Fantasy Football First brings to you a refreshed and new look Game Week Review section to give you the best Fantasy Football advice possible. Leon looks at the changes from the predicted formations and line-ups. We take a look at injuries and suspensions, as well as the performances of newly added players through Zaid, whilst Jimbob brings you a recap of what MOTD and the newspapers had to say. FPL Bulldog fetches you the defensive stats you need to know, and runs the rule over the Collins and McAuley bandwagons. Dutch Delight analyses the attacking stats, focussing on Aguero, Ibra and Costa this week. Last but not least Wallace and his 3 Week Player Watch section analyses the performances of 3 players with ownership over 30% and 3 players with ownership under 10%.
Leon’s Changes in Formations and Line-ups
Gameweek 2 was an interesting gameweek which saw some managers stick to winning formations from gameweek 1 and the Premier League debut of the world’s most expensive player.
Pep Guardiola’s decision to start Jesus Navas (£6.5) over Nolito (£8.9) seemed to backfire as Nolito went on to score a brace. However both goals were relatively simple tap-ins so Nolito’s first team position is certainly not solidified. It is also worth mentioning Sterling’s decent performance. His rejuvenation (not just the new corn rows) seem to be making a difference to his play and he looks set to flourish in the next few weeks. This will leave Pep with a difficult decision once £42 million signing Leroy Sane (£7.9) becomes match fit and Gundogan (£5.5) recovers from a knee injury.
The Chelsea team saw playmaker Willian (£7.5), who picked up a minor calf injury, dropped in favour of Spaniard Pedro (£7.4). Pedro did not have the same impact so it is unlikely he will start again depending on Willian’s injury. Fabregas (£7.4) started again on the bench but came on and provided a good ball to assist Costa for Chelsea’s matchwinner.
It was a FPL start for Icelandic magician, Sigurdsson (£7.5), while Leon Britton (£4.5) had a small injury. Spaniard Llorente (£6.5) also started but both players were ineffective as a makeshift Hull side overcame the Swans 2-0. Their defence looks shaky with the loss of skipper Ashley Williams.
It was a FPL debut for Janssen (£8.0) as Spurs beat Crystal Palace 1-0. This saw Kane (£11.0) dropping to the no.10 position just behind the main striker, as Pochettino sticks with the favoured 4-2-3-1. Janssen squandered some good chances while Kane still looked like a threat on the ball, getting into good pockets of space and having 6 shots and an assist in the match. Dele Alli (£8.4) was dropped to the bench in favour of new signing Victor Wanyama (£5.0). The position continues to be jostled for and Alli’s sumptuous pass proves that he deserves a first team spot.
Crystal Palace saw a formation change to a 4-1-4-1 which gave the wide players Townsend (£6.5) and Zaha (£5.5) a wider berth and Wickham was deployed as centre forward. However they were often dominated in the game and lacked the touch in the final third. This could change with Benteke arriving and he could be just what they need after just 2 wins in 21 games.
The champions Leicester don’t quite look on top form, struggling without defensive rock Kante. Summer signings Kapustka (£5.5) and Musa (£7.4) didn’t start while Vardy struck a blank. New signing Mendy (£4.5) did start but couldn’t do anything to stop the 0-0 draw.
Arsenal meanwhile rocked a whole different look from gameweek 1 as Koscielny (£6.0), Cazorla (£7.5), and the Ox (£6.0) started as well as £31 million summer signing Granit Xhaka (£5.4). The return of Koscielny saw Arsenal keep a clean sheet as Rob Holding (£4.5) started for the second week running. The Ox looked bright and with Iwobi injured and Campbell loaned out, he could get some good gametime. However it is unlikely that assist king Ozil (£9.5) will remain on the bench. Sanchez (£11.0) was deployed as the sole striker which might have pleased his owners but he was ineffective and Giroud (£9.0) will likely start next match. Xhaka had a decent game but the position remains undecided as Elneny (£5.0) sits on the bench.
The biggest Premier League Signing of the season, Paul Pogba (£8.5) started, displacing Herrera (£6.5) from the Man U team. He was deployed as a holding midfielder but often got forward well, penetrating the Southampton defence and linking well with Ibra to help with the 2-0 win. However, with Mourinho opting to continue with a 4-2-3-1 formation, he remains a support player. Martial (£9.5) remains a strong attacking pick. Mata (£7.5) started over Mkhitaryan (£9.3) again and had a solid performance. It remains to be seen whether Mkhitaryan will displace Mata in the coming weeks.
Injuries to Kone (£4.5) and Borini (£5.5), and the sale of Kaboul to Watford, meant starts for Djilobodji (4.5)and Januzaj (£5.5). Youngster Watmore (£5.0) listed as a midfielder started the game in a strike partnership with Defoe (£7.1) once again. However none of the players really shined as they lost 2-1 to newly promoted Middlesbrough.
