Persie, he could represent a sound investment. He also scored twice in Gameweek 5’s corresponding fixture at The Etihad last season.

West Brom finally broke their goal scoring duck for the 2013/14 season on Saturday, scoring after 6 hours of football. They still look to me like a team who is going to struggle for goals this season. After the weekend’s matches, the 2013/2014 season boasts just 1.90 goals per game. The 2006/2007 Season had the fewest goals per game in Premier League history, with 2.45 goals per game. This demonstrates just how few goals we are seeing this season and why there is good value in defensive players currently.

Everton and Liverpool are now the only unbeaten teams in the Premier League, while Sunderland and West Brom are the only teams without a win so far this season. West Brom and Sunderland will face each other in Gameweek 5, both will consider this a must-win game. Expect a scrappy, low-scoring affair.

Newcastle (2) and Arsenal (3) are the only teams currently on a winning ‘streak’; these teams are good places to search for players with confidence and form. Aston Villa though have lost each of their last three games, following their impressive opening day win against Arsenal. That said, Christian Benteke is still a top choice for the fantasy manager and was the player most selected as vice-captain in Gameweek 4 (Van Persie was, once again, the top choice for the captain role).

Fantasy Football – Gameweek 3 Review & Tips for Week 4

Gameweek 3 saw just 13 goals and a huge nine clean sheets, but maybe we should have seen the signs in Gameweek two where one additional game (Aston Villa and Chelsea didn’t play in gameweek 3) provided just four more goals in total and the same number of clean sheets. Compare this to Serie A this weekend, where 43 goals were scored and just three clean sheets achieved in their ten matches. Although low scoring weekends are not typically profitable for the fantasy football manager; the points were there if you looked hard enough and the last two weekends have demonstrated that you can also pick them up on the cheap.

 Team of the Week

 There’s not many who would have predicted my team of the week for gameweek 3:

 Marshall (Cardiff, £4.5m) 7 points

 Zabaleta (Man City, £6.2m) 12 points

Gabbidon (Palace, £4.0m) 9 points

Davies (Swansea £5.0m) 15 points

Agger (Liverpool £6.0m) 12 points

 Yaya Toure (Man City, £8.7m) 11 points

Redmond (Norwich, £5.0m) 11 points

Ben Arfa (Newcastle £7.0m) 9 points

 Fletcher (Sunderland, £7.4m) 7 points

Sturridge (Liverpool, £9.1m) 8 points

Giroud (Arsenal, £8.6m) 9 points

 

 A total cost of just £71.5m ! 

 

Ben Arfa had one of his outstanding games against Fulham this weekend, he would be an incredible player if he could consistently find that level. As his shots stats show, he was shooting from everywhere and anywhere at the weekend, and looked a threat all game long, playing down Newcastle’s right. With Remy and Cisse in the team, you would anticipate that Ben Arfa will achieve a decent return in terms of assists this term too; and if he can bang in the odd goal, then all the better.

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Yaya Toure had another commanding game in the Manchester City midfield, scoring another brilliant free-kick. Toure actually squandered a much easier chance in the first half, putting a free header over the bar from inside 10 yards;  but he is getting chances. As the stats show, he marshalled the middle third of the pitch with almost all of his work in this area. An impressive 53 successful passes (88% pass success rate) and strong ariel dual and ball recovery stats meant he was an obvious winner of the full three bonus points this week. He looks a sound choice for anyone looking too add a midfielder ahead of gameweek 4.

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 Trends and Form, some thoughts for GW4

 All the Premier League teams now have 3 games under their belts, but is it isn’t too early to pick out trends that can inform the fantasy football manager.

 West Brom are the only team who haven’t managed to score a goal so far this season. Anelka and Long appeared to offer a decent striker for a reasonable price, but there are players who are now playing themselves into form and who offer a much safer bet for gameweek 4. On a similar note, Spurs have yet to score from open play this season (both of their goals coming via Soldado from the spot); so their team is currently offering very low returns from their offensive players. Manchester United have also failed to score in their last two fixtures, but you would anticipate this will change as they welcome Crystal Palace to Old Trafford in gameweek 4.

 Daniel Sturridge has scored in every game so far this season and has provided all of Liverpool’s goals. Assuming he avoids injury with England, he is an obvious choice to lead your forward line in gameweek 4 (Liverpool play Swansea, Southampton and Sunderland in their next three fixtures too!). 

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 Zabaleta, Walcott, Pablo Hernandez, Agbonlahor, Aguero and Rooney have all provided 2 assists each so far this season (Aguero and Hernandez have scored goals too). It’s very early in the season but these trends will start early and so start to inform the players you should consider adding to your team in the gameweeks to come. 

 Six players have already secured 5 or more bonus points: Coloccini (6), Baines (5) Yaya Toure (5), Giroud (7), Benteke (6) and Soldado (5). Bonus points are vital to a successful fantasy football campaign and the same players tend to pick up these points week after week. These six player represent sound investments anyway, the fact that they secure regular bonus points mean they should always been in your mind as you change your team throughout the season.

 As we now head into the International break, it’s a good idea to leave transfer activity until we have a clear view of players’ fitness on their return. Gameweek 4 looks set to be an important one; with the top teams all avoiding each other, you would expect some big points to be scored and some very high scoring captains. I would certainly expect a more familiar look to the gameweek 4 team of the week.

