Stick or Twist - the template team


Following on from Aaron’s stick or twist report on Gareth Bale, it got me thinking. A new template team is starting to form and at FPL Dugout we will try to interpret whether this new formula for success is a keeper or will there be some potential new kids on the block ready to spoil the party?

So here are the players we consider to be the main players in this template team, and try to decipher whether they are there for the long term, or have they peaked too early, and will soon be confined to the transfers out column.

Eden Hazard

The Chelsea midfielder has started in incredible fashion with one goal and 6 assists in his opening 5 games. A penalty appeal turned down last weekend could of seen the Belgian amass more than the 40 points already gained. His rise from his starting value of 9.5m has quickly rose to 10.3m, at the time of writing, and this looks like showing no signs of slowing down barring injury. An amazing 42.2% of managers now own Hazard and despite Chelsea’s tough fixture schedule alongside a Champions League run, for many Fantasy managers he is a player they just cannot do without.

Next 6 fixtures: ars, NOR, tot, MUN, swa, LIV

Verdict

I think Hazard is the player to have in FPL. Despite Chelsea’s fixtures, Hazard’s form is tremendous and shows no sign of waining. A must have.

Robin van Persie

After last weekend’s will he/won’t he play, Fantasy managers have been adding RVP in their droves as the Man United hitman scored an impressive hat-trick at St. Marys. With the Champions League midweek, Sir Alex Ferguson gave Van Persie just 20 minutes against Wigan but despite collecting a solitary point, he is now owned by nearly a third of FPL (32.2%).

Van Persie is now undoubtably the most expensive player in the game at 13.5m, but a record of 5 goals in 5 games says there’s no reason why he can’t match last season’s feats. Worries will continue to persist, especially if RVP loses gametime due to Wayne Rooney’s return. If he plays though, there is no player in the game who can match Van Persie’s goalscoring home and Away. He’s dynamite.

Next 6 fixtures: TOT, new, STO, che, ARS, avl

Verdict

There will be many that will stick with Van Persie through thick and thin. Some will look at that fixture list and run a mile. Whatever the side of the fence you are on, you cannot deny his quality. Many will look at other alternatives but you only get what you pay for and RVP is another must have.

Carlos Tevez

The injury to Sergio Aguero thrust Carlos Tevez straight into our fantasy thinking and at 9.0m was a sure must have. He hasn’t disappointed and is now the most owned player in the game with a staggering 50.4% percent ownership. Now at 9.9m and having played just 62 minutes last weekend, will question marks start to arise over the little Argentinian’s place in the City attack? 38 points from the opening 4 games means Tevez is the highest scorer in the Fantasy Premier League so far. With City’s fixtures starting to ease we may see some investment in the City forward line, and with some tough away days ahead, it will suit Tevez’s robust playing style.

Next 6 fixtures: ful, SUN, wba, SWA, whm, TOT

Miguel Michu

Not a lot was known about the little 2m signing from Spain but what an impact he has made to the Premier League. 4 goals and one assist later, the originally priced 6.5m midfielder has risen to 7.4m. A single point at Villa Park last weekend gives us a reminder that he does play for Swansea and they won’t win every game, but can the good run continue for a few more weeks yet? The fixtures look good for another few weeks but with the likes of Man City and Chelsea in the distance, will people lose confidence in the Swansea hitman? 2 home games in the next 3 offers confidence, for now.

Next 6 fixtures: sto, RDG, WIG, mcy, CHE, sou

Verdict

A player who has had an excellent run and is making an early claim for bargain of the season, Michu has filled Gylfi Sigurdsson’s boots and then some. His blank at Villa and against Everton gives Michu the opportunity to prove to managers he can bounce back after poor performances. If he can do so then those lucky few managers who had him at 6.5m will find him hard to replace.

Leighton Baines

After last season’s 8.0m price tag, Leighton Baines started this season at a more reasonable 7.0m. Decent early fixtures gave managers hope, despite Everton’s tag of slow starters. Baines alongside Pienaar and Fellaini have dismissed that rumour. 36 points from his 5 games is an excellent start and is in the top 10 for defenders picked, despite being the 2nd highest valued defender in the FPL game. Everton’s friendly fixture list still continues and if they can maintain their form, Baines will remain a popular pick for weeks still to come.

Next 6 fixtures: SOT, wig, qpr, LIV, ful, SUN

Verdict

Many of you (including myself) will have been burned by picking the Everton man as a 2 point game is always the worry. If you are prepared to spend that kind of money on a defender, Baines at the moment has decent fixtures and is a good attacking option. The rewards are definitely there to be had for the brave amongst us.

Branislav Ivanovic

Another defender who was under the speculation of whether he would be a first choice regular at the Bridge. After 24 points in Gameweek 1, he has never looked back, and now on 42 points, he is the top scoring defender. His place looks assured even though Chelsea’s fixtures to come look anything but inviting.

Next 6 fixtures: ars, NOR, tot, MUN, swa, LIV

Verdict

A player with undeniable quality who has an excellent eye for goal. The only worry is Chelsea’s new 7m right-back, Cesar Azcupileta. He surely wasn’t signed to sit on the bench. For now though, the place is his, and he’s doing more than enough to keep it right now!

Here are some players that could break up the template in the coming weeks…

Dimitar Berbatov

The Fulham man has made a great start to his Fulham career after an influential brace at the Cottage last weekend, and an assist at Wigan. The summer signing from Old Trafford is now at a club where he can be loved, and under Jol, with whom he worked together with at Spurs, formed a deadly duo that earned his move to Man United. Fulham’s fixtures appear kind and he has already recovered his drop in value and now sits at 7.2m. Fulham’s away record is not great though, so it will be interesting to see if he can break up the RVP/Tevez power 2.

