First XI - What We Learned in Week 6

Sometimes there's no substitute for a good old fashioned lesson/reminder about what not to do in picking your fantasy team.  The first lesson I (re)learned this past weekend is that Friday trading with no additional information will generally lead to you out-thinking yourself.

What do I mean? On Friday, without any news from Wenger, I got it in my head that Gibbs might not start and that I should move to Boyata as a "more stable" enabler pick at the back.  This despite watching the Rovers match last weekend in which Santos essentially handed Rovers the two goals they scored themselves by playing Yakubu onside (even if one of the two wasn't actually onside, he was playing unnecessarily close and made it easier for the linesman to make the mistake).  Regardless, I made the switch and more so than losing out on that many points (2.5 for Boyata vs. 6 for Gibbs) I lost a likely starter from ARS for most of the year at 2.something for an occasional starter from BOL for a similar price.  Not a wise move.

The other lesson I (re)learned was that you shouldn't try to get too cute.  The other move I made on Friday was that I initially decided that it would be a good idea to double down on CHE defenders.  I swapped Richards out and brought in Luiz thinking he would start given the modest opposition.  An email exchange with Jeremy (fortunately) convinced me that Luiz was probably not going to start.  For some reason, after making that determination I didn't go straight back to Richards but started over-thinking my choice and decided to go with Smalling.  Indefensible move really.  He's playing away to a solid team vs. Richards playing at home against a solid team.  I let the NdJ injury get into my head too much and it ended with zero points when Smalling was left out of the squad vs. the 8 that Richards got for his modest phantom points and a clean sheet.  The overall result was about 10 points that I got vs. 23 or so that I would have gotten if I'd stuck to my guns and followed the rules. 

The third thing I (re)learned was to listen to my own advice.  I called the Ramires performance but didn't pull the trigger much to my own chagrin.  

OK, enough of my bitching, on to the more important observations about Week 6 in the Premier League that apply to all of our teams (and occasionally the real world too).

1) Torres Can't Be Trusted - If ever there was a weekend set up for him to redeem himself, this was it.  He has been playing better and made serious contributions to Chelsea's attack over their last two matches (one EPL and one Champions League).  Newly promoted Swansea were certainly the visitors to help Nando re-establish himself.  A nice early goal should have been the start of big things but he conspired to see red for a miserable challenge and his owners were left with almost nothing for their investment.  For his part, he is also left with 3 matches out before he can attempt to regain his form in the league. 

2) Mata Is Good, Just Not For Fantasy - I probably get more questions about adding Juan Mata on the Barn Door each week than just about anyone else.  Fantasy managers are DYING for a reason to add them to their team.  It isn't hard to understand why.  Whether it is his early performances for Chelsea, his work at the Spanish youth level or the fact that he was deemed good enough to be part of the full Spanish side at such a young age you have to respect that there is a lot of talent there.  Even more than that, he looks like he'll be a fun player to watch.  There are two problems with adding him to your fantasy team - first, he's listed as a forward and there are too many good forwards producing better than his is; second, his fantasy production isn't up to his level of talent so far because he gets rotated a lot and Chelsea have a lot of attacking players to rotate through.  I'm looking at him as a clone of David Silva from last year.  Undoubtedly talented but probably a year away from being a fantasy stud.

3) United are Mortal - A trip to Stoke is never something that you look forward to but on the form United have shown through the first five weeks, you expected that they'd find a way to score enough to win.  When Nani's cross went across in the first minute of stoppage time and Giggs was steaming in to meet it at the far post you were sure that "Fergie Time" would have worked out for United yet again but to no avail.  United aren't going to go undefeated and the race is on for sure with City.  I'm certainly not implying that Spurs/Liverpool/Arsenal are in the race and I don't even think Chelsea are realistically in it but United won't run away and hide on the way to the title either.  

4) City Can Scrap - City spent the first half of the early match on Saturday looking like a vintage Arsenal team from 2008 or 2009.  Clearly more talented.  Facing a solid opponent trying to fight a rear-guard action and leave with a point.  Dominant in possession.  Nowhere near being as dangerous as their possession and talent would dictate.  With a potential disappointment a real possibility City mixed it up a bit and got two strong goals and a comfortable win.  It is the type of match where they dropped point last season and if they are to keep up with United this is the type of win they need against mid-table opponents. 

5) Silva Is Still My MVP - Unlike United who seem to have multiple players who can be the fulcrum of success (Rooney, BFAY, and Nani with an occasional helping of Giggs or Chicharito), Silva seems to be at the center of everything good that happens at City.  Aguero is an excellent player and a deadly finisher but you get the feeling that City would be lost without Silva to make things happen.  It is a tribute to Silva but a worry for City that they are one injury away from taking a major step down in quality.

