Sunday, 25 January 2015

Gylfi Sigurdsson Sees Red

Gylfi Sigurdsson, the Swansea City and Iceland midfielder, was sent off for a lunge on Blackburn's Josh King during the Swans 3-1 loss in the fourth round of the FA Cup. The 25-year-old Sigurdsson was later defended by boss Garry Monk, but still faces three matches on the sidelines. "It warranted a yellow, but I don't think it was a red," said Monk. "He had a lunge after he was kicked. He shouldn't react, but it wasn't dangerous. I don't think he was in any danger of hurting the player." The ban will apply to the Swans next three Premier League fixtures: trips to Southampton (GW23) and West Brom (GW25) and a home encounter against Sunderland (GW24). 

Fantasy Premier League managers will be scrambling to replace Siggy in their XI as his combination of on-the-ball skill, role in Monk's offensive plan and EPL fantasy price make him an attractive player in all formats. In the Official game, Sigurdsson's price has already fallen £0.1m from £6.8 to £6.7 - and that will continue as 40.9% of all sides own him as of this writing (03:44 am GMT 25 Jan).

With Wilfried Bony sold to Manchester City and Sung-yeung Ki playing in the Asia Cup of Nations for Korea, the three most fantasy-relevant Swans are missing in action. This means managers must first find a suitable replacement for Siggy and then assess Garry Monk's side to determine if there is a potential for returns. The first part first, naturally, is Sigurdsson moving out of your squad. This author already effectuated on such transaction with minimal fuss - selling the Icelandic international and acquiring Liverpool's Jordan Henderson.

If you've listened to me on the Weekly Fantasy Football Show, you're well aware of my fantasy love for Liverpool's young midfielder. Henderson has shown signs of growing into the role vacated by Brendan Rodgers' rotation of captain Steven Gerrard. Hendo's 49 chances created are second in the squad to Raheem Sterling, while his six assists (seven FPL assists) are tops amoung Reds. Henderson's effort across the pitch has a direct impact on his viability in draft formats - like Togga, where he scored 246 points to date - and those same underlying statistics predict future value for the England international. Owned in 11.8% of FPL sides, Henderson has actually seen negative net transfers in five of the past seven gameweeks, including two on the spin. Priced £6.0 before the injury to Sigurdsson, his price has risen to £6.1 at time of writing.

 The second question is a bit more interesting, and certainly more difficult to answer. Bafétimbi Gomis is a popular pick to fire as he replaces the departed Bony. With one goal in 706' this term, a cautious approach is warranted. The Swans do not fare well away from Liberty Stadium and are a poor 2-3-5 with 10 goals scored and 17 conceded in their travels this season. The most direct benefactor may be Nathan Dyer, who has seen a significant reduction in playing time this season. In 1169' he has 13 chances created and 20 successful dribbled (TakeOns). Those are not particularly good numbers for a staring midfielder in FPL. The 20 TakeOns rate fourth in the squad behind Siggy and the injured Wayne Routledge.

The run-away (puns!) leader for the Welsh side is Jefferson Montero. Montero has seen just 21' of pitch time in the past six gameweeks. In 879' he has created 17 chances and recorded 52 TakeOns. The Jacks will require an explosive player to spark the attack and the £5.4m fantasy-rated midfielder is an excellent differential play with 0.2% ownership. He was a named substitute in the FA Cup match and was introduced on 62' in place of Modou Barrow.
Montero may not be an ideal replacement for Sigurdsson in salary-cap formats, but he is a quality speculative add. And in other formats, particularly draft formats, he must be added at once. With four assists in his limited playing time, he has shown an ability to create chances. If you're in a fantasy premier league draft game where other statistics are counted - particularly TakeOns - Montero is a mortal lock to score in the high-single digits each week with a possible 20pt performance should he find the back of the net.