Full list of Premier League Summer Transfer Activity by club

 

Marouane FellainiMarouane Fellaini joined David Moyes at Man Utd (Picture from manutd.com)

ARSENAL

Ins: Yaya Sanogo (Auxerre, free), Mathieu Flamini (AC Milan, free), Emiliano Viviano (Palermo, loan), Mesut Ozil (Real Madrid, undisclosed)

Outs: Denilson (Sao Paulo, free), Andrey Arshavin (Zenit St Petersburg, free), Sebastien Squillaci (Bastia, free), Sanchez Watt (Colchester, free), Vito Mannone (Sunderland, undisclosed), Andre Santos (Flamengo, undisclosed), Jernade Meade (Swansea, free), Gervinho (Roma, undisclosed), Chuks Aneke (Crewe, loan), Ignasi Miquel (Leicester, loan), Marouane Chamakh (Crystal Palace, undisclosed), Martin Angha (Nuremberg, free), Elton Monteiro (Club Brugge, free), Reice Charles-Cook (Bury, free).

ASTON VILLA

Ins: Nicklas Helenius (Aalborg, undisclosed), Jores Okore (Nordsjaelland, undisclosed), Leandro Bacuna (FC Groningen, undisclosed), Aleksandar Tonev (Lech Poznan, undisclosed), Antonio Luna (Sevilla), Jed Steer (Norwich, free), Libor Kozak (Lazio, undisclosed)

Outs: Richard Dunne (QPR, free), Jean Makoun (Rennes, free), Eric Lichaj (Nottingham Forest, free), Andy Marshall (Millwall, free), Brett Holman (Al Nasr, undisclosed), Graham Burke (Shrewsbury, loan), Samir Carruthers (MK Dons, loan), Nathan Delfouneso (Blackpool, loan), Darren Bent (Fulham, loan), Enda Stevens (Notts County, loan), Malcolm Melvin (Notts County, free), Derrick Williams (Bristol City, free), Courtney Cameron (Torquay, free), Stephen Ireland (Stoke, loan), Barry Bannan (Crystal Palace, undisclosed)

CARDIFF

Ins: Andreas Cornelius (FC Copenhagen, undisclosed), John Brayford (Derby, undisclosed), Steven Caulker (Tottenham, undisclosed), Gary Medel (Sevilla, undisclosed), Simon Moore (Brentford, free), Maximiliano Amondarain (CA Progreso, undisclosed), Kevin Theophile-Catherine (Rennes, £2million).

Outs: Heidar Helguson (released), Stephen McPhail (released), Ben Nugent (Brentford, loan), Joe Ralls (Yeovil, loan), Elliot Parish (Bristol City, free)

CHELSEA

Ins: Andre Schurrle (Bayer Leverkusen, undisclosed), Marco van Ginkel (Vitesse, £9million), Mark Schwarzer (Fulham, free), Stipe Perica (NK Zadar, undisclosed), Willian (Anzhi Makhachkala, £32million), Samuel Eto’o (Anzhi Makhachkala, free)

Outs: Yossi Benayoun (released), Paulo Ferreira (retired), Florent Malouda (Trabzonspor, free), Ross Turnbull (Doncaster, free), Thibaut Courtois (Atletico Madrid, loan), Marko Marin (Sevilla, loan), Oriol Romeu (Valencia, loan), Cristian Cuevas (Vitesse, loan), Wallace (Inter Milan, loan), Ben Gordon (Ross County, free), Jeffrey Bruma (PSV Eindhoven, £2.5million), Rohan Ince (Brighton, free), Adam Coombes (Notts County, free), Gael Kakuta (Vitesse, loan), Christian Atsu (Vitesse, loan), Sam Hutchinson (Vitesse Arnhem, loan), Ulises Davila (Cordoba, loan), Romelu Lukaku (Everton, loan)

CRYSTAL PALACE

Ins: Stephen Dobbie (Brighton, undisclosed), Dwight Gayle (Peterborough, undisclosed), Jerome Thomas (West Brom, free), Jose Campana (Sevilla, undisclosed), Kevin Phillips (Blackpool, free), Elliot Grandin (Blackpool, free), Marouane Chamakh (Arsenal, undisclosed), Neil Alexander (Rangers, free), Florian Marange (Bordeaux, free), Jason Puncheon (Southampton, loan), Jimmy Kebe (Reading, undisclosed), Jack Hunt (Crystal Palace, undisclosed), Adrian Mariappa (Reading, undisclosed), Barry Bannan (Aston Villa, undisclosed), Cameron Jerome (Stoke, loan)

Outs: Andre Moritz (Bolton, free), Alex Marrow (Blackburn, free), Ryan Inniss (Cheltenham, loan), Jermaine Easter (Millwall, free), Jason Banton (MK Dons, loan), Aruna Dindane (released), Peter Ramage (Barnsley, loan)

Mesut Ozil joined Arsenal for £42.5mMesut Ozil joined Arsenal for £42.5m

EVERTON

Ins: Arouna Kone (Wigan, undisclosed), Antolin Alcaraz (Wigan, free), Joel Robles (Atletico Madrid, undisclosed), Gerard Deulofeu (Barcelona, loan), Romelu Lukaku (Chelsea, loan), Gareth Barry (Man City, loan), James McCarthy (Wigan, £13million)

Outs: Thomas Hitzlsperger (released), Jan Mucha (Krylia Sovetov, free), Phil Neville (retired), Francisco Junior (Vitesse, loan), Victor Anichebe (West Brom, rising to £6million), Marouane Fellaini (Man Utd, £27.5million)

FULHAM

Ins: Sascha Riether (Cologne, undisclosed), Derek Boateng (Dnipro, free), Fernando Amorebieta (Athletic Bilbao, free), Maarten Stekelenburg (Roma, undisclosed), Ange-Freddy Plumain (Lens, free), Adel Taarabt (QPR, loan), Darren Bent (Aston Villa, loan), Scott Parker (Tottenham, undisclosed), Elsad Zverotic (Young Boys, undisclosed)

