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.
Embed from Getty Images

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: GW6

My experiment to see what success, if any, can be had by selecting a player with good underlying statistics from a small number of games had it’s first triumph last week – but only for the control group. The test group, those that haven’t delivered returns in a small number of recent games despite good numbers, are still waiting to get off the mark. I assess players in this experiment as having either found their objective (goal, assist or clean sheet etc.) or missing it.

My test group selection last week was Shane Long. Although he started, the game time curse of being an Everything but the Goal pick struck again and he was substituted for Charlie Austin after 54 minutes having managed two shots, one inside the box and off target and one outside the box and on target. His objective had been to score and he went missing. After getting on the pitch, Austin promptly rattled off four attempts, including three in the box and two on target, and found the net. There was a goal for Romelu Lukaku, my control group pick, and he therefore found his objective. He managed to do it with his only shot of the match.

Embed from Getty Images

My Everything but the Goal pick this week is Son Heung-Min. Against Sunderland in Gameweek 5 the Tottenham Hotspur midfielder fired seven shots. Five of those shots were in the area, including two that were blocked. Two of his shots tested the goalkeeper. He also created five opportunities for team mates without gaining an assist, but his objective against Middlesbrough will be to score.

The control pick – a player with good underlying statistics who did convert last week – was close between Michail Antonio (eight shots, including five in the box and three on target, for one goal) and Alexis Sánchez. The Arsenal man is the selection because his shots, while fewer in number, were of better quality – three of his four shots in the box were on target (including both of his goals), as was his shot from inside the D. His objective this week is to score.

Season EBTG score: Found 0 – 4 Missing.

Season control score: Found 1 – 3 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.

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.

Everton midfield options

Everton assets are attracting the attention of Fantasy Premier League managers as the club continues a run of kind fixtures that started last week against West Bromwich Albion. In the next five gameweeks the Toffees play Stoke City, Sunderland, Middlesbrough, Bournemouth and Crystal Palace.

When many FPL teams have, or are looking to pair, Sergio Agüero and Zlatan Ibrahimovic in their forward line, Everton striker Romelu Lukaku is too expensive at 9.0m for those who want to keep their spending in various areas of the team somewhat balanced.

Embed from Getty Images

Instead, attention has turned to midfielders Ross Barkley (7.7m), Gerard Deulofeu (6.5m) and Kevin Mirallas (6.5m), who have been playing as the front three in a 3-4-3 formation in Ronald Koeman’s first two Premier League games in charge. Newly added to the mix is Yannick Bolasie (6.0m), Everton’s expensive new signing from Crystal Palace.

There are several problems with picking an Everton midfielder, including how they will line up following Bolasie’s arrival and Lukaku’s return to fitness. The other issue is that two games give FPL managers insufficient data on which to make an informed decision.

To combat this problem I have gone back and added the players’ data from the 2015-16 season to that from the two Premier League games played so far this season. It’s not ideal because Koeman wasn’t their manager last season but it will have to do.

Everton mids - actions per 90

I’ve broken their contributions down to actions per 90 minutes because it would be unfair to compare Barkley’s raw numbers with Mirallas or Deulofeu, when he played twice as many minutes over that period. I also excluded two penalties Barkley scored against Newcastle in Februrary because penalties generally have a much higher conversion rate than regular shots and Lukaku will likely be on spot kicks this year if last season is any guide. In these circumstances I consider any penalties he gets this year to be an unexpected bonus, but one which some FPL managers might want to take into consideration.

The chart shows that Deulofeu is the most creative of the four when he is on the pitch, but the least likely to score a goal. Although Barkley is more creative than Bolasie was at Crystal Palace, there is not much to choose between them when it comes to goal threat. The leader in that department though is Mirallas. He shoots more frequently, takes more shots in the penalty area and finds the target more often per 90 minutes played.

