Season Review So Far: Part 1 

 

By Jason McKenna

As it has been the International Break and the Premier League fixtures have been stretched over a two week period I did what any sane person would do. I used the extra time to immerse myself in the data of the Premier League to try and make some sense of all that has happened so far! So this is the first article in a 5 part series looking into each team and highlighting players that could be good for the rest of the season. All the way at the bottom of this article are the answers to the Community Questions too! 

I would start off though by saying many of the “surprises”that have been thrown up this season have not been too surprising at all. Manchester United and Arsenal have been poor; the data suggested that they over performed in 2018/29. It is why I have been so anti both those teams on the podcast, even though I support the Gunners. On the other side of North London Tottenham had a lot of problems and were lucky to make top 4 last season, the Champions League helped paper over many cracks. They seemingly made some shrewd signings in the summer with Ndombele being a data darling and Lo Celso being a potential creative replacement for Eriksen. But there were a lot of problems that were not remedied and the psychology of a squad made up with a number of unwanted players had the catastrophic effect we have seen play out so far. The team needs a significant rebuild before Spurs can be considered a force again. Watford and West Ham were woeful in the season gone by so their results this season were to be expected. One of those teams though has made a shrewd managerial signing and the other seems to still be mismanaged. A miracle has been supplied to the Vicarage, the prayers were answered with Pearson but we shall see if he can deliver them from damnation. On top of this some doubted Wolves, they were coated as possible “one season wonders”, but they have continued their consistency in the Premier League after being a top 6 data side last year. Jiminez has been criminally under looked at but Traore’s emergence has shocked us all as much as his admission that he doesn’t lift weights. However I would say the two biggest surprises have been how good Sheffield United have been and also how poor Manchester City have performed. The latter one I still cannot quite get my head around.

I will try and address trends, players and teams who will be good to jump on into the final months of the season. I will work through the teams as they appear in the League table just to make it easier to manage and not show any bias. Also there is a lot to unpick into my reasoning behind why I think things will happen so this is a long read.

As always with FPL these are just my feelings using my own methodology. Take the advice as you please but football is an unpredictable game. People don’t like to admit it there is a lot of luck in the game and this explains why many times this season logic has not prevailed.  Like I said at the start its a slow time of the season due to the Winter break so I am keeping myself occupied by writing something to keep you occupied! Hunker down for a long one.

 

 

Liverpool:- 1st 76 Points

So we start off with the runaway title leaders who are breaking records left, right and centre. In terms of xG and data Liverpool have had a good season but the numbers don’t align with their 25 point lead. In terms of xPoints for 2019/20 the side should actually be looking at a more close title battle, indeed they should be second with 52 points according to Understat. However psychology along with mental and physical fitness play a big part into why Liverpool are performing so well. These effects cannot be underestimated. Liverpool’s 2019/20 season has already been filled with silverware and the the lifting of the Champions League trophy in 2019 started off this new positive trend. They didn’t end 2018/19 as the team that almost won, they lifted the most coveted trophy in Europe so mentally they were not a “second placed” side which can disrupt the mind frame of nearly winners in the past. The Liverpool side are still to reach the peak of their Sigmoid curve, whereas I feel Manchester City peaked theirs in 2018/19. But I will delve more into this when analysing the Sky Blues.  

I think Liverpool will continue an amazing run towards the end of the season and will undoubtedly lift the title this year. Whether they do it unbeaten remains to be seen, if I had to guess though I say that they will. Even though the data is not 100% behind this amazing feat the psychology is. Also I feel Liverpool now have hit their stride, they can play more freely knowing how secure their championship is and I expect to see more goals from their front line. Over the course of the season the side has had the second best attack, only behind Manchester City. 

Team Big Chances Created Goals Shots Shots On Target xG Expected Goals xG Non Penalty Shots – Inside Box
MCI 72 65 497 171 62.38 57.65 340
LIV 66 60 389 154 49.47 45.53 281

Liverpool’s Attacking Data all season (Data Source: FFScout)

Analysing the table for the games that Liverpool and Manchester City have played so far this season the Reds have been outscored in every metric. Probably the most pronounced difference is the xG data. Liverpool have vastly outscored their expected 49 goals of the season and are only behind Manchester City by 5 actual goals this season. Logic would say to expect a downturn but I would argue that Liverpool’s goal output will remain high, if not even slightly improve. Most of the time one would expect xG and goal output to converge in the long run, unless the individual or team being examined is of a very elite level. There is a “Messi” leeway given to the Argentines data set as he can consistently perform over expected goal models by 20%.  However I think that Liverpool will not outperform, I think their general output will increase because of the data I can cite in table 2 seen below.

