In this review series, the brilliant AbuBakar shares his data-driven observations and FPL Gameweek 9 tips to help us make decisions for the upcoming Gameweeks.

Check out our Ultimate Guide to FPL Gameweek 9 for all the key information, stats and tips you need going into the weekend’s action.

Hi everyone, welcome to “The Review” where I look back on the key numbers of Gameweek 8 with a look ahead to the football to be played after the international break:

1) Is it worth keeping Mohamed Salah? In his absence, who is the standout captain this week?

With conflicting reports over the protocols to be followed for Mohamed Salah’s return, it’s hard to decipher whether to hold or sell the Egyptian. According to reports today, he is being flown back to the UK in a “prepared” plane and what is suggested is that he will be allowed to train after ten days of his initial positive test, if he tests negative over the coming days. Hence, if he is back in the UK, he might start training straightaway next week when he tests negative. If he is available next week for Brighton, he’s a keep for me because then again he has Fulham in Gameweek 12 where he is the standout captaincy option, when Man United and Man City play each other. But my presumption for this availability is speculation, and if Klopp in his press conference gives any indication that Salah might miss two or more Gameweeks, he is a sell for me.

I say that because I feel Man City and Man United midfielders have great potential over the next two which can compensate for the absence of Salah in our FPL squads. I have discussed Man United assets in the section below, here I talk about Man City. Sterling and De Bruyne haven’t really kicked on this season – neither of the individuals have returned double digit hauls over the last three Gameweeks, whereas in the goal threat department there are 11 midfielders above Sterling and 18 above De Bruyne for big chances. Looking at Man City as a whole, I can see some improvement in the attacking department – they are in the top three for big chances over the last couple of Gameweeks. And now with the injury crisis turning in their favour, it might be high time to invest in Man City assets since their long term fixtures (tot BUR FUL mun WBA) and the captaincy differential may become an explosive combination. I expect City to turn quite a few teams over in the weeks to come, and De Bruyne and Sterling should be at the centre of it.

fpl fw9 tips

Are you keeping or selling Salah?

I think with Man United being the clear bookies favourite for 2.5+ goals this week, captaining one of their assets may be a safe pick. No team has created more chances than them over the past four Gameweeks and contrary to popular opinion, they were fairly dependable against the weaker sides at home last season. I do think though, that this is the kind of week where captaincy calls can be made on gut feels and hunches as there is no standout. I have spoken about Timo Werner and Dominic Calvert Lewin in detail later on in the article, and both of them offer great alternatives for captaincy this week.

2) Who are the Man United assets to own?

After earning the bragging rights over Everton, Man United showed glimpses of the team they were post restart:

Man United 19/20 (Post Restart) vs Man United 20/21 (GW1-7) vs Man United 20/21 (GW8):

Shots in the box per game: 8.1 vs 6.83 vs 7
Big chances per game: 2.78 vs 1.17 vs 4
Chances created per game: 9.67 vs 10.67 vs 9

These stats show how dominant Man United in terms of attack were over the weekend, and with Bruno Fernandes racking up the most FPL points of any player this Gameweek, it gives further reason to introspect Man United assets in greater detail. Martial is a doubt, Greenwood has been erratic this season so the only ones of interest in the FPL stratosphere are Bruno and Rashford. Because the sample size this season is small, I look into their numbers since Bruno’s arrival:

Fernandes vs Rashford: (Post restart 19/20 Home)
Mins per shot inside the box: 74.5 vs 55.1
Mins per big chance: 93.1 vs 110.3
Mins per big chance created: 372.5 vs 154.4

Fernandes 20/21 vs Rashford 20/21: (Overall)
Mins per shot inside the box: 81.4 vs 63
Mins per big chance: 142.5 vs 210
Mins per big chance created: 190 vs 630

By looking at the stats, it shows the decline that has befallen the pair who have been unable to produce similar numbers as to last season post restart. However, I further break down their performances this season home and away:

Rashford 20/21 (Home) vs Fernandes 20/21 (Home):
Mins per shot inside the box: 360 vs 150
Mins per big chance: 360 vs 300
Mins per big chance created: 360 vs 300

Rashford 20/21 (Away) vs Fernandes 20/21 (Away):
Mins per shot inside the box: 30 vs 54
Mins per big chance: 90 vs 90
Mins per big chance created: 270 vs 90

Both have poor numbers at home but seem to be performing away. Overall, I think I prefer Bruno Fernandes, but not by much. Penalties is what swings it, as can be witnessed when you compare the minutes per big chance of both players. Fernandes I think is also likely to better for bonus given his chance creation numbers – so far this season no one has created more chances at home.

