Thursday, March 29, 2012

Gameweek 30 Lineup Lessons

Szczesny, Sagna, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Gibbs, Arteta, Song, Walcott, Rosicky, Gervinho, van Persie.
Subs: Fabianski, Andre Santos, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ramsey, Djourou, Chamakh, Benayoun.

You get the feeling that several Arsenal players are going to be key contributors down the stretch with Arteta, Rosicky, Song and Oxlade-Chamberlain all at least making cases for consideration alongside the long fancied Walcott and Van Persie. On a personal note I am kicking myself, having planned to pickup Walcott this week several weeks ago for Dempsey, but then getting greedy and ditching Murphy for the in-form Valencia. Chalk it down to another late-night Friday transfer mistake.

Arsenal's fixtures are good, rather than great, with a couple of their home games coming against good sides (City and Chelsea) and thus limiting their upside somewhat. What you like about Arsenal though is that when they're good they can compete and score against anyone (unlike, say, Fulham, who tend to perform great at home, poorly away and often struggle against the top sides) meaning the likes of Walcott can be owned and deployed basically every week if you're so inclined.

Walcott, Arteta, Rosicky and Song all rank in top-20 among midfielders using FFS's ICT index over the past few gameweeks and each bring some promise for the remainder of the season. Walcott clearly has the most upside of the group, and should be considered alongside the other elite midfielders for the rest of the season. Arteta has really come on in the past few weeks though with significant attempts on goal and key passes made. At 7.9m he's a little touch to accommodate, especially with the form of Valencia, but he represents a differentiation option with a high floor and decent ceiling. Of the cheaper options, I was ready to suggest Song as a budget option based on his solid assist numbers, but his lack of key passes suggests that this production may not be sustainable. It would therefore seem that a rejuvenated Rosicky may be the better option, unless of course you feel that Oxlade-Chamberlain will play enough minutes to warrant consideration.

Aston Villa
Given, Hutton, Collins, Cuellar, Warnock, Petrov, Herd, Albrighton, Ireland, Heskey, Agbonlahor.
Subs: Guzan, Bannan, Weimann, Lichaj, Baker, Gardner, Carruthers.

I was somewhat interested in Villa as a defensive unit, thanks to the potential rotation with Sunderland. Without wishing to overreact to one game, Villa looked awful this week, making that rotation option less appealing. They still have some promising games remaining (Sto, Sun and @Nor) so I wouldn't necessarily abandon the likes of Warnock just yet, but they are probably 5th defender options at this point. Going forward the side looks even less promising these days, and I don't see any value here whatsoever.

Robinson, Lowe, Dann, Hanley, Martin Olsson, Formica, Nzonzi, Pedersen, Marcus Olsson, Hoilett, Yakubu
Subs: Bunn, Dunn, Modeste, Petrovic, Orr, Goodwillie, Vukcevic.

I've said before that this team has no value but with Hoilett and Yakubu now back up top, I'd back track on that a bit. The pair make nice backup options for anyone holding Chelsea assets and thus retain some value, but not enough for me to consider starting them on a weekly basis. Outside of this pair though I don't see anything here worth monitoring.

Bogdan, Steinsson, Wheater, Ream, Ricketts, M Davies, Reo-Coker, Pratley, Miyaichi, Ngog, Petrov
Subs: Jaaskelainen, Alonso, Eagles, Knight, K Davies, Klasnic, Sordell.

Please don't be one of the inevitable handful of managers buying up Wheater anytime soon. Bolton aren't a good defence and no one on the back line should be relied upon, even as a rotation option. Miyaichi is an intriguing option, and he's impressed on the stat sheet and to the eye. Bolton have some solid fixtures on the horizon, including Fulham, Swansea and West Brom at home, and given his price tag (4.9m) Miyaichi is cheap enough to stash on the bench for the trickier games. Throw in the fact that Bolton will also get a double gameweek when the Spurs game is rearranged and you can definitely see value in the scarcely held (1%) Miyaichi. Despite the positives, I don't see much value in the rest of this side, at least not with the clinical Klasnic resigned to the bench.

