Thursday, 11 August 2016

6 Differential Hacks from a Top 0.02% Manager


Viktor Fischer (TSB - 1.7%)
At the age of 22, Fischer arrives at Middlesbrough with bags of potential and talent, previously having been scouted by European giants such as Chelsea, Manchester United and Inter Milan. However, a move never materialised and he has spent his entire professional career (four seasons) plying his trade in the Dutch Eredivisie for Ajax.
Fischer comes off the back of only 18 appearances starts for Ajax last season, with 10 of those starts. However, impressively, he still managed to net 8 goals and register 3 assists, with a shot frequency of 1 shot every 29 minutes. His creativity was less impressive however, creating a chance every 62.7 minutes. Fischer’s attacking potential is highlighted in two of his more recent appearances. In an international match against Bulgaria on June 7, Fischer featured prominently, registering 3 assists in a 4-0 win. Additionally, against Aston Villa on July 31, he managed a goal and assist in a 3-1 win. Furthermore, his potential against ‘better’ teams is also evident. In 6 appearances in the Europa League last season, Fischer managed 2 goals and 1 assist. In one match (vs Molde), he managed 1 goal, 7 shots (5 on target, 2 off target & 4 inside box) and 3 chances created. In Ajax’s final group game, he then managed 5 shots and 3 chances created. These performances clearly exhibit Fischer’s capability of both firing shots and created chances for his teammates.
Moreover, Fischer will most likely assume his fair share of dead ball duties; either curling a freekick at goal or whipping in a corner to aerial threats such as Ayala, Espinosa, Negredo and Rhodes. This heightens his appeal.
With Middlesbrough not lacking attacking depth, also having Gaston Ramirez, Stewart Downing, Alvaro Negredo and Jordan Rhodes, uncertainty surrounds Karanka’s starting line up for their first league match against Stoke. Historically, Karanka has favoured a 4-2-3-1 formation, which would see Fischer most likely starting on the left of the attacking midfield trio alongside Ramirez in the centre, Downing on the right and Negredo up front. However, if Karanka opts for Rhodes to partner Negredo up front (as he has recently done at times in preseason), Downing would drop out of the side, with Fischer lining up on the left. Nevertheless, Fischer’s ability to play along all attacking midfield positions as well as at the ‘false 9’ position plus his quality will almost definitely cement his role as a certain starter, no matter what formation.
Overall, it is evident that Fischer has great potential as a genuine FPL option, not just as a cheap 5th midfielder. With a price of only £5.5, his flair and ability to both score and assist will definitely be something to watch out for this Premier League season.


Leighton Baines (TSB – 6.4%)
We all know the quality of Leighton Baines. Over the years, he has proved himself to be one of the most sought after defenders in FPL, rewarding managers with a steady stream of both attacking and defensive returns. Over the past 10 seasons, Baines’ attacking output has definitely been a major factor in the minds of FPL managers, with 28 goals and 55 assists coming over that period. 


