Fantasy Football Tips Gameweek 4
Welcome to Fantasy Football Tips Gameweek 4. Since GW3 we’ve had to deal with Deadline Day and the first international break of the season. As much as we moan about international football it doesn’t come anywhere close to Deadline Day in the tedium stakes. I’ll refrain from a Guy type rant on the subject of Deadline Day, suffice to say it’s an awful waste of time. In terms of the overall transfer window it would appear to have been a success for United while all the other sides with title aspirations are likely to be somewhat disappointed. That’s enough about the transfer window we’re here to discuss FPL. Has the two week break proved to be a success for you? This week I’ve decided to take a look at FPL’s most popular players and whether or not they deserve their popularity. Should we hold onto them, sell them or buy them.
It wasn’t a surprise when David de Gea (34.3%) started the season as FPL’s most popular keeper and given the start that United have had it’s no surprise that he remains the most popular keeper. It was widely acknowledged that United had some great fixtures to start the season but I’ve been surprised at just how comfortable they’ve looked in these matches. As a result this has meant de Gea has had relatively little to do and has had to make just six saves to date. Only five keepers have had to make fewer saves and it should be noted that each of these keepers have conceded at least once whereas the Spaniard has claimed three clean sheets. It’s also worth highlighting that to date United have given up just 14 attempts inside the area, a figure only bettered by City.
If you currently own de Gea I’d strongly advise you hold onto him. If you’re on a WC or simply looking to change your keeper I believe he’s worth some serious consideration. United’s fixtures remain attractive for a number of weeks and to be honest given the way that Jose has them playing even the best teams will struggle to score against them. The only fly in the ointment here is Phil Jones. Currently priced at £5.1m Jones is £0.4 cheaper than de Gea and currently sits on the same amounts of points. Is Jones guaranteed to start every game? Probably not, who is these days, but he has played well in the first three games and Jose will be reluctant to make changes to his defence anytime soon.
There was only one reason why Rob Elliot (19.7%) was so popular in FPL circles ahead of GW1 and that was his £4.0m price tag, that and the fact that he was likely to start. He did start GW1 and each subsequent game and this has seen his ownership levels gradually increase. Defensively the Geordies have been relatively sound over the opening three game-weeks. After conceding three goals in their opening two games against Spurs and Huddersfield they kept their first clean sheet last weekend against West Ham. Having made nine saves Elliot has been reasonably busy but Newcastle’s defensive stats are not too bad. They’ve given up just 16 shots from inside their area and have made just one defensive error.
Rafa Benitez failed to bring in a new keeper during the window which is excellent news for all FPL managers. If you’re currently on a WC I see no good reason why you wouldn’t bring in Elliot. For those of you who choose someone like de Gea to play every week picking Elliot is a no brainer. For those of you looking to save money picking Elliot to rotate with a £4.5m keeper seems like a pretty good idea. He rotates reasonably well with Lukasz Fabianski and Ben Foster both of whom have had solid starts to the season. Naturally, if you already own Elliot you’ll be hanging onto him.
Prior to GW1 much was made of West Brom’s early season fixtures and as a result Ben Foster (17.8%) proved to be quite popular. At the same time many were hesitant due to the fact that West Brom kept just six clean sheets last season. Back to back clean sheets in the opening game-weeks has meant that those who invested in him at the beginning have been rewarded. It would have been three on the spin only for a terrible mix up between Foster and Hegazi. Foster has had to make just two saves over the first three games which suggests his defenders are doing their jobs, although it’s worth noting that the Baggies have conceded 24 attempts from inside their area.
Should you currently own Foster there is no good reason for you to consider selling him. If you don’t own him and you are mulling over changing your keepers he’s certainly worth considering. However on the evidence of the opening three game-weeks there are at least three or four keepers priced at £4.5m who will vie for our attentions over the course of the season.
Those that took a chance on Ahmed Hegazi (27.4%) ahead of GW1 have been well and truly rewarded. The only reason he was picked by so many was due to the fact that he was priced at £4.5m. Very few of us knew anything about him but the Baggies had decent fixtures and there was a decent chance he would start. So fair play to those who picked him. After the opening three game-weeks he’s the 2nd highest scoring defender thanks to a goal, two clean sheets and five bonus points. His attacking stats are nothing to get overly excited by. He’s had just four touches in the opposition penalty and while these resulted in three shots on target it’s worth nothing that these all came in the opening game of the season. His defensive stats are a little better, he’s made 15 successful clearances a figure only bettered by two defenders.
