Well isn’t it great to back? I don’t know about you all but I hate international breaks with a passion and thankfully we won’t be having any in a while. Let’s kick off the round with a POD! I’ve spoken about this guy previously and I’m amazed at the low turnout amongst FPL teams. What more does he need to do?
Morgan Amalfitano (5.2m) – 4.3%
There were parts of last season where West Brom were really good value, particularly during the first half of the season. They were solid and disciplined but they tended to rely on some fantastic individual attacking performances at times in order to get points. Early it was Long, then Odemwingie and Lukaku throughout, albeit off the bench. With two out of those three no longer at the club and the other being injured for much of this season so far, one could have easily expected them to struggle this term.
What they did to help prevent that was recruit very shrewdly in the offseason, especially just as the window was closing. Firstly they lost Lukaku, but gained Anichebe. Although they are nowhere near each in terms of quality, they do bring similar styles of play to the Number 9 position. If they can get the best out of another off-season signing in Anelka, they could form a decent partnership. They would have then noticed a lack of depth and creativity in the attacking midfield areas, and brought it Sessegnon. You could argue that at 6-7m a piece, Anichebe and Sessegnon cost them more than what they are worth, but when you’re shopping that late you don’t always get the best value. The last two transfer deadline deals were Camp as cover for the injured Foster and possibly the least heralded of the bunch, Morgan Amalfitano.
In hindsight, Amalfitano’s signing probably should have got a little more attention than it received but it was engulfed by the craziness of the transfer deadline day and some other massive deals. That and the fact he only arrived on loan could have had a part to do with it. It didn’t take long him to prove himself however!
Before he joined, West Brom were really struggling. If a team is going to try and survive on possession levels in the mid to high 40%, even at home, then they need to have players in the final third that can create chances. In Morrison, Dorrans and Brunt they have some very solid pro’s but you could argue don’t have that special quality to create something out of nothing. It showed in their opening three games. They didn’t score a single goal and lost both games at home to teams they could beat, or at least draw with.
Morgan’s first game for West Brom was against Fulham, and although he didn’t trouble the FPL scorers it wasn’t without trying. One interesting part of his game was that he spent a third of it in their right wing attacking third. 33%. If you couple that with the amount of possession West Brom had that’s pretty good. While he was there he drilled in 7 crosses towards one of their other last minute signings in Anichebe, without luck. It must have been the fact this was his first game for his new club but he didn’t have any shots, didn’t take on any players and didn’t take any set pieces.
His second game saw his involvement increase substantially and included completely taking over corner duties. Granted it was against the lacklustre Sunderland but all his key attacking stats increased. He had 2 shots (compared to 0) with one of them scoring, took all their 5 corners (up from 0), 14 crosses (up from 7) and took on 3 players on the dribble. Importantly the time spent in the right wing attacking third remained static at 30%.
The next game against Man Utd was the one that has stuck in many of our memories. He was outstanding and showed some touches that you could easily compare to other French superstars that have graced the EPL in Cantona and Henry. If you don’t believe me, pull up the highlights of this game from somewhere! His positional play was slightly more defensive than in previous games which is understandable based on the opposition but his key stats didn’t change, they in fact went up. 2 shots, 8 corners, 14 crosses and 4 dribbles. He scored a wonderful goal from one of those dribbles and provided an assist from a sublime lay off to Berahino.
A lot of us thought, including me, that although that was a great individual game by Morgan, a visit by Arsenal would prove a good test. It didn’t stop him. Again his positional play was slightly more defensive than his early games but all key stats were similar to the game against Man Utd, and he ended up with an assist to his name giving him more FPL points.
Why am I spending so much time on these stats? West Brom needs attacking creativity from wide in the final third of the pitch and these stats help show that Morgan is providing these opportunities. With him spending an inordinate amount of time out on that right wing he is getting himself directly involved in a lot of assist providing opportunities from crosses, corners, etc. There are a lot of very good midfielders going around that tend to provide the “assist to the assister”. The Arsenal pair of Cazorla and Wilshere immediately spring to mind as players of that ilk. Morgan doesn’t seem like that type of player, I say “seem” because he’s only played 4 games in England! If Anichebe can just get his big head, or Anelka a toe, to some of his high quality crosses it could be a bonanza of points.
What I like most about Morgan however is he keeps the opposition full back honest. He’ll go one on one with the opposition left back in a day and age where interchangeable attacking midfield trios and inverted wingers are all the rage. With Amalfitano, he is giving them a job to do all game and some of the modern day left backs may not be up to that anymore. In ye olde days a full back defended, and that’s it. Nowadays there is almost more emphasis on their attacking qualities. Although some of the upcoming games may seem mismatches, if you dig a bit deeper there may be more to it.
The next game is away to Stoke and he will probably be lining up against Pieters. Now Pieters is a pretty good player, but you could make a solid case that his attacking play is better than his defensive one. Opportunity 1. Liverpool is next and again he’ll be playing against an attack minded left back in Jose Enrique. Opportunity 2. Then it’s Crystal Palace. Well that’s always going to provide a chance for attacking points particularly at home. Opportunity 3. Chelsea is next and you would think Ash Cole would provide the sternest test for Amalfitano thus far but after that game is a lot more potential. Villa followed by Newcastle are both games where he will be up against left backs that are not exactly the most solid.
In summary, 5 out the next 6 games provide very good points scoring potential for Amalfitano if he can keep his form up and more importantly, his fellow attacking teammates can come to the party and put a few goals away. He’s going to give them every opportunity to…
Do what you need to do!