Monday, February 6, 2012

Lineup Lessons Gameweek 24

Arsenal
Szczesny, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Coquelin, Song, Rosicky, Arteta, Walcott, van Persie, Oxlade-Chamberlain
Subs: Fabianski, Sagna, Park, Henry, Ramsey, Arshavin, Benayoun.

Nothing to see here folks, keep on moving. We all knew Van Persie would play and definitely didn't strip him of the captain's armband in the early hours of the morning, right? I maintain there was an strong argument to not captain Van Persie this week but perhaps it was too risk averse. The outcome obviously indicates he should have been captained but the process is less clear. A tough call gone wrong and apologies to anyone who I swayed the wrong way.

On a brighter note, having impressed of late in a handful of appearances, the Ox got his rewards with a couple of well taken goals. He is the form wide player in Arsenal's side and looks likely to continue his run in the first team. At such a young age he comes with a risk of rotation but I really like him as a differential option for the next few weeks. No one is more critical of Walcott's end product than I am but he made the right decision more often than not this week and was rewarded with 3 assists. He's a bit pricey but if you've spare cash lying around he carries a good upside and has been surprisingly consistent (in fantasy terms at least) this year.

Aston Villa
Given, Hutton, Cuellar, Dunne, Warnock, Ireland, Petrov, Clark, N'Zogbia, Keane, Bent.
Subs: Guzan, Heskey, Bannan, Weimann, Lichaj, Baker, Gardner

This is a settled lineup but the depth of fantasy quality of limited. The front pair have appeal for different reasons with Keane offering solid returns as a third forward while Bent is one of the few scarcely held options who can genuinely challenge at the top end of the goal charts for the rest of the season (though I have my doubts). Others can be useful in short spells, most notably Ireland, but I wouldn't be making such moves unless I really needed to force the differentiation issue.

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

There's obviously no way to hold this defense and with so much rotation and inconsistency going forward there's little up top to get excited about either. We'll talk again when Yakubu is back but this team looks simply awful at the moment.

Bolton
Bogdan, Mears, Wheater, Knight, Ricketts, Eagles, Muamba, Reo-Coker, Petrov, M Davies, Ngog
Subs: Jaaskelainen, Sanli, K Davies, Klasnic, Pratley, Boyata, Sordell.

Speaking of awful teams. That's not really fair as Bolton have played better of late and were in this one until Coyle (admirably but naively) brought on a second striker in K Davies and the game turned. Unfortunately this team really lacks quality and while Eagles has had his moments this year, he is only ever going to be a poor 4th or good 5th midfielder and you can get similar production from players with lower price tags. Hopefully the new signings can have an impact but it's doubtful.

Chelsea
Cech, Ivanovic, Cahill, Luiz, Bosingwa, Essien, Meireles, Malouda, Sturridge, Torres, Mata.
Subs: Turnbull, Romeu, Lukaku, Ferreira, Hutchinson, Bertrand, Piazon.

This bench looks as weak as I can remember from a post-Abramovich Chelsea side, so this team essentially picked itself. Terry and Lampard should return soon which means Cahill - who did okay but didn't dazzle - is still a risky commodity to own. Mata looks like a very good differential option in midfield, impressing with his set pieces and overall play, and the next four games look sufficiently appetising to encourage one to make that move sooner rather than later. Sturridge remains a semi-differential option too, though with his combination of price tag and ownership, I might just prefer to go with the higher upside (Ba) or bigger differential (Cisse, Cisse, Zamora etc).

Everton
Howard, Hibbert, Heitinga, Distin, Baines, Pienaar, Fellaini, Gibson, Donovan, Cahill, Stracqualursi.
Subs: Mucha, Jelavic, Drenthe, Neville, Gueye, Anichebe, Duffy.

Pienaar slotted straight into this lineup, and while he might be a bit pricey for immediate consideration, his presence will surely add some more attacking prowess to the side. With Donovan, Pienaar, Gibson and Jelavic all relatively new arrivals, it's going to be tough to forecast this side for the next few weeks but there is certainly potential in this lineup for some decent fantasy returns. I liked this defense for the week so it was disappointing to see them concede, though I'd still keep Hibbert around as a decent 4th or 5th defender. That said, with the week off in GW26 it isn't worth signing anyone from this side.

Fulham
Schwarzer, Kelly, Hangeland, Senderos, Baird, Davies, Murphy, Etuhu, Duff, Dembele, Dempsey. 
Subs: Stockdale, JA Riise, Kasami, Ruiz, Hughes, Gecov, Frei.

A couple of surprises here with Riise and Ruiz both missing out, with Baird and Dembele being the beneficiaries. Given Baird's nervy performance, Riise will surely return next week though I still feel he is overpriced. I questioned the logic of playing Dempsey up top on his own before the game, and nothing I saw convinced me that is the right way to go. I think a fit Andy Johnson has a role to play in this side, and if so would be an intriguing pickup at just 4.7m. Before then though, Dempsey and Murphy remain the best options here and the next five gameweeks look sufficiently good to keep them in your plans.

