Gearing Up For the Gameweek

Where I discuss my thoughts on the upcoming gameweek.  I talk about what players and teams to avoid and which to seek out for roster selection.

Gameweek 8

One thing I’m adding to this iteration of the gameweek preview is including the amount of shots and likely score line that my predictive model indicates.  Please note due to small sample size some of the numbers might not be as solid as I like, but that’s how these things work.  All shots and goal expectations will be rounded numbers.  If numbers seem off I will put an explanation as to why.  This post will likely be updated before the weekend when more information is available regarding injuries and projected starting XI's.  I will have a note at the bottom to designate if I think there will be any rotations worth noting.

Everton (Shots 16, Goals 2) vs Aston Villa (Shots 7, Goals 2)

Everton has a high concede rate at home, and they commit a lot of defensive errors.  If they cut down on that it wouldn’t surprise me to see them muster a clean sheet this week, but certainly not something I’d want to bet on.

Outside of Baines (4.7k) I don’t particularly like anyone defensively on either team, however if  Coleman(3.9k) starts he may warrant a look.  Everton is prone to defensive lapses and is suffering from injury problems, along with Howard being way overpriced.  If you want to take a massive risk you can pick up Guzan (3.2k) and pray he stands on his head while not conceding, but I expect Villa to give up at least one goal.  I’m still high on McGeady (4.5k)  and he offers a potential value midfield differential despite his poor performance last week.  Naismith (6.8k) may be a little too expensive at this stage for my taste to pick up but he is on good form.  I think Lukaku (9.7k) may be the best option if you want a forward from this game, but he could be hard to fit in with other luxury players forcing you to take Naismith instead to get exposure to Everton's offense.  The one thing to look for is if Eto’o (4.4k) gets the nod over Lukaku as central striker.  He’s rated very highly in my model and still a great poacher, and could likely be one of the best value picks this week.  Although my model predicts Villa to score 2 goals I don’t like any one from their team even if Benteke(8.6k) gets a start over Agbonglahor(6.1k) or Weimann(5k).  He’s way too expensive and there are better options from other games in my opinion since Villa will likely not get many chances.

Possible Rotation - Eto'o in for Lukaku.  Coleman back from injury starting over Hibbert.

Crystal Palace (Shots 14, Goals 1) vs Chelsea (Shots 10, Goals 3)

Before running my predictive model for shots and goals I was leaning towards liking Crystal Palace in this game.  The large goal expectation for Chelsea stems from their absurdly high conversion rate.

I’m hoping this will be the game where Chelsea finally regress a bit in their conversion rate.  Crystal Palace has been pretty good offensively this year so I could see this ending in a 1-1 draw.  I personally may try to fade this game since I think people are going to all pile on the Chelsea bandwagon.  Many of the usual suspects make good choices, and will likely be highly owned.  Willian(5.5k)/Schurrle(5.5k) or Oscar (6.2k) are some of the best value midfield options available and probably will continue to be no matter who they play.  Hazard(8.4k)/Fabregas(9.2k) are the luxury options from midfield, but as I’ve said I’m basically going to be avoiding almost all luxury midfield options.  In addition to that Fabregas and Hazard don’t rate as high as other MF options.  Up front you have Costa(12.2k) if he starts (I don’t think he will), or possibly Remy(5.7k).  If Remy starts I will be hard pressed not to take him, but will likely be avoiding Costa if he is starting as I think he is due for some regression on his conversion rate.  On defense, as always, Ivanovic(4.4k) makes a reliable pick that will almost always have good production.  Pair him with whoever starts out of Courtois (4.6k) or Cech(4.4k) for a likely solid defensive combo.

For Crystal Palace, I don’t particularly like anyone unless you want to go for a high risk strat of grabbing Speroni(3.3k) and hoping Palace squeak out a 1-0 and pair him with Ward (2.5k). In the midfield as always Puncheon(5.1k) is a solid bet for a consistent performance and high floor.  He is averaging double digit points per game at a decently cheap price.

Possible Rotation: Willian in for Schurrle.  Remy in for Costa.

Arsenal (Shots 20, Goals 2) vs Hull City (Shots 7, Goals 1)

My model shows this game being way closer than I expected.  This is due to Arsenal having an average conversion rate while conceding at a rate that is slightly worrying.  Hull on the other hand has been conceding at a very low rate on the road while converting at a little higher than league average.

Given how many shots arsenal can expect and how few Hull will likely take it won’t be a bad idea to load up on Arsenal Players.  With Ozil out injured this is the perfect game to pick up on Cazorla(6.4k) as a mid price midfield option.  He’s ranked very highly in my model, and since he hasn’t produced I expect he won’t be that highly owned.  He will likely be on set piece duty, and possibly penalty duty as well wish is a massive plus.  For forwards I rate Sanchez (9.5k) higher than Welbeck(9.6k) but you really can’t go wrong with either, and you’ll likely want to have exposure to both in some capacity.  On the other hand Oxlade-Chamberlain(5.8k) offers an amazing mid price forward option and a great differential option from this game.  Gibbs(3.9k) and Bellerin(3.2k) both offer good attacking options and potential clean sheet bonus for defensive picks from this game.  Of the two, I like Bellerin the most as he is cheaper, and will be lesser owned.   The only downside is that they tend to attack more down Gibbs side.  In goal Szczesny (4.9k) is the highest priced GK option.  I think there are better options for cheaper, but you’ll want to include him in any of your Arsenal stacks.

