Xherdan Shaqiri

Stoke City have yet to record a win this season and sit third last in the Premier League table with just three points. In the first five gameweeks the Potters only netted three times, but they rediscovered their goal-scoring touch against Leicester City in Gameweek 6 with strikes from Bojan and Walters.

Three of Stoke’s next five fixtures are against teams around them in the table (BOU, avl and new) so I took a look at whether there are any Stoke midfielders FPL managers should be considering. Four of them have more than 300 minutes of game time under their belts this season: Glenn Whelan (4.4m), Marco Van Ginkel (5.3m), Marko Arnautovic (6.0m) and Xherdan Shaqiri (7.0m).

Whelan has shown no goal scoring threat this season, but I was surprised how many shots (9) have been hit by Van Ginkel, his partner in the double pivot. Arnautovic, unlike Van Ginkel, is creating plenty of chances for team mates (8), as well as taking shots (7). However, all but one of his shots were from outside the penalty area. The one shot inside the box was the spot kick he tucked away against Tottenham Hotspur in Gameweek 2.

Shaqiri has the best statistical combination of shooting and creativity so far. The club record signing from Inter Milan only joined Stoke on August 11 so he missed the first two games of the season. Those missing matches make it awkward to judge him against Premier League midfielders who have played six times, so I broke the data down by minutes.

I compared Shaqiri to three other players who started the season at the same price – Swansea City’s André Ayew (now 7.3m), Tottenham’s Nacer Chadli  and Newcastle United’s Georginio Wijnaldum (now 6.8m) – plus West Ham United’s Dimitri Payet (7.8m), this week’s most popular midfield transfer. They are a mix of the popular, the middling and the unpopular.

Xerdan Shaqiri and four mid-priced midfielders

CC = Chance created, SiB = Shot in Box, SoT = Shot on Target

Shorter bars in the chart mean players are achieving an event with more regularity and it is clear why Wijnaldum has suffered two price drops already. Ayew and Chadli have been shooting frequently, but the latter hasn’t been hitting the target much. I mentioned last week my concerns over the long-term sustainability of Dimitri Payet’s goal-scoring form, but his chances created stats look more enticing.

Unlike the other players here, Shaqiri hasn’t found the net this season so he has no Minutes per Goal bar. In other respects his data per minute stands up to comparison with some of the more popular picks; he is creating chances quicker than Ayew and shooting more frequently than Payet. It should be noted though that nearly all Shaqiri’s shots have been from the edge of the area, whether that is inside or outside the penalty box, which isn’t prime territory for gilt-edged chances.

Shaqiri has only played four games so the sample size is small and should be treated with caution. The data shows some promise and some reasons for doubt. He is a player worth monitoring, but that isn’t a helpful conclusion for the immediate set of fixtures. As Shaqiri is in only three per cent of teams, he may make an interesting short-term punt for an FPL manager looking for something different.

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