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Stag's Take - Gameweek 12

Thursday, November 8, 2018


Stag’s Take – Gameweek 12

 

Last weekend taught us a number of valuable lessons.

 

The first was that there are some gameweeks where a shield captain pick is a base requirement. It was entirely predictable that a Mark Hughes side facing a free-scoring member of the top-six would score at least a few goals. It was also entirely predictable that the popular captaincy choices would reflect this; Sergio Aguero was trusted with the armband by 39.9% of all active managers. It was entirely predictable that your rank could be shattered by captaining someone other than Aguero. Hats off to those in the 2.1% who gave the armband to Raheem Sterling. That was a tactical risk that proved to be worth it! Many other managers were not as fortunate.

 The usual captaincy recommendation section will follow at the tail-end of this piece, however *spoiler alert*, this coming gameweek is almost identical to Gameweek 11 in that we have a free-scoring member (generally, please ignore Tuesday night) of the top six facing one of the worst defences in the division.  You should captain a Liverpool player, namely Mo Salah or Sadio Mané at home to Fulham. Anything else would be an attempt to be a maverick which is only likely to make a martyr.

 

 

Targeting the bottom teams

 

Gameweek 11 emphasised the imperative of specifically targeting fixtures this season. The gap in points and quality between the top five sides and the bottom five sides right now is unprecedented. The bottom five sides have taken just 29 out of a possible 165 points from 11 games this season, the leading quintuplet have been about 4.5 times more successful so far in taking 130 points. By the end of the last few seasons, top teams have been just 2.37, 2.48, and 2.09 times more successful than the Premier League’s dregs. This isn’t a perfect measure of the gap between teams, but it does highlight the current disparity clearly. This is also the first time since 1978/79 that three sides are undefeated in England’s top tier after 11 games. As FPL managers, we have to exploit the difference in class by preparing our teams so that we are in position to benefit from routs inflicted on the bottom sides like City last weekend, Chelsea in GW10 (v Burnley, 4-0), and Liverpool in GW10 (v Cardiff, 4-1).

 

Peter Blake (@mathsafe_fpl on Twitter) wrote a great article a few weeks back which identified the plum fixtures to come this season, suggesting that the current period between GW11 and GW14 would be a good time to deploy the triple captain chip. Whilst I wouldn’t go so far as to advocate for the use of the TC chip on the clash at Anfield this weekend, I wholeheartedly back captaining one of The Reds.  For transfer planning beyond the upcoming International Break, Peter has identified Chelsea facing their struggling neighbours Fulham at Stamford Bridge in GW14. Eden Hazard will be a must for that fixture.

 

Form vs. Fixtures is the classic quandary with captaining in FPL. With the current state of play and disparity, I believe that the balance for consideration has tipped towards fixtures more than it has been in previous seasons.

 

 

Manchester City & Raheem Sterling

 

Manchester City are so good this season that commentators are running out of superlatives to describe them. To their credit Chelsea, Liverpool, Spurs, and Arsenal have all started off in club-record breaking or rivalling form to keep in touch of the Citizens, but the performances on the pitch and goal difference tell a different story.

 

Compared to last season, City are more dangerous in attack though they have scored less than at this point last season (2017: 38, 2018:33). They have taken 229 shots this season (up 35), had 154 efforts in the box (up 26), and now average a chance every 4.5 minutes. Their xG is 28.58, 1.03 better than at this point last season.

 

Just like last season, one of City’s best performers in FPL is Raheem Sterling, who has now been involved in 50% of all City’s PL goals this term while he has been on the pitch (6 goals, 5 assists). He has been part of my side for the last two gameweeks, though his ownership is still scandalously low at just 8.0%. In my opinion, Sterling is returning to “must-have” status, passing the eye-test and all underlying statistical metrics to match that. In spite of playing just 77.5% of all possible game time this season, he is still 7th in the xG from open play table from this season. Whilst his goal against Shakhtar Donetsk isn’t of itself indicative of his form, in truth it is representative. He is at his zenith.

 

 

Captaincy Corner

 

 

Mohamed Salah (Fulham H)

 

There is only one team in the Premier League yet to keep a clean sheet – Fulham. Mo Salah has failed to return in just one of his PL appearances at Anfield so far this season, slowly building towards the incredible Golden Boot-winning level he reached in the last campaign.

 

As I said earlier in the piece, as picks for your armband go, this one should be merely a decision between the Egyptian and his teammate on the other wing Sadio Mané. Given recent results and Salah’s consistency, I am edging towards the former. To add to Salah’s case, his confidence which appeared absent in the early weeks of the season seems to have returned. In spite of being held to a blank by Arsenal last weekend, he was extremely active, involved in Liverpool’s attacking moves and generally looking promising. As mentioned earlier, if you don’t have Salah, Mané is your next best option for your captaincy.

 

 

Marko Arnautovic (Huddersfield A)

 

My transfer this week was to bring “Arnie” into my side ahead of his away game at Huddersfield this weekend.

Arnie looks to be in great form. A goal and an assist marked his return to the side after an injury, but in truth those returns were the result of work which went unrewarded for a few weeks prior to his setback. Arnautovic is West Ham’s spearhead, constantly involved in the box and usually threatening the opposition’s nets. Over the last four gameweeks, he has averaged 10 touches in the opposition’s box per game and 4.7 shots per game, with three of those attempts coming from inside the box.

 

In terms of the “eye-test”, few players look better than the tireless Austrian, and the stats support those who believe he can build on the double figure haul in GW11.

 

 

Jamie Vardy (Burnley H)

 

Leicester City return to the King Power Stadium this weekend for the first time since tragedy rocked the club and the football world. They face Burnley, one of the worst sides in the division on the road so far this term and currently the side who has conceded the second-most goals away from home (15, Fulham 16). Furthermore, the Clarets are top for shots conceded (139), for attempts conceded in the box (81), and big chances conceded (22) away from home. With Vardy representing The Foxes' main goal threat, there are few times that the heart would identify that any player will perform well more than this weekend.

 

 

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 Rotoworld.com since August 2016. He is a self-proclaimed wannabe fantasy football genius, a student, and die-hard tea enthusiast.

 

 

 

 








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