At Middlesbrough, Guzan (£4.5) started over Valdes (£4.5) due to the latter’s slight muscular injury. He made 4 saves in a decent match for the American. Forshaw (£4.5) and Stuani (£4.9) started over De Roon (£4.5) with an injury and Adomah (£5.5). Stuani had a good game and scored a brace which may solidify his starting position.
The Hammers meanwhile suffered a double injury blow as Andy Carroll (£6.5) will be out for about 6 weeks with a knee injury and Andre Ayew (£7.4) could be out for 3 months. However Payet (9.5) could be back next week. New signings Byram (£4.5) and Tore (£5.5) started. Tore had a good game and was named man of the match. However many of West Ham’s first team players were injured so it will be interesting to see who retains their positions next week.
Zaid’s Suspension, Injury and Newbie Watch
Manchester United’s Paul Pogba returned from suspension and made debut against Southampton. Replacing Herrera in starting lineup, Pogba linked well with his teammates. He was involved on both sides of the pitch taking 3 shots in the box and creating couple of chances in attacking half. His pass distribution was good which will help United to switch attack quickly if and when required. This should further improve their attacking return.
Koscielny returned for Arsenal against the champions, Leicester city. After conceding 4 goals against Liverpool, Arsenal showed good improvement defensively restricting Leicester to only 8 shots with only four being from inside the box. Arsenal will face Watford, Southampton and Hull City in next three games where they might give some defensive returns with similar kind of performance.
Newbie/ Returning Player Watch
Liverpool’s James Milner was installed on left side of the defense with Moreno dropping to bench. Classified as a midfielder in FPL, it will be tough to justify his inclusion in our teams. He was on majority of set-pieces and created 4 chances throughout the game. He also had a passing accuracy of 97% which shows his fitness and control over ball. Considering all this factors, he might improve Coutinho’s output.
Tottenham’s Janssen inclusion saw some important changes in their attacking set-up. Alli was dropped to bench with Kane shifted in hole. This switch had an impact on Kane’s performance. Kane was forced to take shots from outside the box(4 SoB out of 6) since Janssen covered majority of the penalty area. Janssen can also improve Kane’s fantasy points if and when opposition start marking Janssen.
Everton’s Romelu Lukaku made his return from injury. In his 45 minutes appearance, he took couple of shots with both being on target aswell as created couple of chances. With fixtures looking nice on paper (Stoke, Sunderland and Middlesbrough in next 3), he can be good differential to pair with likes of Kun and Ibrahimovic.
Bolasie had his debut game making 30 minutes appearance where he created couple of chances and provided a much needed spark to Everton’s attack. Like Lukaku, he can be good differential. One for watchlist.
Sunderland’s Adnan Januzaj made an electrifying debut. He was on corner kick duties, though only one out of nine was successful. He had 4SiB and created four chances for his side. After his numbers and involvement with other Sunderland’s players, he looks like a key figure in Moyes’ plans.
Jimbob’s MOTD and Newspaper Recap
Promoted teams resilience – Getting promoted to the premier league can a huge step up especially when you haven’t spent much money but Burnley, Hull and to a certain extent Middlesbrough showed this weekend that being well organised, disciplined and having pace and being a threat on the break can win you games in the Premier League. Lots of points for relatively cheap players are up for grabs here. The likes of Tom Heaton in the Burnley goal, George Friend and Ben Gibson for Middlesbrough are ones to consider.
New manager syndrome – It’s amazing what a new manager can do for self-belief and confidence. Last season there were a lot of players that were below par. After two games we can already see what a new manager can give to a player. Raheem Sterling is playing really well and looking a real threat – he just needs to improve his finishing and claim a few more assists. Eden Hazard has started to play for Conte and could be in for another big season for Chelsea, he also takes penalties and is worth his expensive fantasy price. The Manchester United players are revitalised now that Van Gaal has departed, Antonio Valencia looks like a top right back, Rooney looks to be playing with a bit more freedom and the two attacking players Martial and Mata are playing well.
Young promising defenders – Due to injuries, players having an extended break from the Euros or teams losing players without replacing, them there have been opportunities for some young players to stake their claim for a place. The likes of Holgate for Everton has now got John Stones’ position and is impressing so far. Rob Holding looked great alongside Koscienly for Arsenal and like Wenger said just because he didn’t cost a fortune does not mean he can’t be a top player. If you can find these cheap young players that are getting top points get them in. Holgate and Holding are the stand out ones so far.
Newspapers/ Sunday Supplement
The signing of Christian Benteke for Crystal Palace is a huge boost for their season and fantasy managers will be looking to see how he does. Benteke is very hit and miss but on some days he can be unplayable. He is certainly capable of scoring 15-20 goals this season and fantasy managers should keep him in mind, but watch him for a few games first to see how he starts his Palace career.
