Sunday, January 13, 2013

Lineup Lessons: Gameweek 22

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

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

We had a potentially tricky situation to deal with at the back here with Koscielny getting the start ahead of Mertesacker, but with the Frenchman seeing red, normal service should be resumed next week. Saying that - and as I'll touch on later in the week - Sagna is the clear pick in this back line for me and presents a solid way to save a few hundred thousand if you're wildcarding or have a spare transfers to use on Mertesacker (or Gibbs in my opinion).

Walcott got the start up front on his own and (from an admittedly distracted viewing) he seemed to be somewhat cut off from his teammates. Still, better players than he have suffered at the hands of this City defense so I wouldn't expect drastic shifts in strategy from Wenger based on this one. As said numerous times though, Giroud is surely going to get some starts over the coming weeks so I wouldn't be pencilling Walcott in as a "must own" type option anytime soon. For next week I'd be targeting him and Cazorla given my faith in holding them longer term, but would also be happy to roll the dice with Podolski on a one or two week loan (though in his case I wouldn't necessarily be thinking long term).

Aston Villa
Guzan, Lowton, Clark, Baker, Stevens, Holman, Westwood, Delph, N'Zogbia, Benteke, Weimann
Subs: Marshall, Vlaar, Ireland, Agbonlahor, Bowery, Bannan, Lichaj

This isn't a good Villa side and you have to think that something will change during the transfer window, though I wouldn't be overly concerned about anyone significant (i.e. Benteke) losing any playing time. Vlaar and Agbonlahor were fit enough to make the bench and will push Baker and Weimann for playing time in the coming weeks which could potentially add a touch of defensive value (though not to a point you're really interested in investing). Weimann was presenting as a so-so budget forward but obviously any doubt around playing time would all but extinguish that flame.

Chelsea
Cech, Azpilicueta, Ivanovic, Luiz, Cole, Hazard, Lampard, Ramires, Bertrand, Mata, Ba
Subs: Turnbull, Torres, Oscar, Ferreira, Marin, Terry, Ake

Walters came into this side and netted twice (sorry, cheap shot) so we only got a couple of Chelsea goal scorers despite the excellent win at the Brittania. Benitez is likely to maintain some level of rotation in the coming weeks, hence I'm not super high on Ba despite his obvious talents and upgraded teammates, but when the elite players play this is a good team who tend to channel a lot of fantasy points through a handful of key players, thus providing potentially excellent fantasy returns.

Other than the issue of Ba's playing time (will he split 50:50 with Torres or has he already earned a lion's share of future minutes?) the only significant question here is what happens when Terry is fully fit. He was only ready for the bench this week but will presumably start sooner rather than later which will condemn one or two of Cahill, Luiz and Azpilicueta to the bench, depending on how often Luiz plays in midfield. Again, Benitez is likely to employ some rotation but when it comes to defenders you'd think his first time will be more settled so his intentions should be taken seriously after we see how he lines Chelsea up for the next game or two. Gun to my head I'd suggest that Azpilicueta will continue to get substantial minutes with Terry playing alongside Ivanovic and Luiz pushed further upfield, but I wouldn't be willing to bet much on it.

Everton
Howard, Coleman, Jagielka, Distin, Baines, Anichebe, Neville, Osman, Pienaar, Fellaini, Jelavic
Subs: Mucha, Oviedo, Naismith, Hitzlsperger, Vellios, Kennedy, Duffy

Given how well he played in Fellaini's absence, I speculated that there could be a minimal threat that Anichebe bought himself some future starts, which while not costing Fellaini playing time, could well cost him some points potential. Well that happened this week and Fellaini was pushed a bit deeper than normal, leading to him racking up just one SiB, despite facing a somewhat average opponent (at least in terms of SiB away from home). I'm certainly not suggesting we need to worry about Fellaini just yet, and would be shocked if that threesome were all deployed away from Goodison, but it's noteworthy that Fellaini may not be playing as essentially a second forward for at least part of the second half of the season. The fact he was still awarded the three bonus points should ensure there's little panic selling among the masses this week.

