Sunday, December 30, 2012

Lineup Lessons: Gameweek 20

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

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

Pretty standard lineup here from Arsene Wenger, with Walcott once again given the chance to shine up top. While I was somewhat hesitant to crown Walcott as the next Thierry Henry after his garbage time goal at Reading, he's racked up 10 shots over his last two games and looked very comfortable this week, taking up advanced positions rather than drifting out wide and only looking to feed off balls put behind the defense, which can sometimes make Arsenal a bit blunt going forward. At 8.6m he isn't a steal and I still believe that Giroud will get some minutes up top, but Walcott is certainly a very viable option and I'd be happy to grab him from GW23 onwards after which Arsenal enjoy a very favourable fixture list.

Mertesacker missed this one through injury and is expected to return next week.

Aston Villa
Guzan, Herd, Clark, Lichaj, Lowton, Ireland, Holman, Bannan, Bennett, Weimann, Benteke
Subs: Given, El Ahmadi, Albrighton, Westwood, Bowery, Stevens, Carruthers

No real rotation issues here though a heavy defeat at home to Wigan underlines the lack of options currently available in this side. Benteke continues to get his chances and should be okay but his upside is really limited by the lack of quality elsewhere in this side.

Chelsea
Cech, Azpilicueta, Ivanovic, Cahill, Cole, Ramires, Luiz, Lampard, Mata, Torres, Hazard
Subs: Turnbull, Oscar, Moses, Ferreira, Marin, Piazon, Ake

Lampard seems to be back in favour these days, though two starts in three games is hardly cause for wild excitement. His goal scoring record is unarguable though and even at his slowing pace, he can still get in the good positions and should get his share of goals when played. If he secures a first team place over the lightweight Oscar and Chelsea don't strengthen during the transfer window I could see a situation where he might become ownable (especially given the lack of other options in that 8-8.5m range) but for now I can't suggest doing anything other than watching his progress.

The official game lists Terry's return date as this week and even if that doesn't happen, he could well be in the frame for GW22 which comes after the FA cup games. I'm not sure what direction they'll go in but my guess would be that Ivanovic will slide to right back and Cahill will keep him place, though I wouldn't be investing in anyone from that group until more is clear. Luiz - again deployed in midfield - is the clear pick for me from this useful defence.

Everton
Howard, Jagielka, Heitinga, Distin, Baines, Naismith, Osman, Hitzlsperger, Pienaar, Anichebe, Jelavic
Subs: Mucha, Oviedo, Gueye, Barkley, Vellios, Duffy, Browning

No real surprises here and the only real question is whether Fellaini will retake his place up front in place of Anichebe (who's looked solid in his absence) of whether he'll be pushed deeper. I'd suggest the former is still the most likely and will be re-targeting Fellaini who's price tag is now down to a very attractive 7.4m

Fulham
Stockdale, Riether, Hangeland, Hughes, Briggs, Dejagah, Sidwell, Karagounis, Frei, Ruiz, Berbatov
Subs: Etheridge, Kelly, Riise, Senderos, Baird, Richardson, Rodallega

Riise got the week off here which is surely just a one week deal and doesn't look to represent a long term trend. Baird missing out in midfield is a concern as I had him pegged as the best value option in this side, though for just 0.2m more you can upgrade to Hughes, losing only limited attacking threat (if indeed you have any faith that this Fulham side can tighten up again at the back, which looks somewhat unlikely at the moment). Berbatov played further upfield than he did in Ruiz's absence and the two combined nicely all day for 12 shots, though Berbatov was uncharacteristically wasteful, missing the target with all five of his efforts. The upcoming games are up and down but I still like Berbatov as one of the best mid-level options available and the earlier fire sale by some only makes him all the more valuable.

Liverpool
Reina, Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Jose Enrique, Allen, Henderson, Downing, Gerrard, Sterling, Suarez 
Subs: Gulacsi, Assaidi, Coates, Lucas, Carragher, Fernandez Saez, Shelvey

No issues here as the main players continue to offer consistency and good value in this side.