Team Big Chances Created Goals Shots Shots On Target xG Expected Goals xG Non Penalty Shots – Inside Box
LIV 15 13 90 38 13 12.21 66
EVE 15 11 75 32 11.29 11.29 53

Liverpool’s Attacking Data in the last 6 Gameweeks (Data Source: FFScout)

What we can see from Liverpool in the last 6 game weeks is that the team have stepped up a gear. They are now peppering teams with high quality chances with the most shots in the box, most Big Chances Created and most notably their xG and goals have aligned. The Reds may have been a little “lucky” earlier in the season, but title winning sides are and the psychological element has played a key role in making goals that were unlikely to go in find the back of the net. So the data has converged with Liverpool, but it has converged on a higher output as the team are producing more. 

Also in terms of defence over the course of the season we have seen them make sloppy mistakes in the earlier games whereas in the last 6 matches we have seen 5 clean sheets, 1 goal conceded and the team look more steely. But analysing the data included in the table for the season Liverpool’s defence has been the best in the league. The side have once again exceeded expectations over the course of the 25 games as there is a notable 8 goal difference in terms of xG Con and actual goals conceded but this again can be reasoned with the abilities of Alisson. In 2018/19 the Brazilian shot stopper was behind only Lloris and Fabianski for xG prevented where he stopped the opponents from scoring 5.5 goals. In his final season at Roma Alisson allowed 25 non-penalty or own goals past him compared to an expectation of around 30 for an average Serie A keeper faced with these attempts. (Source )

Team Clean Sheets
Goal Attempts Conceded
Goal Attempts In Box Conceded
Headed Goal Attempts Conceded
Goals Conceded
Big Chances Conceded
Attempts From Set Plays Conceded
xG Conceded
LIV 11 243 148 39 15 35 57 23.00
BUR 9 349 200 46 38 41 83 34.53
SHU 9 300 177 45 24 49 86 33.70
WAT 8 333 217 54 40 56 86 41.00
LEI 8 261 171 48 26 41 66 30.69
MCI 8 186 134 38 29 40 53 25.50

Liverpool’s Defensive Data all season  (Data Source: FFScout)Data Source: FFScout

Looking at their data for the last 6 weeks though and I would argue that the data shows that the essential Liverpool treble up should be with 2 attackers one defender for the rest of the season. Over the next 6 gameweeks their opponents should not worry them too much and Liverpool will undoubtedly keep clean sheets, but the data shows that they are now the most potent attack. Also the heroics of Alisson coupled with the team’s buoyant mood can only go so far. It seems sensible to invest in the assets who are most likely to get the highest point hauls and one has to look at Salah, Firmino and Mane for that. Indeed Manchester City have been the best team in terms of defence over the last 6 gameweeks and have kept only 1 clean sheet. Liverpool have let in more big chances more shots in the box and overall sit around 4/5th in terms of defensive data over the last 6. In terms of the eye test Liverpool are playing in a way that is limiting high quality chances of there opponents, which is something that a double Liverpool defence owner can be more secure about. At times they press, but then the team seamlessly transition into a low block to stop the chances from getting too close to goal. But my considered opinion is that in defence we may see a convergence to the xG as the chances that have not been going in so far may do so now. Invest in Liverpool’s attack. 

Team
Clean Sheets
Goal Attempts Conceded
Goal Attempts In Box Conceded
Headed Goal Attempts Conceded
Goals Conceded
Big Chances Conceded
Attempts From Set Plays Conceded
xG Conceded
MCI 1 26 25 8 6 5 10 3.64
WOL 1 54 32 10 7 6 13 4.12
MUN 2 54 38 9 6 8 18 5.58
LIV 5 60 39 11 1 9 14 6.44

Liverpool’s Defensive Data in the last 6 Gameweeks (Data Source: FFScout)

 

 

 

Manchester City:- 2nd 51 Points

As stated with the analysis of Liverpool, Manchester City have statistically been the best team in attack and best team in terms of xPoints for the season. But football does not always comply to what would seem to be a certain output. I would like to build upon a point I made in last weeks podcast and also in the point about Liverpool. Psychology seems to be the problem at Manchester City. 

