The Week Ahead, Part 2 - Player Picks

I have to admit that my first experiences watching a Roberto Mancini-coached team was a good one.  It was in a pre-scandal Italy (at least the recent one).  Inter Milan were still a plucky 3rd or 4th best team fighting to keep up with Milan and Juve.  The thing that I remember enjoying about them is that you could see just about anything from them on any given weekend.  They could play the typical Italian grinding style and win 1-0, they could go up 3-0 and find a way to give away that lead for a thrilling conclusion or they could go down 3-0 and come all the way back to win 4-3.  It was a win of the latter type that I recall as my first meaningful recollection of Mancini.  It wasn't enough to get me to follow Serie A religiously but it was enough for me to pull for Inter.

I mention this because the same sort of pattern seems to be unfolding at Manchester City.  The budget is bigger.  The upside of the talent at his disposal is higher.  Still, there appear to be two common characteristics that bond his Inter teams with his City teams.  The first is their variance in mental discipline.  No matter what has happened in the matches and even the minutes leading up to a specific instant in time appears to be entirely irrelevant to predicting what will happen next.  Their first choice players will be playing poorly (like last weekend) and someone deep in the doghouse (Balotelli) or in a deep slump (Milner) score goals. You just never seem to know what is going to happen next. The week before it was looking great for the first 60 or 70 minutes and then collapsing and giving up a 2-0 lead on the road in the last 20 minutes rather than creating a 2 goal lead in the last 20 minutes.

The other thing that binds these two Mancini teams is the presence of some, shall we say, unique personalities.  This season's edition features Tevez's increasingly bizarre and petulant behavior, de Jong's no-holds-barred challenges (and occasional dirty play), Dzeko's seemingly from out of nowhere personality, and of course Balotelli-being-Balotelli.  For me, since I really have little for or against City historically, the combination of these two factors and Mancini's ability to manage a team to just about any outcome has made them a really fun story to follow this season.  May it long continue rather than evolving the way Chelsea did under similar financial circumstances.  It would be a shame if City became more ruthless but at the same time less interesting to watch.

OK, on to the player picks:

  • Aguero - Until he's hurt or there's some evidence that he isn't just pure awesome-ness. 
  • K2 - Those who watched the Arsenal Champions League match rather than just seeing that they won will know that they could have given up 3 or 4 set piece goals to a mediocre Olympiakos side.  If Spurs are half as successful on balls into the box K2 could have a brace...easy.
  • Gabby/Welbeck/Balotelli/Sturridge - They all cost about the same price, have good match-ups, and have plenty of talent.  If you're asking me (and by reading the blog, you sort of are), here is my order of preference. Welbeck (at home + best match-up) > Gabby (at home/playing well) > Sturridge (not sure about his starting spot) > Balotelli (would have been higher if Dzeko hadn't apologized and put himself back in the frame to start effectively killing both player's value). 
  • Not Mata - I'm going to make a lot of Spurs fans mad here but I'm going to compare him to one of your favorites - Luka Modric.  They play a little differently in real life but for fantasy purposes they are very similar.  They are in the middle of a lot of good things for their teams going forward but a) their reputations are better than their results and b) they tend to be "the man-behind-the-man-behind-the-man" meaning that they start attacking plays with incisive passes but rarely get either the goal or the assist that would make them fantasy studs.  Consider this a warning to stay away from Mata rather than to take him despite his low price. 
  • Silva - See Aguero above. 
  • VDV - He's been his usual very good self when he's been healthy and I can't see any way that the North London derby doesn't have a lot of goals in it. 
  • SWP - He's still cheap and producing solid to very good fantasy numbers.  Going to Fulham isn't a cake walk by any stretch of the imagination but he tends to get his points regardless of the outcome when he's getting regular action as one of his team's main focal points. 
  • Anderson - I'm making this pick on the same theory that I used to pick Ramires last weekend.  The two obvious picks in the United midfield (Nani/BFAY) are really expensive and could well be rotated for Valencia given United's opposition.  It seems likely that just about anyone on the United team could score this weekend against Norwich as they look to break out of their two draw slump. 
  • Delph - No, I don't expect too much from him but at his current price, you're one SOT away from him returning his value.  Home to Wigan, you could do a lot worse if you need someone cheap. Somehow, he has more fantasy points in the same number of matches as the much more expensive (and highly touted) Charles N'Zogbia. N'Somnia indeed. 
  • Cabaye - In homage to the fallen Bolton/USMNT midfielder, we're going to anoint Cabaye "this year's Holden" - he's playing for a mid-table team, he's not doing a lot of flashy things, he doesn't play a particularly advanced role and despite all of those things, he's producing solid-but-not-spectacular fantasy points at a reasonable price.  Have I mentioned that I'm enjoying what Newcastle is doing? (see the Real Life Outlook section about halfway down). 
  • Jones/Smalling - Jones is picking up more points than anyone else in the United defense but he's expensive at 11.03 while Smalling is about half the fantasy player (points-wise) at about half the price.  It all depends on your budget as to which of the two you might be interested in.
  • Gibbs - He's still cheap and while you should probably not expect any clean sheet points from the Arsenal defender, there may well be a lot of attacking points to had at all positions and he's a cheap way to be involved with that potential.
  • Any Swansea Defender - Angel Rangel is getting all the love in the comments and on Facebook but Ashley Williams and Rangel are about equal in terms of their fantasy performance thus far.  If you're looking for more of a bargain then Neil Taylor is a solid bet as a value despite spelling his first name the wrong way.  
  • Warnock/Hutton - This is another one that could go either way if you buy into the premise that Villa have a strong shot at a home clean sheet against Wigan. I prefer Warnock (he looked more lively last weekend when I was watching Villa) but I could see preferring Hutton too.
  • JAR - I don't love picking defenders in local derby matches, too many cards handed out but I'm generally in favor of Riise when he's playing at home this season unless he's playing against one of the big clubs.  He's at home and playing against a non-big club, 'nuff said. 
  • Bosingwa - Same theory as Gibbs really but with a stronger likelihood of a clean sheet.
  • DDG - Even in a poor match for United last weekend he conspired to get 6.5 points.  Hard to go too far wrong when you're averaging over 5 saves/match.
  • Vorm - He's been negative twice and over 10 the other 4 matches.  His price is low after getting battered last weekend with a -8.  He's home against Stoke.  Seems to be more like the 4 10+ matches than the negative ones to me. 
  • Given - I'm not sure if I'm confident enough to double up on Given and a Villa defender (or Vorm and a Swansea defender) but the Villa keeper should be solid value. 
Back with Injuries and Suspensions tomorrow.


