Friday, August 13, 2010

Week 1 Preview

Here we go again. The off season seemed to fly by thanks to the World Cup and it's aftermath but the show must go on and the English Premier League is back with what promises to be a great season. I cannot pick between Chelsea and United and I genuinely feel that both Arsenal and City could be champions come May time. Add in an intriguing managerial appointment at Liverpool, drama galore at Villa and the return of a giant (Newcastle) and the season looks setup for another thriller.

Week one throws up some interesting fixtures include a tone setter for Arsenal and Liverpool who clash at Anfield and a rematch of last season's Champions League decider between Spurs and City at White Hart Lane. Elsewhere, there are baptisms of fire for two of the newly promoted sides as Newcastle travel to Old Trafford and West Brom go to Stamford Bridge.

Hopefully your fantasy squads are settled by now, but if not then I urge you to look back at some recent articles on goalkeeper selection, strength of schedule and some analysis of how best to spend your budget. With that in mind, let's look at the upcoming week including the usual defensive and captain rankings along with a new piece where I highlight some budget players who might get short term minutes due to injury or rotation ('fifteen minutes of fame').

Defensive Rankings (expected goals conceded in parenthesis)
  1. Wolves (0.43)
  2. Man Utd (0.47)
  3. Aston Villa (0.53)
  4. Chelsea (0.54)
  5. Stoke (0.68)
  6. Sunderland (0.70)
  7. Bolton (0.72)
  8. Tottenham (0.75)
  9. Wigan (0.75)
  10. Blackburn (0.87)
  11. Liverpool (1.02)
  12. Everton (1.52)
  13. Fulham (1.56)
  14. Blackpool (1.70)
  15. Man City (1.94)
  16. West Ham (2.08)
  17. Birmingham (2.11)
  18. Arsenal (2.17)
  19. Newcastle (2.83)
  20. West Brom (5.01)
Anyone who read my earlier post on strength of schedule knows that I like United, Villa and Chelsea  alot to open the season and that starts right now in week one. I plan to grab a player from each of these teams who I know will play, to guarantee myself at least a couple of good shots at clean sheets on opening weekend. Wolves hosting Stoke is a great chance to get a cheap clean sheet as Wolves were solid at home last year while Stoke were horrific (10 goals in 19 games). The addition of Kenwyne Jones should help but I'm not sure if he'll be ready to start here and so Wolves make a good option this week. The whole top 11 are not bad options and so you should be able to field plenty of good options this week. Despite the fixtures this week I like Newcastle and Birmingham to open the season and so I would be happy to stash their players this week before opening them up in week 2.

15 Minutes of Fame
A new section for this season where I try and highlight/predict (guess?) players who will play this week despite being available at a much lower price than their peers - usually because of injury or suspension. I will normally focus on cheap defenders in a good team, for example, if Ross Turnbull won some playing time at Chelsea for 4.5m. As suspensions haven't started yet and players aren't fatigued this list is probably a bit short this week but it should grow as the season goes on.
  1. Paulo Ferreira (5.5m). With Carvalho gone and Alex injured, Ivanovic moved across to centre back in the Community Shield with Ferreira grabbing a spot at right back. Bosingwa is still a couple of weeks away so Ferreira should give fantasy owners a couple of decent weeks (WB, @Wig, Sto, @WH, Blackpool) after which new options should have emerged to replace him with. 
  2. John O'Shea (5.5m) - The perennial utility man is back in the first team once more, this time starting at right back against Chelsea in the aforementioned Community Shield. I am not sold on the fact that this position is his and I think United want Rafael to win the battle, but for a couple of weeks I think O'Shea is a decent, if somewhat risky, option if you need cheap access to a top team.
 Captain Rankings
  1. Didier Drogba
  2. Frank Lampard
  3. Wayne Rooney
  4. Nicolas Anelka
  5. Darren Bent
  6. Hugo Rodallega
  7. Florent Malouda
  8. Antonio Valencia
  9. Charles N'Zogbia
  10. James Milner
The best attack the Premier League has seen (103 goals last season) meets a newly promoted side whose players lack experience dealing with top flight teams, never mind one that boasts the likes of Drogba, Lampard, Anelka and Malouda. With their great opening fixtures all these players are great options for your opening day squad and I am looking to grab one or two of them for my team.

