Monday, October 29, 2012

Lineup Lessons: Gameweek 9

Arsenal
Mannone, Sagna, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Andre Santos, Arteta, Wilshere, Cazorla, Ramsey, Podolski, Giroud
Subs: Martinez, Koscielny, Walcott, Coquelin, Arshavin, Jenkinson, Gervinho

Poor old Jenkinson made way for Sagna who has finally shaken off his injuries. Jenkinson did a very good job while deputising for the French full back but for the overall value of the team Sagna probably gives them a decent boost at both ends of the pitch. The downside, of course, is that we lose one of the safe and cheap ways to access this unit. If Mannone can continue to hold of Szczesny when he returns to fitness he would be the obvious pick, though a lot of managers are hesitant to use too many transfers tinkering with 'keepers who might not always play. Mertesacker still faces some competition from Koscielny but he appears to be fairly safe for now and would be my pick for Jenkinson owners looking to move on. Gibbs should be back soon so the left back spot is still up in the air.

Wilshere came into the side and settled in very nicely. His presence, as a player who can genuinely play both ways, should allow Arteta to have more flexibility, and while I don't see either as necessarily viable fantasy options, they do make this team better and should help create more chances for the widely held options like Cazorla and Podolski. On that pair, I believe the panic is a touch extreme as Arsenal have generated 36 shots over the past two 'poor' displays including 14 on target. The narrative is that for all their possession they're not creating chances but the stats simply don't backup that assertion. True, they need to be a bit more 'clinical' but unless you have genuine long term concerns of Cazorla, Podolski etc hitting the target consistently or getting a few of their shots past the opponents 'keepers, I don't see much reason to worry as yet.

Aston Villa
Guzan, Herd, Vlaar, Lowton, Bennett, Albrighton, El Ahmadi, Holman, Delph, Agbonlahor, Benteke
Subs: Given, Ireland, Bent, Westwood, Bannan, Weimann, Lichaj

We're seeing some stability in this lineup but at the key positions it's still very hard to like anyone too much. Bent, Ireland, N'Zogbia, Agbonlahor and now Benteke have all shown enough flashes of talent over recent seasons to justify attention but none of them look guaranteed to even play every week, never mind enjoy fantasy success. Benteke is the latest player to rise and his underlying stats (21 shots, 6 on target) are extremely encouraging and more than backup his couple of goals to date. What Lambert will do next remains unclear and thus it's all but impossible to get too high on Benteke but if you believe Bent is truly finished as a starter here, the Belgian front man at least gives us something to consider from this Villa side.

Chelsea
Cech, Ivanovic, Luiz, Cahill, Cole, Mikel, Ramires, Hazard, Oscar, Mata, Torres
Subs: Turnbull, Romeu, Moses, Marin, Sturridge, Azpilicueta, Bertrand

I liked Chelsea's prospects a few weeks back but I was concerned the fixtures (at TOT, MUN) weren't good enough to buy into their star assets and thought caution was the best approach for a couple of weeks. Chelsea simply scored six goals over the two games with Mata in particular, but also Hazard and Oscar having big contributions. The seven games before their off week don't look outstanding but there isn't much to be scared of either and thus this trio should be catapulted close to, if not atop your transfer target list. We'll get into the data more in fanning the flames but I'd suggest Mata remains the pick of the bunch, followed by the cheaper Oscar who has been a touch unlucky with regards to both shot and assist conversion so far this year.

Everton
Howard, Coleman, Jagielka, Distin, Baines, Naismith, Osman, Neville, Mirallas, Fellaini, Jelavic
Subs: Mucha, Hibbert, Heitinga, Oviedo, Hitzlsperger, Gueye, Vellios

Not much to report here in terms of personnel with the bigger stories being the return of Fellaini and the absence through suspension of Pienaar (who should be back next week). The goals came from a couple of less heralded options though Osman is a player I've highlighted before and he still offers potential given his 0.6m discount over his pricier teammates. I'd probably try and find that extra cash personally, but if you're budget is tight and you want some access to this talented Everton team, don't dismiss Osman without checking out his stats.

