Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Lineup Lessons: Gameweek 7

Mannone, Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Gibbs, Ramsey, Cazorla, Arteta, Gervinho, Giroud, Podolski
Subs: Martinez, Koscielny, Andre Santos, Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Coquelin, Arshavin

No real surprises in terms of personnel, with the biggest note being Gervinho's (#27) deployment on the right and Giroud (#12) taking a spot up top. Over the course of the year you had to believe that Giroud was going to play his way into a position to start more often than Gervinho, particularly given that the latter has only really played up front alone for Arsenal since the pre-season, but after the first few weeks it was unclear when that might happen. Giroud has played better than his goal tally to date suggests and in my humble opinion, I'd suggest deploying him up top with Podolski on the left gives Arsenal the best chance to win games. That leaves Walcott, Gervinho and Chamberlain to battle it out on the right, as well as spelling the other three attacking players where required. At 8.4m Giroud is possibly a stretch to own right now, but he's certainly worth monitoring.

The other point to note from this game is how far upfield Cazorla (#19) played on occasion. At times this year I was worried he might slip into a deeper role, essentially trading places with Ramsey depending on who was further forward during a particular break. This was certainly not the case this week as Cazorla's average position was the most advanced on the whole team. Though he possibly lacks the upside of a Bale in a given week, come season's end, Santi would be my pick to lead all midfielders in points this year.

Aston Villa
Guzan, Bennett, Vlaar, Clark, Lowton, Holman, El Ahmadi, Delph, Albrighton, Benteke, Agbonlahor 
Subs: Given, Bent, N'Zogbia, Westwood, Bannan, Weimann, Lichaj

I suggested last week that Bannan and Bent being benched effectively ended Villa's fantasy value, though held out hope that Bent's goal off the bench would restore him to the first team. Alas, the latter did not happen and while Benteke had a nice statistical game considering Villa's generally poor display, it is amazing to me to think that Bent doesn't help given Villa the best chance to win. Indeed, if we're talking peak ability one can make a fairly convincing argument that Villa's three best players - Given, Bent and N'Zogbia - are on the bench. Of course, peak ability does you no good if you never reach that peak, but isn't that a managers' job? The fact that Norwich look poor in his absence helps Lambert's cause, but let's just say some of the gloss is definitely coming off his once glowing reputation. Get back to me when this side can manage 50% possession or create double digit chances with any consistency.

Cech, Ivanovic, Luiz, Terry, Cole, Mikel, Lampard, Mata, Oscar, Hazard, Torres
Subs: Turnbull, Romeu, Ramires, Moses, Cahill, Azpilicueta, Bertrand

No real shocks in terms of personnel here, but Lampard (#8) playing in that deeper role is notable in that it should free up more minutes for Oscar who is more affordable than the former fantasy star. Despite Lampard's goal here, he wasn't really viable before and if this deeper role continues that very much continues to be the case. The rest of this side appears to be nicely settled and offers as much security as is available from any of the elite sides.

Howard, Coleman, Jagielka, Heitinga, Baines, Mirallas, Neville, Osman, Pienaar, Fellaini, Jelavic
Subs: Mucha, Oviedo, Naismith, Distin, Gueye, Anichebe, Duffy

No real lineup notes here either. The play of Fellaini with Mirallas and Jelavic in the team is something that needs looking at (anecdotally he seems to get less chances), but we can touch on that in the fanning the flames piece. It might be worth noting that Distin came on for Heitinga at the half as that second centre back spot continues to be a question mark, thus making Jagielka the cheapest way to securely access this useful unit.

