Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Should you have a sugar tooth for Toffees? (Guest Post)

Everton have historically provided FPL managers standout options at good value.  Baines and Coleman have long dominated defensive point tables with both goals and assists, while Lukaku, Mirallas, and Barkley to a lesser extent offer potent fantasy threats.  Manager Roberto Martinez plays a possession-based game in a 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3, with defenders expected to play the ball out of the back behind a double pivot as wingbacks overload the opposition half and allow wingers to cut inside.  Despite this, Everton failed to meet FPL expectations last season.
Don't get stuck with too many Toffees in your mouth!

The team finished 11th after posting 5th and 6th place finishes the two years prior, and failed to deliver consistent fantasy returns from ANY of their attacking players.  I firmly believe the men in blue are still worth consideration.  However, Everton’s FPL returns are situational.

Their results can be explained: the Toffees reached the Europa League quarterfinals and racked up injuries along the way.  Everton missed at least one of their first choice back four in over 70% of their fixtures.  Lukaku struggled for fitness early, while Baines’ chances of entering the pantheon of eternal FPL glory were shattered by February thigh/knee injuries.  Baines also received ankle surgery in May, and may be questionable despite returning for pre-season.

Everton no longer play in the Europa League and their underlying threats are still worth looking at.  Unfortunately, their early matches aren’t.

First 10 games: 

Watford (H)
Southampton (A)
Man City (H)
Spurs (A)
Chelsea (H)
Swansea (A)
West Brom (A)
Liverpool (H)
Man United (H)
Arsenal (A)

Beyond a cushy home game against Watford to begin the season, Everton face a terrifying series of fixtures.  Their strong defensive assets will struggle to build confidence, let alone their offence that Martinez will continue to tinker with through the start of the season.

Verdict: My brain says no, but my heart says absolutely not, **** no.  AVOID.

Games 11-20:

Sunderland (A)
West Ham (H)
Aston Villa (H)
Bournemouth (A)
Crystal Palace (H)
Norwich (A)
Leicester (H)
Newcastle (A)
Stoke (H)
Spurs (H)

The Toffees face a much kinder run of games afterwards, with brilliant home games and zero matches against the top four.    The team is also noted for rallying in the second half of the season (an almost inevitable constant across recent seasons under previous manager Moyes and successor Martinez)—in their last stint, Everton’s strongest spell was a six game streak through March and April with 5 wins and 1 draw, including a 3-0 win over Manchester United and four clean sheets.  The year before, with now-permanent Lukaku, Barry, and Deulofeu on loan, they again posted an 8/10 win record through March and April with strong home wins against Arsenal and United.

Verdict:  You should BUY as form permits; games against Sunderland and West Ham will provide a more reliable measure of how the team fares against a constant string of relatively weaker opposition.  This period offers strong promises of clean sheets and attacking returns alike due to Everton's ability to retain possession and bully weaker teams.  Even the likes of West Ham and Tottenham tend to rely on outscoring opposition and will play the Blues on Everton turf.

Everton demands notice from FPL managers in the mid to late season.  Those playing GW8 or 11 wildcards should pay extra attention.

Before jumping into player reviews, I have to mention that the Toffees lacked any major creative spark aside from Baines, who accounted for 20% of all chances.  Hopefully they will pick up a creative midfielder to take the burden off and jump-start Barkley/Lukaku.  Incidentally, Lukaku provided 11% of chances, Coleman 10%, and Barkley 9%.   This could be an issue when evaluating Everton attackers later.


Howard – 5.0
American hero and guaranteed starting goalkeeper with plenty of saves in him.  Howard topped the FPL goalkeeper charts two years ago, but last season garnered a mediocre 10 clean sheets, tying with Hull/Villa/Burnley/Leicester and barely beating West Ham and Spurs.   I expect the opening 10 games to crush his dreams.  Only worth consideration in the next 10 dependent on his back line’s form.

Robles – 4.0
Backup.  Ignore without fear.


Baines – 6.5
Fantasy gold.  Gave fantasy owners 4.5ppg last season even without clean sheets to back him up, behind only Chelsea’s Ivanovic, Terry, and Azpilicueta.  Baines has been consistently at the top of defender point returns for years.  He’ll dominate corners and free kicks; however, Martinez has recently given his penalty duties to Lukaku.  May prove too expensive, but is fixture proof if fit through weeks 11-20.  Furthermore, Martinez has rotated him at CM/CDM similar to Lahm.

Coleman – 6.0
Possibly the most threatening right back in the league.  3 goals and 2 assists last year, and 6/2 the year before.  Undroppable if fit and an extremely solid core defender for mid-season if Baines is injured or 6.5 isn’t available.

Jagielka – 5.5
Bonus point magnet, especially with the new changes rewarding CBs.  This England international will act as stopper and start every game he’s available as Everton lack depth in his position.   He’s worth the price tag on a smaller budget or attack-heavy squad.  Forever a club legend for his wonder goal.