Everton mids - conversion rates

Although weak in shooting volume, Deulofeu does have the edge when it comes to finding the target, getting more shots on target and scoring more goals per shot taken. The rate at which he turns shots into shots on target looks unusually high and could regress this season. But I am interested to hear in the comments from anyone who watches a lot of Everton games and has a theory that could explain why it is high.

What this chart also suggests is Barkley has a propensity to bulk out his shooting numbers with low quality shots that fail to test or beat the keeper. However, when he does shoot in the box or hit the target the results are not much different from those of his colleagues.

Everton mids - P90

Of course, what matters most in FPL is the ability to generate points. The chart of points scored per 90 minutes played (P90) shows Mirallas leads the way, while Bolasie lags behind the others as the only player not to achieve an average of at least four points per 90 minutes played.

Where Bolasie does have an advantage is in being the cheapest of the four. Being 1.7m cheaper than Barkley catapults the Congolese player above the Englishman in terms of points per 90 per million of FPL budget spent. However, the 0.5 gap to Mirallas and Deulofeu doesn’t make up for the difference in points output per 90.

A major part of the calculation FPL managers have to make is predicting who will play. In the two Premier League games played so far this season, Mirallas and Deulofeu have both been withdrawn early. The latter made way just after the hour against the Baggies so Bolasie could make his competitive debut. Based on game time so far, Barkley’s position looks more secure but that security is reflected in his price.

Each of the four players has his strengths and weaknesses. The challenge for FPL managers will be weighing up the budget demand, gametime risk and potential output of each then deciding if any of them would be a good fit for their team.

Double Gameweek planning: Part 11

The Double Gameweek (DGW) planning series comes to an end rather fittingly for a football-based game on part 11. The Premier League today announced fixture amendments that slotted all the games that need rearranging into the calendar with the exception of Crystal Palace versus Everton.

The Premier League hasn’t given any indication where they will place that one remaining fixture, but placing the Sunderland versus Everton fixture on the Wednesday in Gameweek 37 – with no suggestion that it could move – probably rules out a fabled Triple Gameweek. To fit another game in that week would require Everton to play three games in five days and I would be surprised if that happened.

There are midweek spots in Gameweeks 32, 33, 35 or 36 that could house the missing fixture, but it would require dispensation to break the rule that Premier League games should not clash with European fixtures. It is a simple solution, albeit one that requires some negotiation. We wait to see what the league decide. The decision could play a role in how Fantasy Premier League managers set up their teams to cope with the DGWs and the Gameweek 35 blanks.

Technically, the announcement said West Ham versus Manchester United and Liverpool versus Chelsea could move again if the Red Devils progress to the Europa League semi-finals, but if that happens I think the two fixtures would just switch places. I don’t think we need to worry about them going into different gameweeks.

Here is an updated version of the Double Gameweek planning chart. The purple boxes show a double gameweek team in the large tile and their opponents that week in the smaller tiles. The blank Gameweek 35 fixtures are shown in the dark grey box, with the confirmed fixtures for that week shown in the light green box. The yellow boxes show what schedule would like if the Crystal Palace versus Everton game is moved to later in Gameweek 35 or rearranged for Gameweek 36.

Double Gameweek planning part 11

Aaron Lennon

Aaron Lennon scored his third goal in his last four Premier League games against Aston Villa in Gameweek 28. After being behind Gerard Deulofeu in the pecking order for the right wing berth at Everton for much of the season, Lennon (5.6m) has now started seven of the Toffees’ last 10 matches and found the net on four occasions.

On the surface it would appear more regular starts are paying dividends for a player who clocked up 21 caps for England between 2006 and 2013. However, his underlying statistics raise some concerns.

Aaron Lennon GW1-28 2015-16

Before looking at the data, I should mention that these figures do not credit Lennon with an assist against Newcastle United in Gameweek 24 that the Fantasy Premier League game gives him. However, it is Lennon’s recent goal scoring, rather than his assist potential, that might be most tempting to FPL managers and that is where the warning flags need to be raised.

