FPL transfer tips for GW20. Hub contributor Woodsy makes an intriguing case for picking Phil Foden as our Kevin De Bruyne replacement ahead of the other protagonists…
The Case For Foden
With the madness of Blank Gameweek 18 and the seemingly endless Double Gameweek 19 now finally out of the way, it’s time to look ahead and make sure we’re well set up for what is, on paper, a more ‘normal’ Gameweek 20 and beyond.
It can be easy to get distracted by the glitz and glamour of a Double Gameweek, and while you’re out on the town (metaphorically of course), throwing chips around like confetti and chasing points around like rabid dogs, it’s entirely possible that your plan from Gameweek 20 onwards was not completely prepared.
One dilemma that couldn’t be planned for, however, was a certain Kevin De Bruyne picking up an injury and leaving the field against Villa in the 58th minute (unlucky, triple-captainers). He is now ruled out for what is likely to be at least 3-4 Gameweeks, leaving a roughly £11.9m (depending on when you signed him) sized hole gaping inside many FPL midfields.
Who is the obvious replacement? Well, those without Heung-Min Son could certainly do a lot worse than bringing him in, despite Spurs having a mixed bag of fixtures coming up. The form of Leicester will bring assets such as James Maddison and Harvey Barnes into the minds of many an FPL manager too. And for those looking to combine form with incredible fixtures, Ilkay Gundogan is the most obvious shout to move to another Man City asset, especially as he now appears to be on penalties.
But one move that I feel like may be slightly maverick, but certainly shouldn’t be, is to bring in Phil Foden.
Personally, I have avoided the young midfielder all season, due to the fact that he’s been a huge rotation risk and has seemingly been more likely to play in the Champions League than the Premier League so far this term. But has this rotation tide turned recently?
Foden has played 80+ minutes in three of City’s last four league games, getting 30 minutes against Palace in the other. In the three he’s played, he blanked against Villa, but returned double-digit hauls, including a goal and maximum bonus points in the other two.
Yes, he played 90 minutes in the cup game against Cheltenham on Saturday, which historically, has been a sign that Guardiola may not be thinking of starting him in midweek. But he did play 90 minutes in the previous round too, and then started against Brighton three days later, scoring the only goal of the game.
Pep has also been singing his praises of late, saying after his starring role in the FA Cup that the 20-year-old old is
“…in a great moment and with great confidence. He is clinical in front of goal and he had a similar chance to the goal we scored at Stamford Bridge. He is playing really well”.
With City now in what looks like it will be a very hard-fought title race between 3-4 teams, can Pep really afford to spin his roulette wheel of selection again?
Aside from this, let’s not forget another obviously important factor. Kevin De Bruyne is not available for selection. This surely means Foden is less likely to be left out. Yes, he hasn’t been playing in the De Bruyne role this season, but a re-jig of the midfield will mean there is one more wide berth more likely to be occupied by Foden.
City are also without their other main goal threat in Sergio Aguero. Although the Argentine has been missing pretty much all season so far, this is still another factor that should make Foden more likely to play. He is their top scorer after all.
It seems logical to me that Gundogan may drop slightly deeper in order to fill the De Bruyne hole. It is the position he has spent more time in throughout his career. This may explain why he has never been a prolific goalscorer, although he does of course contribute.
I tend to make most of my decisions based on the eye test, but this one feels like a biggie, so let’s take a look at some comparative stats:
As you can see above, over the last six Gameweeks, Gundogan is averaging a very healthy 7.84 points per 90 minutes. Foden, having played less minutes in that period, is actually averaging 9.34. Expected goals (xG) per 90 minutes are quite similar, with the German edging it 0.49 to 0.42. The ‘touches in the box’ stat tells us a different story, with Gundogan’s 4.28 per game being eclipsed by Foden’s 12.15. Foden also takes more shots in the box, with 3.11 compared to Gundogan’s 2.32. This doesn’t always tell us everything, but it does mean the younger man is likely getting into more advanced positions than his team-mate, thus potentially improving his ability to get goals and assists. The Englishman backs up his assist potential by providing 3.74 key passes per 90 minutes, compare to 1.60 from the German.
Dissecting these numbers, using the eye-test alongside them, tells me that both players have been heavily involved in City’s attacking moves over the past few weeks, with Foden just edging the stats for creativity and close-range touches and shots.
Factoring in my belief that Gundogan may be more likely to drop slightly deeper during De Bruyne’s absence, I feel inclined to go with the differential choice of Foden for my team.
The main worry has to be that Foden may not start, and this is certainly a valid concern. But I feel like we’re in a slightly unusual period of an FPL season, whereby due to a combination of having just had a Double Gameweek where many managers used their Bench Boost, and Covid causing postponements and general uncertainty; many of us currently have particularly strong benches. If Foden were not to play at all, I would be pretty happy with my first sub coming in to take his place.
In summary, having weighed up my options, I’m taking a semi-punt on Phil Foden in my midfield.
May Pep Roulette be kind to me.
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