Fulham
Schwarzer, Riether, Hangeland, Hughes, Richardson, Duff, Karagounis, Ruiz, Kacaniklic, Berbatov, Petric
Subs: Stockdale, Riise, Senderos, Baird, Kasami, Rodallega, Dejagah

Martin Jol gave us some clarification during the off week as to Riise's previous absence, noting that the left back had picked up an injury in training and then was simply rested in favour of Matt Briggs. Riise was apparently fit enough for the bench this week but Richardson (who has filled in at left back for his previous clubs) started at the back and seemed to do okay in the match. Long term you'd still think that Riise gets that spot back, but (as with Mertesacker above) I'm going to touch on finding cheap links in defenses later in the week and Riise is one of those players who ownership percentage looks way too high.

On the attacking side of the pitch, the big news was Petric starting alongside Berbatov and Ruiz which pushed Berbatov into an extremely deep average position: within the centre circle per FFS (members only). I understand - indeed admire - Fulham using an extra attacking player when facing a team like Wigan at home but one shot and two created chances in such a game should terrify Berbatov owners. Reacting to one game is never a good idea but to me this is more concerning that Berbatov's earlier struggles without Ruiz in the side, as that relationship was never really proven and coincided with a run of very tough fixtures. This one however was about as good a fixture as you get and an inability to take advantage in this kind of game would likely spell the end of Berbatov as a great fantasy option. I'm not out on the Bulgarian yet but a continuation of this kind of deployment might get us there quickly.

Liverpool
Reina, Wisdom, Skrtel, Agger, Johnson, Lucas, Downing, Gerrard, Allen, Sterling, Suarez
Subs: Jones, Henderson, Sturridge, Carragher, Borini, Shelvey, Robinson

I haven't seen this game yet so can't comment on the gameplay, but the lineup issues are fairly limited. Sturridge seemed to make an impact after being introduced, and you can imagine a situation where we see him starting very soon up front with Suarez just off him. That, along with the return to health for Borini, will mean that Downing and Sterling will face a tough task to earn their minutes from here on and should both be considered very sellable, especially given Liverpool's fixtures in GW24-5.

Man City
Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Nastasic, Clichy, Javi Garcia, Barry, Milner, Silva, Tevez, Dzeko
Subs: Pantilimon, Lescott, Sinclair, Kolarov, Suarez, Rekik, Balotelli

With the absences in this side due to a combination of injury, suspension and the African Cup of Nations, Mancini was only really left with a couple of decisions, opting to restore Nastasic alongside Kompany in central defense and recalling Tevez to play up front. With Kompany now suspended (appeal pending) those decisions will be reduced further, though for what it's worth Nasri will be available after suspension. All those moves really leave things unchanged with Zabaleta and Nastasic appearing to be the only viable along the back line while Silva, Tevez and Dzeko offer a combination of upside/value which gives you a headache however you look at it. I'm personally minded to avoid that whole front six until Aguero returns, but the fixtures are good enough to make someone like Dzeko look appealing as a short term fix.

Man Utd
De Gea, Da Silva, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Carrick, Cleverley, Young, Kagawa, Welbeck, van Persie
Subs: Amos, Jones, Valencia, Anderson, Giggs, Smalling, Hernandez

Not much to note here with regards to this week's team, though Kagawa's deployment does help to answer a lingering question regarding Rooney's place in this side when healthy. Kagawa has now played in both the central pivot role and wider on the right, both of which would allow him to play alongside Rooney, the latter kept in his more traditional forward role (playing off van Persie). In a midfield role (which had been widely speculated) Rooney would almost certainly be unownable but so long as he plays the majority of minutes further upfield he could be one of the few elite differentiators remaining (when healthy of course).

Newcastle
Krul, Debuchy, Williamson, Coloccini, Santon, Perch, Anita, Obertan, Marveaux, Gutierrez, Cisse
Subs: Harper, Cabaye, Amalfitano, Bigirimana, Sammy Ameobi, Ranger, Tavernier

Debuchy came in for his debut here and took up some solid attacking positions making him at least monitorable for this back line. I have my doubts that he's going to do enough to justify a 5.0m price tag but any new blood is always worth a look. It's great to see Cabaye on the bench here and he was able to get half an hour's action without any further set back. With his price pushed down to 6.6m he will be worth monitoring to see how he is deployed and how his stats look in Ba's absence. Based on their deployment this week, Marveaux would appear to be the likely casualty, but he could potentially move out wide to accommodate Cabaye so I wouldn't sell Marveaux just yet (who has really impressed in limited playing time).

