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

 

Hi everyone, welcome to the latest edition of The Review where I look back on the key numbers of Gameweek 2 with a look ahead to Gameweek 3:

1) Which Man City assets would you pick on wildcard this week, and who would be your £4.5m budget enabler?

I would first like to run you through a couple of comparisons before I make my points:

*Sterling with Jesus v Sterling with Aguero last season

FPL points per game: 159 points in 20 games (∼7.9 per game) v 45 points in 13 games (∼3.5 per game)

Mins per big chance: 64 v 106 (selected sample)
Mins per shot in the box: 29 v 35 (selected sample)

Sterling with Jesus = Talisman!

*In the five games that Sterling, De Bruyne and Jesus have all started together post restart:

Sterling v De Bruyne v Jesus

Shots inside the box: 16 v 10 v 15
Big chances: 7 v 4 v 5
Big chances created: 1 v 8 v 1

I’ve always been team Sterling over team De Bruyne, preferring the guy who is likely to get me more points via goals rather than assists. As indicated earlier as well, Sterling tends to do far better with Jesus in the team than Agüero. However, it is important to realise the circumstances that are at play here. Gündoğan has Covid, Bernardo has suffered yet another injury setback, David Silva isn’t around and Pep’s use of Foden so far doesn’t indicate that he intends to use him as a central midfielder too often. This suggests that De Bruyne is likely to play the next few games in the #10 role, a role in which he was a completely different animal last season as well playing closer to the striker, like he did vs Wolves.

On all set pieces and penalties for City, I just can’t look past that given his quality and what he brings to the table in an advanced position. It’s also worth noting that De Bruyne is a bonus magnet as well, so even if he gets just the one attacking return his chance creation rate is so high that even one return might be enough for him to get a share of the bonus. This is why I think De Bruyne is perhaps a better pick than Sterling at the minute.

If I was on a wildcard this week, I think I would have tripled up on the Man City attack. Foden would have been my budget enabler, De Bruyne in this form is too good to pass up and either of Sterling/Jesus is fine. City assets are too good to pass up considering their upside and little fixture congestion right now. You can see the comparisons I posted above and decide whichever numbers you like – truth be told all are good options.

I think Ollie Burke is the £4.5 million budget enabler to get on wildcard. Granted Sheffield United won’t score too many goals and Burke won’t start all games, but at least there is some potential to get some attacking returns, even if from the bench. Burke started up front against Villa, and was impressive. These comments from Wilder fill me with optimism: “We looked and thought what we needed this coming season was someone at the top of the pitch that had pace. Oli has definitely got raw pace and you saw over the weekend and the way the Premier League is, they’re athletes and can take the ball from one end to the other. He gives us something different that we hadn’t got and I’m delighted he’s with us.”

2) Keep or sell Ché Adams?

Ché Adams owners, look away as your heart might not be able to cope with the stories of his misfortune! No player in the league has accumulated more big chances than Ché Adams in the past two Gameweeks, with none being converted. Compare that with someone like a Dominic Calvert Lewin, who also has had three big chances like Adams but has four goals to his credit.

Adams could be considered unlucky against Spurs as he managed to pull out a supreme save from Lloris denying him his first goal of the season, which was pretty similar to what happened against Palace and Guaita. Ings had half the number of big chances and shots inside the box as opposed to Adams vs Spurs yet Ings scored twice and Adams failed to capitalise on his chances, which sums up the difference in their quality.

Over the first two Gameweeks, Southampton are ranked joint second for big chances and are in the top five for both shots inside the box and xG which suggests that they seem to be attacking really well. Ralph Hasenhüttl seems to be content with his performance too, which suggests his place is secure for at least the short term: “I would have loved to see Ché scoring. He’s working so hard and had many chances in the first two games. The keepers are saving his shots in an unbelievable manner, but he must push and I’m sure he will score”.

Despite a price drop from Adams from £6m to £5.9 million, I’d keep patient with Adams considering the amount of chances he’s getting and the fact that Southampton’s upcoming fixtures seem to be in their favour too (bur WBA in the next two).

