Saturday, 24 August 2013

The Scout previews Gameweek 2

Three of last season’s top four in the Barclays Premier League are on their travels as The Scout assesses the upcoming round of matches.
Arsenal are looking to recover from their opening day home defeat to Aston Villa as they make their way to Fulham in Saturday’s early kick-off. In-form Manchester City pay visit to Championship winners Cardiff City, while Chelsea go head-to-head with champions Manchester United at Old Trafford in the final fixture of the Gameweek.
Elsewhere, Liverpool roll up to Aston Villa, Everton entertain West Bromwich Albion in Roberto Martinez’ first home match in charge of the Toffees, while Tottenham Hotspur will be looking to build on last Sunday’s victory at Selhurst Park as they prepare for the visit of Swansea City.

Talking tactics

Darren Bent’s season-long loan deal at Fulham could result in a change of position for Dimitar Berbatov. The Bulgarian tends to be fielded as the lone forward in Martin Jol’s preferred 4-4-1-1 formation but could be forced into a more withdrawn berth in order to accommodate the new boy. With Bent expected to lead the line for the Cottagers and Berbatov moving into “the hole” to provide creativity from deep, Bryan Ruiz – who is classified as a forward – may be forced onto the right flank in a tactical reshuffle. Such a scenario would not only dent the Costa Rican’s attacking potential, it would also place question marks over the game time of Damien Duff; with Adel Taarabt perhaps favourite to claim the left flank berth, the Republic of Ireland international may be ousted to the bench.
Brendan Rodgers’ decision to roll out a 4-2-3-1 formation for last weekend’s visit of Stoke City proved beneficial to Iago Aspas. The summer signing had mainly been utilised on the right of a 4-3-3 during Liverpool’s pre-season friendlies but was shifted into a central role behind Daniel Sturridge for the Potters’ visit, with Jordan Henderson patrolling the flank instead. Aspas featured prominently and, in addition to registering the assist for Sturridge’s match-winner, also collected a couple of bonus points thanks to his endeavours – he looks set to retain the role as the Merseysiders make their way to Villa Park on Saturday evening.
Manuel Pellegrini could face the prospect of travelling to Cardiff without either of his first-choice centre-backs. The Manchester City boss was already missing Matija Nastasic for the visit of Newcastle United on Monday evening but watched Vincent Kompany limp off midway through the second period with a groin problem. Joleon Lescott seems a secure starter for the trip to Wales as Pellegrini looks to build on the clean sheet accrued against the Magpies – Javi Garcia is on standby to drop into the heart of the back-four if Nastasic and Kompany fail to recover in time.

By the numbers

This season has seen a change in how the bonus points are calculated, thanks to the introduction of a new Bonus Points System (BPS). Casting an eye over the fixtures played out over Saturday and Sunday, it’s intriguing to see that 10 defenders received two or more bonus points, whereas only six midfielders and seven forwards achieved this feat.
Digging deeper, one of the fundamental reasons is that defensive work is now looked upon more favourably. For every 8 clearances, blocks and interceptions (CBI) combined, a player earns an extra point towards his BPS score in any given match – resilience at the back has suddenly been afforded greater significance and may affect how Fantasy managers assemble their squads in future.
The Scout casts an eye over the nine matches played out over the weekend to ascertain the main beneficiaries to this point.

