In this review series, the brilliant AbuBakar shares his data-driven observations and FPL Gameweek 24 tips to help us make decisions for the upcoming Gameweeks.
The Review: Gameweek 23
Hi everyone, welcome to the latest edition of “The Review” where I look ahead to the upcoming double Gameweeks and chip strategies in detail:
Before I begin, I’d like to mention that I post about FPL on my Instagram too, so if you have an Instagram account, do follow up here!
I’d like to dedicate this Review of mine to my dear friend Dylan who is an avid FPL player and a regular reader of my pieces. He is battling a brutal illness so my thoughts are with him and his family during these tough times – stay strong lil bro and good luck!
Q: What is the optimum strategy for FPL managers wildcarding sometime soon who do not have their Free Hit in hand?
I’d like to credit to @BenCrellin (on Twitter) for his outstanding work helping to shed more clarity on the double Gameweeks coming up.
Southampton winning against Wolves in the FA Cup means that Villa and Spurs are likely to have a fixture in Gameweek 29. This would make it easy for FPL managers who have used their Free Hit chip to navigate through Gameweek 29 given that Spurs also have a favourable double in Gameweek 26 and most people own Villa assets already. Even if you don’t own Villa assets as of now, I’ve been writing all season about the outstanding value that they offer so it’s never too late to bring them in given that they have a double Gameweek in 26 and then a fixture in Gameweek 29 too when other teams are blanking. Grealish has created the most chances this season while Watkins is top for shots inside the box and non-pen xG of all players in the league in the past six Gameweeks.
Son and Kane meanwhile offer perhaps the best set of fixtures you’ll get for premium players for triple captaincy going into double Gameweek 26 (BUR ful/SOU). With Kane back fit, Son will get more service and for anyone looking to play their triple captain chip, this might be a really good opportunity to maximise the power of the chip. Both look set for big scores heading into these run of fixtures.
Managers without a Free Hit in hand wildcarding in Gameweek 25/26 can also target Brighton players who have West Brom in Gameweek 26 and then NEW in Gameweek 29. Same applies to Leeds players who have a double coming up (wol SOU) and then face Fulham in Gameweek 29. The Bam-phinha combo continues to deliver while Dallas given his attacking potential is also worth keeping an eye on.
Q: Should Bench Boost be kept for Gameweek 26 or later, or should it be used if the opportunity presents itself this Gameweek or in Gameweek 25?
The strategy of bench boosting this Gameweek or in the coming Gameweek might be favourable for those FPL managers who already have Leeds, Southampton and Burnley assets. Both Leeds and Southampton have cheap assets while Burnley have a standout fixture v WBA in Gameweek 25. For managers who have their teams well set up for a Bench Boost this week or next Gameweek, I’d go for it even if it takes a hit. If you choose to go this way, you can wildcard in the coming weeks without spending too much money on your bench. This would surely help your team structure (non-playing keeper + defender might be needed given the number of premium options available in Gameweek 26) and by doing this, you would have more time on your hands to assess information and plan for the coming Gameweeks.
Q: For managers with a Free Hit in hand, which players should be targeted if wildcarding in Gameweek 25 to set yourself up for a Bench Boost in Gameweek 26?
Advantage of this strategy could be going big on Burnley this week and then wildcarding out their players as they have poor fixtures in the Gameweek 26 double (tot LEI) and they are not players you’d ideally like to hold considering the tough opposition they face. No standout double Gameweek options are there for Gameweek 26 so planning a Bench Boost here is tricky. For the Bench Boost, you might have to rely on single Gameweek players here. Another obstacle FPL managers will be facing is cash distribution given that some of the premium options have doubles in 26 (United Spurs Pool City). Another thing to note, now that I’ve brought up the premium options is, squad rotation since European competitions will start just before Gameweek 26. This would mean that managers such as Guardiola might rotate their team a lot and we won’t be sure who his league preferences might be.
I wouldn’t personally mind bench boosting my Leeds assets in 26 v AVL, I believe many FPL managers bench boosted in Gameweek 19 and were let down when Leeds were beaten by Brighton 0-1. Leeds are a very attacking side though and now that we can see them back to their usual attacking self, hence the Bam-phinha combo is something I’d like for double Gameweek 25 and for the Bench Boost in Gameweek 26. I also like Shaw as a cheap defender to bench boost as over the last six Gameweeks, he’s top for chances created and big chances created among defenders and will be facing a Chelsea side who aren’t creating much under Tuchel till date and a Palace-less Zaha side.
