The final weeks of the season will soon be upon us, and whether you’re going for gold or fighting for survival, the correct strategy will help maximise returns.
Stick with those trusted players - consistency is vital - but also think outside the box and consider teams that still have something to play for. The upside could be significant if you get it right.
FPL GW29 Transfer Tips:
With many FPL managers’ looking to wildcard around game week 30 ahead of the season run-in, I’ve decided to upgrade Chelsea from the Watchlist to Good for this period. Now is the time to begin planning which assets you want with the fixtures before the international break providing the perfect opportunity to cast your eye.
The Blues blank due to the FA Cup (GW30), giving you enough time to align your transfer strategies, although to oversimplify things: you want the most players from the best teams in the league. And, at the moment, Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal are all backed by the data. Chelsea, across most metrics, are the third-best side in the Premier League, while they have the fourth-best xG showcasing their good work in attack, and their xG conceded throughout is only bettered by the Champions. So, it makes sense to target their assets with a sea of green fixtures, plus the lure of double game weeks.
However, I am still reticent to commit to their midfield or forward options as they are a rotation risk. Form guarantees nothing, and Thomas Tuchel, aka the New Pep, is the stuff of fantasy nightmares. Predicted Points also indicates that the real value lies in defence, with fantasy favourite Reece James attracting interest. At the same time, Antonio Rudiger has the highest xPoints of any Chelsea player until the end of the season.
James has the second-best xGI per 90 amongst defenders, and Rudiger, surprisingly, has the seventh-highest shots in the box (1.85xG), plus his 3.05xGI shows that he is also heavily involved in buildup play. The strength of these two could be their offensive returns.
After a 5-0 destruction at Tottenham, the Toffees are on a downward spiral, particularly away from Goodison Park. The only thing that might stop them from being relegated this season is Leeds!
What concerns me most is that Frank Lampard has now overseen five games with no discernable improvements and no new manager bounce. When he took over, I had my reservations. Historically, his poor defensive tactics were a worry, and those initial anxieties seem to be justified, although Ben Godfrey will return to the squad this weekend.
Since Lampard has arrived, the numbers have been very poor. Everton are Bottom Three for points, and xG plus the team are fourth from Bottom for xG conceded. The eye test also makes it abundantly clear that there has been little improvement. The heavy loss to Spurs serves as a harsh reminder of the enormity of the task at hand. Everton were cut open far too easily and looked disorganised, disjointed and devoid of ideas. They played into Conte’s hands, pressing too high, and were caught easily on the counter. They tried to counter-press a side that had just beaten Manchester City. There was no Plan B, which is probably just as well given that Plan A was so bad…
The FPL community saw the Toffees as a team to target, given the fact that they have games in hand with four upcoming doubles, with many believing they are too good to go down. The returning Dominic Calvert-Lewin was high on managers’ shopping list, but poor form due to a lack of minutes should see a cooling of interest. American vocal jazz group, The Ink Spots quite aptly said: “Into every life, some rain must fall”. Well, it is currently pouring on Merseyside, and Lampard is struggling to stop the flood.
Wait And See
Fixtures are once again driving the interest in Spurs’ assets. Tottenham have the fourth-best fixture run until the end of the season, and they don’t blank in game week 30! However, a lack of consistency is off-putting, and bumper score lines against relegation-threatened Leeds and Everton do not paper over losses to Burnley, Wolves and Southampton in recent times.
Tottenham have the fourth-worst xG conceded over the previous six, and they still sit behind Southampton with the sixth-best xG despite those big wins.
At the moment, I’m finding it difficult to clearly identify an area to invest in. Defensively, Spurs have poor underlying numbers and similarly priced options elsewhere offer better value. Heung-Min Son and Harry Kane are the headline grabbers in attack, but it may require a wildcard to shoehorn them into your squad. But even then: do you trust either player to deliver? Generally, the players vacating your side would be in better teams, with better form and inherently cost less.
I would hold back until we see more consistency and improved metrics. There may be a better opportunity towards the end of the season if Tottenham are still in the running for a European qualification spot. Their fixtures in GWs 35, 37 and 38 look particularly appealing as the data shows that these are the types of games against sides with nothing to play for that can bring anomalously high score lines. The destiny of Norwich and Burnley could well be decided by then, plus Leicester may be out of the European running and already have their flip-flops packed.
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FIRST PUBLISHED: 16th August 2021