Thursday, March 18, 2010

Gameweek 31 Preview

While they didn't really explode, Villa players provided a decent haul for those managers who brought them in this week, led by James Milner (12), and hopefully let you gain some points on opposition managers. Agbonlahor was the big disappointment for the week with the rest of my captain picks playing out pretty well (Milner 12, Defoe 9, Torres 19, Rooney 13, Dunne 8, Young 5, Drogba 10, Lampard 7, N'Zogbia 6).

This week will likely see some huge scores and I think you need to be playing at least 5 players on a double to stay competitive. The chance of stealing points on your competition is probably less than in a week where only 2 or 4 teams have a double as less planning will have been required to get some double gamers in this week. Nevertheless, it's important to get your side right in a week where plenty of teams could top 100 points so let's look at the double gameweek sides for gameweek 31 and see where potential value might lie:

Aston Villa
Opponents: Wol, Sun
Two better opponents than last week await the Villains and this is the real reason alot of us brought in Villa players last week. Both sides average less than a goal a game on the road while giving up around 2 per game. If you brought in multiple Villa players last week then it's a no brainer to keep them but be careful before bringing in a third player for this week only as Villa have no game (at the moment) in week 34 so you need to have decent strength in your squad to blow two transfers on that move.
Picks: Milner, Cuellar, Collins

Opponents: @Sunderland, @Blackburn

Both opponents here have pretty good home defenses and the inconsistent Birmingham front line looks like a risky play. We all know that Birmingham's best value is in their defense and I think they look like a good play again this week. Sunderland are sneakily good at home though (24 in 15 games) while Blackburn are pretty average (21 in 14 games). I think its very likely that one of those teams score and I can't see a double clean sheet for Birmingham this week. That said, the likes of Hart still represent good value and are worthy of a place in the side, if not really transfer targets this week.
Picks: Hart, Dann

Opponents: Chelsea, Birmingham

Two tough games for a side that offers little fantasy value at the best of times should set the alarm bells ringing. The Rovers defense has been okay this year and the two home games helps, but I can't see too much joy against a Chelsea side re-focused on the league after their Champions League exit. Going forward they offer even less though Gamst Pedersen got back on the fantasy scoresheet last week with another assist and I suppose he warrants some differentiation value.
Picks: Gamst Pedersen, Dunn

Opponents: @Blackburn, @Portsmouth

As noted above, be careful getting carried with what look like easy fixtures as Blackburn (0.86 GPG) and even Portsmouth (1.57 GPG) are solid defenses at home. That said, Portsmouth surrendered 4 goals a piece at home to both Arsenal and United so I wouldn't hesitate playing my Chelsea players this week (though I might hesitate paying 8 points to bring 2 in). It seems as if Chelsea will either pull together and win the league or lose control and end up 3rd with Ancelotti fired. Malouda insists the mood in the camp is okay but with Drogba's petulance, Terry's continued lack of form and Anelka's post-January disappearance, I find it hard to be totally sold on this team the way I might be if United had these fixtures. That said, Drogba is the only one of big three (Rooney, Drogba, Torres) playing twice and hence still makes alot of sense for this week.

Lampard will probably contribute again without actually doing a great deal and, like Drogba, is the only one of the big name midfielders playing twice this week (unless you count Milner). Malouda is the form man and has contributed 4 points in every game bar two in 2010 while still being held by just 6.2% of managers. The defense, whilst not in the best of form, have better fixtures and look like solid picks although I am concerned by the 'keeper situation and the form of Terry.
Picks: Drogba, Malouda, Ivanovic

Opponents: Bolton, @Man City

One great, one tough fixture makes it hard to be crazy over Everton this week though it is of course safe to start all the Toffees you already own. I think Arteta's ownership is one game away from exploding and with Bolton on the horizon he looks like a sound replacement for the likes of Valencia and Kuyt who only play once. Elsewhere, the defensive value is obviously based on the Bolton fixture as City have failed to score at home just once this season (GW 27 vs Liverpool). Again, go ahead and start Baines, Distin and co but I think your transfers can be better used elsewhere.
Picks: Arteta, Distin

Man City
Opponents: @Fulham, Everton

A tough trip to Craven Cottage stops Tevez being a great pickup this week but he still represents good value and is an upgrade over one-game players like Defoe, Torres and Berbatov. I don't like much in the City midfield and while he managed a very solid 9 points last week, it has to be noted that Johnson started on the bench and is not guaranteed to start one nevermind both games this week. Great talent: yes, reliable fantasy star: not yet.

