Sunday, 23 October 2016

GW 9 Review: The Goalless Gameweek

Gameweek 5-
36 goals, 4 clean sheets

Gameweek 6- 
34 goals, 4 clean sheets

Gameweek 7- 20 goals, 
5 clean sheets

Gameweekk 8- 
27 goals, 6 clean sheets

Gameweek 9- 
19 goals, 9 clean sheets

Three goalless draws, the fewest number of goals and the most clean sheets this season. As you can see above, this weekend’s Premier League action was less than a goalfest. This was great news if you have a defence and goalkeeper that kept clean sheets, but if not then chances are you had a boring weekend and suffered red arrows on Sunday evening.

The defences in question include Spurs and Arsenal who played out goalless draws on Saturday, along with a victorious Chelsea on Sunday. This meant the 3 top point-scoring defenders and the top two highest owned (Walker and Bellerin) all scored at least 6 points. Those with premium defences would’ve been pleased.
Budget defences fared well too, as clean sheets for Bournemouth, Middlesbrough, Watford, Swansea, West Ham and Stoke offered points for 4.6 defenders and below. Overall, it was a good weekend for the popular FPL defences. Food for thought: keep up with the high ownership defenders/defences so you do not get left behind.

Coutinho the Stand-Out Midfielder

With 9 gameweeks gone there have been no shortage of surprises in the midfield department. First Raheem Sterling was unusually productive in front of goals, then Theo Walcott over-performed for Arsenal, and Etienne Capoue and Joe Allen briefly hitting the goal trail, but the biggest surprise of all midfielders so far has arguably been the consistency of Phillipe Coutinho.

The ‘Brazilian playmaker’ has so far lived up to his billing with numbers to back up his continually impressive performances, whereas in past seasons he has shown glimpses of his abundant talent but has not had regular goals and assists. Things have changed under Klopp, who has made him a more direct attacker. There is a real case now for Coutinho as the number one Liverpool mid. Lesson learned: Do not be stubborn in your selections. Doubt Coutinho at your peril, FPL-ers.


‘Aguero is essential’. ‘Aguero is fixture-proof’. ‘Always Captain Aguero’. Our fantasy principles are being questioned, but not like they normally are. We know Aguero to be the most prolific and reliable player in the game, but he has failed to score in three straight games for the first time since December 2015. While it would be a knee-jerk move to sell Aguero, managers will now be wise to think twice about giving him the captain’s armband every week, especially with Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard in such good form.

Written by Kyle Norbury, 

Stoke fan and Fantasy football nerd.

Feel free to follow me on Twitter: @SCFCNerd

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Gameweek 8 Review: The GW of Budget Buys

With the big-hitters failing to produce big points and the obvious clean sheets not turning out as such, it was not so much about the usual suspects of FPL point-scoring but the cheapies that brought home the points this gameweek. There were very few viable midfield options below 7.0 until the last few gameweeks. Nacer Chadli has so far scored regular points in his new role for West Brom after coming to prominence as a fantasy option at 6.4 in gameweek 5. Since then there have become even more good value fantasy propositions from midfield.

Junior Stanislas (5.5) was the top-scoring player in FPL this gameweek. His two goals and two assists took him up to 3 goals and 3 assists in his last 3 games. He is certainly one to watch in an impressive attacking side that cruised to a resounding 6-1 victory against Hull.

Joe Allen’s price dropped to 4.8 earlier in the season when he was a substitute for Liverpool, but now transformed into an attacking midfielder his price looks like rising. Allen’s brace at home to Sunderland makes it three consecutive games in which he has scored. Despite not being a renowned goalscorer but more of a defensive midfielder, Mark Hughes has so far deployed Allen further forward. His rise to goalscoring form coincides with a good run of fixtures, with Hull, Swansea and West Ham next up for Stoke.

Take Note of Attacking Defenders

Click to view in full

Whilst writing these reviews, every week I wonder how to assess defensive options with so few clean sheets. The 0-0 at Anfield on Monday is the exception that disproves the rule that clean sheets have been in short supply. After the last gameweek I pointed out premium options such as Bellerin (6.5) and Walker (6.0) were worth their cost for their clean sheet potential and attacking points. This may be true, as Bellerin made an assist and very nearly scored despite neither claiming clean sheet points, but it is also worth looking elsewhere for players in other price ranges who are capable of attacking returns and bonus points.

