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Jan 20, 2012

Feeling blue

Gary Cahill's protracted transfer to Chelsea was finally completed at the beginning of the week, meaning he instantly became an outstanding fantasy bargain.

Many were burned back in August on two fronts. Firstly, it was thought the England international would move to one of the Premier League's big clubs before the summer transfer window closed.

And his goalscoring performance, and clean sheet, in Bolton's 4-0 win at Queens Park Rangers on the opening day led to a surge in ownership as managers wrongly thought he would be one of the players to have.

Despite Bolton's horrendous form in the first half of the season, meaning they have the worst defensive record in the whole of the division, Cahill's ownership level didn't drop too much.

Cahill's low price meant fantasy manager were reluctant to part with him, knowing there would not be a large number of viable options at other clubs or the spare budget to upgrade.

Another reason is the reducing stock of transfers as the gameweeks passed as well as a desperate hope that Bolton would start keeping clean sheets. In reality, they have managed to block out the opposition just once since the opening day drubbing of QPR.

Cahill is still ranked as high as 34th among defenders due to the two goals he scored for Bolton. Without those he would be way down in 59th place in the company of Norwich duo Marc Tierney and Leon Barnett as well as Fulham's Chris Baird.

With Alex persona non grata at Stamford Bridge, the options alongside John Terry at centre-back for Andre Villas-Boas are limited. Branislav Ivanovic and David Luiz seem to be the only alternatives.

Cahill has a full week's training under his belt after signing for Chelsea on Monday, so a place in the starting line-up at Norwich on Saturday looks likely.

That said, Chelsea's next two games are away from home, with a tricky trip to Swansea City following the game against the Canaries. Cahill will not get to play in front of his new fans at home until the crunch visit of Manchester United in Gameweek 24. And Gameweek 26 sees a certain Bolton side make the journey to west London.

Chelsea have struggled defensively all season - they have only five clean sheets to their name - so four away games in the next six matches does not suggest a run will be on the horizon. But at a price of £5.2 million, Cahill is a steal.

Cahill's ownership has only risen 1.8% since his move to Chelsea was confirmed, which is lower than expected. And considering he was bought by over 20% of managers at the start of the game his currently popularity of 14.4% will soon go up if the Blues start picking up clean sheets.

Managers who already had Cahill in their team, anticipating the reported move to Chelsea, will need to make a transfer if they already owned three players from that club. The 'three players from one club' rule remains in place and if you go over this quota you will have to sell a player to be able to make changes: that includes formation alterations or bench swaps.

Movers and shakers

Premier League transfers have been slow going so far this month, which suggests there will be a frantic spell of transfers as we approach the start of Gameweek 23 - which somehow falls on transfer deadline night.

Josh McEachran looks set for first-team football for the rest of the season after joining Swansea on loan but as yet no fantasy managers have been prepared to gamble on his success. Papiss Demba Cisse will be Demba Ba's strike partner when they both get back from the African Nations Cup so understandably there are no takers for his signature just yet.

Some transfers went through towards the end of last week, when the lock of Gameweek 21 had already taken place. Darron Gibson, competitively priced at £4.7 million, should prove good value if he can get his shooting boots pointing in the right direction. He is up in popularity 0.2% since signing for Everton from Manchester United.

The one remaining transfer is Robbie Keane's return to the Premier League from Los Angeles Galaxy at Aston Villa. He made his debut at the weekend, but no managers have seen any value in his £5.8 million price for his short stay back in England.

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