A few random thoughts after Gameweek 12

Following on from my stock take post earlier this week, here are a few other random thoughts about the Fantasy Premier League after Gameweek 12.


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Liverpool are a fantastic attacking outfit this season, but are they as good when Lallana isn’t playing? I read one observer talk about Lallana’s importance to the team around the time he played limited minutes in gameweeks 7 and 8, suggesting they weren’t as strong without him. Remembering this after the Reds’ Lallana-less 0-0 draw with Southampton, I dug into the stats. The sample size is tiny, so you can’t really draw any conclusions from it, but Liverpool’s shots on target numbers are down more than 25 per cent in Premier League games where Lallana has played 31 minutes or less.

When I reviewed the Liverpool midfield earlier this season, I said James Milner was showing no attacking threat outside of penalties. He has shown a little more threat since then; not much, but enough to move the dial off zero.

Joe Allen

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Joe Allen’s FPL potential seems dependent on whether he plays in the hole or not. I watched a good chunk of Stoke City’s Gameweek 11 match against West Ham United and he was active in and around the penalty area until the 71st minute, when Glenn Whelan was replace by Bojan Krkic. The Welsh international’s attacking threat was instantly curtailed after he dropped back into the double pivot.

With Whelan injured in Gameweek 12, Allen was again in the double pivot and failed to get even one shot away. Whelan could be fit by the time Allen is back from his one game suspension, so it will be interesting to see where he lines up.


I’m stating the obvious here, but Chelsea look very good at both ends of the pitch when playing 3-4-3. I have three of their assets and wish the game would allow me four – regardless of fixtures.


Wilfried Bony

Stoke City added Manchester City striker Wilfried Bony to their forward line on transfer deadline day in a move that has many Fantasy Premier League managers excited.

The Potters’ new loan signing may have been the back up striker to Sergio Agüero for the Citizens, but in his first season in the Premier League he scored 16 goals (or 17, according to FPL) as the lone forward for Swansea City. His appeal was boosted by being on penalties, which gave him four goals that season.

The following season he scored nine goals, including one penalty, for the Swans before moving to Manchester. After the switch, he played less than four games worth of minutes and netted twice. Last season was a disappointing one, with just four goals from 1,226 minutes played.

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Bony is expected to become the Potters’ leading striker and guaranteed game time alone should bring him back in to consideration, but can managers expect lots of goals from him?

The Ivorian’s stats from his Swansea days are positive. The proportion of his shots taken in box and testing the keeper were sustainable and his shots on target conversion rate was solid for a Premier League striker. In his final season with Manchester City he was far less clinical, but it is difficult to judge a bit-part player by the same standards as a starting striker.

Of more concern is whether Stoke can create enough chances for him. Of course Bony’s ability may help them generate more chances, but the Potters’ recent record hasn’t been great. They are the second worst team for chances created in this young season and they were sixth from bottom by that metric last season.

Another factor to consider is whether Stoke will give Bony penalties, which were part of his appeal at Swansea. The Potters won five penalties last season and Bojan Krkić converted their one spot kick this season.

Bony has the potential to score goals, but the question FPL managers will have to wrestle with is whether Stoke can give him enough opportunties to make investment in him worthwhile.

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.

Double Gameweek planning: Part one

I spent tonight trying to get my head around the potential Double Gameweek (DGW) scenarios, using Ruth_NZ’s helpful post from last week as a guide. Given the first DGW could be as early as Gameweek 25, every transfer needs even more careful thought through than normal.

The Capital One Cup final, which is scheduled for the same weekend as Gameweek 27, will present between two and four teams with a DGW, depending on who gets through the semi-finals. The teams in the semi-finals are Liverpool, Everton, Stoke City and Manchester City. The first two are due to play each other in the Premier League in Gameweek 27, while Stoke are scheduled to host Aston Villa and Manchester City travel to Newcastle United.

It appears there are four possible gameweeks in which the rearranged games could be played: 25, 26, 34 and 37. As gameweeks 34 and 37 provide opportunities to rearrange games affected by the FA Cup quarter and semi finals, there may be a reluctance to take up those slots early. However, I’m also unsure how likely it is we will see a DGW in Gameweek 25 given there would only be two weeks between the second leg of the Capital One Cup semi-final second leg and the available gamedays in Gameweek 25. Ruth suggested there’s a possible Monday night space available in Gameweek 26 if Liverpool, Everton or Stoke are involved. I’m also wondering if a game could be scheduled on FA Cup fifth round weekend (also Gameweek 26) if the League Cup finalists and their Gameweek 27 opponents have been knocked out of the FA Cup in an earlier round.