The stand-out cheap defender before this gameweek was Brad Smith of Bournemouth. He had risen to 4.7 on Saturday after another assist, but it was his teammate Charlie Daniels who scored and assisted to pick up two bonus points. Daniels also takes penalties, so is a great option for your defence at 4.9. Alternatively, Steve Cook proved his aerial threat by scoring v Hull, a game where all of the Cherries’ players showed their full attacking potential.

Even more affordable than the Bournemouth defenders is Middlesbrough’s George Friend (4.5), who created 2 chances and crossed the ball 5 times on Sunday. 4.5 Holebas, also a defender, scored in the same game for Watford. This contributed towards his 2 bonus points even though his side lost 1-0, but ‘Boro’s fixtures are tricky. They go up against Arsenal, Man City and Chelsea in the next 4 games, including an in-form Bournemouth. Erik Pieters (4.4) has much more favourable fixtures and collected 2 bonus points in Stoke’s first win of the season. Will their form continue? I certainly think so.

Kyle Norbury,
Stoke fan and fantasy football nerd,

Feel free to follow me on
Twitter: @SCFCNerd

Monday, 3 October 2016

Big Guns Fire Blanks - Gameweek 7 Review

Gameweek 7 was a rare weekend where the big-hitters in FPL all struggled to have a part to play for their teams. Eden Hazard’s 0 goals or assists in the last 3 gameweeks means his popularity will continue to drop after a strong opening 4 games. Then, on Sunday all of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Sergio Aguero and Alexis Sanchez unusually failed to register a goal or an assist. The latter was a surprisingly good captain pick with 3 points. The overall average for the gameweek was very low and not many points were to be made up on league leaders.

Having failed to breech a Stoke defence that had conceded the most goals in the league this season prior to Sunday, Ibrahimovic is now out of form, similar to Hazard, without scoring returns in his last 3 games. Zlatan’s price has already fallen from 11.9 back to his base price of 11.5 and will continue to lessen your team value if you choose to hold onto the Man United striker. Next up for the Swede are tough games for him to score in, against Liverpool and Chelsea in the next two gameweeks.

Always Captain Aguero?

As mentioned last week, Sergio Aguero is essential to a successful FPL season. His goals/game ratio is the best of any striker in Premier League history. When he scores, he tends to score in twos or threes or not at all, as we found this this week. Aguero was a forlorn figure in City’s 2-0 loss away to Spurs- his second PL blank of the season. This season Aguero’s 6 Premier League goals have all come in games he’s scored twice. The same pattern of scoring in clusters appears in Europe too. Kun hit a hattrick in the first leg of the qualifying round for the Champions League and in the first round of the group stage, before failing to find the net in mid-week against Celtic.

This could mean choosing when to captain him is all about timing. Missing a captain brace or more from Kun could prove costly, but it might be best to be selective on who to place the double-point burden based on fixture difficulty. For example this week Romelu Lukaku, Firmino and Diego Costa proved the better options as they faced easier opponents than Aguero. 

‘Blankaku’ Turns Reliant Romelu

Your writer chose not to captain Lukaku with his double-gameweek blank in GW34 of last season living long in the memory. One of those games came against Crystal Palace. I was wrong to doubt the Belgian, as Lukaku looks to have picked up form early on, this time scoring against Palace.

He is still dubbed ‘Blankaku’ for his goalless runs, but Lukaku can be a prolific goalscorer when on a scoring run. He has now bagged 5 goals this season- all 5 coming in the last 4 gameweeks. He is now in fine scoring form going into the international break. The last international break got his scoring tally for the season up and running, so the Everton striker’s 21% ownership will be hoping he stays in form playing for Belgium versus Bosnia and Gibraltar.

Kyle Norbury,
Stoke fan and fantasy football nerd,
Follow me, Kyle on Twitter: @SCFCNerd