Schwarzer, Riether, Hughes, Hangeland, Riise, Kacaniklic, Ruiz, Baird, Sidwell, Duff, Rodallega
Subs: Stockdale, Kelly, Senderos, Kasami, Karagounis, Richardson, Briggs

Good to see Kacaniklic back this week, though - despite his advanced position on the right wing - he didn't really contribute a great deal in the game that might translate into fantasy success. When Berbatov returns I wouldn't be surprised to see Rodallega slide out wide, with Ruiz keeping his spot in the middle and Kacaniklic once again hitting the bench. If he's your third sub and the rest of your team is set, it's worth using a transfer to move him as it looks like he'll struggle for fantasy success in the coming weeks. Fulham's defense hasn't blown anyone away this year as yet, but they're extremely reliable at home and have one of, if not the, most settled lineups in the league making Hughes and co worthy of ownership given some decent home games on the horizon.

Reina, Wisdom, Skrtel, Agger, Johnson, Gerrard, Allen, Sahin, Fernandez Saez, Suarez, Sterling
Subs: Jones, Henderson, Cole, Assaidi, Coates, Carragher, Borini

Wisdom got another start here and even added three bonus points for good measure. Martin Kelly is out long term but Jose Enrique looks to be close a return and thus Wisdom would represent a gamble right now. Rodgers has criticised some of his senior players - including Enrique - warning that their place in the side is not safe, even where the competition comes from youngsters. However, over the course of a season it would be rare - though not unheard of - for someone like Wisdom to keep his place, so I'm personally not buying him for now. No one really shone in this side this week though Liverpool created plenty of chances and are continuing to at least show signs of improvement from last season.

Man City
Hart, Zabaleta, Kolarov, Richards, Lescott, Milner, Barry, Silva, Y Toure, Balotelli, Tevez
Subs: Clichy, K Toure, Rodwell, Nasri, Aguero, Dzeko, Pantilimon

Kompany not playing was the biggest headline here, though later reports confirmed that his omission was related to a calf injury, rather than being rotated by Mancini. He is still very much locked into this team when fit, though at 7.4m there's still no way I would pay for him unless this side continues to tighten at the back. Richards' return from injury could spell trouble for Zabaleta and his owners should start making plans for what happens if right-back becomes just another rotation spot in this ever-changing lineup.

Aguero being rotated actually represents a 'buy' opportunity as he will likely slide back into the team next week and at least get a couple of games before Mancini's hammer falls again. One would think that move would be for Balotelli, but I'm no longer 100% sure Tevez is a first choice starter so I wouldn't be amazed to see Tevez sit again in the near future. Before you dump him though, consider that this week he had 10 touches in the penalty box as well as five shots (four in the box) so if he plays he's still very much an elite option on an elite side.

Kolarov and Milner had big games, each getting on the score sheet and showing good underlying stats (particularly Milner who created seven chances) but given the uncertainty around their playing time, neither should be a player you are targeting unless we see drastic changes in Mancini's approach.

Man Utd
De Gea, Da Silva, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra, Cleverley, Carrick, Welbeck, Rooney, Kagawa, van Persie
Subs: Lindegaard, Valencia, Anderson, Giggs, Hernandez, Scholes, Wootton

Oh boy, now De Gea is back in this team. I, and many others, maintained when he was dropped that this move was inevitable in the future, though I'm a touch surprised it happened quite so quickly. Is Ferguson seriously suggesting that De Gea is now a better keeper than he was a month ago when he was benched? Either way, United aren't a great defense without Vidic so you're probably not desperate to get access to this pricey unit, and even if you are, just stick with Rafael for now.

Up top Rooney and van Persie played together again, though the results (from a fantasy perspective) were far from exciting. As was the case in midweek in Europe, the result was there suggesting the pair can play together and generate wins, but van Persie managed just one shot all day, while Rooney's three attempts should also be viewed with some concern given that only one was from inside the box. As suspected, Kagawa (#26) shifted to the right to accommodate Rooney in the middle, though Rooney's positioning was often more reminiscent of a playmaking central midfielder rather than a true 'false nine', as evidenced by the fact that 40/75 passes were in the opponents half but only 19 of them were in the final third. As of now, I would continue to suggest that no one from this side really represents great value for your cash and while I'm confident van Persie in particularly will get his goals, the price you pay to get them is still too steep for my taste.

