Sunday, November 25, 2012

Lineup Lessons: Gameweek 13

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

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

Wenger made a few changes here, though he confirmed after the game that Vermaelen, Sagna and Wilshere were all short of fitness, so I wouldn't overreact there. Mertesacker remains the safest/cheapest way to access this underrated unit, assuming that experienced trio return in future weeks. Going forward, this was obviously a disappointing result for the Gunners, and while they did manage 12 shots (just one on target), that's below average for both Villa's home defense (16) and Arsenal's road attack (14) so I'm not willing to let them off the hook, for just having an unlucky day in front of goal. In terms of job security that front three are all going to play in virtually every game, but we'll need more than they showed here if they're going to offer value.

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

There remains some rotation here, which appears to simply be a staple of a Lambert team, but the ownable options are likely limited to Benteke and then the budget defenders (Lowton and Clark) if you feel this team can be spot started when the fixture is right.

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

An uninspiring start for Benitez in terms of chance creation, though, as could have been expected given his pedigree, Chelsea did a good job limiting their opponents too (despite having Terry absent and Ivanovic playing inside). The upcoming defensive fixtures look useful for Chelsea, and if you can afford to play short in GW17, Cole might be worth a thought if Benitez continues to put an emphasis on keeping things tight at the back. Going forward, the front four looks settled and while Moses and Marin lurk, it would be surprising to see Benitez conclude that the current starters all shouldn't be playing virtually every game.

Howard, Jagielka, Heitinga, Distin, Baines, Pienaar, Naismith, Hitzlsperger, Oviedo, Osman, Jelavic
Subs: Mucha, Hibbert, Gueye, Barkley, Vellios, Kennedy, Duffy

The narrative seems to be that Everton missed Fellaini here, and while that's of course true to an extent, given that he's arguably their best player, they still managed to generate 14 shots, nine SiB and 7 SoT so will feel somewhat aggrieved not to have come away with the win. The Toffess now haven't kept a clean for two months (eight games) and without a budget option here offering reliable minutes (Distin and Heitinga continue to split time) it's really tough to buy into this unit, unless you're one of the 25% managers who believe Baines is worth 3m more than some of the other solid defensive players around (I'm not). Going forward, Naismith and Ovideo got the points but with Felliani due back next week and Mirallas poised to return soon, I wouldn't get involved there, instead sticking with the proven options of Jelavic, Pienaar and Osman (and of course the absent duo once they return).

Schwarzer, Riether, Hughes, Senderos, Riise, Baird, Sidwell, Karagounis, Dejagah, Berbatov, Petric
Subs: Etheridge, Kelly, Kasami, Duff, Diarra, Rodallega, Banya

This was only Fulham's second really poor attacking display of the year, managing just nine total shots and a worrying two inside the box. Stoke, of course, are a very solid opponent but they have surrendered an average of 13 shots and 6 SiB this year at the Brittania Stadium, so at least part of this poor performance is on Fulham's poor play rather than just Stoke's excellence. With Duff being benched for the second time in three weeks, this entire midfield looks like the proverbial minefield and I'm not sure there's enough upside to make it worth sorting through this mess. Let's reassess when Kacaniklic returns but for now it's tough to see much value here. Defensively, Senderos came in for the suspended Hangeland but otherwise this unit remains one, if not the most stable in the league.

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

I didn't see this game, so I'll have to wait on confirmation of this one, but Enrique's average pitch position was further forward than Downing, suggesting the two, at least shared defensive responsibility. Either way, Enrique's attacking threat is certainly encouraging and he could be a very nice option if you believe Liverpool's recent defensive improvements are sustainable (the 18 shots conceded this week may suggest otherwise). The rotation and price tags in this midfield make it very tough to invest in outside of Sterling, though even he is looking less appealing given his rising price and ownership numbers.

Man City
Hart, Kolarov, Kompany, Nastacic, Zabaleta, Barry, Milner, Yaya Toure, Silva, Aguero, Dzeko
Subs: Pantilimon, Maicon, K Toure, Nasri, Garcia, Tevez, Balotelli

The headline here was Tevez being benched in favour of Dzeko, though given the way City played, the Argentinian would have had a tough time having much joy anyway. Though I'm not ready to write Tevez off yet, I still believe Aguero is the man to own here, both in terms of his underlying stats along with my personal belief that he will get the most minutes in this team, now that City are bounced from Champions League play. Clichy is due back next week so I wouldn't get too excited about Kolarov's start here, instead I'd stick with Nastacic as the best option, closely followed by Zabaleta, who looked useful going forward again too.

