Saturday, January 21, 2012

Lineup Lessons Gameweek 22

Arsenal
Szczesny, Djourou, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Koscielny, Rosicky, Song, Ramsey, Walcott, van Persie, Oxlade-Chamberlain
Subs: Almunia, Park, Squillaci, Arshavin, Benayoun, Miquel, Yennaris.

It was a pleasant surprise to see Oxlade-Chamberlain in their starting lineup given the recent struggles of Arshavin. He didn't disappoint either, impressing with his movement, composure and football IQ (sorry, Theo) which led to a good assist for Van Persie's goal. We're always looking for fantasy value in this Arsenal team and at 5.7m Ox has some makings of that very player. However, this was his first league start and only his third appearance so be careful not to get carried away here. Maybe Wenger decides to throw him out there for the rest of the season (he can't be much worse than Arshavin and Walcott have been at times this year) but it's too risky to make that leap right now. I want to say more, but there just isn't much else of interest in this lineup.

Aston Villa
Given, Hutton, Clark, Collins, Dunne, Albrighton, Petrov, Gardner, Bent, Agbonlahor, Keane
Subs: Guzan, Warnock, Cuellar, Baker, Bannan, Delfouneso, Weimann

Warnock was a surprise omission here though he did come on at half time and one would expect he'll stay in this side long term. Whether or not the Villains provide any defensive value is another question though.

Strangely, Villa have score three goals in each of their last two road games but struggled at home against Swansea and Everton. Keane is intriguing to say the least given his price tag, but I would issue some caution over a player who converted his only two shots on target into goals. He has shown an eye for goal in the past of course, but I'd like to see Villa generate more chances for him before jumping on board. Bent is interesting as a differentiator but for me he's too expensive given that he doesn't contribute anything outside of goals (and the bonus points that come with them).

Blackburn
Robinson, Lowe, Dann, Givet, Olsson, Nzonzi, Hoilett, Petrovic, Dunn, Pedersen, Goodwillie
Subs: Bunn, Modeste, Formica, Rochina, Vukcevic, Hanley, Henley.

This lineup is becoming more predictable but in terms of points concentration, there is little to get excited about with Yakubu missing. The results have improved of late but they still don't look like a side who are going to keep clean sheets and the goals are spread thin across a number of overpriced options.

Bolton
Bogdan, Steinsson, Knight, Wheater, Ricketts, Eagles, Reo-Coker, Muamba, Petrov, M Davies, Ngog
Subs: Lynch, Sanli, K Davies, Pratley, Boyata, O'Halloran, Riley.

Three goals from unlikely sources don't add much to this team's fantasy fortunes, who look a lot like their northern rivals Blackburn. N'Gog has looked pretty useful since breaking into the side and is worth monitoring but it's tough to see him overtaking the likes of Helguson, Graham or Morison in that budget category. Coyle seems to be more committed to the 4-5-1 now which should allow Eagles to play more often (he was sometimes exposed in a 4-4-2) and his nice assist this week shows he has some talent. I'm not sure I see much in him that you can't get elsewhere (Ben Arfa, Moses, Dyer, Morrison) but he deserves consideration alongside that group.

Chelsea
Cech, Bosingwa, Luiz, Terry, Cole, Ramires, Lampard, Meireles, Sturridge, Torres, Mata.
Subs: Turnbull, Ivanovic, Essien, Romeu, Malouda, Lukaku, Bertrand.

A few people jumped on Cahill early and I thought he had an outside chance to play here. Villas-Boas said after the game that he had some "team principles" to learn though that begs the question when Luiz will be taught those same principles. Assuming Cahill takes over at centre back he will be good value but with a clean sheet here, you have to be cautious about how soon that move will happen. Torres had chances again here and everything suggests he is a sleeper candidate (talent, bad luck, good support players) but yet he just looks devoid of confidence and hopeful, rather than confident, that the net will bulge. If you're in a deep hole he deserves brief consideration but I'd suggest it's a needless risk at this point. Essien will likely crack the first team very soon and that should have a positive impact on the team, though I'm not sure it's going to catapult this team's fortunes to the point where you're ready to spend big money on the available assets. If a team ever needed a quality January signing it's this one.

Everton
Howard, Neville, Duffy, Heitinga, Baines, Donovan, Gibson, Fellaini, Anichebe, Cahill, Saha
Subs: Mucha, Hibbert, Bilyaletdinov, Drenthe, Stracqualursi, Gueye, Vellios.