I consider it highly important not to ignore fixtures post Gameweek 27 when building a wildcard team because it’s very easy to get lured in and fall victim to short sightedness with the upcoming doubles. Leicester’s fixtures in particular look great for Gameweek 26 and beyond. Same goes for Everton, Liverpool and Spurs. It is also worth noting that when we gain more information on how the fixtures will fall in Gameweek 27, 28 and 30, it could be worth looking at one of these Gameweeks for Bench Boost because some of these Gameweeks will be doubles as well. This should be of particular interest to managers who have triple captaincy in hand, as they can use that chip in Gameweek 26 to maximise Spurs’ fixtures and then plan a Bench Boost for a later double Gameweek.
Q: Who is the best captaincy option this Gameweek?
Firstly, I’d like to use @fpltipsindia’s (On Twitter) comparison for Man City midfielders to compare their numbers after De Bruyne’s injury:
Gündoğan v Foden v Sterling
Mins per big chance 80.5 vs 232 vs 67.5
Mins per shot inside box 80.5 vs 58 vs 33.8
Mins per expected involvement 84.7 vs 317.8 vs 83.6
Mins per chance created 36 vs 46 vs 54
Mins per BPS 5 vs 6.6 vs 7.5
Sterling’s numbers are slightly ahead of Gündoğan’s. I believe both are great captaincy options this week, I wouldn’t be swapping one for the other. Gündoğan at the moment is offering more value than Sterling but Sterling is somewhat more explosive given his numbers so perhaps he’s slightly a better option going into this game week. Foden is a good differential too but too big of a risk for captaincy. Another thing to note is that both of City’s upcoming opponents, Everton and Spurs, played 120 minutes of football and conceded nine goals between them so prospects are looking even better for Man City’s attack.
Speaking of the Man City defence, given that Dias has been declared fit, it’s exceptional to note how solid City have been with him and Stones at the helm. Since Gameweek 10, City have conceded just twice from open play and it comes across as no surprise given their underlying numbers. Since Gameweek 10, Man City have conceded 2.8 times fewer big chances, 1.9 times fewer xG and 1.4 times fewer shots inside the box than the second-best teams in the league for these underlying statistics respectively which tells me that their defence is on an absolute elite level. They have by far the best odds of at least one clean sheet this Gameweek, so there is every chance of more Man City defender hauls yet again.
With the exception of the game against Man United where United were playing with 10 men, Spurs have an average xG of ∼0.55 against the top sides this season. By top sides, I refer to Man City, Chelsea, Leicester and Liverpool here. Little should be expected from Son/Kane while chances are that Man City defence will yet again be in the points. Captaining Cancelo I believe is a step too far though, I know he was rested in the cup game against Swansea but Pep rotated him v Sheffield United after having played just the one game against West Brom (he was rested against Cheltenham prior to that) so I can’t say he’d play two games with absolute confidence.
Q: In this section, I discuss everything Burnley related.
Burnley were really unfortunate to concede v Brighton having recorded the second lowest xG conceded this week. They kept Brighton very quiet throughout but it was highly unfortunate for Pope and Burnley defenders not to return in terms of FPL points.
Burnley possess the standout options in terms of mid-value defenders going into the double Gameweek (cpl FUL). First, they are up against a Zaha-less Palace side who are yet to score a goal in a game Zaha hasn’t started this season. The stats show why:
Palace with Zaha v without Zaha 20/21
Shots in the box per game: 6.1 v 5
Big Chances per game: 1.4 v 0.7
Average xG per game: 1 v 0.6
Anyone going for a James Justin replacement should really take a look at Burnley defenders as the numbers are suggesting a Burnley clean sheet might be on the cards. I now look at their defenders:
Mee vs Tarkowski vs Lowton (Last 4 GWs)
Mins per shot inside the box: 180 v 180 v 360
Mins per big chance: 360 v 180 v 360
Mins per baseline BPS: 9.2 v 8 v 8
Mee vs Tarkowski vs Lowton (Over the season)
Mins per shot inside the box: 126.67 v 163.63 v 1620
Mins per big chance: 1140 v 450 v 1620
Mins per baseline BPS: 7.5 v 9 v 8.3
Tarkowski has outscored Mee by four big chances to one this season and has upped this threat recently. He’d be my pick if picking one right now even though generally Mee tends to do better for bonus. Tarkowski registered another big chance at the weekend and is now top among Burnley players for big chances over the past four matches. Last week I wrote how Mee might be the better pick due to bonus but given that Palace and Fulham are both the top two teams for most headed attempts conceded in the past six Gameweeks too, Tarkowski might be worth the punt for goal threat given the aerial vulnerability of his upcoming opponents.
Nick Pope is my number one pick from the Burnley squad going into the double Gameweek though. He has the best minutes per BPS in all Burnley defenders and there is every chance he hauls whenever Burnley keep a clean sheet. In the reverse fixture against Palace, he recorded ten points.
