Sunday, November 4, 2012

Lineup Lessons: Gameweek 10

Goalscorers are highlighted in bold, players with an assist are underlined.

Mannone, Sagna, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Andre Santos, Arteta, Ramsey, Wilshere, Cazorla, Podolski, Giroud
Subs: Martinez, Koscielny, Walcott, Coquelin, Arshavin, Jenkinson, Chamakh

Wilshere's sending off will mean a change next week but whether that's Walcott, Arshavin or someone else, it's not going to have a big fantasy impact. Podolski was non-existent in this one and with Giroud apparently now locked into the team, I'd prefer the latter between the two. Many will want to abandon Arsenal altogether after just two goals in the last three but aside from yesterday they're still generating chances and with FUL, TOT, SWA and WBA all due to visit the Emirates in the next six, this might not be the best time to sell. Though they can be frustrating at times, Arsenal's lineup is one of the more settled among the better teams and thus Cazorla's steady returns shouldn't necessarily be ditched for other less secure options.

Aston Villa
Guzan, Lowton, Vlaar, Clark, Bennett, Weimann, Ireland, Westwood, Bannan, Agbonlahor, Benteke
Subs: Given, Albrighton, Holman, Delph, Bowery, Stevens, Lichaj

Villa's defense has been okay this year at times, especially at home where they've conceded just five in four, but just two in the last three along with surrendering the 9th fewest shots inside the box at home. These are hardly dazzling numbers but they're good enough to suggest that this unit could finally offer us something if the fixtures were right, and thus they need a touch more attention than they've received to date in these electronic pages. Three quarters of this back line (Lowton, Vlaar and Clark) are guaranteed starts at the moment and with Lowton and Clark coming at a discount to Vlaar it seems any decision would be between that pair (and of course Guzan who's done okay since replacing Given). Lowton has the slightly better attacking edge so is probably worth the extra 0.1m and while you're certainly not buying now (MUN, @MCI and ARS in the next three), Villa's run of games from GW14-16 could provide you soon short term returns.

Up front, the options are pretty limited other than Benteke who looks like a good option despite the constant threat from Bent. Again the fixtures should preclude you from making such a move now, but when the easier games come, Benteke might be worth a look as a short term rental.

Cech, Azpilicueta, Cahill, Ivanovic, Cole, Romeu, Mikel, Moses, Oscar, Hazard, Torres
Subs: Turnbull, Ramires, Ferreira, Marin, Sturridge, Bertrand, Piazon

Luiz's absence looks to be short term so Azpilicueta's place in the side should be short lived. The rest of the main players looks fairly settled and with a couple of injuries this bench now looks a touch thin thus making rotation less likely for all. Perhaps Torres and Hazard get a week off at some point but they're still about as secure as any of the 'elite' options right now. The data suggests Chelsea are due for some goalscoring regression though if they don't start creating more chances and just six shots inside the box this week hardly eases those concerns. I still like Chelsea, particularly Mata when fit, but the gap between them and Arsenal simply isn't as big as some are suggesting and it's not as simple as "Hazard is a lock, Cazorla should be sold'. Buyer beware here.

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

Good old Everton. A consistent lineup and returns from the key players make them one of, if not the best team for fantasy value. They get SUN, @RDG, NOR in the next three so feel free to keep and/or buy these players at will.

Schwarzer, Riether, Hughes, Hangeland, Riise, Duff, Diarra, Baird, Kacaniklic, Ruiz, Berbatov
Subs: Stockdale, Senderos, Sidwell, Petric, Karagounis, Rodallega, Dejagah

Though the front and back of this team has been settled all year, Jol hasn't really committed to anyone in the middle of the park other than Duff, along with who to support Berbatov and thus it's tough to really back anyone else in this team. Kacaniklic and Rodallega have flashed decent underlying numbers when they've played but both have sufficient uncertainty to be a tough buy right now. Baird offers value given his classification as a defender but I see his attacking upside as minimal and so the trade off is the certainty of Hughes' minutes versus his positioning higher upfield. At the moment Baird appears to be secure in the side making him the man to pick, but if you suspect that could change, I'd stick with Hughes and save yourself the headache.

Jones, Wisdom, Skrtel, Agger, Jose Enrique, Gerrard, Allen, Sahin, Fernandez Saez, Suarez, Sterling
Subs: Gulacsi, Assaidi, Henderson, Coates, Downing, Carragher, Shelvey

Johnson missed out through injury so we still can't really conclude if Wisdom's playing time is for real and with Johnson due back soon, I'm not willing to waste a transfer trying to find out. The rest of the team was unchanged and a quick look at the bench will quickly answer as to why that is. I like Sterling quite a bit and Sahin and Allen have done alright alongside Gerrard but no team has a bigger gulf between the impact of their best offensive player (Suarez) and the next and that makes for very promising fantasy returns. Suarez's underlying stats are great and while he's been a bit of an enigma in terms of shot conversion in the past, I believe he still offers enough to warrant ownership. Three away trips to CHE, SWA and TOT in the next four gameweeks would stop me bringing him in now but when the fixtures open up he's just about as good value as anyone, especially given his certainty of playing every week.

