Friday, July 29, 2011

Notebook Preview: Bolton Wanderers

Looking back at last season
  • Failed to score 11 times in the season, including 4 of the last 9 weeks. 
  • Scored 52 goals last season (10th) but 20 of these have moved on with Elmander (10), Sturridge (8) and Taylor (2) no longer with the team.
  • Only logged 5 clean sheets, which were all at home. One of only three teams to fail to log a single road clean sheet (Villa and West Brom).
  • Actually ranked 13th in goals conceded at home and away, so were perhaps a bit unlucky with the clean sheet results
  • Huge variance between home and road goals scored: 1.79 GPG at home (5th) while just 0.95 away (15th). Home record eclipsed Arsenal and tied with Man City.
  • Jaaskelainen ranked 9th in points among 'keepers but the team total was only good for 16th place. If you think other teams will have more settled lineups, you might want to pass.
  • Defensive unit scored just 319 points all season (17th), less than half of Chelsea's total. 
  • Thanks to Cahill's bonus haul (23) the team somehow ranked 6th in defensive bonus points. If Cahill leaves or the system assigns points more evenly, this unit becomes basically un-ownable.
  • The midfield ranked poorly in terms of actual points (16th) but represented good value for money with a 0.755 P$ (7th). With all but Lee under 6.0m, they could once again provide solid minutes with limited upside but consistent returns.
  • No team's forwards scored more points (465) than Bolton's ast season. Part of this is due to being one of the few teams to play two recognised strikers every game, but nonetheless it shows the potential for Davies and Klasnic to be productive this year.
Predicted lineup
Jaaskelainen (5.0m), Robinson (4.5m), Cahill (5.5m), Knight (4.5m), Mears (??m), Muamba (5.0m), Holden (5.5m)*, Petrov (5.5m), Lee (6.0m), Davies (6.5m), Klasnic (6.0m)

* Holden is injured until October, Mark Davies (5.0m) or Pratley (5.5m) are the likely fill ins

Safest Picks
Jussi Jaaskelainen . . . always reliable, logging over 3,000 minutes in four of the past five seasons . . . good save numbers (117) can pad his points when clean sheets are missing . . . xP of 120 shows his limited upside, with value being derived from his guaranteed playing time . . . can be used in a GK-combo rotation but at 5.0m better options may exist

Zat Knight . . .  hasn't really shown himself to be a goal threat though height always give him the potential to score a couple . . . faces some competition from Wheater but pretty safe to play most weeks . . . 4.5m pool is thin thin year so a reliable 80 point defender has some value . . . isn't reliant on bonus points (2 last season) so new system can only benefit him . . . departure of Cahill could be disastrous for this unit, likely making Knight a poor option . . . low upside but a nice spot start bench player

Chung-Yong Lee . . . almost hit three digit points despite only playing in 24 games worth of minutes . . . xG (5) and xA (13) show he can contribute in a number of categories . . . didn't log a single double digit gameweek but contributed more than just appearance points in 14 of his 24 appearances . . . no bonus love under the old system so some upside there . . . been on set piece duty in the pre season

Kevin Davies . . . led all forwards in minutes played, missing just 36 all season . . . has topped 3,300 minutes in each of the past 3 seasons, adding 26 goals, 16 assist and 51 bonus points in the process . . . more valuable at home (4.0 PPG) than away (3.0) where he is forced to do less chasing and takes more attacking positions . . . took penalties last season, with no reason to think that won't continue . . . led all forwards now priced at 6.5m or less last season in points and probably has the least question marks

Upside Plays
Stuart Holden . . . currently injured and not due back until October . . . xP of 117 shows he played at a high level last able to contribute goals (xG 3), assists (xA 3) and bonus points (xB 10) . . . new bonus system likely to reward his style of play . . . presence of Pratley is a concern and lack of consistent starting minutes may kill his value . . . two double digit games shows his ceiling is fairly high

Ivan Klasnic . . . didn't get a start last year but added 4 goals feeding on scraps at the end of games . . . averaging 0.7 G90 in his Bolton career, only Tevez, Owen, Hernandez, Berbatov and Van Persie topped that mark last season . . . with Elmander gone and Coyle's desire to play two up top he should get consistent playing time . . . fit for the first time in a Bolton uniform after a good pre season

