Everything but the Goal: GW16

Neither the Everything but the Goal pick nor the control selection for Gameweek 16 had the highest shot tallies last week, but they did fire their efforts from more dangerous areas. The Everything but the Goal pick is Leicester City’s Islam Slimani, who failed beat Manchester City goalkeeper Claudio Bravo with four shots. Three of those efforts were off target but taken close to the six yard box, while the fourth was hit from just outside the box and was on target.
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The control pick is Swansea City striker Fernando Llorente, who also fired four shots. He netted twice past Sunderland goalkeeper Jordan Pickford with his two shots on target. His other two shots, which were also taken well inside the area, both missed the target.

For both players the objective is to score, which is what the Everything but the Goal selection for Gameweek 15, Victor Anichebe, and the control pick, Harry Kane, failed to achieve.

Sorry for the lack of an Everything but the Goal post last week. Emre Can, the Everything but the Goal pick for Gameweek 14, found the target in Gameweek 15, but Sergio Agüero, the control selection, did not.

Season EBTG score: Found 3 – 11 Missing

Season control score: Found 4 – 10 Missing


Picking a Gameweek 30 captain

Gameweek 30 throws up an interesting captaincy selection. Three of the top four teams in the Premier League face the three bottom teams. Furthermore, those top teams have three of the top four Premier League goalscorers spread between them.

My gut is telling me to put the armband on Harry Kane but my head is telling me to put it on Agüero as he is likely to be the most popular option among the players I am competing against.

I thought I would dive into the statistics to see if they can help me make a decision. I’ve added Jamie Vardy into the mix because he also looks a great option this week. I stopped short of including Riyad Mahrez as I liked the idea of a straight comparison between strikers who are also their club’s current designated penalty takers.

Captain choice GW30

The chart shows 11 types of data. The first seven are shown by the bars charted against the left axis and they show actions per 90 minutes played (P90): goals (G), shots on target (SoT), shots in box (SiB), shots (Sh), chances created (CC), assists (A) and penalties taken (PenT). The remaining data shows percentages against the right axis: the proportion of penalties converted (PenConv%), the proportion of games with no goal (Blank%), the proportion of games with two or more goals (2G+%) and the proportion of their team’s goals the player has been involved in by scoring or assisting (TGI%).

It is important to note here that the percentage stats for Kane and Vardy are based on all their performances in the Premier League this season, but the data for Agüero, who has played fewer minutes this season, is based on Premier League games in which he has played at least 60 minutes. This may not be ideal, but seemed fair. His proportions might be a little different if you include the two Premier League games in which he played less than 30 minutes.

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The chart shows why Agüero is great, even when being compared to two other strikers having good seasons. In all the P90 shooting metrics he comes out ahead. He is more explosive than the other two and more involved in his team’s goals.

As you would expect from a player who broke a Premier League record by scoring in 11 consecutive games this season, Vardy has notched more consistently than Agüero or Kane. Agüero’s penalty miss last week leaves him lagging behind the other two in terms of penalty conversion.

The second part of this analysis focuses on the fixtures. The Team Goals Involvement percentage (TGI%) showed what proportion of a team’s scoring pie a player has a hand in, but it helps to know how big the pie is.

Captain choice GW30 player's team dashboard

In this case, Agüero’s team, Manchester City (MCI), have a slightly larger pie but there is not much in it. Tottenham Hotspur (TOT) test the opposition more frequently than the other two teams, but tend do so from long range more often – a pattern shared by their striker Kane. The most interesting data here comes from Leicester City (LEI). They blank less frequently than the other two sides and have punished their opponents heavily more often.

Remember, though, that this is data from all games this season and there can be variations within that. Leicester, for example, haven’t been punishing teams as frequently in the second half of the season so far as they were in the first half. While every team has played each other at least once, this data has not been adjusted for strength of schedule, nor have I broken it down by home and away performance.

Finally, let’s look at the opposition, the teams we hope will be scored upon multiple times by our captain.

