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Seasoned-Pro, Andy Luckhurst takes us through his 2004/05 EPL Fantasy Preview on 11 August 2004:

Well this looks a genuinely interesting season and I hope to get more involved in FF than I did last year. Again I'll do it in betting order:


Worthy favourites even if Vieira does go. The defence should be solid even if protection is reduced by defection of the Frenchman. With Campbell currently injured Cole, Toure, Lehmann and Lauren would be favoured in that order. You may decide it is worth using Cygan as a cheap stop gap whilst Campbell recovers.
Midfield is harder to call. Pires is the top MF FF player at present, but is priced accordingly. Hard to tell if Freddie will come back or Pennant or Edu get a run. Maniche is touted as the Frenchman's potential replacement.
One of the FF 10 commandments is thou shalt pick Henry. Whilst not a 100%, Striker and I can tell you how expensive it can be to ignore him even when not fully fit ! If Reyes manages to displace Bergkamp he will be obvious value.


Likely to be strong defensively. If you can get the FF players right you may be on your way ! My guess is that the defense will be fairly  regular with Cudicini, Ferreira, Terry, Carvalho, Bridge maybe the first choice. Gallas may be on his way if this happens.
Lampard is the obvious midfielder though picking the likes of Duff, Cole and Robben at the right time may help your cause.
Drogba or Kezman could inspire or destroy your teams - don't ask me !!

Man U

I personally thought Sir Alec lost it roughly a year to 2 years ago and we now see a squad selected in a muddled way that may suffer from being poorly thought out and put together. Match odds vs Liverpool Mr Kellard or Mr Done ?
Obviously unlucky with injuries but the confusion over playing 4-4-2 or 4-2-3-1 has in my opinion cost them dear. Ronaldo is the critical player an outstanding season from him may yet see them Champions, but a disastrous one could see them missing Champions League qualification.
Defensively look uncertain at present, but the return of Rio may stabalise them.
Midfield Giggs, Scholes and Ronaldo all have obvious merits.
RVN will do ok once recovered but injury and more options for rest may reduce his FF tally.


Impressive against an average Austrian team last night.

They are likely to be a stronger unit this year, particularly if Xabi Alonso is purchased and manages to fit in. Having a top manager will help !
Obvious defensive picks in Dude, Riise, Josemi, Hyppia and a speculative one in Finnan.
In midfield Kewell is most likely to scale the heights and there is a rumoured interest in Sean Wright-Phillips.
Owen looks on his way out if they can find a buyer and they will surely need to buy if this happens. Cisse and Baros could give them a great season or be responsible for a mediocre one.


Seem to be in a bit of disarray, but the additions of Woodgate and Carr may help to stiffen that once feeble defence. Bernard is a fair FF pick.
As previously stated I'm a big fan of Robert, but in D I Canio's absence is he now the number one prima donna in the premiership.
Looks like the long term plan for this season may be to pair Kluivert with Bellamy. Interesting to see what happens up front which is where I feel their season may be lost !


Pleased to see O'Leary do well last season.
Defence is likely to be the strength, with Barry a popular FF choice when listed as a defender. The rest of the defence is also likely to be popular for FF purposes
I'm a big fan of Hitz, but not easy to make strong recommendations for the Midfield, nor the Attack with Juan Pablo struggling with injury.


A lot of people's tip to do well. Defence is both solid and experienced. It will be interesting to see if Zenden and Mendieta can build on their first seasons.
If they do well we could see JFH and Vid as the new dynamic duo - if not an Anelka double sulko !?


Looks like Santini is trying to sort them out by getting rid of the old deadwood and trying to create a young dynamic team. I admire him for having the guts to do this which I fear other Spurs managers have been too chicken to do. I hope he succeeds (as does 64), but your guess is as good as mine - at least he is trying to go forward, at the risk of sliding back. Key for me is Defoe.