Cech, Bosingwa, Cahill, Terry, Cole, Essien, Lampard, Ramires, Mata, Sturridge, Drogba
Subs: Turnbull, Luiz, Torres, Mikel, Malouda, Meireles, Kalou.

I want to rate this team as they provide several potentially great options held by substantially less managers than their counterparts. Let's not give up on Di Matteo's ability to inject something extra into this side just yet given the tough games they have faced, but time is running out and the results will need to be speedy if they are to impact this year's fantasy game. We're not going to get to a point now where you feel laying out double digit money for any of these boys, likely ruling Torres, Lampard and Drogba out of contention for good. Some like Mata more than I do (in fantasy that is, I like him very much as a real player), but I worry about his goal potential given his generally low shot totals (just 9 in the last 6 games, with only 3 hitting the target). He does offer some differentiation from the standard Silva and Bales of the world and he will deserve more attention during his double gameweek but until then he still looks overpriced.

The defence has looked solid under Di Matteo, making Cahill a nice option for the remainder of the year. At 5.4m he is cheap enough to bench during their off week and he even brings a bit of a threat going forward. The rest of the group look overpriced and I don't see any reason to own them over Cahill and I wouldn't want to double down on this unit.

Howard, Hibbert, Distin, Jagielka, Baines, Osman, Gibson, Cahill, Neville, Pienaar, Jelavic.
Subs: Mucha, Heitinga, Stracqualursi, McFadden, Gueye, Fellaini, Anichebe.

A good win at Swansea this week, but I still fail to see too much value here. I tipped Hibbert, who was promptly benched for two clean sheets and while he's back in the team now, he is far from a lock in this side with Heitinga and Neville a threat to steal minutes at right back. With just a couple of shots so far for Everton, I'm not on the Jelavic bandwagon just yet, nor any of his other offensively minded teammates.

Schwarzer, S Kelly, Riise, Hangeland, Hughes, Duff, Diarra, Frei, Dempsey, Pogrebnyak, Dembele
Subs: Stockdale, Senderos, Briggs, Murphy, Etuhu, Ruiz, Trotta

Perhaps a touch unfortunate to leave Old Trafford empty handed, Fulham gave a good account of themselves in their hardest remaining game of the season. The fixtures setup quite nicely to enjoy the next two, or possibly three, games before the off-week, at which point you will want to have backup assets in place (presuming you want to hold onto the Fulham players in anticipation of their double gameweek). Despite the upcoming games, I think Murphy owners have to move on if they haven't already as he has somewhat strangely fallen out of favor. I don't see much value in the rest of the midfield outside of Dempsey so the front options are once again down to two (Dempsey and Pogrebnyak). I say two, though personally I wouldn't be all over Pogrebnyak despite his early success. He's scored with every single shot on target this year - a rate that even the best strikers can't maintain. There's a strong argument that he will get more chances over the next two weeks to justify ownership, though I'm less confident his success after that.

This defence remains a decent option, and they've played fairly well of late aside from the surprising 3-0 defeat at the hands of Swansea. As has been the case all season though, picking the cheaper options has been a crap shoot, leaving you with one of the pricier options in Riise/Hangeland or throwing Schwarzer between the sticks.

Reina, Flanagan, Carragher, Skrtel, Jose Enrique, Henderson, Gerrard, Spearing, Downing, Kuyt, Suarez
Subs: Doni, Aurelio, Carroll, Coates, Sterling, Shelvey, Eccleston.

There isn't too much to like about Dalglish's side right now, with an increasingly vocal crowd suggesting he might be the reason why. With a couple of road games followed by the off week, it's going to be tough to hold onto Suarez though you do have to consider that he still leads all forwards in shots over the past 6 gameweeks and can score even when his team aren't playing inspiring stuff. His 21% ownership doesn't make him a differentiation option as such, but I'd venture that a fairly large chunk of those owners are the inactive ones, which the leaders tending to favour Rooney, Van Persie and then Ba, Aguero or then Suarez. I wouldn't suggest he's up with that elite duo but if your budget can stretch he remains an option, and one who many will be bailing on.