Captain choice GW30 opposition team dashboard

All three teams like to concede goals (GC), though Aston Villa (AVL) and Norwich City (NOR) tend to do so off fewer shots conceded (ShC). Despite their reputation, Villa and Newcastle United (NEW) have been better at keeping clean sheets (CS) than Norwich. But Villa have conceded two or more goals (2GC+) more often.

All in all, this run through has made me excited for the gameweek, but not made the captaincy choice much more obvious. All three look good for different reasons, but the differences between them are not huge. Anything can happen in one game, so it could be luck of the draw.

I have to put the armband on someone though and I think it will be Agüero. His shooting metrics are ahead of the rest, he is more involved in his team’s goals and Norwich rarely keep a clean sheet.

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.

Double Gameweek planning: Part four

Now the bulk of the FA Cup fourth round games have been played, the upcoming blank and Double Gameweek (DGW) picture is beginning to become a little clearer.

I have updated my chart from parts one, two and three of this series to show the current state of play.

Double Gameweek planning part 4

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 (green) and the four Premier League fixtures  in Gameweek 30 and 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 FA Cup fourth round games have settled several matters. Manchester City’s progress to the fifth round means there can be no DGW26 for the Citizens and Newcastle United. Liverpool’s draw with West Ham United in the fourth round of the FA Cup means a replay will be needed that kills off the possibility of a DGW25 Merseyside derby.

If Everton beat Carlisle United tomorrow, the possibility of the Toffees playing their postponed Gameweek 27 Premier League match with Liverpool in Gameweek 26 will also disappear and the teams won’t meet until after the blank.

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Stoke City’s FA Cup fourth round loss to Crystal Palace has ensured the Potters and Southampton will have a Premier League fixture in Gameweek 30, joining Leicester City and Newcastle as the only teams guaranteed to play that week.

Southampton also join Leicester as being the only two teams currently guaranteed to play every gameweek this season (unless freak conditions, like heavy snow, cause games to be postponed). That means the Saints and the Foxes will not have a DGW, but it also means players from those teams could be a valuable source of cover during the blanks.

Jamie Vardy’s Shots On Target conversion rate

I had a small debate with another Fantasy Premier League manager this week about Jamie Vardy’s Shots on Target conversion rate. The other manager was arguing Vardy “has scored the amount of goals you would expect of a striker from his shots on target so far this season”.

I disagreed because I thought he had scored more goals than you would expect of striker from his Shots on Target so far this season. In his amazing 2013/14 season, Luis Suárez scored 31 goals, but he did it from 81 Shots On Target – a conversion rate of 38 per cent. Sergio Agüero, as I mentioned when I looked at his statistics earlier this month, has converted Shots On Target into Goals at a rate of 43 per cent this year and last year. Vardy, on the other hand, has converted them at 56 per cent so far this year.

Shots on Target to Goals Trend 2015The chart shows the Shots on Target to Goals trend line among forwards who have played at least 500 minutes this season. As you can see, Agüero and Graziano Pellè are on trend, while Harry Kane has not been converting as many of his Shots On Target into Goals as we might expect. Vardy is well above the trend line, meaning he is converting more of his Shots on Target into Goals than we might expect. Not many players will manage to sustain that conversion rate for a whole season.

Shots On Target to Goals trend line 2013-14

Here is the Shots on Target to Goals trend line for Suárez’s amazing season in 2013/14. I have included Vardy’s 2015/16 dot here in black for comparison and some other noted players in grey, except Agüero whose dot remains blue to distinguish him from Rooney. Vardy has played 891 minutes in 2015/16 so I included all forwards who played at least 800 minutes in 2013/14 in this chart. Vardy’s 2015/16 numbers are clearly above the 2013/14 trend line. Daniel Sturridge’s dot shows that it is possible to sustain a run above the trend with a conversion rate of 52 per cent that season.

Shots On Target to Goals trend line 2014-15

Here is Vardy’s 2015/16 black dot against the 2014/15 trend line for forwards who played at least 800 minutes. I’ve also picked out Vardy’s 2014/15 performance with a second black dot and highlighted a few other notable names with grey dots.

