February Squad of the Month
February was another productive month for attacking players as the goals continued to flow in the Premier League, adding further evidence to the belief that this is not a season for defenders in fantasy football.
Manchester United may have lost two games over the course of the month, their first defeats in the league all season, but they provided the two top-scorers for the month.
Wayne Rooney has taken a year to rediscover any kind of form to justify his £11.4 million price tag - only Carlos Tevez is worth more - as he finally takes a Player of the Month award. The United striker took the POTM gong for himself after scoring against Chelsea on Tuesday night, taking his tally for the month to 33 points.
Rooney scored five goals in the four gameweeks, in which United played five games, and he also contributed two assists. Despite commanding such a huge fee, Rooney is now hot property in the transfer market - his value rises by a further £0.2 million in Thursday's weekly update.
Rooney has scored 80 points across the season, so his February haul alone represents close to half that. He has only scored the same as West Brom's Peter Odemwingie, who costs almost half. Signing Rooney is a gamble on the striker continuing that hot streak of form over the remaining 10 gameweeks.
Another United player who will rise by £0.2 million is Nani, who was just overtaken by Rooney for the POTM despite setting up his team-mate for the goal at Stamford Bridge. Nani scored 31 points in February, with two goals and four assists, which have moved him clear as the top-scoring player in the game.
By comparison, Florent Malouda's early season form is now a dim and distant memory, but he is still on 122 points for the campaign compared to Nani's 133. Look further into his data, though, and you'll see that he scored 49 of those points in gameweeks 1-5. Since then, Malouda has scored three goals and provided three assists. He will drop in value once again this week.
Everton's Tim Cahill was the top-scoring player before he headed off to the AFC Asian Cup with Australia following gameweek 18, but he has only one assist since then and has fallen away. Cahill is now only the seventh highest-scoring midfielder.
Like United, Liverpool have two players in the squad and it will come as no surprise to learn that Raul Meireles is in for the second month in a row. Meireles has been in the goalscoring form of his life under Kenny Dalglish and scored another 28 points in February. Before going off injured at West Ham last weekend, Meireles had scored a goal in five consecutive gameweeks. But fantasy managers need not worry as his injury is not serious and he should be fit this weekend.
Glen Johnson has also found his season transformed under Dalglish, scoring 19 points in the month with his goal at Upton Park lifting him into the top four defenders.
It was not a vintage month for clean sheets, though Arsenal's Johan Djourou did win Defender of the Month with 23 points thanks to a goal and two clean sheets - and that's despite not featuring in gameweek 28 due to the Carling Cup final.
Gary Cahill of Bolton scored 20 points, also with a goal and two clean sheets, which is quite a tally considering his total for the entire season is now 35 points. The final player at the back is Stoke's Robert Huth who continues to be a consistent performer, and is the fifth-highest scoring defender.
Goalkeeper of the Month for February is Newcastle United's Steve Harper. Despite letting in four goals against Arsenal, Harper still picked up two clean sheets and with an additional five points for saves he moved to the top.
The loss of Charlie Adam to suspension may prove to be a crucial blow to Blackpool, and he will still have to sit out this weekend's game against Chelsea before his suspension for 10 yellow cards is up. He picked up another 26 points last month, which made him the best value for money player in the game and moved him into the top ten of midfielders, with three goals and an assist. If he wasn't suspended for the final gameweek match at Wolves maybe he would have usurped Rooney.
Jamie O'Hara was one of Blackpool's tormentors last weekend and he is proving to be a superb loan capture for Wolves from Tottenham, scoring 21 points. With a price tag of £5.5 million and as a player few rival managers will own he offers much in the fantasy market. And after facing Spurs this weekend, for which O'Hara would be ineligible in any case, Wolves only have two of their remaining nine fixtures against sides currently in the top-half: Newcastle and Sunderland.
Completing the midfield are two more players fighting relegation, with West Bromwich Albion's Jerome Thomas and James McCarthy of Wigan Athletic both scoring 20 points.
Manchester City's form has taken a serious dip over the last month, but Carlos Tevez makes sure he returns to the squad by scoring 26 points - the same total as Louis Saha of Everton.
The last player is another loanee who will have pricked the interest of fantasy managers. Daniel Sturridge has scored 23 of his 36 points for the season during his first month at Bolton Wanderers, scoring in all four appearances for the Trotters. Even though he has a Chelsea 'reserve' transfer price of £6.5 million, a goal a game would be fantasy gold. Bolton still have to play Manchester United and Arsenal but on the whole their fixture list is favourable.
Several players were left out of the squad to balance the budget: Robin van Persie (Arsenal), Damien Duff (Fulham) and Frank Lampard (Chelsea). And with six midfielders on 20 points the cheapest players were included for value for money. Those to miss out were: Joey Barton (Newcastle), Kieran Richardson (Sunderland), Theo Walcott (Arsenal) and Ashley Young (Aston Villa).