Man City
Hart, Zabaleta, Richards, Toure, Clichy, Toure Yaya, Barry, Silva, Balotelli, Nasri, Dzeko.
Subs: Pantilimon, Milner, Johnson, Kolarov, Savic, Tevez, De Jong.

City's decline is obviously well documented, though I can't say I am at the panic stage just yet. I'd still be more than happy to own Silva, Aguero (when fit), Dzeko or the back line. The fixtures look promising and Aguero and Kompany look set to return to the first team, obviously adding strength at either end of the field. I'm still on board here, though it's obviously going to be tough to fir Aguero in with Rooney and Van Persie in irrepressible form.

Man Utd
De Gea, Evra, Evans, R Ferdinand, Rafael, Giggs, Carrick, A Young, Valencia, Rooney, Welbeck
Subs: Amos, P Jones, Smalling, Scholes, Cleverley, Berbatov, Hernandez

Probably a bit closer than they hoped, but another solid win nonetheless. With Nani sidelined this lineup looks fairly settled, though he could return this week throwing Young's place into question. You have to think that Valencia is a fixture in the side right now and still represents the best value in the middle, even if I'd still suggest that Nani's weekly upside is higher. I see no reason to pick anyone in the defence other than Evans who seems locked into the lineup and has even given some offensive production of late.

Ruddy, Martin, Ward, Whitbread, Lappin, Elliott Bennett, Howson, Fox, Hoolahan, Holt, Jackson.
Subs: Steer, Johnson, Morison, Crofts, Surman, Wilbraham, Naughton.

Holt continues to enjoy success and unlike some of the other budget forwards, he has the underlying numbers to suggest he should be able to keep it going. His shots on goal rival the likes of Ba, Odemwingie and Adebayor over the past 6 gameweeks, making him a reliable spot starter. One word of caution would be the upcoming fixture list which doesn't offer many great looking games but he's an option for those not wanting to play three up top every week. Aside from Holt I don't see too much promise here.

Kenny, Young, Onuoha, Ferdinand, Taiwo, Taarabt, Derry, Diakite, Mackie, Zamora, Cisse
Subs: Cerny, Hill, Gabbidon, Bothroyd, Buzsaky, Barton, Wright-Phillips.

What a disastrous season this has been for QPR. It looked so promising with the new arrivals but they've either failed to make an impression or failed to simply stay on the field. Barton was the most consistent performer in this side and he now finds himself out of the side. I simply cannot see any value here at all.

Begovic, Wilkinson, Shawcross, Huth, Wilson, Jerome, Whelan, Whitehead, Etherington, Walters, Crouch
Subs: Sorensen, Jones, Pennant, Upson, Delap, Shotton, Palacios.

Stoke remain an unsexy side but they provide a number of decent options and should not be ignored. Since Begovic returned to the side they have surrendered just three goals in five games despite playing Chelsea, City and Spurs over that time. With Shawcross and Huth coming at a bit of a premium, Begovic (and his high save totals) is probably the best way to access this unit and Vorm owners may want to look his way given the way the fixtures align quite well. Going forward I like Etherington and Crouch's relatively high floors, though neither provide the kind of excitement to gain you too much ground at this late stage of the season.

Mignolet, O'Shea, Kyrgiakos, Turner, Bridge, Gardner, Vaughan, Colback, McClean, Bendtner, Sessegnon
Subs: Gordon, Campbell, Wickham, Kilgallon, Ji, Meyler, Elmohamady.

Martin O'Neil really is going a great job here, with the back four compromising three players who would likely not be first choice if everyone was fit. This damages their defensive potential somewhat so I'm slightly down on the prospects of Bardsley (who returned in the Cup midweek) and co compared to a few weeks back, but they remain useful nonetheless. Sessegnon returned with a bang this week though before piling on that bandwagon, just be mindful of the upcoming games (@MnC, Tot, @Eve). McClean on the other hand is cheap enough to stash on your bench and he remains one of the better 5th midfielder around.