Outs: Chris Baird (released), Simon Davies (released), Mahamadou Diarra (released), Mladen Petric (released), Mark Schwarzer (Chelsea, free), Ryan Williams (Oxford, loan), Marcus Bettinelli (Accrington, loan), Alex Smith (Swindon, free), Danny Hoesen (Ajax, undisclosed), Richard Peniket (Tamworth, free), Dan Burn (Birmingham, loan)

HULL

Ins: George Boyd (Peterborough, free), Maynor Figueroa (Wigan, free), Curtis Davies (Birmingham, undisclosed), Ahmed Elmohamady (Sunderland, £2million), Allan McGregor (Besiktas, undisclosed), Steve Harper (Newcastle, free), Danny Graham (Sunderland, loan), Yannick Sagbo (Evian, undisclosed), Jake Livermore (Tottenham, loan), Tom Huddlestone (Tottenham, £5million), Gedo (Al Ahly, loan)

Outs: Andy Dawson (Scunthorpe, free), Seyi Olofinjana (released), Jay Simpson (released), Tom Cairney (Blackburn, loan), Corry Evans (Blackburn, undisclosed), Danny Emerton (Northampton, free), Jamie Devitt (Chesterfield, free), Mark Oxley (Oldham, loan), Jack Hobbs (Nottingham Forest, loan), Paul McKenna (released), Joe Cracknell (released), Connor Townsend (Carlisle, loan), Cameron Stewart (Charlton, loan)

LIVERPOOL

Ins: Kolo Toure (Manchester City, free), Iago Aspas (Celta Vigo, £7.7million), Luis Alberto (Sevilla, undisclosed), Simon Mignolet (Sunderland, undisclosed), Aly Cissokho (Valencia, loan), Tiago Ilori (Sporting Lisbon, undisclosed), Mamadou Sakho (Paris St Germain, undisclosed), Victor Moses (Chelsea, loan)

Outs: Danny Wilson (Hearts, free), Jamie Carragher (retired), Andy Carroll (West Ham, £15million), Michael Ngoo (Yeovil, loan), Suso (Almeria, loan), Jack Robinson (Blackpool, loan), Jay Spearing (Bolton, undisclosed), Stewart Downing (West Ham, £5million), Oussama Assaidi (Stoke, loan), Jamie Stephens (Newport, free), Jonjo Shelvey (Swansea, £5million), Tyrell Belford (Swindon, free), Jose Reina (Napoli, loan), Conor Coady (Sheffield United, loan), Henoc Mukendi (Partick, loan), Fabio Borini (Sunderland, loan)

MANCHESTER CITY

Ins: Jesus Navas (Sevilla, £14.9million), Fernandinho (Shakhtar Donetsk, £30million), Alvaro Negredo (Sevilla, £16.4million), Stevan Jovetic (Fiorentina, £22.4million), Martin Demichelis (Atletico Madrid, undisclosed)

Outs: Kolo Toure (Liverpool, free), Ryan McGivern (Hibernian, free), Wayne Bridge (Reading, free), Roque Santa Cruz (Malaga, free), Carlos Tevez (Juventus, undisclosed), Maicon (Roma, undisclosed), Reece Wabara (Doncaster, loan), Denis Suarez (Barcelona, undisclosed), Scott Sinclair (West Brom, loan), Albert Rusnak (Oldham, loan), Jeremy Helan (Sheffield Wed, free), Karim Rekik (PSV Eindhoven, loan), Abdul Razak (Anzhi Makhachkala, loan)

Victor Moses has made a loan switch to LiverpoolVictor Moses has made a loan switch to Liverpool

MANCHESTER UNITED

Ins: Guillermo Varela (Atletico Penarol, undisclosed), Marouane Fellaini (Everton, £27.5million)

Outs: Paul Scholes (retired), Sam Johnstone (Yeovil, loan), Scott Wootton (Leeds, undisclosed), Sean McGinty (Sheffield United, free), Frederic Veseli (Ipswich, free), John Cofie (Barnsley, free), Reece Brown (Watford, free), Luke McCullough (Doncaster, free), Reece James (Carlisle, loan), Ryan Tunnicliffe (Ipswich, loan), Angelo Henriquez (Real Zaragoza, loan), Nick Powell (Wigan, loan)

NEWCASTLE

Ins: Olivier Kemen (Metz, undisclosed), Loic Remy (QPR, loan)

Outs: Steve Harper (Hull, free), Yven Moyo (released), Danny Simpson (QPR, free), James Perch (Wigan, undisclosed), Shane Ferguson (Birmingham, loan), Michael Richardson (Accrington, loan), Adam Campbell (Carlisle, loan), Brad Inman (Crewe, undisclosed), JJ Hooper (Northampton, free), Nile Ranger (Swindon, free), James Tavernier (Shrewsbury, loan), Mehdi Abeid (Panathinaikos, loan)

NORWICH

Ins: Ricky van Wolfswinkel (Sporting Lisbon, undisclosed), Javier Garrido (Lazio, undisclosed), Nathan Redmond (Birmingham, undisclosed), Martin Olsson (Blackburn, undisclosed), Leroy Fer (FC Twente, undisclosed), Gary Hooper (Celtic, undisclosed), Johan Elmander (Galatasaray, loan), Carlo Nash (Stoke, free)

Outs: Marc Tierney (Bolton, free), Lee Camp (released), Simeon Jackson (Eintracht Braunschweig, free), Elliott Ward (Bournemouth, free), Declan Rudd (Preston, loan), Jed Steer (Aston Villa, free), Chris Martin (Derby, free), James Vaughan (Huddersfield, undisclosed), Grant Holt (Wigan, undisclosed), Leon Barnett (Wigan, undisclosed), Korey Smith (Oldham, free), Tom Adeyemi (Birmingham, free), George Francomb (AFC Wimbledon, free), Andrew Surman (Bournemouth, loan), Kei Kamara (Sporting Kansas City)

