Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Gameweek 4 Preview

It seems like an eternity since the last Premier League games, though despite my dislike for the international break, we actually got through relatively unscathed with only a few injuries of note. In short, we've lost Van der Vaart, Vermaelen, Jarvis, Nasri, Richards, Long and Bent though from that group only Van der Vaart and Vermaelen look like the long term casualties.

Hopefully you resisted the urge to jump into any rash decisions immediately after the last gameweek finished and so can take these latest developments in stride as you look to shape your team for the coming weeks. A few readers have asked about playing their wildcard, which probably deserves a separate post, but given a lack of other stories for this week I thought it might be worth quickly discussing here.

For me, the key is striking a balance between not overreacting but acting quickly enough to avoid stubbornly holding on to worthless assets. You should be in a position where you need to get rid of 5 or more players due to injury/long term questions rather than simply giving up with players like Van Persie or Cahill who may not have started the way you envisioned. I will be updating the list of players I consider ready to cut loose soon.

The second key point about using your wildcard is not chasing points. A three week sample of success is not enough to base your team on, so don't abandon the (presumably) well thought out plan you had to start the season with. If you simply pick your team using the highest scores to date you will end with a homogeneous team which is very similar to everyone, yet you're already 50 points behind because you were too late to the party on Aguero, Dzeko, Bosingwa etc.

If you need to play your wildcard this early, you should basically consider it a season reset and use the same principles you would use to start a new season with. You won't be able to make substantial changes again until 2012 so don't overly use fixture lists, instead focusing on which teams you like and who gives you the best value for money from those teams. Think Arsenal will improve with the new arrivals? Grab Van Persie or Arteta. You like Chelsea to turn a corner and start scoring goals galore? Consider adding Mata or Torres. Don't worry too much that Liverpool have to travel to Stoke this week, over the next 18-20 weeks, all schedules will essentially even out.

There's more on these general points from last year here, and I'll try and get a full post up soon to cover this season. With that, let's get onto this week's rankings (a slight change here, I am only commenting on teams where there is something interesting to note. If not, you just get their weekly ranking).

Clean Sheet Rankings
(Forecast goals conceded, clean sheets kept - opponents failed to score in parenthesis)

  1. Man City vs Wigan (0.75, 13 - 8) - the potential loss of Richards isn't a big concern defensively as Zabaleta should slot in without too many issues. With that uncertainty, Kompany remains the safest pick here.
  2. Arsenal vs Swansea (0.88, 9 - n/a) - this ranking is of course driven by last season so downgrade the Gunners if you aren't convinced Mertesacker and Santos can tighten up this unit once again.
  3. Stoke vs Liverpool (1.05, 7 - 5)
  4. Chelsea at Sunderland (1.13, 5 - 5) - a big game for Bosingwa as David Luiz should be available for this one meaning that if Bosingwa still starts, that spot is his to lose for the season.
  5. Everton vs Aston Villa (1.15, 6 - 6)
  6. Fulham vs Blackburn (1.20, 10 - 7) - interesting to see if Senderos holds his place here with the arrival of Grygera to play right back (and potentially push Hughes back inside). If so, we can conclude that he should remain a starter in the medium term and remains excellent value. If not: welcome to dumpsville
  7. QPR vs Newcastle (1.20, n/a - 7) - a good opportunity to see if all the new arrivals can help this unit become fantasy relevant. 
  8. Wolves vs Tottenham (1.38, 4 - 5) - a stiffer test to see if this improving unit is for real
  9. Sunderland vs Chelsea (1.45, 7 - 8)
  10. Bolton vs Man Utd (1.45, 5 - 5)
  11. Newcastle at QPR (1.47, 6 - n/a)
  12. Liverpool at Stoke (1.53, 6 - 4) - the team is clearly better but they haven't looked great at the back yet this season. This is a good test of their progress.
  13. Man Utd at Bolton (1.55, 5 - 4)
  14. Tottenham at Wolves (1.55, 3 - 3)
  15. Wigan at Man City (1.63, 5 - 3)
  16. Aston Villa at Everton (1.78, 1 - 3)
  17. West Brom at Norwich (1.89, 0 - n/a)
  18. Blackburn at Fulham (1.90, 1 - 4)
  19. Swansea at Arsenal (2.08, n/a - 5)
  20. Norwich vs West Brom (2.10, n/a - 9)
Attacking Rankings
(Forecast goals scored in parenthesis)
  1. West Brom at Norwich (2.10) - it's been tough to evaluate this team thanks to injuries to key players and the tough schedule to open the season. If Odemwingie and Long can get fit for this one, it serves as a good game to see how good this team can be.
  2. Arsenal vs Swansea (2.08) - Arsenal's fixtures are very good, none more so than this week's visit of Swansea. Van Persie is the safest pick with the new arrivals being high risk/high reward plays this week. Check back on Friday to see if Wenger gives us clues how the new look side will line up.
  3. Fulham vs Blackburn (1.90)
  4. Norwich vs West Brom (1.89)
  5. Everton vs Aston Villa (1.78) - a good game to monitor two middle table teams who have some potentially elite players (Bent and Cahill). Need to see more from Everton if we're going to consider their players this year.
  6. Man City vs Wigan (1.63) - Wigan were surprisingly tough on the road last year but this is a new City team. Despite this ranking it is very hard to not recommend captaining your Citizens this week.
  7. Wolves vs Tottenham (1.55)
  8. Bolton vs Man Utd (1.55)
  9. Stoke vs Liverpool (1.53)
  10. QPR vs Newcastle (1.47)
  11. Man Utd at Bolton (1.45) - United weren't great away from home last year and if Rooney is going to challenge the likes of Aguero as the points leader, he needs to perform in this kind of game.
  12. Chelsea at Sunderland (1.45) - a tough game for Chelsea and a good chance to see how Mata looks over a full game, presuming he gets the start.
  13. Tottenham at Wolves (1.38)
  14. Newcastle at QPR (1.20)
  15. Blackburn at Fulham (1.20)
  16. Aston Villa at Everton (1.15)
  17. Sunderland vs Chelsea (1.13)
  18. Liverpool at Stoke (1.05)
  19. Swansea at Arsenal (0.88)
  20. Wigan at Man City (0.75)
Captain Picks
Arsenal get the best fixture but until we see how this team fits together it's hard to look beyond Robin Van Persie. Even then, with United enjoying good fixtures too, it's going to be hard to accommodate to the Dutchman in your team over the coming weeks. For most that would entail ditching Aguero or Suarez and hence taking a hit at the back or in midfield. I might need to see more from Arsenal before being willing to shakeup my side.

