We all know that guy who tells you – AFTER the event – that he saw it coming. Mertesacker was bound to score away at Watford. Fellaini was clearly going to bag a couple the week before against Palace. But very rarely, if ever, do they admit when they got it wrong. Us mighty Togga writers are probably guilty of it more than anyone to be honest. Dishing out advice but never looking back and analysing our predictions. Not anymore. Given that I plan to publish the alternative EPL table every two weeks, I am going to make it my mission to start each piece by reflecting on the previous installment. And so, here is what I got right and what I got wrong from last time. For a reminder of the week 6 Alternative EPL table article, as well as details on how the table is calculated, click here.
- “Trade Mata after the Palace game.” VERDICT: Spot on. 20.5 points against Palace, only to be dropped for the trip to Anfield. Mkhitaryan is locked into United’s starting 11, and Mourinho seems to like Rashford/Martial on the left. Mata is the odd one out and will probably be sacrificed again in upcoming fixtures against Tottenham and Chelsea.
- “Cash in on Schindler and Mooy.” VERDICT: Spot on. Prior to week 7 these two were averaging 14.33 and 12.17, respectively. In the last 2 matchups, Schindler has averaged less than 3.5 points per game and Mooy less than 4.5. The trade ship for these two may have sailed now.
- “Beware Danilo taking Kyle Walker’s spot.” VERDICT: Foolish nonsense! In my defence, the day after that was written, Benjamin Mendy was ruled out for (probably) the season, meaning in theory, both were set to play at either full back. As it happens, Guardiola would rather play Fabian Delph at left-back than his £26million summer acquisition. Meanwhile Walker went on to score 19.25 points against Chelsea, and what would have got 9.5 points against Stoke if it weren’t for an unfortunate own goal.
- “Bring in a Leicester defender.” VERDICT: Spot on. Fuchs, given his lower % ownership, was the more applicable bit of advice. And he hasn’t disappointed, scoring 19.5 away at Bournemouth in week 7, and 12.25 at home to West Brom in week 8.
- “The Palace attack will come good.” VERDICT: Meh. Zaha returned with an almighty bang – 24.5 points worth of bang to precise – but Townsend, despite receiving plaudits for his performance, has averaged just 6 points over the last 2 weeks. Keep the faith in this prediction though, as I did warn that it may be a more long-term strategy.
- “Bank on an upturn for Rooney, Defoe, Jese and Arnautovic.” VERDICT: Meh. Only Rooney has brought in some worthwhile Togga points over the last two weeks, but given Carroll’s suspension for West Ham, I would persevere with Arnautovic a little longer. It may be time to give up on the other two though…Jese is showing why he’s fallen from Madrid to Stoke, whilst father time might finally be catching up on Defoe.
Strength of Schedule
Crystal Palace, Stoke City, and Everton have had the hardest schedule so far in the Premier League. Their tough opening 8 games explains why in the Alternative EPL table, Stoke jump 6 places, Everton 7 places, and Palace are simply no longer the worst team in the league! The top 3 have all had, statistically, the easiest schedule so far. A small degree of this will be due to a flaw in the nuances of the calculations (of which I am not smart enough to correct for), but by on large it does reflect the fact that these teams have generally played weaker opposition. In particular, Manchester United, despite their recent trip to Liverpool, have had an extraordinarily easy run so far, and this explains why they are 3.4 points adrift of rivals City in the Alternative EPL table, as opposed to just 2. Worryingly for West Brom and Huddersfield fans, their teams have had the joint 4th easiest schedule, and this has led to both slipping precariously towards the relegation zone in the Alternative EPL table.
- Is it too late to say get Zaha? Okay, well in that case, how about a defender. With Newcastle away, and home matches against West Ham, Everton, and Stoke coming up (none of whom are particularly potent in attack), someone like van Aanholt might be worth reaching out for. He’s probably the only guaranteed starter amongst the defence and goalkeeper, so the alternative is to wait until the line-ups are revealed and get someone on a free – most Palace defenders will be available!
- Stoke City have got some poor defences to face in the next few weeks. In fact, their next 6 games are all against teams who have conceded 10 or more goals. Diouf, Choupo-Moting, and Shaqiri have been the club’s best attacking players according to WhoScored, and with the former only owned in 44% of leagues, it may be an ideal time to jump on the bandwagon.
- A couple from Merseyside to try and acquire now, as both clubs have a nice run up to Christmas. Dominic Calvert-Lewin could be on the verge of a breakout season at Everton – especially if Carlo Ancelotti makes his way to Goodison Park (before you laugh, the bookies have made him the 4/1 favourite to take over when…I mean, “if” Koeman gets the sack!). And from the red-side, Adam Lallana. The midfielder could return in less than a month, so picking him up now (he’s owned in just over 50% of leagues) is a must if possible. Even if he doesn’t make too many starts straight away, with the news that Barcelona are coming back in for Coutinho in January, the spot on the bench will be worth it in the long run.
- Bernardo Silva can go. The guy is brilliant, don’t get me wrong. But Guardiola seems to have finally settled on a team he likes. With City’s schedule getting tougher (in theory at least!), even the likes of KDB, Sterling, and Silva will struggle to maintain their flying starts, let alone the man who gets most of his points coming off the bench. He just scored on the weekend, so remind people of that and then try to offload.
- Ben Davies has a PPM of 19.92. NINETEEN POINT NINE NINE TWO!!! That’s ridiculous. And yet…he’s not as good as Danny Rose. I can’t see him keeping the England left back at bay for long, so if you own Davies, cash in now – particularly as 4 of Tottenham’s next 5 opponents are in the top half of the league.
- Arsenal are struggling…but believe it or not, they’ve actually had a rather favourable schedule. So rather than holding on to someone like Ozil or – dare I say it – Alexis Sanchez, in the expectation that the Gunners will soon turn the corner, it may be better to see if you can obtain somebody better. Or at least more reliable. Those two have started just 7 matches between them in the league this season.
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