Great job by the Manager yet again. Not convinced Mr Shipley will shoot off ahead of other mere Fantasy mortals by adopting their defence this year. It will be interesting to see how the attacking midfielders do this year and you may do well if picking the right one. Forssell is obviously the key for them offensively.


Not sure how this lot will do, but maybe lower mid table this year. Rommedahl, Murphy and Euell could all be successful FF picks, but none are guaranteed.


Much like Spurs a somewhat revamped team, albeit more through lack of choice. If they can do ok before the talismanic Malbranque returns may spend more time thinking about UEFA qualification than relegation. Reasonable FF picks throughout the side but no one that totally sticks out.


Should survive again and the midfield offers potential FF picks in Okocha, Nolan and Stavros !


One of my 2 dark horses for relegation. All the same at some stage in the season you may consider Emerton, Thompson, de Pedro, Stead and Dickov. Stead burst on to the scene last year and his goals may just keep them up

Man City

Looking a bit ageing to me, The potential loss of the incredible sulk and SWP could see Keegan needing to be smarter than usual (in my opinion) in the transfer market to stem the tide.
Having said that should have enough to stay up. Mills is a good signing if he views it as a chance to get his England place back, but if he sulks they could be in trouble defensively.
SWP is an obvious FF choice as would be Sibierski if playing more of a regular part.


My other relegation dark horse. Very little quality there and if Gravesen and Rooney are tempted away the key is how much of the Rooney cash is given to Moyes to reinvest and what sort of job he does with it.


Were a great team unit under Strachan, but the midfield looks a bit threadbare and Beattie seems disaffected so may be left to a solid defence - even with Svensson injured - and Phillips to try to keep them out of trouble, one of the favourites for a new manager.


Well I did tip last years great escape. Should slowly consolidate and Carrick would be a very good buy to that end. Taylor looks the best FF defensive pick and Berger should he stay fit will do well. I'd love to see a fit Todorov back partnering The Yak - now that could really be an up-and-coming partnership.


Back to suggesting the three up are the three down. Just not enough quality here bar the mercurial Koumas who is their best hope of escape and a fair FF pick.


Most likely to survive of those coming up with a top goalie and good blend of youth and experience. The youngsters and the likes of a determined Mackay along with sensible Scandanavian imports in Jonsson and Helveg may just see the team being greater than the sum of the parts. Jonsson and Bentley are potential FF picks. The bad news if they stay up is another year of puerile Delia interviews !!

Crystal Palace

Dowie is well admired in the game and last year was a fairy story. I expect the huge gap in class to be more like stones and glass houses or Brothers Grimm ! Routledge is apparently the great hope.

Well that's all for this year folks ! Let battle commence !

Seasoned-Pro, Andy Luckhurst takes us through his 2003/04 EPL Fantasy Preview on 9 August 2003:

'I'll make this fairly quick and aim it at the less serious player. For this year's preview I'll do it in betting order!

Man Utd

Well the Red Van Man is either your first or second choice. I think

United will play most games 4-2-3-1 although it's bound to vary.

This may result in Scholes improving his Fantasy score and Solskjaer

or Forlan could develop into cheap picks. Expect more buys by Fergie

though. Silvestre, Ferdinand and O'Shea all seem fair bets in what

should be a decent defence.


The main challengers. The team spirit and experience should hold

them in good stead. Cole, Campbell, Lauren and Lehmann (if he can

avoid sendings off!) will all appeal in various games. Ljungberg may

be cheap in some games this year, but obviously the big two are

Henry and Pires.


If there is a regular 2nd Striker he's likely to be good value,

particularly if it is not Heskey! Owen will deliver if he keeps fit.

Of the others Murphy will earn his share of Fantasy points and

cards! The goalie and the amount of games Riise will play are

unclear otherwise would be obvious picks. If Finnan eventually

becomes a regular he is a possible, but Hyppia is the obvious

expensive defender.