Guardiola seems to have a  3rd/4th season problem that reared its head at Barcelona, less so at Bayern but has now seemed to have returned at Manchester City. It is all to do with the mental and psychical demands of the Pep style. Liverpool have won the luck game but also mentally on the field. The Reds have been the kings of marginal gains and set pieces to push them further but the mindset of the team has been perfect. Contrast this with Manchester City who are a team that look drained. Some of their key players are old (Fernandinho, Aguero and Silva), plus the loss of Kompany has had a huge effect on the dressing room. But what is also the problem is the style of play.  The system Guardiola brings to clubs requires such mental and physical dedication that teams go through cycles and would have to be rejuvenated periodically to keep output high. At the end of his Barcelona tenure Guardiola was unfortunate as the club got a new President who didn’t agree with the Pep ideology and wanted to sign superstars. Bayern Munich are not a spending club and so were probably reluctant to financially back a Pep revolution 2.0 in the squad. Maybe he will have his chance to create a second squad with Manchester City, although with the news of the European competition ban this now seems unlikely too. In the Amazon Prime documentary “Take the Ball, Pass the Ball” the players talk of their love of Guardiola but also that in the 4th season there was tension as Pep was always wanting perfection and never letting up. The team psychically and mentally could not keep it up. After two seasons of record breaking football this may be what has happened at the Sky Blues and summer 2020 may see some big signings come in to help rejuvenate the squad. This all comes back to the Sigmoid Curve explanation.  It is not a criticism of Guardiola, all teams need to go through overhauls to keep up standards. Ferguson was the master at this in his ability to work on areas of the squad and find the right players to enter or exit the team at the right times.

Image result for sigmoid curve

If we look at the graph Manchester City have hit the peak of Curve 1 and are slightly tailing off.  They need to enter the “transition” phase of the Sigmoid Curve to get onto Curve 2 to begin the “rapid growth” phase again. This is a point of view that was discussed with Gary Bloom, the Premier League’s only physiotherapist, when he came onto the podcast. The Manchester City team at the time were in the ascendancy but the warned that all great teams have to be able to combat this curve to stay at the top. 

So I think at the moment to analyse the data is a little hard as it must be contextualised with the fact that they are probably in the transition phase of the club. Their focus will also be on winning the trophies they are still in. This means that the Champions League will probably become priority and players will have a higher risk of rotation. Their next run of 6 fixtures is the 4th hardest in the league and their previous label as a team who transcended difficulty of opponent is somewhat diminished. Kevin De Bruyne seems the most sensible player to own in the side but others like Aguero are far too likely to be rotated. 

 

 

 

Leicester City:- 3rd 50 Points

Going into 2019/20 season I was certain that Leicester were going to break into the top 6, which is why I started the season with Perez and Vardy in my side. As the first games were played it was clear that the Foxes were improved but not the finished article and so Vardy left my team until the good run of fixtures came around. This has generally been the story of Leicester’s season: they are good at beating those below them but when facing similar quality teams the side suffers. 

Due to their fantastic run the Foxes made it to second place in the Premier League table and some even dared to dream that the heroics of the title charge could be repeated. But then the bad run of results started in GW18 with their first “test” of the season against top opposition. And they failed. The side lost to Manchester City, Liverpool and Southampton in the space of 6 gameweeks. Since then they have picked up points against Burnley and West Ham but have not hit their early season highs with data output. 