To try to make sense of all this, I have created the following chart with the various permutations and possible match-ups:

Double Gameweek planning part 1

Click on chart to see larger scale

Possible DGW combinations are shown in yellow, with the team that could be affected by a Gameweek 27 postponement at the top of each segment and their potential DGW rivals in the next two slots. The Capital One Cup (C1C) fixtures and permutations are shown in purple, and the fixtures which could be postponed in Gameweek 27 are shown in dark grey. The mid-grey is there in preparation for the fourth round of the FA Cup (FAC).

I will try to update the chart as the season progresses and the DGW picture becomes clearer. This is a tricky topic to get our heads around so please add a comment below if you have any thoughts or think I have missed something.

Update – January 9, 2016: I’ve added the teams we know will have a fourth round match to the chart.

Marko Arnautovic

Marko Arnautovic was the two-goal star of Stoke City’s win against Manchester City on the Saturday of Gameweek 15 in the 2015-16 Premier League season. He delivered 16 points for the 1.5 per cent of Fantasy Premier League managers who have him in their squads and took his points tally for the season to 70, moving him up to tenth overall among midfielders.

Arnautovic, who is nicely priced for a fourth midfielder at 6m, linked up well with team mates Xherdan Shaqiri (6.6m) and Bojan Krkic (5.1m) to take Manchester City apart at the Britannia Stadium. Although they were also aided in part by poor defending from the 2013-14 champions, the fluid interplay between the attacking trio helped create some great chances for Arnautovic and he hit the woodwork twice as well as scoring twice.

Marko Arnautovic GW1-15 2015-16

Looking at Arnautovic’s statistics, his ratio of shots to shots in the box and shots on target looks very healthy. However, his shots on target conversion rate is too high at 71 per cent for long-term sustainability. The winger’s assist numbers are also where we would expect them to be given the number of chances he has created.

While Arnautovic is creating at least one chance most weeks, his shooting stats are more boom and bust. He has had good weeks, like Gameweek 15, but in some other matches he simply doesn’t register in these metrics. The Austrian has shown signs that he could be a bit frustrating to own; his goals have come against Tottenham, Aston Villa, Chelsea and Manchester City, and at least two of those fixtures are games where an FPL manager may have benched him if they thought their fifth midfielder was facing weaker opposition.

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Stoke have been quietly moving up the Premier League table since the start of October thanks to six clean sheets in the last eight games. In that period, they have recorded five wins and a draw, but today was the first time they have scored more than once during that run. The Potters’ upcoming fixtures are mixed (whm, CPL, MUN, eve, wba, NOR) and I think they remain a team to monitor at the minute.

Given his low ownership, Arnautovic could be an interesting differential – particularly if Stoke pick up their scoring rate – but it may need a committed FPL manager, who is prepared to play him week in and week out, to harvest the benefit. Furthermore, most managers probably won’t have space for Arnautovic at present with Riyad Mahrez, who many bought for a lot less than his current 6.8m price tag, reminding us of his talent with a hat-trick on the same day as the Austrian scored his brace.

Save percentages: Post-Gameweek 12 update

In the last international break I looked at goalkeeper save percentages as I had hardly seen this statistic mentioned in relation to Fantasy Premier League play. I’ve used the time afforded by the latest international break to update my save percentages chart.

Following my research on the penalty taker’s advantage, which showed the vastly superior conversion rate for penalties compared to shots on target from regular play, I’ve modified the chart to remove from the calculations all penalties conceded and saved.  I thought this would give a fairer indication of baseline performance. The biggest culprits for conceding penalties have been Bournemouth, Sunderland and Norwich, which have each conceded three. The biggest beneficiaries have been Leicester, with five goals from five spot kicks, and Crystal Palace, with three goals from three penalties.

Goalkeeper save percentages GW1-12 2015-16

Bournemouth have conceded the joint-sixth lowest number of shots on target this season, but they are the second worst team for goals conceded. From the chart, it appears the goalkeepers have to take some of the blame. Adam Federici is the only keeper in the league to have conceded more than half of the shots hit towards his goal. To be fair, he has only played 270 minutes, including 90 minutes against Manchester City, so the sample size is small and contains one of the most potent opposition attacks he could have faced. The man he replaced, Artur Boruc, has only saved 10 per cent more chances and is the lowest ranked regular starting goalkeeper in the Premier League.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the chart, Jack Butland has slightly improved his save percentage from just under 80 per cent to just over 80 per cent in the last four gameweeks. In the last five weeks, the Stoke City goalie has delivered four clean sheets and 34 FPL points for his owners. Petr Cech has kept up his strong performances for Arsenal and Robert Elliot has settled into the Newcastle goal, recording clean back-to-back clean sheets in the last two weeks.

As predicted, Wayne Hennessey’s 100 per cent save record of four weeks ago has regressed. His save percentage is now below that of Alex McCarthy, the man he replaced between the sticks for Crystal Palace, having played the same number of minutes. However, with Hennessey grabbing three clean sheets to McCarthy’s none, I doubt manager Alan Pardew will be in any rush to make changes.