Well Cudicini, Gallas, Bridge and Terry all look pretty good

selections. The midfield is trickier with Duff obvious, Geremi if he

gets a regular place and a cheap (in Fantasy terms) Veron may be a

bargain. Up front Mutu? Gudjonnson? We're all guessing just now!


Can't have the defence, but maybe Given, Bernard, Woodgate may prove

bargains. Midfield is extremely competitive with most having some

sort of Fantasy merit. I love watching Robert and would be pleased

to see him on top form. Shearer may do it yet again - pre season

says so!


I'd sell them on the spread bet, likely to be a tough unit. I fear

Amoruso will be exposed at this level, so don't fancy the defence,

but Neil and Taylor if you have to. Thompson when fit and Cole and

Yorke's last of the summer wine may be sweet, but may be sour! Hope

Jansen displaces one of them.


Unless Rooney does well I expect them to struggle. An otherwise

ageing team. Watson if classified as a defender may be the best


Man City

Avoid the defence! Sinclair may score a few fantasy points though.

Anelka should do well assuming he doesn't turn into the Incredible

Sulk at some point. Surely Robbie must have one more good year, but

will it be this?


Defence should do well early doors. Juninho may be a bargain in some

games. Maybe one of the Strikers will get off to a flier if the

manager can find one that's fit!


Doddles friend 'come on Eileen' obviously did her mystic meg bit

with the purchase of Kanoute ! Keane looks the most solid pick,

maybe Bunge will get a regular holding midfield slot unless the boss

plans to play all four strikers and wingers! Don't apply for the

physios job if you are work shy!


Who's left? They look a potential disaster, although to be fair they

don't start with the same two handicaps as last year, and no I don't

mean players! Kelly may continue wide right, and possibly Matteo in

midfield and Milner may get his chance, other than that? Johnson???

I just hope Smith's grit rubs off on the others and saves them. Vid

seems favourite to go.


Sorensen, Alpay, Barry and Mellberg all look possible. Don't know

who will play alongside McCann maybe Hitz will have his year, or the

Brummie supporter may hit back! Up front a lot of us would like to

see Juan Pablo back up front with Vassell although Allback seems

more likely. I think I'd stick with the defence.


I liked what they did last year, but hard to see it happening again.

Le Saux and Saux may be a good pick if staying fit, particularly if

pushed forward. Beattie is only 20/1 for the Golden Boot which

surprises me, but he is wholehearted and I hope they consider

keeping him in the England set up. I expect the defence to continue

to be strong. McCann is interesting if he establishes himself; I'm

looking forward to seeing him in the Premiership.


Brilliant management last year! Dunn is the obvious selection, not

too keen on anyone else, although Figueroa will be interesting and

popular amongst the opera goers amongst you!


A lot of people tipping them for the drop, but if they keep Parker

and get off to their normal decent start they should be able to

shirk in the final couple of months. Jensen is the obvious choice.


Malbranque. I fear we may see a squad without a purpose here,

missing the influential Davis they may hit the relegation zone



Djorkaeff when he's back from injury and classified as a midfielder.

Okocha if he fancies it and the Greek if he's given a chance - same

goes for Nolan.


I fancy Harry to pull off a great escape here. If he stays fit and

his heart is in it Berger could be a bargain in both the real and

fantasy world. I think Todorov is the man who needs to score a few

if they are to escape, it will be interesting to see how he does.


I fear the worst with the guv'nor likely to suffer the odd

incarceration. Cameron if you must have a Wolves player and

classified as a Midfielder.


Also looked doomed, even with a very good manager. I'm surprised

Izzet wasn't more productive in Div 1 last year. Hard to fancy this

lot, but Elliott may be a successful Fantasy gamble in some comps.'

