Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Gameweek 12 Preview

No matter what happens in the world or how I spend my time, the preview article after an international break is like trying to recall what you ate for dinner four weeks ago. Is Aguero still good? What kind of form is Amr Zaki in this year? Did I have pasta three nights running? I recently described Bolton's home form as improving 'a few weeks back', after they hammered Stoke. That's right, I have zero concept of time without my Saturday morning sun dial.

Lucky for us, pretty much nothing happened. Suarez was charged followed the alleged racist comments, though Sepp Blatter doesn't seem to be too concerned (is there anything more worrying than the head of any body being (rightfully) scolded by Rio Ferdinand: the beacon on common sense in this whole debate. This might be the sign of the apocalypse Harold Camping was waiting for). Aguero gave us a scare but then played for Argentina. England gave their fans just enough promise to overreact to and thus be crushed next year. Oh, and Barry Bannan can't drive.

So with no major issues, we can continue as before, starting of course with this week's rankings:

Clean Sheet Rankings

Not too much to add here, though the placement of Man United this week illustrates well the importance of home fixtures. The Champions face newly promoted Swansea, a team not perceived to be all that dynamic going forward, yet find themselves 10th in the clean sheet rankings. The prior year numbers illustrate why. Just 5 clean sheet on the road for Man Utd last year: less than or equal to all the top 6 teams this week managed at home last year. It is generally the rule that a good defense at home (Stoke, Spurs) will be a better consistent bet than a very good defense on the road (that sounds obvious but how many times do you see teams start Evra at Spurs rather than Shawcross at home to Wolves?).

One a side note, it is usually around this time that I start to lessen, and then remove the impact prior year numbers have on the forecasts, though I will still include them in the above table for reference purposes.

Attacking Rankings

Not too many shocks here, though it somewhat strange to suggest that Arsenal on the road are a stronger play than Spurs, Chelsea or City at home. The answer, simply, is that Arsenal have been pretty devastating of late (13 goals in their last 4 games) and have racked up 11 goals in 5 road games this year, despite travelling to Old Trafford, Stamford Bridge, White Hart Lane and the suddenly air tight St James' Park (I doubt anyone will be using the new sponsorship name anytime soon, even the local council). The forecast numbers are pretty high this week, and there could be some big scores for those who can manage to get 11 men on the field this week.

Captain Picks
The list of captain options seems to decrease by the week, to the point that the only non-City player who justifies consideration every week in Van Persie. Rooney, of course, should be on that list but with his recent deeper deployment and lack of goals, he is a borderline option at best. If you own him, you'll consider it, though my advice would be to save yourself the bother and bring in Van Persie or Aguero until Rooney can get back up front and scoring goals.

It's the same old story at Man City with Aguero, Dzeko and Silva representing potentially great options this week, though each played a role for their respective countries during the international break and thus carries some risk:
  • Silva played 45 minutes against England and then half an hour against Cost Rica (getting a goal in the process), 
  • Aguero sat out against Bolivia as an injury concern but came back against Columbia with a goal,
  • Dzeko played 180 minutes as Bosnia lost out over two legs to Portugal, and
  • Balotelli played 180 minutes and added his first goal for the Azzurri
Balotelli (the least owned of the City front men) playing for Italy probably does fantasy managers a favour as it's no longer easy to simply bench the tired Aguero and Dzeko as Super Mario himself is also tired (based on the assumption that Balotelli suffers from the human condition of fatigue). As the most rested, Silva looks like the safest bet to play here, though to be honest I have started to give up trying to second guess Mancini too much, and just roll with the notion that unless strong evidence exists to the contrary, Aguero, Silva and Dzeko will play most weeks and you just have to take your hits when your man is benched.Gun to my head, I'd captain Silva, then Aguero, then Dzeko, but I wouldn't feel totally comfortable with any of the trio until the teams sheet is announced.

For anyone who owns him, it's going to be tough to take the arm band away from Van Persie. A great fixture and his scintillating form make for a winning combination and his 68 points over the past 6 GWs are some of the best returns I remember in fantasy history. Van Persie played in the 0-0 with Switzerland but missed the 3-0 defeat to Germany, and thus should be fit enough to play at Norwich this weekend. He will certainly wear the armband in that game for me this week.