Stones – 5.5

Could leave for Chelsea.  Stones is an assured starter and confident on the ball for a CB, I pray that he stays for the club every night.  For FPL purposes Jagielka has a stronger case for bonus points.  Stones is 6’3” and looks good on set pieces, but is still bulking up and did not score in the 2014/15 campaign.  Stick to Jags.

Garbutt - 4.5

Likely to play leftback should Baines get injured or get slotted into the midfield.  Solid player, but an extreme rotation risk.  Worth remembering for the price should Baines find himself out of commission mid-season.

Galloway – 4.5
Plays both LB and CB, but is only 19 years old and behind Garbutt on the pecking order.  I believe Martinez will try to bring an additional CB in this window (I'd actually riot if he didn’t) and find Galloway utterly forgettable this season from an FPL standpoint.

Hibbert/Browning – 4.0
Although Hibbert is a leader and chief "rioter" among men, neither of these will find any role in my fantasy squad beyond permanent bench fodder.


Mirallas – 7.0
Selfish, direct attacking midfielder with a potent attacking threat at 9 goals/8 assists in 28 appearances.  Selfish is good from an FPL perspective.  Mirallas is linked with a move to West Ham and may well leave with only one year left on his current contract.  If starting regularly by mid-season, he’ll be good value for his price.  Mirallas is undeniable quality but has been rotated by Martinez in the past due to attitude issues (such as stealing a PK against orders and missing).  On my mid-season watch list.

Deulofeu – 6.5
La Masia product Deulofeu will cover the right wing.  With a recent hamstring tear and recurring injuries in the same muscle, he is expected out until September.  While I wouldn't recommend choosing him before then anyway, he may struggle for fitness with cameos or time in the reserves first.  As warning, Martinez loves to rotate the midfield regardless although Deulofeu may edge his way into the first-team setup.  He’s likely favored over McGeady but more likely to act as a super sub or rotation with other midfielders.  He may well prove a solid differential later but needs time to evaluate properly.

Barkley – 6.5
Touted as one of England’s best up-and-coming talents before struggling for form last season.  Barkley has a cannon for a leg and the pace/dribbling to make brilliant surging runs, but his decisionmaking is poor and he struggles without space.  Barkley is well worth a look as a prime differential IF he manages to claim a position in the center.  When positioned on the left (with Pienaar injured earlier) Barkley’s impact on games was often nonexistent.

Pienaar – 5.0
Cheap, good on the ball, creates chances and has a telepathic connection with Leighton Baines.  Too bad he’s 33 years old now and hampered by a string of injuries.  Pienaar won’t start consistently this season and is best saved as a situational 1-2 week punt later, if at all.

McCarthy/Barry – 5.0 and 4.5
Lumped together as they often partner as CDMs for Everton.  Barry is a yellow card magnet and slow.  McCarthy is absolute quality and an established starter.  Both carry virtually zero threat in the attack as they cover marauding wingbacks.

McGeady – 5.0

Started four times.  Brilliant dribbler with five star skills on FIFA but not a team player.  Not predicted to start much more often than before.
Osman/Gibson – 5.0, 4.5
Osman will occasionally rotate among the attacking midfielders.  He's 34 years old and not worth an FPL shout.  Gibson is included here since he started zero times for Everton last season and is clearly also not worth a shout.

Besic – 4.5
Besic’s is basically a CDM; but may actually get decent time at CB should others get injured.  However, he’ll never score at CDM and if he plays CB he won’t get the full points from clean sheets.  Ignore


Lukaku – 8.0 
Everton’s prime frontman.  15 goals and 7 assists last year, after not playing at the start of the season and rebuilding fitness.  The goals are slightly padded due to penalties, but those are only a bonus.  I tip Lukaku to better these numbers without injury or Europa League games to distract him.  He has a chance of scoring against any team in the league despite going missing sometimes.  Is form-dependent, and firmly on my radar from GW11 on.  He may be worth including in GW1 lineups as a 1 week punt before rotating him out to free up Aguero funds. 

Naismith – 5.5 
Naismith was the first major bandwagon last season with consistent early goals.  He plays centrally off Lukaku.   Much of his early form last year was due to Everton not having other options with injuries; this year he is a riskier pick and unlikely to take off in the first 10 gameweeks.

Kone – 5.0
As an Everton fan, Kone’s inadequacy is unquestionable.  He may have had one decent season in La Liga, but don't let that deceive you post-injury.  Lukaku or nothing here.


Avoid Everton's players  at all costs until GW11, where Everton's defenders boast both attacking threats and bonus points at CB.  Baines has a long string of fixtures to take off if fit, with Coleman and Jagielka making the team accessible at a range of price points.  Everton's midfield is rotation prone and needs watch, with Mirallas, Barkley, and Deulofeu potential differentials.  The team's strongest assets are in defence and with Lukaku up front.

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