In this review series, the brilliant AbuBakar shares his data-driven observations and FPL Gameweek 25 tips to help us make decisions for the upcoming Gameweeks.

The Review: Gameweek 24

Hi everyone, welcome to the latest edition of “The Review” where I answer all your pertinent questions ahead of the upcoming double Gameweeks:

Q: Which Leeds assets should FPL managers own for the double Gameweek?

Patrick Bamford is the obvious one. No player has a higher non penalty xG nor more shots inside the box than Bamford this season. Now, I compare Harrison and Raphinha as this seemed to be a very popular question this Gameweek:

Harrison v Raphinha past six matches

Mins per big chance created: None created v 515
Mins per shot in the box: 55 v 57
Mins per big chance: 492 v 258
Mins per expected involvement: 385 v 187

Harrison v Raphinha over the season

Mins per big chance created: 592 v 322
Mins per shot in the box: 62 v 48
Mins per big chance: 197 v 430
Mins per expected involvement: 248 v 210

Raphinha’s numbers are much better over the past six matches, even though over the season their numbers are close. I would go with Raphinha, given the fact that his numbers are better and because of late he has been playing in advanced positions closer to Bamford.

Dallas is a tricky one. I personally don’t think Leeds will keep a clean sheet either in double Gameweek 25 or 26 so whether or not to pick him for attacking potential alone is what makes it trickier. It makes more sense for FPL managers without a Free Hit to pick him, as Dallas has a playable fixture in Gameweek 29 too. With a Free Hit intact, I don’t think I would. Struijk is another one who has accumulated two big chances over the past four matches and offers a cheap route into the Leeds defence, but I don’t think it warrants investment.

Q: Who is the best captaincy option this Gameweek?

Southampton have a tough-ish fixture against Chelsea so I’m backing a Leeds asset here as I expect them to score in both games. I run a few comparisons to help me pick one out of “Bam-phinha”:

Bamford v Raphinha past six matches

Mins per big chance created: 117 v 515
Mins per shot in the box: 39 v 57
Mins per big chance: 195 v 258
Mins per expected involvement: 148 v 187

Bamford v Raphinha over the season

Mins per big chance created: 324 v 322
Mins per shot in the box: 29 v 48
Mins per big chance: 108 v 430
Mins per expected involvement: 159 v 210

The fact that Bamford’s numbers over long sustained periods are better and that he is FPL-aware (probably likely to captain himself this double Gameweek so will have extra motivation!) makes me lean towards Bamford (c) this week.

Q: In this section, I speak about Southampton.

No team has conceded more big chances per game than Southampton over the past nine Gameweeks (∼2.63 now v 1.8 over the season). Southampton’s defensive numbers have been poor for a while now – even if the Man United game isn’t included, they are still conceding nearly two big chances per game which somewhat puts me off their defence. If they have three back-to-back doubles though, I might be inclined to pick McCarthy as my keeper who was backed by Hassenhutl publicly before the Wolves fixture. There are growing calls among fans asking him to be dropped though – make of that what you will.

Ings’ numbers to be fair have been poor over the season and not been reflective of his FPL price tag that he has been carrying. However, he has registered five shots inside the box and three big chances over the past two games which even though is a small sample size, might indicate that he is getting into some kind of form. Leeds are only second to West Brom for expected goals conceded (xGc) this season so that fixture alone has cemented Ings in my wildcard team.

Q: In this section, I talk about Luke Shaw.

Shaw’s numbers are so incredible that here I decide to dedicate a whole section to him alone. Shaw at the moment looks to be the standout pick among defenders. In the past six games, he has 16 chances created which is top among defenders and he is second for big chances created during this period too. These numbers make him top for expected goal involvement among defenders (xGi) as well. Manchester United have accumulated the second highest number of big chances at home this season which indicates that Shaw is not only a good option for the double Gameweek 26, but also for Gameweek 25 when he comes up against a toothless Newcastle attack with potential to deliver at both ends of the field.