Harper, Santon, Perch, Williamson, Ferguson, Ben Arfa, Tiote, Cabaye, Gutierrez, Cisse, Ba
Subs: Alnwick, Simpson, Anita, Bigirimana, Obertan, Shola Ameobi, Sammy Ameobi

As we've said before, there's never too much to report from Newcastle, given the comparatively shallow bench they have compared to some of the other good teams in the league. It's slightly odd to see Ferguson start at left back given Simpson is available (meaning Santon could slide across), though Simpson was never really the Newcastle player to target anyway. Taylor, Coloccini and Krul should all return soon which nicely coincides with a decent looking set of fixtures that will hopefully see the Magpies return to rotation eligible defensive status.

Finally, after seeing a couple of people note some concerns about Ba (#19), I thought it was worth qualifying something. Since coming on against Everton and scoring twice, he has played very centrally with Cisse (#9) either playing alongside him or, like this week, pushed out wide. I still see some managers showing concern about his positioning and right now those worries are not substantiated. We will however get to some very real concerns about Ba's future in this week's fanning the flames but playing time and positioning are not the concerns there.

Ruddy, R Martin, Barnett, Bassong, Garrido, E Bennett, Howson, Hoolahan, Johnson, Tettey, Holt
Subs: Bunn, Turner, Snodgrass, Jackson, Pilkington, Morison, R Bennett

This team continues to offer fantasy managers the dubious combination of uncertainty in their starting eleven, along with a general lack of production (fewest goals scored, second most goals conceded). Snodgrass ranks 22nd among all players in Fantasy Football Scout's ICT index yet was dropped here without much explanation. In theory he, and Holt, could offer some differential value but until this side can show something and Hughton offers us some consistency in his team sheets, I'd steer well clear of Carrow Road.

Julio Cesar, Bosingwa, Ferdinand, Nelsen, Hill, Granero, Mbia, Wright-Phillips, Taarabt, Park, Zamora
Subs: Green, Traore, Cisse, Mackie, Onuoha, Hoilett, Faurlin

I may as well just copy and paste the Norwich write up here from above, and then reprint it every week. There's talent here but we never seem to know who's playing, never mind who might play well. Taarabt is the perfect player to highlight when talking about QPR as he clearly has enough talent to succeed in this league, yet cannot be counted on to get more than a couple of appearances a month. Given how far he played up field this week, and the freedom he is afforded when he does start, he could be an incredible asset at 5.5m, but until Hughes commits to him he's just too much hassle to justify owning.

McCarthy, Shorey, Mariappa, Gorkss, Cummings, McAnuff, Karacan, Tabb, Kebe, Pogrebnyak, Hunt
Subs: S Taylor, Pearce, Le Fondre, McCleary, Robson-Kanu, Guthrie, Roberts

It sounds strange to say a side who led 2-0 until the 70th minute were fortunate to get a draw but when you look at the underlying stats, Reading were lucky not to lose by several goals, nevermind earn a very good away point. As a team, Reading might be able to pickup the odd result but individually I don't see the value here I had hoped in the preseason where I highlighted Pogrebnyak and Guthrie as budget options who could offer some value. Pogrebnyak, of course, scored this week but he did so on his only shot of the day and just his 9th of the season. I'm not sure I see much here to even monitor, never mind own.

Gazzaniga, Richardson, Yoshida, Fonte, Fox, Puncheon, Schneiderlin, S Davis, Lallana, Rodriguez, Lambert
Subs: K Davis, Hooiveld, Ward-Prowse, Do Prado, Mayuka, Chaplow, Reeves

Ramirez missed out here with a dead leg so I'm not sure we can be happy that Puncheon is back in this lineup for good. This team will generate chances and score goals this year and with the upcoming fixtures looking good it's a good idea to try and get some access to this unit for the coming weeks. The obvious play is Lambert and that's a good start, but I would also look at Ramirez assuming he doesn't suffer any lasting effects of his injury. I still like Puncheon but with uncertainty over playing time, it's tough to get behind him at the moment. The Saints have the worst defense to date based on many different metrics so I wouldn't be too concerned about who will or won't play: just look elsewhere.

