Fantasy Focus

Juggling the finances

September 21, 2012
By Dale Johnson

The Michu effect hasn't been dampened by his first blank scoring week of the season in Swansea's defeat at Aston Villa last weekend. In fact he continues to be one of the hot properties in the transfer market and is now up to £6.4 million, but he is still a bargain.

Michu celebrates
EmpicsMichu celebrates scoring for Swansea

Many of Swansea's players have shown a considerable rise in value since the new profit-based price fluctuations began, with Michu leading the way with the maximum rise of £0.9 million. And there's still time to make more out of some of these cheaper, fast starters in the fantasy game before the time comes to cash in and bank the profit.

The most successful managers are likely to be those who play the market, buying and selling at the right moment to maximise profit and in turn invest in other players.

Far too many managers waste transfers early on poor performers; while it is important to correct glaring errors, you are going to win no fantasy prizes making wholesale changes and running down your transfer allocation in the opening gameweeks. Running out well before the January replenishment point means you have little chance of fully benefitting from price fluctuations when it really matters.

If you are new to the idea of profit and loss element of fantasy, Swansea provide the perfect case study. Michael Laudrup's side have enjoyed a gentle start to the new Premier League campaign with fixtures against Queens Park Rangers, West Ham United, Sunderland and Aston Villa.

In the next block of four fixtures Swansea will entertain Everton, Reading and Wigan with a trip in Stoke slotted in after the Toffees visit the Liberty Stadium. There appears to be plenty of fantasy points in the upcoming weeks, which should see the Swans' top performers rise in value yet further.

And this is when we reach the key moment. If you have eight seemingly winnable fixtures back-to-back it only means one thing: lurking around the corner are matches which can only be seen as fantasy blockers, matches which are - certainly in the case of the Premier League's less fancied clubs - at the very least "benchers".

After the home game against Wigan, Swansea play Manchester City and Chelsea and then over the course of the eight gameweeks that follow they also travel to Newcastle, Arsenal and Tottenham and have home matches against Liverpool, if that is counted as difficult any longer, and Manchester United. So from a run of ten matches, the games against Southampton, West Brom and Norwich are the only ones that could be considered positive.

Gameweek Eight looks to be the optimum point to consider selling your Swansea players, when they will probably hit their highest value, and then reinvest elsewhere. The profit you make will enable you to put that cash into other players who you might have been too expensive earlier in the season.

Hanging on to players for too long is one of the greatest crimes of the profit and loss system. It can mean those who have proven fine fantasy signings have not only stopped scoring points, but they have begun to drop back down in value too. It is difficult to imagine Michel Vorm, who has an ownership level of 17.7% only behind Tim Howard and Petr Cech, claiming many clean sheets which in turn goes for Swansea defenders too.

It's too far in advance to pick out possible alternative investments once Swansea hit this wall, as so much can change with fitness and form.

Keeper conundrum

Wojciech Szczesny
PA PhotosWojciech Szczesny believes Arsenal are back on track

Arsenal and Manchester United have left us in limbo over goalkeeper selection in the opening gameweeks, making it a frustrating time for managers. While the reserve goalkeepers for the top clubs have a bargain price tag, there remains a question mark over their selection.

At Arsenal, Wojciech Szczesny (£7.5 million) was one of the most popular goalkeepers in pre-season and kept a clean sheet in the opener against Sunderland. He then picked up an injury which unexpectedly gave a chance to third-choice Vito Mannone (£4.8 million). After two further clean sheets, Mannone found himself back on the bench last weekend with Szczesny recalled - only for the Poland international to be injured again and miss the Champions League tie in France against Montpellier.

We now see Szczesny in 3.3% of teams, Lukasz Fabianski (£4.5 million) 1.9% and Mannone 0.8% - it is impossible to firmly predict which player will play on Sunday, but considering Arsenal travel to Manchester City you perhaps wouldn't want to pick them anyway. Arsenal have a block of games against West Ham, Norwich and QPR coming up and we will look for some clarity in selection before then.

While the Gunners' selection merry-go-round has been due to fitness, over at Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson wielded the axe on David de Gea (£7.6 million) after Gameweek Two and brought back Anders Lindegaard (£4.3 million).

Although De Gea was reinstated for the Champions League victory over Galatasaray in midweek, it is likely Lindegaard will return against Liverpool. That said, Manchester United have kept just one clean sheet this season, against Wigan last weekend, and five of their next six games are against Liverpool, Tottenham, Newcastle, Chelsea and Arsenal. Not a fixture list for fantasy managers to get excited about.

There is also a Krul blow for Newcastle with Tim still out with the elbow injury he picked up on international duty. Steve Harper seems to have the nod in the Premier League, though they conceded two at Everton on Monday, with Rob Elliot playing the the Europa League.

Krul is in 7.4% of teams, down 0.4% this week, with the uncertainty over the length of his absence causing managers to stick for now.

Going mobile

ESPN FC's new Premier Fantasy mobile site has just gone live, meaning you can follow your points live during a matchday and make transfers easily without fiddling around with the actual website on your device. Simply go to, or perhaps even bookmark, this link - - and you will be able to waste away all your transfers at your leisure.

• Remember you can discuss the game on the Premier Fantasy Forum and follow me on Twitter: @dalejohnsonESPN. Also, you can email