What a wild weekend of EPL we’ve just had. With no Champions League soccer this week, I figured we’d take a deeper dive into last Saturday’s slate. As always, refining your process is the key to long term success. Staying stagnant is how you get passed by. Everyone is coming for your money so why wouldn’t you evolve?
For starters, let’s take a look at what I predicted and how the game turned out:
WHAT I WROTE
BUR/NOR RESULT: Burnley 2 – Norwich 0
Norwich have to be the story of the season thus far. Fireworks.That’s the only word to describe their style of play. Bravo to them for playing their style of football, win or lose. And boy oh boy do we have two different styles of play here.
Sitting last in the Premier League with 44 crosses? Norwich. Burnley, on the other hand, has played 94 to more than double up the effort. This will be a super interesting tactical battle as Burnley are happy to be compact at the back and absorb crosses from the opposing team before playing direct and creating chances on the other end. That’s not Norwich’s style of play at all. Whether they resort to that if they can’t bust through the line will be the key late in the game.
I do think Burnley’s two forwards can bully the backline of Norwich a bit. You see from the Vegas line/total and goal scoring odds that the Burnley Forwards need to be in consideration for DFS this weekend.
Yeah, we nailed this one guys. Norwich’s swashbuckling style was and is fun but against an organized team on the road who won’t be drawn into the Canarie’s antics, it’s going to be a tough game. Norwich’s forwards DID bully the back line and picked up both goals in the process.
The tough part? I had you guys on Ashley Barnes (0 goals) and Chris Wood (2 goals) was the one doing the big time damage. Close, but we aren’t playing horseshoes here. These are the margins we live in.
WHAT I WROTE
EVE/SHU RESULT: Everton 0 – Sheffield Utd 2
Everton’s two wins this season have come at home and they are back in the friendly confines for this contest with Sheffield United. GRANTED, the two wins were over sorry Watford and Wolverhampton teams. What can we pick up from those games? Not much. Everton have conceded at least a goal in two straight games and Sheffield in three straight.
While this feels like an Everton win, and the bookmakers have them as -150 favorites, there is something going on with Everton. We have seen fans spray paint on buildings that they want the manager out. It has to be said that Marco Silva isn’t getting the most out of this squad.
This is the lowest total on the schedule and, while I’ll likely have Digne, I don’t necessarily feel the need to rush to the attackers from Everton in this slot. For Sheffield, Billy Sharp picked up a red card last time out and will miss the game. Perhaps that means that McGoldrick and Robinson will complete the full 90, something I don’t think has happened yet this year.
I’d love to take a victory lap here but I can’t take all the credit. For starters, Robinson was subbed out in the 62nd minute, well short of full time and his replacement bagged the goal in the second half. However, I like doing these game breakdowns for my own benefit because it’s important that we really think through the games on the slate and figure out where we want to attack.
Everton were the second largest favorite on the board and at home. Surely that’s a place to attack, right? Well, no. Sheffield were stingy defensively, and as I highlighted in red in the breakdown above, we really haven’t seen anything definitive to tell us this Everton team is clicking on all cylinders. In fact, I mentioned that I’VE seen enough to say that Silva WAS NOT getting the most out of the talent.
While I didn’t say Sheffield were going to win the game, hopefully the breakdown was enough to dissuade you from the expensive Everton attack.
WHAT I WROTE
MCI/WAT RESULT: Man City 8 – Watford 0
Just look at those goal scoring odds. Last year City won the home fixture 3-1 and the away fixture 1-2. If you listened to the Talking Soccer Podcast you’ll know that I do like Watford to score in this game but anything other than a City win would be shocking. They are coming off the terrible loss to Norwich last week but bounced back with a big win against Shakhtar on Wednesday.
How do we play this? Well, the capture method is certainly one action, but let’s say you take Aguero, B Silva, DeBruyne — you are left with an average of $3.52k per player. You can’t do jack shit with that. The reality is that one or two City players max should be your exposure.
Last season Sterling grabbed all three goals!! He’s certainly in form to pick up a goal or two and at $11.1k is cheaper than both KDB and Aguero. That is a route I don’t hate for GPPs. In cash, I’ll likely roll out KDB who was subbed off in the 77th minute to save his legs. Aguero was completely rested. They are my top two for cash.
Can you take both a win and a loss at the same time? I was SUPER high on Kevin De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva with Aguero right there in the mix. Those were 3 of the top 5 players from this Saturday’s slate. You didn’t win if you didn’t have them. While De Bruyne was obvious, the B Silva call as my #2 F just behind Aguero was the differentiator for us.
Where I was wrong? The scoreline was outrageous and I was way off in that I thought Watford would be able to keep the game reasonable. I really thought they would score and cause City some problems. But let’s talk about specific actions early in the first half and how it changed the game.
Just a minute into the game City are up 1-0. Just before the three minute mark Watford had City pinned deep and as they usually do, City tried to play out of the back. Ederson put Otamendi in a tough spot and after a poor touch gave the ball away in a 50/50 challenge between Doucoure/De Bruyne. The ball rebounded just a centimeter out of Will Hughes’ reach inside the box and the ball deflected towards Deulofeu near the penalty spot. Ederson was quick off his line to smother it but Watford were nearly in clean on goal. This happened around 2:57 into the game.
At 3:19 seconds into the game, just 20 seconds later, Mendy had the ball up the left side and made a sloppy square pass to the middle that was intercepted by Capoue. He played a beautiful direct ball into the right channel for Deulofeu to run onto. He was 1v1 with Otamendi 40 yards from goal.
He skins Otamendi who needlessly dives in at the top of the box and Deulofeu finds himself 1v1 with Ederson.
Deulofeu takes one touch too many and cuts down his angle a touch but the goal is staring him dead in the face. A calm finish and the game is 1-1.