No Thanks
Martin Petrov . . . not a particularly popular player among the Bolton faithful thanks to perceived lack of effort . . . played well at home (7.0 PPG, 3 goals) but ineffective on the road (3.1, 0 goals) . . . 4 games of 6 points or more but 21 appearances of 2 or less points, a classic all or nothing player . . . xP of 180 shows he could still do damage if given consistent minutes . . . Matt Taylor gone but Chris Eagles brought in to challenge his roster spot . . . at 5.5m still paying a premium for his performance at City in 07/08.

Gary Cahill . . . great player, by far the best along this backline . . . genuine goal threat with 11 goals in last 3 seasons . . . defense is very poor away from home making him a pricey spot starter . . . reliant on bonus points and goals, which can be tricky to forecast going forward (the new system suggests his haul will decrease - more on that to come soon) . . . to pay 1.0m more than teammates you need a guaranteed skill set such as penalty duties or very attacking role and I don't see that with Cahill

Fixtures
@QPR, MnC, @Liv, MnU, Nor, @Ars, Che, @Wig

aFix: 2-3-3
dFix:0-6-2

A brutal start for the Wanderers sees them face five of last year's top six in the opening eight weeks. Their usual defensive form at home will be challenged to the full with City, United and Chelsea in town, thus making the defence a poor early investment. Getting these games out of the way now though may open up a good stretch of games later in the season so it's worth checking back with Bolton later in the season.


Conclusion
My bias towards Bolton is well documented, but from a fantasy perspective it's hard to be overly excited about this team early on. The defence looks shaky given the tough fixture list and if Cahill leaves, the unit might lose its value for the whole season.

I rate the midfield on pure talent but it isn't clear if any of them can take the next step to become every week fantasy starters. Again, this warrants monitoring early on but I wouldn't recommend making an investment out of the gates.

Davies is always a legit option and joins a nice group of players in the 6.5m bracket. He probably lacks the upside of Sturridge, Fletcher or Rodallega but is more consistent than any of them and is exactly the kind of player to target to open the season. You can plug him in and know you'll get consistency, allowing you to avoid a mad scramble early on or worse, a forced use of the wildcard.

Comments are welcome below or at @plfantasy, and a full list of these previews can be found here. Check back over the weekend when GK-combo and bonus analysis will hopefully be ready.

7 comments:

Ash said...

Didn't realise they hadn't got a settled RB (is Ricketts still in the frame?) but I think Nigel Reo-Coker might fill in in midfield in Holden's absence.
Seems like Petrov's been impressive in pre-season again

[YeOp] said...

This is not a valid league code. Please enter another code or check the code with the league administrator.

KDJ said...

These are great. Really looking forward to your take on the best keeper rotations.

Chris Glover said...

Ash - It probably isn't settled with Ricketts and Steinsson still hanging around, but I'm betting that Coyle favours his man. Agree about Reo-Coker and should have added his name (he was signed after I wrote the first draft). Long term I think Holden is still the man and there's a lot of buzz about Pratley, but Reo Coker could steal minutes from them both, and probably Muamba too, whose star waned a little last season after an impressive '09 campaign.

YeOp - are you having trouble entering the league? Others seem to have joined. Let me know if you can't get in and I can send an invite.

KDJ - thanks. About to write the GK piece now. I'm a little concerned about the strategy in light of the new bonus points system, but I think it might still be best.

Thanks for the comments guys

Ash said...

Thanks for your reply Chris, it all makes sense.
Interested to see how Eagles fits in, I'd imagine he's a direct replacement for Taylor and intended to play in the wide positions.
I'd still think Chung Yong Lee is a definite starter if fit, but that Eagles will compete with Petrov for the other wide berth.

Steven said...

Lee broke his leg.. so he's probably out for awhile. Just a heads up.

Chris said...

Hey Chris, I know there is a lot of potential upside to Holden and I have faith that he can have a great season once healthy. That said, would you purchase him for the beginning of the season and sit him or wait until he's healthy and do a transfer? I am new to PL Fantasy so thanks for the help.