Norwich
Bunn, Martin, Bassong, Turner, Garrido, Pilkington, Johnson, Tettey, Snodgrass, Hoolahan, Jackson
Subs: Rudd, Holt, Fox, E Bennett, Barnett, RBennett, Kane

Holt was limited to bench duty here and has really fallen off the radar as a potential mid-level option. Until we see more consistent minutes and performances, consider him off the collective shortlist. The rest of this side remains pretty settled - if a touch uninspiring - and their home defensive form has generally been good enough to suggest the likes of Bunn could potentially form part of a rotation strategy.

QPR
Julio Cesar, Onuoha, Hill, Nelsen, Da Silva, Mbia, Park, Derry, Wright-Phillips, Taarabt, Mackie
Subs: Green, Ferdinand, Cisse, Ben Haim, Faurlin, Bothroyd, Campbell

I'm struggling to even write a line of interest for this team so instead I'll just note that with Ryan Nelsen apparently hired out of nowhere to take charge at Toronto FC, I am officially restarting my Football Manager career and hope to be managing in the MLS very soon. Applications for my assistant are now being accepted. In case you think I'm being too harsh after a "good point" here for miracle worker Redknapp, QPR were out shot 18-4, with Spurs registering seven shots on goal to QPR's zero. My super advanced NASA-sponsored model tells me that registering no shots on goal gives an expected goal forecast of 0.1 (with an error range of 0.1). Pass on this team. Forever.

Reading
Federici, Gunter, Mariappa, Pearce, Harte, Kebe, Karacan, Carrico, Guthrie, McAnuff, Pogrebnyak
Subs: Taylor, Le Fondre, Hunt, McCleary, Morrison, Cummings, Akpan

Carrico's arrival received a bit of attention in this quiet transfer window but he was withdrawn at half time, after which Reading went on to score three times. While that's obviously a blow, the fact he was played in midfield despite costing just 4.0m and being classified as a defender at least piques our interest. I'm not convinced this side has enough defensive potential to warrant ownership by itself but if Harte can continue to contribute from set pieces and Carrico can continue to play further upfield, they at least give us a couple of players here worth monitoring.

Southampton
Boruc, Clyne, Yoshida, Hooiveld, Shaw, Rodriguez, Cork, Schneiderlin, Puncheon, Ramirez, Lambert
Subs: K Davis, S Davis, Fox, Ward-Prowse, Lee, Seaborne, De Ridder

No real issues here as this defense and Lambert provided some good returns for those who invested for the double gameweek. Given the upcoming fixtures I'd suggest those defenders are very much a short term investment, but I still like Puncheon and Lambert to produce at a mid-range level, despite coming in with price tags at the lower end of that category.

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

Stoke continue to roll out an extremely consistent lineup, giving us very little to talk about in these weekly posts. They obviously suffered a bad defeat this week, but I think we can safely say they won't score multiple own goals very often and their seven SiB / six SoT conceded are hardly causes for panic, particularly when playing a pretty good attacking team in Chelsea. I might suggest that their defence might be being a touch overvalued by way of Begovic who now costs as much as Reina and more than De Gea, but if you hold him at a lower price or are considering Wilkinson or Cameron for investment, this remains an excellent team to buy into.

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

This team is still inconsistent, but there's certainly enough here to not widely dismiss them as unownable. Johnson is quietly (2% ownership) having a pretty solid season and has the underlying stats of late to suggest his production is sustainable. At 6.7m I don't see him as a steal but he's certainly someone to consider when the fixtures fall nicely (their upcoming stretch is a pretty good starting point).  It's a similar story with Sessegnon and Fletcher too, though again their respective price tags really make it difficult to get wildly excited about them. Bramble establishing himself in place of Cuellar would give us another solid sub-4.5m defence to consider, though it isn't one that shares the upside of some of the other cheap links currently available (again, more on that later in the week).