Defensively I am massively skeptical of City though 3 clean sheets in their last 7 games is not too bad. Neither opponent averages more than 1.5 GPG so there is potential for returns from the likes of Zabaleta though who will replace Bridge causes me some concern.
Picks: Tevez, Zabaleta

Opponents: Hull, Chelsea

Granted Hull at home is about as good as it gets but with the other game being Chelsea you are basically buying into a one fixture team. Perhaps O'Hara is worth a flutter and even Piquionne if you're desperate but if you can move money around it warrants paying to get rid of these guys for anyone else playing twice.
The defense is actually a useful play as they aren't too bad at home, but again I'm not sure I would be spending points here but feel to use your defenders if you happen to own them.
Picks: Wilson, O'Hara

Opponents: Birmingham, @Aston Villa

Bent had been through a tough patch before exploding against Bolton and this unpredictability makes him all but impossible to bench or sell this week. Yes the fixtures looks tough (1.5 GPG and 0.71 GPG conceded) but Bent can be a streaky scorer and Sunderland appear to turned the corner a bit with just one defeat in the last seven. I don't trust the defense and with Reid injured and Cana suspended the Mackens offer little beside the English hitman.
Picks: Bent

West Ham
Opponents: @Arsenal, Wolves

Much like Portsmouth above if you buy here you are really buying into a one fixture team as few rewards are likely to be found at the Emirates. The West Ham team is about as appealing in fantasy circles too with Cole being the star but in his unfit state even he is too risky. Not much value to be found here.

Opponents: @Aston Villa, @West Ham

Matt Jarvis is quietly having a solid season for a bench player and has even caught the bonus points judge's eyes in the past few weeks. Normally I wouldn't (and don't) start him but Jarvis, along with Kevin Doyle, warrants some consideration if you're comparing them to someone who is only playing once such as Matt Taylor, Damien Duff or Matt Etherington. Defensively Wolves continue to offer nothing but fantasy misery with little likely to change this week.
Picks: Jarvis

Clean Sheet Rankings
  1. Aston Villa*
  2. Chelsea*
  3. Man United
  4. Arsenal
  5. Man City*
  6. Portsmouth*
  7. Everton*
  8. Sunderland*
  9. Fulham
  10. Wigan
  11. Birmingham*
  12. Blackburn*
  13. West Ham*
  14. Stoke
  15. Tottenham
  16. Wolves*
  17. Liverpool
  18. Burnley
  19. Hull
  20. Bolton
* Denotes double gameweek

Captain Rankings
  1. Didier Drogba
  2. James Milner
  3. Darren Bent
  4. Frank Lampard
  5. Carlos Tevez
  6. Wayne Rooney
  7. Gabriel Agbonlahor
  8. Florent Malouda
  9. Cesc Fabregas
  10. Mikel Arteta
I expect the criticism to come again that I am too high on James Milner but he did pretty well last week and with better fixtures I expect at least 8 points again. Milner has preyed on weaker teams notching double digits against Portsmouth, Bolton, Hull, Sunderland (who they welcome this week), Burnley and Wigan. In fact in the reverse fixtures of this week's games he gained 17 points, even half of which would give good value at the captain position.

I noted my concerns above over Drogba and Chelsea but a double fixture for one of the top teams when the others play just once is just too good to pass up. Lampard's love affair with the bonus pundits and Malouda's excellent 2010 form give Chelsea 3 players in my top 10. Despite the fixture being tough on paper, Rooney's single game against Liverpool could still provide goals and you'd be crazy to bench him or sell him just for one week. If you need to differentiate you need to move on for good, not blow 2 transfers on one player for one week.

As always post your thoughts and transfer issues below or tweet them @plfantasy, and of course, thanks for reading.


NotoriousDre said...

good write up Chris....layout change noted.

I've settled on my side this week.

Ivanovic, Collins, Baines
Fabs, Malouda, Milner, Arteta
Rooney, Drogba, Jerome

Sorensen,Ridgewell, N'Zogbia, Dawson

What you think about it Chris?

TD Ocho said...,,10265~1998161,00.html?

Villa should now have a game in week 34 after the rescheduling.

Andrew said...

Using the same methods as last week (expected points earned per game, factoring in home vs away) my captain rankings are:

Drogba 13.2 points
Milner 12.1
Dunne 11.7
Tevez 11.6
Bent 10.4
Lampard 9.7
*Malouda 9.5
*Arteta 9.2
Rooney 9.1
Fabregas 8.6
Agbonlahor 8.0

*Malouda and Arteta haven't played enough games to get a decent sample size, but Malouda is in awesome form and Arteta seems to be in good enough form.

My side this week:

Distin, Vermaelen, Collins, Ridgewell
Fabregas, Milner, Pienaar
Drogba, Agbonlahor, Diamanti

Hart, Duff, Etherington, Insua

I'm not sure whether to captain Drogba or Milner. I have a feeling Milner isn't going to start one of these games.

Chris Glover said...

Dre - I make that 9 doubles plus Rooney and cesc. Not bad at all! I can see points throughout and I love the differentiation picks of malouda and arteta. I'd take that over my team right now on a snap.