Team Big Chances Created Goals Shots Shots On Target xG Expected Goals xG Non Penalty Shots – Inside Box
MCI 19 18 146 53 18.82 15.67 97
LIV 21 18 115 47 17.50 15.92 85
WAT 13 15 102 27 13.49 11.12 72
EVE 18 14 127 46 16.39 16.39 84
LEI 16 14 94 45 13.89 11.53 61

Leicester Attacking Data Since GW17 (Data Source: FFScout)

Since their GW18 fixture against Manchester City the teams attacking and defensive data has been fine, but not brilliant like it once was. Their total goals scored has been 5th best in the league, their Big Chances created is 5th and also their xG is 4th. But the worrying change in data comes mainly from xG. In the course of the season Leicester are 3rd for total goals but this has been buoyed by their GW 1-17 run. The side exceeded xG’s goals scored in the first 17 games by 10 goals and the story of Vardy’s conversion rate is well known that it was unsustainably high. What we have seen here is Leicester go back to a normal rate of output, but unlike Liverpool the side have not increased shots or quality to converge with their goals scored the side have just regressed back to what it should be. The side is still top 4 and should be considered in the coming gameweeks with their upcoming fixtures.

Shifting focus onto the Leicester backline and Brendan Rodgers has done a lot this season to challenge the traditional narrative that he is just an attacking manager. The Leicester squad is full of talent but this is the same side that Claude Puel managed to play turgid football with so Rodgers has earned his plaudits. Indeed Rodgers started 2019/20 very defensively, which is again why the side were not brilliant from the get go. But then Rodgers introduced new width to the side with Harvey Barnes and Perez being deployed as wingers which helped the side move from just a defensive force into a whole rounded attacking unit. However the side continued to produce good defensive performances. 

Team
Clean Sheets
Goal Attempts Conceded
Goal Attempts In Box Conceded
Headed Goal Attempts Conceded
Goals Conceded
Big Chances Conceded
Attempts From Set Plays Conceded
xG Conceded
LIV 11 243 148 39 15 35 57 23.00
SHU 9 300 177 45 24 49 86 33.70
LEI 8 261 171 48 26 41 66 30.69

Leicester Defensive Data All Season (Data Source: FFScout)

In the table above Leicester have conceded the 3rd least goals for the season and are slightly outperforming xG for the season. A big factor in this, tactics aside, is there seems to be some improvement from Kasper Schmeichel. In 2018/19 and 2017/18 Schmeichel was extremely error prone which led to back to back seasons where he let in 7.4 expected goals more than he should have. This season he has actually prevented 2.4 goals. Even with the fixture swing Schmeichel has continued to prevent goals rather than contribute but I would offer a warning that his historical data proves he is prone to mistakes. So far this season Leicester have allowed 9 errors leading to chances and have only allowed one goal from this. In 2018/19 the side were top for errors leading to chances with 21 and 4 goals came from these, the season before they were midtable with 14 errors and 5 leading to goals. In the past 2 seasons Leicester have always under performed against their xG which is usually a goalkeeping problem, I therefore believe we will see more mistakes in the backline and less assured clean sheets. 

Team
Clean Sheets
Goal Attempts Conceded
Goal Attempts In Box Conceded
Headed Goal Attempts Conceded
Goals Conceded
Big Chances Conceded
Attempts From Set Plays Conceded
xG Conceded
AVL 1 136 94 21 19 32 41 18.69
NEW 3 148 82 26 13 27 46 18.57
WHU 2 115 80 20 15 28 27 17.51
LEI 1 105 76 21 16 20 29 15.46

Leicester Defensive Data Since GW17 (Data Source: FFScout)

If we examine the data above we can see that once again the decline in Leicester output has been met with a convergence in the expected data. Since GW17 the side have had the 3rd worst data defensively and have conceded the 2nd most goals in that period with 16. On top of this, since GW17, the side has allowed the second most defensive errors leading to a chance with 7. This is in direct comparison with the first 16 gameweeks where they allowed the 5th least and in total had 2 errors. This near four fold increase could be explained with the difficult period for them where they played the top 2 and a very in form Southampton plus the side were missing the incredibly important Ndidi during this time. He was still absent in the game against Wolves in gameweek 26 and his time away from the team could be a huge contributing factor to the downturn in data. His importance to their play style cannot be overstated.  

To summarise the sides quality at the back is there and they will produce some clean sheets, especially in the upcoming great run of fixtures from GW28 onward, but the heroics of continual clean sheets from earlier in the season cannot be depended upon.

 

In terms of individual players to invest in I think that Soyuncu is a firm hold for the season. Even at his slightly inflated price of 5.0 he is still a great way into a strong Leicester defence. However  Chilwell and Pereira do not justify their investment as their output is not guaranteed. With defensive players the first reason for investment is clean sheets, anything on top of that is then a bonus that has to be weighed up against their premium price. Chilwell and Pereira have the same chance as Soyuncu for a clean sheet but the attacking output of the two full backs of Leicester is not high or certain like Trent Alexander Arnold or Andrew Robertson. 

