Monday, November 12, 2012

Lineup Lessons: Gameweek 11

Arsenal
Mannone, Sagna, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Coquelin, Arteta, Cazorla, Walcott, Podolski, Giroud
Subs: Szczesny, Andre Santos, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ramsey, Arshavin, Jenkinson, Chamakh

There was a fair bit to take away from this game in terms of fantasy impact but not a whole lot by way of lineup issues. Vermaelen sliding to left back was interesting but Santos was hardly a legitimate option anyway so there's not much to note there. The fact that Koscielny got a rare start is also not really an issue as the more reliable Mertesacker can be had for less money if you are still buying this defense. Walcott came into the side up top which is surely the way it'll go long term, though his price tag still looks a touch high given his underlying stats and risk of rotation so I'm still not personally back on that bandwagon yet. Giroud will get more coverage in this weeks fanning the flames piece, suffice to say I am very much a buyer, and if you are too I'd act now as his price looks set to rise this week.

Aston Villa
Guzan, Lowton, Vlaar, Clark, Stevens, Weimann, Westwood, Ireland, Bannan, Agbonlahor, Benteke. 
Subs: Given, El Ahmadi, Albrighton, Holman, Delph, Bowery, Williams.

Stevens came in at right back and while this team isn't anything to get overly excited about, they're better at the back than we generally give them credit for. That's probably a tough sell after giving up three second half goals here but Clark can still offer some budget value when the fixtures are right. Offensively, we're seeing a fair amount of rotation in midfield and given the lack of standout performers this is a situation best avoided. Up front though Benteke continues to look impressive and would appear to even be safe when Bent is fit. He still carries more risk than some in his price bracket, but his upside is undeniably high.

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

Azpilicueta getting the start over Cahill (with Ivanovic playing in the centre) was on odd one, though it could be a moot point depending on whether Terry is out for the season, or merely a couple of weeks. Without Cole and Terry this unit becomes generally less valuable and no one really stands out as excellent value. The front six is pretty settled at the moment and while they didn't really shine this week on the scoresheet the trio of Mata, Hazard and Oscar remain attractive (in that order) with Torres offering some value too.

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

Everton are probably the best fantasy team in the league right now, offering value at all positions and for all budgets. The only way they could provide more options would be if we could get a clear winner between Heitinga and Distin as Baines and Jagielka both look a touch overpriced given Everton's defensive lapses of late. On a personal level I was delighted to see Osman create both goals this week (though only receive one assist officially) after receiving some criticism for the recent Moneyball piece on the new England man. Rather than be offended though, it's better to be pleased when such criticism is thrown around as it simply means there's still plenty of inefficiency and bias in the market to exploit.

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

Fulham continue to offer good consistency at the back, though with eight goals conceded in the last three games, the value of those reliable options is questionable. Going forward I like the talent here but it's tough to really get behind anyone other than Berbatov. Ruiz was excellent this week and has very quietly put together a nice season so far and at 5.8m he's one of the few legitimately ownable forwards available for under 6.0m. More on him in this week's fanning the flames. Duff had been a reliable option here and should remain just that assuming this was a resting opportunity than a rotation, though his lack of upside doesn't really excite in his price bracket. Kananicklic looked great off the bench but can't be relied upon at the moment while Sidwell has been useful but is still more of a 5th midfielder type than a regular startable option. There's potential here but it's tough to pin down how to exploit it.

Liverpool
Jones, Wisdom, Carragher, Agger, Jose Enrique, Johnson, Allen, Gerrard, Sterling, Sahin, Suarez
Subs: Gulacsi, Cole, Assaidi, Henderson, Coates, Downing, Fernandez Saez

Rodgers' doesn't have too many options here so we're seeing good consistency from his weekly lineups. I've had my reservations about Widsom's playing time but Johnson was pushed into a more advanced role to accommodate him so perhaps his future looks brighter than expected. Still, given the mediocre results for Liverpool's defense so far this year, the risk of bringing him only for him to be benched once more looks a touch high.

Man City
Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Nastasic, Clichy, Toure, Barry, Silva, Tevez, Kolarov, Aguero
Subs: Pantilimon, Maicon, Dzeko, Sinclair, Javi Garcia, Toure, Razak

Mancini took the radical step of playing his best players this week, and while his team still made it hard for themselves, they ultimately came away with victory thanks to their best substitute. With the Champions League campaign all but over, it is unconscionable to think that Aguero won't get substantially more playing time from here on, and thus I'm happy to stand behind the model's forecast of him as the man to own here. Aside from him we can once again look to Silva who made a decent return this week and of course Tevez who remains a well priced elite forward, despite some so-so production of late. At the back there is simply too much turnover and not enough quality to warrant investment.

Man Utd
De Gea, Da Silva, Ferdinand, Smalling, Evra, Valencia, Carrick, Scholes, Young, Rooney, van Persie
Subs: Lindegaard, Anderson, Hernandez, Welbeck, Cleverley, Fletcher, Buttner

The four most attacking options - van Persie, Rooney, Young and Valencia - continue to offer reliable minutes though it's really only the first two who pique my ownership interest so far. The middle of the park is a mess with Scholes, Cleverley, Anderson, Fletcher and Carrick all scrapping for minutes and thus it looks like a situation best avoided. At the back, this team continues to underwhelm and they could well join their local rivals as simply becoming too much trouble unless they can turn things around quickly.

