Sunday, November 18, 2012

Lineup Lessons: Gameweek 12

Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Wilshere, Arteta, Cazorla, Walcott, Giroud, Podolski
Subs: Mannone, Andre Santos, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ramsey, Coquelin, Arshavin, Jenkinson

As expected Szczesny reclaimed his spot between the sticks and thus we lose another potential budget 'keeper. This Arsenal defense is decent against the weaker sides but those games don't come often enough to justify lofty price tags. That leaves Mertesacker as the only real option here, unless you believe that Vermaelen's move to left back is permanent and Koscielny's minutes will be consistent too (call me unconvinced).

The key members of the front six are fairly settled and we can possibly soon add Walcott to the 'reliable' list after struggling for minutes early on in the season. At 8.7m he's in a tough price bracket as it's impossible to compare him to the likes of Bale, Mata or Cazorla on anything other than pure speculation, while it's equally tough to see if he offers enough to upgrade to him over the Michu/Nolan group. We'll touch on his prospects more in the fanning the flames piece.

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

Consistent options can be found throughout the team and anyone who is borderline (El Ahmadi, Ireland, Agbonlahor) lack the necessary upside given their respective price tags to really concern us anyway. Benteke is definitely an option if you can afford to bench him against the league's elite but this team remains pretty uninspiring.

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

There was some chatter on BBC's live text that Chelsea's lack of depth is why they won't content this year and some on Twitter agreed with those suggestions. Looking at this bench, I don't see depth as a problem at all; I'd more suggest Chelsea just lack the starting quality up top and arguably at the back to compete with the two Manchester teams. That depth is some concern in fantasy circles as the midfield trio of Hazard, Mata and Oscar are arguably the only fantasy options in this squad and each can be rotated given the availability of options like Sturridge, Moses and Marin. That said, I see that more of 'resting' risk that a true rotation policy and it should only register as the slightest mark against that group.

The rotation on the back line is more concerning and given their price tags and Chelsea's mediocre defensive form of late, this whole unit may be a write off for a while.

Howard, Coleman, Heitinga, Jagielka, Baines, Naismith, Osman, Fellaini, Hitzlsperger, Pienaar, Jelavic
Subs: Mucha, Oviedo, Distin, Vellios, Junior, Kennedy, Duffy

A rare letdown by Everton with only Fellaini able to contribute from their numerous widely held assets.  Needless to say, this one game wouldn't particularly turn me off any of these players. Fellaini did pickup his 5th yellow card though and will miss the home fixture against Norwich which is a real blow. With ARS, MCI and TOT to come in the three games after that, there's an argument to be made in selling him, but given the fact that most of his owners will be sat on a fairly sizeable profit, it's likely better to simply wait this one out. Mirallas missed out with injury but Moyes described it as "not too bad" though, again, given the fixtures, better value might be able to be found elsewhere, particularly if he was to also miss the Norwich game.

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

Another disappointing result from one of this week's fancied teams, though this one obviously turned more on the Hangeland sending off than anything worrying about Fulham's abilities. The back line remains useful though probably takes a slight downgrade for the time Hangeland is out. The midfield remains a bit of a mess due to rotation which wasn't really cleared up this week (though Kacaniklic's start was promising). There's talent here but it's tough to pinpoint how to exploit it, aside from Berbatov of course who still looked threatening today despite the lack of points.

Reina, Wisdom, Agger, Skrtel, Jose Enrique, Johnson, Gerrard, Allen, Sterling, Suarez, Suso
Subs: Jones, Sahin, Cole, Henderson, Coates, Carragher, Shelvey

The full back situation at Anfield is interesting as while Wisdom is looking like a surprisingly constant fixture in this side (and thus a budget pick), Jose Enrique started on the left wing and comes with a reasonable price tag of his own. The next two away trips look tricky but after that Liverpool get a decent run of games and someone from this unit will be worthy of consideration. If Enrqiue gets another start or two in midfield he might the man to pick, if not, the budget Wisdom will offer upside with minimal risk. The attacking options here start and end with Suarez and Sterling.

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

These City reports write themselves. When Mancini plays his best players, good things tend to happen. Silva, Tevez and Aguero all enjoyed big days and managers will no doubt we wondering how many of them they should grab compared to just a couple of weeks back where it was hard to love anyone from this City side. In truth, not much has changed other than Mancini's commitment to avoiding needless rotation (and his latest spat with Balotelli which limited his ability to do so). The model likes all three players, though some caution does need to be exercised given the fixtures over the next five gameweeks.