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

City looked pretty good going forward, though four goals from just seven shots on target is likely not sustainable in the future. As someone who has backed Aguero of late I was pleased by his performance, though I fear he might be rested in the next game or so given Dzeko's goals and Tevez's return to fitness. Needless to say though I'm still very high on his prospects for the second half and given his 7% ownership, he is one of the few players with sufficient upside to overturn the deficit caused by anyone who didn't buy into van Persie or Michu over these past few weeks and months.

Mancini has been strangely settled with his lineups of late so I guess his logic would suggest that after a solid away win, widespread changes will now be required. Joking aside, Aguero owners are probably going to have to suffer through a rotation sooner rather than later but Silva only played an hour so might be okay for now, while the defence looks more likely to be rotated due to the goals conceded rather than fitness concerns. Nasri's suspension will alleviate some of this rotation risk though.

Man Utd
De Gea, Smalling, Vidic, Evans, Evra, Carrick, Cleverley, Valencia, Kagawa, Young, Welbeck
Subs: Lindegaard, Ferdinand, Giggs, Hernandez, van Persie, Scholes, Buttner

I loved van Persie this week and, assuming he played, thought Hernandez would be a nice differential option for the next couple of weeks until the wildcard window opens. Ferguson had other ideas of course but van Persie showed he only needs a couple of chances to contribute points for his countless managers. The news for Hernandez wasn't so bright and while I like his prospects in theory, it's going to be tough to buy in without any certainty whatsoever as to whether he'll play. Kagawa's return makes that front four even more crowded and it'll be intriguing to see how he fits into this team when Rooney returns.

Newcastle
Krul, Simpson, Coloccini, Perch, Santon, Obertan, Bigirimana, Tiote, Marveaux, Ba, Cisse.
Subs: Harper, Shola Ameobi, Sammy Ameobi, Ferguson, Tavernier, Abeid, Streete

Nothing to add here as the situation remains unchanged from prior weeks: the injuries sustained here essentially eliminate any substantial risk of rotation aside from perhaps the odd game for either of the Ameobi's up top. Of the players coming in, I love Bigirimana's game but he's so young and unproven I'd be surprised if he can get enough minutes to consistently contribute. Marveaux however looks like he could be a genuine prospect at 4.2m, and while I'm hesitant to get carried away with small samples, his four shots and six chances created in the last two weeks are extremely promising for a player in his price range. More on him in this week's fanning the flames.

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

This team is very settled and, with Holt still sidelined, was very much as expected. An interesting situation is developing at right back as Russell Martin scored again here yet has often found himself sidelined when Whittaker has been fit. Whittaker represents the best price/attacking threat combination from this back line but if there's any lingering doubt about whether he'll get back into this side for good when healthy, Turner would become my tip to access this reasonably useful defensive unit.

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

Redknapp seems to be fairly settled in his team selection, though given a lack of success you'd imagine that has the strong possibility of changing, particularly once the window opens. Taarabt will continue to get his chances and looked better in the second half here, but the other attacking options were all but non-existent save for a handful of long range efforts from M'Bia, and it's hard to see any value whatsoever until something drastic changes.

Reading
Federici, Gunter, Mariappa, Pearce, Harte, Leigertwood, Karacan, Kebe, Guthrie, McAnuff, Pogrebnyak
Subs: Taylor, Le Fondre, Hunt, Morrison, Tabb, Robson-Kanu, Cummings

Reading will take the win, but they generated just three shots all day and were extremely fortunate to get the three points. Sustained play at this level will see them relegated with one of the lowest points totals in history. I find it hard to believe that Le Fondre, and particularly Robson-Kanu can't get into this side and until they do, or someone else starts doing something, there's very little reason to even open this team's dashboard.

Sunderland
Mignolet, Gardner, O'Shea, Cuellar, Kilgallon, Johnson, Larsson, Colback, McClean, Sessegnon, Fletcher
Subs: Westwood, Campbell, Wickham, McFadden, Vaughan, Ji, Bramble

Nothing to note here in terms of lineup issues, and the eight shots generated for the game was disappointing after Sunderland have looked better of late. Giving up nine shots in the box to Spurs isn't too bad and they are improving at the back giving us hope that this unit might be relevant for spot-start consideration, but it still isn't one to get particularly excited about.

