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Stag's Take - Gameweek 20

Friday, December 28, 2018


Stag’s Take – Gameweek 20

 

The festive fixture clog is hitting its zenith now but Premier League Champions Manchester City’s challenge has suddenly come unstuck. Successive defeats and flat performances have led to mass departures of City attackers from FPL teams even though they face Southampton at St. Mary’s next; mere months after they thrashed the Saints 6-1. Eden Hazard and Paul Pogba’s goals, Salah’s consistency, and Son’s purple patch have made City-heavy managers green as their arrows went red.

 

Should we start dumping City assets? Ahead of GW19 I pled caution and patience but further blanks from Sané and Sterling have given me cause to pause.

 

 

The City Slump

 

Bernardo Silva spoke about the palpable drop in confidence in the City dressing room after their recent dismal run whilst boss Pep Guardiola seemed to be hinted at widespread changes by “[changing] the dynamic” against Southampton in a bid to try and secure three points.

 

City’s productivity has completely dropped off. Their average conversion rate for the season is 14.9%, though just 10% in the last two games. Their attempts in the box tally per game in that period (8.5) is just under four below average (12.16) and their general attempts on goal tally is down three to 15. Meanwhile, they have actually played more final third passes (197.5 per game) whilst their form has hit a trough – far more than the 157 they have played on average. Against Leicester, the Citizens managed just one shot on target in the second half.

 

Looking at the players in question, Leroy Sané has barely dropped off from his overall average underlying statistics for the season in the recent four game slump. He has averaged more attempts per game (2.2 v 2.0) and shots in the box (1.5 v 1.4) though his accuracy has been more awry (33% v 44%) and his xG has also fallen from 0.3 to 0.1. It is a frustrating state of affairs overall for the German, who has also been getting more touches in the box and better statistics related to his distribution. These stats reflect the “eye test”: Sané has looked like City’s most dangerous attacker and come close on a number of occasions.

 

The same cannot be said for Raheem Sterling, who now looks off the pace after a stunning start to the season. Looking at Sterling’s heatmap tells the whole story. The red lake representing his constant presence at the right side of the box is gone in the last four gameweeks, with a mere green/blue puddle replacing it. Sterling’s attempts, chance creation, penalty area touches, and expected stats have followed this. With Riyadh Mahrez ready to replace him in the City aside, it seems like it might be time to let “Raz” free until he rediscovers his Midas touch.

 

Kevin de Bruyne and David Silva have not rediscovered their full match sharpness after their respective absences through injury, though it can’t be far away. From a defensive point of view, City’s failed pursuits of Fred and Jorginho in the summer seem to be coming home to roost as City’s backline has turned porous in the absence of Fernandinho. On the bright side, opponents now get enough chances to give Ederson shot-stopping practice.

 

To give a final verdict, Leroy Sané is a “hold” for me, whilst Sterling has become a “sell” as his potential replacements in your side continue to set the league alight. Any other City midfielder and Sergio Aguero represent a gamble as it stands right now as having such a player goes in the face of the “template” side which most sides are fielding.

 

 

Other thoughts

 

You don’t need me to tell you that Spurs are on fire. Anyone who held both Kane and Son in GW19 looks like an oracle today, those who had Son for the last two GWs have certainly jumped up their leagues. Even though Son is departing for the Asian Cup in just three more gameweeks, his form is so good it is understandable that managers may be willing to bite the bullet and accept the use of the transfers to make the space.

 

Man United won again under OGS, though Anthony Martial missed out much to my chagrin. The Frenchman is expected to return in GW20 as it stands, hopefully to take points from the conveniently-suddenly-prolific Paul Pogba. Both players as well as Marcus Rashford remain great options as United host Bournemouth mere days after Spurs vanquished the Cherries.

 

Felipe Anderson is a very good FPL asset. He is so dangerous in the final third, so involved in West Ham’s attacks, and generally great value for money. His ownership is rocketing now, which adds to the argument that he should be strongly considered. Richarlison came off the bench to score a late goal to rescue relieved owners though the Brazilian is being outscored by old FPL veteran Gylfi Sigurdsson – maybe a nostalgia pick is in the offing? One thing the Icelandic no longer has on his side is free-kick duties. Those have been well and truly whipped away from him by Lucas Digne, who is providing a fantastic attacking threat to overcompensate owners for Everton’s poor defensive form. The Frenchman as well as the midfield duo should be in consideration as The Toffees’ have a good run of fixtures extending to GW26.

 

 

Captaincy

 

Harry Kane (Wolves H)

 

I’m a traditionalist so I am putting the striker as the headline pick although his wing teammate has outshone him in recent weeks. Spurs are now the league’s in-form side, seemingly free-scoring and full of confidence. Although Wolves have a good defence, it is hard to bet against the home side scoring at least three goals in the GW20 fixtures.

 

 

Anthony Martial (Bournemouth H)

 

In GW18, Martial looked like United’s best attacker as he dashed between the lines, knitted play, and attacked with flair and without fear. Then… he didn’t show up in GW19! As a bitter owner, I am hoping Martial returns to the starting line-up as all reputable reporting outlets seem to be suggesting. His teammate Paul Pogba has definitely over-performed whilst clearly being in-form too in the last two games, especially against Cardiff where he was peripheral but still managed to notch up a couple of assists. Understandably, many may still view Pogba as a safer captain pick, though I would vouch for Martial ahead of him.

 

 

Eden Hazard (Crystal Palace A)

 

Yet another double-figure return in GW19 has cemented Eden Hazard’s place as one of FPL’s must-haves again. Playing as a False Nine yet again, Hazard used his pace to outrun the Watford defence and latch onto a through ball for his first and he drew a foul from Ben Foster to earn a penalty and a subsequent second goal. Playing as a forward (and now thriving as one) as well as spot-kick duties make Hazard a good option every week, even against the strong Crystal Palace defence going through one of their best patches of the season.

 

 

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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