Thursday, January 6, 2011

Burning Questions

As we approach the final third of the season, a few issues stand out that should play a major part when settling on your final wildcard lineup:

Where will Arsenal's goals come from?
Whatever the doomsday merchants say, Arsenal are an elite scoring team, currently ranked second in goals scored (39) and have a league leading 20 goals away from home. From a fantasy point of view though it's hard to know where a steady flow of fantasy points is going to come. I received criticism for suggesting Nasri might not be the answer to all our woes and while his minutes have been solid (he was dropped against Wigan) in the last 5 games he's added just 15 points to his total.

Five players have four or more goals for Arsenal, and that doesn't even include van Persie or Fabregas. It seems that Chamakh is the odd man out in the front five, having been dropped for three of the last four games. Arshavin also seems to be out of favour and behind Walcott on the depth chart. With van Persie out of form I think the choice is between Nasri and Fabregas and I believe you really do need one of them given Arsenal's fixtures and goal scoring ability. A further analysis of this pair will be uploaded soon.

Can Chelsea's defense bounce back?
In terms of goals conceded over the course of the season, Chelsea's defense is still joint best in the league (16 conceded) and they've still conceded just 7 goals at home. However, as anyone who is paying attention has noticed, this is not currently the Chelsea side we have grown to rely on and they've managed just one clean sheet since GW13. Terry, Ivanovic and Cole will set you back 7m plus while the right back position is too clouded to be reliable. We might therefore be at the point where Chelsea defenders are not tenable in your fantasy team until they can prove otherwise. Terry and Ivanovic have been bailed out by goals over the past few weeks but Cole has 26 points over the past 12 games for a PPMS of 0.264 (for those scoring at home that isn't good).

Does the Sunderland defense justify doubling up?
The Sunderland defense has been a revelation this year with El-Mohamady, Bardsley and Onuoha all ranked in the top 8 defenders. The sum of the goalkeepers (Gordon and Mignolet - 94 points) would rank them second behind only Joe Hart. Given that Bardsley, Elmo and Gordon can be had for 5m or less, is it time to double up on Mackems? If you're making a move for the rest of the season then I think the answer is yes. The short/medium term schedule is only solid but if you look ahead to GW30 onwards they play 6 games against teams who have failed to score 4 or more times (at home/away). I think the prime strategy is to play Bardsley/Elmo every week and then grab Gordon as part of keeper rotation to avoid having to double up on Sunderland players when they play trickier fixtures (they're good but I would still drop them at the Emirates in GW29 for example.

Will any of the big time midfielders finish the season strong?
There was once a Holy Trinity - Ronaldo Lampard and Gerrard - who thoroughly dominated fantasy leagues the world over and were an essential part of everyone's strategy. Now Ronaldo is in Spain, Gerrard has only 2 more points than substitute Adam Johnson and Lampard is 6th in points among midfielders on his own team. Instead we have seen the rise of the mid-ranger with Nani, Van der Vaart and Cahill leading the league in total points and consistent production. I have seen some signs of recovery from Lampard since his return and despite adding just a lone goal, he has played some great balls into the box which haven't been finished by a floundering front line. That said, at 12.6m he is just too much more than Van der Vaart, Nasri and Nani to ever justify that lofty fee.

The only argument I can find for employing Lampard or Fabregas is that these once 'must have' players can now be considered to be differetiators. Given the failure of the big name strikers too (see below) money is not a huge problem this year so you can probably throw PPMS out of the window for a couple of players and simply chase points. In that mindset Lampard, and for me particularly Fabregas, may have some value still.

Will any of the big time forwards finish the season strong?
I was very high on Drogba this year and while Drogba justified that hype in the early going, he suffered through a terrible patch in GW8-15 with no goals though he has been slightly better of late. Tevez has been maddening all year with 5 double digit games but 9 games of 2 points or less. Unlike the midfield though I have faith in this pair and think Rooney and van Persie will also have something to day before the season is done. As mentioned above, Arsenal have very favorable fixtures and so an in-form van Persie would be great but I am unwilling to recommend buying him now and waiting another month for him to find his feet. With that in mind, I think Tevez is the best placed to have success but has the hardest fixtures with Drogba occupying the middle ground of being in okay form and having okay fixtures. I will try and rank these forwards for the rest of the season in the next few days.

I hope that's answered more questions that it's raised. I will be back shortly with actual data rankings for projections for the final third of the season and hence who to target with your wildcard.


Leo said...

Hi Chris,

I agree, I feel this season due to the success of the 8 million pound midfielder the only real areas to differentiate is the third striker (the one that isn't Tevez or Carroll), along with a few defensive options.

It is total headache!

