Most of the trends identified in my review of rolling data during the last international break were borne out by results in GW9. TOT‘s rapidly improving home attack and defence strength weightings were cited as “bad news for MCI”. BUR were hailed as the other “standout improver” in that department prior to keeping a clean sheet vs CRY, while the “biggest declines” reported for FUL and SHU foreshadowed their home defeats to EVE and WHU respectively.
The latter were one of two away teams identified as having “registered the most significant rises” in my away attack strength weightings, and an away win for the Hammers was one of only two bets (both winners) recommended by my @ColeysPotOdds betting spinoff account. WHU were also one of three relevant teams highlighted as “standout improvers in the away defence strength department”. ARS were another, and both these teams kept a clean sheet. SOU were the other, but conceded a single goal on the way to earning a correctly forecast one one score draw.
Meanwhile, WBA were rightly flagged up as having experienced “one of the sharpest declines” in the away defence strength department, but MUN‘s decline in home attack strength was exposed as “the biggest experienced by any team in any of the four categories”, leading me to describe the encounter between these two teams at Old Trafford as a reverse ‘irresistable force paradox’. I flipped the formulation of the classic paradox to: What happens when a stoppable force meets a movable object? The answer turned out to be that the stoppable force was Bruno‘s first penalty, and the movable object was the goalkeeper who moved too soon!
The 3 disappointments were AVL and LEE (in the home attack category), albeit the latter were only expected to draw against the most improved away defence of ARS anyway, and LEI (in the away attack strength category), who were forecast to lose vs LIV anyway.
This week’s better-than-average weightings trending in the right direction are SOU‘s home defence strength, which possibly spells bad news for Bruno backers, and AVL‘s away defence strength. Conversely, the worse-than-average weightings trending in the wrong direction are CRY‘s home defence strength and WOL‘s away attack strength, which bodes well for Wilson and ARS defenders.
There were five teams deemed more likely than not to score at least 2 goals last week, but this is reduced to four in GW10, who were coincidentally last season’s top four.
All four are expected to win their matches this weekend, and both CHE and MCI are considered to have a two goal edge over their opponents, even though the former face Mourinho’s much improved TOT.
With regards to the one one score draw forecast for LEI vs FUL, I ought to point out that this scoreline prediction falls between the cracks of my model’s algorithms. According to my spreadsheet there is sufficient predicted xG difference between the home and away sides here to credit the Foxes with a goal advantage and, as will be revealed later on, they are one of three teams deemed more likely to concede zero goals than one. Correspondingly, the Cottagers are deemed more likely to score no goals than one. The cause of this apparent paradox is the fact that the combined probabilities of Fulham scoring 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 goals, etc., is greater than them scoring 0.
This all goes to show how reductive nominating a single correct score forecast is. It would actually be more meaningful to present scoreline predictions in a matrix, and here’s how my spreadsheet’s probabilities would look for LEI vs FUL if doing so:
This is a much better way to visualise the likeliest scorelines of matches, in my opinion. Note that LEI 1 FUL 0 has the highest probability here, with the next highest (1 – 1) nearly 3% lower. The good news for potential Vardy captainers is that a 2-0 home win is reckoned to have only 0.8% lower probability than 1 – 1.
Onto the even more tricky business of predicting players points! The table below shows how many points players are expected to get on average (excluding bonus points, and yellow/red cards). The red ‘P’s indicate where predicted scores have been inflated by the effects of recent penalty kicks, and the numbers in the column to the right of expected points show what these scores would have been if the distorting effects of penalties are removed. In other words, these are the average expected points assuming there are no opportunities to score from the penalty spot.
There are more than double the number of players over the threshold of 5 expected points in GW10 than last week, and the number of teams represented has increased from 7 to 12. Only MCI and CHE have more than 2 players listed, with 5 and 4 respectively.
With so many players to choose the best captain from I turn now to My Stats Tables in Fantasy Football Scout’s Members Area in the hope of sorting the wheat from the chaff.
Of the dozen teams with representation in my Players Points table above, only half of them feature in the top half of my Team Offence table (LIV, AVL, CHE, LEI, MUN, and ARS). Having dominated my attacking stats tables for many years, MCI are conspicuous by their absence in the table below, which dents confidence in KDB, Sterling & Co. They rank a lowly 13th for non-penalty xG on target over the past 6 gameweeks.
Disappointingly, only 4 of the 12 teams with representation in my Players Points table face teams in the bottom half of the table for non-penalty xG conceded over the last 6 gameweeks (see table below). Namely, LEI, NEW, BHA, and MCI.
FUL and CRY are ranked 5th and 7th worst defences by this metric, enhancing the captaincy claims of Vardy and Wilson. There is a glimmer of hope for MCI players here by virtue of BUR ranking as 10th worst (11th best?).
