Team 33's Fantasy Football Host Eoin Sheahan is not happy with The Special One
Thanks a lot, Roman Abramovich. You’re worse than coffee burns on the roof of my mouth, more evil than tangled earphones and only slightly better than extremely slow WiFi.
Just as your club embark on a delightful run of fixtures that every fantasy football manager was preparing to ignore, you go and jettison Jose Mourinho. Why are you trying to make your club succeed? Why do you have to be such a sensible, yet ambitious, buzzkill?
Sundeland at home, Watford at home, Palace away and West Brom at home make up four of Chelsea’s next five fixtures. If that were Man City, we would be doubling and tripling up on their assets from now into the New Year. If it were Chelsea from last season, that tactic wouldn’t be an option but a necessity, in order to keep pace with everyone else in the game.
And that is, of course, the problem we face here. If conspiracy theories about players refusing to go full throttle under Mourinho prove to be true, we’ve got an assist machine in Cesc Fabregas waiting to be picked up, a relentless poacher in Diego Costa sitting in the shop window, a defence that will keep more clean sheets than a Bus Eireann coach and, critically, a midfielder called Eden Hazard who was, four months ago, being talked about in the Ronaldo/Messi realm.
Chelsea have excellent options in every line of the pitch and, if last season’s form can now be resurrected; they provide a frightening array of targets in a single outfit that we have seen none of this season. Add in the immediate stretch of fixtures and the matter becomes all the more pressing.
The popular tactic will be to wait in the long grass this weekend and see how the Blues fare when Sam Allardyce brings his troops to battle at Stamford Bridge. If the Champions are back fighting ferociously in the trenches, their assets will provide immensely tempting reinforcements, given their generally low ownerships.
The riskier – yet still logical – move would be to start from the back and take things from there. The latter stages of the Mourinho era showed signs of improvement in defence. Back-to-back clean sheets against Norwich and Spurs a few weeks back brought Kurt Zouma to our attention, the cheapest and highest-scoring player in Chelsea’s back four.
This weekend’s home tie with Sunderland looks the perfect opportunity to rack up another. This would help transform the game’s entire defensive rationale, with Man City close to being back in our thoughts too, of course, with Vincent Kompany (surely) returning to full fitness shortly.
Arsenal, United, Spurs and Liverpool defender owners – hold onto your hats.
While most fantasy managers (myself included) will hope that Chelsea’s return to prominence is not too pronounced, perhaps an altering of the status-quo might be a good thing for the active player.
After all, if any players are to come out of the shadows in the next few weeks to topple the might of that Leicester duo, there is a very good chance those players will have been part of the bunch at Stamford Bridge that have let us down for 16 Gameweeks too long already.
Liverpool's Jordan Henderson was the joint top scorer in Gameweek 16. Picture by: Peter Byrne / PA Wire/Press Association Images
Let’s start with the big hitters, as always.
Romelu Lukaku appears to be the best captaincy option by a distance. Seven goals in six games ahead of hosting a Leicester side that have racked up just three clean sheets this term? A no-brainer.
That being said, there’s every chance Lukaku could cause havoc and Everton will still lose. You cannot bench Mahrez or Vardy, and the former seems like a decent vice-captaincy option to the Everton forward.
Harry Kane has let us down massively over the past three gameweeks, blanking on each occasion. It’s last chance saloon time for the Spurs man as he travels to a struggling Southampton side. The trapdoor will open if he fails to fire again.
In terms of acquiring assets, don’t draft in anyone new involved in the Arsenal – City clash on Monday night. Damage limitation is important here. If you’ve double up on either attack, you might look to bench one of the players.
Elsewhere this week, here’s who to watch out for…
Georginio Wijnaldum (7.0) has scored all of his seven goals this season in front of his own fans which makes his upcoming schedule, starting this weekend at home to Villa, so appealing.
Craig Dawson (5.1) netted his second goal of the campaign last weekend and looks the standout option from a Tony Pulis defence that host Bournemouth this week. Good mid-term value, too, with an excellent schedule for West Brom in the coming weeks.
Junior Stanislas (4.2) and Josh King (4.6) have suddenly become Bournemouth’s leading game-changers. While Stanislas has trumped King in the goal stakes since their emergence, it would be foolish of us to base this decision on statistics alone. King’s position as Eddie Howe’s front man makes him the slightly better option, but that 0.4 difference in price could swing the decision the other way in your team.
Two big differentials, one city…
Jesus Navas (6.2, 1.0% ownership): Aston Villa are a terrible team. Alan Hutton is an even worse footballer. But, guess what? He created Villa’s two best chances against Arsenal last week down that right flank. As it turns out, a winger who is good football takes on that wing on Monday night – Jesus Navas. He obviously comes with the huge rotation risk but, as a short term prospect, he could be a nice little purchase for anyone chasing a December mini-league jackpot.
Marouane Fellaini (6.2, 0.1% ownership). Don’t laugh. Fellaini has started three games in a row for United now, so van Gaal likes him, it seems. That’s a good start. He also scored a goal last weekend. That’s even better. But, wait, want to hear who has had more efforts in the opposition box over the past two weeks than Fellaini? Nobody has, that’s who. He might be a very short term option, but with Norwich, Stoke, Chelsea, Swansea and Newcastle up next for United, you could do a lot worse.