3) Keep or sell Timo Werner?

With so many forwards doing the business for far cheaper, it is becoming incredibly frustrating for FPL managers who own Werner to justify their £9.5 million investment. However, with such a supreme run of fixtures for Chelsea coming up (wba CRY SOU), I would recommend his owners to show faith. I wouldn’t read too much into the Liverpool game but the fact that Werner accumulated the most shots inside the box in Gameweek 1 vs Brighton gives me hope for the coming matches to follow. Jorginho’s missed penalty may mean that Werner steps up the next time Chelsea are to be awarded a spot kick, so there’s that at the back of my mind too.

It’s also worth mentioning that we’re only two games into the season and West Brom have already conceded eight big chances, five of them to the opposition strikers. Strikers so far averaged an incredible 15 FPL points per game against West Brom! Their xGc of over seven in two games is reminiscent of Norwich in their slump post restart. West Brom away on paper screams peak Werner territory!!

4) Keep or sell Kai Havertz? Or take a hit to bring in Son?

Kai Havertz is supposed to be a big part of Chelsea’s ‘project’. However, he has not been as efficient as the hype supposed he would be. Lampard did say that he would take time to adjust as he’s a young player moving to a different league. With Pulisic and Ziyech back in training, Havertz might be able to play higher up the pitch in his more natural position as the #10 and might be a more reliable FPL asset than he is right now. Chelsea have a good run of fixtures coming up (wba CRY SOU) which back keeping Havertz for now.

I’ve already spoken about how poor West Brom are at length and this might be a good platform for Havertz to perform and show his owners he’s worth it. The Liverpool game was not the best of games for a FPL manager to assess Chelsea options, especially Havertz because he got hooked at half time due to the sending off. What’s worrying though is that Havertz recorded no shots and penalty area touches even against Brighton. His heat map showed that he had more touches in the defensive half which was worrying.

Heung-Min Son shined last week bagging four goals against Southampton. A point to be noted is that Son is playing higher up the pitch. Kane seems to drift back but Son stays up front. Corners are also being taken by Son which further add to his value.

Against Everton in the first Gameweek, Son created one big chance for Alli which was saved by Pickford. Against Southampton though, Son had four shots, and scored four times from three big chances. All of those goals seemed to follow a similar pattern, being assisted by Kane. Ralph Hasenhüttl seemed to be rigid in his ways and stuck to his system with a high defensive line which proved to be costly for Southampton which is why I wouldn’t judge Son over one week’s performance. He won’t get as much joy against Newcastle for sure, who’d want to park the bus and make things as difficult as possible for Son and co.

He surely did look sharp in front of goal but going for a hit to get Son for Havertz is a high risk. Bear in mind Spurs have United away next week so that’s bound to be a tough fixture. I’d give more consideration to Son on a wildcard though. His fixtures from Gameweek 5 look immense (WHU bur BHA wba).

5) What are my thoughts on captaincy this week?

I personally can’t look past a Man City asset this week. The loss of Ndidi to injury will be huge for Leicester and I expect the Man City attackers to have some fun. According to the odds as well, Man City are the most likely team to score 2.5+ goals this week. City created three big chances against Wolves, which amounts to 50% of the amount of big chances that Wolves conceded in the nine games post restart. That tells me how sharp City are and their impressive numbers particularly playing against an elite Wolves defence is why I can’t possibly look beyond a Man City asset for captaincy this week – De Bruyne will be my man.

If I was considering anyone other than a Man City asset, it would be Salah. I know Arsenal are a different team under Arteta, but Arsenal have conceded 17 goals in their previous four visits to Anfield so that is likely to be a high scoring game based on precedent. Salah has one of the best expected goal involvements at Anfield in the league and with him on penalties, there’s always little chance you can go wrong with him.

6) Leeds have scored seven goals from 12 shots inside the season. Their conversion rate is unreal, and borderline unsustainable. No team have scored more goals in the league than them this season, but a quick glance through the numbers tells me that of all the teams to have played twice, Leeds are actually third worst for xG. The data also indicates that of all teams to have played twice, only West Brom have created fewer big chances than Leeds so regression for Leeds attack is inevitable.

