Arsenal's run in
By my calculations, Arsenal don't face a single game from here on in where they are expected to score less than one GPG and only two games (@Tot and @Bla) are less than 1.5 GPG. They have 6 games in which they are expected to score at least 2 goals. Compared to the other top teams, we see Arsenal are very well placed:
Expected games scoring 1.5 GPG or less:
- Arsenal 2
- Man United 4
- Tottenham 8
- Chelsea 8
- Man City 9
- Chelsea 8
- Arsenal 7
- Man Utd 7
- Newcastle 6
- Tottenham 2
- Man City 1
The problem is the Arsenal's goals are very fragmented throughout the team with 13 different players already finding the net this year. If we put aside the forwards for a minute and look at the midfield, I think we can quickly cut out Rosicky, Wilshere, Diaby and probably Walcott as either lacking the minutes or attacking prowess to be regular fantasy contributors. I liked Arshavin at the start of the year and while has has been pretty solid this year, he seems to be being rotated more and more with the return of Van Persie and given his high price I am cutting him too. Song has been very good value this year but for the sake of argument here I am going to exclude him as he is a rotation prospect rather than an every week starter.
That leaves, of course, Nasri and Fabregas who are the focal point of this piece. I am intrigued by how the two play together and how this will translate to fantasy points for the remainder of the season.
Let's take three games, one in which Fabregas played without Nasri (Bolton), one in which Nasri played without Fabregas (West Brom) and one in which they played together (Tottenham).
by Guardian Chalkboards
by Guardian Chalkboards
Fabregas plays centrally regardless of who else is playing while Nasri is pushed wide to either the right (as seen above) or sometimes to the left when Walcott also plays. This isn't necessarily a bad thing (some of the best fantasy players are wingers) but it does mean you have to be careful which data you are basing your transfer decisions on. Let's look at some numbers:
Fantasy points per game
- Nasri playing without Fabregas: Nasri 6.86 PPG
- Fabregas playing without Nasri: Fabregas 5.33 PPG
- Both playing: Nasri 4.45 PPG, Fabregas 5.55 PPG
What drives fantasy points? Well a lot of things, but I like shots as a useful measure for midfielders and it usually illustrates they are in attacking positions, are given license to shoot and are more likely to wrack up bonus points.
Shots per game
- Nasri playing without Fabregas: Nasri 4.4 shots per gane
- Fabregas playing without Nasri: Fabregas 1.7 shots per game
- Both playing: Nasri 1.9 shots per game, Fabregas 3.0 shots per game
I define a quality game as one in which a player adds 6 points or more in a game. Let's look at the percentage of quality games each player has notched:
- Nasri playing without Fabregas: Nasri 57% QG
- Fabregas playing without Nasri: Fabregas 33% QG
- Both playing: Nasri 27% QG, Fabregas 55% QG
If you are trailing in your league or want to make a push up the leader board I think Fabregas (7.8% owned) is the best way to achieve this. There is some downside with his injury concerns and the fact he can sometimes take up deeper position but he has top 5 potential and a low ownership which doesn't apply to anyone else right now.
Nasri been more immune to rotation than I expected but his form has declined nonetheless. If you want to go all in on Arsenal he still makes a great pickup and owning him and Fabregas would likely guarantee you at least some kind of return from them each week (if you owned them both you would have enjoyed 9 double digit weeks and just 2 bad weeks when they both played). The issue is whether you can afford Nani and Van der Vaart too who I still regard as close to must own.
I have been premature with Fabregas before but it's time to start taking risks so given his apparent fitness and his good form since returning I think now is the time to bring Cesc back to the fantasy lime light.