Sunday, August 14, 2011

Lineup Lessons

The plan here was to go through every game from the weekend and comment on the different lineups and tactical deployments used. However, given that I wasn't able to watch every game and that the Guardian chalkboards aren't posted yet, there are a few gaps in the information I can provide (who took set pieces in the games I missed for example). A full update for the other games will therefore follow later in the week.


Arsenal
The Team: Szczesny, Sagna, Vermaelen, Koscielny, Gibbs, Song, Rosicky, Ramsey, Arshavin, Gervinho, Van Persie
Set Pieces: Van Persie resumed his free kick duties
Lessons
  • Gervinho got into some nice areas but seemed to lack just a touch of sharpness. Based on his performances for the Ivory Coast I would expect this to get better. He's clearly a player who looks for the pass rather than a rash shot so he should get some assists as well as goals. The red card obviously rules him out of contention for now but I could foresee him becoming a relevant player later in the year. At 9.0m it is going to hard to justify his inclusion unless Arsenal can replace Fabregas and continue their run as an elite attack.
  • Ramsey looked great when he pushed on with Rosicky dropping deeper to pickup the ball from Song. Interesting to see how he would be deployed alongside Wilshere. If he pushes on a bit then at 6.5m he is worth looking at. 
  • Arsenal defended well and I though Koscielny in particular was excellent. They clearly look more settled with Vermaelen in the side and they shut Newcastle down in the first half. Obertan's pace caused them more issues but I think this defensive unit could very well improve on last year's 13 clean sheets
Aston Villa
The Team: Given; Young, Collins, Dunne, Warnock, Delph, Petrov, N'Zogbia, Agbonlahor, Heskey, Bent
Lessons
  • Surprised to see Agbonlahor, Bent and Heskey all playing. Having not seen the whole game, it will be worth watching to see how this worked.
  • N'Zogbia apparently played much deeper than he did at Wigan and the goals may therefore suffer. By all accounts (including McLeish's) he didn't have a great game and looked 'rusty'. I wouldn't make any snap judgements on a bad game but the deeper deployment is a concern.
  • Also surprised to see Albrighton on the bench; another casualty of the strange 3-man attack. I thought we might see big things from him after Young and Downing left but without guaranteed minutes 6.5m is far too rich.
  • As expected it would seem that this defense will be a good mid-price unit and if they can add some productivity on the road (zero clean sheets last season) then they may be startable every week. Young and Warnock look like good value for 5.0m.
Blackburn
The Team: Robinson, Salgado, Hanley, Nzonzi, Olsson, Emerton, Dunn, Pedersen, Hoilett, Formica, Roberts
Lessons

  • The team, particularly the defensive line, was depleted but a tough loss illustrates that this team is in real trouble. I don't see them a viable defensive option until Samba and Nelsen can both re-establish themselves in the side, and even then, Salgado looks like a liability at right back (see Fletcher dominating him for the equaliser).

Bolton
The Team: Jaaskelainen, Steinsson, Cahill, Knight, Robinson, Eagles, Muamba, Reo-Coker, Petrov, K Davies, Klasnic
Set Pieces: Eagles took the majority of free kicks including one which was turned into the goal by Gaddidon.
Lessons: 

  • The defensive pair in the middle allowed Eagles and Petrov room to roam and Eagles in particular looked useful all day. With Cahill, Davies and Klasnic to aim at, set pieces are always going to have some value for this team and Eagles looks like he will take most of them. He has quickly risen to near the top of his price bracket.
  • Klasnic looked much fitter than last season and deserves some attention given his price tag. I wouldn't be blown away to see him exceed Davies' points total this year
  • Pricey defender fans will note that I used Cahill as an example of a player I wouldn't pay more for based on his goalscoring ability. If he continues hitting 25 yard strikers into the top corner, I am absolutely going to eat my words. For now, I still doubt his goals will justify the extra 1.0m. 

Chelsea
The Team Cech, Bosingwa, Alex, Terry, Cole, Ramires, Mikel, Lampard, Kalou, Torres, Malouda
Lessons

  • To spend 10.5m on any player, you need to be 100% sure he will start every week barring injury or the occasional rest. Drogba appears to have fallen out of this bracket now and probably shouldn't be owned right now. Villas-Boas has stated his admiration for Sturridge, who will return after serving his 3 game suspension, which Torres appears to be ahead of Drogba on the depth chart.
  • This deployment helps Malouda, who had been rumoured to start in a three-man midfield with Drogba, Torres and Anelka/Kalou up top. As part of a front-three, he should still deliver value and  could well play out as the best value premium player on this team.
  • Dropping Ivanovic was another huge surprise, especially given that Alex has long been rumoured to be leaving the club soon. Luiz is said to be back soon, so it will be worth checking it Bosingwa can keep his place ahead of Ivanovic thus giving cheap access to this team.

