Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Pressing the reset button part I: who to keep faith with

I could open here with an inspirational quote about experience simply being the name we give our mistakes, or that the Chinese symbol for crisis incorporates the brush stroke symbolizing opportunity. However, I'm neither (a) smart enough or (b) in a perky enough mood to do so. The deployment of my wildcard in gameweek 3 is not me seizing an opportunity, it is full blown damage limitation in what has been a disaster of a season to date.

I normally scribe a few random thoughts on wildcard usage as we approach the double digit gameweeks but seeing as I'm going through the thought process as we speak, I may as well add my rambling thoughts to the pages of the interweb for all to see (and based on the success of my preseason selection, ignore).

Scouting your own team: who to dump and who to keep
The exciting part of playing your wildcard is deciding who you want to bring in. Most likely you will have a couple of names in mind because they've impressed to date, have great fixtures coming up, come at a low price etc. We'll get to these in the next post but before we do, it's equally important to consider which of your current players to keep.

It's tempting to simply massacre the whole side, particularly in situations like this when you are on the back foot and playing catch up rather than deploying your wildcard at will in the later weeks of the season. The problem with that thinking is that it can cloud your judgement and lead to the same ill advised decisions which put you in this mess. Below are a couple of players, in no particular order who have seen a fall in price over the opening weeks or have generally been shunned but yet still have good prospects to bounce back:

David Silva - we all know how much I love Silva so his inclusion here isn't a huge surprise, but consider some facts. His chances created per minute top all of the top midfielders other than Cazorla while his 28 touches in the final third in just 91 minutes is tops in the whole league, adjusted for playing time. 4 shots (1 on target) isn't anything to salivate over, but again, on a per minute basis he would still compare favourably to his peers. We can't simply ignore playing time and I do fear that over the season Mancini is going to continue to frustrate, but given the fact that City looked fairly blunt without him against Liverpool, you have to think Silva will be locked into the team for the next few starts. I don't believe that contract negotiations are having an impact and believe this is purely a case of small sample sizes. With Hazard off this week and City facing QPR at home, he's staying on my own team for now.

Gareth Bale - With Spurs stuttering in the first couple of games it's easy to sleep on Bale but he's quietly continued where he left off last year, aside from the final product. His 7 shots place him 5th among all midfielders while his touches in the box ranks 4th. Throw in his 6 chances created (ranked 6th) and 13 crosses (4th) and you have the complete offensive arsenal he brought last year, just with no end product as yet. The reintroduction of Adebayor should help and though the Spurs midfield is somewhat congested, Bale looks to have the surest guarantee among pretty much all the elite midfielders in terms of playing time. Finally, the fixtures look simply irresistible with NOR, @RDG, QPR in the next three plus AVL, @SOU and WIG also due up over the next eight gameweeks. Bale is a buy option right now and his owners will surely be rewarded for a bit of loyalty.

Lukas Podolski - those first two players were no brainers for me but Podolski is less clear cut. Anecdotally I think he's looked good in the opening two games, which is significant as he was deployed in both roles he will occupy this year so we don't need to be overly concerned about who he lines up alongside. The stats however aren't encouraging with just 4 shots, none of which have forced a save from the goalie. Now, though I don't say it enough, stats don't tell the whole story and scouting with your eyes is also important, but however good a player looks, if he doesn't take shots, he doesn't score. Arsenal's fixtures are a mixed bag over the coming weeks which makes Podolski a risk to the point that if you own him and not Tevez you're probably making that move. If however, you own both, the German has shown just enough to stick around and thus he might earn a reprieve for a couple more weeks.

Kevin Nolan (et al) - He doesn't come with the excitement of a Michu but Nolan is who we thought he was: a decent player who gets into good positions and finishes with confidence and composure. The point here isn't so much about Nolan in particular (though I do like the former Bolton man), but more that the grass isn't always greener. Change for change's sake is not advised after just a couple of games and players in that mid-range category need to be given some time, providing their underlying stats are reasonable. It's rarely the best use of your transfers to keep switching between these mid-level options unless a true star emerges (we'll see how Michu goes over the next 4 or 5 weeks) so Nolan (or Walters, Larsson, Dembele etc) owners should think carefully before just assuming the other guy is better than the incumbent.

City defenders - Four goals in two games is obviously a somewhat disastrous start for a defense whose parts cost anywhere between 6.0-7.5m. Last season there was a correlation of 85% between shots surrendered inside the box and overall goals conceded. Four of the league's top five defenses in terms of clean sheets ranked atop the shot inside the box rankings with Newcastle being the only exception to the rule. This year City have given up just 12 shots in the box, good for a third place ranking behind Arsenal and Newcastle (who have ironically done much better in this category with much less fantasy success, seemingly doing so just to make me need to qualify every sentence I write in this pararaph).

In short, I have no doubt City will be just fine, with Mancini obviously targeting a tightening at the back, and hopefully a move away from the three-at-the-back formation which hasn't impressed over the past month or so. The only goal they've conceded this year which is slightly concerning is Southampton's second which City were slow to cover but the others either came from set pieces (which should be addressed in training and have never been a particular issue in the past) and one from a series of odd deflections.