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

Has Nasri moved ahead of Milner is the pecking order? Possibly, but the situation is sufficiently blurred as to render them both huge risks to own, given their lofty price tags. That really only leaves Aguero, Silva and Dzeko and even the latter will carry some risk with the imminent return of Balotelli. I'd still be more than happy to own any combination of that trio though.

At the back the team looked pretty comfortable, which is pleasing given the absence of Kompany from the side. He doesn't look like he'll miss any more time so this unit will be at full strength in the future and likely therefore remain the best defensive unit around.

Man Utd
De Gea, Rafael, Evans, Ferdinand, Evra, Valencia, Carrick, Giggs, Young, Rooney, Welbeck
Subs: Amos, Berbatov, Park, Hernandez, Fabio, Scholes, Pogba.

Young returned to this side but was generally pretty quiet and I wouldn't be rushing to bring him in anytime soon. The issue is that his return increases the likelihood of Valencia getting minutes at right back, thus hurting his value in the process. Nani is said to be close to a return too so Valencia owners should at least start formulating an escape plan, even if you want to stick with him for now. Rooney failed to score from open play again but he's taking shots and getting in good positions so I wouldn't be worried in the slightest. Indeed, this was his hardest game for a while so he actually looks more attractive than he has for the past couple of weeks.

This defense is not playing too well at the moment and with no replacements on the bench this week, it would appear the injuries are really taking their toll. The unit can still be deployed with confidence against weaker sides,  but you can't think of them as a truly elite team and the stats may be overvaluing them somewhat as you've got Vidic's appearances baked in, including 4 clean sheets and just 2 goals conceded in 6 games. For a bargain price (Evans, Lindegaard when fit/playing) you are fine but it's tough to argue P Jones deserves immediate consideration when he returns.

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

I haven't seen every Newcastle game this year but I've seen enough to be somewhat confused why Ben Arfa struggles so much to get into this side. Taylor and Gutierrez obviously provide better defensive cover but with Guthrie and Perch in the middle, you'd think you could carry at least one more attacking player. Either way, until something changes the talented Ben Arfa cannot be owned.

I though Ba might play but I was really surprised he managed 89 minutes. I guess you have to be concerned with whether he can play every game from here on out, but he represents outstanding value and I'd expect his value to rise again this week. If you're not on a tight budget and want Ba, I would personally wait a week until after the trip to Spurs (who haven't conceded more than once at home since the GW3 loss to City) and accept the 0.1-0.2m it will cost you. If you're looking to gain ground on people, Cisse probably makes more sense though on one appearance alone, it's tough to say he can match the returns of Ba. He does however have a very good scoring record and I love his combination of upside and ownership. With Best injured, Cisse should be pushed into the first team next week, though as with Ba I would personally wait until after the trip to White Hart Lane.

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

A huge surprise here with Morison only starting on the bench, a real blow given the good fixture and the ease in which Norwich created chances in the second half. I picked Surman as the man to watch in this midfield and he added his 3rd goal in seven games to add to another decent performance. His returns will always be inconsistent but he should be near the top of anyone looking for a 4.5m midfielder's list.

QPR
Kenny, Young, Onuoha, Ferdinand, Taiwo, Taarabt, Derry, Barton, Wright-Phillips, Cisse, Zamora
Subs: Cerny, Hill, Hall, Mackie, Traore, Hulse, Smith.

The new front line have started well for QPR with Cisse and Zamora netting in back-to-back games, and both should warrant consideration as a third forward. Cisse, of course, is now suspended and out of contention but Zamora was a promising option in a Fulham shirt and probably remains that way have moved across London to QPR. Despite the goal, his underlying stats were less impressive than a couple of recent starts and so some caution should be exercised.

We haven't seen too much improvement along the backline so it's tough to get overly excited by Taiwo's attacking abilities but the next four games look promising making him a good 4th starters over that period.

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

Etherington missed out through illness making the biggest headline the deployment of Walters. His ownership remains at 13% but his production was declining even before he was pushed back to midfield and this recent move should be the final nail in his coffin. Sell him now or face losing more money and wasted resources.

Sunderland
Mignolet, Bardsley, O'Shea, Turner, Richardson, Larsson, Gardner, Meyler, Colback, McClean, Sessegnon
Subs: Westwood, Bridge, Campbell, Wickham, Ji, Kyrgiakos, Elmohamady.

This Sunderland side has become one of the best sources of fantasy assets since O'Neil's arrival with the defense enjoying a very productive run (three straight clean sheets and four in six) along with the all-conquering Sessegnon and the quickly emerging McClean. Granted, the clean sheets haven't always come against the best opponents but they were able to blank City and Stoke isn't the easiest place to visit. Sunderland have conceded more than a lone goal just once since O'Neil's arrival though the upcoming games don't look as generous, this is a good unit who should still provide good value in that 3rd or 4th defender slot.

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

This team is shaping up to be fairly predictable and can still provide good value for fantasy managers. One clean sheet in eight games has taken some gloss off Vorm and company but that run included some very strong opponents, including three top-five sides at home, where Swansea have enjoyed so much success this season. The next three games have good potential and none of the remaining visitors terrify you other than City in GW28 so this once sought after group look primed for a return to form.