Of the City bunch, it's hard to pick between them and neither Aguero, Dzeko, Silva or Nasri have really shown any trends over a small sample to suggest they might be better at home or against a particular opponent. Silva had his worst game of the year last week and seemed to suffer with Nasri's inclusion but he remains an elite option until we see for sure that his positional deployment suffers with Nasri in the side. Nasri looks like he may have broken his hand so I'm ruling him out of contention which leaves the two forwards. I was leaning towards Aguero in this one on the simple basis that when all else is equal go with the player who you believe is more talented. However, I neglected to consider the internationals, which saw Aguero travel the globe to play just over 20 minutes of football (seriously) while Dzeko stayed home in sunny Manchester. The Bosnian has been immense so far this year and the extra week off gives him the edge for GW4 in the captain ranks.

[Edit: I am reliably informed that Dzeko actually did play for Bosnia midweek so enjoys no advantage over Aguero after all (I blame ESPN for that screw up). With that, I would now lean towards Aguero as Dzeko becomes a rotation risk with Tevez sniffing around. Also, it is never sunny in Manchester]

It's hard to take the armband away from Rooney who has been excellent so far but he has a substantially trickier fixture than City and Arsenal and United often flattered to deceive way from Old Trafford last year. He still remains an elite option and I would personally only even consider giving Van Persie and the City trio the armband ahead of him. 

Elsewhere, Suarez gets a tricky fixture while Bent looks too banged up to rely on. I still have no idea what to make of Chelsea and I wouldn't feel comfortable captaining anyone from that side right now.

These weekly previews will start to become more stat heavy as the season progresses but right now I am kind of torn between giving the narrative from this year or overusing stats from last year which could be argued to be out-of-date. Don't worry though, we're getting there. 


Ayoob said...

Correction: Dzeko did NOT stayed home in sunny Manchester. He played 80+90 mins of 2 tough Euro qual matches

Mell 10-11 said...

With Champs League looming, the threat of Dzeko playing time still persist...Is Suarez a good buy this week instead of him, he might get the set piece duty if Adam out injured, a constant threat with the added kisck duty

snowman said...

champs league makes it difficult for Owners of Rooney and the Man City Strikers.. even Chelsea ones, although Drogba's Injury means more time for Torres.

Steve said...

As Ayoob said, he played for Bosnia in 2 internationals.

Which brings me to a point raised: Will Dzeko be rested? There was an article suggesting Tevez will play at home to Wigan, which surely leaves a choice between Aguero and Dzeko?

Which of these will he 'rest' for the midweeek CL game?

I'm actually considering only having Silva in and dropping Dzeko (when I get as much 'profit' as possible).

I'm currently contemplating:
Rooney Adebayor RVP but I just hope Mancini gives out a hint as to who will be rested!

