In this review series, the brilliant AbuBakar shares his data-driven observations to help make decisions for the upcoming Gameweeks.
Hi everyone! The Premier League games are coming thick and fast and with a quick turnaround between GW30+ and GW31+, I present to you this week’s “The Review”:
1) What to do with Pierre Emerick Aubameyang? Aubameyang and Arsenal in general were really poor against Man City. Agüero managed twice as many big chances, shots inside the box and penalty area touches in 10 minutes than Aubameyang was able to record there in 90. Aubameyang had a better game against Brighton, where he had four shots inside the box and could count himself unlucky not to score. With Southampton and Norwich up next, he could very well score given his pedigree. Having said that, there are other strikers at our disposal whom I have mentioned later in the article who I expect would do equally well at a much lower price. So it’s all relative, either you can keep Aubameyang and expect some returns out of him or spread the additional funds you get by investing in an expensive midfielder through selling Aubameyang for a mid-priced striker. I prefer the latter because of the balance it brings to your FPL side.
2) Mohamed Salah or Sadio Mane? Personal opinion but I don’t think the Everton game will be representative of how Liverpool are likely to approach their upcoming fixtures. Salah is such a focal point of the Liverpool attack that they suffer without him anyway – as reflected in the numbers. Liverpool with Salah average ≈11.46 shots inside the box and ≈3.08 big chances per game this season. Without Salah, those numbers drop down to seven shots inside the box and 2.25 big chances per game respectively. With Salah having additional training sessions with the squad and nearing full fitness, I expect the handbrakes to come off, because Liverpool will be playing with little to no pressure. I would expect them to want to win the title at full throttle. Over the season, Salah is expected to be involved in a goal involvement every ≈115 minutes compared to Mane’s ≈137.
There’s an interesting theory that Salah tends to do better without Mane in the team than with him. I decided to put this theory to test, to see if there was something concrete in this theory or merely coincidence. In the games where both have started, Salah’s minutes per goal involvement is ≈120 compared to Mane’s ≈133. Slight difference, but Salah still comes better off when you compare both. With penalties in his locker too, I think I prefer him.
3) Given Man United’s fixtures, Bruno Fernandes seems a must have from GW31+ onwards. The fact that he’s on penalties is massive. No team has been awarded more penalties than Man United over the past two seasons – to put this into context Man United have been awarded 23 with the next highest being Leicester with 14. From the evidence so far, he also seems very bonus friendly, having accumulated bonus in 50% of the league games he has played till date. Fernandes and co should have some fun against a second string Sheffield United defence who will be missing their regulars at Old Trafford.
4) Which brings me to the next burning question – Anthony Martial or Marcus Rashford? Firstly, I think both are great options in their own right and are likely to represent value for money with the fixtures to follow. Picking one is tough because both seem to have their pros and cons. Martial has earned just seven bonus points this season, and the vast majority of them have come in games where he has had two minimum goal involvements – which have been infrequent. However, Martial gets an extra point per clean sheet and goal. After much deliberation, however, I think that I prefer Rashford over Martial if I had to pick one.
Despite being pricier and having to bear the potential loss of penalties, I like Rashford because he tends to do better for bonus and has the goal threat numbers stacked heavily in his favour. He seems highly favoured by the bookie odds too. Despite having his minutes curtailed by injury, Rashford has recorded the second highest number big chances at home of all forwards this season. Over the season, Rashford has registered 23 big chances compared to Martial’s 14 with both of them having played a similar amount of minutes. Hence it comes across as no surprise that Rashford has a better minutes per expected goal involvement ratio too – Rashford is expected to take ≈110 minutes per goal involvement compared to Martial’s 167. With Greenwood and Ighalo around, I think Martial will be more susceptible to the early substitution too, which would hamper his chances of greater goal involvements.
5) The fixtures suggest that investing in one of the Man United defenders could be a good idea. Six of their next seven opponents are in the bottom ten for xG till date. I did some statistical research on this, and Maguire came across as the standout for goal threat. For assist and bonus potential, Wan Bissaka was the best with Luke Shaw not far behind him. Lindelöf had a negligible bearing on the key FPL numbers. David De Gea this season has been poor for saves and bonus, so in my opinion, is not worth the investment.
His expected goals prevented after 30 Premier League matches are shown below:
Pre and post World Cup data seem to be from two different stratospheres. His loss of form has been one of the main reasons this season why United always seem to concede the odd goal from whatever little shots inside the box and big chances they concede.
