Firstly, apologies if anyone used my awful defensive rankings to select their team this week. There were only four clean sheets for the week and none of them were in my top five (though City are yet to play). My captain rankings fared slightly better ranking backing third top scorer Torres, though this was hardly rocket science with his home game to Hull. I am therefore working on new ways to evaluate these predictions to try and do better in the future.
A few trends continue to present themselves this season, as discussed below:
Year of the striker
Without wishing to sound like a broken record, the strategy of picking top scorers paid dividends again this week with Torres (17 points), Van Persie (9), Drogba (6), Berbatov (8) and Keane (21) all having productive weeks. Of strikers valued at over 8m, everyone who played gained at least 6 points apart from Rooney, Defoe and Anelka. Based on matchups only Defoe and Anelka were disappointments here.
Of the midfielders valued at over 8m, only Fabregas (6), Gerrard (7) and Lennon (6) managed to reach the 6 point mark. That left Lampard (2), Arshavin (3), Kuyt (5), Young (3), Cahill (3), Malouda (4) and Valencia (3) with disappointing weeks. Solid performances again from the likes of Benayoun (8), Dunn (9), Huddlestone (8) and Cohen (7) show that bargains can be had at all price brackets in the midfield.
Such is the gulf here, I am seriously considering moving Fabregas on and getting three premium strikers, depending on whether Bent starts to show signs of slowing down.
It has seemed on face value that there are less clean sheets this year but the stats actually show a different story, though the conclusion is the same. By this point in the 2008/09 season we had seen 29 clean sheets, 12 of which were kept by the big four sides (41%). So far this year we have 36 clean sheets though only 10 of them are attributable to the big four (28%). This shows that defensive points are even more plentiful than last year and can also be had a lower price. Picking the successful players is becoming harder though with traditional matchup rankings proving a weak analysis tool (Arsenal had the second worse road defense going into Saturday's game but kept a clean sheet against a decent Fulham side). Predictions using past form will of course improve as the season goes on and trends start to emerge but until then I will try and work out new methods of predicting these cheap sources of defensive points.
Bonus points were split evenly between midfielders (23) and forwards (26) this week with defenders (5) not getting much of a look in. What was noticeable though is who is being rewarded at each position. While players like O'Hara, Boateng, Lee and Reid are being given points in midfield the forwards getting the nod tend to be premium players. 19 of the 26 bonus points awarded to forwards were given to players costing more than 7m, with 11 going to 8m+ players. The top five bonus collectors at the forward position are 5 of the 6 most expensive strikers available. The top five bonus attracting midfielders includes Dunn, Cattermole and Ferguson, all of whom can be had for less than 5.5m. Once you play your way into the minds of the 'pundits' you are often remembered even during off weeks and so expect to see this trend continue for at least the next few weeks and months.
Hope your week went well and don't forget Man City-West Ham tomorrow which promises decent returns for Bellamy, Barry, Wright Phillips and company. Pure Juice have 68 with Shaun Wright to play which is a good return soured somewhat by the success of Torres who was sold in the wildcard shakeup and would surely have been captained this week. My strikeforce contributed 39 points though so no complaints overall. Until next time . . .