Lineup Lessons: Gameweek 26


Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Jenkinson, Monreal, Arteta, Wilshere, Ramsey, Walcott, Giroud, Cazorla. 

Subs: Mannone, Diaby, Rosicky, Podolski, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Miquel.

Podolski was a surprise ommission here, though that one would appear to be an issue of fitness rather than form. Whether or not the German represents good value for money when in the side is another issue, though I do believe he'll be back there soon. Walcott was once again pushed back out wide, though again he was able to enjoy a good statistical game (including five total shots, four SiB) so there's little reason to downgrade the winger based on Giroud's inclusion this week. The deployment at centre back and subsequent dismissal of Jenkinson is a concern in that the team would obviously be weakened with Miquel playing regularly, but Vermaelen and Koscielny both appear to have a chance at making the team next week so owners of Sagna et al shouldn't panic yet, particularly with that promising home fixture to Villa on the docket.

Aston Villa

Guzan, Lowton, Vlaar, Clark, Baker, Weimann, Westwood, Delph, Bowery, N'Zogbia, Benteke

Subs: Given, Bent, Holman, Sylla, Dawkins, Bannan, Bennett

No lineup issues here to comment on though N'Zogbia's continued success and advanced deployment may need more attention in this week's fanning the flames, despite my own personal reluctance to buy in.


Cech, Azpilicueta, Ivanovic, Cahill, Cole, Luiz, Ramires, Oscar, Lampard, Hazard, Torres

Subs: Turnbull, Mata, Ferreira, Marin, Ba, Benayoun, Bertrand

Mata being benched was a huge blow given the strength of the fixture, but it was always on the cards and it's something owners of Chelsea players simply have to live with. The good news is that he will presumably be safe from Benitez's meddling for a while so he would be a good investment after this week's tough trip to the Etihad. The Ba-Torres rotation seems to have swung in the Spaniard's favor, confirming the fact that Ba is simply unownable following his move from Newcastle.


Howard, Neville, Jagielka, Distin, Baines, Mirallas, Osman, Gibson, Pienaar, Fellaini, Anichebe

Subs: Mucha, Heitinga, Jelavic, Oviedo, Naismith, Hitzlsperger, Stones

Anichebe was again preferred to Jelavic but after failing to notch a single shot all day, one wouldn't be too surprised to see Jelavic restored this week. The rest of this side remains devoid of any serious depth so the other fantasy options look as safe as ever. Neville's performance here underscored the fact that he isn't a particularly strong defender (especially when playing the offside trap, apparently) and owners of the other Everton defenders should probably downgrade this unit slightly until Moyes puts an actual defender (or at least Coleman) back there.


Schwarzer, Manolev, Senderos, Hangeland, Riise, Sidwell, Frimpong, Duff, Ruiz, Berbatov, Rodallega

Subs: Etheridge, Petric, Karagounis, Hughes, Dejagah, Emanuelson, Kacaniklic

Manolev got the start in place of Riether, who missed out through illness though given the faith shown in Riether to date, I wouldn't be expecting that move to continue beyond this week. With Hughes apparently sidelines for good, that leaves Senderos as the cheapest option here at 4.7m and given his lack of security in this side (not to mention their lack of defensive success) I wouldn't be in a rush to invest anywhere along this back line until we see this week's defensive success is somewhat sustainable. Going forward the main assets all continue to play yet somewhat underwhelm and thus remain themselves, underwhelming but still ownable.


Reina, Johnson, Carragher, Agger, Jose Enrique, Lucas, Gerrard, Henderson, Downing, Shelvey, Suarez 

Subs: Jones, Coutinho, Allen, Borini, Sterling, Skrtel, Wisdom

Given the performance of Agger here, together with the fact that Carragher remains determined yet ultimately a flawed defender these days, it would be surprising if Skrtel didn't find himself back in this side sooner rather than later. I'm afraid the same cannot be said about the potentially valuable Wisdom as the full back pairing have been solid enough of late, so anyone who jumped in at 4.3m should probably be thinking about alternatives, likely not from this side given the prices involved here for what is ultimately a fairly average defensive unit. Going forward it was a blow for Sturridge to miss out after there were suggestions he would be fit enough to play, though on the bright side, Liverpool were still able to create plenty of chances and were unfortunate not to find the back of the net. Continued attacking play like this should like to Suarez and (when fit) Sturridge offering good fantasy value.

