FPL Gameweek 4 preview from veteran Fantasy Premier League manager BigManBakar. He shares his data-driven observations to help us make effective decisions for Gameweek 4 with essential tips.

You can also watch the Gameweek 4 preview on YouTube:

The numbers I have taken for this article are all taken from Fantasy Football Hub. In terms of the player data I have used, they come from the "key stats" section of the OPTA FPL stats tool.

FPL Gameweek 4 Preview. Key Stats.

Meanwhile, the attacking team data I have taken is from the "goal threat" stats section.

Attacking team data.

The defensive team data I have used is from the "defensive" stats section:

Defensive stats.

 

Q: Is it worth taking a hit to get Cristiano Ronaldo? - FPL Gameweek 4 Preview

In my opinion, Ronaldo is the best captaincy option in Gameweek 4 and 6 which is why I don’t mind taking a hit to get him in.

Amongst premium assets, he has the most favorable fixtures at home in both of these upcoming Gameweeks. This is pertinent because of a trend I notice.

In the last four Premier League seasons before 2020/21 (pre-covid), 56.4% goals were scored at home and 43.6% away on average.

During the first three Gameweeks of 2021/22, 62.4% goals have been scored at home and 37.6% away. Home advantage is definitely a thing once again. This needs to be a major consideration for the captaincy!

This is of course pending Manchester United's press conference. Given that Ronaldo has already clocked a few training sessions, I would be very surprised if he didn't start.

 

Ronaldo for the Captaincy? - FPL Gameweek 4 Preview

In my opinion, he couldn't have handpicked a better fixture to debut in. He's the standout captaincy option for me due to the following reasons:

He is 71% likely to score according to the odds, which makes him comfortably the best for anytime goalscorer this week.

Newcastle have conceded a penalty in each game this season and he is likely to be on penalties.

The Toons are second worst for big chances and xG conceded this season. In fact, Newcastle recorded an expected goals conceded of 3.54 in the previous Gameweek against Southampton, which was the second worst of all teams to have played this season. Chances should be aplenty for Ronaldo.

Steve Bruce's side are also ranked third worst for chances conceded down the centre. Meanwhile, United are top for chances created down the centre which is great for Ronaldo as he'll be sniffing in and around these areas.

One counter argument to not owning Ronaldo is to captain Mohammed Salah instead, In Gameweek 4 and 6, Liverpool visit Leeds and Brentford.

Not only are these two games away, which goes against my home/away consideration, but I expect both of these teams to give Liverpool a decent game.

 

Leeds against last season's top four (2020/21)

Home v Away

Shots in the box conceded per game: 11.5 v 17.3

Big chances conceded per game: 0.5 v 4.8

xG conceded per game: 1.2 v 3.2

There is a huge disparity in the data and it seems as if Leeds seem to raise their game against the top sides at home.

This was without the crowds last season and I suspect with fans back, they might be even more up for it.

Brentford, meanwhile, have recorded some really impressive numbers this season. Only Manchester City have conceded fewer big chances than them. I’d back Ronaldo in his fixtures over Salah here.

 

Q: What will be the impact of Ronaldo on Mason Greenwood, Bruno Fernandes and Luke Shaw's performances? - FPL Gameweek 4 Preview

Firstly, I'd like to start this section by highlighting Greenwood’s overperformance in recent weeks. No midfielder has overperformed more this season as per the xG statistical model.

However, his numbers have been on par with Bruno Fernandes:

 

Greenwood v Bruno (first three Gameweeks)

Shots: 11 v 9

Shots in the box: 7 v 5

Big chances: 1 v 2

xG: 0.97 v 1.30

Chances created: 4 v 6

Big chances created: 1 v 1

xA: 0.71 v 0.81

 

Bruno Fernandes - Worth £12m without penalties? (this calendar year)

Without penalties, he would have just six big chances in 24 starts. 20 midfielders in the league fared better.

13 midfielders have a better xG from open play and eight midfielders have a better chance created per 90 ratio.

I don’t think Bruno will be worth his price tag should he surrender penalties to Ronaldo. 45% of his goals in the Premier League have come from penalties.

This is particularly relevant given that Man United are averaging over 12 penalties over the last three seasons. However, he is still best for xA from open play in this calendar year despite Shaw and Greenwood taking corners so he’s likely to be a frequent assister.

As there is no historical data to back this up, one has to make reasonable assumptions to predict how the introduction of Ronaldo will affect Bruno and Greenwood.

For the sake of my analysis, the reasonable assumption that I’m making is that Man United might choose to play in a very similar way that they did so with Cavani in the side last season:

 

Bruno with and without Cavani (minutes per):

Chances created: 45 v 29
Big chances created: 164 v 151
Shots in the box: 99 v 56
Big chances: 493 v 117

As you can see, Bruno’s goal threat plummeted in the presence of Cavani. This could be down to the fact that Bruno was doing more of a job tracking back than usual, which might be the case with the introduction of Ronaldo as well.