Andy Luckhurst - 9 August 2003


Previous year's season previews:

'2002/03 Premiership Preview comments from guest and past Fantasy Football Champion, Andy Luckhurst, on 4 August 2002:

Another year almost upon us and FISO have prompted me to actually do some prep work at last! Whilst I might keep the odd little secret to myself hopefully this little preview may be a useful starting point for this new to Fantasy Football:
  • ARSENAL - Silva looks a great signing (albeit not in Fantasy land), and you'll probably need a couple of selections. Henry is obvious, and Lauren, Cole, Campbell all look reasonable defensive choices. Midfield you'll have to wait for Pires and Ljungberg (my nemesis last year !), but may risk Edu if you have the transfer(s).
  • ASTON VILLA - A hard guess. I am really unsure whether the defence will improve/deteriorate, maybe Alpay holds the answer. Anyone holding down a regular midfield spot is likely to score well, but I'll probably avoid the strikers.
  • BIRMINGHAM - No obvious selections yet, but maybe one will emerge.
  • BLACKBURN - Could improve. No real obvious defender to choose, Duff and Dunn are more realistically priced this year (no longer 'cheapos'), but are sure to do well. Cole is possible.
  • BOLTON - Lots of midfielders, maybe Djorkjaeff or Nolan will do well. Can Ricketts do it again - if given the chance !?
  • CHARLTON - The defense may improve a bit. Will Jensen stay fit ?
  • CHELSEA - Cudicini and Melchiot look solid. Any regular midfielder is a possible, Lampard is the obvious one. JFH and his partner in crime are very tempting if Mr Bates hasn't sold them before kick off.
  • EVERTON - Will they survive another year, will Weir get enough goals to make him a possible defensive pick, will Alexandersson learn how to make them go in off the woodwork?
  • FULHAM - The defense should again be solid. Malbranque was unbelievable last year, and whilst his price has risen he'd still be cheapish if he can repeat the dose. I'm a Saha fan, but maybe Marlet is the better FF pick.
  • LEEDS - Will the fans get their way and have Harte replaced, if not pick him ! I think the defence will have a good year, even without Rio if Woodgate stays fit. Robinson may start. Bowyer and Kewell are expensive midfield possibles and I reckon Viduka will have a better year, whilst Robbie is a great selection when fit.
  • LIVERPOOL - Riise is the new Harte I guess, but it'll be interesting to see how many 90 minutes he plays, and how often he is in midfield. The Liverpool defence should again be their strength. No obvious midfield selection yet, but that may come as the season unfolds. Owen will help you if you can get him at the right time, but he will no doubt be injury prone again.
  • MAN CITY - Another team we'll all be looking closely at. From midfield Wright-Phillips, Berkovic and Benarbia are all possible and Anelka will be in a lot of FF teams even though he's not alway super cheap.
  • MAN UTD - The usual suspects plus Ferdinand. Surely the defence must improve this year!
  • MIDDLESBORO - I think they really might have got it right now. The defence should do well and Juninho is an obvious selection, as per usual it might be Marinelli's year and Maccarone could be anything.
  • NEWCASTLE - Lots of Midfield possibilities as long as you can spot the first team regular. I can't believe Shearer can do it again, yet he's relatively cheap on last years form, so maybe we should pick him.
  • SOUTHAMPTON - A. Svensson is the only obvious possible although Pahars and Beattie always seem to do better than I expect.
  • SUNDERLAND - This could be a bad year for one of the best supported teams. The defence may do OK, but where are the goals coming from and why doesn't Reid give Medina a chance.
  • TOTTENHAM - A big squad. Poyet and Acimovic injured so Davies is a possible early season pick. Richards and Iversen would be possibles, but both seem to have become injury prone. 'Sicknote' is cheap in some comps.
  • WBA - Look like 'gonners', but so did Ipswich and Bolton. Looking forward to seeing Clement and expecting a midfield signing or two.
  • WEST HAM - Cole is another Marinelli, will it be his year ? Sinclair is a possible if no post World Cup reaction and Carrick continues to progress. Defoe looks best of the strikers.

I hope this gets you started. My '1, 2, 3' would be as the betting; Man U, Arsenal and Liverpool. Improvers Leeds, Middlesboro and maybe Fulham. Relegation, WBA, Birmingham, Sunderland. Value in top goalscorer Defoe !! Nice to finish on a controversial, 'does he really mean it' note !

