It's been a busy couple of weeks for me personally with non-blog commitments but hopefully we can get back to normal now, starting with this week's lineup lessons. Saying that, with the transfer window now behind us and teams coming into the home straight, we're seeing less changes of note within the key lineups so these updates may move to fortnightly, allowing room to focus on other niche matters like double gameweeks or short term fixtures.
Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Diaby, Arteta, Wilshere, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Walcott, Giroud
Subs: Mannone, Rosicky, Podolski, Andre Santos, Ramsey, Cazorla, Jenkinson
Monreal arrived at the end of the transfer window and came straight in here for the injured Gibbs, looking very accomplished in doing so. At 5.5m though, we didn't see a great deal to suggest he's worth 0.4m more than Sagna, unless you believe Jenkinson offers a genuine threat to the Frenchman's playing time (I don't, despite some rumblings from a few sections of the Emirates). Podolski and Cazorla got the week off though I wouldn't see that as anything more than a simple rest, especially given the fact that Arsenal looked quite a bit more dangerous when they were later introduced. Walcott was pushed back into midfield but still did enough to threaten the opposition goal (four shots, two SiB), though there's no doubting that his upside is reduced if Giroud is preferred up top. He would remain very ownable as a midfielder, though it would be harder to rate him alongside the likes of Bale and Mata if his time as front man is over.
Guzan, Lowton, Vlaar, Clark, Bennett, Westwood, El Ahmadi, Agbonlahor, N'Zogbia, Weimann, Benteke
Subs: Given, Bent, Holman, Sylla, Bowery, Dawkins, Baker
No real lineup issues here and despite Villa showing an increased ability to score of late, there's not much to get excited about outside of Benteke. If it were earlier in the season I would be tracking N'Zogbia, but by this point, by the time he could have done enough to re-earn our trust, the season may well be over. For less money he'd be worth a hail mary play, but at almost 6.0m he just doesn't look like an investable package.
Cech, Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Cole, Ramires, Lampard, Oscar, Mata, Bertrand, Ba
Subs: Turnbull, Torres, Ferreira, Marin, Azpilicueta, Benayoun, Ake
This was mt fear when getting involved with Azpilicueta during the wildcard window, as it always seemed likely that Cahill, and of course Terry, would have something to say about this back line this year. Regular readers will know that I don't like speculating about manager decisions and there's no exception here with anyone from Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry or Azpilicueta potentially droppable, or at least rotatable in a given week. Given the way they've leaked goals of late, the best play may simply be to steer clear of this unit, but if you are a believer, then Cole would not appear to warrant the premium over his teammates given the uncertainty at every other position. Hazard has now served his ban and can return next game, and he will then join Mata as the key options in this side. Lampard still represents a risk, but one which is at least rewarded with high upside and his 4.5% should make anyone looking to gain ground on their opponents take notice. The constant rotation of Ba and Torres effectively ends my interest in either.
Howard, Jagielka, Heitinga, Distin, Baines, Mirallas, Gibson, Osman, Pienaar, Fellaini, Anichebe
Subs: Mucha, Jelavic, Oviedo, Naismith, Hitzlsperger, Neville, Duffy
After Anichebe played so well in Fellaini's absence, I suggested he could do a really good job for someone if only given a chance. I didn't think that chance would come at Everton, but with Jelavic apparently out of favour, he's been given a chance in the first team and could possibly hold onto it. As a regular starter he would be incredible value at 4.4m and could possibly be used to free funds up for a couple of elite forwards and a deep stable of midfield options. There's a risk that you buy in, only to see Jelavic (who is a genuinely good player too) restored in a matter of games, so there's a big risk here, and it's one I wouldn't build my team around. If however, you are currently sat with someone like Pogrebnyak, Le Fondre (who just can't seem to get a start) or Ruiz, this move makes a lot of short term sense.
Schwarzer, Riether, Hangeland, Senderos, Riise, Duff, Karagounis, Baird, Dejagah, Ruiz, Rodallega
Subs: Etheridge, Petric, Frimpong, Hughes, Emanuelson, Davies, Kacaniklic
Old faithful Aaron Hughes missed out here, though with Hangeland now hamstrung, he may get another game in the first team to hold off the threat of Senderos. With one clean sheet since GW9, this is a unit who should not be invested in as mid-level options so if Hughes is done, I think we are. The rest of this side has seen near constant rotation and with the promising Emanuelson coming in (along with Frimpong), that murky situation could yet get murkier. With Berbatov also suffering with a hamstring injury, there's little to get excited about at Craven Cottage.
Reina, Johnson, Agger, Carragher, Jose Enrique, Lucas, Gerrard, Downing, Henderson, Suarez, Sturridge
Subs: Jones, Allen, Borini, Sterling, Shelvey, Skrtel, Wisdom
Another one bites the dust. I feared for Wisdom's future after Rodgers called out his young players after the defeat against Oldham, and that played out here with an experienced back line rolled out this week. With Downing and Henderson playing much better of late, along with Sturridge's arrival, the chance of Jose Enrique or Johnson getting any more minutes in midfield look greatly diminished and thus we've simply got three full backs vying for two spots. Based on this week Wisdom is on the outside looking in, though having played the four games before that, it's possibly too soon to abandon the youngster just yet but if you own him, I would start thinking about alternatives.