Blackburn at home is one of the better fixtures a team can have, but as reflected in this week's rankings (Everton were 10th) the Toffees just aren't that good at the back. The goal, of course, was unlucky but Blackburn were probably good value for their point with Everton playing fairly uninspired stuff all day.  Donovan looked pretty good and warrants ownership, but I'm somewhat concerned by the lack of goal scoring opportunities he receives. Good, but not outstanding value at 7.0m. I want to be able to recommend Drenthe who has been impressive during most of his cameos but his defensive weakness seems to be keeping him out of the side and he is too pricey to play so sporadically.

Fulham
Stockdale, Kelly, Hangeland, Senderos, JA Riise, Ruiz, Murphy, Sidwell, Duff, Dempsey, Zamora
Subs: Etheridge, Baird, Johnson, Gecov, Hughes, Frei, Briggs.

After his first goal I asked on Twitter why no 'big' team has ever been in for Dempsey and no one really had an answer. I am not encouraging the move (I hate it when the rich teams unimaginatively steal all the middle teams' talent) but with the inevitable decline of Gerrard and Lampard, is there a better goalscoring midfielder around in the league? His first goal showed the instincts (and luck) of a number 9, while his third simply showed a player utterly convinced he was going to score (the anti-Torres so to speak). A full write up on my wildcard team is to come, but I'll be honest, I brought Dempsey in as a one week hire, due to be replaced next week by Bale. I've got a tough decision to make this week now though.

I thought Johnson was excellent off the bench but probably won't get enough minutes to warrant ownership while Zamora also looked good but is priced in a tough spot between the budget options in the ~5m range and the classier group (Ba, Sturridge, Dzeko). Probably not enough upside to justify his 6.6m tag.

Liverpool
Reina, Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Jose Enrique, Maxi, Henderson, Adam, Bellamy, Gerrard, Carroll
Subs: Doni, Coates, Kuyt, Downing, Carragher, Shelvey, Kelly.

This team has talent, but I'm not sure it's enough to overcome the premium those players come with due to the badge on their shirt. The defense was pretty awful against Bolton and while I still like them at the right price, even if you have Enrique at 5.5m I don't think he is undroppable. The next three gameweeks don't project to be great for this defense and it might be time to look elsewhere if you're wildcarding this week. Bellamy was fancied by many this week and rewarded their faith with a well taken goal, giving him four goals in his last three starts. If you're wildcarding he is worth a look, as you can then move him on in four weeks when Suarez returns, but I'm not sure I'd spend two transfers on him given their opponents over that time (Wol, Tot, MnU, Eve).

Man City
Hart, Richards, Savic, Lescott, Clichy, Barry, Milner, Silva, Aguero, Nasri, Dzeko
Subs: Pantilimon, Zabaleta, Johnson, Kolarov, Onuoha, De Jong, Balotelli.

No real surprises here. City are prone to poor defensive days (especially without Kompany) but we can chalk this one up to the quality of the opposition rather than any significant concerns for Richards and company. They remain an elite group of defenders to hold. Silva continues to chip away with good scores with his production finding a great combination of consistency and upside. One goal in five games for Aguero makes one a touch nervous and his lack of chances today compounds that concern. Van Persie remains in a league of his own right now but Aguero is still right there behind him, you just need to decide if he's worth the money required to get him over Adebayor, Ba or Dzeko.

Man Utd
Lindegaard, Jones, Smalling, Evans, Evra, Valencia, Carrick, Giggs, Nani, Rooney, Welbeck.
Subs: De Gea, Berbatov, Park, Hernandez, Fabio, Rafael, Scholes.

Most sources had Rafael starting at right back but I think they continue to underestimate Ferguson's confidence in Evans. Even before the injury to Jones I would suggest Evans was in line to play most games for the remainder of the year. With so many injuries this may not be a truly elite defense but Evans and Lindegaard are obviously good value when they play and are worth a spot in your squad if you're confident in your other options. With the way he's playing Valencia has overtaken Nani as the best value midfielder in this side and Nani owners should consider how they could use that couple of million elsewhere in their team. Like Aguero, Rooney has been kept quiet in recent weeks and actually failed to register a shot on goal this week. However, the notion of 'form' is flawed and he is playing well enough to deserve consideration for any fantasy side. A home game with Stoke looks like a good way to cure those blues. Many will be tempted by Welbeck but I still think Hernandez has a big part to play in this side and at 6.6m Welbeck is too pricey to have him sit every other week, even if he's great value when he plays.

Newcastle
Krul, Simpson, Williamson, Coloccini, Santon, Ben Arfa, Guthrie, Cabaye, Gutierrez, Best, Ameobi
Subs: Elliot, Lovenkrands, Perch, Gosling, R Taylor, Obertan, Ferguson.