With West Brom coming up at home, who are worst for big chances conceded and xG conceded, it might be time to invest in Bruno Fernandes with penalty duties and decent fixtures to follow (WBA sou whu MCI shu). I do think Rashford is likely to offer a really good differential route over this run too though. Will Telles likely to play, expect Rashford to come inside and interchange with the striker.

3) Is it time to ditch the Heung Min Son and Harry Kane double up?

A narrow win against West Brom saw Kane provide attacking returns for seven consecutive Gameweeks but Son has now blanked for two games running. Last week, I looked at how the attacking potential of Spurs have dropped off in recent Gameweeks. Here I update those numbers with this week’s data:

Spurs (GW 1-4) vs Spurs (GW 5-8):
Shots inside the box per game: 11.5 vs 7.75
Big chance per game: 4.25 vs 2.5
Chances created per game: 12 vs 9.25

Despite having the fixtures in their favour, the statistics show the decline in the attacking potential of Spurs. This decline can further be explained by José Mourinho comments which he made recently stating, to have learned a lot from the result from the West Ham game, “I said that we were speaking a lot about it and working a lot about that situation. I am not going to say we are not going to lose matches or lose points in the last minutes, it can happen to anyone. We felt the pain against West Ham and since then strategically the team is behaving in a different way. The two clean sheets at Burnley and at West Brom showed the lesson.” By these comments it can be inferred as Mourinho taking a really defensive approach to the games differing from the Gung-Ho approach Spurs were taking at the start. If this is the sign of what is more to come and considering the fixtures to follow (MCI che ARS cry liv) then it might be that it makes sense to ditch the double up.

fantasy premier league tips gw9

Is it time to ditch the Spurs duo?

However, given the various injuries that FPL managers are having to contend with in their squads, these seem luxury transfers to make. In an ideal world, it makes sense to ditch both – particularly Kane given that at his price you need him to be a captaincy option which he doesn’t offer over the next few fixtures. Son is a more acceptable hold as he’s likely to be the main outlet of the counter attack which will be the route that Spurs are likely to take.

4) How has Mané performed historically without Salah?

Looking at Sadio Mané, Mané is joint top with Salah for big chances and is third best for xG over the last four Gameweeks. In isolation, those are great numbers. But with Salah ruled out, it might be worth looking at his stats from last season with and without the Egyptian superstar:

Mane with Salah in the team = 171 points in 23 starts at an average of 7.43 FPL points per game

Mane without Salah = 29 points in 4 starts at an average of 7.25 FPL points per game

By looking at the stats it seems that Mané is slightly worse off without Salah than he is while playing with Salah. This is no surprise because Salah’s assist potential is often underrated – even this season no player has created more chances than him in the league. This is in stark contrast to Salah without Mané, who tends to do far better when the Senegalese is not in the team.

5) How has the inclusion of Hakim Ziyech impacted Timo Werner?

In another huge victory for Chelsea, Ziyech recorded an impressive three big chances created which now takes him top for big chances created among midfielders over the last two Gameweeks. With Werner leading the goalscoring charts for Chelsea, let us see how Ziyech has affected Werner:

Werner (Without Ziyech starting) vs Werner (With Ziyech starting)
Mins per shots inside the box: 40 vs 44.25
Big chances per game: 260 vs 59

The numbers clearly indicate that the arrival of Ziyech has helped Werner find his feet in the league. Werner is now in the top three for big chances and shots inside the box among the forwards over the last two Gameweeks which comes as no surprise given the high-quality chances Ziyech is creating for him. It’s worth noting that since the start of the October international break, Werner has scored 10 goals in nine appearances for club and country so he’s in sublime form. With decent fixtures to follow (new TOT LEE eve wol), expect the duo to deliver over the next few Gameweeks as well.

6) Who is the best Trent Alexander-Arnold replacement?

