In this review series, the brilliant AbuBakar shares his data-driven observations and FPL Gameweek 30 tips to help us make decisions for the upcoming Gameweeks.
The Review: Gameweek 29
Hi everyone, welcome to “The Review” where I look back on some recent numbers with a look ahead to the football to be played after the international break:
Q: In this section, I highlight the decline in Sheffield United’s numbers and its knock-on effect on Bamphinha this Gameweek.
Sheffield United 20/21 v last four matches
(league position for relevant stat given)
Big chances conceded per game: 2.3 (17th) v 4.8 (20th)
xG conceded per game: 1.4 (16th) v 2.7 (20th)
Further, Sheffield United are also top among all teams for errors leading to chances conceded over the past four matches which is another indication of the fact that they have completely given up which in my opinion makes Sheffield United the fixture to target right now. Even a Grealish-less Villa accumulated a xG of ∼2.32 against them. To put things into context, Villa’s average xG in the other five matches without Grealish is just ∼0.8. This is why I’m very bullish on a Leeds captaincy this week.
Leeds have accumulated 23 goals in their nine league fixtures against the bottom seven this season, averaging ∼2.56 goals per game against them. They have been fairly dependable in terms of being flat track bullies too, winning eight of these nine fixtures. Hence, it is no surprise that after Chelsea, Leeds are the bookies favorites for 2.5+ goals this week.
Raphinha in my opinion is at least two million underpriced. It is no surprise to see him top the charts in terms of big chance involvements when it comes to budget midfielders over the last six matches:
Big chance involvements: (Last six matches)
The value that he is offering is such that he might be worth keeping till the end of the season, particularly for those FPL managers with eight playable attackers in their squads.
I now run a comparison between Bamford and Raphinha over the last eight matches:
Bamford v Raphinha
Shots inside the box: 16 v 14
Big chances: 5 v 2
Big chances created: 1 v 6
xGi: 2.91 v 4.87
The telling stat for me here is the expected goal involvement, which suggests that Raphinha is more likely to be involved whenever Leeds are to score according to the numbers. However, given that Bamford is on penalties and is likely to take advantage of the fact that Sheffield United are worst for chances conceded down the middle over the past four matches makes it a tough call between him and Raphinha. I think Raphinha slightly edges it for captaincy this week given the extra point per goal and clean sheet.
The only caveat I see regarding a Leeds captaincy here is that only 25% of Raphinha’s and ∼39% of Bamford’s goals and assists have come at home all season.
Q: In this section, I speak about Spurs’ prospects against Newcastle this Gameweek.
I was studying the numbers heading into this fixture to help me analyze how it might pan out but some numbers really stood out to me. Most of the FPL community expects this to be a trouncing given how poorly Newcastle played against Brighton. Surprisingly, Newcastle’s defensive numbers at home– both in recent times and over the course of the season, have been decent. Newcastle are 5th for big chances conceded and 6th for xG conceded at home in 20/21. In the past six home games, they are 3rd for big chances conceded and 4th for xG conceded. Spurs in their previous 12 away games have scored 11 goals. These numbers make me think that it might end up being a close-ish game.
Newcastle have conceded the highest number of chances in the league on the right flank over the past six matches, which bodes particularly well for Son and Reguilón should they be fit. Given these numbers, I’d sell Bale for Son if I had him. Son is a safer option heading into double Gameweek 32 anyway, while Mourinho’s post-match comments after the Villa match sound grim for Bale. “I need people on the pitch that I know the match is important for. This is the kind of positivity that the team needed”, he was quoted as saying after the Villa match.
Q: In this section, I cover Jesse Lingard and Michail Antonio.
There’s lots of Lingard love around in the FPL community these days. It’s worth noting that Lingard has eight goal involvements in seven matches despite a meagre xGi of just 3.27 (even that is inflated with a penalty and a point-blank tap in). These numbers comfortably make him the most overperforming player in the league since he has joined. Given that Lingard has underperformed on his xG over the significant majority of his career, I find his output to be highly unsustainable. West Ham now face Wolves away, Leicester at home and Chelsea at home in three of their next four matches. Wolves at home, Leicester away and Chelsea away are all ranked in the top five for xG conceded respectively over the season so I wouldn’t be in a rush to bring Lingard in.
