The 'Anytime Assist' Notebook
Who's likely to set up a goal this weekend? Today on the blog Barry Snidetats offers his thoughts on the Anytime Assist market, with another edition of his Anytime Assist Notebook.
As the value dwindles on the likes of Cazorla, Hazard and Silva, this month I focus on a few unlikely faces to follow in Boylesport’s ‘anytime assist’ market. Here’s who to watch…
Arsene Wenger’s January signing from Malaga has gone pretty much unnoticed with headlines being dominated by Arsenal’s fragility and a likely Champions League exit to go with the FA Cup loss to Blackburn. While the media sought explanation from Arsenal’s underperforming centre-backs, and openly questioned whether Wenger should get the Marie Antoinette treatment, the full backs came out relatively unscathed in the ensuing bloodbath. And it was amid this backdrop that Monreal quietly went about his business.
From the off Wenger has been effusive about his charge’s attacking ability, commenting only last month that ‘He [Monreal] can play as a left winger too and he can adapt very quickly. Yes [he can improve our defence] but we want him to take part in our collective play.’
While it may seem a little too early to proclaim him the new ‘White Cafu’, his early displays do seem to justify Wenger’s comments. Monreal currently accounts for about two clear chances created per game; against Villa he managed a 100% success rate when passing in the final third (11 from 11), creating three opportunities for his team mates and making one assist.
It’s difficult to base his price on just three Arsenal starts (where his assist rate is a mighty 33.33%), yet if we delve a little further back we can see he still averaged 14.3% in La Liga (and if Wenger’s comments are anything to go by he should get more scope to attack at Arsenal).
Monreal is guaranteed crucial game time with Sagna and Gibbs both out injured and at prices as big 8/1 to assist any time he definitely merits consideration.
He may be partial to preening like a peacock but you can’t deny Alan Pardew has made some shrewd purchases in the transfer market. And shrewdness is a quality that all punters should strive for. Let’s hope, then, that Pards’ eye for value extends to his recent acquisition from the French league (where else?) midfielder Moussa Sissoko.
In the last few games Pards has pushed Mo into a more attacking role to support Papiss Cisse and the results have been impressive. In just four starts he’s notched three goals and two assists and averaged 17.5 passes in attacking areas. Against Spurs he was immense with 23/27 passes in the final third, three chances created and one assist.
After a tricky spell Newcastle seem to be on the up again and have lost just one in six in all competitions. Sissoko was pivotal in their recent defeat of Chelsea and given license to roam there is no reason his excellent start can’t continue.
I’d advise snapping up the prices of around 7/2 because at this rate they will not last. Mo money? No problems.
Reading may lie second from bottom in the Premier League but they’ve scored more goals than the likes of Sunderland, Norwich and West Ham, and have netted 22 at home (the 8th best in the division).
One of the main reasons for that has been the contribution of attacking midfielder Jobi McAnuff who has started every one of his team’s 27 league games this season. In those matches, he’s managed five assists at a strike rate of 18.52%, and his delivery from corners on the right side has been a feature. Statistically he is the third most-effective crosser in the team behind 73-year-old full-back Ian Harte and ‘assists hall-of-famer’ Nicky Shorey (who recently seems to have fallen off the face of the earth).
One of the big concerns over Jobi is his ridiculous name. As well as that, his lack of time on the ball is an obvious downside, with an average of just 21.9 touches per game.
Encouragingly though in his last five games over 50% of this total has been passes in the final third (an average of 11). So he can get forward, but can Jobi make enough? At odds of around 6/1 he may be worth the risk.
The cliché used to be that the Belgians were only really famous for trifling little inconsequentialities like Tin-Tin or chocolates or Poirot or beer, but the rising Flemish influence in the Premier League has consigned that kind of statement to the dustbin where it belongs.
Kevin Mirallas may not yet be as well-known as his compatriots Eden Hazard, Marouane Fellaini or Thomas Vermaelen, but in recent weeks he’s been making his mark for Everton, culminating in a morale-boosting goal in the cup win over Oldham.
In some cases he’s been a victim of his own versatility with Moyes opting to play him in all manner of positions from conventional left and right midfielder, to winger, and even second striker. Yet it’s in the right-midfield berth he’s been most productive, making three assists in his nine league starts there.
In a thin Everton squad he’s likely to get increasing game time as the likes of Naismith fail to impress and there’ll be plenty of chances in the coming weeks with home games against Reading, Wigan and Stoke.
At odds as big as 4/1, I’m willing to take a punt there’s something about Kevin…
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Barry Snidetats is the founder and author of WagonBetting.com
You can follow him on Twitter: @BarrySnidetats