With the Stock Check offering a quick appraisal of Saturday’s action, it’s now time for the Scout to go deeper into the issues raised by yesterday’s events…
City’s Rotation Bites
Roberto Mancini chose to rest his two Argentinian’s for the trip to West Brom with Wednesday’s Champions League tie with Ajax in mind. Both Pablo Zabaleta and Sergio Aguero were given bench duty, then, the latter emerging in the second half to lay on Edin Dzeko’s dramatic winner. Presumably both with start in Wednesday’s tie, which could place further doubt over their start at home to Swansea in Gameweek 8.
The form of Edin Dzeko is potentially a problem to Fantasy managers. With five goals to his name, from only three league starts, the Bosnian has taken the limited opportunities that have come his way. It’s clear from the post-match comments of assistant boss, David Platt, that there is a growing clamour for Dzeko to be handed more starts…
“Edin’s been in superb form, not just in terms of goal scoring but at the end of last season, at the start of the season, coming off the bench or starting, he’s been excellent….It’s not about who our best 11 players are like the man on the street might think, we pick a team from 24 players based on many factors.”
In contrast, Carlos Tevez has now been given the nod in four of the last five league outings and has failed to score in any of them. Three assists in that run have kept his Fantasy tally ticking and, while Tevez still sits on top of the overall Fantasy Premier League rankings for forwards, there will be growing concern that he could be more vulnerable to rotation as a result of Dzeko’s form.
With three home games in the next four, it’s clear that City’s fixtures lend themselves to investment. Mancini’s options continue to limit the potential targets, however and Tevez badly needs to fire against Swansea if he is to continue to offer security of starts.
Chelsea Midfield Options
Juan Mata’s brace and assist return at White Hart Lane has seen him earn huge FPL investment overnight, with the inevitable price rise taking place. Mata can still be acquired for 9.0 – a full 0.5 below his initial price in the FPL. By contrast, team-mate Eden Hazard has risen from the same starting value to 10.3, off the back of his spurt of assists in the early seasons.
Mata has now scored five goals in his last five games in all competitions and has notched three Premier League strikes with five assists in four outings. There’s little doubt that he has the form to overshadow even Hazard’s talents right now and, for those without a Chelsea midfielder, the route to investment is clearly leaning towards the Spaniard with form and price in his favour.
Hazard owners have a bigger dilemma. The Belgian returned two assists in yesterday’s win, taking him to eight for the season, which kept him on top of the overall FPL midfield rankings. A transfer to Mata may catch the swing in form but there will be concerns of chasing Mata’s points and that Hazard has continued returns just around the corner.
It should be noted that Hazard seems likely to be on spot-kick duties with Frank Lampard off the pitch and, while Mata seems to be more involved in Chelsea’s general play, Hazard continues to be a key component in the attacking third for Roberto Di Matteo’s men.
The Hazard to Mata switch is a tough call and surely a sideways move only available to those without fixes to carry out elsewhere in their squads, particularly given Chelsea’s stiffening schedule. For those who strongly back form over fixtures, however, the Mata switch will scream out and it will be interesting to see if the Spaniard can maintain the superiority in the coming weeks to repay the faith.
Rooney and Van Persie Flourish
Over in Manchester, another dilemma is developing, although the emergence of Wayne Rooney as a viable Fantasy alternative to Robin Van Persie is more a solution than a problem.
There’s little doubt that Rooney is set to be employed in a more withdrawn role, playing behind in support of Van Persie – particularly away from home. Rooney himself confirmed that he was enjoying this switch following the victory at Newcastle in Gameweek 7.
In yesterday’s win over Stoke, Rooney’s attacking role seem more fluid and his contribution was without question. Sir Alex Ferguson brought us this, post-match, on the combination of Rooney, Van Persie and Danny Welbeck in attack…
“We saw that flexible movement we have up front where Robin ended up wide left and put in a great cross for Wayne to score [the first goal] with a fantastic header. That kind of movement does bother teams and I’m glad they have started to gel quite well that way.”