SOUTHAMPTON

Ins: Dejan Lovren (Lyon, undisclosed), Victor Wanyama (Celtic, undisclosed), Dani Osvaldo (Roma, £15million)

Outs: Frazer Richardson (Middlesbrough, free), Danny Butterfield (Carlisle, free), Vegard Forren (Molde, undisclosed), Richard Chaplow (Millwall, free), Steve de Ridder (Utrecht, free), Jason Puncheon (Crystal Palace, loan), Sam Hoskins (Yeovil, free), Ben Reeves (MK Dons, free), Danny Seaborne (Yeovil, free), Ryan Dickson (Colchester, free), Emmanuel Mayuka (Sochaux, loan)

STOKE

Ins: Erik Pieters (PSV Eindhoven, £3million), Marc Muniesa (Barcelona, free), Juan Agudelo (New England Revolution, free)*, Oussama Assaidi (Liverpool, loan), Marko Arnautovic (Werder Bremen, undisclosed), Stephen Ireland (Aston Villa, loan)

Outs: Dean Whitehead (Middlesbrough, free), Rory Delap (Burton, free), Matthew Upson (Brighton, free), Mamady Sidibe (released), Carlo Nash (Norwich, free), Matthew Lund (Rochdale, free), Cameron Jerome (Crystal Palace, loan)
*Agudelo has signed pre-contract agreement to join Stoke in January

Fabio Borini has moved to Sunderland on loanFabio Borini has moved to Sunderland on loan

SUNDERLAND

Ins: Duncan Watmore (Altrincham, undisclosed), Modibo Diakite (Lazio, free), Valentin Roberge (Maritimo, free), Cabral (Basle, free), Vito Mannone (Arsenal, free), Jozy Altidore (AZ Alkmaar, undisclosed), David Moberg Karlsson (IFK Gothenburg, undisclosed), El Hadji Ba (Le Havre, undisclosed), Emanuele Giaccherini (Juventus, undisclosed), Ondrej Celustka (Trabzonspor, loan), Charis Mavrias (Panathinaikos, undisclosed), Ki Sung-yeung (Swansea, loan), Fabio Borini (Liverpool, loan), Andrea Dossena (Napoli, undisclosed)

Outs: Simon Mignolet (Liverpool, undisclosed), Titus Bramble (released), Matt Kilgallon (Blackburn, free), Danny Graham (Hull, loan), Alfred N’Diaye (Eskisehirspor, loan), James McClean (Wigan, undisclosed), Billy Knott (Wycombe, loan), Ben Wilson (Cambridge, free), Ahmed Elmohamady (Hull, £2million), Adam Reed (Burton, free), Jonny Maddison (Crawley, free), Ryan Noble (Burnley, free), Jordan Pickford (Burton, loan), Jordan Laidler (Chester, loan), Phil Bardsley (released), Stephane Sessegnon (West Brom, undisclosed)

SWANSEA
Ins: Jonathan de Guzman (Villarreal, loan), Jose Canas (Real Betis, undisclosed), Jordi Amat (Espanyol, £2.5million), Alejandro Pozuelo (Real Betis, undisclosed), Jonjo Shelvey (Liverpool, £5million), Gregor Zabret (NK Domzale, undisclosed), Alex Gogic (Olympiakos, free), Wilfried Bony (Vitesse, £12million), Jernade Meade (Arsenal, free), Roland Lamah (Osasuna, loan), Alvaro Vazquez (Getafe, loan)
Outs: Mark Gower (Charlton, free), Kyle Bartley (Birmingham, loan), Alan Tate (Yeovil, loan), Kemy Agustien (Brighton, undisclosed), Ki Sung-yeung (Sunderland, loan), Luke Moore (Elazigspor, free), Gwion Edwards (St Johnstone, loan)

TOTTENHAM

Ins: Paulinho (Corinthians, undisclosed), Nacer Chadli (FC Twente, undisclosed), Roberto Soldado (Valencia, £26million), Etienne Capoue (Toulouse, £9million), Erik Lamela (Roma, £25.8million), Christian Eriksen (Ajax, £11.5million), Vlad Chiriches (Steaua Bucharest, £8.5million)

Outs: David Bentley (released), William Gallas (released), Steven Caulker (Cardiff, undisclosed), Clint Dempsey (Seattle, undisclosed), Jake Livermore (Hull, loan), Tom Huddlestone (Hull, £5million), Scott Parker (Fulham, undisclosed), Jack Barthram (Swindon, free), Nathan Byrne (Swindon, free), John Bostock (Antwerp, free), Gareth Bale (Real Madrid, £85.3million), Benoit Assou-Ekoto and Tom Carroll (both QPR, both loan)

WEST BROM

Ins: Goran Popov (Dynamo Kiev, loan), Nicolas Anelka (Juventus, free), Diego Lugano (Paris St Germain, undisclosed), Matej Vydra (Udinese, loan), Scott Sinclair (Manchester City, loan), Morgan Amalfitano (Marseille, loan), Lee Camp (free), Stephane Sessegnon (Sunderland, undisclosed), Victor Anichebe (Everton, rising to £6million)

Outs: Jerome Thomas (Crystal Palace, free), Gonzalo Jara (Nottingham Forest, free), Marc-Antoine Fortune (Wigan, free), James Hurst (Crawley, free), Romaine Sawyers (Walsall, free), Scott Allan (Birmingham, loan)

WEST HAM

Ins: Razvan Rat (Shakhtar Donetsk, free), Adrian (Real Betis, free), Andy Carroll (Liverpool, £15million), Stewart Downing (Liverpool, £5million), Daniel Whitehead (Stockport, free)

Outs: Carlton Cole (released), Gary O’Neil (QPR, free), Robert Hall (Bolton, free), Jordan Spence (Sheffield Wed, loan)

Gareth Bale has left Spurs for Real MadridGareth Bale has left Spurs for Real Madrid via Daily Star

What did we learn this weekend? Fantasy Football Gameweek 1 Review

 In with the old, out with the new!

