Taking stock after Gameweek 12

The 2016-17 season is roughly one-third complete, which seems like a good moment to take stock.

For me personally and, I suspect, some other statistics-driven managers, this has been a somewhat frustrating season. Some players showing good underlying numbers have not posted returns as well as expected (for example, Zlatan Ibrahimovic), while others have delivered points but nagging doubts have kept some Fantasy Premier League managers away (Diego Costa and his yellow cards, Theo Walcott and perceived threats to his game time).

There’s been another group of players who have over-performed their underlying statistics for a while, keeping it going just long enough to provide returns for early adopters before frustrating those who started them later when their ownership made them difficult to avoid (for example, Étienne Capoue). And then there are the players who show signs of delivering sustainable returns at a reasonable price, but only at the whim of where their manager plays them (for example, Joe Allen) or their muscles (Adam Lallana).

These elements exist to some degree in every season of course, but they seem particularly pronounced this year when the performance of a good number of premium and upper mid-priced fantasy assets has pressed for their inclusion in our FPL squads while few consistent budget options have emerged to free up the funds to pay for them.

On top of that, the transfer market has seemed to move quicker than ever this season. By that, I mean fewer people seem to be waiting until the end of the week to make their moves and there seems to be less diversity in the choices being made. That’s only a perception though, I’ve not done any analysis to see if it really is moving more quickly.

Differentials seem to be problematic this season. I’m not sure whether:

  • they are just harder to find, or
  • if they are more frequently announcing their arrival with goals rather than good underlying numbers, or
  • if there are too many options performing well, particularly in midfield, to risk hunting for them, or
  • they are no longer hidden because more FPL managers are better informed than ever before, or
  • some combination of the above.

Life has been very busy for me this autumn and I have not been able to dig into the statistics as much as I would like, either for my own FPL team or for this blog, so maybe the answers are out there and I haven’t found them yet.

I have some more random thoughts to add, but I’ll save them for a later post or posts if I get time.

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.

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

Everything but the goal: GW8

The Everything but the Goal pick for Gameweek 8 is Manchester United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic. He hasn’t scored in the last three gameweeks, but no other Fantasy Premier League player has better underlying shot numbers in that time. The control pick is Watford’s Troy Deeney. For both players the objective is to score.

Ganeweek 7 picks Jason Puncheon and Steven Defour were both missing when it came to delivering their objective of an assist.

Season EBTG score: Found 1 – 5 Missing.

Season control score: Found 2 – 4 Missing.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Having failed to score for two consecutive Premier League games, Zlatan Ibrahimovic is being sold in droves. At the time of writing, with Gameweek 6 not even complete, more than 100,000 Fantasy Premier League managers have shipped him out. That comes on top of more than 180,000 net transfers out last week.

The Manchester United striker’s price has dropped from a high of 11.9m to 11.6m with a return to his 11.5m season starting price not far away. Once Ibrahimovic hits that, the price drops should slow as further price changes will require a percentage of his ownership – and his ownership is vast. More than two million FPL managers still have the Swede in their teams.

Given his price and the strong performances of other premium priced players, like Sergio Agüero and Alexis Sánchez,  it is understandable that Ibrahimovic is being sold to fund other moves. But could those sellers regret their decisions?
Zlatan Ibrahimovic GW1-6 2016-17For those new to my statistical dashboard, I separate out penalty kicks (PK) because they have a much higher conversion rate than goals from open play. The other note about the numbers is Ibrahimovic is not credited here with the assist against Watford that the FPL gave him.

Even without the assist, Zlatan’s numbers are healthy. His percentage of shots taken in the box and on target are both a touch low but basically close to where we might expect them. His conversion rates are also at sustainable levels.

Where the former Paris Saint-Garmain star really shines is in his shot volume, prior to the Gameweek 6 matches being played (when he added another five shots, including four in the box and two on target) Ibrahimovic had taken more shots than any other player.

There is a lot to like in Ibrahimovic’s statistics: a high volume of shots, well-proportioned in terms of location and accuracy, sustainable conversion rates and penalties.

With Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal making up half of Manchester United’s next six fixtures, the Red Devil’s upcoming schedule isn’t easy but it is balanced by games against Stoke City, Burnley and Swansea City in the same period. Based on his performances so far, it is possible that Ibrahimovic will punish his sellers in the weeks to come.