Andy. 4 August 2002.'

Comments from Andy Luckhurst on 3 August 2001 (winner of Sky Sports' Football Fantasia 3 times in the last 4 years):

'I have been invited by FISO to pass on my early thoughts on the Fantasy stars of the 2001/02 season. Rather than using precision and statistics as in the style of FISO's Chris King, I have gone for a more ad hoc style, and a 'gut feel'.


I'd expect the defence to be tighter still than last season. The cover provided in the engine room, with the addition of the under-rated (at least by Vieira) van Bronckhurst should serve the defence well. I often think that the importance of this cover is not fully appreciated. Who to pick though ? I'd say Cole is the best pick in most competitions, assuming Silvinho doesn't stay and displace him, Campbell seems the next best, but he is expensive. Henry will be solid, but not cheap. I can't see much value in midfield, unless Ljungberg spends more time on the pitch, and it is unclear to what extent the strikers will be revolved.


The defence has always been strong, annoyingly in Fantasy terms, when you least expect it. A friend of mine (who has won Fantasy prizes) asked me what I thought of Villas defensive prospects, whilst extolling Mellberg. Personally I think 4-4-2 will be deployed more often, and the loss of Southgate and Ehiogu may destabilise the defence, and a more attack minded midfield will rate them a sell. If I'm wrong though I'd expect Barry to do well. If you can work out which attacking midfielders will start I'm sure you'll score well. Hadji and Hendrie look interesting picks. Maybe they'll play 4-5-1 (particularly if Dublin leaves, without replacement), or play Hadji as a support striker. Angel will probably be a miss, but could be a real hit.


Always difficult to know how promoted sides will get on. OK then, who thought Ipswich would reach a UEFA cup place. More likely to struggle, although Dunn looks a possible selection, as do Jansen and Grabbi if you need a cheap striker.


Favourites to go down. If you must pick someone, Frandsen, or Bergsson if goals scored are more important than those conceded.


Difficult to predict, but should survive. Not many Fantasy chances, Jensen maybe, or Euell if classified as a midfielder.


Likely to play in various formations. The new players, Gallas, Lampard, and Zenden are all possible selections, as are Terry and Stanic if they get a run, and stay fit. It's difficult to guess, as they still look a bit old, and maybe more of a cup team, but Ranieri has to a certain extent challenged the problem of age, Hasselbaink is solid, but not cheap. Gudjonsson will reward his supporters if holding a regular place.


Look even money for the drop, but Smith may produce some magic, with late transfers. Carbonari and Ravenelli, whilst sounding like something from an Italian menu, are both potential speculative picks, as are Riggott and Strupar.


Could do well, or go down. Alexanderson looks a fair pick in some games. Unsworth is a possible if he holds down a place, and it will be fascinating to see how Radzinski does. Anyone want 16/1 he scores more than he did at Anderlecht. Gazza looks fit Sven !


My tip to do well. Where have all the new signings gone though ? One of the teams that could do well defensively, early on. Finnan could be a good pick, if classified as a defender, with assists counting. Davis looks a good player, but I'm not sure he'll get enough goals for Fantasy purposes. I think, and hope, they will buy a star offensive midfielder, and a star striker. Saha will do well, regardless.


Good luck to them, they deserve it. I can't believe they'll do quite as well this year. Reuser looks the best selection, if he gets an extended run. Will Stewart do any where near as well, will Bramble flourish, can the defence keep it up, will gangly Hreidarsson continue to star at left back, can Armstrong keep it up for a season, will Counango hold down a first team place ? If you know the answer to these questions, please e-mail us.