Who knows what to make of this defense? They aren't without value but the last four road games have seen them concede 5, 3, 0 and 4 and they were all over the place again this week. The decision to keep Santon in the side over R Taylor seems curious as he hasn't done much to impress since breaking into the side and was left wanting again against Fulham. I'd still be happy holding Simpson, Williamson or Taylor but they aren't every week starters anymore so you need sufficient depth and rotation options to accompany them. Going forward I like Ben Arfa as the pick of the bunch here and rate him as a good 4th or great 5th midfielder.

Norwich
Ruddy, Martin, Whitbread, Ayala, Naughton, Fox, Johnson, Pilkington, Surman, Morison, Holt
Subs: Steer, Drury, Crofts, Jackson, Hoolahan, Bennett, Wilbraham.

Don't get overly excited about this defense, who conceded 19 shots and were bailed out by the good form of Ruddy and the poor finishing of Torres and co. I was surprised to see Ruddy had an ownership of 12% and with several cheap options available, I don't understand the logic behind owning him, or any of the Norwich defense for that matter. This midfield has some talent but I wouldn't rate them as highly as the Swansea group. The next games are pretty favourable though so the likes of Pilkington or Surman are intriguing options.

QPR
Kenny, Young, Hall, Ferdinand, Hill, Mackie, Buzsaky, Barton, Wright-Phillips, Helguson, Campbell.
Subs: Cerny, Orr, Derry, Bothroyd, Smith, Ramage, Macheda.

Helguson continued his good form, and it could have been better but for Al-Habsi's heroics from the spot once again. He makes an excellent 3rd forward, adding four more shots this week to accompany his penalty duties. I wouldn't put him alongside Fletcher but he's atop that group of ~5.5m or cheaper players. I don't see much else here to hold our interest.

Stoke
Sorensen, Woodgate, Shawcross, Huth, Wilson, Shotton, Whelan, Delap, Etherington, Walters, Crouch
Subs: Begovic, Jones, Fuller, Pennant, Whitehead, Wilkinson, Jerome.

Along with Liverpoool, Stoke's defense was a huge disappointment this week and you wonder if they will ever become a reliable unit again this year. Given that Shawcross and Huth are priced above those available elsewhere, the oft-injured Woodgate looks like the best value option, but he too carries significant risk of his own. I'm not crazy about Walters anyway and the potential loss of penalty duties further hurts his value. I would advise his owners to start making alternative plans.

Sunderland
Mignolet, Bardsley, O'Shea, Brown, Richardson, Larsson, Cattermole, Vaughan, McClean, Bendtner, Sessegnon
Subs: Westwood, Turner, Gardner, Wickham, Ji, Meyler, Elmohamady.

Unlike Walters, I think Sessegnon is for real, though I'm still a bit concerned that his current goal/shot conversion rate is unsustainably high. He's probably the best player in this team though and anytime you can get that for a good price you have to be interested. McClean has really caught the eye since breaking into the first team and looks like one of the best sub-5.0m options around. Don't expect him to continue his 6.0 P90 for much longer but he should definitely warrant spot starting when your other options face tough games.

Sunderland have only conceded more than a single goal twice in their last eight games, adding two clean sheets in the last five weeks. Only one game (GW25 - Arsenal H) registers as a tough game in the eight week forecast, making this one of my favourite defenses to buy into. Mignolet and a fit again Brown look like the best ways to make that happen.

Swansea
Vorm, Rangel, Caulker, Williams, Taylor, Dyer, Britton, Sinclair, Allen, Sigurdsson, Graham
Subs: Tremmel, Routledge, Monk, McEachran, Moore, Agustien, Richards.

What's good for the team isn't always good for fantasy, and the arrival of Sigurdsson and McEachran may fall into this category. The midfield suddenly looks a bit crowded and while it's still a good source for fantasy value, predicting regular minutes just got harder. Dyer would appear to be fairly safe as the most natural wide player (along with the oft-benched Routledge) and he wasn't taking many set pieces anyway (which seem to have been stolen by Sigurdsson). Graham remains the best uber-cheap forward but I like Helguson more if you can afford it. This defense remains a great value unit, particularly at home.

Tottenham
Friedel, Walker, Kaboul, King, Assou-Ekotto, Lennon, Parker, Modric, Bale, Van der Vaart, Defoe.
Subs: Cudicini, Pavlyuchenko, Bassong, Dawson, Kranjcar, Livermore, Pienaar.

No Adebayor of course due the terms of his loan arrangement, but otherwise it was as expected for Redknapp's side. Not too much to add on this lineup who provide good fantasy value at each position.

West Brom
Foster, Tamas, McAuley, Olsson, Shorey, Thomas, Mulumbu, Dorrans, Morrison, Cox, Fortune
Subs: Fulop, Mattock, Tchoyi, Long, Jara Reyes, Odemwingie, Dawson.

