As a huge Leicester fan, it pains me to even have to contemplate writing this article but as we all know (highlighted by the transfers out of Lord Lundstram) there is no room for sentiment in FPL, the penalties for blind faith can be huge. Despite being third in the Premier League, the vultures are out and Leicester are being dismissed as a second-rate side again, with the wheels well and truly off. Whilst that is of course not entirely true, it is fair to say that the performances of late have been below par and this has led to the questioning of all Leicester FPL Assets. So, when did it all go wrong?
I personally feel that the turning point in Leicester’s season was GW17, a 1-1 draw at home to Norwich. I have therefore made use of Hub excellent OPTA stats tool, in order to compare the Leicester team of GWs 17-25 vs the Leicester team of GWs 4-16. Both tables are based on figures/90mins with the low min players filtered out, just so Wes Morgan doesn’t have the highest xG!
Points per Game
The most important metric for us managers is just how many points per game a player has earnt us and there are stark contrasts for most of Leicester’s big hitters in the two timeframes. The table below shows six selected players and the comparison between the two.
Certain things stand out in particular, first of all, Jamie Vardy’s injury woes have resulted in his PPG to fall over five points, with no goals since before Christmas, this has, of course, resulted in a lot of traders already leaving the Vardy Party. Potentially linked to Vardy’s demise is also the fall in Maddison’s PPG. Without the top-scorer in the league playing well, Maddison’s output has more than halved, averaging only three points per game. The notable winners though are Leicester’s two wide men, Barnes and Perez, who have seen rises, Barnes in a purple patch of form and Perez staking his claim for the most underrated player of the season when it comes to the FPL awards in the summer. In order to look to explain the figures above, I have picked three metrics to look at, with their impact on FPL
Scoring goals is one of the most efficient ways of scoring points for players and so comparing their output over the two periods will help to spot any trends that may have formed. In order to do this, I have used the xG metric provided by Hub. “xG” is a metric which assesses every chance, essentially answering the question of whether a player should have scored from a certain opportunity. So, to put simply, if a player receives an xG for a game of 0.5, they would have scored in that match 50 times out of 100.
The table above shows the xG stats for Leicester’s four most attacking presences. Vardy’s xG, which he had also been previously outperforming, had reduced massively, now at only 0.47 per 90 mins. Both Ayoze Perez and James Maddison have also seen reductions in their xGs which could indicate that the style of attack has changed to something with a focus more on pace from out wide, a necessity to combat the hinderance of losing an in-form Vardy.
The upturn in Harvey Barnes’ xG may show this to be true, rising by 0.10 up to 0.43. It is worth noting that in my own unbiased opinion, Barnes would be the one who fails the eye-test for being clinical, however, it is hard to look past his recent hauls. His actual goal per game figure is 0.55 which suggests he is even out-performing his xG, rubbishing my claims of lack of end-product. He also averages 2.73 shots a game, with 1.09 of these being on target in the period between 17-25, more than Vardy (1.88/1.10), Maddison (2.00/075) and Perez (1.60/0.96).
Finally, we have to address the elephant in the room which is Leicester’s ability to keep a clean sheet with only 1 since GW16. There has been a lot of talk in the FPL community that this is down to Ndidi’s injury troubles, which does have some truth but I think there are wider issues. Ndidi’s xCS per 90 mins this season is 0.39, compared to Evans and Schmeichel who have an xCS of 0.35, highlighting that there isn’t a huge lot of difference. Personally, I feel that if you are holding a Leicester defender solely for the hope of a clean sheet (disclaimer: I have Soyuncu), then a wildcard may be the perfect opportunity for a change.
It seems daft to be sitting here slating Leicester’s FPL credentials when they are third in the league having only scored six goals less than Liverpool and conceding three less than Man City. However, as stated in the introduction, sentiment can lead to punishment and one cannot afford to carry passengers in their team. That being said, from GW28 to the end of the season, Hub’s Fixture Ticker highlights that only West Ham have a better run of fixtures. Therefore, it would be foolish to not at least consider arming yourself with a Leicester asset.
Based on the stats provided, the two standouts have to be Ayoze Perez and Harvey Barnes, who are performing excellently. One of the most important factors to their inclusion is that they don’t seem to be affected too much by a working Jamie Vardy, returning points both when he plays and when he doesn’t. For those, myself included, with a lot of money tied up in Jamie Vardy, keeping him relies on your faith in him to turn his form around. The winter break should allow him to shake his injury off and there is potential that the favourable fixtures get him back on track, especially with the lure of the golden boot at stake. James Maddison doesn’t have the most favourable stats and owners will need to hope that the upcoming Euros means he steps up his game, he certainly has the talent to return big hauls and if he can find a bit of form, he can be one of the most talented players in the league, especially against the weaker opposition.
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