Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Strength of Schedule - Defense

After the Villa double gameweek and a few injuries and suspensions I assume many of you will be looking to make changes this week. The natural choice would be to gravitate to towards Fulham and Everton defenders due to their double gameweeks but a few other teams also look appealing.

Over the next eight gameweeks, the average GPG scored by opponents at home/away in brackets, the average goals each team have conceded per game this season and their calculated strength of schedule are as below:

The top two aren't exactly big surprises historically though United have been far from reliable this season and it's encouraging to see them on this list. Blog reader Andrew pointed out how good United's fixtures are in the coming weeks and the above stats back it up, with United getting the fourth best opposition GPG. Their only red light game (1.7 GPG+) for United is the trip to Upton Park to play West Ham (1.8 GPG) while the visit of Villa (1.33 GPG) also looks like it could be tricky. Chelsea's fixtures are more varied and while they have had by far the best defense so far this season, trips to Arsenal (4.0 GPG) and City (2.6 GPG) look particularly worrying.

Of the top 7 teams, only Birmingham have real budget players and with the third best schedule to go along with their impressive record to date, they look great value to fill your bench and even your starting lineup. Villa have been good value to date but their schedule looks pretty scary (Tot, @MNU, @Sun and @Ars are all red light games) and I would advise selling after this week's Burnley game or perhaps holding out until week 15 to get the Hull home fixture.

Players to Target
1. Chelsea - With Cole and Bosingwa both injured, Ivanovic (5.6) could be the pick, though I am still unsure about this one. With Zhirkov and Ferreira returning from injury there is recipe for plenty of rotation along the back line and Terry (7.4) looks like the only certainty at the moment. Long term I like Cole (7.3) the most though Terry's goal/man of the match at the week served as a reminder as to Terry's potential.

2. Man Utd - Evra (6.6) is the safest pick here though he's owned by 20% of players and doesn't offer great value for money. O'Shea (5.5) has followed up on his productive 08-09 season with another period of decent contribution and he's featured in every game this season (twice as a sub). His versatility suggests he will play most weeks though as the team gets back to full strength he may be limited to the right back spot (along with Neville, Brown and Rafael). He's probably worth a shot for now and I would suggest the right back spot is his to lose. Vidic (7.8) is way expensive right now and Ferdinand's (6.6) poor form and inability to stay fit make him too risky as well.

3. Birmingham - Roger Johnson (4.5) and Stephen Carr (4.0) are the safest picks here along with the highly popular Joe Hart (4.2). I like Scott Dann (3.9) alot and having played the last 7 games, he looks fairly safe. He's added 2 assists and a bonus point and added two clean sheets in his starts this year. I think Dann and Carr are great bench players though having either of them and Hart would be risky as Birmingham aren't really good enough to start two of them each week.

4. Fulham - though not quite as good on paper as the other three teams, the double gameweek in week 13 is very appealing. The downside is that Fulham do not play in week 17 and so you must make sure you can either move them back out or have good enough fixtures to cover their absence. I like Hangeland (5.1) as the safest choice while Hughes (4.6) presents outstanding value to the point you can happily bench him in week 17 without hurting your team too much. Both have played every minute this season and look like great value for the next 4 weeks.

I'm a huge fan of playing the schedule, particularly in the current times when the top four sides cannot be consistently relief upon for clean sheets. I think Chelsea are a hold despite their tough fixtures while United are the biggest buy right now. It might be worth selling high on Arsenal and Villa defenders with neither though Arsenal's run does clear up between week 17 and 22.

As always, let me know what you think by posting below or by tweeting me @plfantasy.


NotoriousDre said...

great info as usual Chris...

your table has given me a real basis to formulate a plan of action!

Andrew said...

I disagree with BOTH of your Fulham defender picks. I would rather have Pantsil or Konchesky over either of the center backs. I just can't bring myself to pick a center back who doesn't take setplays/corners/PKs. Konchesky takes some corners, but I don't think its enough to justify picking him over Pantsil due to cost.

Any idea if Murphy will be fit for the double? He's already in my squad so I don't want to have to think about taking a 4 point hit to switch him out for Dempsey this week.

David said...


good to see my team fits in with your views.

VDS (Hennessy)

still very much learning and trying to get some respectability, joined you your league at the bottom (McLovins Heroes). I learned about 'the trinity' the hard

What are your thoughts on my side, I'd be interested to hear. I'd like to cash in on vermaelen and bent soonish. had them since the beginning and now I'm looking for differentials.

Dave, the beginner.