Pereira has scored 3 goals this season, but that is from an xG of 1.06 and 8 shots inside the box in total. Over the course of the season he has created 3 big chances and 22 chances overall, similar attacking data to Rico from Bournemouth or Targett from Aston Villa. It’s not terribly impressive for a 6.3 valued player. Chilwell is the same. He has more big chances created with 5 and 25 chances created, plus he is much cheaper at 5.6 but he too has over performed and scored 2 goals from limited chances. These are defenders who do create chances but don’t shoot often and do not have enough of an attacking threat to invest in them over other cheaper defenders who will get just as consistent output. 

The strategy I would suggest that with Leicester is having two attackers and 1 defender. The side have the 3rd best run over the next 7 matches and the team will probably finish 3rd in the table. There is a genuine debate over Perez or Harvey Barnes as both have similar prices and output over the course of the last 6 matches. The goal threat and attacking numbers will increase as the games get easier for Leicester but in the last few matches both of these players have been the best looking players in a rather poor Leicester run. Perez has been more creative with 9 chances created, with 3 Big Chances whereas Barnes has 8 chances created but none big. Barnes and Perez are neck and neck for shots in the box, both 8, very similar xG and the same amount of goals scored in the last 6 with 3.  My leaning is towards Barnes based on the eye test that he seems to be more often in the middle of the park than Perez, but both would be good picks for low prices. 

Name
Team
Cost
Goals
Shots
Shots – Individual Efforts
Shots – Inside Box
Shots Off Target
Shots On Target
xG Expected Goals
Barnes (Harvey)
LEI
6
3
11
4
9
2
6
2.29
Ayoze Pérez
LEI
6.2
3
10
3
9
1
6
2.55
Maddison
LEI
7.5
1
12
7
3
2
4
0.64

Leicester Midfielder Data in the last 6 gameweeks (Data Source: FFScout)

James Maddison is another player attracting a lot of attention at 7.5. This puts him at around 1.5 more than both of the aforementioned other good Leicester midfielder picks but Maddison is still on set pieces and also he has the most chances created in the last 6 of any player, but only 2 were big so they were not of the highest quality. Leicesters no. 10 is mainly a creator and his goals either come from set pieces or long shots, this is shown with his low shots in the box and xG over the last 6. He is the Leicester midfielder with the most points this season, but is only 5 ahead of Perez’s season total and his Spanish counterpart has played 600 less minutes through 2019/20. 

Name Team Cost Big Chances Created Chances Created Minutes Per Chances Created
Maddison LEI 7.5 2 20 26
Ayoze Pérez LEI 6.2 3 9 53
Barnes (Harvey) LEI 6 0 8 51

Leicester Midfielder Data in the last 6 gameweeks (Data Source: FFScout)

Going into the games against Norwich, Aston Villa and beyond into the late stages of the season Vardy looks a very enticing option. I believe that GW28 will be the turning point where Leicester play a weak Norwich defence and can get their confidence again going forward. It will be tough not to own Vardy, his 6.6 points per game is third in total only trailing De Bruyne and Mo Salah in 2019/20. He may become essential again and the fact that he has been sold by 1,000,000 players since GW24 means he could haunt those who are slow to get him back in.   

 

 

Image result for chelsea fc

Chelsea:- 4th 41 Points

6 points out of a possible 15 in their last 5, no clean sheet since playing Burnley in GW22 and Abraham’s goals have dried up. The side seem to have hit a brick wall. This is after a fairly strong start to the season where, at points, Chelsea were posting some strong data. Chelsea sit in fourth place but the season has come to a stall. Their position in the table is largely due to other big boys of Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester United being so poor. Darlings Abraham and Mount are no longer doing the business, plus the side faces a very mixed fixture list ahead with 3 of last season’s top 6 to play, albeit all of the matches are at home. 

The strange thing is that from GW21, where the poor run of form started with a 1-1 draw with Brighton, the data has not been poor. Just a bit more mixed than it was in the first 20 gameweeks. 