Veteran midfielders Kevin Nolan and Joe Cole of West Ham, along with Frank Lampard of Chelsea rolled back the years and proved yet again their value to Fantasy football managers as goal-scoring  midfielders. Lampard cemented his position as the all-time top scoring midfielder with his 166th Premier League goal. Kevin Nolan moved into joint 6th in the same list, joining Robert Pires and David Beckham on 62 league goals. You can see from the weekend shot stats why these two players in particular score goals – Lampard managing six shots against Hull City and Nolan four shots against Cardiff. They are always looking to get forward and test opposing goalkeepers with well-timed runs into the box.

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You have to worry a little for Cardiff City, Hull City and Crystal Palace. All three of the newly promoted teams lost and not one of them troubled the scorers. Cardiff managed just one shot on target, Hull two and Crystal Palace three. Statistics which will have to improve in the coming weeks if these teams are going to survive their debut seasons. You’ll find some cheap players in these squads, but don’t anticipate big points over the course of the season – maybe better to have them warming that bench (if you require a low cost addition to your squad)!

It’s ALL about Robin

This season appears to be all about who can build the best supporting cast for Van Persie. This fact is even more marked when Gareth Bale and Luis Suarez are absent. Don’t try to be clever, get Van Persie in your team and as captain unless Manchester United have a very tough away fixture or if another team has a double gameweek. The challenge for fantasy managers is to surround Van Persie with the best team possible with your remaining funds, having Van Persia in your team won’t guarantee that you win anything but not having him will get you no-where in the long run.

Van Persie was majestic at the weekend, adding to his brace in the Community Shield with a fantastic double at The Liberty Stadium. It’s hard to see anyone wrestling that Golden Boot away from him this season.

Team of the Week

Their performances didn’t necessarily translate into big points for some of these players this week, but it will do if they continue in the same vain.

Begovic (Stoke)

Zabaleta (Man City)

Whittaker (Norwich)

Shaw (Southampton)

Barkley (Everton)

Coutinho (Liverpool)

Toure (Man City)

Nolan (West Ham)

Benteke (Villa)

Welbeck (Man United)

Van Persie (Man United)

Amir Begovic was outstanding for Stoke City, Liverpool’s Simon Mignolet will get the plaudits (and more points this week) for his late penalty save but Begovic kept Stoke City in a game that should have been out of sight.  In the same game Coutinho was magnificent for Liverpool, he created several fantastic goal scoring chances and very nearly pinched a goal himself early in the second half. Fantasy managers love a midfielder who plays like a forward and Coutinho is one of the best around. He’ll weigh in with plenty of assists this year.

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Pablo Zabaleta celebrated his contract extension with a very solid performance against Newcastle United, he weighed in with a clean sheet and an assist. Steven Whittaker of Norwich City claimed a hard earned goal and a deserved bonus point for his performance against Everton, at £4.0m he looks like a great squad player this season. Southampton youngster Luke Shaw put in another very accomplished performance for the Saints, with a clean sheet and a man of the match performance which secured the full 3 bonus points, at £4.5m he also looks like great value.

Ross Barkley had a fantastic game for Everton. He has a wonderful turn of pace and can strike a ball off either side as well as anyone I have seen. In addition to his goal, his pass completion was 96%. Let’s hope he can find the consistency to perform at that level week in and week out. If he does, he’s a bargain at £4.5m! 

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Gabriel Agbonlahor  has always been a bit of a mystery to me, he never seems to have fulfilled his potential. He was fantastic against Arsenal though and game the defence a torrid afternoon. He doesn’t quite make the team of the week, but his combination with Benteke proved once again that you can’t predict who will score well in the Fantasy League by looking at the fixtures alone. It doesn’t (appear) to get much tougher than The Emirates away from home on the opening day, but Benteke demonstrated (as he did last season) that he can secure points against the top teams in the league.

Yaya Toure also had an incredible game against Newcastle, making 96 successful passes all over the park (at 93% success rate), an assist and a wonderful free-kick goal. He just edges out Frank Lampard in my team of the week.

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A fantastic opening weekend to the Premier League season, it already looks like business as usual for Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea but these clubs have some tough fixtures in the coming game weeks and the challenge will be to carefully select teams and captains throughout that period – so think ahead as you make your substitutions. There are also some low value gems already emerging, whose inclusion means we are able to cram more of the really top players into our teams.

Tips for selecting your Gameweek 1 Fantasy Football Team

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So, the new season is almost upon us. I have three main concerns – will my team actually make that marquee signing? How the hell do I make BT Sport appear on my telly? And, perhaps most importantly, who should I have in my first Fantasy Football Premier League team of the season?

Experienced fantasy football enthusiasts will tell you that catching up after a poor start is incredibly difficult, so here are some invaluable pointers for that all important starting line-up.

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

We still have massive question marks against three of the league’s biggest talents as we approach the start of the season. We aren’t really sure if messrs Rooney, Suarez and Bale will start the league at their current team, or even in the Premier League at all. If you’re confident they will remain, they represent great choices in your team, but who represents the best value for a starting berth

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 Given his lengthy suspension and his uncertain future, Suarez just seems overpriced to me at £11.0m. There has to be better value elsewhere. He’s a fabulous talent, but he’s suspended for too long to make him a viable season starter. Wait until he has completed his suspension and then see where he is at (mentally and physically), he may then represent a wise addition to your set-up. If you fancy a Liverpool striker, choose Sturridge – he’s a near certain starter while Suarez is out and he made a big impact last season. Other striking options at this stage would be a gamble.