In this last chart, Vardy’s 2015/16 figures are again above the trend line and he has improved dramatically on his 2014/15 Shots On Target to Goals conversion rate, which was 22 per cent. The clear over-performer last year was Diego Costa, who converted 55 per cent of his Shots On Target into Goals.

Vardy is converting more of his Shots on Target into Goals than the trend. However, the data also suggests that one or two high-scoring players each season can sustain a high Shots On Target conversion rate throughout a season. I’ll leave it to you to judge whether Vardy can do so this year.

Finally, it should be noted that even if Vardy’s conversion rate were to drop a bit, that would not automatically make him a bad pick. Look at the top chart again and you’ll see the Leicester City striker has fired more Shots on Target than any other forward in the 2015/16 season. If Vardy from here on out only converts 40 per cent of Shots On Target (16 per cent less than his current rate this season), then he would score eight goals from 20 Shots on Target. Another striker converting at 40 per cent, but only managing 15 Shots on Target over the same period, would score six goals.

Vardy’s Shots On Target conversion rate may be high, but while he continues to get lots of his shots on target he looks a good option. Whether he continues to get as many good shooting opportunities when the fixture list strengthens is another matter.

Agüero replacements: Budget forwards

After reviewing the expensive and mid-price replacements for Sergio Agüero, it’s time to assess the budget options. They could play an important role for those Fantasy Premier League managers looking to restructure funds to their midfield.

I have included a couple of players in this analysis that some might consider low mid-price forwards, but 7.0m seemed an appropriate split point for looking at the options this week. I’ve chosen to look at the three of the more popular budget options being transferred in this week – Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy (6.8m), Watford’s Odion Ighalo (5.3m) and West Ham United’s Diafro Sakho (6.7m). I’ve also included two Newcastle United strikers, Ayoze Pérez Gutiérrez (5.1m) and Aleksandar Mitrovic (6.2m) because their team’s swing to a set of favourable fixtures has been attracting the attention of some FPL managers.

Once again I have broken the statistics down into minutes per action because of the variety of game time played, and I have included Agüero’s stats for comparison.

Budget Agüero replacements

Right off the bat, I’m going to say don’t pick Ayoze on present form. Even among the cheap forwards the chart suggests he is performing in a different league – and it’s not a better one. In the last two matches the Magpies’ boss, Steve McLaren, appears to have been trying out ways of playing with both Ayoze and Mitrovic in central roles. If he retains consistent game time and a central attacking position, Ayoze could become a player to revisit, but for now I would look elsewhere.

For FPL managers wanting a striker with a similar price tag to Ayoze (5.1m), I would recommend finding 0.2m more for Ighalo, whose underlying statistics shown in the chart above are similar to those of the much more expensive Everton striker Romelu Lukaku.

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Since I looked at Watford’s forwards a month ago, Ighalo has notched three more times and racked up six more bonus points. He has the advantage of playing in a low-scoring, defensively minded team so that winning goal may only need to trump the defenders to haul in bonus points. The Hornet’s fixtures (ARS, sto, WHM, lei, MUN, avl) are mixed, but Ighalo is cheap enough to bench at times while also looking capable of potentially delivering returns if needed.

I looked at Vardy in depth two weeks ago, so I won’t dwell on him here. His great form continued into Gameweek 8 where he added five more shots, all inside the box. He scored with one of his three shots on target in that game. His Shots on Target conversion rate over the course of the season is too high, but once the Foxes are past Southampton the next four fixtures (CPL, wba, WAT, new) could be profitable.

Sakho has been quietly gathering points with a goal or an assist in four of his last six games. His statistics so far don’t suggest he  will be an explosive player this year, but with an ownership of just 6.5 per cent he could be a decent differential option to keep an FPL forward line chugging along. The next set of fixtures for West Ham (cpl, CHE, wat, EVE, tot, WBA) are not the most appealing, but neither were Liverpool and Manchester City away and he scored in both of those games.

