This is only the second in the Over the Radar series looking at whether widely-owned Fantasy Premier League players deserve a place in our team and already I’m becoming worried it is jinxing the player concerned. First Dimitri Payet and now, within minutes of starting research on Alexis Sánchez for this post, I read the Arsenal winger is struggling to be fit for Sunday’s game at Norwich City because of a hamstring niggle. The injury may focus more attention on the Gunners’ midfielder and, therefore, this post may still be of use in assessing whether it worth keeping the Chilean who currently costs 11.5m, which is 0.5 more than he cost at the start of the season.
Looking at Sánchez’s statistics, his shooting metrics are well proportioned. Across the season so far, Sánchez has converted his shots on target (for which FourFourTwo Stats Zone has a slightly different number from Fantasy Football Scout) into goals at a sustainable rate. However, those six goals were all compressed into Gameweeks 7-9 so it is understandable if many FPL managers feel they have not received much return on their investment the rest of the time.
The next chart highlights that Sánchez is converting his shots on target at rate that is fairly consistent with the league average and not over-performing like Mahrez (although I have not adjusted these figures to remove penalty kicks) or under-performing like Sadio Mané
One area of concern for some managers might be the decline over the last six weeks in the huge shot numbers the Chilean was recording. However, Sánchez remains top of this metric in the league and well ahead of everyone other than Coutinho. The slow down just means he is shooting at a rate more closely aligned with midfielders in the chasing pack. The issue then is whether the most highly-priced midfielder in the game is worth the extra investment over one of the cheaper alternatives.
Perceptions about the points return from the Arsenal star have not been helped by team mates of the winger failing to convert the chances he is creating. I should note here however that the Fantasy Premier League credits Sánchez with a Gameweek 2 assist against Crystal Palace that FourFourTwo Stats Zone does not recognize and I haven’t included it.
Regardless of whether Sánchez is credited one assist or none, he is operating below the trend line for chances created being turned into assists. If regression kicks in here it could mean in this instance that his FPL points return from assists picks up. Nevertheless, he remains firmly in the pack in terms of the number of chances he is creating, unlike his team mate Mesut Özil (9.1m), who is setting up colleagues at a phenomenal pace and seeing those chances converted at a rate well above the league norm for midfielders.
We have looked at the performance of Sánchez, but the upcoming fixtures for Arsenal (nor, SUN, avl, MCI, sot and BOU) should also be considered before deciding whether or not to ditch him.
The chart shows the performance of Arsenal’s opponents home or away this season, depending on whether the Gunners are facing them at the Emirates or not. It shows the average shots conceded (ShC), shots on target conceded (SoTC), shots in box conceded (SiBC) and goals conceded (GC) per match, plus the number of clean sheets (CS) recorded.
One stand out feature from the chart is that in the next three gameweeks Arsenal face three of the weakest defences in the league. Unless Sánchez’s injury looks like it will stop him from playing, it will take a brave soul to remove him prior to that run. The fixtures tighten sharply with the visit of Manchester City in Gameweek 17 so that looks a prime time for FPL managers to reconsider his place if he stays now. However, it is worth noting that the profitable spell Sánchez enjoyed between Gameweeks 7 and 9 also coincided with another toughing of the fixture list, including the Gameweek 8 visit of Manchester United.
Overall, Sánchez has slowed in the rate at which he shoots in recent weeks, but his shooting metrics across the season are good. Furthermore, his best FPL points performances so far have come during a trickier stretch of the fixture list. If he keeps up his current rate of chance creation, assists are also not out of the question. Given his patchy returns, and their arrival against tough opposition, some FPL managers may be wondering if they can comfortably captain Sánchez. If not, they have to grapple with deciding whether the Gunners midfielder is worth the extra outlay over one of his team mates.