Vorm, Rangel, Caulker, Williams, Taylor, Sinclair, Britton, Allen, Sigurdsson, Routledge, Graham.
Subs: Tremmel, Tate, Monk, McEachran, Lita, Moore, Gower.

Swansea have lost some of the consistency we saw early in the season, but they remain a solid source of fantasy options, particularly at the back. The lineup is fairly settled and the same options we've discussed at length before remain viable.

Friedel, Walker, Kaboul, Gallas, Assou-Ekotto, Modric, Sandro, Parker, Bale, Van der Vaart, Adebayor
Subs: Cudicini, Saha, Defoe, Kranjcar, Rose, Livermore, Nelsen.

It's clear that Spurs have totally collapsed because Redknapp wants the England job, right? Nothing to do with the fact that their last five road games have been City, Liverpool, Arsenal, Everton and Chelsea? The next three games see them Swansea and Norwich at home, with another tough away trip sandwiched in the middle, but I see this as the perfect time to hop back on board the Bale bandwagon, who's seen some sales over the past few gameweeks. I'd be hesitant to double up given the off-week in GW34, but I would consider saving a transfer to bring in Ade or Van der Vaart when the double gameweek is finalised. The back line looks settled and should also provide good value. A lot to like here.

Al Habsi, Alcaraz, Caldwell, Figueroa, Boyce, McCarthy, McArthur, Beausejour, Moses, Maloney, Di Santo
Subs: Kirkland, Thomas, Crusat, Ben Watson, Gomez, Sammon, Stam.

Well they're fighting, and I'd be remiss if I didn't mention our old friend Moses, who has added a goal or assist in five of the last eight games. He remains a viable 5th midfielder though I wouldn't be overly excited about playing him in a given week and you'd obviously prefer Sigurdsson who is still held by less than 5% of managers. I don't see anything else of note here, though after his cool finish this week, it is amusing to note that Gary Caldwell has as many, or more, goals than Fernando Torres, Antonio Valencia, Luka Modric and Andy Carroll.

Hennessey, Stearman, Johnson, Bassong, Ward, Kightly, Edwards, Jonsson, Jarvis, Fletcher, Doyle.
Subs: De Vries, Ebanks-Blake, Berra, Milijas, Foley, Price, Gorman.

I don't think I'll ever understand the decision to let McCarthy go, and it looks like one Wolves will have to contemplate in the Championship next season. Admittedly this side weren't great all season but they at least showed flashes when all their attacking options were healthy. With perhaps the exception of Fletcher who continues to post good shot totals, there is really nothing to like here at all based on the underlying stats. 


Grounderz said...

Good to see lineup lessons back in schedule. Thanks, Chris!

dan said...

nothing about Newcastle? Interested to hear your thoughts on Ba/Cisse/Ben Arfa..

CDI said...

I'm also glad to see LL back. When you say you're interested in Aguero won't Tevez being back eat into his minutes? Also Silva has been nursing an ankel injury for a while now and is due for a rest so would hold off on getting him.

I know in the past you were put off by expensive attacking defenders but at this stage of the season is that still your stance? Team values are much higher now and having a Verm or Baines wouldn't break most teams and could provide the differentials we all seek. If you had to pick one of Vermaelen, Baines and Kompany which would it be? Would you consider have 2 outta 3 of that groupe?

LOLPool have completely lost the plot and I'm having buyers remorse when I fullyloaded my team with what has turned out to be bums. Do you see their defence becoming solid once again or is it time to completely abort the mission with them?

Just 1 more question. If money wasn't an issue which 5 Midfielders would you want in your team right now? Thanks Chris

Gummi said...

I'm with both Grounderz and dan here:

1) Thanks for the lineup lessons. Excellent insight.

2) I'm torn about Ba. I want to hold on but it's just to tempting to trade him in for Cisse. Knee-jerk?