 

Greenwood with and without Cavani (minutes per):

Chances created: 167 v 120
Big chances created: 501 v 331
Shots in the box: 63 v 34
Big chances: 167 v 189

 

Greenwood scored just once in the six games that Cavani started despite starting in all six games as the right winger.

In the presence of Ronaldo, Greenwood may not get the opportunity to shoot as much as he normally does as was the case when he was playing with Cavani.

What’s noticeable here is that his creativity dipped as well, which means that perhaps he was seeing much less of the ball.

Amogst defenders, only Trent Alexander Arnold has created more chances than Shaw this calendar year. Shaw's pedigree is proven despite the fact that he is yet to register an assist this season.

The emergence of Ronaldo will only add to his appeal as he will have a quality target to aim at with his crosses.

 

Q: When is the best time to Wildcard? - FPL Gameweek 4 Preview

I don’t think there should be a set strategy here. Generally, I like the idea of going a bit early every season but I see a lot of people are keen to wait for a bit longer this time around.

Both Gameweek 7 and 13/14 seem like good opportunities to Wildcard. In Gameweek 7, there are good fixture swings for Leeds, Man City and Chelsea and poor fixture swings for Man United, West Ham and Liverpool.

Meanwhile, in Gameweek 13/14 there are positive fixture swings for Man United, Leicester, Liverpool and Spurs with poor fixtures for Chelsea, Everton and Villa.

By waiting until at least Gameweek 7, you give yourself some more time to get information and data which could potentially lead to more informed decision making.

If you don't think that your team is too far off from what you would consider the ideal Wildcard team, then you can hold the chip for later. This is because there will be better times to maximize the gains you can make between a pre and post Wildcard team.

Having said that, the optimal time of using a Wildcard is mostly team dependent. For example, should the Brazilians be ruled out this week or should there be any concrete news of a Roberto Firmino injury, a lot more managers would be tempted to Wildcard.

I don’t mind that as long as it would suit your team. Taking a -12 hit is what I’d consider to be the maximum limit for a Wildcard but it’s important to remember that even the four and eight point hits add up.

Wildcarding now would allow you to jump on all the assets that you want long-term as early as possible, rather than risk bringing them in for a higher price later on.

 

Q: How many premium assets to pick on Wildcard, two or three? - FPL Gameweek 4 Preview

Premiums are likely to be the most frequent point scorers so I can see the fascination behind shoe-horning as many in on a Wildcard.

However, I like two premiums as it reduces reliance on the third premium to perform. A third premium + a budget enabler could be a good strategy later on in the season once we have more team value.

Yet at this stage of the season, it is hard to figure out who the best budget enablers are. Therefore, spreading the funds and going in with a combination of two mid-priced players is likely to yield better results.

At the moment, I'm struggling to make a team with three heavy hitters that I like. I'm not too keen on the sacrifices being made elsewhere and it leads to an overdependence on your premium assets to perform week in week out.

Ideally pick two premiums – one midfielder and forward to give you the flexibility to rotate between Salah/De Bruyne/Son/Bruno and Ronaldo/Lukaku/Kane depending on their fixture runs.

Timing will be all important this season, owning the right premiums at the right time will be critical.

 

Q: Diogo Jota or Ferran Torres? - FPL Gameweek 4 Preview

This is a tricky question to answer having seen both of these players in fine form this season. In my analysis, I use last season’s numbers as we have a bigger sample size available.

Torres averaged 5.53 FPL pts per start with an expected goal involvement of 0.5 per start. Jota averaged around 4.7 points per start, recording a healthy expected involvement of 0.7 per start.

That tells me that both are really good options to own and that Jota relatively underperformed with regards to his underlying numbers.

Nonetheless, Jota's selection is dependent on the extent of Firmino's injury. If Firmino looks like being out for around three weeks or more, then Jota is a great buy and one I’d prefer over Torres.

There's a chance of immediate returns in the Leeds fixture as well. No team has conceded more chances down the middle this season so if Jota starts, he could get returns straightaway.

Torres seems critical to Pep Guardiola's plans at the moment who said:

"Gabriel (Jesus) comes more to associate and link up, to drop a little bit, and Ferran makes movements more to the goal. With our lack of goals lately, we need a guy who can make the movements there."

Those quotes suggest to me that Ferran is firmly first choice at the moment. Ferran’s numbers this season have been particularly impressive as well.

His xG of 1.62 against Arsenal was the highest a player has recorded in a single game this season.

The issue with him is likely to be rotation more than anything. This is particularly the case now for one of his upcoming Premier League games after having started all three of Spain’s recent games clocking 90 minutes in their most recent friendly on Wednesday.

There’s also the fact that Phil Foden and Kevin De Bruyne are now back in full team training and give additional options to Pep.

They accumulated 12 appearances combined as the false nine last season. This is only going to make the Pep Roulette harder to predict in the weeks to come, especially if Ferran has a poor game or two.