Rooney’s brace took his FPL points tally to 22 over the past two matches, with the maximum bonus likely to follow. It’s clear that Rooney is not only set to share the goalscoring with Van Persie, he’s also going to benefit from an increased number of assists, with the bonus points split between the pair.
There are two concerns for Van Persie owners. Firstly, as expected, Rooney’s contribution will clearly dent the returns enjoyed by the Dutchman and this could see him fall short of his returns at Arsenal last season by some margin. Secondly, Rooney could well provide an alternative route to United’s attacking returns for a price of 11.7 in the FPL, a full 1.7 cheaper than Van Persie. Both these doubts put a firm question mark over Van Persie’s value yet again.
Rooney has seen double the number of FPL acquisitions as the Dutchman as the belief builds but with three away games in the next four, the concern will be that we’ll see Rooney dropped back into a deeper role for those trips. That will leave Van Persie as the spearhead of United’s attack which should, in turn, see Rooney struggle to keep pace.
That will be the comforting theory that Van Persie’s owners will cling to. It remains to be seen if Rooney can shatter that particular scenario and maintain yesterday’s form. One thing looks certain – the United attack will have to remain potent while the defence continues to show fragility; that means owning one of Rooney or Van Persie is almost essential while midfield options remain limited.
Michu Gets the Striker Role
A sixth goal of the season for Michu saw the Spaniard continue to hold his own in the mid-price midfield bracket. While the likes of Kevin Nolan and Steven Pienaar are clearly rivaling Michu for value in this area, the Swansea man looks set to be buoyed by a new role handed to him by manager Michael Laudrup.
The Dane dropped Danny Graham to the bench for yesterday’s visit of Wigan and Michu was charged with leading the line. That seems set to continue for the coming matches and, although those fixtures are very tough, the switch in role should offer Michu greater potential to deliver returns and that could see him earn a stay of execution. However, it should be noted that Michu remains just one booking away from a one-match ban.
Yesterday saw two budget options remove the shackles and notch their first Premier League goals of the season. While Mark Noble predictably relied on set-pieces to deliver his brace for West Ham against Southampton, Liverpool’s Raheem Sterling cut inside from a wide role to convert a Luis Suarez pass for the winner against Reading.
Post-match, Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers sang the praises of Sterling and suggested that his movement inside to offer a direct goal threat was something they’d developed in training…
“It’s a part of the game we’ve been working on. The players on the outside, the No.7 and No.11, we’re trying to get them in the positions so they can make those runs….He’s got good pace, Raheem, so once he’s on the inside he can break the line of the back four….We’ve been doing a lot of work on that on the training field but all the credit goes to him because he’s got to identify the moment to go in….It was a wonderful finish because he was going away from the goal, and he’s got a quick defender tracking him.”
Sterling has seen over 10,000 transfers in overnight which has seen his price rise to 4.9. Even with that, Sterling’s value looks undeniable, particularly with Rodgers’ attacking options limited – a factor that appears to cement his starting role, at least until the January window.
For those FPL managers employing a 3-4-3 system, Sterling looks to be the weapon of choice for the fifth midfield slot although, on yesterday’s evidence, there will be times when the 17-year-old will be wasted on our benches and outperform those in the starting XI. A solution and a problem in one.
Lambert Left Frustrated
While the budget options in midfield look well stocked, our options up front took another turn for the worse as Fantasy managers were left frustrated by the sight of Rickie Lambert on the bench for Southampton at West Ham. Having slipped to a damaging 4-1 defeat at Upton Park, Adkins gave this honest appraisal when questioned on his decision to drop Lambert for the second time this season…
“Everyone is going to have their own opinions. As manager of the football club, I’ve got a squad of 25 players to select from and, whatever I do, someone will always pick a different team, somebody will have a different reason. Somebody got to make the decision and that is down to me and I’ll live and die by the decisions that I make….Obviously Rickie Lambert…I love the bones of him, he’s a top top guy and one of the main reasons we got to the Premier League. It’s as simple at that. He scores the goals but obviously we’ve gone and brought other players to the club as well and I need to look at that. It’s my responsibility alone. The way we perform, the results that we get, the team selection, the substitutions. There’s only one person to look at, and that’s me and I’m the only person that I look at.”