Having a striker that can score at least 10-15 goals a season can be the difference between going down and staying up. Middlesbrough have signed Negredo, Burnley have Gray, Sunderland have Defoe, Bournemouth have Wilson. The two stand out ones so far are Negredo for Boro and Andre Gray for Burnley, both have scored good points so far and look lively.
FPL Bulldog’s Defending the Bandwagon
We are through GW2, and looking forward to GW3 with the excitement building. We are starting to see the bandwagon moving in so Let’s look and see if any of these Hot Shots have the staying power or just a lot of Hot Air.
Luke Shaw (ManU) the highest with 94704 transferred in this round (TIR). 21-year-old Luke doesn’t have too many weaknesses and is good at dribbling, crossing and short play passes, averaging 1.5 tackle & 3.5 clearances per game, he is currently achieving 80.8% Pass success out of 36 passes for the past two games. In the game against Southampton, he was credited with one assist.
He wasn’t chosen to play in the Community Shield and in 2015/16, he only scored 27 points from 450 minutes played and was out for most of the season with a terrible injury. Whilst his passing success is relatively high, his lack of game time, his clearance and tackles are not that high so I think that he is riding the HOT AIR balloon and I wouldn’t be ready to invest in him just yet. Maybe after some more game time.
Gareth McAuley (West Brom) 2nd place with 85310 TIR, the 36-year-old veteran has rose to 4.6m. McAuley scored the joint hight points for a defender over the opening 2 gameweeks (14 – tied with Collins). He is great at aerial duels but doesn’t like diving into tackles. McAuley is averaging 1.5 tackles & 6.5 Clearances per game but has 71.7% pass success rate for the past two games.
Along with Foster between the sticks McAuley is proving to be solid foundation for West Brom’s campaign and a cheap option, worth considering. West Brom have Middleborough next and then Bournemouth which will be good opportunities for them to get some clean sheets. Let’s climb on board this bandwagon for a ride, or at least for the next couple of games.
James Collins (West Ham) is in 3rd place with 44627 TIR. Colins has netted a goal already this season against Chelsea and has already rose to 4.6m. His strengths are blocking the ball and aerial duels, winning 4 in the past two games but sometimes he is known to lack discipline with 2 fouls already this season and has a very mediocre 67.2% passing success. His style of play is being an indirect set-piece threat and playing long balls. He is averaging 1.5 tackles, 6.5 clearances, but is proving to be efficient with 4.5 inceptions.
Along with enjoying his new home in the Olympic stadium and recently representing Wales in the Euros, Colins looks energetic on the field and solid at the back. With only 6.6% selection, this bandwagon train is worth catching.
Jordi Amat (Swansea) 4th with 44328 TIR. With the departure of Williams, Amat has benefited by being guaranteed a start for the Swans so far. His Spanish style encourages tackling and has won 4 aerial duels. Averaging 1 tackle, 3 interceptions & 9 Clearances per game, he has achieved 47.5 passes with 89.5% pass success for the past two games. Other than having a couple of shots on goals, he hasn’t added any additional scores to his points.
Amat costs 4.0m and is currently chosen by 13% but unfortunately he has only earned 6 points in the past two games. The Swans look uninspiring with one goal this season and are on the back of a loss to Hull. I am not feeling that this player is going to give me any love other than being a cheap bench warmer.
This has been FPL Bulldog. Hear me roar……. Woof!
Dutch Delight’s analysis of attacking stats
Who to have? Aguero, Ibrahimovic or Costa
With two games gone it looks like we have 3 of the top teams already making it clear they are a force to be reckoned with. Both Manchester clubs and Chelsea started the season with 2 wins and most of us will, or should already have, one of the 3 players mentioned above. I will be looking in the stats so far to see if there are some clear signs to guide us in the direction of who to pick and who to ignore.
The two most important stats are obviously goals and assists. Aguero and Ibrahimovic are both on 3 goals with Costa on 2. Neither of the 3 have an assist to their name. Ibrahimovic has a few passes more than Aguero but both have the same number of key passes. Costa doesn’t feature at the top of either stat.
As you can see Costa is falling behind already and with his appetite for yellow cards it is safe to say that if you are going to spend big on your forwards, Costa is not the one to invest in for now.
That leaves us with Aguero and Ibrahimovic. Both players are on penalty duties. On average Aguero takes double the shots at goal as Ibrahimovic. Aguero shoots 90% from inside the penalty area compared to 50% for Ibrahimovic. The next stat should be no surprise to anyone; Ibrahimovic wins by far the most aerial duels of the two which makes him more of a threat for set pieces.
Ibrahimovic is leading in the defensive stats, tackles, interceptions, clearances. Aguero has actually none of the above to his name. Being more involved in defending will ultimately lead to a bigger chance of picking up a booking or 2. Seeing as United have now acquired the services of a certain Pogba to strengthen their midfield, this should lead to Ibrahimovic having to defend less and concentrate more on the business end of the field.
