Anthony O'Shea

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Stag's Take - Gameweek 5

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Stag’s Take – Gameweek 5


FPL returns after a brief fortnight on the backburner as Matt Miazga showed off his height, the Nations League’s debut proved to be a success, and not one but two Premier League players became fathers. At home here in Ireland, it’s probably best to say as little as possible about the ructions within the Republic of Ireland camp… nor the 4-1 loss to Wales. Manchester City’s goalkeeper Ederson and Newcastle’s Jamaal Lascelles were the duo who expanded their families during the international break though FPL managers would be wise to settle down their expectations of a typcial "new baby-goal". Lascelles is back in from the cold at St. James’s Park but I wouldn’t be rushing to add him to your side for Arsenal’s visit. For Ederson, a clean sheet would probably satisfy his owners, although the Brazilian has already got one assist this term – perhaps another is in the pipeline?



Coverage and Hazardous Histories


I’ve seen a lot of discussion about coverage, especially relating to Eden Hazard and Mo Salah. It’s almost impossible to fit both into a balanced team which includes one more premium attacking asset; so what should you do?


Even a quick glance at heat maps will underline the importance of keeping Mo Salah rather than Eden Hazard. For the Belgian, small blue and green puddles skirt the full length of the box’s sides. He has barely trampled the grass in the centre of the box, whilst the six-yard box looks like a no-go zone. Contrast that with Salah: The central area from circa the penalty box is aflame. Embers also dance across the top left corner of the box, highlighting that his continues to mainly attack from the right-wing where he can shunt the ball onto his dominant left peg to shoot. You cannot go without Mo Salah.


The stats back up the Egyptian further. His xG of 2.84 is double Eden’s, he has had nine more touches (34) than Hazard in the box, and ultimately took three times more shots in the area (12) than the Belgian (4). The heat-maps don’t lie, but it must be noted that Salah has 115 more minutes (338) than Hazard. His stats still appear better on a minute-by-minute basis, but the gap is not as stark as the stats suggest when minutes aren’t accounted for.


Hazard is known as an “FPL Troll”, a phrase which is rapidly becoming incensing slander yet it remains a succinct description of many managers’ experiences with Eden Hazard in the last four seasons. He can be prolific, he can be the best player in the league, but the fact remains that he has just once scored in three consecutive PL outings – ever! That is what people are expecting him to do this weekend against Cardiff… it’s hard to bet against him completely.


That’s why people talk about cover. It’s just impossible to get every player you want, so why not draft in Pedro and Alonso (if you somehow don’t have him). The Spaniard’s importance in Sarri’s setup seems quite clear to anyone watching games every week. His removal from the starting line-up in GW4 is unlikely to be repeated any time soon after Willian’s fruitless 65 minute display was bettered in just seven by his Iberian replacement. Furthermore, Willian’s faraway international exploits are sure to count against him whilst Pedro was left out of Luis Enrique’s squad. Pedro ranks second in the Chelsea team for shots this season (11), and has three goals to his name already. The 31 year-old is a class act.


Briefly, Sadio Mané is overperforming against what can reasonably be expected of a top class player or relative to his previous records, especially in terms of accuracy. He will regress slightly, but another goal this weekend against a decimated Spurs will probably break my will and force me into finding a space for the winger.


I’ll say it once but I’ll say it again. You cannot go without Mo Salah. The much-maligned dip in their fixtures shouldn’t put you off. Hugo Lloris will miss the first of the tough games, then comes Southampton, a Chelsea who certainly don’t look impregnable, and then Manchester City. That final game is so far away it’s hard to make predictions, but the last few iterations of that game suggest we should cook up popcorn in anticipation of goals.



Differentials abound


There are some spectacular differentials available at the moment. Those of you currently wildcarding should consider investing in a few players who look to be in-form but whom the general populous have yet to purchase en masse. I will broadly define “differential” as a player with less than 10% ownership for this section.





Only five teams have conceded less shots in the box than Wolves, yet Rui Patricio’s ownership remains low. After an unlucky start in the PL, the promoted side are clearly getting their feet and beginning to get returns which match their standing as the side with the fourth lowest expected goals conceded (xGC). After grabbing his first clean sheet against West Ham in GW4, the Portuguese national team’s shotstopper should expect to get a few more in the next few weeks.