What stands out about Shaw is that his numbers are great over a sustained period. Over the past eight game weeks, Shaw is second for chances created for all players in the league and has created more chances than even the likes of Bruno and Grealish. He has accumulated the most assists during this spell too. What makes him an even more explosive option is that he has the best mins per BPS ratio of all Man United defenders too so he can haul big through accumulation of bonus whenever Man United keep a clean sheet.

Q: In this section, I discuss all things Chelsea related.

Just four players (Kovacic, Jorginho, Azpilicueta, Rudiger) have started in all four of Tuchel’s Premier League games so far. Considering no European commitments, that amount of rotation we have witnessed is a bit startling. All Chelsea assets seem to be at risk of rotation in the upcoming doubles. I look at some of their key performers though, and I expect these should be first choice for at least the short term:

Marcos Alonso has recorded the highest numbers of shots inside the box (8) and penalty area touches (18) across all defenders over the last four Gameweeks – bear in mind that he started just three of these four games which highlights the upside that he possesses. Chelsea since Tuchel have taken over as best for expected goals conceded so the potential for clean sheets is clearly there. Risk averse FPL managers should look at Rüdiger who is more affordable and presents a safer route into the Chelsea defence. What’s worth noting for wildcarders is that even though Chelsea’s fixtures in the double Gameweek itself are difficult (LIV mun), their fixtures either side of the double (sou EVE lee) look promising which is very important as wildcarders should not be looking to pigeon hole themselves into just a Gameweek 26 team.

Timo Werner is top for big chances and non-penalty xG since Tuchel has taken over while Mason Mount is top of all players in the league for chances created over the past eight Gameweeks, but for me the value still lies in the Chelsea defence for those FPL managers looking to invest in Chelsea assets.

Q: In this section, I highlight some trends I have noticed with Villa’s attack.

Villa season averages v Villa last four games: (league position for relevant stat in brackets)

Shots in the box per game: 11 (2nd) v 5.8 (14th)
Big chances per game: 3 (2nd) v 0.8 (20th)
Average xG per game: 1.8 (3rd) v 0.7 (20th)

These numbers are suggesting that Villa have started grinding out results. Villa’s xG of 0.1 this Gameweek was the lowest they recorded in a match this season which was in line with Brighton’s stellar home defensive numbers this term. I now consider the impact this had on some of their FPL assets. Grealish’s numbers over the past 9 matches have witnessed an alarming decline and are following a similar trend to those of Villa’s:

Grealish 20/21 v Grealish’s past 9 matches

Mins per big chance created: 117 v 202
Mins per shot in the box: 39 v 135
Mins per big chance: 195 v 807
Mins per expected involvement: 148 v 290

This trend however does not apply to Watkins who is in the top four for xG and shots inside the box for all players in the league over the same period. Villa’s defensive numbers have dropped too, but Villa are lucky to have in goal the FPL legend that is Emi Martínez. Brighton had a xG of over two this Gameweek, and were denied time and again by Martínez. Martínez now ranks in the top three for goalkeepers for xG prevented over the course of the season.

Q: In this section, I speak about Manchester City.

First, I highlight the improvement they have made in attack over the recent weeks:

Man City first 11 matches (GW 2-12) v Man City past 13 matches (GW 13-24): (league position for relevant stat in brackets)

Shots in the box per game: 9.54 (2nd) v 10.53 (1st)
Big chances per game: 2.45 (4th) v 3.30 (1st)
Average xG per game: 1.51 (5th) v 2.08 (1st)

While City were middling for attacking numbers earlier on in the season given their high standards, it’s finally good to see them back with fluidity in full form. Gündoğan has already registered as many big chances since Gameweek 13 than he did in his previous two seasons combined. Since Gameweek 13, he is top of big chances for all players in the league and has converted 60% of the big chances that have fallen his way during this run. At the moment, he is offering incredible value and should be a lock in your teams even if he was producing 60% of the output that he is at the moment.