Granted he’s not going to average 8.33pts over the course of the season and that average is going to continue to fall over the coming weeks. I
wouldn’t let this put you off though. Of course his excellent start to the season has seen his price rise to £4.8m but he still remains the cheapest West Brom defender and their fixtures remain decent until the end of October. If he’s already in your squad you’ll certainly be holding him for the foreseeable future. If you don’t own him or any other Baggie I’d certainly consider him but it’s worth noting that Ben Foster is now £0.3m cheaper. I should point out at this stage that Jonny Evans is likely to return this weekend, while the goalscoring legend that is Gareth McAuley is nearing a return to the first XI…maybe those currently without the Egyptian would be better off looking elsewhere.
Next on the list is the Chelsea pair of David Luiz (26.3%) and Marcos Alonso (20.3%). I was somewhat surprised to see that Luiz started the season as the games most popular defender. However on reflection I suppose I can see the appeal. He was/is the cheapest route into the defence of the reigning champions who had the 3rd best defence in the league last season, although to counteract that, their opening fixtures always appeared to be challenging. On the other hand, it was no surprise to see Alonso near the top of the popularity charts given how well he performed last season. Chelsea have yet to settle at the back this season and were all over the shop against Burnley on the opening day. This is illustrated by the fact that they’ve conceded 11 attempts from inside their area although none of these are what is described as a ‘big chance’. It must also be said that they have improved with each game.
Both have already been amongst the points with Luiz claiming a goal & an assist, and Alonso registering two goals and three bonus points. When you look at their underlying stats there is no comparison with Alonso light years ahead. Alonso has had 11 penalty box touches which is five more than any other defender while he’s had six goal attempts which is two more than any other defender. If you’re currently on a WC and want a premium defender to build your defence around I’d find the £7.1m and get Alonso. For those of you who already own Luiz I’d suggest you look at the possibility of replacing him with Alonso. The fact that Chelsea failed to bring in any competition for Alonso’s spot is good news as the Spaniard will feature more often than not.
The only reason Angel Rangel (15.8%) featured in so many teams ahead of GW1 was due to the fact that his name was familiar and he was priced at £4.0m. The chances of him starting a game were always going to be slim and as expected he’s spent most of the time warming the bench. He did replace Kyle Naughton with two minutes of the Palace game remaining but I suspect this was nothing more than a time wasting exercise. Aside from the United game Swansea haven’t done too badly this season and Naughton has been one of their best performers meaning Rangel is unlikely to get near the starting XI anytime soon.
For those of you who own Rangel and are currently on a wildcard I would suggest ditching him and replacing him with Newcastle’s Chancel Mbemba. The Geordie is also priced at £4.0m but unlike Rangel he’s currently playing. Admittedly he’s only in the team due to Newcastle having several injuries at the back and reports suggest that both Yedlin and Lejeune are set to return to the squad this weekend so it’s possible that Mbemba is not the answer! The moral of the story here is that £4.0m defenders cannot be relied upon. If you’re not on a wildcard you more than likely have bigger issues than Rangel to deal with so just leave him to rot on your bench. It goes without saying that if you don’t already own the Spaniard you won’t be going anywhere near him.
The article was all but finished when I realised that Eric Bailly (15.7%) had snuck past Ryan Bertrand in the popularity stakes. It was easy to understand why Bailly was popular prior to GW1. Aside from de Gea he was the cheapest guaranteed starter in the United defence and most wanted a piece of said defence. We’ve already highlighted United’s defensive stats above and they are quite impressive, but Bailly’s don’t exactly stand out from the crowd. He’s had just three touches in the opposition area and just one goal attempt. Admittedly he did score from that solitary attempt. His defensive stats don’t stack up either but that’s probably down to the fact that United have had a far greater share of the ball compared to their opposition.
For those of you without United cover I’d suggest you look to Phil Jones rather than Bailly. And to those with Bailly I’d actually consider switching to Jones. Why? He’s £1.0m cheaper. I appreciate that Bailly has already scored this season and as a result has 7pts more than Jones but looking at the stats he doesn’t carry any more of a threat going forward than Jones. Some will argue that Bailly is more nailed on than Jones but given the start United have had it’s Jones’ position to lose.