Man City

Hart, Zabaleta, Lescott, Javi Garcia, Clichy, Nasri, Toure, Barry, Silva, Aguero, Dzeko

Subs: Pantilimon, Maicon, Milner, Sinclair, Kolarov, Rodwell, Toure

Looking at this fairly strong bench doesn't exactly scream of a team with no depth, but unfortunately for City, one of their comparably weak positions has also been hurt with injuries and thus this defense was once again exposed. As the four straight clean sheets in GW21-24 show, there is certainly potential here but with Kompany and to a lesser extent Nastasic, it's tough to see any in the back line offering too much value. Mancini believes that some of his players lacked the "big balls" required to succeed in this league and thus we can probably expect widespread changes this week. Given this uncertainty and the suddenly mediocre stats being put out by the likes of Aguero, I'm lukewarm on this whole attacking side and you might want to steer clear until we know just how much turnover we're going to see and what impact it has.

Man Utd

De Gea, Da Silva, Vidic, Evans, Evra, Valencia, Cleverley, Jones, Giggs, Rooney, van Persie

Subs: Amos, Anderson, Smalling, Hernandez, Carrick, Nani, Welbeck

There was talk of a couple of United's stars being rested here given the midweek Champions League fixture but Ferguson decided to stick with his first team and United got a pretty big win in the title race. This would suggest however that van Persie and Rooney might be rested at some point in the next few games, though as with Mata above, this is something you simply have to bake into your assessment of a given player's value. With City's front line full of question marks and Rooney himself subject to the same risk as his teammate, the options to replace van Persie look somewhat thin (though as we've said multiple times, it's a risk that must be taken for those scrambling to make ground).


Krul, Debuchy, Coloccini, S Taylor, Santon, Perch, Sissoko, Cabaye, Gutierrez, Gouffran, Cisse

Subs: Harper, Anita, Yanga-Mbiwa, Marveaux, Shola Ameobi, Tiote, Obertan

The new boys look to be nicely bedded in here and with the exception of Tiote for Perch, you'd think this is the first team that will be the first choice until Ben Arfa returns. Whether or not there are too many legit fantasy options here is tough to say given the lack of sample size, but through a handful of games at least I think we can put Sissoko onto the watchlist alongside Cabaye who has offered very good value when he's been healthy. Needless to say, all these new arrivals have unfortunately ended Marveaux nice run as an uber-cheap midfield option.


Bunn, Martin, Bassong, Turner, Garrido, Snodgrass, Tettey, Johnson, E Bennett, Hoolahan, Becchio

Subs: Camp, Whittaker, Howson, Jackson, Surman, Kamara, Tierney

Not too much exciting going on here, though one point of note is that Whittaker is now fit and hasn't taken Martin's spot back, which is a nice boost to his value (not that too many people were exactly waiting on that decision with baited breath). Holt apparently woke up with a back issue and hence missed out this week, and though Hughton has since suggested it isn't a long term problem it's enough to make him very sellable, especially considering his so-so form and the presence of Becchio to threaten his playing time.


Julio Cesar, Onuoha, Samba, Hill, Traore, Townsend, Derry, Mbia, Jenas, Taarabt, Mackie

Subs: Green, Park, Wright-Phillips, Granero, Ben Haim, Zamora, Bothroyd

We have seen increased stability in this lineup since Redknapp brought in some of his preferred players, yet no one has really emerged as a fantasy threat over that time. Taarabt will always have his attractions but I'm personally not going there again, and while this defence have had some joy of late, their underlying stats do not suggest sustainable value so I'm pretty much out on this team.


Federici, Kelly, Pearce, Mariappa, Harte, Kebe, Akpan, Leigertwood, McAnuff, Blackman, Pogrebnyak

Subs: S Taylor, Shorey, Karacan, Le Fondre, Hunt, McCleary, Morrison

A couple of changes here but honestly this isn't a team to waste to much time on. The only player who has come close to generating the kind of stats or production required to be a regular fantasy starter is Le Fondre who cannot seem to get a break in this side, so until he makes a return or something drastic happens, I'm out.


