Thursday, November 29, 2012

Lineup Lessons: Gameweek 14

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

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

The biggest answer we received here may well end up being moot, as while Koscielny was preferred to Gibbs (with Vermaelen once again shifting to left back), the Frenchman left the game early with a groin strain, which would normally rule him out for a least a couple of fixtures. Podolski also missed this one (apparently with illness though I couldn't confirm that one) but given the ineffectiveness of the other options, playing time is not really a concern for him.

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

The key players continue to be entrenched in this side and with Bent taking up permanent residency in Lambert's dog house, it would appear there's little scope for changes in the future. This defense isn't terrible and deserves a look when the fixtures fall nicely, though going forward I'd suggest the options start and end with Benteke.

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

Mata dropping to the bench was a huge surprise, but given the outcome, it's not a move Benitez is likely to make again soon. Still, it does issue a warning shot as to what fate could await the Chelsea players if Benitez returns to his rotating ways. There's potentially a story brewing with Azpilicueta's increased minutes, and he seems to be ahead of Cahill in the pecking order (with Ivanovic preferred in the middle), and it might be worth a shot, though again, I'd be cognisant of that rotation threat.

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

Heitinga dropped out of the side again and though my hunch thinks Distin might be somewhat safe for a while, I wouldn't be willing to bet a transfer on it, particularly given that this Everton defense is hardly a great investment at the moment. Fellaini made a successful return to the side and remains an elite option, and that whole front four looks good enough to own to me.

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

Same old story here with stability at both ends of the field but plenty of rotation in the middle of the park. Senderos will likely make way for Hangeland after his suspension but otherwise the back five is rock solid and need closer attention after a couple of decent away performances. I wouldn't touch this midfield at the moment given the rotation we're seeing.

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

Wisdom was fit for this one but Downing was preferred at left back, and while I didn't see the whole game to evaluate his performance, the opening 20 minutes or so told the tale of a midfielder playing at the back, including him switching off for the first goal. The fact that some fans were clamouring for Widsom's inclusion speaks to how far this team have fallen in the past couple of years (and that's no slight on Wisdom, who has done well. It's just surprising to think that a 19 year old who made his league debut two months ago would suddenly be seen as irreplaceable). Enrique is an interesting prospect given his advanced role, but at 5.9m I'm not sure how much more he gives you than someone from one of the other middling defensive sides.

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

Kolarov moving to the bench again is hardly a big surprise, though I wouldn't say I'm particularly enamoured with Zabaleta's playing time prospects either. Nastasic looks like the best bet in this back line by a distance. Tevez dropping to the bench was a surprise to a degree - though I had speculated that with Aguero fit, Tevez was always going to face increased rotation from the Balotelli/Dzeko pair.

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

Ferguson rung the changes here, though the outcome was still a very disappointing display from United. On the bright side, they defended better for parts of the game, though still looked a touch vulnerable at times. With Ferdinand and Jones ready to step in, I'd be surprised if we didn't continue to see some rotation at the back. This isn't the place to focus on van Persie and Rooney, suffice to say that both were disappointing and van Persie was extremely fortunate to get away with a decent points haul. Rooney's positioning was more worrying though, with his average position actually dropping behind Cleverley. Before we push the panic button, he still generated six shots, though only one of these came inside the area. Above all players, Rooney is possibly most impacted by who he's playing with, so we'll need to dig into those trends and see if there are genuine concerns if the likes of Cleverley are going to get more minutes.

Krul, Simpson, Coloccini, Williamson, Santon, Anita, Perch, Tiote, Gutierrez, Ba, Cisse
Subs: Elliot, Bigirimana, Marveaux, Sammy Ameobi, Ranger, Ferguson, Tavernier

Newcastle's side has seen plenty of changes this year, though most of them have been forced on them due to injuries. The key players (when fit) are nicely locked into this lineup and this is one of the easier sides to predict when everyone is available. They are however, a nice reminder of why any historic model will always have some issues, as all those shots and chances created with Cabaye and Ben Arfa in the fold, arguably don't mean too much when it's Perch and Anita taking their place. There's not too much we can do about that with the very basic stats we have available, so for now, we just need to throw an asterisk next to these teams with major injury issues and try and collect replacement data as fast as possible to account for their absence.

