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. Presented below is my statistical analysis of the Premier League action in Gameweek 33+ with a view on Gameweek 34+:
1) Mason Greenwood with two goals for Man United with a xG of ∼0.12 makes him the most overperforming player statistically this week. Is he a lethal finisher or a youngster brimming with confidence who will eventually run out of luck? Post restart, Greenwood has scored thrice with a combined xG of ∼0.46 which reflects serious over-performance even for the most clinical of finishers. In isolation, I think that Bruno Fernandes, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford are the best United picks registering between them over ∼80% of United’s big chances post restart. But Greenwood’s catch is his value, and at £4.5m he can allow for serious upgrades elsewhere. The likes of him and Phil Foden are throwing the game wide open, team value has gone out of the window.
2) Is it worth ditching a United defender to triple up on their attack? Yes, I think so. Post restart, United are only second to Man City for big chances and their mid-priced assets are offering tremendous value. I don’t think this is the week to do it though. I don’t expect Villa to be as open as Bournemouth, they will make it hard for United. Their improvement defensively post lockdown has been extremely noticeable. Pre restart, Villa were conceding ∼12.21 shots in the box per game (compared to 5.00 now) and ∼3.18 big chances per game (compared to 0.80 now). However, over this spell they have one of the lowest xG’s from open play hence there is a good chance of a United clean sheet this Gameweek.
3) Is it worth holding onto Riyad Mahrez? Yes. I guess unless your name is Pep Guardiola, it’s impossible to know whether or not he is starting this week so one can only make an educated guess. A quick glance through the City forums tells me that the vast majority of fans expect him to start, and when he does start at home he averages ∼9.29 FPL points. I don’t think he is worth selling when the ceiling is as high. It’s not as if he has a low floor either – there’s always a chance he can come off the bench and wreck havoc against tired legs.
4) “Just five shots inside the box at ∼44 mins per shot inside the box and zero big chances registered over four appearances is extremely uncharacteristic of a Man City striker. Gabriel Jesus has been peripheral in terms of FPL goal involvement.” I wrote this about Gabriel Jesus last Gameweek. His numbers have certainly been more promising this week. Three big chances in the game and a xG of ∼1.40 suggests that Jesus was unlucky not to come out of this game with any FPL returns to his credit. He may not be as prolific a finisher as Agüero but with the ridiculous amount of quality chances City create, a goal is coming – surely.
5) Wolves have lost their attacking fluidity post the restart. Raúl Jiménez’s stats have dropped off a little because he isn’t getting the service. In the last four Gameweeks pre-restart, Wolves created 12 big chances as compared to just the five post restart. These stats are worrying for Jiménez’s owners who’d be hoping Wolves pick up their form quickly. Another player who has slightly disappointed me with how he’s faring statistically is Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah, who has accumulated just one big chance in the three games he has played. He’s the kind of player who can brace in any fixture so whether or not to sell him is an extremely tricky call. I can only wish you luck in any decision as a Salah owner you make!
6) No team has conceded fewer big chances and big chances per game than Brighton post the Premier League restart. This is seriously impressive, given that Brighton have played Leicester, Man United and Arsenal in three of their four fixtures in this period. They will be up against Liverpool and Man City in the coming weeks and I don’t think they will make it too easy for the big boys when they come to town.
7) Who have been the whipping boys since the restart? Translation: Who are the teams I should target as a FPL manager? Sheffield United and Bournemouth come out on top here conceding 2.60 and 2.50 big chances per game respectively. This might be good news for the owners of Raúl Jiménez and Harry Kane, who’d be hoping that Sheffield United and Bournemouth continue to be as obliging as they have been in recent weeks. Contrary to popular opinion, the likes of Norwich and West Ham haven’t been as bad relatively – conceding 1.75 big chances per game since the restart.
8) Is Harry Kane a good captaincy shout vs Bournemouth? Kane’s numbers since the restart have been extremely encouraging. I am typing this before the Everton game – Kane, despite having played a game less than his counterparts, is still top for big chances in the league since the restart. I just mentioned how obliging Bournemouth have been in terms of big chances conceded, so if you add two and two up Kane is likely to do well. However, there are a few caveats. I’m not sure I trust Spurs enough. It’s a ballsy call to back Kane over a City asset this week. Pep and his men will be out for blood. There’s also the fact that Spurs will have just two days of rest compared to four for Bournemouth.
9) I watched the West Ham game and they looked going forward once again this week. Michail Antonio and Jarrod Bowen were the most impressive assets. I wrote about Antonio last week and he continues to top the tables for the highest number of big chances recorded over the past six Gameweeks of all players in the league making him West Ham’s chief goal threat. Bowen recorded two big chances created and had a big chance to score himself. He seems to have nailed down a starting position given his stellar performances off late and will continue to be in the points if he keeps going at this rate.
10) Arsenal’s defence is showing serious signs of improvement under Mikel Arteta. Arsenal are still a work in progress defensively but some of the solidity that Arteta has tried to instil in order to make Arsenal harder to beat is visible. Over the past three games, granted fixtures have been somewhat favorable, Arsenal have conceded just ∼0.67 big chances per game as compared to ∼2.42 big chances per game in rest of Arteta’s tenure. Under Emery, Arsenal conceded ∼1.61 big chances per game which again reiterates the point of massive progress being made recently. Emiliano Martínez looks as if he has a reliable, safe pair of hands and has been a revelation for FPL managers who have invested thus far.
11) Jamie Vardy finally caught my eye this week accumulating the highest number of big chances of all players this Gameweek. He was gifted his first rather fortuitously courtesy a slip at the back from Palace’s Mamadou Sakho but there was no looking back once he notched. His second was a finish full of confidence, and it gives plenty of food for thought to FPL managers who might have written off Vardy for the season already. Leicester were joint with City for big chances created this Gameweek, which is worth noting given Leicester’s barren spell in the creativity charts off late. Vardy is now up against a resurgent Arsenal defence this Gameweek, before the tastier fixture versus an out of sorts Bournemouth next GW.
12) What is the best time to Free Hit? I think playing it in the Gameweek 38+ could be a good idea. History suggests that the last round of fixtures in the Premier League is more high scoring than usual and with all games kicking off at the same time, there is a high chance of early team leaks. Imagine the City team sheet getting leaked before Norwich at home. Imagine. I read a piece on this by my friend and Twitter poster AK and he echoes my thoughts. I will quote some of his points here:
*34 goals in nine games were witnessed in the last round of the Bundesliga this year. That is an average of ∼3.78 goals per match compared to an average of ∼3.22 goals per match in the rest of the Bundesliga games. Final rounds are usually high scoring.
*Players chasing records (Golden Boot, for example) will have added incentive
*Teams with something to play for usually turn up, especially against opposition that are on holiday already
*Expect mixed lineups with many youngsters getting debuts. Opens up possibilities of crazy punts. I remember Greenwood starting as a ∼£4.5m forward for United last year at home to Cardiff
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