Fulham
Schwarzer, Riether, Hughes, Hangeland, Riise, Duff, Baird, Diarra, Richardson, Rodallega, Berbatov
Subs: Stockdale, Senderos, Sidwell, Petric, Ruiz, Karagounis, Dejagah

Fulham seemed to play a more conventional 4-4-2 here with Rodallega given the nod up top which meant no place for either Petric or Ruiz. Richardson and Duff took up some very advanced positions on the wings and remain viable options, though neithers' underlying stats have really captured the imagination to date. The biggest story from the game is probably the rib injury to Berbatov which could see him miss a couple of games - despite playing on, and scoring, in this game.

Liverpool
Jones, Wisdom, Skrtel, Agger, Jose Enrique, Fernandez Saez, Sahin, Gerrard, Allen, Sterling, Suarez
Subs: Reina, Assaidi, Henderson, Coates, Downing, Carragher, Shelvey

I joked last week about Jones keeping Reina out of the side after last week's clean sheet and then this week's team sheet came in and I was momentarily stunned. Rodgers confirmed however that Reina hadn't trained much all week and was held out purely as a precaution. Enrique also came in because of an injury to Johnson but again the long term impact of that move is limited. Otherwise it's as you were with Sahin, Saez and Sterling apparently cemented in this side alongside Gerrard and Suarez.

Man City
Hart, Richards, Nastasic, Kompany, Clichy, Nasri, Toure, Barry, Kolarov, Tevez, Aguero
Subs: Pantilimon, Lescott, Toure, Evans, Sinclair, Dzeko, Balotelli

Despite Mancini's suggestion of possibly benching Richards for daring to criticize his very-criticizable tactics, no such change was made but Richards was then stretchered off and looks like he could be out for a while. With Zabaleta and Maicon also out we could possibly see a prolonged move to the 3-5-2, though Mancini could also opt to slide Kolo Toure in at right back. It's tempting to simply walk away from this whole unit but they once again held the opponents to very few shots on target (2) and their potential remains as high as anyone.

Offensively Kolarov got a somewhat surprising start on the left wing, but he was also forced to leave the game early. A long term injury to him would make Clichy a lot more attractive at the back, but his absence does little to solve the issues up front. At least Mancini showed a willingness to play Tevez and Aguero together but so long as Dzeko and Balotelli are lurking on the bench and the boss won't contemplate playing three at once, it's going to be a headache for fantasy managers. Yaya was once again played quite deeply and his leash seems to be much shorter than at times last year. He is probably overpriced under the current situation.

Man Utd
De Gea, Da Silva, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra, Valencia, Carrick, Cleverley, Young, Rooney, van Persie
Subs: Lindegaard, Anderson, Giggs, Hernandez, Nani, Welbeck, Scholes

United came out in what looked like a more classic 4-4-2 with Young and Valencia out wide to support Rooney and van Persie but for large stretches of the game Rooney played very deep to link up the play forcing the formation more into line with the en vogue 4-2-3-1. Though he was unlucky not to get an assist for the Luiz own goal, Rooney didn't put up the kind of numbers that support his price. Now, this might only be the case against the league's better teams but if you're paying ~12m for a player, you need him to at least be a threat every week, and ideally you want him to captainable in every game. I will expand on United's prospects as we focus on the new long term forecast but my snap judgement is that van Persie remains the only real player I'm considering from Old Trafford on the attacking side of the field.

Newcastle
Krul, Simpson, Coloccini, Williamson, Santon, Ben Arfa, Cabaye, Perch, Gutierrez, Ba, Shola Ameobi
Subs: Harper, Anita, Cisse, Obertan, Steven Taylor, Sammy Ameobi, Ferguson

Unfortunately the headline here is once again negative with goalscorer Demba Ba departing through injury. It didn't appear to be too bad so his absence could be short, though with Cisse waiting in the wings, at least a precautionary rotation looks likely. Steven Taylor was on the bench, but was presumably not quite fit enough to start again. I assumed Taylor would immediately get back into this team when healthy so that's a situation to monitor next week if he remains absent from the starting eleven.

Norwich
Ruddy, R Martin, Bassong, Turner, Garrido, E Bennett, Tettey, Johnson, Pilkington, Hoolahan, Holt
Subs: Rudd, Snodgrass, Howson, Jackson, Morison, Barnett, R Bennett

Hold the presses: an unchanged side in Norwich! Hoolahan put up decent numbers again and now he appears locked into the first team he offers some value at 5.5m. Snodgrass led the team in shots despite despite playing just half an hour but Chris Hughton and co still remain unconvinced he can contribute to a side who've already racked up a whopping 7 goals in just 9 games.

