Monday, 17 March 2014

How Do You Solve A Problem Like...Who To Captain? - The Sequel

A wise man once wrote:

It is increasingly becoming evident that there is a golden rule to selecting your Captain this season. It goes as follows:

"If Liverpool are playing at home, captain Suarez. If they are playing away, captain Suarez"

A foolish man then failed to heed this advice, and subsequently paid the consequence.

These words were written by me back on 16 Dec last year prior to GW17.

We are now about to enter DGW31, so I thought I would revisit this article, if for no other reason than to give myself a kick up the arse and a timely reminder to follow my own advice.

First off, let's revisit the original Stats.

Remembering that Suarez missed the first 5 GW's due to suspension, the top 3 scoring players per GW are listed below with their scores doubled to reflect what they would have scored had they been your captain pick. If Suarez is not in the top 3, his score is annotated in brackets at the end.
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GW1: Benteke - 36 Pts / Ivanovic - 30 Pts / Mignolet - 30 Pts (Suarez - N/A)

GW2: Campbell - 32 Pts / Podolski - 26 Pts / Jose Enrique - 24 Pts (Suarez - N/A)

GW3: Davies - 30 Pts / Hernandez - 26 Pts / Zabaleta & Agger - 24 Pts (Suarez - N/A)

GW4: Sigurdsson - 32 Pts / Ramsey - 30 Pts / Ben Arfa - 26 Pts (Suarez - N/A)

GW5: Baines - 32 Pts / Lovren - 30 Pts / Ridgewell - 30 Pts (Suarez - N/A)

GW6: Lukaku - 32 Pts / Sturridge - 28 Pts / Ramsey & Suarez - 26 Pts

GW7: Reid - 30 Pts / Januzaj - 28 Pts / Remy - 26 Pts (Suarez - 12 Pts)

GW8: Hazard - 36 Pts / Aguero - 32 Pts / Ozil - 30 Pts (Suarez - 20 Pts)

GW9: Suarez - 34 Pts / Howard - 28 Pts / Vertonghen, Torres & Lambert - 24 Pts

GW10: Aguero - 36 Pts / Caulker - 30 Pts / McAuley - 30 Pts (Suarez - 4 Pts)

GW11: Suarez - 32 Pts / Lambert - 30 Pts / Bardsley - 30 Pts

GW12: Navas - 38 Pts / Lampard - 32 Pts / Aguero - 30 Pts (Suarez - 18 Pts)

GW13: Nasri - 32 Pts / Ramsey - 30 Pts / Oviedo - 28 Pts (Suarez - 4 Pts)

GW14: Suarez - 48 Pts / Hazard - 34 Pts / Yaya Toure - 30 Pts

GW15: Suarez - 30 Pts / Schurrle - 30 Pts / Fer - 28 Pts

GW16: Suarez - 44 Pts / Fernandinho - 30 Pts / Flanagan, Henderson, Walcott & Osman - 26 Pts

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This is where the original December article finished. So next I will go and analyse the GW16-30 Stats to see if anything changed; or importantly, if anyone else started to emerge as a serious rival for the Captains armband.

GW17: Suarez - 32 Pts / Adebayor - 26 Pts / Crouch, Lallana & Debuchy - 24 Pts

GW18: Rodriguez - 32 Pts / Walcott - 30 Pts / Parker - 26 Pts (Suarez - 2 Pts)

GW19: Huddlestone - 34 Pts / Koren - 30 Pts / Nolan & Anelka - 26 Pts (Suarez - 10 Pts)

GW20: Agger - 30 Pts / Oscar - 28 Pts / Eriksen & Bony - 26 Pts (Suarez - 12 Pts)

GW21: Johnson - 44 Pts / Suarez - 26 Pts / A Cole, Baines, Kolorov & Ki - 24 Pts

GW22: Eto'o - 34 Pts / Cazorla - 32 Pts / Cabaye & Bennett - 30 Pts (Suarez - 10 Pts)

GW23: Dzeko & Chico - 30 Pts / Adrian - 24 Pts / Puncheon, Sturridge & Suarez - 22 Pts

GW24: Nolan & Oxlade-Chamberlain - 33 Pts / Adam & Lambert - 30 Pts / Ivanovic - 28 Pts (Suarez - 8 Pts)

GW25: Hazard - 42 Pts / Skrtel - 34 Pts / Nolan - 32 Pts (Suarez - 10 Pts)

GW26: Adebayor - 32 Pts / Sturridge & Collins - 30 Pts / Fonte - 28 Pts (Suarez - 4 Pts)

GW27: Sturridge & Giroud - 32 Pts / Evra & Terry - 30 Pts / Henderson & Koscielny - 26 Pts (Suarez - 10 Pts)

GW28: Schurrle - 40 Pts / Sissoko & Suarez - 30 Pts / Benteke - 26 Pts

GW29: Caulker - 34 Pts / Jones - 28 Pts / Ba & Rooney - 24 Pts (Suarez - DNP)

GW30: Silva - 28 Pts / Odemwingie & Gerrard - 26 Pts / Coleman, Rosicky, Delph & Suarez - 22Pts
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What can be determined from this then? At first it is apparent that GW17 aside, Suarez is no longer the dead cert to be tops point scorer that he was earlier in the season. Between GW14-17 he was top points scorer every week, and had been in the top 3 in 7 of the 12 GW's he was eligible to play in.

