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Scott Parker announces his retirement


November Squad of the Month

November has not been a vintage month for Premier League fantasy, with no one player setting the game alight. The fact that not a single player has managed to top 30 points for the month underlines that. Granted, there were just three gameweeks for the month but you'd still expect a top performance from somewhere.

Some may argue that Jermain Defoe deserves this accolade, and perhaps it is a bit harsh on the Tottenham striker considering he managed to plunder five goals - all in one game against Wigan Athletic. He didn't score another goal in November, with no assists, but it is hardly a poor return. It perhaps underlines how much more valuable goals are from midfield and defence.

Defoe still takes the accolade as our Player of the Month. No other Spurs player can force their way in, despite that goal glut against Wigan. Winger Aaron Lennon came close, with 16 points, though 14 of those came against the Latics with a goal and three assists.

Chelsea, who moved clear at the top of the Premier League in November, had four players who qualified for the Squad of the Month but, in the spirit of the rule of no more than three players from any one club, Michael Essien had to make way despite scoring 21 points.

The Chelsea players who do make the squad are all defensive, proving that they are the most reliable team for clean sheets in the competition. The Defender of the Month is captain John Terry, clear at the top with 26 points. He's at the top of the charts thanks to three clean sheets and a goal too. Ashley Cole is the second highest scoring defender with 20 points as an assist against Arsenal pushes him ahead of the rest.

Petr Cech is forced to share the spoils for Goalkeeper of the Month. The Czech Republic international picked up three clean sheets but not a single point for saves made, further showing how mean the Blues' rearguard has been. He's joined on 18 points by Stoke City stopper Thomas Sorensen, with the Dane keeping two clean sheets but topping up his score with three points for saves.

The Squad of the Month does usually carry more than the minimum four defenders, because their cheaper price is required to balance the budget. That midfielders and strikers are able to dominate the squad shows how disappointing November was for the star names such as Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard. In fact, there is only one player - striker Wayne Rooney - who is priced higher than £8.3 million in the whole squad. It has been the month for a bargain.

The other two defenders come from less fashionable teams. Blackburn Rovers skipper Ryan Nelsen could celebrate more than just World Cup qualification as he recorded two clean sheets and a goal to score 19 points. And he is joined at the back by Birmingham City's Scott Dann, who has 16 points.

Managers with Nelsen and Dann in their squad will have made a killing. Nelsen, priced at £4.4 million, and Dann, who costs just £4 million, are not exactly popular in the game. In fact, Nelsen has been signed by just 450 managers and Dann by 817.

Birmingham are one of the form teams defensively, sitting second, along with Manchester United and Stoke City, to Chelsea on clean sheets with six. And with some favourable fixtures coming up for the Blues it is definitely an avenue to consider.

The Midfielder of the Month is Fulham's Clint Dempsey. One of the most popular transfers of recent weeks, the USA international has been in top goalscoring form with three goals in November helping him to finish on 17 points. He now has five goals but considering his best ever return was seven goals last season, and six in 2007-08, it is unlikely such great form will continue.

Fellow Fulham midfielder Damien Duff is also in the 15, his 18 points coming from a goal and two assists.

Another club who can boast two midfielders in the squad are Hull City. Jimmy Bullard, the Premier League Player of the Month, has been an inspirational figure for the resurgent Tigers but, as was always the danger, a knee injury has struck again. That means team-mate Stephen Hunt is now a better fantasy option, and he too is in the squad after scoring, just like Bullard, 18 points.

One of the true bargains of the fantasy game this season is Birmingham's Lee Bowyer, who has rolled back the years to his Leeds United days by becoming a goalscoring midfielder again. With two goals in the month he makes the midfield in third place.

There is no top-four player in the midfield, which is a unique event. The only player in the squad to come from the top seven teams in the Premier League is England international Shaun Wright-Phillips, who two goals and two assists towards a total of 22 points for the Manchester City winger.

Joining Defoe in the strikeforce is Rooney, who surges up to 17 points for the month after scoring a hat-trick against Portsmouth. They were the only goals he scored in the month.

But a surprise name is the second-highest scoring striker, Burnley's Steven Fletcher. One of the cheapest strikers in the game at £5.5 million, the Scottish player bagged three goals and an assist. His price and promising form - he's the tenth best striker on total points - make him a popular signing for 3,178 managers - nearly 2,000 more than Manchester United's Dimitar Berbatov.


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