This experiment is in danger of becoming as risky to player game time as my Over the Radar series was to player health last season. Last week my pick Philippe Coutinho was benched on his return from international duty despite Liverpool making special arrangements to fly him home. That’s the second week in a row my Everything but the Goal pick has been riding the pine at kick-off.
Everything but the Goal is an experiment to see what success, if any, can be had by selecting a player who has had good underlying statistics in a small number of recent games, but has failed to produce returns. Each week, I score the player from the previous week on whether they found their objective (goal, assist, clean sheet etc.) or whether they were missing again.
Coutinho managed two blocked long-range shots after replacing Daniel Sturridge in the 76th minute, but he was missing for the third gameweek in a row.Embed from Getty Images
My pick for Gameweek 5 was close between Sturridge (five shots, three in the box and four on target in Ganeweek 4) and Shane Long, who gets the nod. Both carry some bench risk, but this experiment is about whether underlying performance indicates imminent returns so I feel I should pick a strong performer from the week before if they have a reasonable chance of starting. The Southampton striker had five shots, including four inside the penalty area and three on target, against Arsenal but failed to find the net. His mission against Swansea City is to score.
Last week my control pick – a player with good underlying statistics who did deliver the previous week – was Eden Hazard, but he also went missing. The control pick for Gameweek 5 has to be Romelu Lukaku after his monster performance against Sunderland. Of his nine shots, eight were in the box, six were on target and three rippled the net. I’m looking for at least one goal from Lukaku this week.
Season EBTG score: Found 0 – 3 Missing.
Season control score: Found 0 – 3 Missing.