It’s worth noting also, that Bale is a midfielder and so benefits from clean sheets (he had 6 last season) and also receives an extra point per goal versus Suarez and Rooney (21 extra points last term). If we were to ignore the fact that his next likely destination is La Liga, his inclusion in your team is a no-brainer. But it’s a big risk to take – is his head in the right place? Can he reach the heights of last season? Have Spurs now got the players who will better share the goalscoring burden? Will teams now have his number and mark him out of matches? All genuine concerns.

Rooney has had no pre-season to speak of so far and is currently sidelined with a hamstring strain, it’s hard to imagine him getting anywhere near 90 minutes in the first few gameweeks, whoever he’s playing for.  If he moves to Chelsea, you have to imagine he’ll play regularly and be up top as the main striker – he’ll get a bagful of goals.

Overall, I think I’d steer clear of these three for your starting line-up. Wait instead until their futures are a little more certain, we can find  better options elsewhere.

Bargain Bucket Players

Every decent squad needs 3 or 4 low value players, to allow you to cram in the really high scoring (and so expensive) players. The first concern though is to make sure you select players who will play regularly – it’s important you pick up a couple of points in the weeks where these guys end up in your team (rather than on the bench). These players are also likely to be the ones who stay in your squad long-term, without a wildcard it’s always difficult to justify the use of a valuable substitution, when any replacement is unlikely to be a first choice either. So, choose wisely. I would be wary of the unproven defences of Hull City, Crystal Palace and Cardiff City at this stage; you can however find value in the defences of teams like West Brom (e.g. McAuley scored 113 last season and will cost £5.5m), Norwich City (e.g. Bassong scored 121 last season and is just £5.0m) and West Ham (e.g. O’Brien will set you back £5.5m and scored 123 last year)

Here are five players who I think will prove to be incredible value for money and who could take a regular place in the team, not just as your bench-warmers.

Nicolas Anelka – £5.5m

Anelka is a proven Premier League goalscorer (several times over) and has been red-hot in pre-season. I expect him to be one of the best value for money options of the season, get him now before his price soars!

Steven Caulker – £5.0m

Yes, he’s a defender moving to a team who will finish lower down the league and who will undoubtedly concede more goals. But the price you pay here reflects a defender who would have rarely made the Spurs starting line-up. He will be a definite starter at Cardiff and we already know that he can weigh in with the odd goal. Probably one for the bench when Cardiff play the big boys, but a very decent option as a squad player.

Kolo Toure – £5.0m

Brendan Rodgers has heaped praise on the Ivorian during pre-season, so you have to see him being a regular fixture this season (especially if Barcelona follow up on their reported bid for Daniel Agger). Liverpool are usually pretty solid at the back and despite his weaknesses, I would have to believe that Toure will improve their backline further still. He’s the type of player who is likely to attract regular additional bonus points too, which always come in handy.

Simon Mignolet – £5.5m

There is always value when a player (particular a defender or goalkeeper) transfers to a larger club after the prices are set. Mignolet is a prime example, you are paying for a Sunderland goalkeeper but getting the points of the Liverpool keeper – result! He had a very strong season with Sunderland though and his price does reflect this (he managed an impressive 140 points last season in a very average Sunderland team).

Darren Bent – £6.5m

When Bent plays, he scores. As long as he gets his move from Aston Villa, you have to see him getting a decent total again. Fulham and Newcastle appear to be frontrunners and he’ll get plenty with either club. A bargain at £6.5m, but make sure the transfer happens first.

Must Have Players – Who Will Consistently Deliver?

Bale and Suarez would absolutely be in this category if they weren’t approaching the start of the season with so much baggage. These are the regular starting, high scoring players who will always form a part of any successful fantasy football season. Expect these guys again to be part of the regular weekly Dream Teams. I would recommend one of these players to be your selected captain each week.

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The stats speak for themselves. Get as many of this lot in your team as you can manage.

Without Bale, Rooney or Suarez in your team, Van Persie is an obvious choice. He’s expensive relative to his peers, but I would be incredibly surprised if anyone wins a fantasy football league without having him in their team for a sizeable portion of the season – he was remarkably consistent last season and you can only imagine he will continue in the same vain this year.

I would also suggest Leighton Baines represents a sound investment for your top-end defender, he is the Everton penatly taker and free-kick specialist and can always be relied on to provide a decent number of assists during the season. His potential transfer to Manchester United is a watch-out though, you would expect him to be first choice left-back at Old Trafford, but this isn’t guaranteed and he would almost certainly relinquish the set piece responsibilities he has at Everton. It is also interesting to note that he enjoyed more clean sheets (11 vs 10) than his counter-part at United (Patrice Evra) managed last term. I would be cautious therefore, if the ‘Baines to United’ transfer rumours commence again in the next week, I would then perhaps opt for Ivanovic over Baines (I select him over Vertonghen purely because the Spurs man has some question marks over his short-term fitness, following an injury during pre-season).

Buy One, Get One Free – Courtesy of the Double Gameweek

Chelsea and Aston Villa both play twice in Gameweek 1, any fantasy football manager worth their salt realises this is an opportunity too good to miss. Take Brad Guzan or Petr Cech as your goalie from the start, you can then easily leave one on the bench in Gameweek 3 when neither team plays (just check out who your second choice keeper is playing in gameweek 3 before you finalise). Villa have tough away games at Arsenal and Chelsea, so choose carefully and sparingly. But I would highly recommend maxing out on your Chelsea quota. And make a Chelsea player your captain for Gameweek 1, you know it makes sense.

Robin van Persie reveals his 20 favourite moments from an epic debut season with Manchester United…

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1. OT arrival “I remember I was very excited on this day. I was buzzing about this new challenge. I was living off the adrenaline!”