One player bargain ‘keeper’s defence are performing even better – Watford. The suburban London club have the lowest xGC in the league right now. They also rank amongst the best on other indicative metrics like shots in the box against. Ben Foster has to be considered.




It would be too easy for me to point at Wolves and Watford’s whole back fours (with the exception of Holebas) in this section. Instead I’ll point you towards Leicester’s fabulous full-backs Ricardo Pereira and the newly-capped Ben Chilwell. Ricardo often plays as a right winger with Amartey slotting in at the back, whilst Chilwell advances quite far up the left-flank. The Englishman poses a much better stronger goal threat according to the stats, but I still thing that Pereira’s economical use of the ball in the final third makes him a better option.

Antonio Rudiger also looks fantastic. He has had seven efforts on goal so far this term, four of which were headed. If The Blues are trying to head in a set-piece, it seems like Sarri has instructed his team to target the German. His four headed efforts all came from dead balls. Olivier Giroud (1) is the only one of his teammates who has met a cross from a set piece with their head so far this season. He is no replacement or cover for Alonso, who has had more shots than any Chelsea player, but he is a fantastic option nevertheless.





David Silva is third amongst Man City players for touches in the box, shots in the box (6). No City player has created more chances than the Spaniard (13), three of which were big chances (also the best of the crew at the Etihad). Somehow his price is just 8.5 and his ownership stands at a measly 7.1%. With KdB injured, his importance in City’s first team has only grown and that will greatly aid his FPL potential.


Andre Schurrle is a player whom many are looking at now that he has found the net on consecutive occasions. The German takes a lot of shots, but I think the jury is still out on his ability to continue converting those efforts. I am surprised that Jean Michael Seri, who has taken three shots all season, now finds himself at the centre of FPL debate. He is a good creator, in fact Fulham have nobody better thus far (eight chances created; two big chances), but he shouldn’t be subject to free transfer moves. He is a budget midfielder who merits serious consideration for wildcarders though.


James Madisson looks to be a fantastic signing for Leicester, but his underlying stats are not as encouraging as an eye-test suggests. More compelling is teammate Rachid Ghezzal, who showed great attacking intent against Liverpool.




 Another great Leicester asset needs no introduction. The returning Jamie Vardy started the season brightly before taking an enforced break through suspension. He will be raring to go from GW5 onwards. Romelu Lukaku, Lacazette, and Danny Ings are all also looking promising. You could d worse than punting on one of the three names premium strikers as well as the Saints frontman.



Captaincy Corner



Sergio Aguero (Fulham H)


Usually the end of the international break is associated with fears that jet-lag, air miles, and time away will make Pep bench Aguero. For once, we don’t have that spectre hanging over us as the forward spent some time lapping up the sunshine in Greece instead of plodding along with the Argentine squad. That’s great for us, as he faces the team with the second-highest expected goals conceded in the league. It’s a no-brainer for me this week.



Eden Hazard (Cardiff H)


Even after I expressed doubt in the Belgian earlier, I must admit I will still be firmly wedged behind my couch for the whole period that Neil Warnock’s Cardiff will be on the field at Stamford Bridge. Cardiff concede a lot of set-pieces. In fact just Newcastle (19) have faced more shots on their goal than the Welsh side (18). Hazard (and Marcos Alonso) are the chief architects of mayhem from dead balls for The Blues. Aside from that, the Belgian is a vital part of their efforts from open play.


Honestly, captaining Pedro or even Marcos Alonso if you own him does not seem to be a poor call for this fixture.



Danny Ings (Brighton H)


I know that many people still enjoy the allure of a Monday Night Football captain. It’s a great feeling sometimes, knowing that you’re in line to reel in your mini-league rivals just after they’ve jumped the gun and began to gloat about their clairvoyant decisions before the deadline. It can be terrifying too though when you know your trusted asset is extremely unlikely to bridge the gap to a marker set down by a popular captain. It’s for the brave.


Captaining Ings is no exception, but at least take solace from the fact that the English penalty area poacher is coming up against the side who have conceded the fourth most shots in the box (41). Albion have also failed to keep a clean sheet so far.



Follow the entire Rotoworld Premier League team on Twitter: Neal | Steve | Andrew | Sean | Stag (me) | Ben | Galin | Nik |



Stag has been providing #FPL Tips since July 2015 and has been a contributor for since August 2016. He is a self-proclaimed wannabe fantasy football genius, a student, and die-hard tea enthusiast.




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