Begovic, Cameron, Huth, Shawcross, Wilson, Walters, Nzonzi, Whelan, Adam, Kightly, Crouch
Subs: Sorensen, Jones, Edu, Whitehead, Upson, Etherington, Jerome

As has been the case for a couple of weeks now, there's nothing really to report here as Stoke continue to provide decent value without getting much fanfare. This week it was their solid defense who added an unexpected road clean sheet, to give them three for the year, behind only Chelsea. They have some good games coming up too, so they should continue to be employed in a rotation strategy without hesitation.

Mignolet, Gardner, Rose, Cuellar, O'Shea, Colback, Larsson, Johnson, McClean, Sessegnon, Fletcher
Subs: Campbell, Kilgallon, Vaughan, Meyler, Bramble, Saha, Westwood

The only change here was the return of Cuellar which should strrengthen this unit and help them to become a nice unit for the coming weeks, given the number of useful fixtures they have (NEW, AVL, WBA and NOR at home in the next seven gameweeks. Offensively the team has a substantial amount of talent but have somewhat struggled to create great chances this year. Fletcher has essentially converted everything thrown his way this year, but as we've noted before, that was simply unsustainable so we need to see more from the talented group of midfielders on display here if we're going to buy into this team scoring with consistency. For now though, at least we know who's going to play every week which is more than can be said for a lot of teams.

Vorm, Rangel, Chico, Williams, Davies, Dyer, Britton, Michu, Ki, Routledge, Graham
Subs: Tremmel, Tate, Hernandez, Shechter, Moore, de Guzman, Tiendalli

I joked this weekend that I've missed heaping superlatives on Swansea so it was good to see some dominant stats this week, even if they only managed a draw in the end. They managed 26 shots, 20 of which were in the area, along with 73% possession for the game. The lineup moves of note are the continued presence of Ki in the team ahead of De Guzman as well as Hernandez's somewhat surprising demotion to the bench. Ki was statistically the best player this week (in terms of fantasy potential) with five shots and six chances created for the match, and he took up a slightly more advanced position than we generally saw with De Guzman in the opening weeks. Before we get too excited though, this is unlikely to continue against tougher opponents so our options are likely still limited to Michu, Dyer, Routledge and Graham. Long term I still like Hernandez to have an impact but as my general rule about preferring to be one week late than seven weeks too early applies here.

Lloris, Walker, Gallas, Caulker, Vertonghen, Lennon, Dembele, Sandro, Bale, Defoe, Dempsey
Subs: Friedel, Huddlestone, Adebayor, Dawson, Sigurdsson, Falque, Townsend

Lloris finally made his league debut and one has to think that move will be permanent barring a De Gea like u-turn from Villas-Boas. This is the second week that Caulker has started ahead of Dawson and it's looking like that trend may be permanent. Assou Ekotto and Kaboul are both long term absentees and so whoever starts in middle represents nice upside for their relatively low price tag. I'd still personally opt for the certainty of Gallas at 5.0m, but Caulker is looking increasingly viable at 4.7m too (plus you'll almost certainly make a couple of hundred thousand pounds after his huge 15 point haul this week). Check those tricky fixtures before getting carried away though.

Up front the story was Dempsey continuing to start in place of Sigurdsson and Defoe holding off Adebayor once again. Given that Spurs face CHE, @ARS and @MCI in the next five games, the best course of action here might be to just steer clear, and reassess in a couple of weeks.

West Brom
Foster, Tamas, McAuley, Olsson, Popov, Yacob, Mulumbu, Gera, Morrison, Odemwingie, Long
Subs: Daniels, Rosenberg, Dorrans, Jara Reyes, Lukaku, Dawson, Fortune

Odemwingie came back into the side after missing out through injury and, long term, I'd be happy to suggest he plays the majority of minutes when healthy. Whether that's enough to justify his price tag is another issue. I'm disappointed to see Lukaku remain on the bench here, and his lack of opportunities have surprised me to date. He's still worth monitoring given his play when he has been given minutes but he's obviously unownable in the short term.