TD - thanks for the update. I figured that might happen. That gives villa slightly more value as you could now keep them here on in.

Andrew - nice analysis again. I think we're on the same page which is promising. I missed out cesc due to the lack of double but I could absolutely see him scoring well again this week. I can't find the link now but O'Neil did say he will use his whole squad so you're right that milner is a rotation risk. I might consider bumping drogba ahead of him too. Thanks andrew.

Ryan said...

Chris - Nice analysis on teams with double matches! However, I have a gut feeling that Malouda may not bag as many points as people expect this gameweek. Past results this season indicate that he mainly scores goals or assists in home matches.

Andrew - Good job with your number-crunching as usual. Are you using spreadsheets or some kind of statistical software?

TD - Thanks for the update. I can now think of bringing in Agbonlahor!


1. If you are forced to bench either Bendtner or N'Zogbia, who would it be? Arsenal and Wigan both have attractive home fixtures.

2. What are Torres's chances of scoring points against MU this weekend? If they're slim, I might consider ditching him for a double-match player eg. Drogba, Agb, Tevez. Or should I keep Torres? The next games are SU, @BI, FU, WH,@BU, CH, @HC.

3. Is this the right time to buy Agbonlahor? He has two home matches this gameweek. Having said that, I'm still hesitant because of his knack for going on 2-point streaks (GW17 onwards).

NotoriousDre said...

@ Ryan

1. Bench N'zogbia...he is 50:50 due to a knock picked up against Villa

2. Torres can score against anyone...he has a great run in

3. Im weary of Gabby... a real hit or miss pick!


glad u picked up on the this point of the season teams are starting to look alike. So i hope Arteta & Malouda do the business for me!

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

Thanks Dre!

Yeah NZ is a doubt. I was hoping he'd start because playing Burnley at home is a fantasy points gold mine. My only fear is that if I use NZ and he only comes on as a sub, I'd get 1 measly point. Bendtner is not bad although I'd rather not use him this week - he took 90 minutes to actually get a goal against HULL! He usually gets many shots on target but fluffs equally as many goalscoring opportunities.

Good point about Torres. He just scored 2 goals against Lille. Besides, MU's defence isn't that wonderful although it might change now with the return of the Vidic-Ferdinand partnership in central defence.

And good work with your squad. Wish I had the money to buy Arteta!

Chris Glover said...

Ryan - I'm benching N'Zogbia this week for fear that he comes on for 1 point performance. Bendtner has a good chance to contribute again.

I agree with Dre that Torres can score against anyone and in that sense is like Rooney in that you might want to play him every week. I am turned slightly off by the fixtures as only Sunderland next week looks great. The same can be said of Drogba though. If you have a strong squad then Drogba in makes sense as you could always bring Torres back, but I would not be overly worried about playing him against Utd, given that Torres has owned Vidic in the last few meetings.

I'm not totally sold on Agbonlahor but he has a tremendous record vs Wolves which often serves as a self fulfilling prophecy (player has a good record, so feels more confident, so scores more etc). He is a risk and by no means a sure thing but I like him as a differential and as a 2-game player.

skipdeedy said...

Hey Chris.

Liking the new colour scheme and layout.

One question for you and the guys here.

Got a backline of Ridgewell, Collins, Scharner & Vermaelen. I have the option of sticking Carr in there too but I don't want to play 5 at the back and have opted for Scharner instead.

Am I mad not to include the DGW Carr?

Thanks, skip.

Ryan said...

@Chris - Alright I think I'll play safe and use Bendtner. I hope Fabregas's return will greatly improve his performance. Still unsure about Torres as he has a mix of easy and tough fixtures. Also unsure about Agb and his apparent inconsistency.

@skipdeedy - Bench Carr. Scharner is an attacking defender who regularly starts in midfield and scores occasionally. Plus, Burnley have a bad away record so I can see Wigan netting in a goal or two. You already have Ridgewell so he'll get you the double points (i suspect it'll be 2+2=4). Both of BI's matches are away and BI usually concede away from DW Stadium. Hope my ramblings make sense.

Mish said...

Hi everyone!
who should i start? Dann or Jarvis?
I have Hart in my goalie. thanks

skipdeedy said...


That's what I thought, thanks for the help. With all the DGW player hysteria about at the moment I doubted myself for a second.

Anonymous said...

take care yourself!! ^^ ........................................

Steven said...


New layout works great in FireFox 3.6.. glad you made the change.

Thanks for the great article as always!

Chris Glover said...

Thanks for layout comments everyone. I know you had mentioned this a while ago Steven but was only able to see the issue when my firefox installed an update this week on my Mac. Once I could see what the issue was I was able to make it look a bit better. Hopefully I will get some time over summer to make the site a bit better and maybe add some permanent useful sections like upcoming fixture rankings etc