While three goals in four games is a good return for a midfielder, scoring them off just five shots on target – a 60 per cent conversion rate – is unlikely to be sustainable for long. Given Lennon only achieved two shots on target in the first 429 of his 772 minutes of play this season, it is unsurprising that his shots on target conversion rate for the season as a whole is little better at 57 per cent.

Over his last four games, Lennon has been firing shots on target at a fairly respectable rate of 1.3 per 90 minutes, so some might be tempted to argue that he could still deliver a relatively good number of goals even if his shots on target conversion rate dropped towards to the league average.

Embed from Getty Images

However, Lennon has also managed to direct a whopping 83 per cent of his shots at the goal in his last four matches – or 78 per cent over the season as a whole. That is more than twice the average rate at which Premier League midfielders have been hitting the target with shots this season. In 2012/13, when Lennon clocked more Premier League minutes and FPL points than in any of his other seasons recorded in the game, he needed roughly four attempts to land one shot on target – though, to be fair, he did manage a 57 per cent shots on target to goal conversion rate that year.

Lennon’s last four Premier League games were against relatively easy opposition (NEW, wba, STK, avl), but with a blank fixture in Gameweek 30 and matches against Arsenal and Manchester United afterwards I doubt many managers will be rushing out to buy the winger. That may save them from purchasing a player who has been delivering returns recently that he is unlikely to sustain.

Double Gameweek planning: Part six

Although I’ve included this post as part of the Double Gameweek (DGW) planning series, it’s mostly concerned with the looming blank Gameweek 30 for many Premier League teams. I’ve seen some Fantasy Premier League managers attempting to calculate how many players they will have in their team in Gameweek 30. However, the sheer number of permutations the FA Cup fourth round replays and fifth round fixtures generate makes calculating the figure very complex.

Therefore, let’s strip it down to the basics. There are only two fixtures we know for sure will be played in Gameweek 30. To calculate how many players you currently have for Gameweek 30 count the number of active players you have from the following teams in your FPL squad:

  • Leicester City
  • Newcastle United
  • Stoke City
  • Southampton

That’s it, that’s how many players you currently have for Gameweek 30.

However, we know that there will be at least one more fixture played in Gameweek 30 – we just don’t know which pair of teams will take part. Count the number of players you have from the teams involved in each fixture:

Fixture A) Sunderland and Everton
Fixture B) Swansea and Bournemouth

By Gameweek 30 you should have the players from Fixture A or Fixture B available too, but we do not know which fixture it will be yet. You will not have players from both fixtures, just one or the other.

More players may yet become available to you, but that will depend on:

  1. The results of the FA Cup fifth round fixtures in Gameweek 26, and
  2. How you use your transfers between now and Gameweek 30.

So, if the number you came up with is low, think very carefully about each transfer you make between now and Gameweek 30.

Finally, for those who want a visual reminder of the state of play, here’s an updated version of DGW planning chart I shared in part five and earlier posts in this series.

Double Gameweek planning part 6

The chart shows the Capital One Cup final match up (lilac), the blank Gameweek 27 fixtures (purple), potential DGW options for the teams affected by the Capital One Cup final (yellow), potential blank Premier League gameweeks for teams because of the FA Cup (dark grey), the only guaranteed Gameweek 30 and Gameweek 35 fixtures so far (light green) and the Gameweek 30 fixtures that hinge on the outcome of Everton’s fifth round FA Cup match with Bournemouth (dark green) – the winner of that tie will have a blank and the loser a Premier League fixture in Gameweek 30.

There are two Premier League fixtures in Gameweek 30 and four in Gameweek 35 (light grey) where the team in the larger tile is waiting to discover if the team beneath them in the smaller tile progresses in the FA Cup.

The teams that could have a DGW in Gameweek 34 or Gameweek 37 as a result of the Premier League teams facing each other in the fifth round of the FA Cup are shown in the orange boxes. The other Premier League teams that could have a DGW if they reach the FA Cup quarter-finals are shown in the light blue boxes.