Jeremy Spitzberg

Position Battles

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First XI: The Lineups - Part 2

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Part Two

You can find Part One - Arsenal through Manchester City - here.

With the transfer window closed, and the acquired and departing players listed, analyzed, and rated, it's probably a good idea to step back and look at the bigger picture. Without league matches this week, the First XI will look at just that. I'm going to give you my prefered starting XI for each club. These should tend towards the clubs actual XI, so it will be helpful for fantasy managers looking for a comprehensive overview. However, and I need to be clear about this, these are my picks - who I would want to see on the pitch - not a straight prediction about what Paolo Di Canio or Roberto Martinez will do. Where I'm inserting my own opinions, I'll let you know and try my best to explain my thinking (such as it is).

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Manchester United

De Gea
Rafael - Ferdinand - Vidic - Evra
Carrick - Kagaw - Fellaini
Nani - van Persie - Rooney

Subs: Lindegaard, Evans, Jones, Valencia, Cleverley, Welbeck, Young

Marouane Fellaini is the wild card here. While David Moyes most often used him in an attacking role, the player, and common consensus, says that his best role is as a holding midfielder. Alongside Michael Carrick, Fellaini can be a number 8 to Carrick's 6 (or 5, depending on how you count).

Shinji Kagawa, who has only played seven minutes total this season (and that in the Community Shield), would get the third midfield spot in my line up and would be given the freedom to create behind a front three. If only David Moyes seemed to share this view!

Of all United's wide-players, I think Nani has the most upside, and I would give him the chance alongside Rooney and van Persie. This suggestion does seem to be more inline with the "real world" with Nani getting a contract extension today, but we'll see how it plays out.

Newcastle United

Debuchy - Coloccini - Yanga-M'Biwa - Santon
Ben Arfa - Sissoko - Cabaye - Gouffran
Cisse - Remy

Subs: Elliot, Haidara, Taylor, Gutierrez, Tiote, Marveaux, Ameobi

Not much came through this transfer window, but honestly, the club are still trying to figure out how to incorporate the French Foreign Legion that came to the club last January (and honestly, in previous windows as well). Like Fellaini, Sissoko has been used as an auxillary attacker when his natural position is deeper in midfield. Unlike Fellaini, it's been a less successful experiment. I would move him back alongside Yohan Cabaye and let the two run the show from the middle of the park. Away from home, or against a bigger club, they could drop Remy (or god forbid, Cisse depending on their respective form) and insert Tiote as a pure destroyer.

Norwich City

Whittaker - Turner - Bassong - Garrido
Snodgrass - Fer - Johnson - Redmond
Hooper - van Wolfswinkel

Subs: Bunn, Martin, Pilkington, Olsson, Elmander, Howson, Hoolahan

Norwich spent some money this window and did a really good job of filling out their squad. Picking their lineup is now a matter of putting round pegs in round holes rather than papering over cracks with more utility (and utilitarian) players. Nathan Redmond, despite being a youngster, is earning his spot on the flank. Gary Hooper should join the attack when he's healthy.

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Shaw - Fonte - Lovern - Clyne
Ward-Prowse - Wanyama - Schneiderlin - Lallana
Lambert - Osvaldo

Subs: Davis, Yoshida, Chambers, Ramirez, Davis, Rodriguez, Fox

There a lot of buzz around this team, probably because their attack was so fantasy friendly last season. They have yet to gel under new management, but have the pieces in place for a good, if still young, side. The first eleven should be pretty good once they get used to playing together, and there are options off the bench in Jay Rodriguez, et al.

Stoke City

Cameron - Huth - Shawcross - Pieters
Arnautovic - Nzonzi - Adam - Etherington
Walters - Crouch

Subs: Sorensen, Muniesa, Wilson, Whelan, Jones, Assaidi, Ireland

This feels like a transitional lineup, especially with Etherington a fading force and Walters just too much of a blunt instrument for my tastes. But I don't think that they're ready to incorporate Steven Ireland or Oussama Assaidi just yet. By the next transfer window, however, this side may have changed - if not evolved.


Celustka - Diakite - O'Shea - Dossena
Giaccherini - Larsson - Colback - Johnson
Fletcher - Altidore

Subs: Mannone, Gardner, Cabral, Valentin, Wickham, Karlsson, Borini

With so many players coming in, it's hard to know what Di Canio is planning. My sense is that maybe he hasn't planned yet. Rather, he collected as much talent as he could for what he could pay - which wasn't much. Now that he has them all in house, he'll start the process of figuring out who plays where, and with whom. To that end, it's best to stick to the basics for now so it's a 4-4-2 for Paolo's men.

Swansea City

Rangel - Flores - Williams - Davies
Canas - De Guzman
Routledge - Michu - Hernandez

Subs: Tremmel, Amat, Britton, Lamah, Shelvey, Pozuelo, Richards

No surprises here, and not much controversy. However, I would play De Guzman ahead of Jonjo Shelvey. I think De Guzman is the classier player and a better fit for Laudrup's system. Shelvey would be better as cover for Michu, as he's a more dynamic player and scorer than a midfield maestro type.

Tottenham Hotspur

Walker - Kaboul - Vertonghen - Rose
Sandro - Paulinho
Lamela - Eriksen - Chadli

Subs: Freidel, Dawson, Dembele, Townsend, Defoe, Sigurdsson, Capoue

This team picks itself for the most part. I think Andres Villas-Boas did a really good job of brining in pieces that will fit together. Of course, they haven't clicked yet. But with time - and the international break won't have helped if you're thinking of them hosting Norwich for this week's fantasy squad - but it will come good in short order.

My struggle with this lineup is Chadli over Townsend. In the end, I've decided that Townsend and Lamela are too similar and since the Argentine has the higher ceiling, I've brought him straight in.

Otherwise, it's just injuries keeping Kaboul out of the side at the moment. What becomes of Aaron Lennon and Lewis Holtby are two big questions, but maybe the focus for another piece.

West Bromwich Albion

Jones - McAuley - Olsson - Ridgewell
Yacob - Mulumbu
Brunt - Sessegnon - Sinclair

Subs: Myhill, Lugano, Dorrans, Rosenberg, Morrison, Long, Anichebe

WBA are struggling this season and the ins and outs (or lack therof) of the transfer window haven't helped them much. They have yet to score this season, and I would take some drastic measures to try to fix that.

They have a solid back 7 when Foster is healthy and Mulumbu and Yacob are patrolling the midfield. On top of that foundation, I would play my three most creative players behind Anelka as a lone front man. Shane Long does yeoman's duty in that role, but he's got to be unsettled after almost moving to Hull City at the deadline. Anelka is old and well past his prime, but he's still earned a chance to play through the middle and try to get goals for this team. Long would still get his opportunities as Anelka wore down, and indeed Steve Clarke has put more emphasis on that substitute striker than the starter as he thinks they have the better of the chances as the game goes along.

West Ham United

Demel - Reid - Collins - Rat
Noble - Diame
Downing - Nolan - Jarvis

Subs: Adrian, Tomkins, O'Brien, Collison, Taylor, Morrison, Maiga

Mladen Petric has joined the Hammers as a free-agent, and in the prolonged absence of Andy Carroll, he goes straight into the team. Elswhere, I'd bring in Razvan Rat in place of Joey O'Brien to give the squad a bit more... grit. But otherwise, this is a Big Sam team and with their squad it pretty much picks itself.

Jeremy Spitzberg writes about fantasy soccer (football) and is a Rotoworld contributor. You can find him on Twitter @JSpitzberg.
Email :Jeremy Spitzberg

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