Fantasy Focus

The bargain basement

April 29, 2011
By Dale Johnson
(Archive)

There have been few changes in the Premier League fantasy value-for-money team in the two months since the last update, in fact only three players have dropped out.

Craig Gardner
PA PhotosCraig Gardner: Impressed despite Birmingham's relegation

That said, the best value player in the game back in February, Charlie Adam, is one of the players to completely drop out. He has gone from been the No. 1 bargain to only the sixth best value midfielder.

Adam had a rating of 17.02 points per million spent two months ago, and has risen to only 18.75ppm since with other cheap players out-performing him. Adam scored twice in gameweek 30, following a run of four goals in successive gameweeks before he incurred a two-match suspension.

Blackpool's dire form has led to Adam going four gameweeks without a goal and his assist against Newcastle at the weekend was his first in the Premier League since gameweek 27.

A surprise name takes over at the top of the value for money league, with Birmingham City's Craig Gardner leaping from the final midfield slot to the very summit.

Gardner may be languishing down in 28th for total points in midfield, but a lack of popularity in the transfer market in recent weeks has seen his price drop to £4.2 million. Two goals in the last four gameweeks has taken Gardner's tally for the season up to seven and resulted in a value rating of 21.43ppm.

Gardner is the cheapest midfielder in the game yet has contributed 90 points. Only David Jones of Wolves, who as a comparison has 28 points, is as cheap. Birmingham still have work to do this season as they are just short of safety, and with games against Wolves, Newcastle, Fulham and Tottenham to come, Gardner could still boost his value rating further.

Team-mate Ben Foster also keeps his place as the best value goalkeeper, a position he finally won from Manchester City's Joe Hart in February due to the England No. 1's soaring price. Foster is now worth 19.61ppm compared to Hart, who now costs £6.6 million from a starting price of £3.5 million, at 18.18ppm.

With Adam dropping out of the team, Florent Malouda makes a first appearance in the bargain squad after being dumped by many managers as Chelsea's form slumped. But the French winger seems to have found a new lease of life during the club's recent resurgence.

Malouda, the only player from the top six clubs to make this squad, has scored three goals in Chelsea's last two games, though it may come as a surprise to learn he only has four assists this term - Didier Drogba leads the way for the Blues with 11 in the Premier League. He is now once again far and away the top scoring player overall in the game.

Fulham's Clint Dempsey might jump out at some as an obvious selection for the budget squad, but his popularity among our American readers means he is actually more expensive than Malouda at £8.4 million. So despite being the third highest scoring player in the entire game following his brace against Bolton on 149 points, behind Malouda and Nani, he is only the tenth best value midfielder.

Florent Malouda
GettyImagesFlorent Malouda: Player of the Season

There's every chance Jordan Henderson would have dropped out of the squad, with Adam keeping his place, had the Sunderland midfielder not scored a brace against Wigan Athletic on Saturday. They were the England international's first goals since December 5 and he only has three for the season.

The final midfielder is West Bromwich Albion's Jerome Thomas, who has been consistent during the Baggies' upturn in fortunes since the arrival of Roy Hodgson. Even though he has not weighed in with any goals or assists he has played every game to keep his value rating at 19.56ppm. He is in the squad ahead of Aston Villa's Marc Albrighton.

Phillip Bardsley of Sunderland has taken over from Fulham's Aaron Hughes as the best value defender, helped by a third goal of the season in gameweek 32. Bardsley, worth 19.11ppm, was stretchered off in the win over Sunderland with a head injury but it is uncertain how the Black Cats will perform with all their strikers now injured.

Hughes drops down to third at 16.40ppm as a new face has appeared in second place, Everton's young defender Seamus Coleman. Coleman, tipped at the start of the season as a bargain purchase, is now a regular in the side and has contributed four goals and could yet finish as the best value defender in the game.

Coleman comes into the team at the expense of Robert Huth, who had been a consistent member of the value squad but after eight gameweeks without a goal and two clean sheets in the last 11 gameweeks he drops out.

It would have been Fulham's Brede Hangeland who would have missed out but his goal and clean sheet on Wednesday pushed him back into the defensive positions. Fulham now have 12 clean sheets this season, a record only bettered by Liverpool, Manchesters City and United and Chelsea.

The forward line has not changed, with DJ Campbell and Peter Odemwingie in the team, but it is now Nigeria international Odemwingie who has taken over as the best value striker.

Odemwingie has rediscovered his form since the arrival of Roy Hodgson at West Brom, weighing in with four goals in his last five games, and four assists in the last eight appearances. Compare that to Campbell, who missed three weeks through suspension but has scored in the last two gameweeks to take his total for the season to 11.

Those two are very much clear of Johan Elmander, who rates at 15.48ppm. Compare that to Odemwingie (18.23) and Blackpool's Campbell (16.96).