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Apr 22, 2010

A failed experiment?

Just under a month ago we built a Premier League fantasy team from scratch, attempting to discover how successful you could be when knowing the form players, the fixture list and those who have succumbed to injury. The answer? Well, a bit average really.

It seems that prior knowledge is not necessarily a pre-cursor to fantasy excellence. With 182 points since the team was created, it's hardly an inspiring return.

The aim was to challenge for the April Manager of the Month award, but with only 107 points scored so far this month there is a mammoth 69-point gap to the currently leader for the latest set of gameweeks, an honour which befalls Joyce Kasprzak and his team Pittsburgh Irons.

Where exactly has the experimental team gone wrong? Fernando Torres, one of the most expensive purchases at £11.4 million, managed just four points before breaking down injured again. And as he rests up following knee surgery he won't play again in the Premier League this season.

A similar problem befell Everton midfielder Mikel Arteta, who had enjoyed an electric run of form until signed up for this team. He'd scored four goals in three games, and was then promptly ruled out. And to add insult to, er, injury, we left him out of our team for the current gameweek as it was reported that he would not play. And so he started against Blackburn Rovers and scored.

It's generally a tale of woe.

But hang on! There have been some successes, most notably Gareth Bale of Tottenham, who continues to play in a wide midfield position while classed as a defender. With 17 points to his name, largely thanks to the goals he scored against Arsenal and Chelsea, Bale is currently the Defender of the Month.

And our team can also proudly boast the second highest defensive scorer for April. Glen Johnson has proven to be a bargain since his price dropped due to injury and has picked up 15 points, which is the same return as Brede Hangeland of Fulham. While we may not have Hangeland in this team, we did advise Fulham as possible defensive acquisitions and selected Mark Schwarzer between the sticks.

Schwarzer shares the Goalkeeper of the Month award, at this stage, with Wolves' Marcus Hahnemann and Jamie Ashdown of Portsmouth. We're not sure anyone will possess either the other two stoppers. Fulham and Wolves defenders have generally been the best performing defensively.

So, if we have the top two defenders for April and the leading goalkeeper, how can it have all gone so wrong? For a start, the rest of the defence has offered very little. The trio of James Collins, Gary Neville and Leighton Baines offered a combined total of 21 points, which Bale nearly managed all by himself.

Into midfield now, and we've already covered the disaster that was Arteta. Has there been anything to cheer from those in the centre of the park? Not at all. The total points tally for the five midfielders is a pitiful 24 points - and that includes the seven points for Arteta which did not count to the team's total as he was on the bench.

Antonio Valencia is our best performer with just eight points, while Luka Modric and Adam Johnson have offered even less. The most expensive error came with the purchase of Francesc Fabregas who, just like Spain team-mate Torres, will not kick another football for his team this season.

The top-scoring midfielder for the month so far is another Everton player, Tim Cahill, who has rediscovered his form with three goals and an assist to put him eight points clear of his nearest rival. That happens to be Matty Taylor of Bolton after he scored twice at Stoke last weekend. As a player who has been in and out of the Bolton side, he has come from nowhere with that brace.

There is also an honourable mention for Liverpool's Steven Gerrard who has bucked the trend of a disappointing season to sit in third for April.

The pain of Torres has been mentioned, but at least we can be happy to have selected Arsenal's Nicklas Bendtner. A class act he may not be, but the Dane is sitting in third place for the month. Our other forward, Fulham's Bobby Zamora, has managed only three points.

The star performers have been from Manchester City, who have found goals every easy to come by. Strike duo Emmanuel Adebayor and Carlos Tevez have both bagged 22 points. Sadly, neither were picked up by us. We can only hope for greater success this weekend, the final gameweek of the month.

It almost impossible to pick a perfect team, of course, but Pittsburgh Irons have done well. Of the top performing players, Joyce Kasprzak has picked Schwarzer, Johnson, Hangeland and Steven Gerrard, while there have also been good points returns from Frank Lampard and Darren Bent. We'd a bit confused by the selection of Wolves's George Friend, a player whose only appearance all season was in that infamous defeat at Manchester United.

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