Friday, August 12, 2011

Gameweek 1 Preview

I don't know how this crept up on me, but it did. I blame living within sight of the Rogers Centre (Sky Dome) here in Toronto. With live sporting action available for $10 within a 2 minute walk 81 times a season, it's tough to stay in and crunch stats from last year. Anyway, we're done looking back and it's time to look forward.

In the interest of time I'm not going to rehash some of the 'big themes' we've already talked about in the off season but I will gently point you in the direction of the below:

So onto week one. The strength of schedule and goal per game rankings are posted here and I'll be moving them over the weekend into a nicer format, on a permanent page so they're more accessible. I therefore won't repeat them every week in the preview column, instead just referencing the key highlights when needed.

In the early weeks it's tough to predict too much as we basing everything on last year, or on most sites, gut feeling. I try and avoid the latter so the below will be 90% based on facts from prior year, allowing small adjustments for new managers/teammates/girlfriends/haircuts etc, you know, the important stuff.

Clean Sheet Rankings
Full GPG predictions can be found here. I am ranking teams below based on their forecast GPG but I am  bullish/bearish on different teams based on other events. I have left the data untouched but I'll chip in with my two cents if I see someone being over/undervalued.

The Elite
Man City . . . 0.80 GPG prediction . . . 63% home clean sheet rate last season . . . the best bet for the week by far . . . without Tevez and Aguero, Mancini should focus on keeping a clean sheet and letting City's superior talent do enough to win the game . . . back line looks fairly settled with the only real question at left back (Clichy/Kolarov) . . . Kompany looks like the safest bet . . . Richards has a slightly higher upside but is less safe with Zabaleta ready to sub in

Liverpool . . . 0.89 GPG prediction . . . 47% clean sheet rate last season . . . Sunderland failed to score 42% of the time on the road . . .  greatly improved under Dalglish and look like a really good unit this year . . . Jose Enrique (5.0m) is the obvious choice and he is going to be owned by every manager with a pulse very soon . . . if you have any intention of owning him in the near future, get him now. His price is all but guaranteed to rise from day one and he's a good play this week.

Fulham . . . 1.18 GPG prediction . . . 47% clean sheet rate last season . . . Villa failed to score 26% of the time on the road . . . could be an elite defense for mid-range price . . . finished last season strong and return almost the whole unit plus Riise . . . Hangeland and Riise are priced like elite options so you'll need offensive points to justify their price tags, which I'm not convinced about yet . . . Hughes looks like the safest option, evidenced by his 8th ranking in defender ownership . . . Schwarzer may well be my prediction for the best value keeper come year end.

Blackburn . . . 0.84 GPG prediction . . . 37% clean sheet rate last season . . . opponents failed to score 37% of the time on the road . . . took some backward steps under Kean last year, not sure if this defense is for real anymore . . . everyone is back but Samba has a knock and might miss out . . . Wolves are an improving team and have a full contingent of players . . . this prediction looks too generous and might be taking into account past success which is far from guaranteed under Kean . . . tread carefully here.

The upsiders
QPR . . . 1.16 GPG prediction . . . Bolton failed to score in 37% of their road games last year . . . conceded just 0.70 GPG last season . . . Gabbidon and Orr are forecast to play yet cost just 4.0m . . . if you're struggling for cash you might consider one of this pair to free cash up to use elsewhere . . . risky but provided you get a good squad, a 4.0m mistake won't cost you too dearly

Stoke . . . 1.26 GPG prediction . . . 37% clean sheet rate at home . . . Chelsea failed to score in 37% of their road games last year . . . it seems ridiculous to play anyone against Chelsea and I wouldn't advise it in GW1 when you're free to shop elsewhere, but the point needs making that on paper this is a decent matchup

Captain Picks
Carlos Tev wait what? He's going where? He said what? Oh, in that case I'll go with David Silva as my pick from the City side. I'll put it on record now that come season end I think Silva finishes with the most points among midfielders, provided Mancini doesn't start rotating him with Nasri. The sky is the limit this week for City who have a point to prove and welcome a Swansea side who will be overmatched all over the park. An outside bet might be Dzeko who should start up top on his own but that would be bullish for GW1.