Contrast that to post-GW17, when he does not appear ONCE as the top points scorer, and in actual fact only features in the top 3 in 4 of the 12 GW's he played in.

He would still give you a double-digit points return in 9 out of 13 GW's so it's not all doom and gloom, but he certainly hasn't been hitting the heights of his pre-GW18 returns.

It doesn't take the brains of an arch-bishop to work out why. The return of Daniel Sturridge in GW21 has definitely been a factor. In actual fact, although Sturridge only appears in the list on 3 occasions since his return from injury (GW23, 26 and 27) his form is marginally better than Suarez's and the reason many FPL managers have chosen to "double-up" on the magnificently named "SAS".


So why have I not been following my own advice then? Worse than that, I actually seriously considered DUMPING Suarez before the DGW fixture for GW31 was announced for Liverpool.

I actually still intend on selling Suarez before GW34 as regular readers who keep up with my Masterplan will be aware.

I admit to being very foolish with my captain selections in recent GW's, and the announcement today that Suarez has been awarded an assist for GW30 retrospectively has compounded my error.

I chose to go with Hazard for GW30. 4 points. Why?

1. Liverpool away at Old Trafford, the biggest rivalry in the PL it can be argued. Surely Man Utd would come out fighting for this one?

2. Suarez not scoring well away at the "bigger" teams this season (2 points at the Emirates and 1 point at the Etihad for example)

In GW29 I chose to go with Adam Lallana. An even more unfathomable decision in hindsight. Liverpool didn't play so Suarez wasn't an option, so I tool a gamble. It didn't pay off. 6 points.

For DGW31, I would take an educated guess that 80% of people will captain Suarez, with the rest opting for either his strike partner SturridgeRVP, Rooney, Lukaku or Yaya Toure. Maybe 1% of others will opt for someone a bit more "left-field" in the hope of pulling out a masterstroke to boost them ahead in their mini-league or overall rank, depending on what their main objective is.

Just a word on RVP, Rooney, Lukaku and Yaya though, before you think about slinging one of them the armband.

Rooney, Lukaku and Yaya have astonishingly only appeared amongst the top 3 highest points scorers on ONE occasion all season:

Rooney (3rd highest points scorer with 24 points - if you captained him - in GW29)
Lukaku (Top points scorer with 32 points in GW6)
Yaya Toure (3rd highest points scorer with 30 points in GW14)

RVP has not appeared in the list once.

To put that into context, Ivanovic, Agger, Caulker and even Nicholas Anelka have appeared in the top 3 points scorers on more occasions than Rooney, Lukaku, Yaya Toure or RVP!!!

For me, reading my Twitter feed prior to GW30, a lot of FPL managers chose to go with Lukaku as their captain. This to me was always a gamble, to the extent that I have actually chosen to discard him as an option for my Masterplan. I originally intended to sell J-Rod for Lukaku using my FT this week. I'm not convinced, so I'm keeping hold of the in-form J-Rod and dumping Lallana for Gerrard instead. This may or may not be revenge for Lallana letting me down badly in GW29! We'll know if that's the case if I dump Hazard next week I guess...

Suarez aside then, where else should you be looking for a captaincy choice?

1. Suarez - 11

2. Sturridge - 4

3. Aguero - 3

4. Lambert - 3

5. Hazard - 3

6. Nolan - 3

7. Ramsey - 3

Well, I guess if you don't want to go with Suarez, you've got to go with Sturridge. But maybe you're not an SAS owner? Aguero is unlikely to be fit for DGW31 so you've got to choose elsewhere. Now you're in possession of the raw data though, the decision to go for any of the other "main players" (RVP, Rooney, Yaya) looks a little less enticing doesn't it?

Nolan is the only other player in that list to appear more than once who has a DGW, but it would take some big cajones to sling the armband in his direction.

So what do you do? In the words of a wise, but foolish man:

"If Liverpool are playing at home, captain Suarez. If they are playing away, captain Suarez"

It's a safe option, it's a sensible option. But as with everything in life, if you don't take a risk once in a while you'll never achieve anything great...

FLY

@meet_the_gadfly