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Seasoned-Pro, Andy Luckhurst takes us through his 2004/05 EPL Fantasy Preview on
11 August 2004:
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
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
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 !!
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 !!
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!
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
This may result in Scholes improving his Fantasy score
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
them in good stead. Cole, Campbell, Lauren and Lehmann
(if he can
avoid sendings off!) will all appeal in various games.
be cheap in some games this year, but obviously the big
Henry and Pires.
If there is a regular 2nd Striker he's likely to be good
particularly if it is not Heskey! Owen will deliver if
he keeps fit.
Of the others Murphy will earn his share of Fantasy
cards! The goalie and the amount of games Riise will
unclear otherwise would be obvious picks. If Finnan
becomes a regular he is a possible, but Hyppia is the
Well Cudicini, Gallas, Bridge and Terry all look pretty
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
Can't have the defence, but maybe Given, Bernard,
Woodgate may prove
bargains. Midfield is extremely competitive with most
sort of Fantasy merit. I love watching Robert and would
to see him on top form. Shearer may do it yet again -
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
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
Jansen displaces one of them.
Unless Rooney does well I expect them to struggle. An
ageing team. Watson if classified as a defender may be
Avoid the defence! Sinclair may score a few fantasy
Anelka should do well assuming he doesn't turn into the
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
manager can find one that's fit!
Doddles friend 'come on Eileen' obviously did her mystic
with the purchase of Kanoute ! Keane looks the most
maybe Bunge will get a regular holding midfield slot
unless the boss
plans to play all four strikers and wingers! Don't apply
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?
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.
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
more likely. I think I'd stick with the defence.
I liked what they did last year, but hard to see it
Le Saux and Saux may be a good pick if staying fit,
pushed forward. Beattie is only 20/1 for the Golden Boot
surprises me, but he is wholehearted and I hope they
keeping him in the England set up. I expect the defence
to be strong. McCann is interesting if he establishes
looking forward to seeing him in the Premiership.
Brilliant management last year! Dunn is the obvious
too keen on anyone else, although Figueroa will be
popular amongst the opera goers amongst you!
A lot of people tipping them for the drop, but if they
and get off to their normal decent start they should be
shirk in the final couple of months. Jensen is the
Malbranque. I fear we may see a squad without a purpose
missing the influential Davis they may hit the
Djorkaeff when he's back from injury and classified as a
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
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
I fear the worst with the guv'nor likely to suffer the
incarceration. Cameron if you must have a Wolves player
classified as a Midfielder.
Also looked doomed, even with a very good manager. I'm
Izzet wasn't more productive in Div 1 last year. Hard to
lot, but Elliott may be a successful Fantasy gamble in
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
- 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
- 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
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
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
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
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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