2. First training session “Training started late while I finished a few medical tests before I could officially train. I couldn’t wait to get out on the pitch, though.”

3. First game (Everton 1 United 0) “I came on with a tough 20 minutes to go at Everton. Even though we lost it was still a great day. I was proud to make my debut.”

4. OT debut (United 3 Fulham 2) “It was a dream start, scoring after 10 minutes of my home debut. What a day. I played 90 minutes but I admit I struggled after an hour!”

5. Hat-trick hero (S’ton 2 United 3) “A crazy game but we never gave up. I apologised in the dressing room for missing the penalty. It was a great win, it felt significant.”

6. Anfield winner (Liverpool 1 United 2) “This time, I made sure of my penalty. It was great to score the winner. I didn’t have my best game but it felt good to beat Liverpool.”

7. Euro double (Cluj 1 United 2) “It was a fantastic Wazza pass for my second at Cluj. The keeper came towards me and I just guided it past him. It spun into the net beautifully.”

8. Take it to the Bridge (Chelsea 2 United 3)  “I love playing against Chelsea and I’ve scored all my goals against them at Stamford Bridge. It’s a great place to play, and win.”

9. Gunner get you (United 2 Arsenal 1) “A weird day. I should’ve scored two. I’d never played against a former team so scoring was strange. But you have a job to do.”

10. Derby day (City 2 United 3) “Wayne and I discussed what to do at the free-kick. Shoot or cross? My shot deflected off the wall past Hart. You can’t get luckier than that!”

11. Hammer blow (West Ham 2 United 2) “A late goal. Giggsy’s pass was unbelievable. I didn’t break stride. I had a good first touch and decent finish to earn a replay.”

12. Earn your Spurs (Spurs 1 United 1) “It was snowing, cold and they nicked a draw. I scored from Cleverley’s great cross, but it’s the result I remember more.”

13. Toffees broken (United 2 Everton 0) “My goal was a bit lucky to make it 2-0. It went in and we were relieved because we’d of what happened in the 4-4 draw the year before.”

14. Real deal (Real Madrid 1 United 1) “One of football’s most iconic stadiums; my first time there. We had chances to win (including me) and we needed to win really.”

15. Hard to take (United 1 Real 2) “A harsh red card for Nani. It was a blow, everything up to that moment was right. Everyone got behind us and the atmosphere was electric.”

16. Stoked to score (Stoke 0 United 2) “The lads gave me stick for my celebration but I wanted to share the moment. Sir Alex has been a joy to work with.”

17. Cheering on Spurs “I cheered for Spurs against City. Can you believe it? An ex-Arsenal player wanted Spurs to win! We knew the title was one game away.”

18. That goal (United 3 Villa 0) “It was instinct. I looked up and thought: ‘This ball is so nice. It’s too beautiful to take a touch’. Everything was exactly as I wanted it to be.”

19. Trophy time “This is for the fans, players and staff. What I really like is it’s made so many people happy. Kids, babies, women, men – they’re all so happy.”

20. Awards night “Winning [Player of the Year] is fantastic. Being involved with the guys has made such an impact on me. They’re a pleasure to work with.”

Is David Moyes right to raid Everton for his former players?

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There has been much talk in the press of newly appointed Manchester United manager, David Moyes, raiding his former club Everton to strengthen the Manchester United squad. The majority of the rumours have surrounded the potential signing of Belgian International Marouane Fellaini, but there have also been significant column inches dedicated to the potential signings of English Internationals Leighton Baines and Phil Jagielka.

Here I compare the 2012/2013 Premier League stats for these potential transfer targets to those of the United player they would most likely replace in the Old Trafford squad. The comparison for Baines is the most simple; he would be direct competition for the incumbent left back, Patrice Evra. For Fellaini, I have selected the United midfielder who realised the most playing time last season after Michael Carrick, 23 year old Tom Cleverley. And for Phil Jagielka I have chosen to compare him to Nemanja Vidic, who played second fiddle to Rio Ferdinand in the United central line last season (both in terms of playing time and his overall performance level).

For each comparison I have selected some key stats for comparing the players and have selected a ‘winner’ (green colour) and ‘loser’ (red colour) for the season on that stat or I have determined the results too close to call (this data is coloured amber). For ease of explanation and analysis, the stats have been separated into those impacting the defensive areas of the game, and those in the offensive zones.

(1) Patrice Evra v Leighton Baines

Both players had a very solid season for their respective clubs. At 32 years of age, Evra is four years older than his Everton counterpart. So, unlike the other two comparisons we will investigate, a case could be made for Baines being a longer term successor for Evra rather than a direct replacement. That said, Evra has a number of years left at the highest level and neither player would be happy being the second choice left-back at United. Therefore any purchase now would likely be a replacement rather than a long term development strategy.

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At a headline level, Evra ‘wins’ four of the 18 performance indicators analysed (2 in the defensive zone and 2 in the offensive areas). Baines ‘wins’ seven of the performance indicators (four in the offensive zone). A few areas stand out in the analysis, firstly that Baines wins almost 10% more of his ground 50-50 challenges than Evra and secondly that Evra wins an incredible 23% more of his aerial battles than Baines does. The ‘Goals Conceded per Game’ stat is actually incredibly close, with Baines just taking it – therefore I would suggest that in the defensive areas of the pitch, the two left-backs are (from the data) very equally matched.

Given that Baines is Everton’s regular penalty taker and free-kick specialist, you would expect to see him standout in the shooting and goal scoring stakes, in actual fact there is very little difference in these categories for the season, with an almost identical record in terms of goals scored, minutes per shot, shot accuracy and minutes per goal scored. Baines does standout significantly though in the number of crosses he makes per game and the number of chances he creates per match, creating a chance for a team-mate once every 29 minutes across the season (he is actually the highest scoring player in the whole Premier League for this stat last season – an incredible performance for a left-back).

