Your team is….interesting"
K.M. - six minutes after Saturday’s deadline.
I always look forward to preview articles by Das, Kellz, Ken, Stall, Professor M, MUFC, and our old friends Nik, Neal, and Jeremy. But I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels extra tingly when Egypt shares his thoughts with us. He made me a believer with his week 37 preview at the end of last season and never disappoints.
But what about this past game week’s preview? His basic philosophy – beware of rotation, pick sure starters, and have a strong bench – seemed sound and fairly obvious. But his corollary – picking players who didn’t play Thursday – seemed risky. He recommended:
Dzeko – 17 points. Mo talked me into this one even though Dzeko had scored a total of nine points in the previous eight game weeks. After a slow start he scored the game winner and was a worthy captain’s pick.
Bony – 2 points
Altidore – 5 points
Chicharito – 8 points
Long – DNP
Adebayor – 6 points
Walcott – 12 points
De Guzman – 10 points
Barkley – 12 points
Milner – 3 points
Paulinho – 3 points (left injured)
Whittingham – 7 points
Brunt – 19 points
Sessegnon – 0 points off the bench
Clichy – 14 points
Vidic – 12 points
Dawson – 10 points
Ivanovic – 3 points (left injured)
Chico – 3 points
Kompany – 11 points
Hart – 19 points
Harper – DNP
Lloris – 12 points
Robles – 3 points
Egypt’s final team was Suarez, Dzeko(c), Berahino, Walcott, Milner, DeGuzman, Brunt, Ivanovic, Clichy, Kompany, Hart with Ozil, B. Jones, Dawson, and Harper on the bench, good for 143 points, a mere 18 points short of the top team in the world for the week (which remarkably once again featured Gareth Bale). While he didn’t need his bench, Jones and Dawson combined for 15.
Where did Berahino come from? Clearly Mo planned to include Long, but when the lineups appeared he was out and Berahino and Anelka were in. Anelka had scored a total of 14 points in seven games all season, Berahino 58 in 13 games, but like Dzeko only nine in the last eight games. Brunt had averaged about five points a game playing regularly in recent weeks, but had not topped ten all season. I looked at these numbers as the deadline approached, held my nose and looked elsewhere. Mo had zeroed in on West Brom as likely to exploit West Ham’s "woeful" and "leaky" defense on the road. They had allowed ten goals in the previous four games (Liverpool, Sunderland, ManU, and Arsenal – shutting out Sunderland). I still have trouble seeing these picks, but they were golden. Anelka, of course went off for 22, Berahino for 10, and Brunt for 19.
Mo clearly liked Swansea on the road to Villa, but not ManU at Norwich. He avoided Rooney, the Yaya/Silva disaster, the Special One’s unpredictability, all the Liverpool mids and really whiffed only on Milner. Oh, and he left 5.99 in his bank. His crystal ball is laser-focused again this year.
And do we listen? Yes and no. I don’t think we would have seen 31 of the top 50 pick Dzeko and seven captain him without Mo’s endorsement. Hart, Kompany, and Clichy were all popular picks this week, though I doubt many chose all three. I think most of us look at our teams with considerable regret and wish we had listened better.
Getting back to Ken’s comment that I began with, I suspect that many who checked agreed that Mo's team looked very odd. But no one chimed in or piled on, afraid rightly that they’d soon be eating their words.