Arsenal have a good fixture so Fabregas Nasri Van Persie looks like a great captain option (yeh I just did the same lame gag in back to back paragraphs, forgive me it's Friday night). If fit, Van Persie could have been the most owned forward but the traditional question marks remain and so he is risky. I am a bit scared of a Fabregas-less Arsenal but if you like Wenger's side to roll on then Van Persie is a nice play this week (be sure to set that vice captain though).

It looks like Suarez might play for Liverpool thus making him an option this week. As with Van Persie, make sure you have a good replacement lined up. I'm more scared here as I could foresee a situation where he gets 20 minutes at the end of the game so only go here if you have no other options.

Rooney is always an option and I probably rank him as the safest premium option to open the season with. I am not however convinced that he will be worth 2.0m more than Hernandez, Suarez and Drogba in the long run. This week he's a decent option and if you own him you probably captain him but on paper at least it won't be one of his better games. It's a similar story with Nani though some are suggesting he might not even play. For me, he starts 26-30 games this year but I concede it isn't a nailed on certainty. Struggled on the road last year so again, might not be his best effort.

For Chelsea, Lampard is a doubt so the options look like Drogba or Malouda. I'm higher on Drogba than most but Stoke are a very good side at home and I for one plan to bring in DD next week. Malouda looks okay but I much prefer Silva and may even lean towards someone like Downing ahead of him based on the fixture.

I'm going to leave it there this week given the lack of empirical evidence we have to go on. I try to avoid pure guess work as much as possible so please forgive the above for being a bit 'chatty'. The next few weeks are going to focused on chalkboard analysis of how managers are deploying certain players along with trying to understand what has changed/stayed the same from last year.

Good luck with your opening team, remember not to take too many risks and not to pay too much attention to this week's fixtures. If anyone has any last minute thoughts/questions I'll be on Twitter and here well into the early hours. 


Hussain said...

hi chris.

struggling who to play out of the following:

drogba and nani/lampard/malouda or
rooney and nani or malouda

i want it for the long run, please reply

Chris Glover said...

If money was no object I'd probably go for Rooney and Nani but if you can use the 1.5m elsewhere I'd be just as happy with Drogba and Nani. This also has the benefit of spreading your cash out a bit better. Of course I am in love with David Silva so might go there instead but from this group I like the above.

Steven said...


As always, thank you for your insight and hard work. I've been on this blog multiple times a day checking on all your previews ..

Good luck to all in GW1!

Anonymous said...

You do awesome work mate! I live in toronto also, but haven't heard the siren song of the jays for almost 20 years now...

I am a little peeved the fpl site is down right now as I can't even recall what iteration of my team I was on.

GL to all who aren't in my leagues!

Craig B said...

I have just finalized my team for the GW (I think) and have reluctantly chosen Jonas Olsson to ride the pine for my team. I realize that WBA was abysmal last season on defense but with the 3rd easiest strength of schedule for the first 10 GW's and Foster+Hodgson+defensive reinforcements I can't really find a better cheap solution(I also already took a punt on QPR). The only other player I was toying with was Woodgate (I needed something at 4.5 or less) but was unsure if he was locked in as a starter. Anybody else with me on this? What are yours thoughts?

EddieO said...

Hey Chris, I realize you can't make a statistical assessment of the three promoted sides but your assessment of the potential candidates would be an interesting cherry on top of the excellent evaluations you have already provided. Great job!

Pablitto said...

good job man!

Mitchell Stirling said...

Have enjoyed all the analysis in past few weeks. For all the note taking and research it can all go tits up inside 45 minutes.

Bit frustrating that the site wouldn't allow me another tinker late last night or this morning but I have.

Hughes / Boswinga / Kompany
Lucas / Etherington / Silva (c) / N'Zogbia
Rooney / Drogba / Ba

Subs: Begovic / Hoolahan / J Enrique / Jagielka

Was on the brink of putting Suraez back in last night but despite the goal ultimately think Drogba is a better bet for first 6 weeks at least. Annoyed I talked myself out of playing 3-5-2 with Ba for Hoolahan after he scored. Wasn't prepared to risk J Enrique as I wrongly thought Daglish might not play with so many new players, glad I got him first week though.