The consensus at the start of the season was that given Southampton’s early season fixtures one of their defenders was necessary. Thanks to the uncertainty surrounding Cedric ahead of GW1 Ryan Bertrand (15.5%) emerged as the most popular Saints defender. With Southampton claiming two clean sheets from their opening three games Bertrand hasn’t disappointed his owners. However, some of Southampton’s underlying stats are something of a concern. They’ve conceded 28 goal attempts from within their area and have made three errors at the back one of which directly led to a goal.
Bertrand has claimed 15pts from the opening three games thanks to two clean sheets and two bonus points, however he trails Yoshida by 2pts. Looking at the attacking stats of the current back four it’s Cedric and Yoshida who lead the way, both of whom are £0.5m cheaper than Bertrand. Looking at Southampton’s fixtures it appears as though we will want cover over the coming weeks. But who’s the best option. If you currently own Bertrand I’d hold onto him unless you’re trying to free up some cash and in that instance I’d switch to Cedric. Those of you currently on a wildcard I’d again look at Cedric as I’m not yet convinced that Bertrand is worth the extra £0.5m. Despite Yoshi’s impressive stats I’d ignore him for now as he’s expected to lose his place in the coming weeks.
When it comes to the midfielders the ownership stats are quite interesting. The most popular six are made up of pairs from three clubs. To make things easier we will consider each pair together.
The most popular duo is United’s Paul Pogba (36.5%) and Henrik Mkhitaryan (21.5%). In our Tips article ahead of GW1 I omitted both Pogba and Mkhitaryan (Mikhi) as I wanted to see how the arrival of Matic would impact Pogba and I wasn’t convinced that Jose fully trusted Mikhi. How wrong I was. United have hit the ground running and the two of these have been instrumental in that. Now I realise United will face sterner tests in future but to date they have impressed. They lead the way with 10 goals scored while they’re 2nd to Spurs for goal attempts with 60. 20% of their shots have been on target and while this may not seem like a lot only Liverpool have done better.
There’s little to separate Pogba & Mikki with both currently sat on 26pts. Pogba has two goals, two assists and two bonus points while Mikki has five assists and three bonus points. In terms of their underlying stats there’s again little to separate them. Unsurprisingly Mikki has created more big chances than anyone in the league while Pogba is clearly a bigger goal threat and has had 14 penalty box touches compared to Mikki’s six. It is worth noting that Pogba has done most damage late on in games after Fellaini has been introduced allowing the Frenchman to play further forward.
Looking at their returns and stats to date it’s beginning to appear as though one of these two are essential. If you don’t own either and you’ve got space for another United player in your squad I’d get one of them in quickly. If you’ve already got three United players none of whom are Pogba or Mikki I’d seriously consider freeing up a space for them. If you already own one or both then good for you. Obviously Romelu Lukaku needs to be factored into any decision here but there’s an argument to be made here that both Pogba and Mikki are currently outperforming the Belgian.
Before the season begun it was widely assumed that Liverpool’s goals would be shared around just like last season. If the opening three games are anything to go by this assumption will prove to be the case and it appears as though Sadio Mane (29.7%) and Mohammed Salah (27.8%) will certainly be amongst the points. Liverpool are again proving that attack is the best form of defence and as a result it’s no surprise that their attacking stats are as impressive as they are. Only United have scored more goals while only United & Spurs have had more attempts. 28% of their shots have been on target and they’ve converted 14.5% of their chances.
Just as with the United & Spurs duo’s there is currently little to separate Mane & Salah. Salah has 23pts thanks to two goals, two assists and a bonus point while Mane has 22pts as a result of three goals. Mane’s underlying stats are significantly better than Salah’s but that is not to suggest Salah’s are poor, it merely highlights how impressive Mane has been to date. No other midfielder in the league has had as many attempts on goal as Salah (12) has had while no other midfielder can match Mane’s 21 penalty area touches.
If you already own one or even both of these you undoubtedly hold. If you don’t already one of them there is a clear argument to get one of them here. As with both Spurs and United there’s a striker to factor into the equation, namely Firmino. However unlike at Spurs and United the striker, Firmino, is cheaper than the two midfielders. To be honest, given the form of the trio there is a compelling case to be made for owning two of the three.
Next up is last season’s deadly duo, Spurs’ Dele Alli (34.9%) and Christian Eriksen (21.8%). Many of us expected Spurs to struggle early doors and this has proven to be the case. Having won away from home on the opening weekend of the season they have subsequently dropped five points at their new home, Wembley. Now I realise it’s only two games and it’s too early to draw conclusions but it’s worth noting that they only dropped four points at home over the entirety of last season. While scoring has been something of an issue for Spurs creating chances certainly hasn’t as they lead the league in attempts with 64. They’ve managed to get 17% of these shots on target a figure only bettered by Liverpool, United and City. Their problem has obviously been converting these chances with their goal conversion down at 6.3%, only six clubs have done worse.
