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: 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.
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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


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.

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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.

Crystal Palace midfielders

Crystal Palace has a range of intriguing options in midfield for the Fantasy Premier League manager looking for a replacement for the injured Dimitri Payet. On the surface, the Eagles may seem a strange choice given they scored their first goal from open play since August in the Gameweek 12 win over Liverpool. However, they haven’t had the easiest fixture run having faced six of the top 10 clubs, plus defensively solid Watford and West Brom Albion in the last eight gameweeks.

The fixture list improves now through to 2016 (SUN, NEW, eve, SOT, sto, bou, SWA) and their regular midfielders – Yohan Cabaye 6.6m, Bakary Sako 5.3m, Yannick Bolasie 6.1m, Jason Puncheon 5.8m, James McArthur 5.0m and Wilfried Zaha 5.3m – are well priced for potential Payet replacements. The first problem with Crystal Palace is that there are six main midfielders vying for five midfield spots, or nine if you count Joe Ledley, Jordon Mutch and Mile Jedinak. In terms of playing time this season, the first six are well ahead.

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Looking a little deeper, it appears Puncheon (1037 minutes), Cabaye (1019 minutes), McArthur (950 minutes), Bolasie (809 minutes) are pretty much regular starters when fit and available, with Zaha (745 minutes) and Sako (583 minutes) the less secure options. The picture has been clouded somewhat though by Palace playing some games without a striker and fielding six midfielders instead.

Given the hectic December schedule is looming, many FPL managers will want their Payet replacement to be sure of good game time and for that reason I’m going to exclude Zaha and Sako from this review. Both players could be worth another look for managers with higher risk thresholds though, particularly Sako because he has some good underlying statistics.

To make this review managable, I’m going to exclude McArthur too because he has shown very little goal threat, which leaves Cabaye, Puncheon and Bolasie. Let’s start with Cabaye as I roll out my new look charts. (Please let me know your thoughts via the comments section.)

Yohan Cabaye GW1-12 2015-16

Following my research on the penalty taker’s advantage, I have separated out penalty kicks (PK) from Cabaye’s regular statistics. Being on penalties can be a major advantage and it is one that every FPL manager should think about carefully when selecting a player, but they can also skew our perception of the player’s all round game. As you can see, Cabaye has seen the benefit of having penalty duties. With spot kicks his shots on target conversion rate is a touch high but without it the rate is low – taking 75 per cent of his shots from outside the box probably hasn’t helped.

Jason Puncheon GW1-12 2015-16

Puncheon is doing a little better at shooting inside the box, although he is still below the league average. His problem is accuracy and so it is not a huge surprise that he hasn’t found the net yet. He has some creativity and these have turned into assists at a rate roughly consistent with the league average.

Yannick Bolasie GW1-12 2015-16

Bolasie has a much better shots to shots on target ratio, maybe a touch too good. His shots on target conversion rate is slightly low though. Interestingly for a player who delivered six assists last season, he has shown little creativity this season. He has been the furthest forward of the midfielders in some of the games where the Eagles have been playing without a striker and that might be a factor. (Fantasy Football Scout records a slightly different number for his chances created, but this observation still stands.)

Crystal Palace midfielders Actions per 90 minutes

Overall, none of the Palace midfielders comes close to replacing Payet’s creativity, but they do match him in the shooting department. The actions per 90 minutes chart shows Cabaye’s performance without penalty kicks. FPL managers will have to weigh up the advantage spot kicks bring against the lower production by other metrics if they want a Palace midfielder.

At 0.8m cheaper, Puncheon offers a balance of creativity and shooting at a tempting price. Until his accuracy shows signs of improving though I doubt many FPL managers will take the plunge.

Bolasie has shown little creativity so far this year, but is slightly better than Payet in every shooting metric other than goals.