Friday, October 8, 2010

Fabregas v Malouda

I'm in a dangerous position. I'm happy with my team but two back-to-back average weeks (which were an Alex wonder goal away from being poor) have me feeling antsy. It's like when you're sat in a good bar on a Saturday night. You're happy. The beer is good. And the atmosphere is decent. But, you can't help wonder what else is available. Sure you're gonna have fun, but is it going to memorable? I think my team if fine. But is is memorable?

There has been talk on the boards of wildcards but I've decided that with Drogba, Berbatov, Nani, Alex being locks to stay put and the fact I'm happy with Vidic, Odenwingie and Adam, there doesn't seem to be much point wasting my wildcard too soon. Hence I am looking to reload rather than re-build my squad.

The obvious (and likely) choice is to switch Koncheky out for Boateng who I am very high on. I could also bring Boateng in for one of my budget defenders given that I have 2.8m sat in the bank. However, I can't help but be attracted to the return of Fabregas after the international break given the way he dominates games, wins bonus points and, well, does everything. My only realistic option (without wholesale changes) to get Fabregas is to drop Malouda: surely this is a crazy move?

Fabregas v Malouda

Last season Fabregas was simply irresistible. Despite Lampard running away with the scoring title in the end, it was only through injury that Fabregas missed out (he outscored Lampard at 8.8 v 7.9 PPG and at a rate of 0.752 v 0.584 PPMS). As a comparison, Malouda (on tremendous form) is generating 7.7 PPG at a rate of 0.779 so far this season. So, Fabregas generated more points but Malouda was slightly better value. Nothing too controversial there. For reference, on a per minute basis, Fabregas is generating 10.0 PPG this season in his brief cameo role in GW2 -5.

My issue is whether Malouda can continue this rate of scoring (which is still below the level of production Fabregas showed last year). To date Chelsea have played the easiest schedule for attackers while Arsenal have faced the 5th hardest. That would suggest that Chelsea's goal record (23 in 7 games) must regress a bit to the mean while Arsenal will surely play better against weaker opponents and with Fabregas back (16 in 7 games to date). Over the next 8 games the stats show that Chelsea's opponents concede an average of just 1.18 GPG while Arsenal's opponents concede 1.36. My prediction tool suggests that over those 8 games Chelsea will score 2.5 GPG while Arsenal will add 2.25 GPG.

So it seems that Chelsea might shade the Gunners in goals scored but it is closer than it has been so far this season. But who accounts for those goals?
  • This year Malouda has scored/assisted 6 of Chelsea's 20 goals when he played (30%). 
  • Last year Fabregas accounted for 30/66 of the Arsenal goals that were scored when he played (45%).
  • Malouda accounted for 21/102 (21%) of the goals Chelsea scored when he played. 
Those numbers are quite telling as even a continuation on this pace would not see Malouda score/assist as many goals as Fabregas.

A closer look at Malouda
We all know what Fabregas can do. He is for real and a genuine star in this league (in my opinion the best player along with Drogba). The jury on Malouda however is still out to a degree. Now in his fourth season at Stamford Bridge, Malouda is really starting to look like the player Chelsea thought they were getting when they raided Lyon back in 2007 (he also showed glimpses last season). A look at his chalkboard's from the start of this season are somewhat confusing as his involvement in the game does not necessarily tie to his production. His greatest involvement in terms of touches of the ball and completed passes came against City and Stoke and he managed a combined 12 points in the two games. Meanwhile his chalkboards against Arsenal and Blackburn look terrible but he again managed 12 points over the two games.

That production is both good and bad. Good in that he can score and produce fantasy points when not playing that well but bad in that he doesn't dominate games the way Fabregas does and may drift out of form at some point this season. The longest stretch of games Fabregas went last season without scoring was four, Malouda meanwhile had a run of six games (though this only occurred once and he was generally pretty consistent all year). You do feel though that of the pair Malouda is more susceptible to off weeks as Fabregas is often bailed out by over generous bonus judges. Fabregas earned 1.69 bonus points per 90 minutes last season while Malouda managed just 0.78. Consider that Lampard's number was 1.03 and Drogba's was 1.01 and you realize just how much the pundits love Fabregas (only Rooney - remember him? - came close at 1.53).

The biggest factors playing against me dumping Malouda is his current ownership (42%) and the 0.4m I will lose by selling him. Goals for Malouda will crush my team across all leagues if Fabregas takes a while to get back to form thus making it a huge risk not to own him. Also, if FabregasMalouda back, though it's that kind of risk that makes teams champions.

As of now I am leaning towards a double switch (which I usually avoid) of Konchesky and Malouda to Boateng and Fabregas. I am justifying the 4 point hit on the basis that I will captain Fabregas and both players have good fixtures this week. I also would like to free up some cash to bring Arteta in (who I think is about to explode) and might have to move Vidic out for O'Shea to accommodate that move in the future. I see from the poll that the majority of you think Fabregas will outscore Malouda in the near future and I think I agree with that sentiment. This decision will surely take the rest of the week to settle in my head.

7 comments:

auburn.tigers2011 said...

Great article Chris, I was just going through this decision this morning. Because I did play my WC I found a way to keep Malouda and fabregas in my squad but I wanted to hear some thoughts on the team before I make it final

Foster Krul
Simpson Salcido Toure Elmohamady Alex
Malouda Nani Fabregas Nolan Adam
Elmander Berbatov Drogba

This is the team I have now. I have Simpson because I saw he is fit and playing a reserve game but will he start?

