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Norwich City : Fantasy Football Potential?

Guest Post Provided by @Jonathan_W00d

Norwich City are back in the Premier League. After being relegated in the 2013/14 season, they have come back strong and have returned to England’s top flight at the first time of asking. For myself and many others this, in all honesty, did not come as a huge surprise. They were well equipped for the Championship as their big name players remained at the club. Despite a few hiccups in the first half of the season, they attained promotion via the play-offs and deserve to be in the Premier League.

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The Canaries have a solid team that you would tip to stay up this year given the additions they have made and the future ones they may make. One of their most recent summer additions, Youseff Mulumbu, is a quality signing. He has been an unsung hero for West Brom for a number of seasons now, but his hard work has not gone unnoticed. With the likes of Raheem Sterling and Christian Benteke signing for Manchester City and Liverpool respectively, signings like Mulumbu often go unrecognised, but he could prove to be one of the bargains of the summer, especially considering that they acquired him for free. In truth, manager Alex Neil does not have to make a great number of additions to his squad, as he already has a plethora of talent at his disposal. Players such as Cameron Jerome, Nathan Redmond and Alexander Tettey were all superb in the Championship, and will no doubt want to show what they can do in the Premier League. However, it is no secret that adapting to the level required to stay in the top tier of English football is tricky, even when you have only been absent from the league for one season, like Norwich have. It will undoubtedly be a tough season, but Norwich look like a top flight team and have some brilliant players.

For me, Cameron Jerome is a must in a fantasy team. He netted twenty-one times in all competitions last season, alongside a fair number of assists. He is big, powerful and sure to put defences through their paces. Other Norwich players to also consider would be the likes of Nathan Redmond, who contributes well to general play, along with good pace and skill. With this he is likely to get a number of assists. Michael Turner could also be an option. The towering centre-half is always an aerial threat from corners but may be a risk given the calibre of players he and his defensive team mates will be facing.

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There are however, a few players from Norwich who I would certainly avoid selecting. While no doubt a solid keeper, John Ruddy will be under a lot of pressure. With newly promoted teams, a lot of the time it is down to the goal keeper to keep their side in the game. While Ruddy is certainly capable of this, he is unlikely to keep many clean sheets and therefore is not a good selection for a fantasy team. Another player to avoid is Louis Grabban. Although he scored a respectable twelve goals last season in all competitions, he may not be played a great deal this season. He may either not be picked or may be sent out on loan at some point, so Jerome would definitely be the better option here. When choosing a squad, look out for those Norwich players, there are a few hidden gems in that side.

 

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AFC Bournemouth, Watford and Norwich – Fantasy Potential?

Norwich vs Chelsea: The Lineups

Tottenham Hotspur V Norwich City: Premier League tactical preview

Premier League: Fightback Statistics (Part 3)

Many thanks to @JonnyGrossmark for providing this excellent guest post. If you are not following him on Twitter already – get on it!

As always, Guest posts are welcome on the FantasyYirma page. If you have an idea for a new article or would like to promote a recent piece contact Ryan at fantasyYirma@hotmail.com for more information.

#FY

Part 1 of this series is available here

Part 2 of this series is available here

 

 

Relegation Threatened Teams “FightBack” Analysis

Looking at the relegation battle we see that Norwich have had an excellent season as they have consolidated on last season. I wonder if they will consolidate further next season or will they be seen to have over achieved this season.

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The limitation of football models is that last season predictive models around the country gave Wigan a 81% probability of going down but they stayed up. I have not read any explanation of how they raised their game for the last few months against tough and motivated teams.

I believe that Reading (1.2) and QPR(1.58) will be relegated but the third relegation spot will be contested between Wigan (2.92), Southampton (2.3) and Aston Villa (2.90) and it could be a battle till the final whistle of the last game of the season. I personally would have Wigan as my choice as I cannot explain how they avoided relegation last season and nothing to indicate that they can avoid the trap door again.

In conclusion I leave with the thought that apart from shot strength, all the other data is available, but the problem is interpretation of the data as Newcastle season ticket holders may find they will be looking up road maps of Blackpool in the not too distant future. As a a writer of football articles I now realise that quoting figures that people cannot quantify does not help to broaden the appeal of raw data so in this article I have attempted a more user friendly approach and I hope it has worked.

