In this edition of his regular article series, @Hibbo_FPL focuses on Chelsea options for Gameweek 30 and beyond. This article will provide FPL tips to help managers to break the template and get ahead of the curve to make a late charge towards the top 10k.
My focus is on a rejuvenated Chelsea who have arguably the plum tie of the round at home to West Bromwich Albion. Since arriving at Stamford Bridge former PSG manager Thomas Tuchel has made tightening the Chelsea rear-guard his number one priority.
During his tenure in terms of defensive underlying numbers Chelsea rank best in the league with the least shots conceded, shots in the box conceded and shots on target conceded as per the Hub’s OPTA stats tool. Furthermore, Chelsea has shipped the least big chances, goals, and achieved the most clean-sheets.
Despite a huge uptick in form and unbeaten start to Tuchel’s reign the Chelsea attack has underperformed. Since Gameweek 20, while Chelsea rank (per appearance) top for shots they have been wasteful scoring just 33% of their big chances. However, there are signs that their wealth of attacking options are starting to click with Chelsea winning three of their last four games in all competitions 2-0.
The statistical match up looks very favourable for Chelsea. Since Sam Allardyce’s appointment in Gameweek 14 impotent WBA rank worst in the league for shots on target (39). Furthermore, their defence remains shaky ranking worst for shots on target conceded, and second worst for expected & actual goals conceded.
Kai Havertz (£8.2m) experienced a tough start in the Premier League following his big-money transfer from Bayer Leverkusen. The German starlet arrived with a huge reputation but struggled to adjust to the English game. Furthermore, Havertz suffered from the prolonged after-effects of Covid-19.
Interestingly, Tuchel appears to see the efficient Havertz as the perfect antidote for a Chelsea side that has been wasteful in front of goal. In his last two starts in the league for Chelsea, the German has played out of position as a striker.
Playing the striker position is not a new experience for Havertz who led the line for Leverkusen last season following injuries to both starting strikers. During the second half of the Bundesliga season, Havertz demonstrated a steel nerve notching ten goals, most of them as a makeshift forward.
Despite the small data sample over the last two matches, Havertz’s numbers compare very favourably with other midfielders. Over the period the German ranks joint top amongst midfielders for shots on target (4) and joint second for shots in the box (4).
Normally, I would frown upon recommending a defender as a punt as usually there would be a pretty low ceiling. Since the appointment of Tuchel, left wing-back Marcos Alonso (£5.7m) has seen a return to first-team action after being frozen out by Frank Lampard.
The Spaniard’s forward forays should come with a health warning attached and Alonso is a rotation risk with Ben Chilwell (£5.8m) looming. However, the consensus is that Alonso plays against weaker opposition and he has been fully rested over the international break.
The underlying numbers since Gameweek 21 reflect just how attacking Alonso has been when played. Alonso ranks amongst defenders first for shots (13) and shots in the box (10). Furthermore, the former Sunderland man has created three big chances and ranks second amongst defenders for touches in the box (25).
The suggestion that the Spaniard will play against deep block defensive teams bodes well for a juicy run of fixtures from Gameweek 30. With a clean sheet highly fancied against WBA this week, Marco Alonso certainly has the offensive armoury to add an attacking return.
A firm favourite of previous head coach Frank Lampard critics questioned whether Mason Mount (£7.0m) could establish himself under new boss Tuchel. Surprisingly, Mount is Chelsea’s top point scorer in FPL on 117 pts and has posted some respectable if not earth-shattering underlying numbers of late.
Since the appointment of Tuchel, the Englishman ranks amongst midfielders seventh for shots (21) and sixth for key passes (21). Furthermore, Mount will have fond memories of Chelsea’s previous match against WBA this season when a goal and assist saw him secure a 12pt haul.
Interestingly, against Southampton in the absence of Jorginho (£4.7m) from the starting line up Mount assumed penalty duty dispatching from the spot. With the Italian international currently flagged in FPL that dynamic certainly adds to Mason Mount’s appeal in the very short term.
Timo Werner (£9.2m) has endured a very mixed debut season with Chelsea struggling to replicate his best Bundesliga form on English soil. Furthermore, his open goal miss on international duty for Germany against North Macedonia summed up his truly tragic season to date.
However, the German speedster’s recent underlying numbers make for some interesting reading when analysed per 90 minutes. I feel this is an important adjustment to make as Werner was benched for two games and over the period some teams played more matches due to Double Gameweeks.
Since Gameweek 24 (per 90 mins) Werner ranks second amongst all players for shots in the box (2.53) and big chances (1.38). Only on-fire Kelechi Iheanacho has fared better over the period. Furthermore, while Werner has been extremely wasteful the chances keep coming and since Tuchel’s appointment (GW20) no player in the league has received more big chances (9).
It is noteworthy that the former RB Leipzig forward can most definitely be labelled a “flat-track bully”. Except for his fantasy assist against Spurs when he drew a penalty all of Werner’s FPL returns have come against opposition outside the big six.
In conclusion, given the immediate favourable run of fixtures, Chelsea players appeal to both FPL managers with and without a wildcard. Furthermore, with Crystal Palace and Brighton looming those with a wildcard will have a degree of flexibility and not necessarily have to deploy in Gameweek 31.
Under Tuchel, Chelsea’s defence has resembled a brick wall and investment is encouraged. While I could say Chelsea defence has been slept on FPL managers have been navigating between blank and double Gameweeks since mid-season.
For FPL managers that aren’t averse to risk, and have a solid bench, Marcos Alonso is the standout punt of Gameweek 31. Antonio Rudiger (£4.7m) and Cesar Azpilicueta (£5.8m) provide a more traditional long-term route into the best back-line in the league for those with team-sheet anxiety.
Of the Chelsea attackers, Kai Havertz appeals most due to his out of position deployment as a striker in recent weeks. Furthermore, Mason Mount comes off the international break in fine form possibly with penalties in his locker if Jorginho misses.
Timo Werner is a hard player to recommend given both his form and the structure of our FPL teams. There are a plethora of strikers with a favourable match this week however there have been small signs of improvements for the German.
For those that have read, thank you. Keep an eye for more articles in the near future and good luck for the coming Gameweeks. Drop me a follow on Twitter @Hibbo_FPL.