I still think if you’re looking to own one West Ham attacker, Antonio is the man to get. Antonio was highly unfortunate not to register more FPL points against Arsenal and was the most underperforming player in terms of xG across all the four fixtures played over Gameweek 29. I’d definitely start him if I owned him – no player has a better xG than Antonio over the past six matches.
Q: In this section, I study Man United’s recent numbers.
Bruno 20/21 v Bruno last six matches
Mins per chance created: 28 v 39
Mins per big chance created: 121 v 539
Mins per shot in the box: 64 v 135
Mins per big chance: 138 v 180
Mins per xGi: 111 v 169
Man United average xG: 1.7 v 1.1
I used a sample size of six matches for Man United rather than that of six home matches as it includes the 9-0 Southampton match which I believe is an extreme outlier.
It’s fair to say that Man United are struggling for a bit of form. It’s not often that I look at recent numbers and find Man United to be in the bottom three for big chances over the past six matches. Bruno Fernandes will have a midweek’s rest behind him for a change and that might play a part in him revitalizing the United attack but from the evidence I have right now, I don’t think United will score too many past Brighton. Brighton over the past six away matches have an xG conceded of around 1 and are sitting 6th for xG non penalty conceded. Those numbers are pretty good when you consider that Brighton over the last six away matches have faced Man City, Liverpool and Leeds away from home (and conceded just once over those three fixtures). I do think United will edge it, but it will be close. This isn’t a captaincy game with high upside for me.
Q: In this section, I discuss all things Chelsea related.
I have used my friend AK_FPL1’s (on Twitter) thread on Twitter for some of the numbers I quote. With an unreal run of fixtures coming up (WBA cry BHA whu FUL), Chelsea assets are the flavour of the Gameweek right now. Firstly, I’d like to talk about the Chelsea defence under Tuchel. Chelsea since Tuchel has taken over are topping every defensive chart for least xG, xG-non penalty, big chances and shots in the box conceded. I now compare Chelsea’s defence under Lampard with their defence under Tuchel to put into context the improvement in their defensive numbers.
Under Lampard v Tuchel:
xG conceded per game: 0.97 v 0.45
Shots conceded in the box per game: 6.37 v 3.40
Big Chances conceded per game: 1.47 v 0.50
Defensive errors (Total): 10 v 1
These numbers are so exemplary that they warrant at least a defensive double up. On wildcard, I’d be tempted to even triple up – What’s wrong with tripling up on a defence which has conceded just two goals in 21 hours of playing time under their manager? Rüdiger and Azpilicueta are the safest choices on paper, but Alonso is an excellent shout as well for managers who are eyeing up a pre wildcard punt given that Chilwell started for England against Poland. It is worth noting that Alonso has played almost half as many minutes as some of the other defenders in the league since Tuchel has taken over, yet he sits top among them for shots in the box.
Mendy would be an automatic selection for me on wildcard too, given his price despite Emi Martínez’s additional fixture to come. Villa’s defensive numbers since Gameweek 21 have slumped, and since then they have been in the bottom three for xG conceded and shots in the box conceded. I now talk about the Chelsea attack:
Under Lampard v Tuchel:
xG per game: 1.57 v 1.39
Shots in the box per game: 8.84 v 9.50
Big chances per game: 2.26 v 2.10
Werner has been hogging Chelsea’s numbers since Tuchel has taken over, but he is horribly short of confidence. Havertz is the one I’d like my eye on particularly if he plays as the striker – In his spell at Leverkusen, he scored eight goals from nine games as a striker last season. Mason Mount will continue to tick, but his lack of big chance involvements limit his FPL upside.
Q: In this section, I highlight some trends I have noticed with Villa’s attack.