Last season, Baines was hampered by injury, only starting 16 of Everton’s 38 league games. In this time however, his creativity is still evident, as he managed 22 shot assists and 2 assists (both coming in the 3-3 draw with Chelsea). That’s a key pass frequency of 1 every 64.5 minutes (quite good for a defender, especially one returning from injury). During last season however, he only managed 9 shots. It is worth noting though that once he has returned to full fitness towards the end of the season, he did managed 2 goals in the final four games. Further to this, Baines’ tendency to get forward and take the attacking option is highlighted by two main distribution stats: (1) Of 61 completed crosses from open play last season, 34 of them came from within 18 yards of the goal (2) 379/621 of his passes were played into the ‘forward’ zone of the field.
Baines’ appeal is heightened by the fact that although being a defender, he is Everton’s first choice penalty taker. In the final match of the season vs Norwich, even though Lukaku and Mirallas (who have both previously taken penalties) were on the field, Baines took it and converted. Although Baines may not take as many corners as he used to with the likes of Barkley, Deulofeu and Mirallas all capable takers, last season he did take 42 in his 16 starts, which was only bettered by Barkley (71), suggesting that he may still feature prominently in this domain. However, although he is a proven free kick taker, with Deulofeu and Mirallas also quality takers themselves and both scoring brilliant free kicks already in pre-season, he may fall down the pecking order.
When fit, Baines is a definite starter. Under Martinez, a 4-2-3-1 was rolled out each week. If Koeman keeps the formation the same (as he used frequently for Southampton over the past few years), Baines will certainly be first choice at left back. However, Koeman is not afraid to alter his tactics, on occasion setting his team up in a 3-5-2. If this is the case, Jagielka and Funes Mori would play alongside Stones (if he stays) or Williams (if he is bought) at centre back. This would see Baines shift to left wing back/left midfield, with Coleman on the opposite side, increasing his appeal.
Although in previous seasons, Everton has had one of the most resilient defences, last season their defence was rather leaky, conceding 55 times. However, Koeman’s Southampton only conceded 41 goals and he is likely to instil this resilience, the same one as Everton defence’s past, back into this Everton backline.
Overall, it is clear that Baines has great potential for both attacking and defensive returns. With an ownership of only 6.4% and a price of £5.5 (down from as much as £8.1 in 2010/11), the acquisition of Baines by FPL mangers will be a smart move, with the prospect of large point hauls achievable.


Isaac Success (TSB – 0.2%)
Before signing for Watford from Granada for a club record fee of £12.5m, Success had been linked with a move to Atletico Madrid, PSG, Valencia and Inter Milan. However, the 20 year old Nigerian opted for a move to Vicarage Road and is hoping for a successful season ahead.
Last season, Success started 28 games for Granada in the La Liga. In these 28 games, he managed to net 6 goals and provide 3 assists. Delving into his underlying stats from last season, Success managed 58 shots on goal in total, with 18 of them on target. He finished to season with an acceptable shot frequency of 1 shot every 41.97 minutes. However, his ability to be provider is a slight let down, with a key pass provided every 86.93 minutes.
As a player, Success is quite well rounded. His most notable strength is his pace and dribbling ability, however, he is also very strong on the ball which is needed to succeed in the Premier League. Last season, the Nigerian flyer attempted 155 take ones. He beat his opponent on 67 occasions with a success rate of 43.23%.
Talking about his potential position, Success started the majority of his games started on right of an attacking midfield trio. He also featured prominently on the left side, cutting in onto his favoured right foot. Success is a versatile player who is comfortable playing in a wide position or central attacking position. The fact that he is Watford’s record signing suggests that he will be a nailed on starter. At Napoli, Mazzarri often utilised the 3-5-2 formation. He has also used this in every preseason match. This formation could result in Success being fielded up front with Ighalo and Deeney being deployed behind the front two. This is the most likely scenario and it bodes well for FPL managers as Success is classified as a midfielder. Mazzarri has also trialled a 3-4-3 in preseason which would see Success fielded on either wing. 4-2-3-1 is also an option, which would again see Success fielded on either wing.   
Despite his promising attacking talents and OOP potential, some FPL managers may be deterred by the ill-discipline of the young and raw 20 year old. Last season, Success committed 51 fouls in total, picking up 10 yellow cards and 1 red card. This may affect the thinking of FPL managers when selecting their team.
Overall, despite his tendency to pick up cards, the probability that Success will be fielded up front despite being classified as a midfielder as well as his attacking talents mean that he may well outperform his price tag of £6.0. Clearly, he has the attributes to be a success in the Premier League (even though some unsuccessful haircuts are expected).


