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.

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Raheem Sterling

A hat-trick made Raheem Sterling the star of Saturday in Gameweek 9 of the 2015/16 Premier League season. Manchester City ran riot against a Bournemouth side shorn of centre back and captain Tommy Elphick. Also missing was first choice goalkeeper Artur Boruc, who was injured in the warm up.

The impact has been immediate in the transfer market with Sterling, who had dropped 0.2 to 8.8m on the back of more than 375,000 net transfers out this season, already recording more than 15,000 net transfers in since the Gameweek 9 deadline.

Raheem Sterling GW1-9 2015-16

Plenty of Sterling’s shots are in the box, which is good to see, and his attempts hit the target regularly. The former Liverpool player scored with 100 per cent of his attempts on goal this gameweek, but his Shots on Target to Goals conversion rate for the season is only a touch high.

Sterling has managed at least one shot most weeks, except Gameweek 5, when he didn’t play, and Gameweek 6, when he did. His performances during the season have been up and down, with decent underlying shooting statistics in Gameweeks 1, 4 and 7, but other weeks where he was fairly anonymous. Against Bournemouth though there is a step change with six shots – double the amount he had managed in any other individual gameweek.

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While the opposition helped, the key to understanding Sterling’s improved goal threat this gameweek is to step away from the statistics and look at the play. For most of the season the England international has been on the left side of the midfield three operating behind lone forward Sergio Agüero. With the Argentinian missing through injury, Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini returned to the 4-2-2-2 formation he used to favour and asked Sterling to lead the line with Wilfried Bony.

Given the new front pairing worked well, with Bony also striking twice and setting up one of Sterling’s goals, it’s quite possible Pellegrini will stick with this arrangement while Agüero is out. If he does, investment in Sterling looks promising. If he doesn’t, the transfers out may begin again soon.

Agüero replacements: Mid-price forwards

Yesterday I looked at the expensive forward options for Fantasy Premier League managers replacing Manchester City’s injured hitman Sergio Agüero. Today it is the turn of the mid-price forwards.

The choice in this price bracket is deeper than at the premium end of the field. Five options stand out to me as worth considering: Graziano Pellè (8.2m), Romelu Lukaku (8.4m), Bafétimbi Gomis (7.1m), Anthony Martial (8.4m) and Wilfried Bony (8.2m).

With more than a quarter of a million transfers in already during this international break, Pellè, the top scoring FPL forward with 52 points from 708 minutes played, has emerged as a clear favourite. Lukaku (49 points, 694 min) is another popular choice with over 70,000 transfers in. Despite being the prime candidate to replace Agüero in Manchester City’s normally potent attack, Wilfried Bony (11 points, 218 min) has only received just over 20,000 transfers in. After starting the season with four goals in four games, FPL managers have fallen out of love with Gomis (32 points, 628 min) and he has about 75,000 net transfers out this gameweek. It’s a similar story with Martial (25 points, 296 min), who has failed to score in his last two games and is now in 25,000 fewer teams overall than he was at the start of the international break.

Mid-price Agüero replacements

As I did yesterday, I have included Agüero’s statistics to provide a comparison and displayed the data in minutes per action to account for the wide variety of game time among these players.

Pellè’s stats are comparable to those of Agüero when it comes to shots inside the box, but in terms of the other metrics the Southampton striker does not stand head and shoulders above the other options over the season as a whole. Bony is ahead of Pellè in Minutes per Shot, Gomis in minutes per Shot on Target and Lukaku and Martial lead the way in Minutes per Goal.

Since I looked at Martial after Gameweek 6, the regression I was predicting has begun to kick in and the Manchester United forward has only taken two more shots. The Red Devils next two games aren’t easy but after that their schedule opens up though I wouldn’t say those fixtures are easy (eve, MCI, cpl, WBA, wat, lei).

Two weeks ago, I exposed the myth that Romelu Lukaku only scores against top teams and the Everton man kept up his fine form with a strike in his five-shot game against Liverpool. The Belgian has two tough games up next, but after that the fixtures look almost as good as they can get (MUN, ars, SUN, whm, AVL, bou).

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With four goals and five assists in his last five games, Pellè is clearly a man in form. With a nice run of fixtures (LEI, liv, BOU, sun, STO) before a Gameweek 14 match against Manchester City, it is clear why the Italian is such a popular pick this week. The Saints striker’s Shots on Target conversion rate is a touch high. However, given the high percentage of shots he hits from inside the box, there might be a case for arguing it is the Shots on Target rate that is too low and not that the number of goals scored is too high.

Gomis is an interesting case given the common perception that he is out of form. He was hauled off at half-time in Gameweek 7 after failing to record a single shot. That game aside, however, his underlying stats have continued to tick over since I looked at his performance after Gameweek 4, even if the goals have stopped flowing. As Fantasy Football Scout member Balders pointed out, the four fixtures he blanked in were against some of the better defensive teams in the Premier League (wat, EVE, sot, TOT). With four good fixtures in the next six (STO, avl, ARS, nor, BOU, liv), it wouldn’t surprise me if Gomis rediscovered his scoring touch soon.

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Despite some minor speculation to the contrary, Bony’s minutes so far this season suggest he is the first choice back up at Manchester City to Agüero. It is hard to judge a guy who has only played a significant amount of minutes in two games, but the data shows that per minute he is keeping up with the other options considered here in every metric aside from goals. The Citizens may be missing Silva as well as Agüero this week, but they would remain one of the most potent attacking sides in the league even if they suffered a 20 per cent drop in shooting opportunities created. And with three good fixtures in the four games Agüero is likely to miss (BOU, mun, NOR, avl), Bony could soon notch his first goal of the season. However, as Ruth pointed out in the comments on yesterday’s post, switching back to Agüero from Bony could be tricky unless you have two free transfers or a lot of money in the bank.