In terms of Alli and Eriksen it appears as though they’ve picked up from where they left off last season. There’s just three points separating the two with Eriksen leading the way on 22pts. The Dane has three assists and five bonus points compared to Alli’s two goals and two bonus points. Just like last season it appears to be a choice between assists and bonus points versus goals. The situation in Manchester is quite similar. Just like last season the underlying stats once again favour Eriksen. Alli leads the way in terms of penalty area touches but only by a margin of three, while unsurprisingly Eriksen is more involved in Spurs’ general play. As a result, I’d currently slightly favour Eriksen over Alli.
Despite Spurs’ early season struggles I’d certainly advise holding onto Eriksen and/or Alli should you already own them. Should you be considering them if you’re not already an owner? That really depends on your circumstances. If you own Harry Kane I’d be reluctant to double up just yet although the time for a Kane and Alli/Eriksen double up will come. If you don’t own Kane and are looking to move out someone like KDB I’d certainly be considering one of these two.
Finally it’s is City’s Kevin De Bruyne (18.8%). Prior to GW1 it was widely accepted that City cover was necessary. With a certain amount of doubt surrounding Aguero & Jesus as well as some uncertainty as to how Pep would utilise them the baton fell to the ginger Belgian. Unfortunately he’s dropped the baton. Scrap that, I’m not sure if he ever had it to begin with! City have picked up 7pts from their opening three games but have largely failed to impress scoring just five goals. They have however managed 52 goal attempts 29 of which have come from within the penalty area. So creating chances hasn’t been an issue.
At £9.9m KDB is more expensive than the six players discussed above but while they average 7.66pts per game he can manage an average of just 2.66pts. It’s not just his output that lags behind the others his underlying stats do not compare to the others. If we take a look at chances created, penalty area touches and goal attempts we see that he is not in the top three in any of these categories. It’s pretty simple, if you already own him you sell him and if you don’t own him you laugh at those who do! In terms of a replacement you should be considering any of the six players or if you want to maintain some City cover you may want to consider David Silva. For those of you looking for a differential you want to consider another Belgian, Eden Hazard. Hazard has yet to feature for Chelsea this season but started Belgium’s game against Gibraltar on Thursday night and came off the bench against Greece on Sunday night meaning he is likely to make the Chelsea matchday squad this weekend.
With a current ownership of 58.1% Romelu Lukaku is by some margin the most popular player in FPL. Should we be surprised? Not really. The Belgian has averaged 17 goals over the past five seasons whilst playing for Everton and West Brom. No disrespect to either club but he is now playing with some of the best players in the league and that alone was going to boost his popularity. United may have struggled somewhat for goals last season but only three teams registered more attempts on goal so creating chances wasn’t an issue and it was widely assumed that Lukaku would profit from such chances this season. After just three games United lead the way with 10 goals scored while only Spurs can beat their 60 goal attempts.
After the opening three games Lukaku has 19pts thanks to three goals and three bonus points. Perhaps I’m being greedy but could we have expected more from him considering United’s total of 10? He’s had 23 penalty box touches a figure only bettered by Harry Kane, he’s had 14 goal attempts again only bettered by Kane and his six attempts on target is only matched by Kane. At £11.7m he’s not cheap and that price demands that he scores goals on a regular basis and to date he has while his stats are also quite positive. However, with the aforementioned Pogba and Mkhitaryan in such great form and considerably cheaper there is an argument to be made that they offer better United cover. Given his ownership rates it would take a brave man to sell Lukaku so for those of you amongst the 58.3% I’ll advise you to hold. For those of you who don’t already own him I’d suggest you leave it that way and concentrate instead on United’s midfield duo.
You can’t pick Roberto Firmino (28.6%) they said. Why? Because last season he was listed as a midfielder and as a result of his reclassification he is no longer such an attractive proposition. They said! It would appear that those who gambled on the Brazilian ahead of GW1 have been amply rewarded as he’s picked up two goals, two assists and six bonus points. I won’t bother rehashing the Liverpool stats as we’ve already outlined them above.