Man Utd
Lindegaard, Da Silva, Evans, Ferdinand, Evra, Young, Fletcher, Scholes, Rooney, Welbeck, van Persie
Subs: De Gea, Jones, Anderson, Smalling, Hernandez, Cleverley, Powell

This defense, while relatively settled, continues to frustrate, as while they only gave up four SiB and two SoT, they still failed to secure the clean sheet. I'm sure I'm in the minority, as one isn't allowed to speak ill of so-called legends, but I don't think Scholes brings enough to this side anymore, and I'd like to see them deploy Jones there, to offer some ability to tackle an opponent, without losing out on too much going forward, other than 'calm presence' which isn't always a huge priority. Anyway, the upcoming games make it tough to sell Rafael but if you're short on cash I think you need to at least consider this defense's viability. Going forward, this midfield looks fairly devoid of fantasy potential - at least until Kagawa returns.

Kurl, Santon, Williamson, S Taylor, Simpson, Ferguson, Anita, Gutierrez, Tiote, Cisse, Ba
Subs: Harper, Perch, Tavernier, Bigirimana, Marveaux, Sa Ameobi, Ranger

The instability in this lineup this year has generally been forced on Pardew through injury, and while we've seen their results regress a bit after last year (which was really to be expected), when fit this is a decent attacking unit. That, of course, is a big qualifier and with Cabaye and Ben Arfa both out for a couple of weeks at a minimum, the remaining players might not be good sell options, starting, of course with the 27% owned Ba. This back four should now be settled until Coloccini's return but given the rate they've been surrendering shots of late, there isn't a ton of value to be found here.

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

Turner missed out through injury but the rest of this side has really settled down of late and those budget midfield options - Snodgrass, Hoolahan, Pilkington and even Johnson - are back in play. The defense has also become very ownable, though despite Bassong's goal this week, I'd still favour a fit Turner as the best value option (or Ruddy who makes an excellent rotation option between the sticks).

Julio Cesar, Hill, Nelsen, Mbia, Traore, Derry, Faurlin, Mackie, Taarabt, Dyer, Cisse
Subs: Green, Diakite, Ferdinand, Wright-Phillips, Granero, Ephraim, Hoilett.

With Redknapp coming in, we might expect some changes here, hopefully coming by way of line-up consistency. Given the way they have performed, I wouldn't put my money on anyone being guaranteed a place from the front six, with the back five slightly more predictable but lacking much value nonetheless. We can check back in a couple of weeks, though even then we'd expect Redknapp to throw money around in January so things could be in flux here for the foreseeable future. There's enough talent to not write this team off, but as someone who doesn't worship at the alter of Redknapp, I'm not sure if it's going to be much fantasy use in the next couple of weeks.

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

Reading put up their third big shot total in four weeks here and are showing signs of being a side we need to take seriously as a potential source of fantasy value. Unfortunately, we haven't seen too many individuals show an ability to contribute to that success on a weekly basis, though we do have two options in McAnuff and Le Fondre. I was somewhat dismissive of Le Fondre's brace last week, but if he can continue to start (still not guaranteed) his underlying stats are looking promising (another six shots this week).

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

Surely the most underrated (fantasy) team in the league, Southampton boast four legitimate attacking options who can be started every week, all of whom come with reasonable price tags (Ramirez, Lallana, Puncheon and Lambert). The presence of Rodriguez still makes me pause a touch, but it's looking like that foursome should play fairly consistently and I'd be happy owning any of them. As we touched on this week at Fantasy Football Scout, Puncheon's price tag should not lead a conclusion that he is just an excellent bench player - I believe he can be started regularly, which could free up a substantial chunk of cash to use elsewhere in your team. This back line is also looking increasingly predictable and they have done a bit better at limiting opponents' chances in the past few weeks, though I still see them very much as 5th defender types and would only bite due to their price tags.