Any thoughts Chris on the possibility of Dzeko starting in the bench, ready for the game against Napoli and having the Argentine pairing of Tevez/Aguero? I can understand both sides: Dzeko seems to be their main Target Man, whilst Tevez/Aguero are the type to drop back 'in the hole' and support Dzeko - but this is Mancini we're talking about.

Kick Some Goals said...

Any chance of a final ranking (ie. 1, 2, 3) of the captain options in these preview posts?

Just find that when I read them I agree with what you're saying Chris, but then change my mind with each subsequent argument you make for Player A/B/C and end up as confused as I was at the start!

Would be much appreciated...

Pablitto said...

I am not sure about clean sheet ranking ... esp. 3rd - STOKE with attacking threat of LIV?

Chris Glover said...

Thanks for the update on Dzeko. ESPN reports that he did not feature at all this week. I will update accordingly. With that in mind I would probably be inclined to rank Aguero ahead of him.

Kick Some Goals - at this point I find it pretty hard to distinguish between the captain options as we simply don't have enough data to go with. I therefore shy away from actual 1, 2, 3 rankings until a bit later in the year, or where a clear advantage presents itself.

Pablitto - the rankings are based on pure stats and I exercise no judgement (aside from creating the formula to get the prediction in the first place). Sometimes it spits out results which look surprising but that's kind of the point. The issue is that Liverpool are improved from last season and so these rankings may undervalue them, but I try and avoid making such assumptions and let the rankings speak for themselves. If you like Liverpool a lot more this year than last, feel free to bump Stoke down in the rankings accordingly (I might add though that with 1 goal conceded in 3 games, the rankings may also be underestimating Stoke).

Thanks for the comments and apologies for the Dzeko screw up

Davefevs said...

With Bent possibly injured and also away at Everton (who I fancy to win) he looks a good transfer out this week.

My dilemna is whether I sacrifice 4 points by ditching Nani as well (I've already got Young). Although Fergie might give him a rest anyway. Would allow me to bring in a Rooney, RVP, Aguero type player whilst adding a tidy midfielder a £1m left over.

Any thoughts?

Chris Glover said...

Davefevs - I rarely recommend paying 4 points for a transfer unless you are set to benefit from a double gameweek or without the move your team will be shorthanded. I would try and make the moves over a 2 or 3 week span, ordering them to as to take advantage of the matchups along the way.

Darragh said...

Any thoughts on Adebayor?

amtosh said...

Hey Chris,

Just a question about the sub rules. Due to Jarvis' injury I'm currently rocking a 4-3-3 formation with Bent, Suarez and Rooney up front. Bit worried about Bent not playing on the weekend although he's been upgraded to a 75% chance and physio room has him back tomorrow.

If he doesn't play and I have no other forwards on the bench (obviously) does that mean I only play with 9 outfield players?

I looked at the rules and it says if your player doesn't play then he is subbed by the highest priority player 'who doesn't break the formation'. I take that as saying that a forward can only be subbed by another forward meaning that Bent wouldn't get subbed out.

Is that correct?

Cheers mate.

rob said...

Hey Chris,

First up thanks for putting your thoughts on the blog. It's the most enjoyable EPL fantasy analysis I've ever found.

I'd love your thoughts re deciding between:

a) arteta, cleverly, RVP, or
b) walcott, o'hara, suarez

I've a funny feeling Arteta and RVP might click like Nasri and Dzeko or Young and Rooney. But Suarez Walcott might be safer.


Davefevs said...

Amtosh.....the only formations you can't end up with are 550 or 253. Obviously you can't have two keepers. So your 433 could become 523 or 451 legitimately with subs.

kurbalija said...

chris do you have any sugestions for champions league fantasy football?

Raddz said...

should i get rid of yaya now nasri is at city and replce him with adam as i already have silva? Would Cleverly be a good player to replace mikel with? and what do you think of S Taylor?

Steven said...

@Raddz Sound like good plans to me based on Nasri taking the other attacking mid position with Silva. Yaya playing more holding role. Cleverly looks more involved than Mikel for sure on the offensive side of the ball.

Epik said...

I'm considering using a wild card.

What do you think of this possible lineup?

Epik said...

Used wild card.



To this:


I read a preview article about the Stoke City vs Liverpool game last night and their statistic shows Liverpool clearly have not won a game at Stoke City home-ground since 2008 when they got promoted to the Premier League.

I gambled it right, by starting Shawcross and Begovic that earned me 13 points apiece.

Raddz said...

do you think Hernandez is a good option instead of suarez??

Raddz said...

Who is better value for 4.5 woodgate or upson?? as woodgate didnt play this weekend

Epik said...

I think Hernandez is for sure a better option than Suarez.

Rooney and Van Persie are expensive but better than Suarez because of upcoming fixtures and Liverpool not playing as well as an overall team compared to Utd.