Fantasy Focus

Squad of the Month

April 28, 2009
By Dale Johnson
(Archive)

Ever since the departure of Harry Redknapp, each and every fantasy doyen has been warning people away from Portsmouth defenders. That proved to be sage advice during Tony Adams' tenure; but Paul Hart has turned it on its head.

The Squad of the Month for April
Soccernet / GraphicThe Squad of the Month for April

Amazing, stunning, remarkable, shocking: Portsmouth have four defenders from the seven available slots. When you consider that the most selected Pompey defender is Sol Campbell in 4.81% of teams, it's safe to say few fantasy teams will have prospered on defensive points in April. Liverpool feature next in the scoring stakes, with three attacking players in the 15-man Squad of the Month.

There's an intriguing comparison between attack and defence with only one player from the Big Four clubs at the back, while conversely just one player from outside the Big Four makes it into midfield or attack. The high-scoring humdingers in the title run-in have had their effect.

It's not even as if you can put Portsmouth's achievements down to their extra game this month, as that was a 2-0 defeat at Manchester United which did not score defensive points. But Pompey picked up three clean sheets from their four regulation fixtures, the points coming against Hull City, Bolton Wanderers and Newcastle United

David James gets the gong for Most Valuable Player between the sticks with 18 points. He was a point ahead of Petr Cech, but the Chelsea goalkeeper was removed from the SOTM to keep within the £100m budget limit; the reserve goalkeeping place therefore goes to Mark Schwarzer of Fulham with 14 points.

The shocks don't stop though as April's MVP in defence is the one and only Younes Kaboul. Yes, one of the most maligned players in recent seasons, who has cost Tottenham Hotspur and Portsmouth the combined fee of £13m in a shockingly short space of time, top scores with 17 points. He fits in ahead of his team-mates by virtue of an assist in the 2-2 draw with West Bromwich Albion.

Sol Campbell comes next on 15 points and there's also a place for Sylvin Distin on 14, who was booked during the month.

Anyone with those Portsmouth defenders will have benefited greatly as they are picked by few: Kaboul (0.47% of teams), Campbell (4.81%), Distin (0.94%). Nadir Belhadj, a marauding wing-back fit again after a lay-off, is in just 0.05% of teams and only seven defenders have proven to be less popular; perhaps he's a good bet for the final month at just £4.5m.

The only traditional big gun to make it in to the team at the back is John Terry of Chelsea with 14 points. And the final place goes to Blackburn's Dutchman Andre Ooijer despite Rovers keeping just the one clean sheet and shipping four at Liverpool. Ooijer's goal against Tottenham Hotspur at the start of the month puts him on 14 points.

GettyImagesArshavin: Player of the Month

Once again the value comes in midfield which completely outscores any other player in the rest of the squad. No surprises this time in terms of the top scorer, and also the Player of the Month, after Andrei Arshavin's four-goal salvo at Liverpool. Long tipped as a star of the run-in, there must be very few fantasy managers with transfers left who have not brought in the Russian.

The 27-year-old has five goals and two assists for April in a haul of 44 points. His total of 71 points from nine matches at 7.88 points per match puts him way in front of Cristiano Ronaldo's ratio from last season's record breaking performance. Just nine matches and he's the 44th best midfielder in the game. He's going to be a pricey fantasy purchase next August.

Second top scorer is Chris Brunt of West Brom. Tipped as a bargain buy in this very column just two weeks ago, the former Sheffield Wednesday winger has risen to the occasion with four goals and a key contribution. At £5m he is as cheap as they come. Then factor in that he's now got 107 points and stands 11th in the midfielder rankings. In a normal month he would have topped scored with 35 points, but for Arshavin.

He's had a month off, but Cristiano Ronaldo is back with 33 points helped by the double against Tottenham. And Francesc Fabregras returns from injury to take what has been a regular slot in the SOTM. The final place in the midfield goes to yet another star of the Big Four as Yossi Benayoun steps into Steven Gerrard's shoes on 28 points.

Both Fabregas and Benayoun are available at great prices right now. With Gerrard injured, Benayoun has been banging them in at £6.3m; Fabregas' long injury lay-off has seen his value plummet to £6.2m.

The MVP up front is, not for the first time, Liverpool's Fernando Torres with four goals. And he's another injury victim at a great price of £8.8m, bagging 24 points in April. Team-mate Dirk Kuyt's brace against Hull wins him a place and the final spot goes to Wayne Rooney of Manchester United.