Thursday, September 22, 2011

Greater Manchester Part II (the blue half)

Dealing with the red half of Manchester is easy when you compare the available options to the depth of talent available for City this year. Once you lock Rooney into your team and compliment him with either Nani or Young (likely not both), you are basically left with the decision of grabbing a pricey defender like Evra, a budget defender like Jones or going all in on the front line with Hernandez. Things aren't that simple for City. As with United, let's run through the viable options on offer and then attempt (perhaps with some futility) to apply a ranking to the best Citizens to own for the short-medium term.

Man City
Goalkeeper / Defenders
It's always nice when you start to write something with an idea in mind and then find stats to back up your premise, but it can be equally useful (perhaps even more so) to be so overwhelmed by the evidence that your original proposition is reversed. My impression of the City defense this season was that they remained an elite unit, but were perhaps not quite on the same level as they showed last year. How could they be? Their offensive exploits have been remarkable and Mancini has stated a willingness to open up the playbook a bit more, but this must all come at the expense of the defensive solidity, right? Consider the below stats:

  • 2010/11 GW1-5: Conceded 0.4 GPG, allowed 3.8 shots per game and kept 3 clean sheets (60%)
  • 2010/11 GW1-10: Conceded 1.0 GPG, allowed 4.1 shots per game and kept 4 clean sheets (40%)
  • 2010/11 season: Conceded 0.9 GPG, allowed 3.7 shots per game and kept 18 clean sheets (47%)
  • 2011/12 GW1-5: Conceded 1.0 GPG, allowed 4.0 shots per game and kept 2 clean sheets (40%)
If we take the simplistic (but somewhat reliable) claim that shots are a good indication of goals scored then we can see that City haven't really stopped preventing shots and their goals conceded and clean sheets kept are roughly in line with those totals seen in prior year. The point here isn't to get into exactly who they've played (Wigan and Swansea at home always looked like good clean sheet bets) but more that this unit remains an elite one and should be able to be counted on for 15+ clean sheets. With that said, who should we target to capitalise on this assumed success?

It probably doesn't even justify repetition here but until I see evidence to the contrary, I refuse to wrap 11.0m up in goalkeepers when numerous sub-5.0m options continue to produce every week. I am also dismissing Lescott from strong consideration as I don't really see a justification for the higher price tag other than a huge goalscoring season in 07/08. He's managed two shots on target for the year (ahead of Kompany's one) which does not justify 0.4m extra for this manager. 

So that leaves Kompany, Richards and Clichy, which probably plays out to be simpler than City's cross town rivals (where you essentially have two oft-injured players, a solid but slightly expensive veteran and a whole bunch of talented youngsters). Richards and Clichy have a higher upside than Kompany, purely on the basis of their increased advanced play down the flanks, but Kompany looks the least likely to be dropped (he's played every minute so far this year). This could well be clouded by the return from suspension of Toure, but I would suggest he will take Lescott's minutes (if any) in the starting lineup. 

Clichy (71) and Richards (62) have each enjoyed a similar number of passes in the opposition half with the Frenchman slightly edging the number of crosses delivered (13 v 10). Richards has earned 2 assists to Clichy's zero so far this year but on these numbers, these totals should be fairly equal for the remainder of the year. Richards does enjoy a substantially increased goal threat with 5 shots for Richards versus 2 for Clichy, though neither have managed a goal so far this year. The pairs' EA Sports PPI is virtually level (70 vs 71) suggesting bonus points should be somewhat level, though again, Richards' increased goal threat may well lead to higher totals when he scores which may translate to bonus points. Richards is more widely owned (12% vs 9%) but still falls short of Kompany (21%) in that lineup.

In terms of rotation risk I would probably suggest that Kolarov is the bigger risk (than Zabaleta) though when all is said and done Id be surprised if either Clichy or Richards ends the season with over 2 starts more than the other.

If we concluded that Kompany will start 4 games more than the full back pair this year, on average this would result in 1 or 2 clean sheets earned. Kompany is going to generate minimal offensive points (say, 1 goal and 1 assists) which would mean that Richards/Clichy need to score around 15 points of offensive points to outscore Kompany. For me, the upside is higher than this and I could see Richards ending up with, say, 3 goals and 5 assists (good for 27 points). It's for that reason I'd take Richards ahead of Kompany, but probably not Clichy. We will tackle the question around owning two of this pair below.

Much like United, City have two elite options and then a group of middlemen, who probably lack the fantasy upside (given their pricetags) to warrant long term ownership. That seems like a sweeping dismissal of players of Yaya Toure and Gareth Barry's talents but since Nasri's arrival, Barry's long term place in the team has to be questioned (on De Jong's return) while Yaya has been pushed into a much deeper position and has averaged just 3.0 PPG since. At 7.8m Yaya becomes an expensive 'reliable' starter but the bigger issue is that he takes one of your City spots, which can (and need to) be filled with options with higher upside.