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

Rangel played in midfield in this one which opened up a spot at right back for Tiendalli but one would think that was a direct response to the threat of Baines and Pienaar and won't necessarily be a move we'd expect to see again in coming weeks. Graham found himself back on the bench despite his recent run of goals, which unfortunately makes him very hard to own, even as a third forward. Laudrup seems to like Michu up front and while that can sometimes lead to him dropping deep to collect the ball and leaving Swansea without much of an outlet, it's obviously a solution we has had good outcomes this year so it's fair for the boss to stick with it.

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

Dawson is a potential budget favourite of mine so it was great to see him get the start and the clean sheet this week. Assou Ekotto was fit enough for the bench so you'd imagine he'll slide in at left back for Naughton next week, thus only leaving Dawson vs Gallas/Caulker as the outstanding issue here. I'm fairly confident Dawson will win out and thus believe it's worth a 4.5m gamble, but will concede there is certainly some risk there. The front six will become slightly less crowded with Adebayor heading to the ACN, but I wouldn't like to pick between Sigurdsson and Dempsey as to who will fill the void.

West Brom
Foster, Jones, McAuley, Olsson, Ridgewell, Thorne, Brunt, Dorrans, Morrison, Thomas, Lukaku
Subs: Myhill, Popov, Rosenberg, El Ghanassy, Dawson, Tamas, Nabi

Long has a slight injury hence his absence here, so I still wouldn't be 100% convinced that Lukaku's minutes are going to be guaranteed. That said, he's played four of the last five and given his price tag and upside, if you want to take a risk on someone there are worse ways to do it than rolling the dice with the uber talented and productive Lukaku.

West Ham
Jaaskelainen, Demel, Collins, Reid, Potts, Collison, Diarra, J Cole, Nolan, Jarvis, C Cole
Subs: Spiegel, Tomkins, Vaz Te, Taylor, Diame, Chamakh, O'Neil

West Ham are starting to build up some decent depth which could see some upheaval in this starting eleven and Vaz Te and Diame, along with new arrival Chamakh stake a claim for regular minutes. Hopefully that group can give this team some increased attacking power as right now our options are limited to Nolan, and even he hasn't really looked great of late, taking up some pretty deep options again this week. Defensively, O'Brien should return soon but McCartney is a longer term absentee, which should see a pretty stable lineup of Demel, Collins, Reid and O'Brien in the coming weeks. The unit is solid enough though I have some concerns that they have failed to convert several good defensive displays in to clean sheets and thus their points production is really quite limited.

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

Wigan are a frustrating side as they can be very good at times, while looking overmatched in the next week. This week they actually played very well for large parts of this game, and were able to out shoot Fulham 17-12, including a 7-1 advantage in SoT (too many of those came from long range though). With Kone on international duty for a few weeks Di Santo may be given an advanced role, and if this week is anything to go by, it's going to be a situation we might wish to take advantage of. He added seven totals shots (five SiB), hitting the target four times and notching a couple of created chances. The next three games see Wigan face SUN, @STK and SOU, so for 5.3m you'll get a forward who can be started with confidence in two of the next three, potentially freeing up funds for those who perhaps want to double on on Arsenal midfielders for the DGW, or who feel they cannot live without van Persie yet need funds to invest elsewhere. 

5 comments:

Unknown said...

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Mitch | Asian Handicap

goosetav said...

Excellent stuff as always Chris. This is always the first thing I look at when I come into work on a Monday morning.

I don't know much about shots conceded but simply looking at goals conceded by QPR, is it worth thinking about bringing in one of their back 5 considering they kept clean sheets against two decent sides in Spurs and Chelsea? Although they've got both Manchester clubs coming up in the next 5 gameweeks, after that they've got a decent run of fixtures. Any thoughts?

NovaHammer said...

Arteta cover during his injury and DGW?

Tony S said...

Hi Chris,
What do you make of Diaby now that Arteta is missing for a few weeks? Worth a DGW punt?

Cheers
Tony

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