Lastly here are a few graphs to show how consistently teams have faired in terms of their positions in the Premier League since 2008/09:

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by @JonnyGrossmark

Premier League: Mid-Season Review (Part 2)

Guest Post from SuperGrover at www.shotsontarget.co.uk a fantastic site for insight and analysis into the Fantasy Premier League!

FantasyYirma are pleased to feature this Midseason Review PART 2 and will be updating the site throughout the week as part of an ongoing mini-series.

Don’t forget to drop your comments below and thanks again to www.shotsontarget.co.uk

If you would like to submit a guest post for the site, contact Ryan at fantasyyirma@hotmail.com

Midseason Team Analysis – MIDTABLE

SuperGrover is back with the 2nd part of his midseason review and verdict of the Premier League teams, this  time the six teams that currently reside midtable. If you missed it earlier in the week do check out his review of the the TOP SIX here.  Enjoy!

WBA

A fortunate club perhaps, as the underlying statistics and goal differential do not support their point total.  In attack, the Baggies are below average across the board statistically, with fewer shots and shots on target than most.  Defensively, it’s much the same story.  More disconcerting is the recent form which has provided West Brom with just 7 points over 9 fixtures, with the underlying numbers substantiating that record.

Fun Fact: Romelu Lukaku averages a goal about every 112 minutes, just 2 minutes off Robin Van Persie’s pace.  The on loan Belgian has scored 7 goals in his last 8 starts.

Prediction:  West Brom continue to slide down the league, eventually landing firmly mid-table.  Romelu Lukaku remains an enigma, producing splendidly when on the pitch.  Fantasy managers everywhere look on in disdain.

LFC

Former kings and current reality show darlings, Liverpool have experienced an up-and-down first season under Brendan Rodgers.  Statistically, the club looks elite, every bit worthy of challenging for a UCL position.  On the pitch this excellence has manifested itself at times.  For example, for the majority of the home game against United Liverpool were superb, especially considering Shelvey was sent off  very early in the game.

They were better than City at home but succumbed to a Skrtel error.  They were the better team in the second halves against Chelsea, against Tottenham and in the return fixture with United  but only after going down early in each.  Alternatively, the Reds have suffered some ignominious defeats.  West Bromwich beat them handily in the second half on opening day.  Christian Benteke went crazy at Anfield and Stoke somehow scored three against what had been an elite defense.  As I mentioned, it’s been up and down.

Fun Fact: Luis Suarez has been involved (scored or assisted) in 62.5% of goals scored while on the pitch, including assists for Baines’ own goal and the penalty won at Stoke.

Prediction:  Liverpool continue to play well and establish themselves as a top 5 club heading into next season.  Sturridge helps offensively and the Reds challenge Everton and Arsenal for a fifth up until the final few game weeks.

SWA

Miguel Perez Cuesta, a.k.a Michu, the transfer of the season.  The lanky Spaniard has almost single-handedly rescued an attack that has been somewhat void of options without him.  Defensively, the Swans started strong but seemed to succumb to injury and possibly fatigue, as the late fall saw a significant downturn in defensive performance.  That has picked up a bit recently, perhaps due to a more pragmatic approach from Laudrup against equivalent or superior opponents, but Swansea remain a below average  club defensively.

Fun Fact:  Swansea have scored just twice off set plays, ranked last in the league.  Not surprisingly, their single goal from a defender is also tied for last in the league.

Prediction:  Michu and a solid midfield make Swansea a somewhat difficult match up, especially on the road.  A solid top ten finish ends a great first year under Laudrup.

STK

Bullies.  Thugs.  Rugby players.  The Potters have heard this all before and don’t care, but they do do deserve their reputation as a big, physical group.  Their underlying statistics tell the tale of a well formed, solid, damn near impenetrable backline with little offensive interest.  That sums up Stoke under Pulis.  Whatever the case, it’s good enough to keep them mid table.

Fun Fact:  Stoke have blocked 32% of their opponents’ shots, highest in the league.  Only one other team has blocked more than 29% (Sunderland).  This illustrates how well they maintain order and numbers in their backline.

Prediction:  Nothing sexy about Pulis’ style, but the results will continue to be there.  A return of Marc Wilson could make Stoke’s defense even better through the remainder of the season.

WHU

The most successful of the promoted clubs thus far, the Hammers currently mark the beginning of the bottom of the table.  West Ham have performed about as expected based upon their underlying statistics, getting a bit unlucky on shot accuracy but a bit lucky on shot conversion.  In the end, you have a below average attack with about an average defense, combining to form a pretty mediocre club that should be good enough to stay well clear of relegation.

