Friday, August 5, 2011

Notebook Preview: Manchester City

Looking back at last season
  • Led all teams with 18 clean sheets including 12 at home. Only six other teams have 12 clean sheets in total.
  • The final 13 gameweeks of the seasons saw City rack up an impressive 7 clean sheets including 3 straight to end the season.
  • Their 0.63 GPG at home and 1.11 GPG away ranked 1st and 3rd in the league respectively
  • Failed to score a surprising 9 times though 5 of these came in the first 13 weeks of the season.
  • Through the first 13 gameweeks they managed to score just 15 goals (1.15 GPG). The remaining games saw them up the pace to 1.8 GPG.
  • Led the league in goalkeeper points but ranked just 12th in P$ thanks to Hart's price tag
  • Defensive P90 ranked 2nd at home with the unit coming in 5th in P$. Thanks to the uncertainty around most positions the unit's prices haven't risen too fast making the unit very useful again this year.
  • Up front the team amassed the third most points, which is incredible considering it was pretty much Tevez and half a season of Balotelli and Dzeko but their lofty price tags pushed the P$ ranking down to 18th. A happy Tevez or a settled Aguero are a couple of players where value for money needs to be ignored though as they have the potential to top 200 points a piece.
Predicted Lineup
Hart (7.0m), Clichy (6.0m), Lescott (6.5m), Kompany (6.0m), Richards (6.0m), Silva (9.5m), De Jong (5.0m), Yaya Toure (8.0m), Milner 7.5m), Tevez (12.0m), Aguero (11.0m)

City obviously have pretty good depth across the board but for such an improved squad, it is still possible to at least make some educated guesses about who will play. As Kolarov proved last season, being the new boy does not guarantee minutes, but as a new arrival with Premier League experience and a good balance of attacking/defensive ability, Clichy looks fairly secure to rack up plenty of minutes. Zabaleta played a lot of left back at the end of last season but I see him more of an John O'Shea-type, getting minutes at several positions rather than making one his own. Lescott and Kompany look fairly secure for now with Kompany looking good value at just 6.0m. I would lean towards Richards on the right but Zabaleta and Boyata both vultured minutes last year but like Clichy, I think Richards gets more than his fair share of starts.

The midfield is also pretty settled with De Jong, Yaya Toure and Silva looking like they would only be rested rather than rotated. I've gone for Milner on the right but there is depth in the middle of the park which should worry fantasy owners. Up top one must assume that Mancini will deploy two front men out of an impressive list of four. Tevez has been on extended leave but was so integral to their success last year that I think he plays if he's still at the club. If not, then Aguero would seem likely to get the most minutes with the underwhelming Dzeko and unpredictable Balotelly battling for the rest.

Safest Picks
Vincent Kompany . . . the fact he ranks as City's 5th best defender in points from last year seems to be depressing his value but that was largely due to him being classed as a midfielder . . . would have scored 139 points if classed as a defender . . . the safest of City's back line to get regular minutes (3330 last season) . . . doesn't bring much outside of clean sheets . . . new bonus system could favor him

Joe Hart . . . the elite fantasy goalkeeper in the league with 175 points which could even improve as City begin to gel as a unit . . . saves are higher than Cech . . . I'm still not on board with a 7.0m keeper but if you're going in that direction it doesn't get much safer than Hart who also brings a decent upside.

Yaya Toure . . . elite player who can contribute in every category with xG of 7, xA of 7 and xP 168 . . . lacks the ceiling of players who take a more advanced role but will deliver consistently for 8.0m but did manage 7 games with 8 points or more last season . . . faces some rotation risk but should have one of the highest minutes totals in this team.

Gael Clichy . . . not guaranteed minutes with Kolarov and Lescott able to play left . . . has offensive potential but didn't really have much fantasy success at Arsenal . . . City full backs only managed 4 assists last season and Mancini can sometimes be restrictive which might limit Clichy's offensive production . . . higher ceiling than Kompany but not quite as safe

Upside Plays
David Silva . . . settled into the Premier League well, with xG of 5, xA of 12 and xP of 193 . . . upside is as higher as anyone in the league and double digit goals and assists are possible . . . competition for places is high but you'd imagine Silva will play the majority of games and improve on his 2500 minutes from last year . . . averaged 5.4 PPG from GW25 onwards with 3 goals and 4 assists . . . could lead all midfielders in points despite his relatively low cost