Berbatov and Rooney both a rotation risk (Rooney less of a risk. That double game week looks very attractive but will Berb even play in both games? I doubt it. Can he score when rooney isn't playing? Will Hernandez get a run with his electric form taking rooney's place? Have you noticed Nani doesn't seem to like passing to Berbatov? And Rooney no longer looks to score, but to assist (his first goal in open play goal since March was a misplaced pass to Berbatov).

Torres also seems an attractive prospect but he is useless away and just too frustrated and bored of his mediocre team to perform consistently or even to have a double figures game.

Darren Bent - no longer the only way they score with Welbeck and Gyan around, he is not going to come close to last season's tally.

Drogba, been doing strangely well recently with 3 goals and 3 assists in 6 games, not to mention the Tottenham game where he got 2 points but had he netted the penalty would have got more like 11 points (+3 bonus +4 goal +2 non missed penalty) which interestingly would mean he was the highest scoring player out of everyone in the game, with a cushion of over a goal's worth of points. Food for thought.

RVP I feel a gamble on Van Persie is where I will go with my WC, we may see if it pays off.

DJ Campbell, loads of games to come and plenty of goals, amazingly probably the a very good option, will also go up in value for selling.

Any strikers anyone can think of as the best option?

Your analysis of Nasri playing with Fabregas will be interesting, I have refused to have Nasri for most of this season (I started him in GW 1 with 3 million in the bank to bring Fab in when he returned) partly due to my love of Fabregas and my theory that when Fabregas is playing Nasri does not get as many goals or assists. This theory has cost me 9 goals worth of points and its a miracle I'm doing so well without him (1146 points about 6,000th at the moment).

I think my Nasri theory has been sound in past seasons but I'd be very interested to see if you have any evidence to suggest that it might be a shrewd move to have both Nasri and Fabregas together as Arsenal's fixtures are, in my opinion, better than anyones over the next 5-6 weeks especially with that absolutely immense double game week in GW 27. Otherwise I think I will just gamble on the rotation risk Van Persie when I play my wild card as mentioned.

I would advise caution when recommending Elmo, whilst thousands of managers have benefited from leaving in a substitute recently he simply is not first team anymore and will be dropped when Onuoha returns, probably their next league game.

Sorry for the ramble all only wanted to ask the nasri/fab stats questions originally, let me know your thoughts on anything.

p.s. I wonder if Tevez is now also a rotation risk (Dzecko).

Andrew said...

Thinking about using my wildcard, my current team is:

Gordon, Foster
Baines, R.Ferdinand, Givet, Kyrgiakos, Coleman
Adam, Nani, Bale, Dempsey, Gamst-Pedersen
Carroll, Tevez, Drogba

I'm considering changing to:
Foster, Harper
Djourou, Bardsley, Ferdinand, Coleman, Nelsen
Brunt, Adam, Nani, VDV, Fabregas
Carroll, Tevez, Berbatov/RVP

If I hang on and wait to use the WC for another week, I will likely do Dempsey to Brunt as my free transfer. Of course, I'll wait until closer to the deadline, but just trying to bounce some ideas around.

Chris Glover said...

Leo - great analysis of the available options. I am also terrified by Hernandez's form as it makes it easier to drop Rooney or Berb. The real issue is who gets dropped against the big boys and who gets dropped against the easier sides. For fantasy of course you don't really care if he's rested @ City as the goals are unlikely to flow anyway.

I am done with Liverpool until we see what Dalglish can bring

Bent - I agree. Not the focus of the attack anymore, sometimes feeding on scraps. Gyan better at crafting his own goal scoring opportunities (see World Cup).

Drogba - I have started to get down on Drogba but as people have pointed on here and Twitter, he is still producing at a reasonable level. If he can just start to find a few goals to match the assists and bonus points, he becomes must own again. I am considering his return with my wildcard.

RvP - Could be a league winning pickup but I need to see more before I sign him. Not been too impressed since his return.

You're also right on El-Mohamady. He is in the team for now at RB but will likely move out for Onouha. I think he's playing well enough to get his MR spot but he was dropped earlier in the year, hence why I pumped up Bardsley so much - almost much have right now.
Thanks for the great comments.

Andrew - intresting that you are looking to ditch Gordon. Sunderland have been excellent and while their schedule isn't great, it's good enough.I like Harper for the price but I'd probably go Harper/Gordon off the top of my head - though I haven't looked to see which GK's gel well together.

I like the backline a lot although a I say, I am out on Liverpool until I see what Dalglish brings (my suspicion will be more goals but not necessarily more clean sheets).

Your midfield is exactly the one I am looking at right now. Fabregas may be a risk but I think he's shown enough to warrant getting on board early.

I would stick with Berb for now rather than RvP but I certaintly see the temptation. Tevez remains a great option though be cautious that he has tough run in GW27-30. This could be the time to bring RvP in if you stick with Breb initially.