Swansea
Tremmel, Rangel, Williams, Monk, Tiendalli, de Guzman, Agustien, Dyer, Hernandez, Routledge, Graham
Subs: Vorm, Bartley, Britton, Shechter, Moore, Ki, Davies

Tremmel in for Vorm is an odd one and we'll have to see if that's due to Vorm having an injury set back in the coming days (I haven't seen any quotes yet). Tiendalli also got the start over the uber-cheap Davies which, if sustained, is a real blow as the youngster represented one of the best super-cheap options around. I'd give Davies another week or so before abandoning him but Tiendalli is a worthy replacement so there is some legitimate concern here that Davies could find himself on the outside looking in.

I was pleased to see Hernandez get another assist here and I like him a lot as a second half target. He's already racked up four assists and two goals in the eight starts he's made since breaking into the first team and he has the underlying stats to support those numbers (he leads all midfielders in created chances over their last six games).

Tottenham
Lloris, Walker, Dawson, Caulker, Naughton, Lennon, Sandro, Dembele, Bale, Adebayor, Defoe.
Subs: Friedel, Dempsey, Vertonghen, Huddlestone, Parker, Sigurdsson, Livermore

Spurs are sticking with the 4-4-2, although with Adebayor sometimes dropping off of Defoe, it isn't in truth a massive departure from the 4-2-3-1, especially when Dempsey was playing. This defence is becoming harder to predict by the week with Vertonghen surprisingly taking a seat this week. While it's  likely a precautionary rest, rather than 'rotation', these moves are making it very tough to identify someone to own in this back line. If Dawson, Caulker of Naughton can secure a regular spot they will be potentially excellent value, but for now it's hard to look past the somewhat overpriced Walker and Vertonghen.

Bale picked up his 5th yellow this week so will unfortunately miss next week's appetizing Reading fixture.

West Brom
Foster, Jones, McAuley, Tamas, Ridgewell, Thorne, Brunt, Rosenberg, Dorrans, Odemwingie, Long.
Subs: Myhill, Morrison, El Ghanassy, Jara Reyes, Lukaku, Dawson, Fortune

Olsson was out for this one so Tamas came in but that looks like a short term injury so the long term impact should be minimal. Morrison and Lukaku were once again benched meaning we're no closer to getting any sustained value out of anyone in the front six here.

West Ham
Jaaskelainen, Tomkins, Collins, Reid, O'Brien, Noble, O'Neil, Taylor, Nolan, Jarvis, Cole
Subs: Spiegel, Collison, Maiga, Vaz Te, Demel, Diarra, Spence

Tomkins picked up another start alongside the three regulars but despite the slight discount I'd still suggest that O'Brien is the best play here given the chance Tomkins is once again benched for Demel or McCartney (when healthy) in the future. The front six looks pretty settled but there was a welcome return to the bench for Vaz Te, who was enjoying a very useful start to the season before being sidelined. I wouldn't be surprised to see him retake a position out wide in place of Taylor or even Jarvis in the coming weeks.

Collins and Nolan picked up their 5th cautions this week so will not miss the attractive home fixture with Norwich. Given that they face Sunderland the week after, and then get the double, those not planning to wildcard in the next week or two should probably just hold on to this pair.

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

Ramis made a scoring return to the side and with Stam relegated to the bench, he's a viable option in this back line, though Figueroa brings a slightly better scoring threat for the same price. Though he comes with some risk given the presence of Gomez on the bench, Maloney's threat - particularly from set pieces - represents excellent value for 4.8m and he should be once again in the mix for your spot-start 5th midfielder spot.

2 comments:

Juma Bridgewater said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gummi said...

Thanks for the roundup, especially of the budget defenders. I´m looking to replace Shorey, and am struggling to find anyone of value in the <4.4 bracket.

Your thoughts on Tomkins, Davies, etc. was helpful.