6) DDG Is Yahoo Fantasy Gold Regardless Of Outcome - He was the butt of a lot of jokes early for his gaffes in the Community Shield and the season opener but regardless of the outcome, DDG has put up fantasy points in the Yahoo system each week.  I'm happy to have him in my squad at a very reasonable price for the long haul.  

7) NUFC Are Interesting - Quick question - name the three teams that have yet to suffer a loss after playing six matches? (Villa/QPR yet to be played) United? Of course. City? Without a doubt.  The third? Newcastle United Football Club.  They have conceded only 3 goals over six matches which is the best total in the league.  After a couple of matches we were all asking if this was real and none of us seemed convinced.  After six matches, its hard to come to any conclusion other than that it is.  It remains to be seen how they do against the bigger teams but what we're learning is that if the opposition resides outside the Top 2 or 3 then NUFC will be extremely competitive.  We're glad we went on record as liking their summer moves early before the hype started (and I'm sure it will soon).  Cabaye particularly is looking strong as the pivotal man in the Magpies' midfield.

8) Welcome Back Drogba - Hard to know where his future with Chelsea lies given all of the acquisitions but regardless of the long term plan, it was great to see Drogba get back in a match on Saturday and score a goal after THAT collision.  With Torres out for three matches, he might get a run of matches in the starting line-up.  His price is high at 20.97 as of this writing but if he's going to start he might be worth the investment with Arsenal/RvP having a tough match next weekend at Spurs and Rooney potentially nursing a hammy and being saved for Champions League matches with Norwich coming to Old Trafford.  

9) Liverpool Rebound - They weren't great but they really needed a home win against a team that they should beat to restart the momentum that they were trying to carry over from the first half of last season and their summer of big acquisitions.  The drubbing against Sunderland had to have been a blow to their collective ego and a hard-fought win against a Wolves team that also needed to change its momentum was a good thing for the Reds.  Now let the "what to do with Gerrard?" debate begin. 

10) Derby Week Coming - TOT vs. ARS; LIV vs. EVE; and FUL vs. QPR are all on next weekend.  Always hard to predict what will happen when local rivals get together.  We often read too much into these things but when teams are as unpredictable as TOT, ARS, LIV, and EVE to start with, throwing in a rivalry match can only confuse things more.  

11) Arsenal Finally Have An Easy One - It didn't start that way but like City, they kept plugging away after a mediocre first half and once they broke through it all came fairly easily.  The talking point in the media will likely look like "It was only Bolton and they were down to 10 men" but at this point in Arsenal's season, they need the points and confidence any way they can get them.  The importance of the match coming up next weekend with Spurs can't be understated.  As far as I can tell there is a 3 team league - Spurs, Liverpool, and Arsenal - from which one team will emerge as a Champions League qualifier for next season.  Arsenal have already dropped three points at home in that mini-league to Liverpool due to their own foolishness and lack of organization.  To drop 2 or 3 additional points in this mini-league even if it is a road match would make life pretty difficult in the quest to remain a Champions League mainstay.  The other note for me is that Arteta is probably to be ditched for Yahoo fantasy purposes.  For the second viewing in a row, he played too deep to gather in lots of phantom points and this week there wasn't a goal to rescue his effort.  I'd think about figuring out who you're going to replace him with if you have him in your line-up.

I'll come back and add/update if there is something important that comes out of either the Sunday or Monday match but it seems like most of this weekend's talking points are coming from Saturday so here you are.  


  1. Neal -

    To the "it was only Bolton and they were down to 10 men argument," I see a quick retort in that Arsenal were down to 10 men hmm, let's see...

    after 76 minutes in week 1 (Gervinho) Outcome: 0-0
    after 70 minutes in week 2 (Frimpong) Outcome: 0-2
    after 77 minutes in week 3 (Jenkinson) Outcome: 2-8 (Not that 15 Gunners on the pitch could have changed the outcome by then.)

    That's 1 point out of 9 when they were down to 10 men. I am not defending Arsenal, but at least their lackluster performances could in some way be tied to fielding fewer players (on top of some of them being second stringers).

    - D.H.

  2. I had to work today. How long is Rooney out? I hold him at 18.38. I could drop him and Arteta and pick up Nani and have 11.93 to spend on a forward (Chicharito?) Either way I am going to dump Arteta.

  3. Two 0s this week which is two too many. Rooney and Santos.

    mata is useless, i never do well picking chelsea attackers and midfielders - i had ramires in and went with tarbaat.

    still I have two to go, hopefully get something respectable.

  4. Honestly Torres always screws me. And yet I always say I will not pick him....Is this the last straw? Who knows but for a striker he has incredible downside.

  5. 47 with wes brown to play is my first bad week. i knew that smalling was a doubt but had no time change him out. i am going to wait on changing roooney for either nani, van der vaart or going down to adebayor