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

Stoke enjoyed their second best attacking performance of the year (in terms of exceeding the opponent adjusted average shots), adding 16 shots with 10 inside the box. The fact they only hit the target twice acts as nice reminder that this team is not an elite attacking group though, with Adam's price tag making it tough for us to back him. Still, the key players in this side are entrenched with the only changes generally being through injury (Wilkinson is the latest defender to miss out).

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

This was Sunderland's best +/- shot performance of the year, outperforming the league average by 17% (just their second 'plus' of the season, after the +11% effort in GW11 against Everton). I've been critical of this Sunderland team in the sense that I felt Fletcher and Larsson were over-owned, but I love the talent on offer here and if they start to perform at even a league average rate, I believe Fletcher, Sessegnon and Johnson could all be ownable. We're not there yet but the pieces are in place so we just need to wait for their form to turn around (though that's far from a guaranteed outcome).

Tremmel, Davies, Williams, Chico, Rangel, Britton, De Guzman, Routledge, Hernandez, Michu, Shechter
Subs: Cornell, Monk, Tiendalli, Dyer, Ki, Augustien, Lita

There are a couple of players here who continue to be rotated - Dyer, Ki and Graham (when healthy) - but the main options look settled and Michu, Hernandez and Routledge remain reliable options with varying degrees of upside. At the back this team continues to give up an alarming number of shots (53 in the past two games) and look tough to own despite the predictability in their starting eleven.

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

Dawson and Lloris came in for Gallas and Dawson and there's a strong feeling that this could be Spurs' first choice back five from here on (with Assou Ekotto of course due to return long term). Dawson would potentially be excellent value at 4.5m, but I'd like to see him start a couple more before I buy in, possibly targetting a GW17 purchase after which the fixtures look very promising. The front four all contributed this week and can all be possibly considered ownable. As I've been saying for a while, all things considered, Bale is probably the best midfielder in the league to own and I'm a little surprised his ownership number remains below 20%. With five chances created and five shots, Dempsey had possibly his best game in a Spurs shirt, and might just be playing his way into fantasy consideration, though if you own Bale (which you probably should) it's really tough to tie almost 19m into a single midfield unit who can be inconsistent.

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

Not too much to say on this lineup which looks pretty settled and continues to generate good returns (though at a rate which is sometimes unsustainable, like their four goals on six SoT this week). Gera, Morrison and Long are all very ownable and I guess you could squeeze Odemwingie in there if you have cash to spare and wish to capitalise on the Baggies' upcoming fixtures. The defense didn't have a good week in this one, but they've been solid of late, making Ridgewell and Olsson very ownable (along with Foster when he returns from injury, hopefully in a week or so).

West Ham
Jaaskelainen, Reid, Tomkins, O'Brien, McCartney, Noble, Diame, O'Neil, Nolan, Maiga, Carroll
Subs: Spiegel, Collins, Demel, Jarvis, Taylor, Moncur, Cole

It looks like O'Brien/Mccartney have displaced Demel for now, which makes buying into this defense somewhat tricky. Collins was almost fit enough to return here and one would imagine he'll replace Tomkins again next week. Going forward that front six looks pretty settled with only Jarvis threatening to upset the party, though I don't personally see too much value outside of Nolan (I like Caroll, but at 7.0m rather than 8.3m).

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

The star of the show here was a player who often hasn't featured in these pages, with Gomez earning just his third start of the year. When he's played he's put up good numbers, including an incredible 9 shot/8 SiB/4SoT effort this week but with Di Santo lurking on the bench, it still isn't clear if he'll even keep his place in the side. Though not a big deal in terms of playing time, Ramis slid inside this week with Stam taking up the attacking full back role, and then left the game early with a hamstring injury. If that was to be long term, Stam would be worth looking at given his price tag (3.8m) and attacking role. 


Andrew said...

Thoughts on Baird, who is defense-eligible in FPL but has been deployed in the midfield (and appears to take fairly advanced positions, though that's not really reflected in the numbers)? Seems like a steal for 4.5 to have a defense-eligible midfielder in a strong attacking (and not horrible defending) side.

Ash said...

i always look forward to this article every week, great job Chris!