Adkins went on to confirm that his side will continue to play 4-3-3, a system which would seem to allow the Saints boss to rotate Lambert with summer signing Jay Rodriguez. With his job under increasing pressure, however, we are at least likely to see Lambert recalled to the starting lineup for the visit of Spurs in Gameweek 9. Long-term, there continues to be a question mark over Lambert’s security of starts and pitch time, at least while Adkins remains in tenure at St Mary’s.
Arsenal Fire Blanks
Arsene Wenger’s side enjoyed plenty of possession but the Arsenal boss described this as “illusionary domination” in his post-match comments. In short, the Gunners lacked any penetration and cutting edge and were a major disappointment having shown such progress in the victory at West Ham in Gameweek 7.
With such heavy investment in Santi Cazorla over the break, there was plenty of frustration felt amongst Fantasy managers who will now be banking on a reaction from Wenger’s men.
The major plus is that Arsenal have the fixtures to springboard their recovery from yesterday’s miserable showing. QPR are next at the Emirates – a fixture that surely offers attacking potential for Cazorla and the Gunners. With Fulham and Spurs also at the Emirates in the next four and a trip to United, it’s clear that Arsenal will need to show their claws to get results.
While undoubtedly talented, Cazorla will need the likes of Olivier Giroud, Lukas Podolski and Gervinho to up their game once again if the Spaniard is to flourish and live up to his billing as a worthy Fantasy prospect. That looked in doubt yesterday evening but there are surely better days to come.
Commenting is now closed for this post.
For Gameweek 38
- van Persie
Next Six Ticker
|No Change||Hart||MCI||B, Vs|
|Up||Robles||WIG||C, Vs, £|
|No Change||Lloris||TOT||C, Vs|
|No Change||Foster||WBA||C, Vs|
|No Change||Vorm||SWA||C, Vs|
|No Change||Mignolet||SUN||B, Vs|
|No Change||De Gea||MUN||A|
|Up||Boruc||SOT||B, Vs, £|
|No Change||Kompany||MCI||B, Vs, Rest|
|No Change||Vertonghen||TOT||A, Vs, Rest|
|Up||Luiz||CHE||A, Vs, Rest|
|Up||Boyce||WIG||C, Vs, OoP|
|No Change||Cuéllar||SUN||B, Vs, £|
|No Change||Rangel||SWA||C, Vs|
|Up||Clyne||SOT||B, Vs, £|
|No Change||Mata||CHE||C, Vs, Rest|
|Up||Hazard||CHE||B, Vs, Rest, Inj|
|Up||Maloney||WIG||B, Vs, £|
|No Change||Y Touré||MCI||B, Vs|
|No Change||Silva||MCI||B, Vs, Inj|
|Up||Tevez||MCI||A, Vs, Rest|
|Up||Koné||WIG||B, Vs, £|
|Down||van Persie||MUN||A, Vs|
|Up||Lukaku||WBA||B, Vs, Rest|
|Down||Aguero||MCI||B, Vs, Inj|
|Up||Rodriguez||SOT||A, Vs, £|
|Up||Defoe||TOT||B, Vs, Rest|
|Up||Ba||CHE||C, Vs, Rest|
|A, B, C||Current Form|
|Inj||Injured/Returning from Injury|
|OoP||Out of Position|
“I am happy with the way I’ve started, but on the other hand, I should have scored four or five more, so that’s something for me to work on.”Robin Van Persie talks about his early form at United ahead of his first Manchester derby