Going forward, Graham and Sinclair have nicely ticked along with their solid form and remain useful options as squad players. Graham's value is hurt by the fact that many are going with three quality forwards but if you need to save cash he may be your best option, with Morison relegated to the bench this week. Sigurdsson has started his Swansea career very nicely with 22 points in just four appearances. His set pieces should allow his production to continue and he should be a definite target as a 5th midfielder for the remainder of the season. Indeed, he will likely replace Surman in my own team when I get a spare free transfer.

West Brom
Foster, Reid, McAuley, Olsson, Shorey, Morrison, Dorrans, Mulumbu, Thomas, Fortune, Odemwingie
Subs: Fulop, Tchoyi, Ridgewell, Andrews, Jones, Cox, Scharner.

Really not too much to talk about here. Morrison and Odemwingie are talented enough to warrant monitoring but this team is treading water and really is devoid of fantasy talent.

Wigan
Al Habsi, Stam, Boyce, Caldwell, Figueroa, Beausejour, McCarthy, McArthur, Gomez, Moses, Di Santo
Subs: Pollitt, Alcaraz, Crusat, Watson, Jones, Rodallega, Diame.

Wigan have now gone nine games without a win, being outscored 21-7 over that period. Moses is hanging on as a ~5.0m option but there's very little else here to even monitor. Next

Wolves
Hennessey, Stearman, Johnson, Bassong, Ward, Foley, Frimpong, Edwards, O'Hara, Jarvis, Fletcher
Subs: De Vries, Elokobi, Ebanks-Blake, Hunt, Berra, Milijas, Doyle.

The core of the team remains set but without predictable production in recent weeks. The game did mark the return of O'Hara who was in excellent form before his injury and should jump back onto our radar providing he can continue to prove his fitness. I backed Fletcher for this little run of games and he didn't deliver but I still like him as a third forward and it makes sense to hold him for the favorable game this week against West Brom.

8 comments:

Bitzoboard said...

Nobody should blame you for your captain analysis; they should take everything into account and make their own decision. I like the way you described your process of thinking, and that made me chose RVP over Aguero at the end :)

Regarding HBA, (as a NU supporter), the reason is that
1) although he has the flair and can create sth magical, he also loses many balls to the opponents.
2) he is not the best at defending.
3) he loves keeping the ball to himself while NU playing style tends to be direct.
As a result, if Pardew wants someone who can change the game, he will surely look for HBA.
However, if he wants to play either safe, direct, defensive, or even counter-attack, there could be better options (ie. RTaylor, Obertan).

El Noel said...

Defence is spelt with a 'c'.

Kalix said...

Given the blog is based in North America (or at least Chris is very into american/canadian sports! haha), i think we can give our American friends some leeway with their spelling :D


Tbh I don't understand the choice not to captain RVP. Both this blog and FFS pointed out wengers words, but both posts ended with a general tone of "captain him anyway".

The way i saw it, worst case scenario:
RVP rested, Aguero is VC, no issue.
RVP rested, comes on from 20 mins (we've all seen what he's capable of in fresh 20 mins vs tired defenders...usualy a goal, if not 2!), no issue.
RVP plays, no issue.

I know hindsight is twenty-twenty, but this was my reasoning before the fact as well. But hey, its fantasy, these things happen, and aguero did quite well too so only a loss of 12 points in the end. A guy in my league captained jelavic (only he knows why...!)...so it could be worse! haha

Tony S said...

Hi Chris,
Good to see that the Top 4 in the Captains data list all scored well. It shows that the stats are reflecting well the potential high scorers.
I also find it interesting that it indicated that Van Persie was by far the best choice (which proved to be right) and Silva was a bad choice for captain this week (which also proved to be correct).

SKehoe said...

El Noel

Seriously? No "thank you" for the time put into the articles or advice?
Just like being an ass eh and go to the misspelled holier than thou approach (defense can be spelled either way).

SFQuakes said...

I got off the Valencia train after I saw Young in the lineup and Valencia pushed back to RB again. Tough decision between McClean and Sigurdsson to free up cash for Ba (already up £0.3 this week!). I wouldn't write off Ba against Spurs this week either.

Worse decision of the season: dropping Sessegnon for Drenthe in GW19, who then went on to outscore Drenthe 43-5 since then... ouch.

T

Arseshavin said...

I was wondering if you could consider this for the next instalment of reader questions.

You mentioned that people may want to look at an exit strategy for Valencia. I was looking at Mata as soon as he delivered against ManU at the weekend. I think for the remainder of the season Mata will be a shrewd choice, but would it be wise to hold Valencia for one more week?

My worry is that if ManU are down, Valencia is sacrificed to right-back on every occasion.

El Noel said...

Sorry, I didn't realise that the writer of the blog was American (or Canadian). No excuse for me being an arse though so my apologies again.

I happen to love the blog by the way. Thanks Chris for all your hard work... no more prickish comments, I promise ;)