6) Heung Min Son averaged ≈7.63 points in the reverse fixtures against his upcoming eight opponents this season, including three double digit hauls. He could be a massive differential with just ≈6% ownership for those who willing to take the plunge on the South Korean. Another pick which has flown under the radar due to his earlier suspension is the slightly cheaper Dele Alli, hence it is time to give a timely reminder that no midfielder in the league has recorded as many big chances as Alli since Mourinho has taken over. Steven Bergwijn, meanwhile, has scored thrice already despite having just five shots inside the box and one big chance to his credit. For now, I remain skeptical about him.
7) With a stellar performance against Watford and a long term injury to Ricardo Pereira, Leicester’s James Justin has made the right back slot his own. At just £4.7m, he represents a cheap way into a solid Leicester defence – no defender accumulated baseline bonus at a faster rate in GW30+ than Justin. A big chance recorded for Ismaïla Sarr and the best expected involvement among all players in the same match suggests that Sarr was unlucky not to register a FPL return. Encouragingly, Sarr had the highest average position and Pearson gave him the full 90 too, hence I believe that he is a great pick in his price range. Christian Pulisic is another one I’d consider – for midfielders who have played 1000+ minutes, only Salah, Sterling and De Bruyne have a better expected goal involvement than him.
8) One pick I would strongly recommend from GW31+ is Everton’s Dominic Calvert Lewin. Calvert Lewin looked sharp and was unlucky not to come out of the Liverpool game with a FPL return to his name and now faces a Norwich defence which looked all over the place against Southampton. Ever since Carlo Ancelotti has taken over, the Everton forward is top for big chances, xG and shots in the box for all players in the league. At a very affordable price of £6.5m, his price seems too good to true.
9) Raúl Jiménez continued on his merry way against West Ham and given his numbers, I think it’s about time that the Wolves forward automatically picks himself in our FPL teams. I seem to be posting this in every one of articles but it’s very hard for me to look past his remarkable consistency. Jiménez has the best expected goal involvement, shots inside the box, chances created and big chances created of all forwards this season. He will fancy himself against an out of sorts Bournemouth defence this week, having scored in each of his previous three meetings against the Cherries.
10) We witnessed yet another superb display from the Wolves defence against West Ham on Saturday. What makes Matt Doherty super explosive is that not only does he rank highest among defenders for big chances but Wolves have conceded the fewest amount of big chances all season too which makes his FPL pedigree three dimensional. I really like Romain Saïss too and at £4.6m I think he represents excellent value for this goal threat. Saïss is ranked third for big chances of all defenders this season.
11) Aston Villa, despite playing twice this GW recorded the second lowest xG from open play. They seem heavily dependent on set plays which the Newcastle defence should be well equipped to deal with in GW 31+. Jack Grealish did not have a single shot in either of the two games, so if the opportunity presents itself then it makes sense for his FPL owners to get rid. What little came of Villa came from Kortney Hause and Keinan Davis. Incredibly, till date, Hause has had the highest amount of shots in the box and big chances this GW, vast majority of them coming from set pieces. Davis was playing as a striker and looked threatening, particularly in the game against Sheffield where he accumulated 5 shots inside the box. He earned praise from his manager and could be a bargain buy at £4.3m for those on a wildcard or free hit this week.
12) I thought I’d write some words for those having a tough time deciding their goalkeepers on wildcard or for those looking for a Leno replacement. I don’t think any of the budget goalkeepers are obvious picks heading into the last stage of the season as they seem to have mixed fixtures. So I might stick to the tried and tested. Burnley keepers are usually a safe bet for FPL, as they present a rare combination of representing value for money along with their clean sheet and saves potential. Burnley have kept the most amount of clean sheets at home this season, and Nick Pope by far has the best minutes per baseline bonus ratio of all Burnley defenders hence it is extremely likely that he will haul big whenever Burnley are to keep a clean sheet. Pope has earned bonus points eight times out of the eleven times Burnley have kept a clean sheet this season, highlighting his explosive potential. A counter argument, however, could be that Burnley have little to play for. Lukas Fabianski is the only other goalkeeper I’m considering because in my opinion, only he qualifies as having the saves and bonus combination that Pope does. I however question West Ham’s ability to keep clean sheets despite their easier fixtures.
Thank you for reading this piece, all the best for GW31+!
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