The Gabriel Jesus goal vs Liverpool meant that Trent missed out on clean sheet points for the seventh time this season, and with a reported injury that is suspected to last for another three weeks, it’s time to get rid of Trent. Three candidates stand out – João Cancelo, Ben Chilwell, and Reece James. I highlight the defensive improvements Man City and Chelsea have made over recent weeks down below:

Man City (GW 2-4) vs Man City (GW 5-8):
Big chances conceded per game: 3.3 vs 0.75
Shots inside the box conceded per game: 7 vs 4

Chelsea (GW 1-3) vs Chelsea (GW 4-8)
Big chances conceded per game: 2 vs 0.8
Shots inside the box conceded per game: 7.33 vs 4.6

Over the span of four Gameweeks, both Man City and Chelsea are in the top three for least big chances conceded. Looking at the individuals, Cancelo is top for chances created and xGI over the last four Gameweeks for defenders, whereas Chilwell is only second to him in the chance creation category. Furthermore, over the same period Chilwell ranks third for having touches in the final third and in the same category Cancelo ranks fifth. While both teams show similar defensive potential and the individuals show great attacking potential, let us see what really distinguishes these choices:

Cancelo vs Chilwell vs James:
Mins per shots inside the box: 360 vs 90 vs 543
Mins per chance created: 32.7 vs 40.9 vs 60.3
Mins per touch in the final third: 3.05 vs 2.77 vs 3.43

fpl transfer tips gw9

If Cancelo can hold his place, he looks a great option for the upcoming Gameweeks

As you can see Cancelo excels for assist potential, but Chilwell seems to have a better goal threat. James is cheaper than both and offers an affordable route into an in-form defence. Both Cancelo and James are rotation risks, but with their form I think they are first choice and given their explosive potential, I think they are worth the risk if the bench is decent. It’s a good time to invest in either of these defenders as the long term fixtures for Man City (tot BUR FUL mun WBA) and Chelsea (new TOT LEE eve wol) look favourable.

7) Why does Patrick Bamford perform decently away but average at home?

Leeds (First Two GWs) vs Leeds (Last Six GWs):
Shots in the box per game: 6 v 10.7
Big chance per game: 0.5 v 2.5

The stats above show that after the first two Gameweeks Leeds have really picked up the pace in attack and have been creating multiple number of big chances each game of late, regardless of opposition. Here’s a run-down of how Bamford has been performing home and away over the past few Gameweeks:

Bamford (Home GW3-8) vs Bamford (Away GW3-8):
Mins per shot inside the box: 24.5 vs 20.7
Mins per big chance: 54 vs 67.5
xG: 2.38 vs 2.39
FPL points per game: 1.67 vs 10.67

The FPL points per game figure shows that there is great variance in the points Bamford has managed to accumulate home and away, but the underlying stats show that Bamford has been equally phenomenal home and away over these fixtures and this variance of points in the long run will cease to even out. Last season in the Championship, Bamford was able to rack up an incredible 44 big chances out of which he managed a 22.7% conversion rate, compared to the 66.7% conversion rate he has managed this season. This showcases how much Bamford has improved clinically, and despite tough fixtures to follow (ARS eve che WHU NEW) expect Bamford in a high firing Leeds team to get some attacking returns. They created five big chances against Man City and scored thrice against Liverpool, so don’t write them off in any fixture!

8) In this section I look at Aston Villa yet again and roll the scanner over Jack Grealish, Ollie Watkins and Ross Barkley in detail:

After another supreme performance against Arsenal, Villa are now top for shots inside the box and joint second for big chances over the past two Gameweeks. Last Gameweek, I wrote how much better off Grealish was as compared to Barkley with his underlying numbers – this time I look at how Grealish is faring among the other midfielders of the league. Among midfielders, Grealish is joint top for big chances created over the last four Gameweeks, having also racked up the joint highest shots inside the box during this run. Not only is Grealish excelling in his position but he is also enabling Watkins to show his true potential.

