Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Adopt a Team: Chelsea and West Brom review

In hindsight perhaps this wasn't perhaps the best game to review these two teams in. We knew Chelsea were good and that West Brom were somewhere between solid and inconsistent though ultimately lacking a great depth in quality. Both these hypotheses proved accurate this weekend as Chelsea not only won the game but did so with almost embarrassing ease. 74% possession, 21 totals shots and eight shots inside the box (versus 24%, 5, 1 for West Brom) go some way to illustrating Chelsea's dominance but while they do capture the result, they don't quite show the ease as which that result was obtained.

One positive - at least in terms of forming a nice narrative to fit into a 500 word review - was the fact that Chelsea's dominance was only matched by the predictability of how that dominance came to be. Fabregas led the way with the created chances (5), Costa contributed his customary shot haul (4 SiB, 1 goal) and Hazard came inbetween the two with a piece of both pies (4 created chances, 3 SiB). Those numbers really support what the game looked like with Hazard really standing out as a constant threat and his involvement in central positions was encouraging as a couple of games I've seen this year have had him pushed out wide too often, struggling to get a decent haul of touches in dangerous positions.

As noted in the stats preview, Hazard's dual threat and much lower ownership number (18%) make him irresistible to this fantasy manager. The model continues to like all three players a lot though and so you should feel comfortably slotting any combination of them into your weekly lineup.

The downside to piling on the attacking options is that it would preclude you from accessing this very good defense, who look set to enjoy an improved run of defensive results if they continue to suppress shots the way they have. They didn't allow a single shot inside the box in this game and West Brom players had an incredible two touches inside the box; total. Repeat that to yourself for a second. West Brom, as a team, touched the ball inside the Chelsea box twice in 90 minutes. Three individual Chelsea defenders (Terry, Azpilicueta and Ivanovic) had more such touches at the other end.

Among those defenders it was once again Ivanovic who looked the most threatening with 11 touches inside the box, two created chances and single effort on goal. Is that threat worth 1.2m more than Azpilicueta's or 0.9m more than Terry's? Perhaps not. But you have to love his upside and given Chelsea's defensive promise and stability, he still forecasts out as probably the best defender around.

There's not too much to add about this West Brom team. Going forward there really weren't any bright spots, though their situation probably won't come any harder than this one. The model likes Berahino as a reasonable third forward and he's shown enough in other games that you wouldn't want to abandon him after one tough outing. Some unfortunate incidents off the pitch are a concern though, not from a fantasy perspective of course, but in terms of them damaging a very promising player whose story will serve as inspiration to millions if he can enjoy sustained success.

As I said, there wasn't much learned here, though perhaps that's the point, at least when it comes to Chelsea. Their success not only shows up with predictability but also comes from predictable sources and that makes fantasy ownership much easier than, say for example, some of the former great United teams who shared goals and assists between what felt like 15 different players. With 50% ownership numbers for Fabregas and Diego Costa, the decision really becomes whether or not you have the confidence in this or any other forecast model to run in the opposite direction to the stampeding masses and take Hazard and a defender or two over Fabregas and Diego Costa.

6 comments:

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