Team Big Chances Created Goals Shots Shots On Target xG Expected Goals xG Non Penalty Shots – Inside Box
CHE (GW1-20) 41 (4th) 35 (5th) 328 (2nd) 115 (4th) 35.43 (3rd) 33.86 (2nd) 216 (2nd)
CHE (GW21-25) 9 (7th) 8 (7th) 79 (3rd) 26 (5th) 9.94 (4th) 8.36 (5th) 54 (3rd)

Looking at the table above in comparison to others in the league Chelsea’s output went from being top 2nd or 3rd into around 4th or 5th. The big indicator of decline though is the xG per 90 data. Chelsea have had a huge fall of over half a goal per game as their season starting 1.76 xG per game is now 1.13 xG per game. A big contribution to this fall in the expected goals is the reduction in the quality of chances being laid on for the attackers. Big chances created has gone from the 4th best in the division to the 7th best. Abraham has 1 goal and 1 assist since GW 22; his individual data is worrying. He has 2nd most big chances missed since GW19, a 1.06 under performance on his xG and only 6 of his 17 shots in the box were on target. 

Team
Clean Sheets
Goal Attempts Conceded
Goal Attempts In Box Conceded
Goals Conceded
Big Chances Conceded
Attempts From Set Plays Conceded
xG Conceded
CHE (GW1-19) 4 (11th) 168 (2nd) 114 (3rd) 27 (10th) 32 (8th) 52 (4th) 20.6 (3rd)
CHE (GW20-25) 1 (12th) 53 (3rd) 34 (2nd) 7 (8th) 10 (6th) 24 (17th) 4.99 (2nd)

Their defensive data has been pretty consistent too. Arguably their pressing game has improved after more work on it with Lampard as the PPDA data has increased from 9.62 to 7.31. The standout stories from comparing the first run of the season with the recent poor one is the continued under performance on xG conceded, which should not be happening for an elite defence, and the increase in chances conceded from set pieces. 

Dead ball situations seem to be causing Chelsea a lot more concern now. Their aerial data in most areas has remained consistent apart from the huge increase in attempts being conceded from set plays. The team seems to be lacking in concentration or discipline recently. They have gone from relatively tight at 4th best form of Attempts From Set Plays Conceded to 17th in the league and allowing opponents to have more chances at goal from these situations. Over a third of their chances conceded from set pieces have come in the last 5 games. This is a severe downturn.

Team Aerial Duels Lost Aerial Duels Won Attempts From Set Plays Conceded Headed Goal Attempts Conceded
CHE (GW1-19) 333 (10th) 362 (10th) 52 (4th) 32 (5th)
CHE (GW20-25) 116 (7th) 105 (6th) 24 (17th) 11 (8th)

The consistent underperformance in expected goals this season conceded has to be pointed towards one person in particular though. Kepa Arrizibilaga. He has had a woeful season. Some of his data is not just the worst in the Premier League, it’s amongst the worst in Europe. The save percentage of Kepa made headlines in January as it was just 55.4%. This ranked 127th Out of 132 keepers from Europe’s top seven leagues. The most damning of all the data though is the xG prevented is rock bottom of the season, he eclipses that of even Angus Gunn, bur has yet to match Bergovic levels of 2018/19 where the Belgian let in 11.7 goals more than he should have. 

Name
Team
Cost
Goals Conceded
Saves
Saves (Shots Inside Box)
Saves (Shots Outside Box)
xG On Target Conceded
xG Prevented
Kepa CHE 5.5 32 41 26 14 23.4 -8.6

So in terms of Chelsea and their assets. A definite avoid for the next 6 gameweeks and beyond until their data picks up. The side is still young and inexperienced so a lack of form may also be part of a maturing phase of the team. The side are just about top 4 but there are other teams in the league on a greater run of form with more appealing assets. Until the data points to more promising things at the Bridge Chelsea are not a team to invest in. 

 

To finish the first part of this series of explanatory articles I will attempt to give you the best possible advice and answers to your questions. We always want to help you all out as much as possible, it is why the GMSPodcast is a community. If you have more questions or want to get involved in discussions with us the best place to get in touch is through our twitter! Click on the link and give us a follow. 