Fulham
The Team: Schwarzer, Hughes, Hangeland, Senderos, Riise, Duff, Etuhu
Lessons

  • If Senderos at centre back is going to be consistent feature, he becomes close to a must own player at just 4.5m. This defense should rank in the top-6 and any consistent minutes from a 4.5m player would be extremely valuable.
  • I liked Andy Johnson coming into the season but was scared off by others suggesting Dembele would start ahead of him. He could be one of the better budget strikers if he gets a consistent run in the side. I wouldn't rush into this situation but if he holds his place down, he makes a nice pickup when the fixtures are right.
  • Riise had a couple of chances and given Fulham's solid defense he at least deserves attention. I still don't see him justifying 6.0m though. 
  • Dempsey's value takes a small hit here, pushed into a four man mid, rather than just off a lone front man. He will surely deliver good production as always but I'm not sure he's now worth 8.5m in this system (though at the moment I don't know who is).

Liverpool
The Team: Reina, Flanagan, Carragher, Agger, Jose Enrique, Henderson, Lucas, Adam, Downing, Suarez, Carroll
Set Pieces: Suarez took, but missed, a penalty. Not sure if he'll keep spot kick duties when Gerrard is back. Adam took the majority of free kicks and corners.
Lessons:

  • Kuyt missed out here, which I can't say surprised me too much. He just doesn't seem to fit in a traditional 4-4-2. He looked great when he came on and will likely displace Henderson in the side going forward but I'm not sure you can pay 10.0m for a winger who doesn't take set pieces. I would still venture that Gerrard's return will force to him to the bench.
  • Suarez and Carroll linked up fairly well and should both register on your watch list. Suarez looks like he might get a few more goals though and I still rate him slightly higher, especially for 0.5m less. 
  • Charlie Adam grabbed an assist and took charge of a lot of set pieces. A potential lack of goals still concerns me when justifying a 9.0m tag but he took a more central role in the team's play than I expected.

Man Utd
The Team De Gea, Smalling, Ferdinand, Vidic, Fabio, Young, Cleverley, Anderson, Nani, Rooney, Welbeck
Set Pieces: Young on corners
Lessons
  • Ferguson clearly isn't scared to play his youngsters. With Rafael out for a couple of months, Smalling looks like a good bet to play most weeks.
  • Vidic is said to be out for a couple of weeks while Ferdinand will miss six. It was interesting to note that Johnny Evans came on as the first sub and at 4.5m he could give you excellent value for the next month or so. Just be careful to note that United's upcoming fixtures are pretty tough before overcommitting here.
  • We can't draw too many conclusions on the wingers as Valencia wasn't fit to challenge Nani and Young. On this evidence though, I thought Young generally played better as well as taking set pieces and might be safer at this point (I still maintain that Nani gets 26-30 games though).
  • Wellbeck's presence suggests Berbatov is finished but for 7.0m his upside is not high enough to justify his risk.
  • De Gea should have done better for the first goal but I wouldn't suggest for a second his place is under threat. Perhaps downgrade the defense a touch but they're still better than most.
  • Rooney proved that he is the safest 10.0m+ player right now.
Newcastle
The Team: Krul, Coloccini, S Taylor, R Taylor, Simpson, Barton, Cabaye, Tiote, Gutierrez, Ameobi, Ba
Set Pieces: Cabaye on corners, Joey Barton took a number of free kicks
Lessons: 

  • Ba was totally anonymous in the first half and Obertan looked much better when he came on. Ba probably slips down our watch list a touch given the talent available in his price bracket while Obertan would very much be worth taking a look at if he won a starting spot as he was deployed up front but is a 5.0m midfielder in the game.
  • Ryan Taylor was an emergency left back in this one and along with Simpson gave great value for 4.0m. Long term it would seem that Simpson is the better choice though that depends on who is brought in to replace Jose Enrique. Taylor would be very valuable as a 4.0m starter given his ability from set pieces and corners.
  • Cabaye looks like a good player and he got into good positions with regularity. As he develops a better understanding with his teammates he could develop into a good source of assists 

Norwich
The Team: Ruddy, Martin, Whitbread, De Laet, Tierney, Fox, Surman, Hoolahan, Crofts, Holt, Morison
Lessons

  • De Laet looks like he is a fixture in this back line and gives you guaranteed minutes for 4.0m. Whether or not the unit gives you anything more than appearance points is yet to be seen.
  • Despite the goal, I'm not convinced Hoolahan is worth 5.5m just yet.


QPR
The Team: Kenny, Dyer, Hall, Gabbidon, Hill, Smith, Derry, Faurlin, Taarabt, Campbell, Bothroyd
Lessons:

  • Taarabt was very quiet and didn't look worth anything close to 6.5m. I wouldn't necessarily ditch him if you own him right now but the team looked pretty poor and I'm not sure where the goals are coming from.
  • At 5.5m DJ Campbell brings some goal scoring experience and falls in a price bracket where talent is limited. 

Stoke
The Team Begovic, Huth, Shawcross, Woodgate, Wilson, Pennant, Delap, Whelan, Etherington, Jones, Walters
Lessons

  • Woodgate gets the started as was suggested, which makes him very nice value at 4.5m (when healthy). 
  • Walters got the start up top as expected and could be useful given his midfield classification. I'd need to see the game to see exactly where he played before puling the trigger though.