Over the last four gameweeks, six midfielders have registered double digit shots: Mata, Bale, Dempsey, Van der Vaart, Modric and Morrison. There is obviously potential with Morrison but my concern is that his points have come in a couple of big games followed by weeks of mediocre returns. The encouraging part is that those big games have come against weaker opponents, suggesting his success is at least somewhat predictable. No one owns him (0.4%) and the price is pretty good making him shortlistable if you're looking to do something a bit different. The other two options in the West Brom side who I liked - Long and Odemwingie - were both benched this week, rendering this team fairly useless outside of the aforementioned Morrison.

Wigan
Al Habsi, Gohouri, Caldwell, Boyce, Figueroa, Gomez, McCarthy, Watson, McArthur, Moses, Rodallega
Subs: Pollitt, Crusat, Di Santo, McManaman, Sammon, Stam, Lopez.

Al Habsi is a perfect advert for why you don't pay for 'keepers. Wigan have the league's second worst defense yet he ranks 7th among all 'keepers this year, thanks to his save points (especially those from the spot). There aren't any other every week starters here but I'd suggest that Gomez and Moses are worthy of consideration as a 4th or 5th midfielder. Rodallega is a name worth watching as he appears to have re-secured a spot in the first team and is clearly one of this team's most talented players when in form. He doesn't represent incredible value at 5.9m (I like Fletcher and Helguson more) but Wigan have a good run of fixtures from GW24-29 and he could be well placed to take advantage.

Wolves
Hennessey, Ward, Johnson, Berra, Foley, Edwards, Kightly, Henry, Frimpong, Jarvis, Fletcher
Subs: De Vries, Elokobi, Stearman Hunt, Milijas, Ebanks-Blake, Doyle

My Fletcher boosting is well documented and I really liked him this week so was disappointed with the outcome. Wolves managed to add a couple of goals but Fletcher was quiet throughout with just a single shot on goal. He was however involved with the play (48 touches and 34 passes) and I'm happy owning him over the coming weeks in spite of the tricky fixtures. There isn't a great deal more on offer here until O'Hara returns, with Jarvis looking too expensive and Hunt often benched. 

6 comments:

Genevapics said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Genevapics said...

I know the feeling regarding Nani/Dempsey. I replaced Nani with Dempsey this week as an opportunity to give the american an audition for my squad. That and the fact that his next two fixtures are at home and against easier competition versus Nani. I didn't have the guts to Cpt. him, but I'll take his 17 (+3 bonus) this week and smile. On another board, someone wrote a very telling description about Dempsey (paraphrasing):

"Week in and week out, Dempsey collects 2 or 3 pts and then one week has a nice points haul. At the end of the year, you look up at the table and see that Dempsey was a Top 10 goal scorer."

I think that is a very accurate description of the Texan. Nani has his work cut out for him if he wants to make my squad!

I have given up on Chelsea. Their attack is simply non-existent. Torres is in more than a funk! Sturridge's constant complaining about wanting to play in the center has gotten in his head. Lampard's injuries don't help. Mata can't score consistently to save his life and Drogba is off to Africa. AVB must be pulling his hair out trying to push the right buttons to get this team started.

As far as I can tell, Chelsea are done. This is a team in transition. Lampard's days are numbered, Drogba might be sold to China/Turkey and Alex has already left the squad. If Chelsea can find a way to earn a Champions League berth, then AVB will have earned his salary for the season. As far as FF points are concerned, I'll look elsewhere.

And how about Sessegnon? I agree he needs more SG, but you have to admire what he does with what little attempts he takes. McClean's crosses into the box should help Sess with his attempts. He might be just the catalyst that propels Sessegnon higher up the scoring table. I've got him for the long haul.

As always, great blog.

Gummi at fantasyformation.com said...

Is your distaste for Walters based on his few shots per game?

Aside from Sessegnon (which I have, and I guess most who follow the game closely) who would you advise to swap for Walters (in the same price range).

After a cursory glance, the most likely candidates seem to be Morrison, Dyer, Ireland, and Ben Arfa.

pitt_AO said...

@Gummi

Sigurdsson of Swansea also worth a shout, he should start most games and is a class player. I'd wager he'll have a high number of Chris' favourite stat, key passes, come the season end.

pitt_AO said...

Apologies for double post, just though... Barton and Buzsaky also have potential if they keep their places in the lineup after the transfer window shuts.

Gummi at fantasyformation.com said...

@pitt_AO: Good point on Sigurdsson, he looked the part on Saturday. He seems to hog set-pieces also.