This week’s patroller: Isacki
Here’s this week’s overview of some popular players’ prospects. Any resemblance to my squad is purely coincidental, but hey, the devil you know…
QPR have only scored 8 goals in 10 games. Despite their reputation as a home team, they have scored a slightly greater proportion (60%) of those away than at home. Even so, Stoke’s incredible home defensive record is back with a vengeance with only 1 goal conceded so far! With the QPR attack still not clinical enough despite some improvement in all round play, he looks like one of the best candidates for a CS this week.
Baines (SUN) & Pienaar (SUN)
Sunderland have infamously only scored 5 goals all season. Everton have been conceding an average number of goals with 13 conceded from 10 games. Their home record is somewhat better though with 5 conceded so far. Baines looks another solid contender for a CS. In attack he’ll be up against Sunderland right back Phil Bardsley who is fairly solid. Bardsley won’t receive much support from Adam Johnson though, and it’s very likely that attacks will pour down the Everton left with Baines & Pienaar combining. Sunderland have a stubborn defence, but have conceded twice as many goals away than at home.
Arsenal have been frustrating in attack with only 13 goals from 10 games. There’s no improvement in their home scoring either. However, Fulham have been living up to their home team stereotype in a defensive sense with some extremely leaky away defending, conceding an average of 2.4 goals per match. The big question for me this week both in a fantasy sense and for the sake of my club is whether our front three start getting into goalscoring positions, particularly the wide forwards. On that note, Walcott looks set to come in and has done just about everything to show that he is the right man to solve this. Cazorla, on the other hand, looks set to produce modest returns IMO. This is because when the flanks do explode (as they did when we thrashed Southampton) he gets few assists and goals, and when they don’t we simply don’t score. Apart from his endless potshots from distance, I see him producing unspectacular points, unless the system completely changes and he is able to play through balls through the centre.
Liverpool have been leaky defensively with 15 goals conceded, though there are signs they are tightening up of late. Chelsea on the other hand have been consistent up front with 2.2 goals per game overall and 2.6 goals per game at home. Mata’s incredible form, tactical importance to Chelsea and dominance of set pieces make him likely to be involved in any goals Chelsea score. As a matter of fact, he has been involved in an incredible two-thirds of Chelsea’s goals in the last four matches he’s played. If he plays on the right he’ll be up against a fairly solid left back in Jose Enrique. However, he’ll drift central so much he is more likely to be up against the likes of Allen who is not strong defensively. Andre Wisdom has been identified as a potential weak spot in the Liverpool defence, but with Johnson and Enrique potentially available, remains to be seen whether he plays or where he plays.
Spurs have been average scorers at 1.6 goals per game overall but this increases to a remarkable 2.25 goals per game away, which tallies with anyone who watched Spurs dissect United on the counterattack at Old Trafford. Bale remains one of the most threatening midfielders in the game, though Spurs’ team attacking statistics are undistinguished and the absence of Dembele and potentially Sandro appears to have robbed them of the midfield fluidity they need to break through defences. Failing to score at home to Wigan tells its own story. Spurs’ strong Europa League performance to defeat Maribor via a Defoe hat-trick and two Bale assists is encouraging. Fittingly, it was achieved with a change of formation to 4-4-2 with Adebayor replacing a midfielder, where Spurs are currently short of options. It is difficult to conceive AVB risking fewer men in midfield away to Man City though, and there is of course some fatigue to be expected from Bale playing 90 minutes on a Thursday night. Prospects are mixed, with the City defence tightening up of late.
Good potential on paper, with United averaging 2.5 goals per game and Villa averaging 1.4 goals conceded per game. Villa have been unreliable for clean sheets this season, though they have also generally refused to be thrashed. United’s record at Villa Park is surprisingly poor, with 3 draws and a single win in the last 4 meetings and an average of a mere 1 goal scored per game. Defensively, Villa have also been stronger at home (1.25 goals conceded per game) than away (1.9 goals conceded per game). While RVP has looked like an easy captaincy choice this week, especially after his CL rest, this may merit at least a pause for thought. The big question is whether the United lineup will be more threatening than that of previous years. While RVP’s arrival significantly upgrades the personnel, the system may well be familiar with the most likely option being a 4-4-1-1 flanked by Young and Valencia.
Arsenal maintain a surprisingly solid defensive record with only 8 goals conceded all season and only 3 at home. It would not be surprising if the majority of these goals were conceded from set pieces, which remain Arsenal’s Achilles’ heel. Fulham have a flourishing attack with 18 goals scored so far, though their home team status is beginning to show again with only 7 of these scored away. Until recently Berbatov boasted enviable involvement in Fulham goalscoring. As may well be familiar, Jol’s rotating of strike partners for Berbatov has not quite worked out for him of late and his threat has diminished somewhat alongside Ruiz. His prospects look poor at the Emirates unless Jol has a new trick up his sleeve.
Despite Southampton’s reputation for goalscoring they find themselves on a fairly average 1.3 goals per game. This increases to a decent but still modest 1.6 goals per game at home. They may perhaps have flattered to deceive a little at the start, or had the stuffing knocked out of them by the cruel clinicality of the Premier League. They are up against a leaky side at the back, with Swansea conceding 1.4 goals per game, though their away record is slightly better. Lambert has a good record of starting in home games and despite over a month without a goal could perhaps be relied upon for another chance. The potential is certainly present in this lopsidedly attacking team, with Ramirez’s return the most exciting factor. While West Brom shut them out in impressively dedicated fashion, Swansea may be open enough to give them the space they need to thrive. If Southampton can rediscover the form with which they beat Villa 4-1 at home, with Lambert scoring twice, he is a great candidate this week.