In an exercise that demonstrates you can manipulate stats to tell any story you want, the BHA defence is 9th worst when measured by minutes per big chance conceded over the last 6 gameweeks (see table below), which is a better perspective for Salah/Mane captainers.
SOU rank among the top half dozen defences by either measure which lessens the appeal of Bruno for the armband, irrespective of his 100% record of attacking returns in away games since joining MUN. And Werner will have to find his shooting boots if he is to prosper against Mourinho’s men who have conceded less than 1 big chance per match during their last 6 games.
I turn next to my Players tables to see if they can revive or solidify interest in any of the captain contenders under the microscope. I used to sort my Players xG table by Minutes Per xG, but because of the distorting effects of penalties, I sorted them by non-penalty xG instead last week. The problem with that metric though is it discriminates against players who have played fewer minutes, so I’ve gone for the Minutes Per Shot On Target metric instead this week (see table below), which showcases Salah‘s appeal as an armband candidate. The claims of Vardy, Watkins and Wilson are further strengthened also.
Kane remains in my players expected goals table and, as we saw earlier, TOT top my Team Offence table. So how do we square this with Kane missing from my players points table for the first time this season? Firstly, as the table below shows, the CHE defence has been head and shoulders better than any other team over the last 6 gameweeks.
Secondly, TOT did have a very favourable fixture run prior to last week’s win vs MCI, so this will have played a part in their impressive underlying attack stats.
There were only 2 players in my expected assists table last week (Grealish and Rodriguez), but KDB and Fernandes arrive right on cue to join them in the same gameweek they are ranked 1st and 2nd in my players predicted points table. Bruno has often been dubbed United’s KDB but, if the stats from the last 6 gameweeks are anything to go by, it won’t be long before we start referring to KDB as City’s Bruno?
It is clear from the table above that MUN‘s playmaker is creating chances for his colleagues at a faster rate than MCI‘s. Where KDB might have the advantage though is with set plays, as he is one of only 4 players who qualify for inclusion in my Set Piece Takers table (see below).
Through the process above I have whittled down the 23 players who made the cut in my predicted points table down to a shortlist of 6. These are KDB, Bruno, Salah, Vardy, Wilson and Watkins. For my team, that will mean choosing between the assumed first choice penalty takers for MCI, LIV and AVL.
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Tarkowski (6 pts) was the only defender to appear in my players points table last week, but there are six in GW10. While the points potential of Chilwell, Masuaku, PVA and James are widely understood, the same cannot be said for WBA‘s Furlong and Bartley, both of whom are selected by only 0.2% of managers.
Of the 4 teams represented by those 6 defenders, only CHE are deemed more likely to concede zero goals than one (see table below), along with LEI and ARS. There were 2 such teams last week (WOL and BUR), and they only conceded a single goal between them. Unlike last week, there is a team (MCI) reckoned more likely than not to keep a clean sheet in GW10.
If ever there was a time to invest in MCI‘s defence, then now is it. A cursory glance at the Clean Sheet Probability projections for the next 6 gameweeks (see table below) reveals a clean sweep of excellent prospects for the Sky Blues in each of them. The fact these 6 good clean sheet chances in a row would take me right up to a planned GW16 Wildcard explains why I have doubled up on MCI defenders going into GW10.
I have repeatedly banged the drum for Cancelo before and during the season. Not only was he singled out preseason in my backline bonus magnet blog as the best Sky Blues defender to own, his expected goal involvement has been good enough to see him take his place in my Defenders table (see below) right on cue. If Ederson can be persuaded to focus on guarding his net rather than the whole penalty box then a long overdue points haul could be imminent.
As advertised last week, ARS have 2 good clean sheet prospects in their next 3 games. The same was true for BUR last week who duly obliged, and ditto LEI the gameweek before.
My planned GW11 transfer doesn’t appear in my table of predicted top points scorers over the next 4 gameweeks (see below) but, provided he can avoid one of his regular injuries, he might do so this time next week. I will be watching his performance against MUN this weekend with nervous interest.
Nobody is more surprised than me that I’m seriously contemplating transferring in the infamous FPL troll that is Theo Walcott, but SOU are projected to be the third highest scoring team in the following 3 gameweeks (see table below), and his underlying stats from an admittedly small sample size of starts for the Saints indicate he might be the player to benefit most. Annoyingly though, GW13 will coincide with the first midweek Premier League fixtures of the season, meaning Theo will be required to remain fit for 3 games in a week.
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That’s all for now, folks. May the GW10 flop be with you.
Coley a.k.a. FPL P0ker PlAyer @barCOLEYna