I’d suggest picking one on Wildcard and not both. They could potentially be short term options and you wouldn’t want to be pre-booking transfers in advance having just Wildcarded.

 

Wolves Attack - FPL Gameweek 4 Preview

I’ve been really impressed with Wolves this season. They have been really unlucky not to have scored this season despite posting impressive statistics.

 

Wolves after three Gameweeks:

Shots: 57

Shots in the box: 36

Big chances: 4

xG: 5.06

Goals: 0

 

Jiménez v Traoré v Trincão

Shots in the box: 11 v 7 v 6

Big chance involvements: 0 v 2 v 1

xG: 0.46 v 1.30 v 1.14

Chances created: 10 v 9 v 4

xA: 0.7 v 0.7 v 0.4

 

It’s difficult to pick an obvious choice from the Wolves ranks. Jiménez is playing in more of a creative role (having registered no big chance involvements) with Trincão/Traoré carrying the goal threats.

I prefer Traoré over Trincão because the latter might be at risk of getting subbed early with the return of Daniel Podence.

Historically, it's been challenging to build a case for Adama Traoré. After all, it's hard to advocate for someone who has a career best of four Premier League goals.

However, I really like the look of him in Bruno Lage's system and believe he has serious potential. He hasn't scored yet but here is how he ranks among midfielders this season:

Shots: 2nd

Shots in the box: 3rd

Big chances: 5th

xG: 5th

xGi: 3rd

Penalty area touches: 2nd

Chances created: 1st

This is despite having faced Leicester, Spurs and Man United in the opening three fixtures.

 

Adama Traoré v Ismaïla Sarr - FPL Gameweek 4 Preview

The counter argument against him is that he's known to be a poor finisher. Yet I think that's a bit of a myth when you look at his numbers historically:

Adama Traoré’s xG v Adama Traoré’s actual goals

20/21: 2.05 v 2
19/20: 3.83 v 4
18/19: 1.33 v 1

What’s telling is that Traoré’s underlying numbers have actually never been this good. In the previous season, he failed to register even a single big chance.

On the other hand, he has had a big chance involvement in each of the three games he has played so far this season.

I think he could do well against Watford, who have conceded 44% of their chances on their right flank as compared to their centre and left.

Personally, I prefer Traoré to Sarr as I look at Watford as a defence first team. They are ranked in the bottom five teams for xG non-penalty this season.

Sarr is likely to be on penalties and is their talisman, but I worry about his big chance involvements. He has had eight shots inside the box, which looks great on paper but is yet to register a big chance involvement this season.

 

Wolves Defence - FPL Gameweek 4 Preview

xG conceded from open play

21/22

1) Man City

2) Chelsea

3) Wolves

4) Brighton

I really like the idea of having a Wolves defender on a Wildcard due to the numbers illustrated above. Only Man City have conceded fewer shots and have a better xG non penalty conceded than Wolves this season.

For them to post these underlying numbers is seriously impressive given that they have had a tough start fixture wise to the season.

Wolves now have an excellent fixture run from Gameweek 4 until 14 where they don’t face any of last season's top five.

Semedo would be my pick from their defence. The Portuguese international is playing practically as a right winger according to the average position map in each of his last two fixtures.

 

Brighton Defence - FPL Gameweek 4 Preview

Brighton are fourth for xG conceded from open play this season and are conceding on average, approximately 12 shots per game.

This is exactly what you want from a goalkeeper - a keeper who plays for a team which concedes a large number of shots but shots of low quality.

I see a lot of people selling Sánchez on a Wildcard but I believe that could backfire.

His short-term fixtures aren't the best but when you're on a Wildcard you're likely to buy a keeper for the long term, as it is highly unlikely that you would want to spend a transfer on a keeper at any point.

Brighton have a proven defence, so Sánchez is ultimately a safe choice.

 

Q: Is it worth keeping Trent Alexander Arnold and Raphinha on Wildcard? - FPL Gameweek 4 Preview

Chances created (after three Gameweeks):

Alexander-Arnold: 15

Ritchie: 11

Jiménez: 10

Traoré/Grealish: 9

Salah/Sarr/Fornals/Jesus: 8

As you can see above, no player has created more chances than Alexander Arnold this season. He's a safe, set and forget, explosive option for the long term who could deliver in any fixture regardless of difficulty.

I’d have him in my Wildcard because I’d hate to restructure my squad once I decide to go without just to bring him back in if he does well.

There are still some doubts surrounding the availability of the Brazilians this week but I would have Raphinha in my Wildcard draft regardless.

In case he misses out, get a capable substitute - Ben White with Norwich at home this week springs to mind. I firmly believe that Raphinha is the best midfielder in his price bracket.

He has has recorded 18 big chance involvements in 21 matches this calendar year which is incredible for someone in his price bracket.

Unfortunately, he has missed five out of his previous six big chances to score which is why he hasn't hauled in recent times. However, the numbers suggest good scores, particularly with the favourable upcoming run of fixtures, are imminent.

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