Every manager this season will face a choice of downgrading one player to upgrade another. As player prices begin to move an extra £0.5m can make or break a planned transfer. Now we have seen the newly promoted teams in action in the premiership, how have Cardiff, Hull and Crystal Palace coped with life in the fast lane, and are there any fantasy gems awaiting discovery?
It won’t have been a surprise to anyone that the first game week ended in precisely zero points for all the promoted teams. Perhaps more of a surprise was that the first game week ended with no goals for any of the promoted teams either! However after Cardiff’s giant killing result this weekend and 10 men Hull’s defeat of Norwich we can safely say that 2 out of 3 of the promoted teams are off to a great start.
Cardiff had the highest number of clean sheets in the Championship last season, and after strengthening their defence with experienced Tottenham defender Steven Caulker they would be hoping for more of the same, but unfortunately they’ve started their Premiership campaign by leaking 4 goals in 2 games. Cardiff also signed versatile right back John Brayford from Derby County, who was expected to start after a good run in the side during pre-season, but he hasn’t managed a spot on the bench as yet so avoid him for the moment. As the left back spot is seemingly up for grabs with Declan John and Andrew Taylor both starting the first 2 games, if you are looking for a bargain defender you should choose from Turner, Connolly and Caulker at 4.0m, 4.5m and 5m respectively.
In midfield Cardiff have highly rated defensive midfielder Gary Medel who looks to have made the spot in front of the back 4 his own, though perhaps not one for FPL as Medel is unlikely to pick up goals/assists or chairs …
Good picks from the Cardiff midfield are Pete Whittingham, at 5.0m and already with an assist to his name; he takes corners, free kicks and penalties. Kim Bo-Kyung, also at 5.0m, seems to be playing in the hole and isn’t afraid to shoot from outside the box, so he should pick up points. I should probably mention Craig Bellamy, as we all know what the little welshman can do. He loves to get forward from midfield and has a record of 13 goals and 15 assists in 70 games for Cardiff, proving he has still got what it takes. At 5.5m he could be good value in FPL terms, just be mindful of his game time.
Cardiff City’s strike force consists of Danish forward Andreas Cornelious and ex Man Utd youngster Fraizer Campbell. We don’t know too much about the Dane, as he has been injured and hasn’t featured so far in the prem, except as a time wasting sub in the game against Man City. His stats look tasty however, 25 goals and 8 assists in 53 games in all competitions last year. If he can carry that form to the EPL, his 5.5m price will surely rise as people flock to get him in. Campbell, now a hero to Cardiff fans after sinking the blue half of Manchester with 2 goals and an assist this weekend, will surely be the next bandwagon, correctly identified by our very own Highbury Harmony. If you’re one of the unlucky ones to have Anelka in your side and are looking to ditch Le Sulk in favour of a playing forward (no one is forcing you!) why not Fraizer Campbell? At 5.5m he is the same price as Anelka, and although Cardiff face Everton, Spurs and Chelsea in the next 6 game weeks, he has already shown he can pick up points against the big boys.
Hull had a great result this weekend, beating Norwich with only 10 men on the pitch for 2 thirds of the game, and to be fair, they nulled the potent Chelsea attack in the second half of their opening fixture as well. There are some gems to be found in the Tigers’ side, starting with their goalkeeper Allan McGregor. After (rightly so*) punching Fernando Torres in the face in the penalty box, he did well to save Fat Frank’s penalty and having made 4 cracking saves in the rest of the game, he was unlucky to miss out on some bonus points. At 4.5m this keeper looks to be a steal, and FISO currently has him being bought by 27,000 people since the start of the season. After next weeks game against Man City, Hull have a favourable run of fixtures, facing Cardiff, Newcastle, West Ham and Aston Villa.
At the back the cheapest way into Hull’s defence is through James Chester. The big centre half is priced at 4.0m and is a regular starter for Steve Bruce. Chester has already picked up a clean sheet and 1 bonus point, and could nick a goal when he goes up for corners/free kicks.
Though the signings of Huddlestone and Livermore from Spurs have added much needed Premiership experience to Hull’s midfield, we don’t recommend you consider these for anything more than your back-up/5th midfielder, purely because they don’t historically pick up many fantasy points, however, Steve Bruce will be putting their names on the team sheet week in week out. We would also advise fantasy managers to avoid Ahmed Elmohamady for the time being, as he’s is currently playing right back for Hull and FPL has him listed as a midfielder.
Instead, switch your attention to Robbie Brady. Another product of Man Utd’s youth program, Brady is priced at 5.0m and the exciting midfielder is playing as an attacking left forward. He is Hull’s penalty taker, and as all of Hull’s attacking plays seem to go through him, his 87% pass completion rate (taken from the first 2 prem games) suggests he will pick up plenty of assists over the course of the season, and its worth mentioning Zorro has been plugging him all summer.
The Jury is still out on Hull’s head butting forward Yannick Sagbo and he didn’t have a great record at French league 2 side Evian. Last season, in 40 games he picked up 8 goals, 6 assists, butt worryingly for Steve Bruce, 10 yellow cards. This suggests the red card he was awarded on Saturday isn’t the last card the naughty Ivorian will collect. Avoid for now, there are better buys to be had.
*PS just kidding, here at Fantasy Football First we do not condone violence in any way, even if the receiving Spaniard does need a kick up the backside.
Of the 3 promoted sides, Palace have had the worst start to the season, with 2 straight defeats. As is often the case in football, that statistic suggests they were worse than they actually were. Palace gave a good account of themselves in their opener against Spurs, and were unlucky not to take a point home from Stoke, after leading 1-0.
At the back then, the cheapest way into the Palace defence is young left back Dean Moxey. Though he gave away the penalty to Spurs after being judged to have handballed in the area, he played with confidence, and looked good going forward. Alternatively, right back Joel Ward is also priced at 4.0m, though neither are likely to set the Premiership alight, both are sure starters for Palace and could be useful for your bench.
In midfield, the signing of Jason Puncheon on loan should please fantasy managers no end. The winger had a great start to his Premiership campaign last season with Southampton and remained largely under the radar; finishing at 4.7m. He picked up 5 goals and 6 assists in 2057 minutes before Pochettino decided he wasn’t his type of player. At 5.4 we still feel he is a bargain and should be “Puncheon” above his weight for Palace.
Two forwards to keep an eye on from Palace are Marouane Chamakh and Dwight Gayle both priced at 5.0m. Chamakh has a point to prove to the Premiership, after failing to impress at both Assnul and West Ham, and after getting off to a scoring start against Stoke at the weekend, he will have had a much needed confidence boost. The Moroccan will want to rediscover his Bordeaux form, where he scored roughly 1 goal every 4 games. In Gayle, Palace have a player who has reached the highest level of English football in just 3 crazy years after it was rumoured he scored nearly 60 goals in one season at non-league side Stansted. While playing for Peterborough, this Blackburn fan remembers the hat-trick he put past the mighty Rovers last year, and wouldn’t bet against him skinning a few premiership defenders this year. Gayle’s main attribute is his insane acceleration; he could put a fit Michael Owen to shame in a 60 metre dash – FAST. Crystal Palace also have 40 year old Kevin Phillips at their disposal and at 4.5m has been snapped up by 1.7% of FPL managers. At his age, Phillips will primarily be there for his experience in the dressing room to support Ollie, and to come off the bench in the last 20 minutes. Don’t expect him to start every game.
There are some good bargains to be had among the promoted teams, and if you buy at the right time, you could end up with a player that rises in value and earns you some good bench points. As we are always saying, you need a bench that plays, so hopefully this should help ensure you have exactly that. Good luck!