The other area that jumps out for me is in the passing performance indicators, with Evra demonstrating clear wins in ‘pass success rate’ (8% better) and ‘Attacking zone pass completion’ (10% better).

In summary therefore, I would say that United already have a proven left-back in Patrice Evra. His passing and defensive game is every bit as strong as that of Leighton Baines and whilst Baines does offer more in the attacking third than Evra, I would question whether United’s forward line need that additional support given that they were already the highest scoring team in the league last term. I believe United should focus on the defensive side of the game if investing in new fullbacks (all of the other Champions League qualifiers from the Premier League conceded fewer goals than United last season).

Conclusion – Keep your money in your pocket Mr. Moyes. You can wait a year or two yet and see how Alexander Buttner develops before you need to make a move for a new left back. There are more important areas to focus on for new recruits.

(2) Tom Cleverley v Marouane Fellaini

Tom Cleverly had a disappointing season at United, enjoying far less playing time than he would have hoped for. Fellaini on the other hand enjoyed a regular starting berth (interrupted only by suspensions) for Everton and proved he can play at the highest level with goals against Manchester United, Arsenal and Manchester City. Both players are of a similar age, Cleverly at 23 being just two years younger than his Belgian counterpart. Whilst the two players are very different in their style of play and preferred roles on the pitch, Fellaini would probably be seen as a replacement for Cleverley within the United team. Michael Carrick is now too central to the way United play for him to be the one to give way (at least in the short-term) for any new signings.

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At first glance, Cleverley ‘wins’ 8 of the 18 performance indicators analysed and Fellaini ‘wins’ 5. Three of the five that go to Fellaini are in the goal-scoring and shooting area, which I guess is expected given the type of player he is and that Moyes’ asked him to play high up the pitch for Everton.

The stats appear to back up what we probably already knew, Cleverley is a combative midfielder who breaks up play and makes quick incisive passes to start United attacks (he outscores Fellaini on tackle success, ground 50-50 wins, lost possession, number of passes, defensive errors, pass success and attack zone pass accuracy), for me it is clear he is a better defensive midfielder than the Belgian and is stronger in the passing part of his game.

Fellaini on the other hand has an outstanding win % for aerial duels (at 6 ft 4 inches, compared to Cleverley’s 5 ft 9 in, I guess this is hardly surprising!), with 60% of his aerial duels won. He also significantly outscores Cleverley on the goal scoring elements of the game.

The key here is the way in which Moyes wishes to operate at United. If Carrick plays, you accept that he isn’t going to be a goal scorer within the United team, it is vital therefore that others contribute to the goal scoring effort from the midfield areas. To date, Tom Cleverley hasn’t demonstrated his goal scoring pedigree or an indication that this will be part of his game in the future (less than one shot per game for the season makes it very difficult to be prolific). If Moyes wishes to go for three central midfielders in a five man midfield, then I can see a role for Cleverley in the same team as Carrick, but as a two-man central midfield partnership I would see Fellaini as the better option. Having said that, in a five man midfield, you could imagine a central three of Carrick, Fellaini and Cleverley operating well.

Conclusion – Fellaini definitely offers something different to the United team. His aerial strength and ability to score goals from the central midfield areas is not something United currently have at their disposal. Personally, I think a more technically gifted and creative midfielder than Fellaini is required at United, but I can also see some advantages in adding Fellaini to the Old Trafford team.

(3) Nemanja Vidic v Phil Jagielka

Nemanja Vidic is the Manchester United club captain and 31 years of age, but since injuring his knee ligaments in Basel 18 months ago he has spent significant time on the sidelines and he played just 1,619 minutes (equivalent to 18 full matches) last season.

Phil Jagielka is now a regular in Roy Hodgson’s England squad and a mainstay of the Everton defensive line, last season he was particularly impressive for the Goodison Park outfit, playing a total of 3,155 minutes.

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Nemanja Vidic ‘wins’ six of the 16 performance indicators selected, Jagielka has the edge on just three. Two of the areas where Jagielka outperformed Vidic last season are in the offensive parts of the game (minutes per chance created and shot accuracy). In the defensive areas of the game Vidic is equal or better than Jagielka in all criteria, apart from the percentage of ground 50-50 challenges won (which Jagielka takes by 77% to 61%).

In the offensive areas, the two players are fairly equal with two ‘wins’ each. With Vidic demonstrating (as have the other United players in this article), a superior passing ability to the Everton player (Vidic is 10% better in both ‘pass success rate’ and in ‘attacking zone pass completion’ stats).

Conclusion – This one is a no-brainer, Vidic outscores Jagielka in almost all areas of the game and this in a season when he has struggled for form and playing time. United already have an incredibly strong (and developing) central defensive line. The experience of Rio Ferdinand and Vidic will be vital in helping the development of Chris Smalling, Johnny Evans and Phil Jones. Jagielka is 30 years of age and so would be by no means a long term solution for United. He is undoubtedly a good player, but I cannot see the value in adding Phil Jagielka to this already impressive defensive unit at Old Trafford.

Summary

Whilst David Moyes may have had players that he rates and trusts at Everton, I believe he would do much better looking at some of the talented players on the continent in order to strengthen the United team. It’s hard to argue that the mentioned Everton players are World Class and it is unlikely that they would take the current United squad to the next level. Moyes really needs to be targeting a world class central midfielder and/or winger if he is going to push this United team to the next level and rival the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich. The likes of Strootman, Fabregas, Ronaldo and Bale are really the players United should be targeting in the current transfer window in order for Moyes to realise both his domestic and European ambitions next season.

 

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