I didn't give Nastacic enough mention in these pages over the past couple of weeks, and with four straight starts he could be the best way to access this City defense. With Lescott lurking, he still carries some risk but he's the cheapest option available (5.5m) and looks safer than everyone other than the pricey Kompany.

Man Utd
Lindegaard, Da Silva, Ferdinand, Smalling, Evra, Valencia, Carrick, Giggs, Young, van Persie, Hernandez
Subs: Johnstone, Jones, Anderson, Welbeck, Scholes, Cleverley, Fletcher

De Gea's absence was apparently due to a dental situation so we shouldn't expect anything too long term, though with the way Ferguson has rotated between the sticks, nothing is guaranteed. Where as City have frustrated as fantasy options due to a lack of consistent minutes, this side is simply bereft of fantasy talent at the moment (other than the elite front pair of course). Young and Valencia just aren't creating enough to be considered viable options while the central options are a rotation nightmare (and equally limited). van Persie and a fit Rooney are basically the start and finish of the attacking options here, at least until Kagawa and/or Nani return.

Krul, Simpson, S Taylor, Williamson, Santon, Ben Arfa, Anita, Tiote, Ferguson, Sammy Ameobi, Ba
Subs: Elliot, Amalfitano, Bigirimana, Marveaux, Shola Ameobi, Tavernier, Abeid

Newcastle were missing a number of players through injury, and with the likes of Coloccini at the back, Cabaye in the middle and Cisse up top all out, it's tough to really assess this team. Ba is obviously ownable no matter who plays, though looking ahead, GW16-21 looks pretty tough for the Magpies, so plans should be made there unless you aim to hold Ba for the duration.

Ruddy, Whittaker, Bassong, Turner, Garrido, Snodgrass, Johnson, Tettey, Pilkington, Hoolahan, Holt
Subs: Bunn, Howson, Jackson, Morison, Elliott Bennett, Tierney, Ryan Bennett

We're seeing consistency in this lineup and with it, much better results. Four clean sheets in five games, including two against ARS and MUN, grab the headlines, and though the underlying shot totals suggest an element of fortune in those blanks, the defense has clearly taken a step or two forward in the past month or so. If nothing else, they get home games against SUN and WIG in the next five gameweeks so this backline should continue to offer budget value.

Attacking wise, the team's uptick in results hasn't been by way of increased scoring and thus it's hard to really back anyone here. The front six does look fairly settled though so the cheaper options are aways worth a look (particularly Snodgrass).

Julio Cesar, Bosingwa, Ferdinand, Nelsen, Traore, Diakite, Faurlin, Granero, Taarabt, Hoilett, Cisse
Subs: Green, Derry, Wright-Phillips, Mackie, Dyer, Da Silva, Ehmer

At least the lineup is starting to settle down. The results continue to be woeful, to the point where it's somewhat surprising that Hughes has a job, but at least we know which players will flatter to deceive each week. They did generate some chances this week meaning Cisse and co. could be considered if the fixtures were right, though Southampton at home would presumably be one such game and they managed a respectable, but hardly excited, 12 shots, nine inside the box.

The back line is fairly predictable too but under no circumstances should you be anywhere near them.

Federici, Gunter, Morrison, Gorkss, Shorey, Robson-Kanu, Leigertwood, Tabb, McAnuff, Roberts, Le Fondre
Subs: S Taylor, Mariappa, Pogrebnyak, Hunt, McCleary, Harte, Cummings.

This is another lineup which is starting to settle down, though as with a couple of other sides, I'm not sure there's any one single player who is a focal point of the attack and thus ownable. Le Fondre had a big day with seven shots and two goals but this was his first start since September and we're along from even considering him a player to closely monitor, never mind own.

One potential prospect is Nicky Shorey whose excellent chances created numbers were finally rewarded with an assist this week, though as you know, I don't like backing defenders based on their attacking ability alone, and this defense still looks a long way away from solid (another 21 shots conceded this week, 15 inside the box).

Gazzaniga, Clyne, Fonte, Yoshida, Shaw, Schneiderlin, Cork, Puncheon, Ramirez, Lallana, Lambert.
Subs: K Davis, Hooiveld, Steven Davis, Rodriguez, Fox, Ward-Prowse, Mayuka.