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

Ruddy is a long term casualty with Bunn taking his place between the pipes. Ruddy is a very good 'keeper but I wouldn't say that this move makes me ready to write off Norwich's useful and budget defense. The back four remained unchanged from the weekend though Martin returned to the bench and could yet unsettle this team in the coming weeks. Garrido and Bassong might be worth the premium until Turner returns. No real issues to note on the attacking side of the pitch.

Julio Cesar, Bosingwa, Hill, Nelsen, Traore, Granero, Mbia, Diakite, Taarabt, Mackie, Cisse
Subs: Green, Derry, Ferdinand, Park, Wright-Phillips, Da Silva, Hoilett

I'm not sure we can draw definite conclusions from one Redknapp game, though it's promising that most of the prospects we've highlighted in this team all got the start on day one. I'm not one to worship at Redknapp's alter, but things can't be much worse than under Hughes so the likes of Taarabt and Granero get a chance to get better, I'm all for it. I'll reserve judgement on the stability and success of this side for another couple of weeks though.

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

I was starting to come round on Reading so this week's result was a real blow, yet they still racked up 12 shots (nine SiB) so all is far from lost. Gorkss and Gunter both dropped out of the side at the back, though if you have any faith in this defense at all, you would of course want to grab Shorey anyway. The attacking options look fairly settled with the duo of Le Fondre and McAnuff offering the most promise.

Gazzaniga, Clyne, Yoshida, Fonte, Shaw, Puncheon, Schneiderlin, Cork, Lallana, Lambert, Ramirez
Subs: K Davis, Hooiveld, S Davis, Rodriguez, Do Prado, Mayuka, Reeves

Though the lack of chances created by Southampton is a concern (10 shots, eight SiB, two SoT), the starting lineup isn't. I imagine Rodriguez will get the odd start here and there but I'd be more than happy to assume that the talented Puncheon, Lallana, Lambert and Ramirez are all pretty reliable.

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

Shotton has come in as the latest left back, which leaves Cameron as the only affordable option in this back line. Not much to report among the attacking options, though Walters' seven shots (all in the box) were a notable reminder of his prospects.

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

Kilgallon came in for O'Shea, though it doesn't look like that will be a long term injury so normal service should be resumed soon. The attacking options remain fairly locked in now Larsson has been pushed back out wide, though with just five SiB, I'm still not overly convinced by this team's attacking prospects.

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

I'm pleased to see Swansea enjoy some success, especially with Hernandez getting a couple of assists, as I've been a big fan of his work over the past few weeks. Before we get too carried away though, Swansea only hit the target four times, so this wasn't the kind of dominant display that will always lead to big goal hauls. There's talent in this side though and the trio of Hernandez, Routledge and Michu all look valuable for different reasons.

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

I thought the defensive lineup from over the weekend might get a shot to stick together for a while but Caulker was dropped again in this one, with Gallas coming back into the side. Dawson is a tempting proposition at 4.5m but be mindful that he too may face some risk and Villas Boas continues to rotate his back line. The attacking options look nicely settled and should all benefit from the return of Dembele.

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

Lukaku and Long find themselves in a tricky situation where both have been when played, though it appears Clarke isn't willing to either commit to one of them or play both together. It's a situation to monitor but neither look like strong buys at the moment. The rest of this side looks fairly secure.

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

Demel got his place back in McCartney's absence but that outcome is not a foregone conclusion when everyone is healthy. There isn't a great deal to report elsewhere in the side, and despite West Ham being a decent team, a combination of price tags and roles makes it tough to look beyond Nolan among the attacking players.

