Before the season started I did not plan on having any Liverpool players in my team. This was mainly because Liverpool started the season with some tough fixtures compared to other teams. But then Liverpool played well in preseason and Arsenal, their opening day opponents, had defensive injury problems. Plus Liverpool’s second fixture was away to Burnley, so I took a punt on Firmino. Why Firmino and not one of the other midfielders? Well, in the 2015/16 season he had the highest points per 90 mins (“p90”) at 7.1 p90, in comparison to Coutinhos who was on 5.8 p90.
Disappointingly, in the first game, Firmino only scored 2 points whilst three other Liverpool players scored at least 7 pts. Liverpool’s whole midfield blanked against Burnley, prompting me to ditch Firmino for Lamela – and consequently I missed out on the 15 pts he scored against Leicester in game week 4!
My team limped on until GW6 when I brought Firmino back in. Liverpool were playing at home to Hull and I expected them to win well. Indeed they did, with three midfielders scoring at least 14 pts. Frustratingly, Firmino was not one of them! I had had enough, so finally dropped Lamela and brought in Coutinho, meaning I went into GW7 with two Liverpool midfielders! This time Firmino delivered with 15 pts.
Looking back over the seven game weeks it was difficult to predict which Liverpool midfielder would perform each week. I started to then think the best way to proceed would be to pick 2 or even 3 of them. This would maximise the chances of having the right players in my team each week. I had two main reservations about doing this.
- Having three players from one team is ‘putting my eggs all in one basket’. In any game week if this team fails then my team fails.
- Three players from one team also minimises the opportunities to accrue bonus points.
Anyway, I decided investigate the possibility further.
- If you combine any three of Coutinho, Milner, Lallana, Mane and Firmino, they have scored a minimum of 5.24 points per player per game over the first 7 game weeks of this season.
- Liverpool’s top 3 midfielders scored as many points (127) as Arsenal’s, but at a much lower cost.
- Liverpool has 4 players in the list of 15 top scoring midfielders.
- After the home game against Man Utd in game week 8 they have very good fixtures.
I feel there is case to support the argument to select three Liverpool midfielders in our Fantasy Premier League teams.
The table below shows the points per game distribution for the five main attacking midfielders. The stats are from Fantasy Premier League stats zone. These players are ranked in points per 90mins order.
Coutinho, Milner and Lallana all averaged 6 points per player per 90 minutes. The three players with the lowest total points are Mane, Firmino and Lallana and their points per player per game week is (31+38+41)/7/3 = 5.24. If I had three midfielders from separate clubs in my Fantasy Premier League team who’d averaged between 5.2 and 6 points per game week, I would be very happy.
However, while these averages are great, the points come in peaks and troughs. In game week 2 Coutinho, Milner, Lallana and Firmino scored a total of 8 points, while “FPL Force Balance” was restored in bumper game week 6 when Coutinho, Milner and Lallana all scored 14 or more each. This game week points distribution confirms that owning three Liverpool Mids would be a rollercoaster ride, and probably not for players who are focused on the H2H tournament. However, there is merit for players focused on the league.
Yet a combination of players from other teams might be better. This table shows the top 15 scoring midfielders so far this season.
Starting in the middle of the list, we have a doubt if Son will keep his place when Kane returns; we continue to worry that Walcott will pick up his usual “been on a good run so it’s time to pick up an injury” breakdown; and we worry about if Antonio will keep scoring given the difficult fixtures from game week 10 combined with an over-reliance on Payet; all while Klopp will keep the Liverpool boys scoring.
The top two players are KDB and Sanchez. I feel these two are expensive so will only offered points commensurate with their price when captained. Given nearly all of us have Aguero, then I feel Aguero vs Sanchez vs KDB for the armband is a difficult choice. Earlier this week Tom suggested that we might be better ditching Aguero for KDB and Sterling in his excellent and thought provoking “Manchester City – Which of Their Players Do You Need?“.
All this suggests a combination of Capoue, Sterling, Coutinho, Firmino and Lallana in a 3-4-3 or a combination of KDB, Sterling, Coutinho, Firmino and Lallana in a 3-5-2 would be very effective.
After the home game to Manchester United in game week 8, Liverpool’s fixtures turn for the better. If they didn’t have these good fixtures I am not so sure I would contemplate having three midfielders. Because of the good fixtures I expect their midfield to continue their good form.
|GW 8 – 10||
|GW 11 – 13||
|GW 14 – 16||
An additional analysis I carried out was to see how Liverpool’s midfield compared with the midfields of other teams in the league. The below table shows the total score by team, of the three highest scoring midfielders in each team. It also shows the combined price of these players.
Only three teams had three midfielders that, when combined, earned over 100 points: Arsenal, Liverpool and Man City. The top 2 teams Arsenal and Liverpool, both scored 127 points however, Liverpool’s midfield was £4.4m cheaper.
If we look beyond the top three players in each team, and instead focus on the 15 highest scoring midfielders, we can see Liverpool is the only team to have 4 players and they scored a combined total of 165 points.
I feel there is a compelling argument for two Liverpool midfielders in our teams, and personally, I feel we could even triple-up and have three midfielders in our teams.
Of the five, based on …
… the three I would choose are Couthino, Firmino and Milner.
I worry about Mane because he is the most expensive yet has has the worst points per 90 mins at 5.2, and I am concerned about Lallana because he was injured in the last game and is only rated at 75% chance of playing (although Chorley thinks this is just international break “smoke and mirrors” and as soon as the internationals are over Lallana will be “back to normal and as busy as a one-legged man at an backside-kicking convention”).
Milner has the highest score, tied with Coutinho on 43 pts. My only concern is that all his goals came from the penalty spot. Yet he is benefiting from the form of the other players, and he does support the others with late runs (when allowed by Klopp) so has potential to score from open play, and he is the cheapest option at £6.6m.
Adding all of this together, my proposal is we should think about owning three Liverpool midfielders.
What about my team
I admit three Liverpool midfielders is a high risk FPL strategy. If you feel it is too risky to have three midfielders from one club, then I do urge you to consider having at least two Liverpool players in your first 11. For me, I already have Coutinho and Firmino so want to identify a 3rd Liverpool midfielder.
Looking around my team, I can see Bellerin and Sterling are both rated 75% chance of playing, which is a concern. I also want Sanchez as I feel Arsenal has good fixtures. If I can’t afford Sanchez my back up plan is Walcott.
Therefore, I am holding off making transfers this week until I know more about the player injuries. Next week I’ll probably do Cazorla to Walcott, and in game week 10 I’ll bring in Milner.
Best of luck and please let me know your thoughts.