De Bruyne’s re-emergence is unlikely to have an impact on the FPL climate, in my opinion. Pep has already seen his team do really well without him so has no apparent reason to play him for extended periods in the league as yet. Gündoğan’s numbers even with De Bruyne in the team were decent, so he should continue to offer good value.

Pep’s comments about rotation make it a tough call on who to pick in defence though. Ruben Dias seems safest but I think even his appeal has taken a hit given the extended run Laporte is being given in the first team. Cancelo has the highest upside but carries a risk of rotation too – I think I might still risk going with him on wildcard though.

Q: In this section, I discuss Liverpool.

First, I talk about Mohamed Salah. Liverpool’s slump has led to a lot of FPL managers, particularly those on wildcard, reconsidering his place in the wildcard team. This post serves as a convenient reminder that Salah is still top for big chances in total and big chances scored among midfielders this season. Recent form is on his side too. He scored a goal in the Champions League this week as well and in the past four game weeks Salah is in the top three for big chances, shots in the box and non-penalty xG. With these stats, there is no reason for FPL managers to sell him. He now comes up against an Everton side who are in the bottom three for xG non penalty conceded over the past four matches. It’s also worth noting that even during the most recent Gameweek, Fulham’s xG of ∼2.5 v Everton was not only the highest of the Gameweek but also the highest xG Fulham have recorded in a Premier League game this season.

Now I talk about the Liverpool defence. No team in the league has made more direct errors leading to goals this season than Liverpool. Their direct errors leading to goals this season are already 40% more than in the entirety of 2019/20. No team has conceded more big chances than Liverpool over the past two games and their defensive numbers are a shadow of what we have seen in the past. Only five 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.

What is interesting though is that their fixtures on paper (EVE shu/CHE FUL wol) look like good ones for their defence so whether or not to invest in the likes of Trent or even go cheaper with Kabak is a tough call. Trent is still top for defenders for penalty area touches and touches in the final third over the past six Gameweeks so the attacking potential is still there.

Q: In this section, I cover Leicester.

Leicester’s fixtures look great for Gameweek 26 and beyond (ARS/bur bha SHU). Vardy is an evergreen FPL asset and his numbers are still right up there. He has played considerably fewer minutes than some of the other players yet he is by far and away topping the charts for xG and big chances in the league over the season. I believe funds will be an issue for most managers, so for those looking to invest in the Leicester midfielders, I use fpltipsindia’s (on Twitter) comparison:

Maddison vs Barnes (last six GW’s)

Mins per big chance 603 vs 205.3
Mins per shot inside box 100.5 vs 51.3
Mins per expected involvement 262.2 vs 182.8

Barnes as expected is out-statting Maddison for goal threat. Maddison’s creativity has improved though –until a few weeks ago Maddison had just created the one big chance over the course of the season. However, he has already created three big chances over the past four matches so his creativity numbers are on the rise. He tends to do better for bonus than Barnes because of his chance creation too.

Q: Should I wildcard this week if I have all chips available?

This is a team-specific question which should be dependent on what your team looks like. For FPL managers heavily loaded on West Ham and Burnley assets having very few Leeds and Southampton assets at their disposal, I think the wildcard presents a good opportunity. A lot of FPL managers have loaded up on West Ham defence, Souček and Antonio but given the upcoming fixtures for West Ham (TOT mci LEE mun ARS) and the lack of a double, wildcarding away from these assets presents a golden chance for FPL managers to gain ground. The same applies for Burnley defence as well which was high owned because of double Gameweek 24 and now have tough fixtures after Gameweek 25 (WBA tot,LEI ARS eve).

I would like to thank @urboihamza (on Twitter) whose hard work behind the scenes often goes unnoticed but without his help this article wouldn’t be possible. It would be great if you could offer him some encouragement (follows/feedback appreciated!).

This brings me to the end of the article. Do share your feedback as always, and follow me on my Instagram if you don’t already as I post there about FPL too through the link down below!


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