We've seen a significant amount of rotation along this back line, though if you're getting involved there you might have bigger troubles than Daniel Fox starting on the bench again. The front six here are what I would venture give Southampton the best chance of winning (perhaps with the exception of S Davis for Cork), though Adkins has shown a tendency to want to get Rodriguez involved with some regularity. That makes it tough to get too excited about Puncheon, who's been highlighted in the past but has suffered through his fair share of rotation. At 4.4m you can afford to have him rest sometimes, though as squad's start to get stretched with injuries and suspensions, it's a situation you ideally want to avoid.

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

Though it hasn't done them much good so far, this side is at least fairly settled with James McClean the only man to drift in and out of the side (with Colback). Until we see much better performances on the attacking side of the ball - still only four SiB this week - this whole front six looks very tough to own, and despite his excellently taken goal this week, Fletcher is still a massive risk. The defense was one I liked coming into the year but they again surrendered 20 shots this week (12 SiB) and can't really be relied upon, other than the very easiest fixtures (WBA, QPR, RDG at home in the next five gameweeks does suggest they might be worth holding onto if you already own though).

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

Once the darling of this blog, now Swansea provide essentially two players, one of whom is overheld and whose underlying stats suggest he is good value, but overachieving somewhat. The other is Hernandez who is quietly (0.6%) chipping in with some very nice performances and will get  some attention in the fanning the flames piece. The rest of this team looks impossible to predict with Dyer, Routledge, Graham, Schechter, de Guzman and Ki wrapped up in a six-into-four battle which probably leaves all them all but impossible to own.

Even the defense is now a touch unpredictable with Chico held to a bench spot this week, though you'd have to think that long term he'll recapture his spot from Monk. Even then though, this team gave up 32 shots (!) including 18 SiB and 9 SoT so this almost-clean-sheet isn't necessarily a sign of good defensive days to come.

Lloris, Walker, Gallas, Vertonghen, Naughton, Lennon, Sandro, Huddlestone, Bale, Adebayor, Defoe.
Subs: Friedel, Dempsey, Dawson, Sigurdsson, Livermore, Townsend, Carroll.

Lloris got his second league start and probably wishes he didn't. Villas-Boas did little for his dwindling reputation by suggesting his side controlled the game, though in the chances department, things were probably closer than the final scoreline. It's tough to see how Adebayor would have played over a longer period but he was sometimes drifting off Defoe suggesting Spurs didn't really abandon their 4-2-3-1 shape, but nevertheless Villas-Boas' willingness to start both forwards would be a huge blow to any remaining value Dempsey might have had. This side still offers plenty of consistent options with a fairly settled back line along with Lennon, Bale and Defoe (who is once again safe with Adebayor suspended).

West Brom
Myhill, Jones, Olsson, Tamas, Ridgewell, Morrison, Yacob, Mulumbu, Gera, Long, Odemwingie
Subs: Luke Daniels, Reid, Popov, Rosenberg, Brunt, Dorrans, Fortune

With Lukaku ineligible to play against his parent club, my weekly 'free Lukaku' rant can be put aside and thus there's not much to report here. Long is doing a solid job up top and should really be considered a safe option who is ownable, despite my objections. Morrison and Gera both have appeal while Olsson, Ridgewell and McAuley (when fit again) are also entrenched in the first team. Somewhat inexplicably, McAuley is the only widely held option at 15%, despite costing a full 0.5m more than his defensive teammates. Morrison deserves a lot more attention while Gera and Long are both worth a look as budget options.

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

Not much was made of Liverpool's victory this week, but Wigan's defense had been trending in the right direction in terms of shots surrendered with this representing somewhat of a setback. Ramis' price tag and attacking threat might make him ownable if Wigan can start converting some of those solid performances into clean sheets but this still isn't a side to really covert defensively. On the attacking side, the big three remain a fixture in the side and will have better days again in the future.


Ton the Don said...

fantastic as always chris

stooshermadness said...

Great stuff as usual Chris. You make a really good point about WBA backline alternatives to McAuley. 1 guy I think should probably come into managers' thinking from the West Brom backline now is Billy Jones. He's 4.4 and has started the last 3 games. I believe he's missed a few games this year through injury but I believe he is first choice at RB.