Rooney has 3 goals in the last 3 games against Newcastle and though I quite like Newcastle this year, I don't think they have the quality to deal with Rooney. I like Valencia to have a big season this year and really push into the upper echelons of Premier League midfielders. I wouldn't be surprised to see Berbatov or Hernandez do well here too but I am unwilling to rate them as captain worthy until we see who is Ferguson's preferred option.

I rate the Wigan pair of Rodallega and N'Zogbia highly and I think both will build on last season's solid campaigns this year. A good start against weak opposition (Blackpool) is a must and most of Wigan's success will flow through these two players.

We're hours way from the new season now but I hope to squeeze in a few underrated defender picks before we reach the big kick off so stay tuned if you need some help along your back line.


The Gaffer said...

Great to see your blog again for the new season, I'll be hoping to build on my solid fantasy season.

One mistake I spotted. You had Berbatov or Fernandez, its Hernandez.

Bojan said...

what's the fuzz on arteta he didn't score much points last seasone, I think n'zogbia or m.petrov are a better pick, any toughts?

David said...

@bojan, as an everton fan, Mikel Arteta for me is effectively mini-Fabregas.

He only scored so few points last season cos he only got back well into the 2nd half of the season and then he scored every other game til the end of the season mopping up bonus points like a mop that sucks up lots of stuff. He's staying in my side regardless of fixtures and I will captain him when required without fear. Toffees for 4th.

Chris Glover said...

Thanks Gaffer, updated.

I think Arteta is one of those players who everyone remembers as being good but doesnt actually have the fantasy stats in recent days to back it up. He has been troubled by injury and even when fit he doesn't score enough goals in my eyes to be considered a top flight midfielder. Until he proves both his fitness and his ability to win bonus points I agree that the likes of N'Zogbia and untrendy players like Etherington are better options.

Chris Glover said...

David - totally agree that Arteta is a really good real player, just not totally convinced as a fantasy player ahead of the likes of Valencia.

Looking at his stats again, 6 goals last year is alot better than I thought and if he did that over a season then he would be as good as anyone. I will definately consider him at one point I'm sure but I just can't rely on him right now.

Steven said...


Thanks as always for your insight. Great points on Jags and Figuerora in your last update. I'm going to adjust accordingly based on the fixture list. Evans for Jags and not sure on the 4.5 defender yet.


Ryan said...

Chris, if we could only afford either Drogba or Rooney, who should we choose? This is probably a common issue for many of us who start the season trying not to overspend on forwards.

Real JT said...

Just a couple comments: Lampard is doubtful for tomorrow and Alex is healthy, which may bump Ferreira from the lineup (,,10268~2121520,00.html). I also think Jonny Evans is a good "15 minutes of fame" candidate given Rio's injury.

Injuries aside, I think Arteta is terrific. Usually puts up a pace of about 175 fantasy points and is only owned by 8 percent.

Andrew said...

Re: Arteta
I have had him in my side since my first draft. Until yesterday. I decided to go with Young instead for the first couple of fixtures and plan to bring in Arteta in a few weeks, barring injury of course.

Chris Glover said...

Ryan - I like Drogba to open the season given Chelsea's fixtures. He is a slight injury concern after surgery but he says he feels great and Chelsea don't have outstanding depth at the position so I think he should feature in most games.

Real JT - thanks for the update. I am doubting the Ferreira pick a little now. Agree about Evans and should have put him in. I think he is a lock to play until Rio is fit in a couple of weeks.

Andrew - I think it's wise to check on Arteta before committing as his role and fitness are v important.

Ryan said...

Thanks Chris! I was finding it hard to decide on 1 because Drogba has yet to score since pre-season and hasn't shown signs of sharpness while Rooney has been equally toothless and merely assisted a goal in the Community Shield match. I'm expecting Roo to thrive whenever he gets paired up with Chicharito. Anyway, as it's still early days, I'll rely on your historical data and captaincy rankings.

Good luck everyone! LET THE GAMES BEGIN!