Newcastle
Krul, Simpson, S Taylor, Williamson, Santon, Ben Arfa, Cabaye, Gutierrez, Ferguson, Cisse, Ba
Subs: Elliot, Anita, Amalfitano, Bigirimana, Marveaux, Shola Ameobi, Obertan

Not a good result for Newcastle here but they generated plenty of chances and were really just the victims of a disciplined game plan from West Ham and another trademark goal from Nolan (seriously guys, will someone give Nolan some credit). The key players continue to rack up minutes and generate chances and thus I'm still happy to back Ba and to a lesser degree Cabaye and Ben Arfa. This defense is also starting to get fit again and having restricted West Ham to just four SoT this week, we'll hopefully see some increased value for Taylor and company in the coming weeks.

Norwich
Ruddy, Whittaker, Turner, Bassong, Garrido, Snodgrass, Tettey, Johnson, Pilkington, Hoolahan, Holt
Subs: Bunn, Howson, Jackson, Morison, E Bennett, Tierney, R Bennett

Hughton appears to be settling on his best eleven, and while the results weren't great this week against a  comparatively weak opponent, you're really going to want to focus on home ties anyway so I wouldn't be too discouraged if you are interested in the likes of Snodgrass, Johnson, Pilkington or Holt.

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

QPR outperformed the the level Stoke's home opponents have managed to far this year, adding 18 shots compared to an average of just 12, with eight of those inside the box, compared to an average of six. Nevertheless, they managed to hit the target just twice with - needless to say - Taarabt being the most wasteful player, most notably on an outrageous but ultimately foolish attempt to lob Begovic from about 14 yards out. Once again, there could be value here, and I still believe Cisse is the man to deliver it, if anyone, but they certainly make it hard to back them.

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

No player managed more than a single shot this week. At home. To Norwich. A couple of players here have sufficient talent to at least be interesting (McAnuff and Pogrebnyak for example) but even when this team does have some attacking success, it's so fragmented that backing any one player becomes all but impossible. At the back, the team notched their first clean sheet of the season but they're still giving up a lot of SiB (though have been better at home) and don't look like great investments right now.

Southampton
Gazzaniga, Clyne, Yoshida, Fonte, Shaw, Puncheon, Cork, Schneiderlin, Lallana, Lambert, Ramirez
Subs: K Davis, Hooiveld, S Davis, Rodriguez, Fox, Ward-Prowse, Mayuka

The main options look pretty locked into the side though we're still seeing some flexibility on the periphery with players like Puncheon and Rodriguez. Puncheon has been useful when he's played so he'd be an option at 4.4m if he gets a run in the side but that's probably premature for now. That front three look like the start and end of the options here.

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

Kightly missing out was a bit of surprise and it's a blow given his lower price tag and solid assist potential. If his playing time continues to be unreliable that really only leaves Walters and Crouch from this side on the attacking side of the ball. At the back this team remains one of the best budget options around with a settled lineup that's seen Wilkinson take Wilson's role without too much falloff

Sunderland
Mignolet, Gardner, O'Shea, Cuellar, Rose, Johnson, Larsson, Colback, McClean, Fletcher, Sessegnon
Subs: Westwood, Wickham, McFadden, Kilgallon, Vaughan, Bramble, Saha

The good news is that someone other than Steve Fletcher scored, the bad news however is that the goal came from Adam Johnson who brings a somewhat inflated price tag and isn't really guaranteed a start every week, so I'm far from ready to add him to our watchlist anytime soon. In terms of lineup stability Sunderland are fairly predictable though the talented trio of Johnson, Sessegnon and McClean have all been benched on occasion and don't really offer the necessary upside to make that worth living with.

Swansea
Tremmel, Rangel, Williams, Monk, Davies, Ki, Britton, de Guzman, Hernandez, Michu, Routledge
Subs: Cornell, Tate, Dyer, Shechter, Moore, Tiendalli, Agustien

We're still seeing some rotation here with Dyer apparently the odd man out at the moment (Graham is perhaps the other, even when fit). The likes of Routledge, Michu and now Hernandez look secure enough to consider for ownership. Ki picked up a knock this week and could miss a game, but that injury isn't long term enough to make Dyer a viable play yet.

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

The big news here came up top with Adebayor finally taking over the forward duties from Defoe. I say finally, not as a slight to Defoe who's been good, just more to emphasise my belief that this move was inevitable at some point this year. Having watched the game, I didn't feel Adebayor was particularly impressive and a quick check the stats shows that he failed to register a shot all day and had just three touches in City's box. Given their so-so performances of late as a team, both these front men look extremely risky now and could well be more trouble than their worth in the coming weeks.

West Brom
Myhill, Jones, McAuley, Olsson, Ridgewell, Mulumbu, Yacob, Lukaku, Morrison, Brunt, Long
Subs: Luke Daniels, Popov, Rosenberg, Dorrans, Gera, Odemwingie, Tamas

Lukaku got the start here which was encouraging, and while he failed to find the back of the net (for the first time as a starter) he did contribute offensively, picking up one bonus point for his troubles, for what it's worth. With Odemwingie, Long and Rosenberg lurking on the bench, it's premature to throw too much weight behind him yet (especially as he'll be forced out this against his parent club) but he remains one of, if not the best players to monitor and purchase if the playing time issues clear up. Elsewhere we're seeing good stability here making the defense and Morrison very ownable. Foster missed out with injury and could be absent again this week but the reports suggest it's nothing to worry about after that so he shouldn't be sell candidate just yet.

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

Demel only starting on the bench is an issue to monitor, as while I expect it was a precaution to ease him back into the first team, McCartney and O'Brien are capable subs and Demel's return isn't an absolute lock. Going forward the key positions look fairly set in stone and can be relied upon where needed, outside of Jarvis who's seen some volatility.

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

Not much to add here at all. Wigan offer a stable side with a good concentration of points among just a handful of players and a quick glance at the bench shows a distinct lack of depth. That situation might not be ideal for Wigan fans but it's ideal for fantasy managers.

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