Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Gameweek 19 Rankings

At time of posting I am working on the basis that all games will go ahead as planned this week, though at least the Blackpool-Liverpool game is already looking doubtful. More updates on this will of course come later in the week but I would recommend holding off on your transfers for now and definitely not paying 4 points for any moves until we are more certain who will actually play.

Clean Sheet Rankings
  1. Fulham
  2. Man Utd
  3. Blackburn
  4. Wolves
  5. Blackpool
  6. Everton
  7. Aston Villa
  8. Birmingham
  9. Arsenal
  10. Man City
  11. Bolton
  12. West Ham
  13.  Wigan
  14. Stoke
  15. Chelsea
  16. Newcastle
  17. Tottenham
  18. Liverpool
  19. Sunderland
  20. West Brom
Team Goals
  1. Bolton
  2. Man Utd
  3. Blackpool
  4. Aston Villa
  5. Man City
  6. Arsenal
  7. Blackburn
  8. Wolves
  9. Fulham
  10. West Brom
  11. Newcastle
  12. Chelsea
  13. Everton
  14. Tottenham
  15. Birmingham
  16. Liverpool
  17. Wigan
  18. Stoke
  19. Sunderland
  20. West Ham
Team Goals (form adjusted)
  1. Bolton
  2. Man Utd
  3. Man City
  4. Blackpool
  5. West Brom
  6. Blackburn
  7. Everton
  8. Arsenal
  9. Tottenham
  10. Chelsea
  11. Liverpool
  12. Fulham
  13. Birmingham
  14. Newcastle
  15. Stoke
  16. Aston Villa
  17. Wolves
  18. Sunderland
  19. Wigan
  20. West Ham
Captain Stats
Given their play at home this season both Berbatov and Nani look like very good selections this week. Now, Sunderland are a really strong opponent with a league leading 9 clean sheets this season but only 3 of these have come away from home and only one against a top opponent like United (GW13 @Che). Equally, United have never failed to score at home this season and are averaging 2.78 GPG at Old Trafford. Berbatov is hitting opponents for no less than 10.83 PPG in home games while Nani is adding 8.5 PPG of his own. Perhaps as importantly, Berbatov has 5 games of at least 7 points and just one 2 pointer while Nani has failed to gain 4 points in every game bar one (in GW1) and has 4 double digit games already at OT.

It may be a statistical anomaly but Van der Vaart is crushing mid level teams (1 - 1.5 GPG conceded) for 9.5 PPG and fairs okay on the road (5.6 PPG). Villa managed 4 home clean sheets through GW10 but haven't done so since. VdV should return this week and hopefully continue the form that made him a must own player before his injury.

There are plenty of captain options involved in the Arsenal - Chelsea game but all look to be risky given the unpredictability of these games. Drogba's success against Arsenal is well documented (7 goals in 5 games over the past 3 seasons, including 4 last season) but the stats to date don't make him easy to back. He is averaging just 4.25 PPG away from Stamford Bridge and 3.75 PPG against tougher teams so while a big game is always possible you would not say it is likely right now. Even more worrying are his 7 points in the last 4 away games. Malouda has been simply non-existent on the road with only one game over 4 points all season (GW2). On the bright side, that is the one road game Malouda played with Lampard in the team so there is some hope that Lampard's return will allow Malouda to play in a more familiar role on the left and flourish once again. Still, that is a gamble, particularly against a decent side like Arsenal.

On the Arsenal side, I find it harder to pick captain options given the uncertainty of who will play. Fabregas, as captain, will be the first name on the team sheet but in 3 games against tough opponents this year he has 0 goals, 0 assists and 7 points. Nasri has performed well at home (7.83 PPG) and against good opponents (5.6 PPG) but I have some concerns about his role in the team when everyone is back fit. I very much doubt he will enjoy as much freedom as he has over the past couple of months and may even find himself on the sidelines for the odd game or half. For me, it is way to early to own, nevermind captain the returning Van Persie.

On paper, Torres looks like a great option as his side travels to Bloomfield Road where Blackpool have failed to keep a clean sheet since GW1. That said, Liverpool have failed to score 4 times in 9 road games and Torres has been simply brutal (2.89 PPG). Common sense says there must be some regression to the mean at some point but it's risky to captain Torres this week, especially given the added uncertainty surrounding this fixture.

Tevez is one top player with a great fixture but I am terrified by all the nonsense that has gone on over the past couple of weeks. His performance against Everton on Monday was one of the more limited I have seen him play and he mustered just two shots on target. Whether by tactical design or his own lack of focus, I felt that Tevez lacked his usual dynamism and played too narrowly to impact all facets of the game. He is one of the strange players who fair better away from home and he's added a very useful 7.43 PPG in these games. He is also performing very well against teams who concede more than a goal a game with a 6.34 PPG average. He is the opposite play to Torres: the stats say yes but the extra curricular stuff makes you hesitant.

The guys outside the normal thought process are led by Johan Elmander who faces the matchup of the week against West Brom. Di Matteo has done a stellar job so far this term but West Brom have just one clean sheet which came at home in GW2. They've conceded 19 goals on the road, second only to Blackburn, while only Man United have scored more at home that Bolton. Elmander has cooled off lately with 4 bad games in a row but with the excpetion of Blackpool at home they were all much tougher than this week's game.

Fingers crossed for a full schedule this week, check out @plfantasy for links and useful stories from around the league. Also, I have a piece up over the excellent Equaliser Blog on my love affair with Jay Jay Okocha if anyone is interest.

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