QPR
Julio Cesar, Bosingwa, Mbia, Nelsen, Traore, Wright-Phillips, Diakite, Granero, Hoilett, Taarabt, Zamora
Subs: Green, Ferdinand, Cisse, Mackie, Onuoha, Ephraim, Faurlin

Granted, they almost held Arsenal goalless this week in what would have been an excellent draw at the Emirates, but they still surrendered 22 shots (12 inside the box, 9 on target) and managed just 6 (3, 2) of their own. Granero, Hoilett and Taarabt have all earned more consistent playing time and shown decent  underlying stats over the past month or so and there's certainly potential within this group. However, this game should serve as a reminder that despite the promising names on the teamsheet, this is a still a team whose options are likely only ever going to be good rotation options rather than every week starters.

Defensively, they're still giving up over 10 shots inside the box per game, and that rate hasn't improved over the more recent games. Even if the lineup settles down I don't see any value there unless Hughes can improve their play and/or tactics.

Reading
McCarthy, Cummings, Gorkss, Mariappa, Shorey, Tabb, Leigertwood, Kebe, McAnuff, Pogrebnyak, Roberts
Subs: Federici, Gunter, Pearce, Le Fondre, Hunt, McCleary, Robson-Kanu

It was good to see Reading get three goals this week, even if the sources of points were widely spread (no player scored or assisted more than a single goal). The key players in this lineup are fairly secure with some minimal rotation in midfield, yet outside of McAnuff and Pogrebnyak who've been decent this year, no one else has really emerged a viable option.

Southampton
Boruc, Clyne, Yoshida, Fonte, Fox, Puncheon, Schneiderlin, S Davis, Lallana, Lambert, Rodriguez
Subs: K Davis, Hooiveld, Ward-Prowse, Do Prado, Mayuka, Chaplow, Reeves

Lambert returned to the starting eleven here, though last week's rotation still looms large in my mind when considering placing a 'buy' tag on the front man. Southampton forecast very well in the new model and their opponents in the next seven gameweeks wouldn't scare anyone. The front six looks fairly secure but given their respective roles and the uncertainty around Lambert, I'm not sure I can get behind anyone other than Lallana right now.

Stoke
Begovic, Cameron, Shawcross, Huth, Wilson, Kightly, Whitehead, Adam, Nzonzi, Walters, Crouch
Subs: Sorensen, Jones, Owen, Upson, Etherington, Wilkinson, Palacios

I liked Marc Wilson a lot so it was a blow to see him stretchered off, though in Wilkinson we have an equally priced player who should take over that job full time in Wilson's absence, without overly compromising the unit's value. Stoke's defensive fixtures remain excellent so even if you're worried about Wilkinson' security, you should really be looking at someone from this team to boost your budget defensive line.

I like the attacking options from this side on paper, though they haven't created a ton of chances and at a certain point that has to become a concern. The good news though is that those chances are concentrated with just a handful of players so likes of Kightly, Walters and Crouch remain ownable. The upcoming games are solid, especially the next six at home, where Stoke have traditionally fared very well. Those suffering with injuries to Berbatov or Ba (if confirmed to be long term) could do a lot worse than take a look at Crouch for a consistent and affordable option up top.

Sunderland
Mignolet, Gardner, O'Shea, Cuellar, Rose, Larsson, Cattermole, Colback, Johnson, McClean, Fletcher
Subs: Westwood, Bardsley, Campbell, Kilgallon, Vaughan, Saha, Sessegnon

Sessegnon being dropped was a bit surprise to me, as while I understand the need to pull back the attacking options when away from home, I'm surprised it was Sessegnon who suffered (as appose to benching Johnson and shifting Larsson back out wide, for example). That said, as good as he was last year, Sessegnon just doesn't have the stats to backup anything close to his price tag and the risk of rotation should be the final nail in his coffin for anyone who still owns him. The rest of the side looks pretty settled, though the return to fitness of Bardsley (who came on a sub here) could spell the end of Gardner's place in the side. Despite his moderate attacking upside, Cuellar will likely remain the value pick on this back line.