They get a decent game at Swansea, but with A Young injured and Rooney playing deeper, it's tough to see captain value in this current United side. I have little doubt that Hernandez will have his moments this year but he isn't there yet, and while I've been more supportive than most of Nani, he's only completed 90 minutes once in the last 5 games and has just a lone assist and bonus point to show for his work over that period. Ownable, yes, but not captain material as things stand.

As United's options decline for a while, Chelsea's supposedly deep team continues to provide little fantasy value (at least going forward). That said, Lampard has been very productive this year and yet finds himself held by just 4% of managers. As we touched on earlier in the long list, Lampard has been pretty good this year, if a bit up-and-down, and for managers looking to play catch up in the early stages, he at least deserves a look. The fixture is a turn off however as Liverpool already have 3 road clean sheets this year and have generally defended well (aside from the Spurs game). The Chelsea side we have seen so far this year is just not likely to put 3 goals past a good side and that means the chances of big Lampard games are lower than you'd like. A outside bet, but one that's too pricey for my taste.

Van der Vaart and Adebayor represent classic fixture plays as Villa have struggled a bit on the road while Spurs have continued to be successful at the Lane. It's been rags or riches with Van der Vaart this year and he comes with an injury warning (which he says is not necessary) and thus becomes a very risky captain pick. Many have cooled on the prospects of Adebayor but he's added at least an assist or goal in 6 out of 8 games and his 6.0 P90 ranks among the elite forwards this year. I like this pair and can see an argument that this pair deserve captain attention every week, though I'd put them behind the City elite and Van Persie this week.

Now we're a good way into the season, I am going to ramp up the statistical side of the blog in the coming weeks, as we start to rely on the trends we are seeing a bit more. I will also try and get to the long promised wildcard piece, though I'm honestly struggling for what to write there, other than to own Van Persie, Aguero and/or Rooney, an elite midfielder or two and then stuff your defense with budget players and cheap links. Any radical ideas will be more than welcomed (below or @plfantasy).


An Idiot's Complex Life said...

Nice post, dude.
I don't like to say much, but I think, MC vs NC will be a draw...

PUl615 said...

Nice writing, only disagree with United comments- Young is most likely fit and I could bet money on Rooney being back up front- due to the return of many midfield options(Clev,Anderson,Fletch). And Nani your favored option played 2 tough 90 min games during the break- so might be rested.

And you failed to mention the most important reason for not captaining any united player- the fact that Swans are excellent at home.

pp said...

What do you think about replacing VDV by Bale? and replacing Aguero by Klasnic?

In my view, they might no be fit.

adamfarm said...

Love your posts, reading them has become a bit of an obsession this year. However, in spite of following the econometrics religiously I think it's important to temper this information with other information. For example, the math suggests Liverpool are a poor bet defensively, but they've kept clean sheets at the bridge 3 of the last 4 outings....combined with Chelsea's form of late I would suggest giving the likes of Enrique a good look this week in spite of the rankings.
I know I'm not telling you anything you don't already know, and I appreciate that you often provide this type of counter-intelligence to your posts, but this seems particularly glaring to not call out

PUl615 said...

Hey if you do the answering questions thing at some point I have a real dilemma on my hands: I have 3 possible options as a keeper defender strategy-
1.)De Gea and 4mil defender(Gabbidon or Mcauley) since I already have Simpson,Turner and Wilk.
2.) Howard, BAE
3.)Friedel, Hibbert

Aspects to consider- I have Vorm as a second keeper so hes points would be lost with De Gea.
-If I dont get De Gea the best defender I will have will be Enrique
-But I will have a decent lineup every week with all players rotating nicely.

Which would you prefer and why. Thanks for any thoughts, need to bring in the defender next GW.

stooshermadness said...

Great post as always Chris. I am late to the party, but I gambled (on no inj) and brought in RvP for Aguero early during the international break and avoided a 0.2 price rise. I hate captaining a player who is playing (i) in the early game and (ii) away, so despite swooping for RvP, I was thinking about captaining Adebayor or VdV, but your metric on Arsenal's attacking potential seals my decision to captain RvP. My captain's selection luck has been abysmal, so this is probably the seal of doom on RvP's good run of form. Your charts are invaluable, thanks.