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Finally, I’ll return to Newcastle and to Mitrovic. After starting the season with two appearances from the bench, Mitrovic celebrated his first start with a four shots in the box in Gameweek 3, though none were on target. His second start, against Arsenal, was cut short by a red card in just 15 minutes. The Serbian striker returned in Gameweek 7 and the following week, against Manchester City, he recorded a respectable four shots, all of them in the box, with three on target. He also notched the goal that got him off the mark for this season. On the negative side, Mitrovic has tallied as many cards as Shots on Target this season.

At 6.2m, Mitrovic is too expensive to bench most of the time, but for those FPL managers determined to access the Newcastle forward line for their good run of fixtures (NOR, sun, STO, bou, LEI, cpl) he currently looks a better option than Ayoze and he’s a significant differential as he appears in less than one per cent of FPL teams. However, he doesn’t look the safest of options to take in a time of FPL turbulence.

Save percentages

When I looked at the Shots on Target data yesterday, I mentioned how Bournemouth were conceding more than they should be. A key point of strength – or weakness – in any defence is the goalkeeper. Could the performance of Bournemouth keeper Artur Boruc be playing a role in the Cherries only returning one clean sheet this season, despite the team having the second lowest Shots on Target conceded figures in the Premier League this year?

The National Hockey League season has just begun and in that league save percentage is a major statistic used to judge goaltender performance. I hardly see it mentioned in relation to the Premier League – at least not in the places I usually go looking for information – so I decided to create my own chart of goalkeeper save percentages.

Goalkeeper save percentages GW1-8 2015-16

The chart shows save percentages with keepers ordered by minutes played. All those from Petr Cech up have played every minute of every game. Everyone from Sergio Romero up has played in at half or more of their club’s games this season.

The data was constructed by assuming that a ball hit towards goal either ends in a save or a goal conceded. This is a rough and ready approach that may be skewed slightly by own goals, but I thought it was more manageable than comparing saves to shots on target because that too had problems and making adjustments for it would require going through each game with a fine-tooth comb. Despite the caution, I think this will serve the purpose of discovering the best and worst performers.

Southampton stopper Maarten Stekelenburg and Bournemouth’s Boruc  have the lowest save percentages of the regular starters despite their teams having the lowest and third lowest Shots on Target Conceded numbers respectively in the Premier League. Are teams only shooting against these sides when they get gilt-edged chances or have Stekelenburg and Boruc been poor? This could be fruitful area for more research when I look at defences individually.

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Last year the average save percentage for Premier League keepers was 69 per cent. This year it is at 70 per cent. This holds out the tantalizing prospect that if Stekelenburg and Boruc can raise their save percentages to the league norm, their teams could be good sources for clean sheet points.

At the other end of the scale Wayne Hennessey has a 100 per cent save percentage in the two games since he took over between the posts for Crystal Palace. Clearly he won’t sustain that for the whole season, but what’s more interesting is that the man he replaced, Alex McCarthy, has the second highest save percentage among goalies who have played at least six games this season. His 81 per cent save percentage is just one percent below Cech, the league leader, and 11 per cent above the league average. That suggests Alex McCarthy was unlucky to be dropped.

Closer inspection reveals that McCarthy conceded a goal or made a save every 15 minutes, but Hennessey has only had to make a save every 45 minutes. McCarthy’s opponents included Manchester City, Arsenal, Tottenham and Chelsea, the first three of which have each registered more Shots on Target this season than Hennessey’s opposition, Watford and West Bromwich Albion, have managed combined. This suggests no one should be getting carried away with the idea that Hennessey is the magic ingredient that has suddenly turned the Eagles into a defensive powerhouse.

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Finally, Leicester have failed to record a clean sheet this season. No team has conceded more Shots on Target than the Foxes have at home, but only two teams have conceded fewer Shots on Target on their travels. Kasper Schmeichel has failed to keep a clean sheet this season, but if he can pull his save percentage up from 59 per cent maybe we will start to see that change – away from the King Power Stadium at least.