Unsurprisingly Firmino’s penalty area touches (12) are way down on the likes of Kane & Lukaku. This is to be expected though as he will regularly drop deep to collect the ball allowing others to break forward. He has however managed nine goal attempts, four of which were on target. Again, it’s no surprise to see that he’s created six chances and as the season progresses I expect this figure will become more & more impressive.
If you already own Firmino you are likely to hold onto him for the foreseeable future. For those without the Brazilian currently in your squad bringing him in poses a question or two. At £8.6m he will prove to be an expensive 3rd striker but if he continues to score his price is only going to go one way, so maybe we need to get on board sooner rather than later. Given his current form he could prove a good replacement for Messrs Lukaku & Kane should any of you be looking up to free up some cash. Should you already own one of Mane or Salah do you also want / need Firmino? I see no reason why you wouldn’t.
Next up is West Ham’s Javier Hernandez (29%). There was much excitement in FPL circles when the Mexican was priced at just £7.0m on his return to the Premier League and this excitement has translated into significant levels of ownership. Much of this excitement was due to memories of him scoring for United. However it must be remembered that the quality of players he played with at United is not comparable to the current West Ham squad, or any West Ham squad for that matter. While it should also be remembered that more often than not he was used as an impact sub. He did really have one good season in Germany but that season Leverkusen were playing well and eventually finished 3rd.
West Ham have had what can only be described as a terrible start to the season losing three from three. They’ve scored just three goals, two of which were scored by Hernandez while they’ve managed just 33 attempts. Hernandez himself has had just eight touches in the opposition area and when you consider he does nothing outside of the area you would hope to see him contribute more inside it. However, these eight touches have resulted in seven goal attempts four of which have been on target. He will score goals over the course of the season but due to the form of the team I’m not sure if he’ll score as many as some folk expect. At £7.1m now he’s not cheap but you’re unlikely to find anyone cheaper who will outscore him over the course of the season. If you have him you hold him. If you don’t have him you consider him but I’d suggest trying to find an extra £1.5m to get Firmino.
What were we all thinking picking Harry Kane (28.2%) before the season started?! We all knew he wouldn’t score in the first three game-weeks as they were all to be played in August and Kane doesn’t score in August. Horse manure! We picked him because he has won the PL golden boot for the last two seasons with a total of 54 goals. The reason(s) he didn’t score had nothing to do with the month of August, simply it was a combination of bad luck and poor finishing. The stats prove that Spurs are creating the chances, in fact with 47 chances created they’ve created more than any other team in the league. These chances have led to 17 shots on target a figure only bettered by three teams.
Now I realise stats can at times be misleading and it’s possible to manipulate them to suit your needs but take a look at Kane’s stats and you’ll be left scratching your head wondering how he hasn’t scored. He’s had 26 penalty area touches, three more than any other player. He’s had 24 attempts on goal, 10 more than any other player. He’s had six attempts on target, a figure only matched by Lukaku. He’s also created five chances, a figure bettered by just four forwards who each of six. So what do we do with him? At the time of writing he has been transferred out by just under 124k managers so selling him appears to be a popular strategy. However I believe that if you already own him you hold onto him as the goals are coming. If you’re on a wildcard I’d seriously consider bringing him in. If you’re just using your free transfers I would also consider bringing him in but I wouldn’t go taking hits to do so. Just remember, he hasn’t become a bad player in three games.
Given Everton’s opening five fixtures I was quite surprised to see Wayne Rooney (20.3%) was as popular as he was ahead of GW1. I suspect a large part of that was due to a price tag of just £7.5m and the hope that he could rekindle the form of yesteryear. With two goals and six bonus points he certainly had a better start to his homecoming than I expected. Everton’s stats suggest they have had a tough start to the season like many expected. They’ve created just 19 chances from their opening three games with only three teams creating fewer chances and they’ve only managed the two goals.
Rooney’s individual stats don’t make for any better reading. He’s managed just six penalty area touches and while he’s not exactly leading the line you would hope to see him more active closer to the goal. He’s managed just five goal attempts, three of which were on target, although he has managed to create five chances. Those that don’t already own Rooney just ignore him for now and revisit him ahead of GW6 when Everton’s fixtures turn for the better. Anyone who currently owns him and is on a wildcard I’d ditch him as he’s unlikely to get much in the next two games. Those of you who own him but are not on a wildcard you might as well just ride the next two games out.
Thanks for reading Fantasy Football Tips Gameweek 4
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Gameweek Tracker GW4-11