Sergio Aguero . . . averaged a goal every other game over the past four seasons . . . supreme talent who should be guaranteed playing time provided he settles in well . . . similarity to Tevez is a concern if Tevez sticks around but both are talented enough to make it work . . . one of a handful of players who could hit 20 goals . . . doesn't have great assist stats for his career but he's never played with so many talented players at the club level . . . I'd prefer to be a week late than 10 weeks early but I do think he'll be a big success and will justify, maybe demand, ownership very soon . . . GW1 visit of Swansea might make him worth a role of the dice with the comfort you can move him on before the trip to Bolton if he struggles

James Milner . . . forgotten man at City but managed 97 points last season in limited playing time for an xP of 155 . . . goals really fell off (xG 2) but he's proven his ability to score in the past and 5 goals wouldn't be out of the question with consistent playing time . . . not guaranteed to play every week but 7.5m isn't a bad price if he can either lock a place down or earn a consistent run . . . one to keep on the radar

No thanks
Carlos Tevez . . . uncertain future looks like it will spill into the new season . . . proved last year he can play when upset but City have plenty of options now making him droppable for the first time . . . xP of 252 is off the charts so if he settles down he quickly justifies a 12.0m tag but until we see that for sure, the price is too high to risk missing even a minute in the early going

Joleon Lescott . . . not sure how he is 0.5m more than Kompany . . . more liable to be dropped if a new signing comes in or if Savic develops quickly . . . ability to also play left back is a boost . . . delivered better offensive points than Kompany and Clichy but a classic example of paying for past performance which is by no means guaranteed

Aleksandar Kolarov . . . sky high offensively given his potential deployment in the front three . . . wicked left foot will be valuable from set pieces and he's shown the ability to score from long range . . . Mancini seems to have given up on him as a regular left back forcing him into a crowded midfield where minutes will be hard to come by . . . City conceded 1.1 GPG when he played compared to 0.6 GPG for Zabaleta

Mario Balotelli . . . too unpredictable to own at the moment . . . has the potential to excel and at 9.0m he probably represents the greatest ceiling in his price bracket . . . his hilarity points are off the scale but until that gets added as a new category, spend the extra 0.5m on Suarez

Swa, @Bol, @Tot, Wig, @Ful, Eve, @Bla, Ast

The trips to Bolton and Spurs look tricky from a defensive standpoint but the home games look promising for some early clean sheets while trips to Villa and Blackburn hardly look terrifying. The over/under on clean sheets should be around 3.5 which would be a nice start for Kompany and company.

The opening game against Swansea is enough to buy a couple of City players even if you plan to use your first free transfer to move one on before the two road trips. Nothing is guaranteed of course but the odds suggest at least a couple on opening day making Silva, Yaya Toure and Aguero extremely tempting. Over the eight games the fixtures are only okay but probably have enough upside to warrant serious investment in this City team.

Final Thoughts
Picking your City players has probably become as important as the more established super powers as they bring an already elite defense and a potentially elite attack to the fold. Playing time is going to be one of the hardest obstacles to navigate but safe options are out there with Kompany and Toure looking like the safest options while Aguero is extremely tempting too.

If City are serious about challenging for the title Mancini probably needs to take the reins of his side on occasions, which may result in the odd defensive slip but could also give rise to more goals. I would favor them to do well at both ends and might suggest you need a couple of Citizens on opening day as they look to give Swansea a rough start to the Premier League campaign.

All the other team previews can be found here and the latest news can be found over at @plfantasy. I also urge you to place your vote in the top 3 players in the league for the upcoming SimPrem draft.


Doc Häagen-Dazs said...

Last year, my fantasy team, Latitude 34, was unbeatable. This year, I'm looking for better, stronger, more arrogant competition in ESPN's group, California Costa Copa. This League is now accepting teams.

Sylvester said...

Would you say Tevez is worth a punt over Rooney/Van Persie for the first round? I'd like a Man City player in the side somewhere for the 1st round, the only other guy I can think of is Milner but he never did anything after the first few rounds.

Chris Glover said...

Sylvester - he is still on leave and so will miss the Community Shield this week so I don't know if he'll have to prove his fitness and displace whoever starts this week, unless the two starters look terrible. I am hoping Aguero starts this week and looks good so that he will be pretty much locked in for the Swansea game.

If they do confirm that Tevez will play then yes I like him as a one or two week rental a lot.

Other players for GW1 to consider are Silva and Toure who I like a lot. Both should be guaranteed to play and can rack up goals and assists. I also think Yaya might be a monster under the new bonus system.

rob said...

Chris, firstly thanks for your blog. Brilliant stuff.

Do you think De Jong is a good safety at 5.0? If as you say he'll get consistent time in a potentially elite midfield surely he'll accumulate steady points in your fifth slot?