We have reached one of those points in the season when we face a fixture swing. A fixture swing is where some teams that have had a poor run of fixtures (like Chelsea and Newcastle United) can look forward to a better run, while other teams (like Bournemouth and Aston Villa) will face a tougher test of their abilities.
Fixture swings encourage Fantasy Premier League managers to shift out players from teams that have had their good run of fixtures and buy players from the teams that are entering a good run.
Judgments about the attractiveness of upcoming fixtures often contain an element of subjectivity based on a managers’ perception of the relative strengths and weaknesses of the teams involved. Some managers though will strive for a degree of objectivity by creating tickers that calculate fixture strength by drawing on factors such as wins, draws, goals scored and goals conceded.
Over the last few weeks I have been noticing a disconnect between some of the underlying data I have been looking at and the strength of teams as indicated by respected tickers, such as the useful one on Fantasy Football Scout (this is not a criticism of tickers, just an observation). For example, Chelsea are considered a tough away fixture, but the Blues have conceded 22 Shots on Target at home, the joint fourth highest of any team in the Premier League. Meanwhile Bournemouth have conceded nine Shots on Target at home this year, the league’s lowest figure, but an away match against the Cherries is still regarded as a good fixture.
I have spent part of the international break looking at team Shots on Target (SoT) data. As I was gathering the data, I thought it would be interesting to create offence and defence tickers based on this statistic alone to tease out some of these disconnects I was spotting. I give a major health warning here that I am not a statistician and what I did with the data might not be what a trained statistician would do with it.
I have created a ticker which uses Shots on Target and Shots on Target Conceded data for each team to generate a value for upcoming gameweeks for those same metrics. Embedded within the calculation are modifiers to adjust for strength of schedule, and home and away performance.
I would be interested to hear how useful – or not – you think these tickers are. The projected SoT would still need converting and those SoTC would need saving. These factors may help explain why Tottenham Hotspur have not been scoring more heavily and Bournemouth have been conceding more than the SoTC data suggests the team should. It’s also worth remembering that this data was generated from all the games this season, and Manchester City have demonstrated in the last three gameweeks the unsettling impact losing a key member of the backline (Vincent Kompany) can have on a defence.
The final health warning is the data sample used to generate these tickers is small – just four home games and four away games for each team – so something as simple as facing Manchester City could put a dent in a team’s data, even with the application of the modifier. I would expect the tickers to become more stable as the season progresses and the sample size increases.