Man City
Hart, Nastasic, Kompany, Toure, Clichy, Barry, Toure, Nasri, Tevez, Dzeko, Balotelli
Subs: Pantilimon, Zabaleta, Sinclair, Kolarov, Javi Garcia, Aguero, Razak

Dzko and Balotelli starting will have frustrated Aguero owners though they were both pretty poor throughout which will surely open the way for Aguero to finally get a sustained run in the side. That, or Mancini is trying to fired so he can speak to one of the 'eight teams' interested in his services. I fight to stay on topic sometimes but as slight digression, are we sure that Mancini is a good, or even an okay manager? There have been long stretches where City were way too defensive which cost them points and his entire time at City seems to have been filled with little spats with players which see them exiled from the team for weeks - or months for Tevez - at a time. He's won the league once with the league's best squad while City have been pretty average in the Champions League. Anyway, he's here to stay for now and that means we have to deal with his penchant for rotation. As noted earlier in the week, I'd still take Aguero over Tevez and with Silva out, that's about the start and finish of my interest in this side.

Man Utd
De Gea, Da Silva, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra, Valencia, Carrick, Cleverley, Young, Rooney, van Persie
Subs: Lindegaard, Anderson, Hernandez, Nani, Scholes, Powell, Wootton

As City's lineup continues to baffle, United's is settling down and thus offering a bit more promise. We've spoken at large about the front two and while my support of Rooney may not be popular, one game in which Rooney added an assist and could have had at least one goal won't change my mind. Astonishingly, Valencia has only added four shots for the year, so while his assist potential is decent, I don't see him justifying that price tag unless things change, even if his playing time is improved. Cleverly brings something of a goal threat for 5.7m so if you're dying to get more access to this side on a budget I guess he's an option but it's not one I'd be particularly excited about. Defensively, this team should continue to improve and have ranked 4th in shots conceded inside the box over the last four gameweeks. I'd be happier all around if Vidic were playing but there's sufficient talent on the backline and in midfield to register clean sheets, making Rafael in particular a decent option in the ~6.0m range.

Krul, Anita, S Taylor, Coloccini, Santon, Perch, Cabaye, Gutierrez, Ben Arfa, Cisse, Ba
Subs: Harper, Simpson, Williamson, Shola Ameobi, Obertan, Sammy Ameobi, Ferguson

Ba left this one early, suggesting he was perhaps rushed back and as we noted to open the season, Newcastle's depth is both a gift and a curse for fantasy managers. It's good that Pardew doesn't engage in too much rotation but you also fear that with one or two injuries the entire team could struggle to the point of being unownable. For now though it's as you were with Ba (if fit), Ben Arfa and Cabaye representing decent value for fantasy managers. The defense has been a bit leakier this year than expected but now Coloccini and Taylor are back in the middle and they're getting some options back at full back, some improvement should be due in the future.

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

Hughton had the wild idea of playing Snodgrass this week, who responded with the game winning assist. If he plays he has potential but the upside isn't high enough to bring him in and watch him retake his place on the bench so I'm not buying again just yet. The good news generally is that this team has settled down a bit so we can revisit their prospects again which will hopefully give us a couple more budget options from which to pick.

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

Just the three changes this week - one of which was enforced due to suspension (M'Bia) - and the end result was poor once again. Rotating players not only makes it harder to select individuals to own but it also seems to preclude anyone have any kind of sustained success, possibly because their role keeps changing, or possibly just because this collection of talent still hasn't really fit together as a team yet. Either way, despite some promising stats from Granero, Hoilett and even Taarabt (8 shots this week!) it's tough to get behind anyone from this side until Hughes gets fired.

McCarthy, Gunter, Morrison, Gorkss, Shorey, McCleary, Leigertwood, Tabb, McAnuff, Roberts, Hunt
Subs: Federici, Pearce, Pogrebnyak, Le Fondre, Kebe, Robson-Kanu, Cummings

Pogrebnyak not playing is a blow as he represented good value as an uber-cheap front man but with this being his first benching of the year I'm okay giving him a week or two to regain his spot (the fact that Reading managed all of three shots on target against a relatively poor side suggests he might get another chance soon). Shorey had seven chances created this week but my reservations are the same as with the much fancied Emerson Boyce: Reading just don't look like keeping clean sheets and it's doubtful any defender can generate enough offensive points alone to justify their inclusion in your squad.