Foster Krul
Simpson O'Shea Toure Elmohamady Alex
Malouda Nani Arteta VDV Adam
Elmander Berbatov Drogba

Thoughts and opinions are encouraged and appreciated

Colin said...

Chris,

I agree with the sentiment that Fabregas is a must have, but I have to say I cannot countenance dropping Malouda for him. I think since the turn of the year that Malouda has been an outright star in this league. He might not quite be in Fabregas' league but I still think he's a Fantasy league must have, particularly since there is only really one top priced striker, who is delivering the goods at the moment (Drogba).

My team currently reads.

Foster, Jaaskelinen

Konchesky, O'Shea, Carr, Konchesky, Williamson

Gerrard, Ben Arfa, Adam, Van der Vaart, Malouda

Odenwingie, Drogba, Berbatov.

0.7M in the bank.

My wildcard is already played, so my plan is over the next couple of weeks to sell the injured Ben Arfa and Konchesky and bring in Boateng, and Albrighton and then swap Gerrard for Fabregas.

My team would then look like:

Foster, Jaaskeleinan

Boateng, O'Shea, Alex, Carr, Williamson.

Fabregas, Albrighton, Adam, Van der Vaart, Malouda.

Odenwingie, Drogba, Berbatov.

This means I probably won't have Fabregas for his first week back, but I think it's worth it to be able to pair Fabregas with Malouda particularly with the mouthwatering prospect of having VdV beside them. I've obviously compromised in defence a bit so no top rated players there, but I keep remembering the analysis you did at the start of the season showing little correlation with price and performance. I still think this defence is pretty solid though and if Boateng performs as we hope then could only do better by incorporating someone like Cole, who I can't afford right now. Albrighton is a bit of a risk, but he seems to be starting pretty regularly and as a Villa fan, I know him to be a good player in the making, so I think he'll chip in with some decent returns this season. The incorporation of Fabregas speaks for itself. What do you think?

David said...

I hope you're right Chris. I stubbornly (probably foolishly) refused to buy into the Malouda this season, opting instead for Fab and getting my Chelsea cover through Drogba. Needless to say I'm well down on all my league rivals who doubled up on the Drog/Malouda combo and only Charlie Adam is keeping me afloat right now. So it's time for my Fab investment to pay off. Chris do you really see Fab as a better cap option than Nani next week? I have both but Fran Drescher (the Nani) has the armband for now.

Ryan said...

Chris,

I agree with Colin that it would be better to somehow free up funds elsewhere to facilitate a Fabregas-Malouda combo. True, we still have insufficient historical data to ascertain Malouda's reliability, but at least he's still fairly consistent.

Having said that, you could surmise that his away form this season hasn't been that great (single digit points). And based on the stats you churned out, it can't be more obvious who the better one is. So if you can really afford only one of them, then sell Malouda for Fab. I'll quote a cheesy line from the movie 'Fired Up': "sometimes you gotta risk it to get the biskit."

Andrew said...

Malouda was the first player on my team sheet this year and I am also going to drop him this week. His fixtures are bad for the next several weeks and would rather have either Nani or Fabregas instead.

This week I have 2 freebies and will be doing Malouda and Gerrard out for Nani and Febregas.

My team, with 2.2 in the bank, will be:
Hahnemann (Foster)
Perch, Toure, Givet (Faye, Stam)
Fabregas, Nani, Etherington, Dempsey (Albrighton)
Carroll, Drogba, Tevez

Next week I plan to do Albrighton to Parker or Stam to Jagielka.

Ryan said...

Chris or anyone,

To jump or not to jump on the Van der Vaart bandwagon? My 'marquee' midfielders are Fab, Malouda & Nani and I intend to keep them. The other 2 midfielders are super cheap and I rotate them regularly. I guess the question I'm trying to get to is whether it's worth having 4 expensive midfielders.

Chris Glover said...

Auburn - I have been struggling to get Nani, Fab and Malouda but alas I cannot do it without using my wildcard and sacrificing my chelsea defender which I am unwilling to do.

I think Arteta is a GREAT pickup and he might be on the players of the month coming up. Equally VdV looks like he could be real deal.

Simpson is a risk and I might stick with Perch for now who should get the game this week. If you wanted to save some cash to upgrade Simpson you could go Toure > Boateng (0.2m) and even Nolan > Gutierrez (0.9m). As I mentioned in an earlier post, I think over the season Elmander will slow down but I agree that riding the form is a decent ploy for now.

Colin - I like the balance you have across the team and you really dont have any players you wouldnt be comfortable playing each week (though I starting to worry a bit about Birmingham's defense). If I make my planned changes we will have the exact same back 7 and strike force. I'm not sure if that is good news for you though!

David - the only reason I like Fab more than Nani this week is that Fabregas very rarely lays a 2 pointer as he is assisted by the bonus Gods. Nani has scored 2/3 points in 3 of 7 games this year which terrifies me as a captain prospect.

Ryan - I think I want to keep Malouda but I guess my real question is Malouda or Nani as I am now sold on Cesc. Malouda is better and will surely score more but at 1.6m can I use that money more effectively elsewhere?