Next 6 fixtures: MCY, sot, AVL, rdg, EVE, ars

Verdict

Berbatov sits right inbetween the second/third striker bracket. If Jol can give him the arm around him he so desperately needs, on his day he is a world beater, capable of troubling any of the Premier League’s defences. Minus the Man City game and the trip to the Emirates, the fixtures look kind, although at the Cottage Fulham are a match for anyone, and he is their Talisman!

Demba Ba

After coming off the bench to grab a brace at Goodison, it looks like Demba Ba has his mojo back. After a blistering start to the last campaign, Ba spent the second half of the year in Papiss Cisse’s shadow. Pardew’s decision to revert to a 4-4-2 formation this season has thrust Ba back up front and the hitman has mustered 4 goals to Cisse’s 0. Being a full 2.0m cheaper than his teammate and showing better form, Ba’s name will surely be on Fantasy managers watchlist for weeks to come.

Next 6 fixtures: rdg, MUN, sun, WBA, liv, WHM

Verdict

Ba next faces Reading who have been like a Swiss cheese at the back, then faces Manchester United who they stunned 3-0 last year at St. James park. So the next few fixtures hold no fear for the Geordies, and with Ba back on song, he could prove a worthy addition to any fantasy squad.

Hatem Ben Arfa

Another of Newcastle’s men ready to shake up our fantasy squads in Hatem Ben Arfa. Ben Arfa looks to have overcome the injury worries that blighted his early career and it is helping the Magpies no end. Newcastle’s 2nd top points scorer on 29 points, he has two home goals to his name so far, a home consolation against Spurs and a thunderbolt against Villa.

Next 6 fixtures: rdg, MUN, sun, WBA, liv, WHM

Verdict

Again, like Ba, the fixtures look pretty good for the Geordies as they look for another strong push for a European finish again.

Sergio “Kun” Aguero

It seems a life time ago since Sky Sports’ Martin Tyler’s voice rang around the Etihad last May, commentating on the final title deciding game of the season. Just a single appearance so far this term for Aguero ending in injury and a spell on the sidelines. Aguero’s start against Arsenal brings him back on our radars. A drop of 0.5m down to 11.0m puts Aguero in the heavy hitter bracket, but now with a reduced price tag, he could be in the sights of millions.

Next 6 fixtures: ful, SUN, wba, SWA, whm, TOT

Verdict

So is Aguero ready to take Tevez’s crown at the head of the Manchester City attack? Well as we already know you can never predict the Man City line up, but alongside Hart and Kompany, Aguero is as nailed on as they get, so it’s Tevez, Balotelli and Dzeko for that final starting spot! Aguero is definitely one for your watchlists!

Lukas Podolski

After a slow start to his Arsenal career, Lukas Podolski is now finding the form that saw Arsene Wenger splash out 13m on the experienced German. Two blanks from the first two matches and a standard 4 points was nothing to write home about. The two recent Premier League games have seen Podolski return 20 points and a goal in the recent Champions League tie in Montpellier. A couple of tough fixtures lie ahead for Podolski but after that things look a little rosier for the Arsenal Gunner.

Next 6 fixtures: CHE, whm, nor, QPR, mun, FUL

Verdict

With the form Vs fixtures debate never ending, there are a few who would look at those fixtures and walk away. Podolski, however, is in superb form and going to these grounds will hold no fear.

Gareth Bale

Times have been tough for the Welshman under AVB. 5 points in the first 3 games was not what Fantasy managers had shelled out 9.5m on, and plenty moved on to the likes of Michu, Hazard, Pienaar and the likes. You can’t keep a good man down though as a goal, maximum 3 bonus points and 11 points later, things look to be turning round down at the Lane. Playing a 4-5-1 system, it gives Bale ample opportunity to get forward and cause problems.

Next 6 fixtures: mun, AVL, CHE, sot, WIG, mcy

Verdict

So there are a few tough fixtures in there for Bale and Spurs but with the likes of Adebayor, Dembele and Dempsey all coming into the team, you cannot imagine Spurs not going on a decent run in the near future. Tottenham are a side that creates plenty of chances and Bale will be at the epicentre of that for sure.

Bacary Sagna

Looking slightly ahead, Bacary Sagna is one that could grace our FPL squads over the remaining 33 gameweeks left. Currently out injured with a broken leg, Sagna’s value has dropped slightly to 5.4m, which seems pretty reasonable for a top 4 right-back, and one which Wenger says is the best right-back in the league. A return date of September 29th has been pencilled in which sees a possible return against Chelsea at the Emirates. After that though, there is potential for clean sheets and attacking returns.

Next 6 fixtures: CHE, whm, nor, QPR, mun, FUL

Verdict

So presuming his return is pushed back into Gameweek 7 and whm onwards, minus the Old Trafford trip there is definitely some hope for optimism in those fixtures and will give Fantasy managers holding onto the likes of Ivanovic and Baines something to ponder over, and give the extra funds for those big heavy-hitting strikers.

So there we have it. A few players to mull over and question. Any manager can follow a site like ours and pick up a template squad and finish in the top 200k without too much hassle. The trick to finishing in the top places is to know when to stick and when to twist. Sir Alex Ferguson is the master of it, Wenger has done it a few times, and I play my wildcard twice a season. Have I mastered it? Hell no, but it won’t stop me trying!