Going into the season I had Silva ranked as my number one midfielder in the league, and was close to ranking him first among all positions when factoring in price. While Rooney and Aguero may have tempered the latter point, I have seen nothing to change my mind on the first. Nasri has been brilliant as a playmaker with 4 assists and 14 key passes in just 290 minutes, comparing favourably to Silva who has similar numbers (3 assists and 14 key passes) over 420 minutes. However, Nasri has mustered just 3 shots so far with none hitting the target while Silva is second only to Van der Vaart in terms of shots on target (7) from 13 total shots (ranking him 3rd). 

Nasri's ownership (7% vs Silva's 36%) is probably his biggest attraction right now, as otherwise I am struggling for evidence to suggest he warrants ownership over Silva. Differentiation is always a factor, but if you believe, like myself, that Silva can lead the scoring charts (or at least rank very highly) then you can't really pass on him simply to get a less owned player.

This is probably the trickiest part of the City code to break, thanks to the once-beloved Tevez lurking in the shadows. Honestly, despite his moaning and the transfer rumours, I still expected Tevez to have a big part to play in this team, but so far he's been more Michael Owen (2011 edition) than Javier Hernandez. I think there remains a general perception that Aguero is the real star here, with Dzeko more a product of a couple of good games. While I might venture Aguero to be the best forward in the league, Dzeko is an excellent player in his own right and the stats to date suggest he might be closer to Aguero than some think:
  • Aguero: 329 mins, 8 goals, 18 shots (10 on target), 114 passes (69 in opponent's half), 6 key passes, 1 assist
  • Dzeko: 350 mins, 6 goals, 15 shots (11 on target), 143 passes (84 in opponent's half), 12 key passes, 1 assist
Over the season I have little doubt that Aguero continues to outscore Dzeko but given the difference in price tags (currently 2.4m), if Dzeko was to finish the year with 150 points, Aguero would need to add 40 more points to generate the same value for money. Of course, at a certain point you need to chase points rather than value but make sure you consider how else you could use that couple of million before fully committing to Aguero for the season.

Man City Rankings
The below list is an attempt to rank players in order of their productivity, but given the different factors involved, you will need to consider your own individual circumstances before committing to anyone:
  1. David Silva
  2. Sergio Aguero
  3. Edin Dzeko
  4. Micah Richards
  5. Vincent Kompany
  6. Samir Nasri
  7. Gael Clichy
If you're looking for value for money alone then I would elevate Dzeko to second on this list but you need to accept the fact that he is going to have quiet games and may face more rotation threat as the season goes on from Tevez and Balotelli.

Manchester Rankings
It's a really tough assignment to try and rank players from both Manchester teams and so I won't try and pool them together, but rather go by position, as below:

  1. Micah Richards
  2. Vincent Kompany
  3. Phil Jones
  4. Gael Clichy
  5. Patrice Evra
  6. Jonny Evans
  1. David Silva
  2. Nani
  3. Ashley Young
  4. Samir Nasri
  5. Anderson
  1. Sergio Aguero
  2. Wayne Rooney
  3. Edin Dzeko
  4. Javier Hernandez
The hardest player to categorise here is Edin Dzeko. In terms of value he may be number one overall but honestly, with this group of players I am simply looking to grab as many points as I can and save money elsewhere. If there is someone else who costs a lot who you are committed to getting (Van Persie, Van der Vaart etc) then value becomes more important and in that case I might give Dzeko the nod over Aguero. For me though (at least at the moment), I'll take the 35-40 goals Rooney and Aguero look locked in to score.

The other issue is whether or not to own two City defenders. I opened the season with Kompany and Richards but as City continue to role, it's looking increasingly likely that you want a couple of forwards/midfielders and so it's tough to lose two spots on your backline. The upcoming fixtures are actually better defensively than offensively so it still remains an option but all I can close with is that I plan to move Kompany over the next week or so to make room for another attacking player.

I'm sure some of the above rankings with be controversial, so please post your comments below or @plfantasy and I will add a reader's question section to this week's weekly preview (due Friday).


Anonymous said...

Hi Chris,
Than ks for the excellent blog. I just wanted to ask whether you saw much value in owning both Aguero and Dzeko (as well as Silva), or is that overkill for City forwards?

Raddz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Raddz said...

This is very useful!
Thanks Chris!
I took some of your advice from the two latest posts and played my wildcard. my team now is:
Given, Vorm
Bosingwa, Shawcross, S Taylor, Jones, Gabbidon
Silva, Young, Barton, Petrov(bolton), Dyer (swansea)
Rooney, Aguero, Agbonlahor
any thoughts on my team? and do you think that switching Young for Nani is worth it??

Darragh said...

I don't think Kompany will get dropped anytime soon considering Mancini came out and named him captain of City. If Toure is to play it will be definitely at Lescott's expense.I don't think your analysis counts for this fact. Other teams rarely drop their captains.

Shedboy said...

Hey, Chris!
I missed out on Rooney and now he is 0.5m more expensive and i bought Chicharito as a differentiator cause I am trailing almost 100 points in each of my mini leagues, so what i'm asking you is 'Is it still(given my 100point trail)worth paying that extra 2.5m on Rooney or it can used somewhere else?
I also have Aguero, Silva, Nani from Manchester. Thanks.

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