Fantasy Focus

Earning your Spurs

October 5, 2012
By Dale Johnson
(Archive)

It doesn't take long for things to change in football. Just a couple of weeks ago the knives were out for Andre Villas-Boas. Three Premier League wins on the spin since the boos rang out after the 1-1 draw with Norwich City and he is now the flavour of the month.

Jermain Defoe
PA PhotosJermain Defoe and Gareth Bale were both on target in the shock win at Old Trafford

Since the 3-2 victory over Manchester United at Old Trafford on Saturday, all three of Spurs' goalscorers have seen a rise in ownership: Jan Vertonghen is up 0.7%, Gareth Bale 0.4% and Clint Dempsey 0.4%.

But while those three players have enjoyed a surge in popularity, they are not the hottest Spurs player in the market. That accolade falls to striker Jermain Defoe, up 0.9% in ownership.

What makes Defoe such an attractive option is the dearth of striking options at Spurs which means, just like Fernando Torres at Chelsea, he is likely to start almost every match. The only other forward of note on the club's books is Emmanuel Adebayor, who has been struggling with injury.

Defoe has so far scored four Premier League goals in six appearances, with only Demba Ba, Robin van Persie, Steven Fletcher and Luis Suarez ahead of him in the scoring charts. Taking into account the chances he has missed, Defoe could easily lead the pack.

If you look at the shots to goals ratio for the players at the top of the scoring charts it shows Defoe needs the most attempts on goal to get on the scoresheet and only Suarez comes remotely close to that ratio.

Premier League shots to goals ratio for leading marksmen: Fletcher 1.6, Lambert 3.00, Crouch 3.25, Ba 3.33, RVP 3.4, Michu 3.5, Suarez 7.20, Defoe 8.00

That would suggest Spurs must continue to create chances if Defoe is to keep grabbing the goals, and their fixture list suggests that is possible - for the next four gameweeks - and as he is in 9.9% of teams he could offer the opportunity to make ground up on your rivals.

Tottenham's last fixture before the international break sees Aston Villa visit White Hart Lane before Chelsea make the short trip across London. Spurs then travel to Southampton before a home game against Wigan Athletic. Only four clubs have let in more goals than Wigan, one of them being Southampton who have the worst defence with 18 conceded. Villa's goals against column has also gone into double figures already.

Chelsea, however, do travel to North London with the best defensive record in the division, just three goals conceded and four clean sheets. And it does get less straightforward for Spurs when we reach Gameweek 11, when they face back-to-back away games at Manchester City and Arsenal.

Gareth Bale is predictably the most popular player in the Spurs midfield, though his ownership level of 14.5% is far lower than you might expect. That said, he comes at an expensive price of £8.9 million, which is sure to rise upon this weekend's price fluctuations. Bale is ranked 11th both on points and ownership, so you could say that is a fair reflection of his performance.

Dempsey always has a slightly inflated popularity rating due to being an American international, and will continue to be on the rise now he is amongst the goals and getting back to fitness. He's dropped to a price of £7.8 million since the start of the season, but even though he was the top scoring midfielder last season it is a hefty price for a player who is not certain to start.

Gylfi Sigurdsson has failed to fire since his move to Spurs and Aaron Lennon is the only other midfielder to make any kind of fantasy impression so far this term. Bale remains the safest option even though he is, jointly with Chelsea's Eden Hazard, the most expensive midfielder.

Defensively, Spurs have offered virtually nothing this season with not a single clean sheet in the league - Liverpool, Man City, Reading and Southampton are the others to boast that unenviable record.

Steven Caulker
EmpicsSteven Caulker: Could keep his place in the Spurs team and prove a cheap defensive option

Benoit Assou-Ekotto's injury problems have burnt many fantasy managers, given that he was one of the top-scoring defenders last season. The Cameroon international may return after the international break but has not played since the draw with Norwich on September 1. He is the most sold defender this week, but still has an ownership level of 10.7%.

Vertonghen is the third most popular Spurs defender after Kyle Walker and Assou-Ekotto, but that is certain to change if the Belgian continues the goalscoring form which has seen him net on his last two appearances. And if he is to fill in for Assou-Ekotto in the left-back position, giving him more licence to be an attacking force, he may provide value for money at a competitive price of £6.5 million.

One to watch is Steven Caulker, the young central defender who has been talked up as a future England regular over the past week. Caulker played 45 minutes of the win over QPR and then the whole of the victory at Old Trafford. This is largely due to Vertonghen being shifted to the left so it would be too bold to recommend his signing, but at a price of just £4.7 million he will be one of the bargains of the season if he cements his place.

Brad Friedel remains the first choice goalkeeper for now but with Hugo Lloris waiting in the wings there can be no certainty it will stay that way, so there is more value in Vertonghen and long-term assessment of Caulker.

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 - http://es.pn/premier_mw_UK - 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 fantasy@soccernet.com