Stag’s Take – Gameweek 15
I think Gameweek 14 was the most frustrating gameweek I have endured in a long time from a rotation perspective. When Tuesday night ended and Kane and scored just one, I thought I was on course for a decent evening one Wednesday when I had captain Hazard, Morata, Sané, and Salah to come. You all know how that went. Indeed it was the second week in a row that my decision to swap from Sterling to Sané kicked me hard – I tried to outfox Fantastic Mr. Pep and paid dearly for it.
Why is Sterling doing better?
Overall of course Raheem Sterling is a better player due to the combined impact of ageing and the maturity it brings as well as the coaching of The Pep. However from an FPL perspective his returns have been completed unexpected – 9 goals and 4 assists already. However, it doesn’t take a genius to spot that City’s goalscoring has slowed down in recent weeks and that’s in no small part down to the rampant bus parking that occurs when they take to the field… but why is it the Sterling keeps scoring?
Part of it is certainly down to composure and mental strength. You don’t score late goals against Everton, Bournemouth, Watford, Shakhtar, Napoli, Feyenoord, Huddersfield, and Southampton by accident. Sterling as actually the league leader for “players whose goals have earned their side the most points” ie. Who scored the clutch goals to earn a draw or win, with nine points accredited to the impact of the winger.
There is a tactical reason for Sterling’s gains too though and it boils down to a topic that I brushed upon a few weeks ago. The injury to Benjamin Mendy on City’s left side has been detrimental to Sané and City’s attacks down the left in general. City rely on their full backs for width, as we still see with Walker today, which allows the “out and out” wingers to move a bit more centrally. However, Fabian Delph isn’t quite operating as a standard Guardiola full-back yet although his performances have been good. That’s why City seem to continually press down the right, pushing Sterling centrally where he is arriving into the box just in time to either meet a cross or pick the ball up from a teammate. Where is Sané in all this (or whoever has been pushed left)? He’s often not too far from the touchline. From my own viewing, Sané’s incursions into the box of late have been either along the touchline as he tees up to cross or else they’ve come from his own mazy runs into the box (and continuing his run thereafter to pick up a pass).
But wait, Mendy has been out for a while and that didn’t stop Sané scoring then, Stag! Yep, there’s another countervailing factor working against our young German wizard. City’s chances to break on the counter have become more and more limited as sides focus on defensive robustness to try and get points. Sané rather than Sterling had been a major beneficiary of these moves and unfortunately, that well has dried up quite a bit. That said, had Sané’s free-kick against Huddersfield gone in instead of rattling the crossbar, would we even be having this conversation?
Have a look at the graphics in my tweets here to see my point. Even when Sterling had on off game against Leicester, he still drifted in-field more than Sané.
Comparing these two in my column today (which I swear is on the way I just got a bit too into research lol)
— #FPL Stag (@FPLStag) December 1, 2017
The impact of the usual suspects
I threw out a plea on Twitter for questions and one that I thought was interesting about how the arrival of King Pards (you need to google The King Story about Pardew) and Sam Allardyce will impact on their respective teams.
Pardew follows a similar formula at every club he goes to – a 4-2-3-1. From an FPL perspective, it usually means that we take interest in his marauding full-backs, pacey wingers who cut inside as well as the two strikers – one “big lad” who stays up front and a sharper finisher behind him who has license to go into midfield in defence or to find space during the build-up.
What’s interesting about this appointment by the Baggies is that Pardew doesn’t have a reputation for saving distressed clubs. The two clubs in trouble he joined in such a circumstance were Palace and Charlton. In the latter case he was relegated whilst at Palace the wheels came off big time in 2016, losing 6 games out of 36 in 2016 (26 points in total) and leaving the club in 17th place.
Pardew won’t bring defensive solidity to West Brom nor is it truly possible to say if he’ll turn around performances. If the team jump as Palace did for him, when he won five of his first six games, then suddenly there could be some real value in West Brom. It’s just a pity Matty Phillips and Nacer Chadli are currently injured, I think they would have been the most interesting players under Pards but perhaps JRod will be given another chance to resurrect himself playing behind Rondon over the next few weeks.
Did someone say merry-go-round? The man who replaced Pardew at Palace has taken up the reigns at Everton, who just crushed their former manager David Moyes’ West Ham at Goodison. Many FPL managers have been excited by the thought of Sam’s “inevitable” improvement of Everton’s defence but I wouldn’t be in such a rush:
This image from the BBC shows that Allardyce's arrival doesn't really correlate with instant success. I wouldn't be rushing to acquire Everton defenders too quickly.. pic.twitter.com/U8y1Izf4IJ
— #FPL Stag (@FPLStag) December 1, 2017
That tweet highlights that Big Sam’s impact isn’t necessarily instant and so waiting a bit to get Everton players might be prudent. It’s very hard to say who will start further forward too given the daft number of midfielders in the current squad. Let’s hope that we see Siggy given the freedom he needs and Niasse nailed on… but I wouldn’t be so sure. Huddersfield at home is the perfect opposition to build early momentum though – the Terriers have lost their last four away games by an aggregate scoreline of… 14-0.
Eden Hazard (Newcastle H)
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Yep, after a rest during the week, everyone’s favourite Hazard should be raring to go against Rafa’s ailing Newcastle. Winless in five Premier League games and struggling to score at the other end too, confidence will be low and easy pickings aplenty for the Belgian who is central to all things good in blue.
Gabriel Jesus (West Ham H)
Realistically Jesus has to start against the hapless Hammers on Sunday… doesn’t he? The Brazilian has played just 83 minutes since Sunday whilst his Argentine strike partner has been fielded for 175 minutes in that period. His quality needn’t be described, we’ve all seen it more than enough at this point. In opposition? Moyes and his crew who have conceded 16 in their last 6 PL games and only the Liverpool game was against a top six team in that torrid run. It’s a no brainer for me if you own him.
Olivier Giroud (Manchester United H)
Arsenal maintain a 100% record at home and now Arsene Wenger has a chance to keep that against his arch nemesis José Mourinho. The only hitch is that striker Alexandre Lacazette is out and Olivier Giroud, who hasn’t started a PL game this season, has to be parachuted in. The Frenchman scored twice in his warm-up half match against West Ham during the week so he’s at least not out of form and presents an interesting risky move.
However, the introduction of Giroud can hamper Arsenal’s pressing which may mean that Wenger favours playing Sanchez through the middle instead. What fun that could be, watching FPL managers destroy their teams to fit the pricey Chilean into their midfields.
Stag has been providing #FPL Tips since July 2015 and has been a contributor for Rotoworld.com since August 2016. He is a self-proclaimed wannabe fantasy football genius, a student, and die-hard tea enthusiast.