Fantasy Football Scout - Gameweek 4

Lennart Preiss

The one where Nick Holden is back to save Sunderland fans from Simon Walsh's dodgy advice...

I'm back at the helm, and now face the task of picking through the rubble of Simon's prediction's last week. The cigar-chomping Roker Report head honcho tipped Sunderland 'keeper Keiren Westwood and Everton right-back Seamus Coleman as ones to watch last week.

Westwood, unfortunately, was unable to repay such faith and turned in a nervy performance that won him just two points, including a 1 point deduction for conceding three goals in one game. Coleman did rather better, although mainly an attractive pick, as Simon pointed out, for his attacking contributions, it was the defensive side of his game that shone as Everton and Cardiff both failed to score.

As well as picking up points 4 points for a cleansheet, the Irishman was also awarded an extra bonus point as one of the outstanding players on the pitch. This all totaled up to an impressive return of 7 points for the Toffees' right-back. Maybe there's hope for Simon yet...

So how did the players tipped to turn in stinkers do? The advice was to avoid Jack Colback and the Ajax of Anderlecht Romelu Lukaku. Again, the Sunderland tip turned out to be the dud which is a bit awkward, considering we're a Sunderland site and all. Colback turned in one of the two moments of genuine quality in the Black Cats' performance at Selhurst Park, sending in a lovely cross for Steven Fletcher to nod home, earning the Ginger Prince a very creditable 6 points. The other moment of quality was, of course, the anticipation and desire of Sunderland's Scottish Jesus to get in the box and get his bearded bonce onto the end of his full-back's cross.

Lukaku, just as predicted, yet again failed to even make it onto the pitch for Chelsea last week. Although, in fairness, so did the rest of Chelsea's squad as they technically didn't have a game last week having played twice in the opening gameweek. Nice going, Si.

Still, there was some merit in the suggestion that Lukaku wasn't valued highly by Jose Mourinho, as the Portuguese chose to farm the Belgian striker out to Everton on deadline day. Which leads me to a word from the wise - I can categorically guarantee that Lukaku will contribute nothing for Everton this week either. Everton are matched up against the West London Bastards and so the striker is ineligible.

So, onto this week's predictions...

Sunderland Player To Watch: Steven Fletcher

Whilst Arsenal's defence is actually statistically not as shaky as reputation would have it, you do feel that Altidore and Fletcher could have some joy against it. Especially expert finisher Steven Fletcher squaring off against the less than inspiring Szczęsny.

With the Scotsman providing one of the aforementioned moments of genuinely excellent play against Crystal Palace I can see him having some joy against Arsenal considering the attacking freedom given to Sunderland's fullbacks, and the lack of protection afforded to Arsenal's by their front-line.

General Player To Watch: Mesut Özil

Unfortunately this week I can't see anywhere to look other than the obvious, and even more unfortunately that obvious candidate happens to be lining up against Sunderland. Mesut Ozil is in the top 10 players in world football, and is an outstanding signing by Arsenal.

Cesc Fabregas described him as Real Madrid's second best player after Cristiano Ronaldo, and he also mentioned that he felt that the German would thrive in the space left in the midfield by Premier League sides. Considering that Crystal Palace's midfielders found ample room to operate last week, you would fear that Ozil won't so much find space in Sunderland's midfield, more discovering a yawning chasm stretching before him as far as the eye can see.

I was planning to write about how Theo Walcott in particular could really benefit from Ozil's arrival, and despite a poor performance for England midweek I still feel he could, but he is an injury doubt for this game thankfully. With his pace and desire to get in behind the opposition defensive line I can easily imagine the England winger taking full advantage of Ozil's accurate through balls on the counter-attack.

Sunderland Player To Avoid: Keiren Westwood

From the dizzying highs of being recommended by Roker Report, to the cruel abyss of being slated by the very same venerable institution within the space of one gameweek. Football can be a cut-throat game sometimes.

Although he's had a shaky start to the season, I do like Westwood and think he'll start to grow into the no.1 position given time and faith. However, I'm afraid I can't see Arsenal failing to score in this match, and so (barring a Mignolet-esque masterclass of points-winning saves) I can't see Westwood being a valuable addition this gameweek.

General Player To Avoid: Ashley Young

With Wayne Rooney out injured as a result of Phil Jones completely accidentally and not at all on purpose kicking a hole in his head, David Moyes seems to have a choice between Danny Welbeck and Shinji Kagawa to play behind Van Persie.

So far this season, Moyes has (strangely) not seemed particularly keen on Japanese space-invader, so Welbeck seems a pretty certain pick to start up front. This leaves a space on the left wing that could well be filled by Ashley Young. Now, I'm sure there must be a point to Young.

He keeps being paid by United and picked by England, so he must have some underlying use. But for the life of me I can't work out what it is. If he does start, he'll be a waste of space.

The Roker Report League

It's too early for any players to have really broken clear of the pack yet, but there is a very small buffer zone that represents a break between the top 4 and the rest of the league. In joint first we have Chris Worthy's Sunderpants and Daniel Parker's Llama of Destiny (both on 213), one behind them on 212 Rosli Mohamed's RayyanRayqal FC and 3 points behind that lies the SHOE ARMY of John Downing. After that, there's another 3 point gap down to 5th place and below.

Interestingly, three of those in the top 4 all have Giroud, Zabaleta and Coleman, and the team that doesn't have all three (Sunderpants) still has Coleman even if not the other two. So perhaps a word from the wise would be to keep an eye on those three players! Also interestingly, none of those top 4 have last season's golden boot winner Robin van Persie. Some would say it's a big gamble to go without the North London Pariah, but it seems to be paying off so far!

Away from the glorious heights of the top of the table, we find the Roker Report writers. Well, maybe that's a bit unfair. Craig's mob is currently sitting in an excellent 16th place on 191 points. After that Dave and Luke sit in comfortable mid-table with 170 and 169 points respectively, leaving them in 90th and joint 97th. Making them the fantasy football equivalents of Everton and Swansea. In what could, probably generously, be described as lower mid-table I sit in 191st on 155 points. Which, if we're being honestly, probably makes me a fairly decent equivalent for Sunderland.

Then, well, frankly it's somewhat of an embarrassingly long trek down from the peak to reach the rest. More of a nice amble than a hike from the bottom of the league table brings you to Stephen in 300th on 132 points. Finally, and exactly where you'd expect him to be, we find Simon in 336th on 120 points. I get the feeling a wooden spoon may be plugging Mr Walsh's house into it's SatNav already...

Finally, my trawl through the table has brought a few things to my attention. Firstly (and this really shouldn't be a surprise) it seems that being a fan of Sunderland and sadomasochism go hand in hand. No, I haven't been snooping through your windows at night, instead I've noticed just how many peoples have gone for "50 Shades of O'Shea" as their team name. Dirty buggers.

That brings me onto a couple of team-names that are succeeded in summoning forth a "lol" when I spotted them. But not a "rofl", they weren't that good. Dominic Hogg's "Not A Kalou" is a pretty solid effort (though personally I would have gone for "I'm Sorry I Haven't A Kalou"...), but Rex Hugill's "Dude Where's Micah?" is frankly award-worthy. I think the Mercury Awards are soon, they should ditch the doubtless crap shortlist and just give it to Rex.

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