Hart, Zabaleta, Lescott, Nastasic, Clichy, Milner, Javi Garcia, Barry, Silva, Aguero, Dzeko
Subs: Pantilimon, Maicon, Nasri, Sinclair, Kolarov, Rodwell, Tevez
Not a great deal of note here. Tevez continues to be rotated and I'm amazed that so many have stuck with him for this long (in reality a majority of these are probably unmonitored teams, but still). I would love to say that Aguero is now the answer to all our questions, but despite his incredible finish this week, he only managed a single shot for the contest and touched the ball just three times inside the opponents box. My personal plan had been to pair him with Rooney for the run in but City just don't look like the team they were last year so even if Aguero starts every game, I'm no longer so sure he can hit the heights the model once forecast. Saying that, if you're chasing a team with van Persie (45%) and Suarez (35%) already in place, Aguero (along with Rooney) would still be by far my first choice partnership to try and close that gap.
De Gea, Da Silva, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra, Valencia, Cleverley, Carrick, Nani, Rooney, van Persie
Subs: Amos, Anderson, Giggs, Smalling, Hernandez, Welbeck, Kagawa
Not too much to talk about on this side of Manchester (well, technically Salford) either. Kagawa's brief flirtation with relevance is hampered by another benching and it looks like the centre of this midfield is a genuine rotation system with no one player a firmer fixture than any other. That, of course, is good news for Rooney, who I pencilled into my team in my recent wildcard post, and then decided I didn't need as my rise up the rankings made me all too risk averse (for the last time, I am an idiot). His stats have been comparable to van Persie for several weeks now and, again, if you need to gain ground, bringing in the less heralded Englishman for his Dutch teammate is a great place to start.
Krul, Debuchy, S Taylor, Coloccini, Santon, Perch, Cabaye, Gouffran, Sissoko, Gutierrez, Cisse
Subs: Elliot, Anita, Yanga-Mbiwa, Bigirimana, Marveaux, Obertan, Shola Ameobi
With the influx of new signings along with a return to health of several of Newcastle's better players, this team suddenly has some useful depth to it. That's bad news for the likes of Marveaux, whose days as a super cheap 5th midfielder are probably over, but good news for players like Cabaye, Taylor or Sissoko who should all benefit from playing alongside stronger teammates. At least until Ben Arfa returns, that front five should see plenty of playing time and represent some interesting options to review in this week's fanning the flames.
Bunn, Martin, Bassong, Turner, Garrido, Snodgrass, Tettey, Johnson, Pilkington, Hoolahan, Holt
Subs: Camp, Whittaker, Howson, Jackson, E Bennett, Becchio, Barnett
Another side that is settled in the key spots and thus there is little to talk about here (look at the lack of depth on this bench). It was encouraging to see this useful defensive unit bounce back after the heavy defeat against Liverpool and so Martin and Bunn continue to offer budget value to their owners.
Julio Cesar, Da Silva, Samba, Hill, Traore, Wright-Phillips, Mbia, Derry, Townsend, Taarabt, Mackie
Subs: Green, Park, Granero, Jenas, Ben Haim, Zamora, Bothroyd
A couple of the new signings in came in and QPR's excellent defensive "form" continued. I've put 'form' in quotation marks there as there is some real doubt as to the sustainability of their excellent results, given the fact they've still surrendered the second most shots inside the box (52) over the last five gameweeks. In fairness, they've faced three very good opponents in that run so in a vacuum there wouldn't be too much to note, I just feel it's worth drawing attention to the fact that you're likely still buying a low end defense here, rather than one who can sustainably turn out clean sheets every other week. Personnel wise, Fabio looks like the pick along this back line given his price tag (4.2) while on the attacking side of the pitch, the much fancied Remy missed out with a groin injury, leaving a somewhat uninspiring bunch to pick through.
Federici, Kelly, Pearce, Mariappa, Harte, Kebe, Leigertwood, McAnuff, McCleary, Pogrebnyak, Akpan
Subs: S Taylor, Shorey, Karacan, Le Fondre, Morrison, Guthrie, Blackman
After notching three assists in two bench appearances, the wonderfully name Hope Akpan got the start and while I haven't yet seen the game, his zero shots and one created chance don't have me scrambling to make any moves. Le Fondre, with five goals in the last 72 minutes was once again left on the bench and so despite his bench heroics, he isn't a viable fantasy option right now (it's amazing to say that about a player with 10 goals and good stats who costs less than 5.0m).
