Everything but the Goal: GW13

The Everything but the Goal pick for Gameweek 13 is Yannick Bolasie. The Everton midfielder hit four shots against Swansea City in Gameweek 12. Three of those attempts were in the box and two found the target, but none hit the back of the net.
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The control selection is Victor Anichebe. The Sunderland striker fired five shots against Hull City, including four from inside the box. He scored with his two shots on target.

For both players the objective is to score, which Gameweek 12 picks Daniel Sturridge and Sergio Agüero failed to do.

Season EBTG score: Found 2 – 9 Missing

Season control score: Found 4 – 7 Missing



Everything but the Goal: GW12

The Everything but the Goal pick for GW12 is Daniel Sturridge. The Liverpool striker racked up six shots in Gameweek 11 against Watford, including four in the box and four on target, despite not even getting on the pitch until the 71st minute. With doubts over the fitness of team mates Philippe Coutinho and Adam Lallana, he stands a good chance of starting this week.

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The control selection for a second week running is Manchester City’s Sergio Agüero, who clocked up eight shots, including seven in the area and three on target, against Middlesborough in Gameweek 12.

For both forwards the objective is to score, which is what both control pick Agüero and Everything but the Goal choice Zlatan Ibrahimovic achieved last week.

Season EBTG score: Found 2 – 8 Missing

Season control score: Found 4 – 6 Missing

Everything but the goal: GW5

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.

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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.

Liverpool’s starting eleven

There has been quite a buzz among Fantasy Premier League managers about Liverpool players this week following the Reds’ weekend demolition of Manchester City.

Liverpool had a great game against the Citizens. They notched four times and registered 12 shots on target, including 10 inside the box. The game has placed Liverpool’s attacking players firmly on the radar. Furthermore, the team line-up has looked fairly stable since Jürgen Klopp took over from Brendan Rodgers after Gameweek 9.

However, it is easy to look at players getting regular game time and forget that potential challengers to their spot could be missing with injury. Therefore, I decided to review the Liverpool midfield and forward line-up so far this season to remind myself of the state of play.

Liverpool's line-up GW1-13 2015-16

The chart shows the:

  • opposition Liverpool faced each week (Opp);
  • formation Liverpool played (Frmtn)*;
  • total minutes played by each player;
  • managerial era – Rodgers in grey and Klopp in white;
  • position of each player in each match** (dark blue for forward, blue for midfield, purple for defence and light blue if they came on as a substitute) or their status (red for injured, yellow for suspended). Players with a white or grey box beneath their name did not play that week.

I have only included players who have clocked up at least 100 minutes on the pitch. They are, from left to right: James Milner (Mil), Philippe Coutinho (Cou), Emre Can (Can), Leiva Lucas (Luc), Adam Lallana (Lal), Roberto Firmino (Fir), Jordon Ibe (Ibe), Jordan Henderson (Hen), Christian Benteke (Ben), Danny Ings (Ing), Daniel Sturridge (Stu) and Divock Origi (Ori).

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There are a few things I noted from the chart. Firstly, the five midfielders with most game time this season have looked very stable in the Klopp era, with the only change being Ibe (4.6m) coming in for Milner (6.6m) when he was briefly injured. With Henderson (6.6m) nearing a return from injury, it will be interesting to see if the club captain can get back into the team and, if so, who he displaces.

Sturridge (10.1m) is another major player for the Reds who is on the comeback trail from injury. Against Manchester City he was an unused substitute, but how long will Liverpool keep on the bench a player who over the last two seasons has scored 26 Premier League goals in 3,021 minutes? If he returns to the starting eleven that might also have a knock on effect on those midfield options.

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Finally, in his first four games, Klopp has started with an attacking midfielder (Firmino, 8.0m) upfront in away games against Chelsea and Manchester City, but a recognized striker in home games – Origi (5.6m) against Southampton and Benteke (8.3m) against Crystal Palace. Klopp might decide to stick with last week’s winning formula, or he might continue to rotate. If he does the latter, it could make things awkward for the more than 23,000 FPL managers who have bought Firmino this week.


*based on my interpretation of FourFourTwo Stat Zone‘s line-up guide – feel free to leave alternative suggestions in the comments

**also based my interpretation of FourFourTwo Stat Zone’s line-up guide.

Agüero replacements: Premium forwards

“As long as he stays fit” – within days of publishing those six important words in my post considering the Gameweek 8 performance of Sergio Agüero, the Manchester City star striker damaged his hamstring and is reported to be out for at least a month.

Now the hunt is on among Fantasy Premier League managers for a replacement striker as 13.3m is too much value to leave on the bench for long. The game’s most expensive striker being out means every possible replacement option is available for consideration.

I am starting my look at the alternatives with the premium forwards. With Rooney flagged for a knock, there are only three fit options that cost more than 9.0m  – Harry Kane (9.2m), Daniel Sturridge (10.5m) and Diego Costa (10.9m). Kane has started every match and clocked up 683 minutes, but suspension and injury have limited Costa and Sturridge’s game time to 518 and 242 minutes respectively. Given the disparity of minutes, I think the best way to compare them is to look at their minutes per action.

Agüero replacements - premium strikers

I’ve included Agüero’s statistics for comparison and it’s clear that so far this season only Sturridge comes anywhere near close to the man he would replace. I would normally add minutes per goal into the chart, but with Kane and Costa netting only once each this season that would lift the minutes axis so high that it would be hard to see the other metrics. Sturridge has performed better than his counterparts from Tottenham and Chelsea by scoring twice in his three appearances.

On statistics alone then, there is one clear winner in this price bracket. However we have other factors to consider. Firstly, Sturridge’s own injury problems mean bringing him in could be the FPL equivalent of jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire. Furthermore,  Jürgen Klopp’s appointment last week as Liverpool manager means we can’t be sure which players the new man will favour and where Sturridge will play.

We also have to consider fixtures. Liverpool’s fixture list (tot, SOT, che, CPL, mci, SWA) is far from enticing. Tottenham’s fixtures (LIV, bou, AVL, ars, WHM, CHE) are mixed, but many FPL managers will be looking for more signs of a return to form from Kane before heading in that direction. Chelsea have a lovely match this week (AVL) but after that the fixtures are also mixed (whm, LIV, sto, NOR, tot). With injuries and rotation beginning to bite on FPL squads, some FPL managers will be questioning whether it is worth burning a transfer on an out of form striker leading the line for a stuttering Chelsea side. It might work this week, but that could be a false dawn if the Blues can’t sustain a recovery.