I keep getting asked about Costa, Harrison and Klich as Saint-Maximin replacements but I’d like to wait and watch with Leeds attack. Bielsa himself admitted that Leeds were overperforming their goal output, which is extremely evident in the stats – The three aforementioned Leeds midfielders have had six shots inside the box between them but unbelievably have scored five times!

6) Who is the best Saint-Maximin replacement?

In the same price bracket, the answer is fairly simple for me. Daniel Podence is your man. At just £5.5m and nearing a rise, I think he is the standout replacement. I picked him on my wildcard myself last week, and I’m fairly confident he keeps his place despite the arrival of Semedo and the threat of Adama Traore looming on the right wing. Two back to back stellar performances from Podence have surely put him ahead of Neto in the pecking order, and I think he will continue to play on the left in the Jota role – a role in which he played nearing the end of last season too.

Nuno has already iterated how he wants to play a more expansive style this season hence it is no surprise to see Podence help himself to two big chances created and Raúl Jiménez treat himself with three big chances over the first two Gameweeks. With the fixtures coming up (whu FUL lee NEW CRY), the Wolves duo is likely to reward their FPL managers in the coming times. Wolves have scored seven goals in their previous three against West Ham, having won all games – so chances are the rewards will be instant.

I see Grady Diangana and Matheus Pereira being talked about as well after their hauls last week but I’m not entirely convinced on the West Brom attack. Their chance creation has been fairly poor – Of all teams to have played twice, they are the only team not to have created a big chance and are bottom for xG over the first two games as well.

8) With the lack of clean sheets experienced in the Premier League so far, is it worth going without a Liverpool defender – particularly on wildcard?

Liverpool, despite having conceded thrice against Leeds and then having played Chelsea, have conceded no big chances from open play. From the teams to have played twice, Liverpool are the most defensively secure statistically having conceded the least amount of big chances and shots inside the box.

Trent Alexander Arnold and Andy Robertson both have been heavily involved in Liverpool’s attack and it doesn’t take much for either to haul. After Salah, Robertson has the second highest amount of final third touches for Liverpool. Compared to defenders in the Premier League, Robertson is at the top for touches in the final third (90) followed by Trent (74) followed by Digne who is way down at 57 which further highlights that Trent and Robertson are by far and away the best defensive assets to own from an upside point of view. With both of them being on corners and some freekicks, it doesn’t take much for them to get a 12 or a 15 pointer.

If I had to pick one, it would be Trent as he’s on direct freekicks too so his goal threat swings it for me. It’s close though!

7) Would you hold or sell United assets this week?

United were so bad last week that I don’t even have statistics to report on them from the Palace game. Hence, this is a question that I will answer based on my experience as a FPL manager rather than as the stat-nerd who I usually am. Bruno Fernandes, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford were all really popular assets in the FPL community last week and one bad performance shouldn’t be enough of a sample size for owners to change their opinions overnight.

I think the Brighton game will suit United, who based on the eye test seemed to struggle against Chelsea when Werner was making runs in behind so United’s direct style might cause them trouble. There might be more fashionable assets you’d want this week but sometimes keeping faith after one bad Gameweek is the right call – just ask Son keepers from last week. Hold for me.

10) No player has accumulated more shots inside the box in the first two Gameweeks than Leicester’s Harvey Barnes. Barnes has already registered 10 shots inside the box this season, which are double than what any other midfielder has managed so his numbers are seriously impressive.

The concern with him was always whether he’d keep his place if Leicester shifted to a 3-5-2 but the lack of personnel available to Leicester seemed to have helped his cause. Surely his spot is secure for the next few fixtures now. Jamie Vardy, meanwhile, has been peripheral for the Foxes, having had one shot in the box from open play in two games this season. It is Barnes who he is single handedly carrying the goal threat at the minute for the Foxes.

That brings me to the end of my piece for the week. If you are looking to follow more of my content, follow me at:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/bigmanbakar
Instagram: http://instagram.com/bigmanbakar

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