West Ham
Jaaskelainen, Demel, Collins, Reid, McCartney, Noble, Diame, Vaz Te, Nolan, Jarvis, Carroll
Subs: Henderson, Tomkins, Cole, Maiga, Taylor, Benayoun, O'Neil

As expected, Carroll came in as a direct replacement for Cole, though with Vaz Te now injured Cole could conceivably get another shot. More likely though is that Matt Taylor will be restored to occupy the other wing alongside Jarvis in support of Carroll. Demel and Reid are both struggling with injuries so their status should be monitored, but with Southampton at home this week, I'd suggest you'll want to wait until as late as possible before abandoning anyone from this team.

Al Habsi, Ramis, Caldwell, Figueroa, Boyce, McCarthy, McArthur, Beausejour, Kone, Di Santo, Maloney
Subs: Pollitt, Jones, Watson, Gomez, McManaman, Boselli, Miyaichi

Great to see Di Santo back in the side, having been limited over the past few weeks with injury (I mistakingly thought he was benched a couple of weeks back - apologies on that one). His play alongside Kone and Maloney was very impressive this week and there are promising signs to suggest they can be a threat against even the best of sides in the league. They only mustered three shots on target so there's clearly work to be done, but their overall play was very encouraging and I'd be happy keeping Maloney at, or close to, the top of the sub-6.0m group.


Conrad Burry said...

I'm in a drafted league, so these guys are the only ones available. Who do I go for (for long-term value):

Micah Richards
J. Evans (i already have Evra)
M. Wilson
Mertesacker (i already have Verma)
G. Cahill
L. Ridgewell


John Doe, 2008 said...

Looks like Snodgrass might have an ankle knock:


Hopefully that explains his absence. I have been keeping my eye on him all season waiting for Norwich's fixtures to turn towards the holidays (@avl, STO, @rdg, @sot, SUN, @swa, WIG with MUN and @eve mixed in over a 9 week span). If he is back against Arsenal, I may very well take the plunge as his underlying stats indicate huge potential.

Andrew said...

I have two free transfers this week and I think I'm going to ditch Hangeland and Ben Arfa (and 1.1 I have sitting around) for Bale and Fonte. I don't have high hopes for Fonte, but I'm wondering if his high point total might get me a .1-pound return in a week or two if I get him in early. Any thoughts from FPL vets on whether this could actually happen?

John Doe, 2008 said...

@ Andrew -

Southampton has had the worst defense statistically so far in the EPL. While some of that has been due to the quality of their opposition, (@MCI, MUN, @ARS, @EVE, and FUL is a pretty daunting start in your first 7), they are most certainly going to struggle with clean sheets all season. Accordingly, you'd be taking a flyer on Fonte based upon his goal scoring potential and that seems more than risky considering he has
2 shots all season (both of which happened to go). I would much prefer someone like Cuellar or Hughes, starters on teams that are solid at home and can be easily rotated without too much worry.

Andrew said...

I needed someone below 4.2 so I went with Fonte. I have Rafael, Baines, and Ridgewell, who I'm comfortable trotting out there on any given week, and George McCartney, who's a good rotation play when he plays (as he did last gameweek).

My hope isn't that Fonte is actually good, but that he turns into a 4.1 by the time I have another transfer to use on my fourth/fifth defender slots.

Charl Du Plessis said...

I want to dump Berbatov and Kagawa for Cazorla and Lambert.

Soton and Arsenal have decent upcoming fixtures and I'm not entirely convinced of Berbatov.

Is this a bad move or should I go ahead (Note: I can replace Kagawa with Cazorla without having to ditch Berbatov. Should I maybe just do that and see how Berbatov goes along for another week or two?)