Swansea
Vorm, Rangel, Chico, Williams, Davies, Ki, Routledge, Britton, de Guzman, Hernandez, Michu
Subs: Tremmel, Dyer, Graham, Monk, Shechter, Tiendalli, Agustien

The injury to Vorm is a big blow as he's one of the better keepers in the league and is widely held by some 17% of managers. For me, that number was way too high as Swansea just haven't looked as solid at the back as they were last year, but if you've transfers to burn, Tremmel at 4.0m would instantly be the best minimum-priced 'keeper around. I'm not crazy about the fixtures so I wouldn't be rushing to make such a move but it might make sense if money is tight and you're currently stuck with someone even worse (anyone from Southampton or Reading).

Offensively Dyer and Graham's lack of playing time has reached a tipping point where they cannot be owned until they prove they can reestablish their respective places. That leaves Michu, Ki and Routledge along with the potential of Hernandez as possible options with the unheralded Ki actually enjoying the best stats of late among that group. At 6.0m and with zero non-appearance points to date it's tough to sell Ki to Michu owners but the underlying stats are great and 1.3m saved is worth thinking about.

Tottenham
Friedel, Walker, Caulker, Gallas, Vertonghen, Sandro, Huddlestone, Lennon, Dempsey, Bale, Defoe
Subs: Lloris, Naughton, Dawson, Sigurdsson, Falque, Livermore, Townsend

No real surprises here as it's looking increasingly certain that Dempsey has displaced Sigurdsson as the team's starting AMC now and had a useful game here both in statistical terms and of course with his goal. Despite always being on the lookout for differentiators, I find it impossible to contemplate grabbing Dempsey over Bale given the small difference in price, and if I wanted to do something different I'd look to Lennon, who had a better game based on the eyeball test than the stat sheet would suggest.

West Brom
Foster, Tamas, McAuley, Olsson, Ridgewell, Morrison, Gera, Mulumbu, Dorrans, Odemwingie, Lukaku
Subs: Luke Daniels, Popov, Rosenberg, Long, El Ghanassy, Jara Reyes, Fortune

Three shots, all on target and a goal for Lukaku add a bit more weight to the assertion that he really should be starting over Long if West Brom hope to push on a bit this year. The potential partnership with Odemwingie is very promising and at 6.4m Lukaku could make for an interesting differentiator if he can win Clarke's trust and start a few games in a row. There's more to being a good forward than simply shots and goals of course, but consider that Lukaku now has 20 shots (10 on target) and three goals compared to say Torres (18-7-4) despite playing just over a third as many minutes and his upside becomes evident. It's too early to bring him in without further proof of his starting, but the goal will likely help his cause.

West Ham
Jaaskelainen, Tomkins, Collins, Reid, McCartney, Jarvis, Noble, Nolan, Diame, Benayoun, Carroll
Subs: Spiegel, Cole, Maiga, O'Brien, O'Neil, Chambers, Hall

West Ham have provided some good fantasy value to date and while no new issues have really arisen with their starting eleven, the fixtures now get pretty tough for a while and thus I wouldn't be rushing to bring any of these guys in. Would the fixtures lead me to selling someone like Nolan, maybe not, though I would consider it if not sat on a profit and if I had free transfers to spare.

Wigan
Al Habsi, Ramis, Caldwell, Figueroa, Boyce, McCarthy, McArthur, Beausejour, Kone, Di Santo, Maloney
Subs: Pollitt, Jones, Watson, Gomez, McManaman, Boselli, Stam

Wigan have one of the more consistent teams in the league, with the added bonus of essentially all their fantasy value coming from that front trio. They only contributed a single assist this week but still accounted for 9/16 of Wigan's shots and can generally be counted on to prosper whenever Wigan do as a team. Wigan have quietly become a good source of fantasy options and should be monitored closely given that they have a number of decent games on the horizon. 

4 comments:

darren anthony hoy said...

This is great stuff.

Gummi said...

Great stuff Chris.

You're not looking at Valencia as possible United cover for those without Van Persie?

Henry Darana said...

Is there any defender equal-to or less-than 4.5 price tag, that's a quite good buy

SuperGrover said...

Any thoughts on Villa's defense? The numbers indicate potential even if they don't pass the eye test. Seems to me that Lowton and Clark could be good deals if that backline becomes steady.

Also agree on Mata. He's firmly entrenched in the elite mid conversation along with Cazorla, Bale and a when-healthy Silva. I almost picked him up last week for the hit but decided the fixture list was too strong and planned to wait. No longer as I have grabbed him already this week before the first of almost certainly 3 price rises.