Boruc, Clyne, Yoshida, Hooiveld, Fox, Cork, Schneiderlin, S Davis, Puncheon, Rodriguez, Lambert

Subs: K Davis, Forren, Ward-Prowse, Lee, Lallana, Richardson, Chaplow

We've seen a nicely settled lineup at Southampton all season, especially with Lallana sidelined for a while. Now he's back, someone is going to miss out and based on the lineups before Lallana was injured, it looks like Rodriguez could be the man to miss out.


Begovic, Shotton, Shawcross, Huth, Wilkinson, Kightly, Nzonzi, Whelan, Etherington, Walters, Crouch

Subs: Sorensen, Cameron, Jones, Owen, Adam, Whitehead, Jerome

Again, this is another settled lineup with only Jones and Adam seeing their minutes consistently rotated. It' tough to find too much of interest of top, though I guess Walters and Crouch offer some very safe yet low ceiling returns, while defensively this is a good side and Wilkinson appears to be the cheap link here.


Mignolet, Gardner, Bramble, O'Shea, Rose, Sessegnon, Cattermole, N'Diaye, Colback, Johnson, Fletcher

Subs: Westwood, Bardsley, Larsson, Graham, Vaughan, Mangane, Cuellar

A lot of these teams are making this column somewhat obsolete as Sunderland are another side who have little to talk about each week. I'm not sure there's enough consistency in this side to warrant the prices some of these players carry but if nothing else they do offer regular playing time.


Vorm, Rangel, Chico, Williams, Davies, Hernandez, de Guzman, Ki, Routledge, Dyer, Michu

Subs: Tremmel, Bartley, Lamah, Shechter, Moore, Tiendalli, Agustien

Nothing to add here either


Lloris, Walker, Dawson, Caulker, Naughton, Lennon, Parker, Dembele, Holtby, Dempsey, Bale

Subs: Friedel, Vertonghen, Adebayor, Gallas, Sigurdsson, Livermore, Assou-Ekotto

I wondered if Holtby might threaten Dempsey's playing time but it was a surprise to see them play together and without a recognised front man. Without seeing the whole game it's to say who played that role, but the average position charts at least suggest that it was essentially a 4-3-3 with Bale, Holtby and Dempsey all getting significant time up field (Bale of course led the trio with eight touches inside the box to the other pair's four). At 7.5m Holtby is an interesting prospect but I'd like to see confirmation that he is ahead of Dempsey in the pecking order before pulling the trigger there as presumably Adebayor will at some point retake his place atop this formation.

West Brom

Foster, Reid, McAuley, Olsson, Ridgewell, Yacob, Mulumbu, Dorrans, Morrison, Brunt, Long

Subs: Myhill, Rosenberg, Lukaku, Jones, Tamas, Fortune, Thomas

It feels to me like Lukakau should be all but undroppable but given West Brom are always likely to be somewhat cautious away from home, there will occasions when he or Long will be forced to sit out. This week, of course, Lukaku was able to get his points in just 17 minutes of work but if you're playing the odds that situation isn't going to lead to sustainable production and it was that factor that personally led to me grabbing Benteke over his Belgian teammate. A quick glance at the fixture list may well end Lukaku's usefuleness for a little while longer too.

West Ham

Jaaskelainen, O'Brien, Reid, Tomkins, Pogatetz, Noble, Diame, Nolan, Taylor, J Cole, Carroll

Subs: Spiegel, Jarvis, C Cole, Vaz Te, Demel, Chamakh, O'Neil

We're seeing a number of changes here with basically everyone other than Nolan subject to Allardyce's rotation whim. That, together with a lack of consistent production makes it hard to see too much value here, especially with Carroll coming with an overly steep price tag. Despite a few disappointing results of late, this remains a startable defence at home with a fit again O'Brien the pick of the pack.


Al Habsi, Stam, Scharner, Caldwell, Figueroa, McCarthy, McArthur, Beausejour, Espinoza, Maloney, Di Santo

Subs: Robles, Kone, Jones, Henriquez, Gomez, McManaman, Golobart

Kone is back from the ACN so figures to slide back into this side soon, hopefully not at the expense of Maloney who has provided solid returns this year for his price. The rest of the side looks fairly settled yet thoroughly uninspiring.

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