In this review series, the brilliant AbuBakar shares his data-driven observations to help make decisions for Gameweek 32.

Hi everyone, welcome to the latest edition of The Review. I hope that this summary of takeaways from Gameweek 31+ will be helpful for FPL managers heading into Gameweek 32+:

1) It is only fitting that I start this week’s piece with Anthony Martial. The Frenchman tops the charts for big chances of all players in the league since the league has restarted. His chemistry with Marcus Rashford against Sheffield United was electric, with the pair of them creating three big chances between them – two of which resulted in goals. Rashford himself was unlucky not to get on the scoresheet, having accumulated a big chance a piece in the past two games yet not scoring even once. Since the league has restarted, Man United are second only to Man City for big chances and xG.

During this period, Rashford and Martial have been the key protagonists having registered six of United’s seven big chances. As in the reverse fixture, they look set to be among the points at Brighton again. However, it is worth noting that Everton, Man United and Brighton are the only teams to have played twice or more yet not to have conceded a single big chance. Particularly impressive from Brighton, given that they have played Arsenal and Leicester. Will be interesting to see how they cope with an inform United attack. My own personal standpoint is that United should win this by around two to three goals.

2) Is it worth owning Paul Pogba? I don’t think so. I think the loss of penalties has been a huge factor, and with Bruno in the team I highly doubt Pogba would have a massive say in FPL terms. So far this season, Pogba has averaged a shot in the box every ≈90 minutes (vs ≈53 last season under Solksjaer) and a big chance every ≈210 minutes (vs ≈160 last season under Solksjaer). I would recommend selling for the likes of Martial or Pulisic.

3) “Why did Bruno Fernandes blank?” has been the most commonly asked question to me this week. I think before I answer this, it is extremely important to remind ourselves why we owned him in the first place. I wrote this about him last GW: “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.” So far, Bruno is worryingly yet to register a big chance from open play in seven games. His creativity numbers haven’t been great either, having created just two big chances for his team mates over a seven game spell. I think he is one of those players who will keep the points ticking over though, given his bonus potential and the fact that United will continue to win penalties with Martial and Rashford running at teams. Keep him for now, but I wouldn’t suggest captaining.

4) Should I keep Sheffield United defenders? I would suggest to bin them off because the fixtures are tougher and the decline in defensive numbers since the Premier League has restarted has been noticeable. Since the league has restarted, the Blades have conceded an average of 10 shots in the box per game (vs ≈6.82 pre restart) and 3 big chances per game (vs ≈1.89 pre restart).

5) *Looks at previous article’s post on Raúl Jiménez, copies and pastes into new article* This seems to be how my mind operates every time I think to write something about Raúl Jiménez such is his phenomenal consistency. At the cost of repeating myself, Jiménez has the best expected goal involvement, shots inside the box, chances created and big chances created of all forwards this season. He continued his rich vein of form against Bournemouth and will now fancy himself against Villa having scored against them in the reverse fixture. What is so impressive about Jiménez is his remarkable tendency to pick up bonus – in the 14 games he has scored in this season, only twice has the Wolves forward failed to register any bonus points. I don’t think Villa will be a walkover for Wolves though. The Villains have shown doggedness since the Premier League restart. Since the league has restarted, Villa have conceded on average 5 shots in the box per game (vs ≈12.21 pre restart) and ≈0.67 big chances per game (vs ≈3.18 pre restart).

6) I introspected the impact of Willy Boly on the Wolves side. The findings were as given below:

Wolves with Boly

Shots in the box conceded per game: ≈6.80

Big chances conceded per game: ≈1.20

Goals conceded per game: 0.50

Clean sheets: 9 out of 15 games played

Wolves without Boly

Shots in the box conceded per game: ≈6.87

Big chances conceded per game: ≈1.62

Goals conceded per game: 1.60

Clean sheets: 1 out of 16 games played

First things first, Wolves have an elite defence. Over the season, no Premier League side has conceded fewer big chances than them. While it appears that Wolves has slightly overperformed defensively when Boly has been in the side, I think it’s important not to overlook the intangible factor that might be the confidence that his presence instills in the team.

7) Diogo Jota hasn’t been his usual self since the league has restarted. The Portuguese forward was averaging 2.4 shots inside the box and 1.2 big chances per game in the five games prior to Project Restart averaging 6.8 FPL points over that period. However, since the league has restarted he has only averaged 1 shot inside the box per game and has yet to have a big chance come his way. He also seems increasingly susceptible to an early substitution. He’s a sell in my book.

8) If my memory serves me correct, this is the first time since I’ve been writing this season that Harry Kane has been best of all players in the league in a GW for expected goal involvement, which is particularly worth noting given that his threat was purely from open play. Serge Aurier was particularly impressive too, and recorded the second most penalty area touches of all Spurs players – he looked extremely menacing down that right side playing almost like a wingback. It is worth noting though that Spurs under Mourinho don’t have the greatest of xGc’s – they lie fifth from bottom. Heung Min Son’s positioning was worrying, as he was deployed extremely wide on the left wing. There has been a theory floating around that Son is better for FPL without Kane in the team. I thought I’d put this theory to test. Under Mourinho with Harry Kane in the team, Son has been averaging a shot in the box every ≈62 minutes (vs 25 minutes under Mourinho without Harry Kane in the team) and a big chance every ≈170 minutes (vs 75 minutes under Mourinho without Harry Kane in the team). This theory has been worryingly true for Son owners, with the evidence we have so far.

9) Why were Dominic Calvert Lewin and Richarlison not involved vs Norwich? The simple answer is well, because Everton failed to create a single big chance all game. Calvert Lewin had four shots in the box, all of them on target yet wasn’t able to the quality service that he really needed to notch. At that price he’s an easy one to keep I’d suggest. I was skeptical about Richarlison which I guess is easy to say now in hindsight, but I personally think he’s less of an integral figure under Carlo Ancelotti than he was under Marco Silva which is why I didn’t pick him in my FPL squad too. It is worth noting that nine midfielders have registered more big chances than Richarlison since Ancelotti has taken over, so his numbers don’t match the great expectations placed upon him by FPL managers. I think there are better options around the same price range like Martial or even cheaper like Pulisic.

10) Jamie Vardy was averaging a big chance every ≈109 minutes pre GW17. Post GW 17, he has averaged a big chance every ≈138 minutes. Leicester over this period have dropped from 3rd to 10th for big chances in the league. Leicester are struggling for creativity, so I don’t think it is worth holding onto Vardy given his premium price tag. There are better options out there for less. Get rid.

11) The general consensus seems to be that Arsenal’s defence has witnessed a marked improvement under Mikel Arteta. So far, Arsenal appear to be a work in progress defensively and Arsenal’s underlying defensive numbers under Unai Emery have actually been better than that of Arteta’s. Under Emery, Arsenal conceded ≈1.61 big chances per game as opposed to ≈2.23 per game under Arteta. Having said that, Arsenal have conceded ≈1.08 goals under Arteta per game compared to ≈1.50 under Emery which suggests a certain degree of overperformance under Arteta. Over the past two games however, Arsenal have conceded just one big chance collectively which suggests that Arteta is making his side harder to beat.

12) With two goals in two games, Christian Pulisic has established himself as the standout midfielder in his price range. The USA international registered two big chances against Man City, which now means that he has recorded more big chances than his teammate Mason Mount despite playing half as many minutes over the season. Only Salah and Sterling have a better expected minutes per goal involvement ratio than Pulisic this season.

Computations and analysis my own. If you are looking to follow more of my work, follow me on Twitter and Instagram

Thank you for taking the time out to read, all the best for GW32+!

 

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