Burnley attack is second worst for xG, xG non-penalty, big chances and shots inside the box over the season. I would not advise investing in Burnley’s attacking assets since they do not seem to be a reliable source of points for FPL managers.
Q: In this section, I speak about Fulham and Everton.
Fulham have a double Gameweek coming up but, in my opinion, I would not suggest to actively invest in any of their assets. In terms of their defence, Areola is the only one that comes to mind considering the amount of saves he makes. Over the past six matches, Fulham are bottom four for big chances conceded and xG conceded non-penalty and I don’t see a clean sheet in any of the double Gameweek fixtures this week.
Upfront, the distribution of FPL points among their midfielders and attackers is random and there is no one specifically standing out in terms of their underlined numbers as well. They simply do not provide fantasy managers with enough confidence to be invested in.
Digne is one holding onto if you already own him. Richarlison is the big one to talk about this Gameweek, given Calvert Lewin’s absence. Everton have two double Gameweeks in the next three Gameweeks so he could be a good investment in the short term. He scored twice in the FA cup this week and regained some form heading into the double. However, he has lost penalties to Sigurdsson who has been playing very well so that goes against him. Calvert Lewin has always been the focal point of their attack this season, and clearly been the asset to own so Richarlison just for the Fulham game (given that Calvert Lewin should be back for City according to Ancelotti) is probably too short term for me for not managers not looking to wildcard next week. If Calvert Lewin was out for a prolonged period, Richarlison would be more tempting as in that case he’d be the main source of Everton’s attack.
Q: In this section, I speak about the Leeds attack and Patrick Bamford.
No player in the league has accumulated more shots inside the box and big chances than Patrick Bamford this season. Over the past four matches, Leeds are top for shots inside the box and in the top four teams for xG non penalty so their attacking numbers are witnessing an upturn. Further, Leeds are top for shots inside the box away from home this season and now have an away game coming up. I don’t own Bamford but given the improvement I see in Leeds numbers and the fact that Bamford is on penalties, I would strongly advise not benching him this Gameweek as the numbers are suggesting that yet another Bamford haul could be on the cards.
Q: Who is the best Dominic Calvert Lewin replacement?
I’d look to sell Calvert Lewin given that he’s likely to miss the easier Fulham fixture this week and then has City and Liverpool in the next two. I’ve already spoken about Richarlison as a short-term pick just for this Gameweek. Another short-term pick for those wildcarding next week is Cavani who is top for minutes per chance for all players in the league in the past four matches. Cavani has accumulated just two fewer big chances than Bruno and Rashford this season and that is despite having played more than half the number of minutes. He was rested against West Ham in the cup so I expect him to start, and given his numbers he should be safe for at least a goal against a West Brom side who have been consistently on the wrong end of defensive numbers this season.
I also see Ings being discussed a lot:
Ings 19/20 v 20/21
Mins per shot inside the box: 36 v 47
Mins per big chance: 128 v 154
Mins per expected involvement: 151 v 234
Ings is more of a long term pick with the doubles he has coming up. While he has the pedigree to come good, Ings’ numbers as yet are far from a reflection of the heights he hit last term. He registered two big chances against Newcastle which was promising, but I think he needs to show a bit more against Wolves this week before I suggest investing.
Q: In this section, I analyse the Liverpool defence and run through their numbers in comparison to their performances in the yesteryears.
No team conceded more big chances than Liverpool this Gameweek and hence they had by far the worst xG conceded too. Only six teams have conceded more big chances than Liverpool this season while even the likes of Burnley and Newcastle have conceded fewer big chances till date. To put things into context, Liverpool have already conceded 50 percent more big chances than they did at this stage last season (45 conceded in 2021 v 30 conceded in 2019) and 70 percent more at this stage than in 18/19 (45 conceded in 2021 v 24 conceded in 18/19). They are now up against a Leicester side with Jamie Vardy back so I can’t see a clean sheet this weekend either. I would be looking to sell Robertson/Trent given the amount of double Gameweek options available.
Q: In this section, I speak about Brighton’s defence at home this season.
Brighton are second only to Man City for shots in the box conceded, big chances conceded and xG conceded at home this season. They play Villa at home this week and I think they will make it difficult for them. For those FPL managers not on bench boost and having a dilemma on who to bench, Grealish and Watkins don’t have that big a ceiling this week in my opinion. I can see Villa scoring once but I don’t think we’ll see a Gündoğan-esque haul from either this week.
This brings me to the end of the article. I would like to thank @urboihamza (on Twitter) whose contribution has been immense helping me get my head around so much data. It would be great if you could offer him some encouragement too (follows/feedback appreciated!).
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