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

So Wilkinson is the man to replace Wilson as expected and is very ownable given his his price tag (4.4m) and Stoke's upcoming fixtures. Once again this side was otherwise unchanged and thus continues to offer decent mid level options, even if they were largely disappointing this week.

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

Bardsley's return should improve this defensive unit as he's an upgrade over Rose or any of the midfield options who've been used to plug the gap, but given his higher price I'd still stick with Cuellar from this side. Offensively Sunderland continue to struggle to create chances and I wouldn't be considering anyone on the attacking side of the pitch right now.

Tremmel, Rangel, Monk, Williams, Davies, Routledge, Britton, de Guzman, Ki, Hernandez, Michu
Subs: Cornell, Tate, Graham, Dyer, Shechter, Tiendalli, Agustien

Laudrup appears to be fairly settled on this side now, with Dyer and Graham apparently taking a permanent back seat to accommodate Ki and Hernandez on a more permanent basis. That pair, along with widely held Michu and the underrated Routledge remain ownable, though I struggle to really pick between them, all things considered (Michu has the best credentials of course but when you factor in his price tag and ownership percentage it becomes a closer call). The next three home games are decent (LIV, WBA, NOR) but the Swans also have four relatively tough away trips in the next seven and thus they really look like rotation options at best. That would push me towards Routledge based on his price tag if I wanted to grab anyone from this side.

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

Spurs were poor against Wigan this week, though not enough credit has been given to their opponents who played well and let their playmakers dictate their attacking play (Kone, Maloney and Di Santo accounted for 51% of all passes in the final third versus just 28% for Bale, Dempsey and Defoe). Bale was once again their top threat and remains a great pick even when Spurs aren't firing on all cylinders but after him it's a bit unclear. Defoe was simply not involved (eight passes attempted, one in the final third) and the sound you hear is the inevitable return of Adebayor who at least managed a couple more touches in his cameo. Dempsey and Lennon are okay options but are probably overpriced unless Spurs can regain their form as one of the league's better sides.

West Ham
Jaaskelainen, O'Brien, Reid, Collins, McCartney, Jarvis, Noble, Diame, Benayoun, Nolan, Carroll
Subs: Spiegel, Cole, Maiga, Spence, O'Neil, Chambers, Hall

Not much to report here. This is a good team who can compete with anyone, as has been a trend in Allardyce's teams throughout his career. In fact they could have nicked the game with a classic Nolan strike cancelled out by a harsh offside flag. The chances and goals weren't there this week but priorities number one, two and three were clearly to keep a clean sheet and to their credit they did. Demel looks to be close to returning which should offer a further boost and I'd be happy to hold him when fit.

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

Say what you want about Villas-Boas' failures at Spurs, holding them to just five shots inside the box at White Hart Lane is an excellent effort and Wigan should be credited. They're now 10th in shots conceded in the box for the year and 7th over the past six gameweeks. Interestingly, they rank 5th when on the road but just 14th at home, perhaps indicative of a side who are admirably adventurous at home and sacrifice some defensive stability. Either way, I'm coming round a bit on Ramis at 4.5m but still don't see enough to make this team worthy of a 5.0m investment (Boyce). Given their away profile, you could conceivably start them for the next eight gameweeks with a handful of more promising games in there (WBA, @LIV, RDG, QPR, @NOR) to give them reasonable upside. Despite Watson's goal, this side's attacking value really lies in the front three, and even then Kone and Maloney continue to distance themselves from Di Santo who isn't generating enough in terms of created chances and shots to turn into fantasy points (despite playing well enough to earn a call up from Argentina). 


stooshermadness said...

Chris - good analysis. One note: Coliccini saw red and will be out 3 games which, to me, makes other NWC defenders much less attractive given Coliccini's impact on NWC's defense.
I tend to prefer to rotate a part of my team purely on H/A (ex:Jaaskelainen/Begovic). This week I brought in Garrido to rotate with Figuero in my defense and Taarabt to rotate with G.Ramirez in midfield. I was hoping to bring in Santon or Coliccini for Clyne to rotate with with Cuellar but will put that on hold now. Your note on Wigan's defensive statistics was interesting, suggesting I may be able to use Figueroa away on occasion. What is your general view on a pure H/A rotation strategy with 2-3 positions in your team ?

gurka said...

"are we sure that Mancini is a good, or even an okay manager? There have been long stretches where City were way too defensive which cost them points"

That sir is exactly what I have been thinking. I thought that in the season he took over was so naive missing out on the champions league by a single point with some terrible defensive turnouts.

Then the champions league itself haha

@shots_on_target said...

Interesting point about Mancini. When he joined City I thought eh? And then he's heralded as some kind of mastermind. Questions are being asked Roberto. Questions!

@shots_on_target said...

Also, Benteke/Agbong. mixed up.