Nathan Ake (TSB – 2.3%)
Ake moves to Bournemouth on the back of a very good season for Watford, being named the club’s Young Player of the Year. However, Chelsea could not foresee a place for Ake in their senior squad for the 2015/16, and opted for another loan deal for the youngster.
Last season, Ake took part in 24 league games for Watford, starting 20 of them. Overall, he finished the season with 1 goal and 1 assist, picking up 7 bonus points.  In terms of attacking output, he registered 16 shots, so almost 1 every match he started. However, only 5 of these were on target. In terms of creativity, he was less impressive, only registering 9 shot assists. Nevertheless, his attempted shot assist statistics were impressive. Out of his 42 crosses completed, 29 of them arrived from within 18 yards of the goal, highlight how he is not afraid to get forward. Furthermore, he had a take on success rate of 69%. Defensively, Ake was very strong last season, winning 67% of his attempted tackles and rarely getting caught out of position. Therefore, for a young and inexperienced player, Ake’s statistics and performances last season suggest that he will develop into a quality player.
In terms of where he will fit into the Bournemouth side, it is unclear at this stage. Although he started 19/20 matches at left back for Watford last season, it is highly unlikely he will play there for Bournemouth with Charlie Daniels, Brad Smith and Tyrone Mings all vying for one spot. With Adam Smith playing well at right back last season, that may force Simon Francis to partner Steve Cook at centre back, a spot in which Ake has played in preseason. This will allow Ake to push into the midfield, which, as described by himself, is his natural position. Although he will face competition from the likes of Surman, Arter and L.Cook, the fact that Chelsea loaned him out again to a lower club for development would almost certainly suggest that he will be a starter. Therefore, despite being classified as a defender, the likelihood that Ake will be deployed in the midfield heightens his appeal.
Overall, the £4.5 priced Nathan Ake’s OOP potential and his ability to balance his defensive game with getting forward into the attack means that he is definitely a viable budget option for the 2016/17 FPL season.


Erik Lamela (TSB – 10.4%)
Over the past few seasons, Erik Lamela has shown glimpses of his potential and talent, but has yet to live up to the £25.8 million transfer fee that Tottenham paid for him. However, last season was promising for the 24 year old, and this season he is hoping to take a step up and develop into a world class player.
Lamela made 34 appearances for Tottenham last season, starting 28 of those matches. In those matches, he managed 5 goals and 9 assists. In total over the Premier League season, he managed 58 shots, with 20 on target and an impressive shot frequency of 1 shot every 41.12 minutes. In terms of creativity, he was even more impressive, with a chance created every 31.80 minutes. However, it was in the Europa League where Lamela impressed the most, registering 6 goals in 7 games, including a hat-trick vs Monaco. In these 7 matches, he managed 12 shots and created 12 chances, displaying his all round abilities. Furthermore, the goals have continued to come for Lamela as he improves as a player, scoring 2 goals for Argentina at the Copa America as well as 1 goal against Juventus and 1 goal and 1 assist against Inter Milan in preseason friendlies.
In addition Lamela’s appeal is heightened by his set piece threat. Although Eriksen if the primary set piece specialist at the club, Lamela still took 100 corners last season (126 for Eriksen) and frequently took free kicks. He also delivered 40 crosses from open play, with 36 of them coming from within 18 yards of the goal. Moreover, his ability to take on and get past his opponents bodes well, winning 58% of his take ons.
Last season, Lamela was stationed on the right of an attacking midfield trio on 18 of his 28 starts. He also started 2 matches at no.10 and 8 on the left. This demonstrates Lamela’s versatility.  This season, it is highly likely that Lamela will be a nailed on starter on the right, with Alli at no.10 and Eriksen on the left.
With all this being said however, Lamela’s discipline irritated FPL managers last season. He committed 67 niggling fouls, picking up 9 yellow cards. However, as he matures, he should remove this from his game as it shouldn’t be much of a problem. In addition to this minor deterrent, with Tottenham having qualified for the Champions League, once that competition starts Lamela may be rested in some league games so that he can be fit for ‘the big games’ in the UCL.
Overall, Erik Lamela certainly has the potential to become one of the best players in the Premier League. His all round style of play as a creator and score, combined with his set piece threat and certainty of starts, definitely suggests that he may well outperform his miserly £7.0 price tag.
 


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