Fun Fact:  Andy Carroll has scored 1 goal on 25 shots this season.  Last season, he scored 4 goals on 88 shots.  His 5 goals in 113 shots are 9 goals fewer than Daniel Sturridge has scored in his last 109 shots.

Prediction:  The return of Andy Carroll does nothing to improve the Hammers attack.  Home games remain winnable, but this is a perfectly cromulent football club.

NFC

It looked ugly early for Norwich City early on, but their underlying statistics were never as bad as the table indicated.  Paul Lambert’s club have always shown some statistical upside, but finally shored up the defense to allow for the real improvement demonstrated on the pitch.  Norwich remain a below average club on both sides of the ball, but are strong enough all round to be significantly better than bottom table teams such as Wigan and Reading.

Fun Fact:  The Canaries have scored half of their  goals from  set plays with Bassong, Snodgrass and Martin all contributing on more than one occasion.

Prediction:  The talent is there to maybe challenge for 10th.  If not, expect status quo as the nightmares of late Summer are long forgotten.

Norwich: Standing on the shoulders of giants

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Norwich City have beaten Arsenal and Manchester United this season and are currently on the same amount of points as Liverpool. They haven’t so much snuck up on the Premier League’s big boys as gatecrashed their party entirely.

It wasn’t always like this of course. There was genuine concern in Norfolk at the end of September and beginning of October when Luis Suarez, Fernando Torres and Eden Hazard cut Chris Hughton’s side apart as Liverpool and Chelsea beat them 5-2 and 4-1 respectively.

They were results which left the Canaries second to bottom of the Premier League with three points from seven matches, still winless and still licking their wounds from a 5-0 loss at Fulham on the opening day. A long, uncomfortable campaign beckoned for Hughton in his first season in the Carrow Road hotseat.

Yet the transformation since then has been nothing short of remarkable.

It started with the home win over Arsenal in mid-October, finally a first three points of the campaign and what looked a pretty decent platform to build upon. It’s proved to be the most solid.

The victory over the Gunners was the start of an eight-match unbeaten league run – nine if you count the Capital One Cup win over Tottenham – which has seen the Canaries concede only four goals. As QPR and Reading – their partners in the relegation zone in those uncomfortable early weeks – have failed to escape the bottom three, Norwich have soared up the table with the talk in Norfolk now concerning just whether Hughton can deliver a top half finish.

The most memorable of those eight unbeaten games surely came against Manchester United last month, when Anthony Pilkington’s winner underlined the quality within a squad which has largely been drawn from players in the lower leagues.

Pilkington, Bradley Johnson, Robert Snodgrass, Wes Hoolahan and Grant Holt have all served their apprenticeships away from the limelight – literally in the case of Holt who had spells at Workington, Halifax, Barrow and Singaporean club Sengkang Marine during his early years as a footballer, years in which he subsidised his income by working in a factory.

It’s been a long road to the top for him and for Norwich, who often impressed under Paul Lambert last season of course as their back-to-back promotions were topped off with a campaign which never saw them in serious relegation trouble.

Yet when Lambert went to Aston Villa there were concerns that Hughton would struggle with what is still largely the Scot’s team, with those concerns playing out on the pitch in the opening months of the season.

Things still aren’t perfect of course. The win over Sunderland on Sunday was only the second time all season after that Liverpool loss that the Canaries had scored two goals in a league game, whilst they are still to record a win away from home – something that they’ll be looking to put right at Swansea on Saturday.

It is their fine home form which is driving things forward at the moment though, with that Sunderland win opening up a seven point gap between them and the relegation zone. More importantly, there are only seven points between them and third-placed Chelsea.

Such heights might have to remain in the ‘dizzying’ category for some time of course, but there is no sense that Norwich are trying to run before they can walk as their impressive campaign continues.

Just where it will take them remains to be seen, but you get the sense that the club’s fans are more than happy to just enjoy the ride at the moment. Relegation fears shouldn’t be completely dismissed just yet, but they can surely be forgotten about over the busy Christmas period.

Their last two fixtures of a 2012 which has shown that they are not afraid of the big boys are at home to Chelsea and Manchester City.

The pair have been warned.

@Mark_Jones86

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