The ball goes inches wide and the game stays at 1-0. Of course, two minutes later Ben Foster brings down Mahrez in the box going away from the goal and concedes a penalty which Aguero converts to make it 2-0. From there, 6…yes, SIX more goals were scored.
Look, I’m not saying that Watford could have mustered a win or even a draw had this gone in. However, inside of 3.5 minutes they were 1v1 with the City keeper and came away with 0 goals. You have to finish your chances against a team like this. Once the PK was converted the Watford heads dropped and the City tails went up. It was showtime.
Last but not least, the afternoon hammer.
WHAT I WROTE
The afternoon hammer and what a potential snooze fest this could be. Maupay grabbed us a goal last week but I do prefer Murray this week for the savings. An Aguero/Murray pairing is interesting on DK. Newcastle host Brighton and last year lost 0-1 at home. The reverse fixture was a 1-1 tie. That’s kind of what we are looking at here. Neither team has super top end “make a difference” talent to rely on for goals. This will be a knock down drag ‘em out fight for points. Newcastle sit on four points with Brighton just in front with five. Realistically, both teams are in the relegation race and points are at a premium.
For Brighton, a point would suffice. For Newcastle, they desperately need a win. They’ve had a tough start to the season with games against Arsenal, Tottenham (win) and Liverpool. They’ll see this as an opportunity to hold serve at home and bring in the three points.
Who’s going to do the damage?Joelinton would seem most likely but that is a stout back line for Burnley. It will take quickness, guile and creativity to break that backline down. Who has those traits? MIGUEL ALMIRON. COME ON MIGGY!!!!
I nailed this again. Everything you needed was in the first line of the breakdown but looking deeper into it, Joelinton was the man with the big miss. He had a free header he put wide that could have won it for Newcastle. It was Brighton who had the ball for 78% of the game. They outshot Newcastle 16 to 11 and really the only pieces we could play in this game were in the breakdown.
Pascal Gross is someone we have rostered the last two weeks since Trossard went down with an injury. He’s produced two weeks in a row as well. We’ll keep an eye on him. It was curious that the big man Glen Murray didn’t get the start but Brighton did their job and got the point. Newcastle will be disappointed. Hopefully this breakdown made you say, “I don’t want many or any pieces of this game” because that’s what it did for me.
OK, let’s do a quick lineup review and we’ll get you out of here. I ran more lineups than usual on Saturday. With it being a short slate with one massive favorite, I wanted to spread out my money to capture as many pieces of City as possible. My best team didn’t have Aguero but captured the KDB, B Silva and Otamendi exposure.
The build is pretty straight forward. It’s my #2 forward, my #1 midfielder and my #1 GK. That was the base for most GPP builds. From there I wanted floor from my forwards and strictly upside and salary savings with my defenders. The Utility was strictly a salary play, bailed out by a 6 point assist.
I simply couldn’t build a roster that had Aguero, KDB and B Silva so I had to get creative. The B Silva M/F, and really, the Gross/McNeil M/F availability allowed me the flexibility to fit in the pieces I wanted.
Gross and McNeil graded out very similarly for me and for this roster, I wanted the floor from 4-5 players. My M/F options allowed that. McNeil and Gross were both on set pieces and McNeil grabbed an assist.
It’s pretty straight forward. I had a hard on for these guys from the moment pricing came out. For KDB, it’s simple. He’s the best midfielder in the world at the moment. His form is ridiculous. For B Silva, it was both a price play and a form play. He hasn’t been a guaranteed starter this year and i knew he’d want to grab his chance with both hands. I did NOT know he was going to bag a hattrick.
While I thought Watford would score, Otamendi had CS equity. The bigger piece was his insane goal scoring record for a defender. In a game I figured City would dominate from a possession standpoint, they were always likely to be at or near the top in set pieces won. That combined with the price made it somewhat of an obvious GPP play.
Lewis Dunk is a big man with a big head and a target on set pieces. The price allowed me to spend up at M and F and the upside was the draw. He ended up hitting value partially thanks to the CS Brighton kept.
Henderson was my #1 goalie and the price made sense for my build. I didn’t roster any Everton pieces and was thinking I might take a stab on Lundstram in the UTIL spot. If he had a decent game, surely Henderson would have a chance at the W.
Almost strictly a price play. At $3.4k and having already rostered Otamendi, I figured perhaps Lundstram with Henderson was the pairing I could make work. We were TOTALLY bailed out with the assist but that was the upside I was banking on with this GPP build. Just look at his logs…1.3, 3.8, 3.8. Not a lot to love but 3.8 is 1x. That doens’t murder your lineup and while he hadn’t had a shot in two straight games, he was averaging 1.3 shots per in the prior three. There was a chance, albeit small, that he could produce. I’ll take the assist instead and thank my lucky stars for more than a 2x performance from him.
So there we go. A little review of Saturday’s slate. What would I have done differently?
I was very happy with the Henderson play, and it worked out, but in hindsight I could have had more Ederson.
The Chris Wood v Ashley Barnes is going to annoy me to no end. Why Ashley Barnes? Form for one but mostly because Wood is generally the knock down guy, not the one going directly for goal. But then I look back at their goal scoring odds and they are both sitting at +137 anytime goal scoring odds. With five lineups to not have Wood on one lineup is bad.
Staying in that game, I’ll have to dig deeper into the set piece situation for Burnley. Ashley Westwood was back on some set pieces. I don’t like to guess with these situations, I’d rather know. He turned out to have a great game.
All in all, the pieces were there for a big weekend. I did OK but nothing to brag about. Hopefully you guys crushed!
- Talking Soccer Podcast out Wednesday.
- Back of the Net Thursday
- Cheat Sheets and FPL article out Friday.