Everything but the Goal: GW14

We turn to the Liverpool midfield for the Everything but the Goal pick for Gameweek 14. Emre Can fired five attempts against Sunderland, all but one of them from inside the box. However, he is not the strongest pick this season because failed to find the target with any of the shots.

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Once again I turn to Sergio Agüero for the control selection. The Manchester City forward unleashed seven shots against Burnley, including four in the box and four on target. Of those on target shots, two beat the goalkeeper.

For both players the objective is to score, which Everton’s Yannick Bolasie and Sunderland’s Victor Anichebe failed to achieve as the Gameweek 13 picks.

Season EBTG score: Found 2 – 10 Missing

Season control score: Found 4 – 8 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

Kevin De Bruyne

Kevin De Bruyne has scored a goal in each of his last two Premier League games and put himself firmly on the radar of fantasy managers. His price went up the night before Manchester City’s Gameweek 5 match and again two days later to reach 10.7m. At the time of writing, the Belgian has more than 250,000 transfers in this week and is heading toward potentially becoming the first player to have a triple price rise in one gameweek this season.

Looking at De Bruyne’s statistics, please note there is disagreement regarding how many assists he has tallied this season. The Fantasy Premier League credits him with setting up a team mate to score against Manchester United, while FourFourTwo Stats Zone does not. I have used the lower figure, but please make you own mental adjustment if you agree with the FPL that he has four.

Kevin De Bruyne GW1-5 2016-17

I would argue De Bruyne’s primary asset is his creativity. He is joint best in the Premier League for chances created this season and joint best for assists so far. He is the only player to top both metrics. I was able to watch Manchester City dismantle Bournemouth and De Bruyne’s interplay with Raheem Sterling and Kelechi Iheanacho was at the heart of that performance.

For his goal in that game, De Bruyne beat Cherries goalkeeper Artur Boruc with a cheeky free kick that slid under the wall, but the Citizens midfielder isn’t reliant on set plays to score. Where he does have a weakness is in his preference to shoot from distance. It may have worked against Bournemouth, but generally shots from outside the area tend to be converted far less frequently than those hit from closer range.

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Already this season De Bruyne is repeating a pattern from last season of having hit more shots on target than he has fired shots from inside the box. While he undoubtedly appears accurate, having tested the goalkeeper with about half of his shots this season and last, the distance factor probably helps explain a shots on target conversion rate languishing at 27 per cent over the same period.

Despite the continued low conversion rate, there is a positive sign that suggests the Belgian midfielder could increase his goal output. Five gameweeks is not a large sample size, but the former Wolfsburg player has increased his shooting frequency dramatically in that period, upping his shots per 90 minutes by 71 per cent from the 2015-16 season. The opening schedule was fairly favourable to Manchester City (SUN, stk, WHU, mun, BOU), but if De Bruyne can maintain his higher shooting frequency he could reach double figures for goals this season.

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 seven

Angelo Ogbonna’s last-gasp winner for West Ham United in their FA Cup fourth round replay triumph over Liverpool was an important result for Fantasy Premier League managers. Liverpool’s failure to progress to the fifth round of the cup sets up the prospect of a fourth Premier League fixture being played in Gameweek 30, thereby increasing the likelihood that more FPL managers will be able to field 11 players that week without taking a points hit or using their wildcard.

Liverpool’s cup exit means there is a league opponent waiting in Gameweek 30 for whichever side loses the FA Cup fifth round match between Chelsea and Manchester City. If Chelsea lose they will face Liverpool in Gameweek 30, while a loss for Manchester City will give them a league game against Norwich City.

One potential wrinkle for this scenario is if that FA Cup match goes to a replay. The Champions League commitments of Chelsea and Manchester City limit the scope for them to replay the fixture before the quarter-finals. Therefore, they might have to take Gameweek 30 (the date of the FA Cup quarter-finals) for a fifth round replay.

Another result of West Ham’s win is that Liverpool are now guaranteed a Gameweek 35 fixture against Newcastle United because both sides are out of the FA Cup. That brings to three the number of league fixtures scheduled to go ahead in Gameweek 35, which is FA Cup semi-final weekend. It also means Newcastle United join Leicester City and Southampton in being the only sides currently set to have games in both Gameweek 30 and Gameweek 35. However, the Magpies, unlike the Foxes and the Saints, do not have a Gameweek 27 fixture.

I have updated the Double Gameweek (DGW) and blank fixture chart I shared in earlier posts in this series.

Double Gameweek planning part 7

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 the FA Cup fifth round matches between Bournemouth and Everton, and Chelsea and Manchester City (dark green) – the winners of those ties should have a blank and the losers a Premier League fixture in Gameweek 30 (assuming no replay is required).

The light grey boxes show where Aston Villa (Gameweek 30), Stoke City, Norwich City and Sunderland (all Gameweek 35) are waiting to discover if their Premier League opponents (Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City, Watford and Arsenal respectively) progress in the FA Cup.

The teams that could have a DGW in Gameweek 34 or Gameweek 37 as a result of Premier League teams facing each other in the FA Cup fifth round 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 highlighted 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.

Double Gameweek planning: Part three

Liverpool and Manchester City have reached the final of the Capital One Cup and presented us with the first blank gameweek of the season for four Premier League teams. Manchester City’s trip to Newcastle United and Liverpool’s game against Everton will be removed from the Gameweek 27 schedule because they clash with the final.

For Fantasy Premier League managers this means their Liverpool, Everton, Newcastle and Manchester City will not play a game in Gameweek 27. Managers with more than three outfield players and one goalkeeper from those teams will need to reduce their exposure to those assets by Gameweek 27 if they want to field 11 men that week.

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However, the postponement of those fixtures means they will have to be rearranged to another Premier League gameweek, creating a Double Gameweek (DGW). This is a great time to field players from those four teams as they will have two opportunities to score FPL points for their managers. At the time of writing, we don’t know when the DGWs will be scheduled.

I have updated the chart from part one and part two of this series to reflect the new certainty about which teams will have a blank in Gameweek 27.

Double Gameweek planning part 3

The chart shows the Capital One Cup semi-finals and final match ups (purple), the blank Gameweek 27 fixtures (black), 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 fixture so far (green) and four Gameweek 30 Premier League fixtures (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.

As you can see, there are four potential options for the DGW created by the Capital One Cup final.

We won’t know until the weekend whether the Gameweek 25 option is needed for an FA Cup fourth round replay for the two Merseyside teams and the Citizens (Newcastle are already out of the FA Cup). For Gameweek 26 to be an option, the teams involved would need to exit the FA Cup before the fifth round.

One of the DGW scenarios after the Gameweek 27 blank could be a strong possibility, but those dates could be needed for league matches postponed by FA Cup games if Manchester City, Everton and Liverpool progress to the quarter-finals or beyond.

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I suggest FPL managers hold off making any transfers this week until the FA Cup games have been played this weekend. As well as potentially bringing greater clarity about the DGW caused by the Capital One Cup, we may learn more about which teams might have fixtures in Gameweek 30. Furthermore, as we saw with the unfortunate Kevin De Bruyne in today’s semi-final, injuries can strike key players in cup games.