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

Maloney missed out with injury so we still don't have a definitive answer what will happen to Gomez when everyone is healthy. Ramis' absence is a blow as he looked like the best value defensive option here and without his attacking threat, I'd steer clear of all these other options. On the attacking side of the pitch we have some stability but we're really limited to Kone and probably Di Santo until we get clarification on the Maloney/Gomez issue.


Eraser said...

I'm curious about your mini-analysis of van Persie. The shots on target blog had him ranked 8th this week with 4 key passes and 4 shots, 3 in the box, 2 on target. That seems pretty solid.

stooshermadness said...

Chris - good stuff as always. I wonder if we might add Marko Marin at the bottom of our Watchlists. He got a 10 minute run-out for Chelsea last night after Benitez offered some positive comments in the press. Even in 10 minutes he looked a better player than Oscar who fails to impress every time I see him - he is so easily knocked off the ball and does nothing to justify his place. Marin ran at defenders and put in a couple of tempting crosses. I know he was injured early on, but I had been wondering what happened to him under RDM. He looked brilliant in preseason. He gives Chelsea some natural width (with the ability to come inside), given that Benitez likes his outside backs to stay home. I hope his appearance was not a 1-off.

Chris Glover said...

Eraser - A couple of points:
(a) pretty solid isn't going to cut it for a player who costs 3m more than other excellent options like Suarez or 6m more than Berbatov. (b) While I very much like to rely on stats, watching the game it was tough to conclude he was a huge threat on goal. He got the goal of course but 2 SoT in a favourable home game is a poor result however you slice it.

I don't want to get into a "how good is van Persie" discussion every week, suffice to say I believe he'll do just fine, but on that performance, there's no way he justifies his price tag.

Stoosh - I missed the cameo unfortunately but it sounds like he'll be one to look at. I'm not sure how true the 'rotation' narrative is for Benitez but anecdotally he does seem to prefer to switch his players round more than some managers (and credit to him by the way if he believes certain players can offer better value in a given week). I am higher on Oscar than you but agree he can be a bit easy to force off the ball sometimes. Still, it wouldn't surprise me if that pair, along with Moses and even Mata/Hazard get drawn into a weekly rotation system with minutes tough to predict.

Podge Marley said...

Christ could you please update or redo the regression to mean chart as it proved hugely impressive in forecasting who was over performing. All players in the top right section seem to have regressed a bit now and it would be useful to see where they are at now. Thanks again.

Eraser said...

Fair enough. I was just confused by the statement "extremely fortunate to get away with a decent points haul," considering his decent stats. I agree 11 points in two home matches against QPR and West Ham are not justifying his price tag. But he wasn't uninvolved. My extremely expensive Rooney/RVP double up for these two nice home games did not pan out. At least there are a lot of options to replace one of them.

stooshermadness said...

Thanks for the response Chris. As a longtime Liverpool fan, I think Rafa's reputation of rotation was/is a bit overblown, especially with respect to his back 4. I have been really impressed with Azpillecueta/Ivanovic/Luiz/A.Cole and I wonder if he won't stay with that back 4. The rubber will meet the road when Terry gets back. I do hope Marin gets some starts and Moses as well.
One thing not FF related - as poor as Torres has been this year, I am shocked we haven't seen Moses get some late game cameos as the lone forward, given his pace and strength. And at 6.2, if he were getting consistent minutes he wouldn't be a bad 4th midfielder for our FF teams . . .

threesticks said...

Loving the Azpillecueta/Nastastic/Enrique trifecta (with a sprinkle of Cameron and offensive juggernaut ben Davies)

AMAM said...

Hi there. I'm a first year player and stumbled across your blog and have been using your weekly lineup lessons as a great resource for my team. I'm curious to hear your opinion on Ronnie Stam. You mentioned him last gameweek. At 3.8m he seems like a pretty nice option for a 5th you see him sticking around in the team while most of their other guys are out injured? Do you think it's even worth it given Wigan's place in the table?

Thanks for the great resource each week.