Boruc, Clyne, Yoshida, Hooiveld, Shaw, Schneiderlin, Cork, Puncheon, Ramirez, Rodriguez, Lambert
Subs: K Davis, S Davis, Fox, Ward-Prowse, Lee, Lallana, Richardson
Another very settled lineup here with the only complication being the welcome return of Lallana to the bench here. We would expect him to slide in for Rodriguez over the long term, but I'd want to see that for a least a couple of weeks before making a move (at 5.6m though, he could well be someone to look at later).
Begovic, Shotton, Shawcross, Huth, Wilkinson, Walters, Cameron, Nzonzi, Whelan, Etherington, Crouch
Subs: Sorensen, Jones, Owen, Adam, Whitehead, Kightly, Jerome
It appears that Crouch is now firmly entrenched back in this starting lineup, which is really a shame given Jones' superior stats and price tag, but alas, the big man is back. Crouch isn't without his own appeal, but at 6.0m he's in competition with the likes of Benteke and Lambert who look too strong for the lanky front man to compete with. Wilkinson remains the pick at the back here.
Mignolet, N'Diaye, Bramble, O'Shea, Colback, Larsson, Gardner, Vaughan, Johnson, Fletcher, Sessegnon
Subs: Westwood, Bardsley, Rose, Graham, Wickham, Mangane, McClean
With Sunderland deploying two midfielders at the back, our options here are somewhat limited and Bramble (4.3m) looks like the only option worth investing in. Having noted this a few weeks back, I saw some comments on other sites critiquing his play and I was surprised that serious fantasy managers players still think like that. I would gladly buy a traffic cone as a defender if it came at a discount to its teammates, as we all know that the majority of defenders' value is tied up in their team's fortunes (excluding a few choice examples).
Tremmel, Rangel, Chico, Williams, Davies, de Guzman, Britton, Ki, Hernandez, Michu, Routledge
Subs: Cornell, Dyer, Lamah, Monk, Shechter, Moore, Tiendalli
Swansea are another predictable team who offer several options all through the lineup. I'm hoping some of you got off the Michu bandwagon over this past eight or nine game dry spell, especially given that his stats are also down (rather than just being unlucky with end product). He's still a useful pickup in that price range, but I'd encourage you to at least consider his value to you (after the double gameweek of course). The home fixture with QPR makes it tempting to double up on Swansea options, but with the other fixture at Anfield, I wouldn't go crazy and would classify this one as the kind of gameweek you want to start your Swansea options but wouldn't necessarily go out of your way to bring them in (considering they are then off in GW27).
Lloris, Walker, Dawson, Vertonghen, Assou-Ekotto, Lennon, Dembele, Parker, Bale, Dempsey, Defoe
Subs: Friedel, Huddlestone, Gallas, Naughton, Sigurdsson, Holtby, Livermore
Assou-Ekotto returned here as expected and is worth a thought for Verntonghen owners who want to save a bit of cash. I'd still personally opt for Dawson, though would concede that he still carries an element of risk of rotation with Gallas and Caulker lurking. Going forward, Holtby comes with a solid reputation from Germany and looked useful in his cameo this week. Villas Boas has already made the comparison to van der Vaart, suggesting he could well get some time operating off of Defoe in the coming weeks. At 7.5m he would be an interesting pickup if that plays out, though with Dempsey and Sigurdsson equally capable I'm far from ready to roll that dice just yet. Though far from a differentiator, with 18% ownership, I like Bale as someone who might you gain ground on some people and his nine (9!) shots this week highlight his almost unmatched upside.
Foster, Reid, Olsson, McAuley, Popov, Dorrans, Yacob, Morrison, Brunt, Long, Lukaku
Subs: Myhill, Ridgewell, Rosenberg, Thomas, Jones, Tamas, Fortune
We had a genuinely interesting development this week, with Clarke showing a willingness to play both Lukaku and Long, rather than sticking with his one up front preference. Lukaku took a step back in a similar vein to Adebayor at Spurs when he was deployed alongside Defoe , making something of a 4-4-2 / 4-2-3-1 hybrid. The experiment didn't last long thanks to Popov's dismissal (which forced Lukaku off) but so long as that holds up, we would be free to buy into this talented pair without fear of constant rotation.
Jaaskelainen, O'Brien, Tomkins, Reid, Taylor, Noble, Diame, Vaz Te, Nolan, Jarvis, Carroll
Subs: Spiegel, C Cole, Collison, Pogatetz, J Cole, Chamakh, O'Neil
Carroll made a scoring return, though I'm still not persuaded we can buy in there given his price tag (based on being supported by Suarez and Gerrard rather than Vaz Te and Noble). This midfield looks somewhat crowded and it's really hard to see beyond Nolan in this unit.
Al Habsi, Scharner, Caldwell, Figueroa, Stam, McCarthy, McArthur, Beausejour, Espinoza, Di Santo, Maloney
Subs: Robles, Jones, Henriquez, Gomez, McManaman, Golobart, Campabadal
I wondered if Henriquez (quite well rate by all accounts) might get some minutes here but that doesn't appear to be likely before Kone returns so we're backing to three options here with Maloney and to an extent Di Santo still looking okay.