Jose Fonte
Jose Fonte (SOU)225155
Jonas Olsson (WBA)181161
Sylvain Distin (EVE)162104
Brede Hangeland (FUL)161132
Rio Ferdinand (MUN)140104
Winston Reid (WHM)140131
Ryan Shawcross (STK)143101
Michael Turner (NOR)141121
Ciaran Clark (AVL)13382
Michael Carrick (MUN)12066
Aaron Hughes (FUL)121101
Erik Pieters (STK)120111
Initially breaking down the most impressive performers by position, it’s immediately obvious that centre-halves dominate our list. Ten of the featured 12 players ply their trade in the heart of their respective back-fours, with one full-back and a central midfielder taking up the remaining two slots.
Southampton’s Jose Fonte leads the way with 22 CBI. The Saints centre-half made an impressive 5 blocks, 15 clearances and 5 interceptions to keep West Brom at bay as Mauricio Pochettino’s side kicked off their campaign with a 1-0 win at the Hawthorns. In the same match, Jonas Olsson was a standout for the hosts with 18 CBI and, while neither player collected bonus points for their contributions, Fonte’s central defensive partner Dejan Lovren received the maximum bonus points instead.
Fulham centre-back pairing Brede Hangeland and Aaron Hughes received 3 and 2 bonus points respectively in a 1-0 win at Sunderland. While the duo registered a block apiece, Hangeland edged it for clearances (13 to 10) and interceptions (2 to 1) against the Black Cats. Significantly, both players picked up 3 bonus points apiece over the entire 2012/13 season – a sure sign of how the new scoring matrix is likely to benefit them.
Sylvain Distin and Michael Turner, with 16 CBI and 14 CBI respectively, were both kept busy in Everton’s draw at Norwich City on Saturday afternoon. Neither collected bonus points, however, after being overshadowed by two attacking full-backs; Seamus Coleman and Steven Whittaker both produced a goal and assist in the 2-2 draw.
Stoke skipper Ryan Shawcross’ contribution in a backs-to-the-wall display at Liverpool is obvious. The Potters centre-back registered 14 CBI and was joined by new left-back Erik Pieters; the Dutchman made 11 clearances and an interception in the narrow Anfield loss. Aston Villa’s Ciaran Clark earned a single bonus point for his resilient display in a 3-1 win at Arsenal. Climbing off the bench to replace Nathan Baker with 17 minutes on the clock, the centre-half produced 3 blocks, 8 clearances and a couple of interceptions to keep the Gunners at bay.
Michael Carrick’s defensive work in the heart of Manchester United’s midfield is also recognised. He produced 12 CBI – only a couple less than defensive team-mate Rio Ferdinand – to suggest he may also benefit from the new system this term.

Ones to watch

Jan Vertonghen – having recovered from an ankle problem sustained in pre-season, the centre-half helped Tottenham to a comfortable clean sheet away to Crystal Palace on Sunday. Vertonghen also picked up a couple of bonus points against the Eagles and will be looking to replicate the attacking threat which harvested 5 goals in 2012/13 as Swansea roll up to White Hart Lane this weekend.
Jonathan Walters – the midfielder will be desperate to make amends after his last-minute spot-kick miss denied Stoke City a share of the points at Anfield. Walters looks to have the prefect platform to bounce back immediately as promoted Crystal Palace make their way to the Britannia Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Kevin Mirallas – a change in Everton’s formation under new boss Roberto Martinez has boosted the Belgian’s attacking potential. Moved to the right of a front three, Mirallas grabbed 4 goals over the Toffees’ pre-season friendlies and, with Seamus Coleman’s overlapping runs lending support from full-back, will be looking to open his account as West Brom roll up to Goodison Park in Martinez’ first home match in charge of the Merseysiders.
David Silva – the Manchester City playmaker needed just six minutes to open his account for the season against Newcastle United on Monday evening. A trip to Cardiff City affords Manuel Pellegrini’s side further chance to impress, with Silva looking full of confidence ahead of Sunday’s encounter.
Olivier Giroud – Arsenal’s top scorer over the summer with 8 goals to his name, Giroud was quick off the mark last weekend, grabbing the opener in the home loss to Aston Villa. The Gunners travel to Fulham this time out and will be reliant on the Frenchman to maintain his impressive form at Craven Cottage on Saturday lunchtime.
Rickie Lambert – the third top scoring Fantasy forward in the season gone by, Southampton’s lone striker is already off the mark courtesy of a late penalty against West Brom last weekend. While much of the attention surrounds new recruit Pablo Osvaldo, The Scout reckons Lambert remains the one to watch this weekend as Mauricio Pochettino’s side welcome Sunderland to St Mary’s Stadium.


Post a Comment