Watkins with Grealish v Watkins without Grealish 20/21
xG per game: 0.9 v 0.1
Big chances per game: 0.5 v 0
Villa with Grealish v Villa without Grealish 20/21
xG per game: 1.6 v 1.1
Big chances per game: 2.5 v 1.5
What I am looking forward to the most this Gameweek is the return of Jack Grealish and the impact that he has on Villa’s numbers. The Villa talisman is back in training and boy do Villa need him quickly. Their creativity numbers in recent times have fallen off a cliff but it’s worth pointing out that the slide started way back in Gameweek 21. Even between Gameweek 21 and Gameweek 24, when Grealish was fit, Villa were ranked bottom in the league for big chances and xG. This has to be last chance saloon for Ollie Watkins – if Grealish has no impact on his numbers this Gameweek, then it’s surely time to sell.
Q: In this section, I speak about Manchester City.
I’d like to talk about pure strategy rather than underlying numbers here. Cancelo and Gündoğan have started all the matches for their countries in the international break so are at particular risk this week. I feel as if Gündoğan could be benched by FPL managers with eight playing options at their disposal this Gameweek because predicting him to get rested ahead of the Champions League tie in midweek is an educated guess. Leicester aren’t walkovers anyway – so even if Gündoğan starts, the potential to hurt isn’t as big given the standard of the opposition and the likelihood of an early substitution.
Cancelo I’d keep as well, because his upside in any given game is massive and should he be rested this Gameweek, I’d definitely want to own him for Leeds in Gameweek 31. Dias and Stones I believe are easy holds given the value that they offer, while De Bruyne was rested for Belgium so should be good to go v Leicester. His numbers are clearly on the up – no midfielder has created more chances or registered more shots in the box than De Bruyne over the past four matches.
Q: In this section, I discuss Liverpool.
Jota has been in red-hot form for Portugal over the internationals which is why he seems in-demand, particularly for FPL managers wildcarding this week or soon after. I run a comparison between him and Salah over the course of the season:
Salah v Jota (All matches)
Mins per shots inside the box: 36.62 v 41.23
Mins per big chance: 106.5 v 140.2
As seen in the numbers, Salah is the superior option but Jota runs him close. I would feel more comfortable captaining someone like a Salah, but I believe Jota is an elite option for his price – no one has a higher goal involvement % for Liverpool in the league than Jota this season. If I was wildcarding right now, I would pick both instead of one or the other. Six of Liverpool’s remaining fixtures are against teams who are in the bottom seven in terms of xG conceded this season, so there is potential to be taken advantage of by picking both. Liverpool have a favorable Champions League schedule in terms of rest days, so that should help too.
Q: In this section, I cover Wolves.
Nuno has reverted to the tried and tested 3-4-3 since Gameweek 20 so it’s only fair that I start by analysis from then as I feel as if it is likely to continue. I think Nuno is now looking for some defensive solidity, which is why he finally parted ways with the experimental 4-2-3-1 this season. Unfortunately though, even after the formation change, Wolves’ numbers have been quite poor as they have been conceding on average two big chances a game. Since the formation change, Wolves have the lowest xG from open play too. Neto is the one who stands out but he’s the best of a bad bunch in my opinion – Wolves have scored seven goals in their previous ten matches and three of them have been through penalties or own goals which sums them up as an attacking force. Despite the upcoming fixtures (WHU ful SHU BUR wba BHA), Coady would be the only pick I’d remotely consider from the entire team – Nuno has reiterated that they are “finding solutions for him to score”. That is evident in the numbers – his total of four shots in the previous three matches is twice as many as he has registered in his previous 102 league appearances combined.
Q: In this section, I talk about Calvert Lewin’s prospects vs Crystal Palace.
I think Calvert Lewin is an excellent shout for FPL managers wildcarding next Gameweek looking to buy a forward for one week. Crystal Palace are ranked bottom for most headed attempts and xG conceded over the past four away matches. Palace are also bottom for most headed attempts conceded over the season so their susceptibility to aerial prowess, which is something that Calvert Lewin thrives on, has been proven over time.
Calvert Lewin was back playing in his best position through the middle v Burnley where he hogged the majority of Everton’s big chances being the focal point of their attack. He registered at least double the number of shots inside the box and big chances in that game than all his other team-mates. Under Ancelotti, he has scored in both of his appearances against Palace and looks set to add to that run. He’s an overlooked captaincy shout this Gameweek.
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