  1. Anonymous10:10 PM

    Mancini is a tough nut, Dzeko will sit by him like he said only difference is he'll be able to come on from the bench

  2. No richards? City might be on an away game, but it's against blackburn.

    I expect richards to hit it big this weekend rampaging through Olsson.

  3. Anonymous12:00 AM

    bout nasri?

  4. Anonymous2:39 AM

    Who is k2??

  5. Anonymous5:30 AM

    No mention of Berbatov from anyone. If, as expected, Rooney doesn't start, surely he'll be up front with Welbeck?
    My team is
    Richards, Hutton, Lescott
    Silva, Anderson, Young, Ramires
    Augero, Berb, Wellbeck

    Any thoughts?

  6. Anonymous5:32 AM

    K2 is Adebayor (sorry about the spelling)

  7. Anonymous5:40 AM

    K2 = Adebayor

  8. Anonymous5:53 AM

    @ Neal, off topic

    At the beginning of the season a lot of people mostly villa fans, were saying a consistently above average performer like Downing wasnt as good as a very good but grossly incosistent player like Nzogbia. Whats your take? I think Liverpool got the better player and the better deal.

  9. Jacob8:28 AM


    Do you have 5 united players on your team? Is that allowed?

    I think this latest game shows that United are mortal and that it's probably not a great idea to put all your eggs in one basket.

  10. Anonymous8:55 AM

    rooneys not injured.

  11. Anonymous8:58 AM

    Yep AM just posted ManU team news and Rooney and Hernandez are ready to go.

  12. Man Utd update on Rooney and Hernandez.

  13. Anonymous9:29 AM

    Damm. Looks like I better change a few things.

    @Jacob as far as I know it's ok.


  14. @Anonymous - on the topic of Downing vs. N'Zogbia - the ONLY way you could say Villa came out on top of Downing out and N'Zogbia in is based on the profit made. Downing may never be the superstar everyone hoped he'd be but he's a solid step above N'Zogbia in all elements but speed. The big question is whether N'Zogbia will at least get closer to his form of late last season. So far the better question is "Why is N'Zogbia starting over Albrighton?"

    On the Rooney/Chicharito front, it looks like both will be fit and are likely to start with United needing a win. That moves Rooney to the top of the Forward list and puts Chicharito firmly in the mix.

    More as I get Injuries and Suspensions posted

  15. Anonymous11:18 AM

    Does anyone know if bent is playing. Looks like he could bag a few goals v Wigan.