The question remains as to which City players are safe to target but with Richards still out for a month and Kolo Toure highlighting his weaknesses this past week once again, you have to think that Kompany, Lescott and Zabaleta are as safe as most elite options for the foreseeable future. I'd be happy owning any of the trio but if playing your wildcard it appears to make sense to roll the dice with Zabaleta, so long as you accept that he will inevitably be rotated at some point soon (is anyone immune?)

Anyone else have any players off to a slow start we should still believe in? Post them below or send them to @plfantasy and I'll discuss them in tomorrow's post on which players I'm ready to give up on already (or at least sell).


fogard said...

van der vaart?

Ton the Don said...

this blog is fantastic

gurka said...

I know the feeling of a poor start it killed me last season.

You had a great squad for GW1 were ready to hit the ground running.

Love the articles keep them coming and you can bounce back!

Collin Brueggeman said...

Where do you get your advanced statistics? i.e. touches in the final third, chances created. I'm having trouble finding a website with the info. Thanks. Great Blog.

PeteB said...

What are your thoughts on Nani. Is he on the outer? I'm thinking of replacing him with Kagawa, Hazard or Cazorla?

Charl Du Plessis said...

Recently discovered this blog. Excellent!

The injury to Aguero and the benching of Sinclair has really thrown me quite a bit.

I picked my GW1 team, with an action plan already in place as to exactly which transfers I'll be making in the first 3 or so weeks.

It hasn't worked out too badly thus far, I've got decent points, but now I'm in trouble for the next GW.

Sinclair was one of my long term options (SWansea attack well, he's cheap-ish and he takes penalties). But having seen him being benched, I had to opt for someone different in midfield, replacing him with Kagawa for GW2.

So now I've still got Aguero and I'm sitting with 3 Chelsea players (Mata was going to be dumped after GW1, but I knew he'd play, so dumped Sinclair instead). ALso without Nicky Shorey because Reading have a bye as well. This means I've got 5 players who aren't playing.

Is it worth using my wildcard, or should I rather just offer 4pts and have a full starting XI for this GW, then re-evaluate my options next week when Chelsea are playing and Aguero is nearing a return?

Thoughts please?

dnivy said...

Having Friedel and Green, I'm risking having no 'keepers from next gameweek, given that Lloris transfers to Spurs. Is it worth using a wildcard simply to change 'keepers? (Would also use it to get rid of Tierney and N'Zogbia, and transfer in Hazard -- but apart from that my team is looking good). Great blog btw, I'm hopefully checking in on new posts several times a day.

x00x said...

i think if you're wildcarding this early you must find price increases to compensate for the lack of flexibility you'll have later in the season when your opponents can reshuffle.

even if you give up some value for pounds its probably a good idea.

Scheister said...

Well mates, two similar CB's:
Vertonghen or Vermaelen??
Which do you think will score more goals? ...Keep more clean sheets? Verm is proven in the EPL, will Verts even start every game (he is cheaper though)?

Anonymous said...

Definite Sell: Mata, Lampard, Ramires, Cahill, Sturridge, Rooney, Welbeck, Young, Valencia, Nani, Ferdinand, Jones, Aguero, Silva, Lescott, VDV, Sigurdsson, Defoe, Friedel, Dawson, Kaboul, Caulker, Sinclair, Larsson, Giroud, Heitinga, Rodallega, R.Taylor, Marveaux, Mariappa, Miyachi, Stevens, Any Norwich player, Any QPR player.

Andrew said...

I also just played my first wildcard; I felt like I had to with Aguero and Rooney taking up so much dead space on my roster. I too am holding onto Silva and Podolski. My adds were Tevez, Adebayor (though I'm reconsidering now that Dembele is in the mix at Spurs), Ben Arfa, Rafael da Silva, and Briggs. I let go of Rooney, Aguero, Kacaniklic, Zabaleta, and Mariappa. Kept Silva, Podolski, Michu, Pienaar, De Gea, Ridgewell, Hangeland, McCartney, and Begovic.

I wonder your thoughts on De Gea. I think you touched on it in your lineup lessons, but he's another big-ticket player who hasn't performed to expectations so far this year.

Kalix said...

I believe chris uses Opta stats, which aren't free. I don't think you'll find stats like that for free with a quick google.

I was with you for the first line of players, but then i think you got a bit carried away!
Silva? Siggy? Two whole teams full of decent budget options? its only been two weeks :)

I think Da Gea has been great..
The problem is the make-shift defence United have due to injuries. Da Gae can play brilliantly, but with two midfielders in his back four...goals will be conceded regardless.

Ferdinand should be back this weekend hopefully. I wouldn't lose hope with him yet at all, although with a wildcard its much easier to ship him out until the injuries clear up at united.

Kalix said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Penny Parker said...

Will Dembele get regular playing time at Tott?

Anonymous said...

I would mention De Gea at 6.0 who should keep more clean sheets when United have center backs fit again.

I'm hesitant about being too excited about teams in the early rounds (Swansea anyone?) and haven't seen any rotation keepers that seem obvious.