Watkins is now top for big chances of all players in the league over the past 5 Gameweeks. He managed to record two big chances vs Arsenal which means that he has managed to register a big chance for three games in a row now. With Watkins entrusted with penalty duties and Grealish working the set pieces, both continue to offer a great route into an in-form Villa attack at an affordable price – considering the next set of fixtures (BHA whu NEW wolv BUR), it may be a good time to invest in both.

fantasy football transfer tips

‘Watkins is now top for big chances of all players in the league over the past 5 Gameweeks’

Ross Barkley is an interesting one. He played in an advanced position against Liverpool in Gameweek 4 and then last Gameweek against Arsenal, as can be seen in the average position maps. Over these two “harder” games, he has accumulated 8 shots inside the box and 14 penalty area touches as opposed to the 1 shot inside the box and 8 penalty area touches he managed in the three “easier” games between Gameweek 5 and 7. Perhaps this is how Dean Smith wants to set up tactically, allowing Barkley to dictate from deep in the easier games?

I don’t expect Brighton to be an easy game though. Their defensive stats are one of the best in the league. Lamptey continues to impress – his average position was on par with Maupay against Burnley. He registered the second most number of final third touches of all players who played and also recorded a big chance. Burnley, meanwhile, have now recorded just one big chance in their previous three games and continue to struggle.

9) Is it time to get rid of Daniel Podence? If yes, then who is the best replacement? Is it time to own West Ham midfielders?

Another horror-show in attack saw Wolves lose to Leicester – with Jimenez and Podence managing zero shots combined in the fixture. It also means that Wolves have fallen into the bottom three for shots inside the box and xG over the last four Gameweeks which highlights the decline in their attacking potential. Adama Traore delivered perhaps his most impressive performance of the season and even though it came in the form of a cameo, it raises further questions on Podence who failed to make the 60 minute-mark against Leicester. Let us look at a few replacements for the same value, first I compare the West Ham midfielders:

Bowen vs Fornals vs Souček
Mins per shot inside the box: 74.2 vs 66.4 vs 55.4
Mins per big chance: 222.6 v 221.3 vs 240
Mins per big chance created: 668 vs 664 vs 720

All those numbers are mediocre at best, with Fornals perhaps coming out as the best so I look at another likely set of candidates, including Diogo Jota and Podence himself, to see where mid-priced midfielders stand:

Fornals vs Podence (himself) vs Armstrong vs Jota:
Mins per shot inside the box: 66.4 vs 84.3 vs 85.6 vs 33.8
Mins per big chance: 221.3 vs 253 vs 514 vs 101.7
Mins per big chance created: 664 vs 253 vs 514 vs 305

The underlying stats clearly show Diogo Jota is the best of the bunch. He’s likely to start the next two given the absence of Salah as part of the front three, and given his form it won’t be a huge surprise to see him keep his spot even as part of a front four should Liverpool adopt a different formation for the easier fixtures once Salah returns. I think at his price he’s streets ahead of what others around his price offer, and has the potential to be a game-breaker with the value he offers into an elite attack.

10) Should faith be shown in James Rodríguez? Is it worth keeping Dominic Calvert-Lewin despite not hauling in recent weeks?

With the loss to Man United, Everton have now failed to register league points for the past three successive Gameweeks which has had a knock-on effect on their FPL assets. I run a few comparisons to help us assess their performances:

Everton (GW 1-4) vs Everton (GW 5-8):
Shots inside the box per game: 9 vs 5.75
Big chances per game: 3.25 vs 1
Chance created per game: 10.25 vs 7.75

Calvert-Lewin (GW 1-4) vs Calvert-Lewin (GW 5-8):
Mins per shot inside the box: 26.2 vs 40
Mins per big chance: 56.7 vs 120

By looking at the numbers, we can see that there has been a huge drop in attacking numbers for Everton and Calvert Lewin over the last four Gameweeks which can be attributed to the injury of Richarlison and Rodríguez over the past few weeks. Incredible consistency from Calvert Lewin just to blank once despite that though and once Richarlison is back, that should truly unlock him! Playmaker James Rodríguez has also witnessed a drop in numbers:

Rodríguez (GW 1-4) vs Rodríguez (GW 5-8):
Mins per shot inside the box: 55.2 vs 260
Mins per big chance: 165.5 vs 260
Mins per big chance created: 82.75 vs 260

gameweeek 9 fantasy premier league

Richarlison’s influence could help Rodriguez rediscover his early season form

But now with Richarlison set to return and a favourable run of fixtures (ful LEE bur CHE lei) there might be enough evidence to put faith in Everton assets for a couple of more Gameweeks and expect a change in the attacking fortunes.

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Check out our Ultimate Guide to FPL Gameweek 9 for all the key information, stats and tips you need going into the weekend’s action.

 

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