Sunderland
The Team: Mignolet, Bardsley, Brown, Ferdinand, Richardson, Larsson, Cattermole, Colback, Elmohamady, Sessegnon, Gyan
Set Pieces: Seb Larsson pretty much took everything.
Lessons

  • The defense looked overmatched to open the game with Richardson in particular looking poor. Brown defended well but without much talent around him it will be part for this team to rack up clean sheets like last year without substantial improvements.
  • Sessegnon was a little disappointing but did take up an advanced role as anticipated. He remains fairly close to the top of my watch list in this price bracket.

West Brom
The Team Foster, Reid, Tamas, Olsson, Shorey, Brunt, Scharner, Mulumbu, Morrison, Tchoyi, Long.
Lessons

  • Team was pretty much as predicted but defended better than expected. It remains to be seen if they will develop into a defensive unit with any value though
  • Long got on the scoresheet which will surely get the attention of many managers. I'm interested for 6.0m but I need to see more before I but him in the same bracket with those 6.5m options.
  • Brunt was forced back defensively quite often and didn't really have the impact I would have liked to see. I will be keen to see him in action against weaker opposition this season.

Wigan
The Team: Al Habsi, Boyce, Caldwell, Lopez, Figueroa, Gomez, McCarthy, Watson, Diame, Moses, Di Santo
Set Pieces: Ben Watson remain on penalty duty
Lessons: 

  • The team remains pretty uninspiring though Moses had a very good game by all accounts. He remains one of the best 5.0m bets around and I feel comfortable having him stashed on my bench for use against weaker sides.
  • Don't get overly excited by Watson's penalty duties, better options remain in his price bracket

Wolves
The Team: Hennessey, Stearman, Johnson, Berra, Ward, Jarvis, O'Hara, Henry, Hunt, Doyle, Fletcher
Set Pieces: Kevin Doyle took, but missed, a penalty.
Lessons

  • Going forward this is a good side and the only question is whether any one will player will get enough points on their own to warrant ownership. 
  • Jarvis got the assist and I'd like to see the chalkboard to see how O'Hara was deployed as I like him ability the most on paper. 
  • The good start from Fletcher was good to see and he continues to simply score goals whenever he plays. A long run in the side will make him very valuable for his price bracket.
As I say, I'll beef this review up when the chalkboards (finally) go live but I gave up waiting for the pl.com and Guardian websites to update. Here's hoping they can get their technology in better working order for next week.

7 comments:

Ash said...

Hi Chris,

I really like the new layout for the site and your posts are really good to read, short and insightful.

It's going to be an interesting season this one. Torres looked scarily good, back to his best I think.

Benjamin said...

Just a note on the chalkboards (will read the article soon). Seems a few people in the UK are able to access them, I haven't been able to either (outside UK)

RiseRiiseRise said...

Hi

I was wondering what you think about
Cleverley?

Thought he looked pretty good against west brom.

kazek said...

Was really disappointed to see Drogba is now bench material.

And Bent hardly had any service.
I think it was wrong for Albrighton to start on the bench.

Tricky first few gameweeks

Thommas said...

Imo Taarabt was in the middle of everything QPR really did attacking wise. However the team was hugely dissappoiting, don't think we should write Taarabt off this early.

Chris Glover said...

Thanks Ash. I am definitely interested in Torres again, who now seems to be top of the depth chart for Chelsea. Going into last season I said he was probably the best striker in the league and I still think he can get there provided Chelsea (a) focus the team around his style or (b) he can develop his game to their style. I think dropping Drogba entirely is a mistake but it would make fantasy selections easier

Thanks Benjaminm I will look into that. I have a proxy thing which lets we look like a UK IP address so I'll see if I can access them then.

Riise - He's clearly a good player and I actually talked about him a bit when he was at Wigan. If he plays then he should score more than enough points to justify his price tag. My problem is that as in past years with Scholes, Carrick, Anderson, Fletcher, Giggs etc (who are all talented players), Ferguson has tended to rotate them and render them all mediocre in fantasy terms. That said, Cleverly is so much cheaper than that group that you can afford to have him sit fairly regularly.

Kazek - very disappointed with Dorgba, who I had in my team until Friday night. You would think he still gets a significant amount of minutes but 28 games looks unlikely if he's being benched already (with Sturridge to come back).
Also agree on Albrighton. I liked him a lot coming into the season but I'm not bailing on him yet.

Thommas - I thought Taarabt was looked to by teammates all day but felt the end product was sorely lacking. Barry Ferguson pulled the strings for Birmingham but the side never scored enough for him to be fantasy relevant (not at 6.5m anyway). Taarabt is a better player and clearly has more potential but against a Bolton side who didn't keep a single clean sheet on the road last season, I expected so much more.

Chris Glover said...

Benjamin - uou're a hero. Chalkboards are available if you use a UK proxy (which I can luckily do through my work). Thanks man.