For Hull, the one player I will mention is Robertson(4.1k) as he is listed as a defender in a 3-5-2 so he will largely play in an advanced roll.  Other than that I don’t particularly like anyone from Hull and would recommend staying away since there are so many other teams that will likely put in multi goal performances.

Possible Rotation: Monreal for Koscielny.  Bellerin for Chambers (Confirmed since Chambers is suspended).  Sanchez on the bench possibly or not full fitness due to late in week Friendly, likely replaced by Podolski, Sanogo, or Campbell. 

Newcastle (Shots 31, Goals 2) vs Leicester City (Shots 7, Goals 1)

Well, this one is a doozy.  Here we have two teams who are on opposite sides of average performance.  Leicester is converting at an unsustainably high rate, while conceding at an unsustainably low rate.  Leicester already started to show signs of regression by conceding 2 to Burnley last week and I expect that to continue this week.  On the other hand Newcastle has been doing the exact opposite, conceding at a very high rate, while scoring at a conversion rate below the league average. 

Unfortunately the cat is out of the bag regarding Cisse (7.2k) as he was someone I was waiting for the right time to go bullish on.  This is the perfect game for that, but I fear he is going to have very high ownership.  That still won’t stop me from having exposure to him though.  I do worry that since he is still just coming back from injury he may get subbed early if there are any fitness issue.    Gouffran(4.7k) or Riviere(4.2k) could offer good differentials, but Cisse ranks so much higher in my model that I can’t justify taking them over Cisse in cash games.  In the midfield Colback (3.6k) or Obertan (4.5k) offer good options with Colback being one of the best value picks this week.  Unlikely to get a start, but a personal favorite of mine, is Cabella (5.5k) who ranks in the top 10 in my midfielder model, and should be a definite pick up if he plays.  On defense Haidara(3.4k) is the highest ranked in my model out of all defenders without benefiting from the 1GA or CS bonus so he could have a MASSIVE upside for GPPs.  Unfortunately it looks like Dummett(2.5k) may be selected ahead of him.  Janmaat (3.3k) will likely start if he is fit, and would make a great pair with Haidara if both start..  In goal Krul(3.9k) may be a little overpriced, but will likely not be owned very much in GPPs.  He is undergoing a fitness test and should he not start Elliot(3k) will take his place and is a bargain price for a great GPP option.

On Leicester City I would recommend proceeding with caution.  Newcastle hasn’t been great defensively, but they have also been a little unlucky so being on the road it could be a good idea to fade Leicester.  I think people may bandwagon and pick up Mahrez (5.5k) and he still is amongst the top 5 midfielders in my model so he will likely have a high floor.  Vardy(6.3k) and Ulloa(7k) will still be threats, but again I think this could be a good week to avoid them as they are a little overpriced for being on the road even if it is vs Newcastle.  I’d definitely avoid anyone from Leicester's defense.

Southampton (Shots 14, Goals 2) vs Sunderland (Shots 10, Goals 0)

Sunderland has a low road conversion rate, while Southampton has one of the lowest home concede rates in the league giving Sunderland the least likelihood of scoring out of any team this weekend.

Needless to say Southampton likely offers the best route to shutout points from Forster (4.1k), Bertrand(4.2k), and Clyne(4.5k). In addition to that Clyne and Bertrand both have great offensive production so I expect them to be highly owned and an absolute must in cash games.  In the midfield Tadic (8k) still remains the best midfielder in my model and he hasn’t even scored a goal yet.  He is an absolute must have for cash games, and if he end up producing a goal / assist combo he could be a great asset for GPPs as well.  In the forward department Mane(6.7k)  ranks higher than Pelle(8.1k) but the Italian is on very good form still and you can’t go wrong with either.  Personally I would grab Mane due to the fact I think Pelle may be higher owned and Mane has a higher floor.

Burnley (Shots 8, Goals 0) vs West Ham (Shots 15, Goals 2)

On paper I absolutely love West Ham.  Their main players have looked great both on the road and at home and I think they will likely not be widely owned. 

Defensively West Ham offers the best low price stack with Adrian (3.4k), Cresswell (2.6k), and Jenkinson(2k).  This is one game where I think largely ignoring home field advantage is okay this week.  In the midfield Downing(6.6k) is one of the most reliable performers this season next to Tadic.  I also like Amalfitano (3k) as a sneaky value pick for GPPs in a match where West Ham will largely be on the front foot.  At forward Valencia(6.9k) and Sakho (6.3k) are both great options, but I rate Sakho a little higher and given his better pricing I think he is the better choice.  I don’t think Vaz Te(2.8k) or Zarate(5.8k) will get a start, but both rate highly for their price point if they do get the nod.

I think people may try to go with Burnley as a potential differential option, and it isn’t a bad train of thought, but I honestly think West Ham is one of the few teams who I trust on the road to perform well.  If you decide to go that route I’d recommend Heaton (3.8k) and Trippier(3.8k).  Offensively Jutkiewicz(5.2k) is a top 20 forward in my model and will not be owned by many people, unfortunately his floor is probably too low to use in cash games.

As always make sure to follow me on twitter (@soccerdfs) for all lineups an hour before game time as well as possible last minute value suggestions.