The team I supported as a kid, and the team I think you should support as a Fantasy player. Without the Champions League campaign, and with players back from injury, if this team clicks, it can go close. As far as Fantasy tips go, Harte if you can afford him, Ferdinand should do well, and the defence should tighten up as Ferdinand's confidence grows. Kewell is a ridiculously cheap midfielder in one competition, but he will miss some games playing for Australia, as will Viduka. Bowyer and Viduka are obvious choices, but Keane or Bridges if getting a run could be cheap.


The defence could do well again early season, and Taggart and Elliott would be the obvious choices (assuming Elliott doesn't become another McLeicester). Izzet is a fair pick, and Scowcroft could be a stand out if he plays upfront, classified as a midfielder.


A difficult one, with the Champions League as a distraction. Westerveld should do well, along with Hyppia and Babbel in defence. The midfield may be revolved too much, although Berger could get goals, and a consistent run. Up front it is difficult, all four could be potential selections, and maybe if one or more is injured, the remainder could be picked. If pressed, I'd choose Owen, Fowler, Heskey, in that order, both in Fantasy, and in real terms.


You need to get this one right, don't you ? If only Sir Alex made it clear what he meant, and we felt able to believe every word!
van Nistelrooy early on, then think about it is my advice. A watching brief on Scholes, Cole, Solskjaer, and Yorke. I'm not sure that Beckham will do quite as well in Fantasy terms. Defensively, Silvestre, Stam, G.Neville, Barthez, in that order. OK, so it's obvious I don't know what I'm talking about in specifics. So in general terms, I believe Man U will win the league, the addition of Veron will help the defence to get close to repeating last year's fantastic record. I believe 4-4-2 will be the normal set up, with Veron, Keane, Scholes, all missing games. I think that two strikers will play in most games, and that van Nistelrooy will do well early season, but one of the others later, as the Champions League gets underway, and goals continue to flow.


Defensively they look good, with Southgate and Ehiogu reunited, and strength on the subs bench.The lack of depth in the midfield is a real worry, and McLaren needs to buy here to add strength and bite. Cover in midfield would make the defence a buy, particularly Ehiogu and Southgate. Marinelli could be a star (then he might have been last year). It is hard to believe Boksic will be as fit as he was last year, but what a great player to watch. If the support is there from midfield, Ricard could have a good season.


I can't see the defence doing a lot, but Dabizas will get a few goals. Solano may improve on last season, but Robert, if classified as a midfielder will be a star (even at Newcastle). I think Shearer is finished in Fantasy terms, but what a great servant he has been to England. I believe Newcastle will finish 6th to 14th.


A moderate team, but capable. Where will Delap play, he is their most interesting Fantasy player. Will Matt be saint or fat. You know the odds, but if you play them, wouldn't it be annoying, fantastic, and remarkable if he defied them.


Defensively they should be strong, particularly in the first two thirds of the season. The defence is solid, and well bedded down, and the midfield provides cover. It will be interesting to see if Varga and Medina get a place. In Fantasy terms I expect the defence to do well, and Phillips to bounce back to his best. Laslandes could be a cheap striker at some stage.


An interesting season for them, again a 6th to 14th side. If the defence does gel, then Ziege and Carr could be very good selections. Ziege may play left midfield. Poyet should keep the Fantasy points rolling in.


The earthquakes seem to have ceased, can they survive ? Cole and Sinclair seem their best source of Fantasy points, although Kanoute could do well. I like the Hammers, they have given the Premiership some colour, although the dour parsimony of the directors has certainly dimmed the colour, and popped some bubbles. I've got some good friends who support the 'Ammers, and I both fear and feel sorry for them.

In conclusion; I expect Man Utd to win the league, Leeds being the most likely to upset the applecart, and Fulham to be the most active in the transfer market from hereon in.

In Fantasy terms, most games suggest buying cheap midfielders, you may find some in the promoted teams. Carefully consider how squad rotation in the top teams effects your strategy. Consider the implications of the rules of the game you are playing, and try to find a game that suits you. Most importantly have fun and enjoy the season.

Above all else if the tips herein help you to win, all donations are gratefully received, particularly if I am second!'

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