 

LebronsHairline: The benefit of taking hits vs waiting it out with a seemingly worse player. Diving in depth could be really interesting to see if there’s an overall correlation between transfers made and how well you do.

This is quite a nuanced question as it is all about context. The general rule is the less hits you do the better you perform in the season. There is a direct correlation as the more hits you take the more points you have to make up to catch those around you. That being said a carefully calculated approach, a “mini-wildcard” or a shrewd double or triple move in a gameweek could see you rise in the rankings.

Initially you have to ask what kind of player you are? Are you adverse to risk, do you like to take punts and be ahead of the curve or do you like to find a template and only make a few move here or there. Your play style and your ability to weigh up risks is important when seeing if you should get rid of the “seemingly worse player”.

When making the actual transfer it is about the projected cost to your side and projected value in terms of points accrued. If you feel that a player is going to perform higher than the 4 point cost and whatever your previous player will score over the coming weeks then it will be a success. But this is football and there are no certainties. Also players, on average, earn 4-5 points per match. This season’s top points per match player is Mo Salah with  7.3 points per match, KDB is next with 6.7 and Vardy is third with 6.6. Taking these averages into account your player is unlikely to break even or be an improvement in the first few weeks to the player that has been removed unless your previous option is getting 0 points. It’s a tough decision and the long term points haul has to be the deciding factor.

There is also a danger that you end up chasing points, especially if the first hit wasn’t or was a success. Both event outcomes could make you want to take another hit to either counteract the problem player who was not as good as you thought or you may believe you can ride the wave of another good gameweek for a different player and jump to that. Short termism should not come into your thinking in FPL, especially with point hits.

I would say my final advice is don’t take a hit for a punt, only take a hit for someone who is going to start each week for your team and take your time in decisions.

 

 

Soccerbozbozboz: Is it possible to do something relating to the amount of budget you spend vs. points scored? Not sure I’m explaining it well, but do you think it’s possible to do very well in the game while say spending 90% of your budget at any given time, or that it may even be better.

I’m not convinced spending 100% of your budget should be a priority, or consideration.

I think the general consensus of transfer spending amongst the “experts” and “elites” is to use all your money (I am in no way saying I am in this category). Like with the above question from  LebronsHairline it depends on your play style, you can do well in FPL spending 100% of your money, you could also do badly. There are many ways to be successful. 

Having money saved does allow you maneuverability, but at the same time you have done yourself out of a player you may desire for a situation that may never arise. I would personally advise you to buy who you want within budget and then if the transfer has not worked out move from there. I feel it is unhelpful to put a hindrance on your team for a “differential” or better player who might not come along and you also get priced out of the player you really wanted. 

Also in FPL the 100m value of the squad is deceptive. The base value of the team, if you were to buy all the cheapest players, would be around 69m. Thus, realistically, you have only 31m to play with, although with price rises as the game goes on you may have an extra bit to play with. But again any price rises on a player are only experienced every 0.2m value rise of a player. So someone like Lundstram may have gone up 1m in value but you would only have an extra 0.5m to play with. So leaving money in your bank is limiting a budget that is hard to grow. I would always say buy the best players and never plan transfers as all manner of things may happen when you want to buy in the planned player. But other tactics work, its just not one I feel comfortable with. 

 

Idoless4: I suppose the strategy to navigate the upcoming blanks would make an interesting topic but there is so much possible variation in what games will be cancelled makes it very difficult!

There is still limited information about the exact teams who will be playing in the blanks and double gameweeks which makes decisions hard and speculative at the moment. I can offer you where to source your information though. I will point you to the expert on all things fixtures: Ben Crellin. He has a great thread on twitter and explains things easily but his advise that the popular set up for blanks and doubles will be: 

 

  • Free Hit in Blank GW31

 

 

  • Wildcard in GW36

 

 

  • Bench Boost in DGW37

 

 

  • Triple Captain in a smaller DGW

 

I am a player fairly averse to risk and also see this as quite a sensible plan to combat the “Blank GW28 (EFL Cup Final), Blank GW31 (FA Cup QFs), Blank and Double GW34 (FA Cup SFs) and Double GW37” as Ben plans. 

As I said though please follow Ben as he is the best person to offer insights into navigating these tricky scheduling conundrums into the end of the season and I take no credit for answering this question, it is all from his twitter. 

 

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