The Knee-jerk – Round 24

The star

The highest scoring player of round 24 came from an unlikely source. Steven Lustica’s 28 point haul, featuring a hat-trick and assist, was the highest scoring return of the Fantasy season.

With their season almost on life support, Brisbane need to take maximum points in their upcoming double gameweek. Many Fantasy managers will look to the services of Lustica in desperation, in the hope that he can continue on a purple patch to outscore the more popular double gameweek picks.

Historically, Lustica has been an unpopular Fantasy pick. Despite his penchant for a long range shot, he is generally a poor option and this is reflected in his seasons in the A-League. However, at just $145k and 4.7% ownership, he might be worth a double gameweek gamble.

 

Rejuvenated

Last I week asked whether to stick or twist on the out of form Besart Berisha and Andy Keogh last week, and it turns out that managers who stuck with the second and third highest pointscoring forwards were duly rewarded with 24 points combined.

There was still no goal for Berisha ($327k), but he was heavily involved in Victory’s 3-0 win and delivered two assists. This might turn out to be the calm before the storm, with the Albanian facing Newcastle at home before two games against former employers Brisbane. Even though Berisha has just 2 goals in his last 7, it would take a very brave Fantasy manager to enter the double gameweek without his services, given these appetizing fixtures.

After just two goals in his last ten games, it’s only fair with give credit where it’s due and laud the efforts of Andy Keogh ($266k). Perth’s top scorer returned 14 points, including a goal, assist and two bonus points, to end an extremely poor run of form.

But with Perth embroiled in a salary cap dispute, and still looking a shadow of themselves in the first half of the season, it’s highly unlikely Keogh will regain top form with just three games left. They do have consecutive home games against Sydney and Melbourne City, but with funds and places allocated to Round 25’s double gameweek, it is probably time to bid the services of Andy Keogh farewell.

 

Cause for concern

Consecutive 3-0 home drubbings have left Phoenix-heavy Fantasy managers in a tough place. Without Albert Riera, the Nix have been thoroughly outclassed through the middle of the pitch by Sydney and Victory respectively, and now face a struggle to challenge for top spot in the remaining three weeks.

Games away at Melbourne City and home to the Mariners and Sydney present a reasonable draw. Nathan Burns ($323k) and Roy Krishna ($187k) are both due a goal – the latter has gone three without scoring, and his place in many Fantasy squads may be numbered during the build up to the double gameweek. Similarly, the midfield differentials of Bonevacia (209k) and McGlinchey ($294k) are likely to be sacrificed to make room for Melbourne Victory players.

After reaching the summit of the table only a few weeks ago, I hope the Phoenix’s season hasn’t peaked already. The last two results will have Ernie Merrick and many Fantasy managers worried. In any case, they are going to feature in the finals and bar a disaster at Melbourne City, Fantasy teams should at least head into the remainder of the season with Nathan Burns.

 

Double trouble

Brisbane come into the double gameweek in style after dismantling the Mariners 6-1. It’s also a round of fixtures that will ultimately decide their season, so the incentive is definitely there for the players.

However, it’s difficult to approach the Roar with confidence when memories of their previous dismal double gameweek is still so fresh in the mind. Two tough fixtures away at Adelaide and home to Melbourne could catch the Roar off-guard given how awful an opposition Mariners were last week.

Defensively, Brisbane should not be touched with a barge-pole. There is a high likelihood of them conceding against Adelaide and Victory.

The afore-mentioned Steven Lustica ($145k) is an option for managers gambling on a purple patch. Luke Brattan ($249k) attracts bonus points and takes corners in the absence of Broich but plays in an unfancied position on the field Fantasy wise. Broich ($344k) himself is under an injury cloud, but scored 10 points in just 45 minutes last week against the Mariners, and is pivotal to the team’s success. Managers have been burnt by placing their double gameweek hopes on Broich this season, and it will take guts to give him the armband again. Ultimately, it’s best to wait for team news on this front.

Further forward, Brisbane lack a truly appealing double gameweek prospect. After a run of consecutive goals, Jean Carlos Solorzano ($163k) has blown hot and cold in recent weeks, although he still looks to be a performing above par. Andrija Kaludjerovic ($176k) scored 15 points in Brisbanes demolition of the Mariners – he has 3 in 6 and looked the part in flashes, but hasn’t quite settled into life in the A-League. Dimitri Petratos ($186k), a popular budget forward last season hasn’t found the net all season and is living life on the bench at the moment.

Melbourne also approach the double gameweek with swagger, having comprehensively beaten Wellington away. Victory have a tasty home game against the Jets before a more difficult task away to Brisbane.

Their win at Wellington saw Gui Finkler ($331k) dominate Ben Khalfallah ($260k) for the second week running, and his momentum continues to grow. Perhaps the tables are turning on a debate that so clearly leant the way of the Tunisian for most of the season. There has never been an argument strong enough to own both for this double gameweek.

Defensively, Melbourne have been frail at best all season. A home game to Newcastle should provide Victory with at least one clean sheet for the double, however it’s hard to get tempted by a Victory defender – especially there’s no room for one. Looking forward, it’s probably essential to play this gameweek with all three of Finkler, Khalfallah and Berisha.

Barbarouses ($226k) and Thompson ($262k) are the Victory differentials but with Barbarouses benched after returning from injury and international duty, and Thompson still playing second fiddle to Berisha it’s hard to make an argument for pursuing either.

Making the correct captaincy call will be the key to success in this double gameweek. It’s one of the toughest decisions of the Fantasy season.


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