Man City have more players that are likely to bring in the points, or to put it differently Man City has more options to invest your money in; Sterling, KDB, Silva and Nolito, compared to Rooney and Martial at United.
It is clear that if you can afford both players you should have both players in your team, but most of us will have to make a choice, and for now that should be Ibrahimovic.
Next week I will delve into the stats of the budget strikers to see who provides us with the best value for money.
Wallace’s 3 Week Player Watch
Ownership of 10% and under three-week player watch/analysis
In a match where the Red Devils allowed only a single shot on target, Redmond tended to blend in with most of his Southampton team mates. Still being fielded as a striker, Redmond’s positioning was still a positive, and the attacker found himself on the wing as a crossing outlet as well, suggesting assist returns could be possible in future weeks. The most notable stat to take from Redmond’s performance against United was his perfect six for six accuracy on attempted long balls. With significantly more touches than Long, and a full ninety minutes under his belt, Redmond is easily the more sensible choice out of the two Southampton players. Though Tadic may represent an option of productive equivalence, he is slightly more expensive and is higher in ownership. A final consensus shall be made next week over Redmond’s prospects of continued longevity in point earning, and the Englishman should have plenty of chances to prove his worth against Sunderland in game week 3.
Spurs eked out three points against Crystal Palace this past weekend, and in doing so, the main attacking figures offered very little positivity as a whole. Lamela only registered a single attempt, which was off target. But the Argentine midfielder still seems to be playing well when taking into account his underlying passing stats. Unlike teammates, such as Eriksen, Lamela still seemed to be capable of delivering a dangerous ball at any point throughout the match, as evidenced by his game-leading five key passes. As we have seen in past seasons, Lamela has a spontaneous knack of scoring in peculiar streaks, and despite the Argentinean not being fantastic goal scoring form, his game-high five accurate crosses, in addition to his key pass stat and second highest up-field positioning among Spurs players, Lamela seems to be maturing into a more important player in the Spurs squad. Assuming Kane finds his shooting boots next week, Lamela’s final critique over our three week analysis may turn out to be quite fruitful.
It was a quiet afternoon from Jermain Defoe, as clear-cut chances and goals were not incredibly plentiful. Sunderland enforced a relentless high press on their opposition, but this tactic ultimately led to insufficient coverage on the defensive end and prolonged Middlesbrough possession in Sunderland’s defensive third. Januzaj was a threat on the left wing, but this selection more than likely led to fewer “traditional” poaching chances inside the penalty area, as Januzaj is a player who favors creative dribbling and cutting inside to create shots instead. As always with Defoe, if chances are present, the Englishman has the ability to bury anything that comes his way, this week there was simply not much coming his way.
Ownership of 30% and over three-week player watch/analysis
Not much needs to be said in terms of praising Ibra’s match-winning performance this past weekend. All that must be stated is that not owning the United target man is an extremely risky move. The Swede’s opener was a perfect example of how he is capable of influencing a game in a matter of seconds, and his penalty conversion bodes well for future captaining on the FPL front. Any thoroughbred gamechanger, penalty-taker, and efficient shooter should be pounced on, and if this were to be only a two week analysis, Ibra would be the first definite “buy”. With only three shots, but two on target, Ibrahimovic has shown he does not need relentless deliveries into the area to be productive, but instead only a couple quality instances of service per game to show his worth. Expect the returns to continue.
Having conceded four goals in game week one, the Gunners managed to tighten up their backline well in game week two, keeping their first clean sheet of the 2016/2017 campaign. Most impressive in the aftermath of the stalemate was Bellerin who came away with maximum bonus points, a cue to his performances throughout last season. The fullback registered a shot on target, two key passes, three dribbles, and four interceptions; what more can you ask from a fullback?! Constantly working tirelessly on both sides of the ball, Bellerin has spurted to life, and with a fixture against Watford next week, it would not be surprising to see the Spaniard grab a true attacking return, see his team earn a clean sheet, or even both. Bellerin has heated up quite quickly.
The majority of Leicester players seemed a tad off the pace of the game against Arsenal, and although Mahrez did not cease to impress with footwork on the ball, the overall attacking prowess of the Foxes appeared to not be as sharp as usual. A single shot on target and two key passes are surely not the best stats Mahrez has ever provided, they were not the worst in comparison to some of his fellow Leicester teammates. Mahrez has the uncanny ability to create a chance from very little support, a tendency that bodes well for the Algerian player’s chances of scoring next week against Swansea, a side that has been anything but solid at the back so far this season. Mahrez is still hovering in the middle of our “buy” and “sell” radars, and will need a solid performance next week to consolidate a positive three week review.