Before the start of GW32 I ran a Twitter poll. The question was, “In the last 6GWs do players who have played significantly fewer minutes in first 32GWs has a #fpl advantage over teammates?”
The reason for the question is that my perception is that they do have an advantage. I believe some player performances fall off towards the end of the season due to fatigue.
Other players who may have not played as much, due to one reason or another e.g. early season injuries preventing them from playing, not being the first choice player within a team for their position, January signings etc. can all finish the season well.
The perception of Twitter is the opposite of mine with 42% saying NO and only 27% saying YES. But what is the reality?
In the last 6GWs do players who have played significantly less minutes in first 32GWs have an #fpl advantage over teammates?
— Richard Kenny (@InfernoSix) April 8, 2017
In the last 6GWs, players who have played significantly fewer minutes in first 32GWs earn more fpl points than their teammates.
At the time of writing I only had data for last season (2015/2016) and so the analysis was limited to one season. If there is demand, Chorley has said he’ll get me the data for previous seasons, so please do let me know your thought’s on my theory.
The analysis was further confined only to midfielders. This is because each team has at least five players in this position that can be compared. The same is true for defenders but their analysis has been left for another article. Forwards were not analysed as some teams Chelsea, Arsenal, Man City etc. have only one main forward who dominated playing time.
The analysis only compared team mates with each other. This was to remove any distortion caused by one team having easier fixtures than another over the last six game weeks. Also the Twitter question was confined to teammates.
For each team I identified the top 3 scoring midfielders at the end of GW32. I wanted to remove those players who were not good FPL assets, such as defensive midfielders or players who had barely any game time in the first 32 GWs.
An example which can be used to explain the analysis better is Arsenal.
For each player I calculated their ‘Equivalent games played 1 to 32’ by diving their minutes played by 90mins. The players were then listed in descending order. Also shown is their Pts to GW32, % Selected and Price. Again, if this theory is interesting, Chorley can provide the stats by number of games played.
Plotted horizontally was their points scored in GWS 33 to 38. At each intersection is the equivalent games played over game weeks 33 to 38.
At the end of game week 32 not every team fulfilled the criteria of having one midfielder in their top 3 who had played significantly fewer minutes than the other two midfielders. Teams that did fulfil the criteria were Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham, Bournemouth, Crystal Palace, Southampton, West ham and WBA.
There were teams whose top 3 midfielders played a similar amount up to GW32 so none had played fewer games. These included Man City and Leicester.
Other teams had a midfielder who did play significantly less up to GW32 but also played significantly less in the last 6 game weeks. These teams included Aston Villa, Man Utd, Newcastle, Stoke and Sunderland.
Two teams had both 1 player that had an advantage over the last 6 game weeks and one that didn’t. These were Liverpool and Norwich.
The teams that did fulfil the games played criteria were grouped into those who supported the theory and those that didn’t support it.
For completeness and to minimise the length of the article, the analysis for the teams that did not fulfil the games played or other criteria, is included in the appendix.
Teams That Did Support the Theory
Of the 8 Premier league teams that fulfilled the minutes played criteria there were 5 who supported the theory.
Ozil, Ramsey & Sanchez were the top scoring midfielders at the end of GW32. Ozil had played the equivalent of nearly 28 games, Ramsey 25 games and Sanchez the fewest at 20 games.
Over the last 6 game weeks Sanchez played nearly all the games and scored the most points of 49.
Ramsey scored the fewest points and played the least games.
Ozil played nearly 5 games and scored less than half the points of Sanchez.
In their case there are 4 players listed. At the end of GW32 Willian, Fabregas & Pedro were the highest scorers however, over game weeks 33 to 38 the highest scorer was Hazard.
Over the first 32 game weeks Hazard played the equivalent of 5 games less than Willian and Fabregas. Pedro had played even fewer games.
Over the last 6 game weeks they both continued to play less than Willian and Fabregas however, Hazard outscored them and Pedro did not.
It could be argued that Hazard and Sanchez were the best midfielders in their respective teams and simply fulfilled their potential or they were less fatigued and played better.
Lamela played the least over the first 32 game weeks and also scored the most over the last 6 game weeks. He could not be considered their best player. Note, due to a three game ban Alli played less than two games out of the last 6 game weeks whilst Lamela played nearly 5 games. Lamela took his opportunity and did well.
Josh King did play significantly less than Ritchie and Gosling. Over last 6 game weeks they all played similar games and King nearly scored twice as many FPL points as his teammates.
Bolasie significantly played less than his team mates and scored more than Zaha and Cabaye
Teams That Don’t Support the Theory
There were three teams who had a player that played significantly fewer games than their teammates up to GW32 but then did not outscore them over the last 6 game weeks.
Tadic outscored Davis but not Mane.
West Ham United
In their case Antonio played the least but it was Noble who scored the highest over the last 6 GWS. This does not support the theory.
All players scored mid-teens in the last 6 game weeks.
We are now at the end of game week 32, so are there any midfielders who have played significantly less games than their teammates? I have analysed the teams and highlighted below some players who may have an advantage over their teammates in the last 6 game weeks.
Arsenal is not in form and neither are any of their midfielders. They have two double game weeks and play 5 Premier league games in 14 days, over the last two weeks of the season. Rotation is inevitable but if you want Arsenal cover, Walcott could be a better option than Sanchez.
Obviously, Mane is injured. In the last game Firmino didn’t start due to tiredness. Coutinho also didn’t start but this was due to him being ill during the week. He has played nearly 10 games less than Firmino and I do not expect he will be rotated during the rest of the season.
This is showing the top 3 midfielders plus Sane & Navas who have both played significantly less than the top 3. Navas has played the last three games as a fullback. Pep’s philosophy is to play midfielders in every position so could Navas keep his place to the end of the season? He also appears to be a Bonus Point magnet, having been awarded 6 in the last three games. Can your team accommodate the ultimate differential?
Eriksen has played nearly 30 games. Son has played less than 20 games. Now that Kane is back the assumption is that Son is most at risk of losing his place, but could Pouchetino rest Eriksen? Son is also in form and could he outscore both Alli & Eriksen in the last 6 game weeks?
There is evidence that some players who had played significantly less did have an advantage over teammates during the last 6 game weeks. Examples were Sanchez, Hazard, Lamela, King and Bolasie.
There are also examples of players who did not have an advantage e.g. Tadic and Antonio.
The findings are not cut and dry as there could be other reasons why the players returned more points. However, when making transfers or playing wild cards towards the end of the season I think playing time over the previous 32 game weeks is a factor that should be considered. Get it right and the FPL manager could finish the season strongly and be propelled up their mini-leagues.
This season’s analysis of playing time to GW32 has indicated a number of players who could have an advantage over teammates, in the last 6 game weeks e.g. Walcott, Coutinho, Sane, Navas, Son & Mirallas.
The analysis was only carried out on midfielders for last season. It should be expanded to include defenders. Also it should be repeated at the end of this season to see if any of the highlighted players do well.
Their top 3 midfielders had similar game time up to game week 32 at about 28 games each. GW33 to 38 Albrighton played less than 2 games and so no surprise he scored the fewest points.
Redmond was not in the top 3 up to GW32 but he had played significantly less games than Brady & Howson. In the last 6 game weeks he had more game time and scored twice as many points as any of the others. This would support the theory.
On the other hand Hoolahan who also played less than Brady & Howson had a similar score in the last 6 game weeks.
Only Barkley played any significant minutes and was any sort of meaningful FPL assets. The next two highest scoring midfielders played a maximum of 14 equivalent games up to game week 32. This meant that midfield duties must have been shared with the other players.