Gameweek 17 FPL Q&A – Time to sell De Bruyne and buy Rashford?

In this weeks FPL Guest Q&A article, we are joined by LetsTalkSoccer who will be sharing their thoughts on the most popular questions ahead of GW17. This week we will be discussing whether it’s time to sell De Bruyne, if Rashford should be bought ahead of United’s ‘great’ fixtures, blank GW18 and captaincy options.

Thanks to all those people that sent in their questions to us, we have picked out the most popular ones that have been asked. Like always if you enjoy the content, please give our Twitter account a follow along with our FPL guests this week.

“What to do with De Bruyne?”

LetsTalkSoccer:

Ah…the Man City attackers have been a bit of a letdown FPL-wise recently. Each week, their owners have high expectations – only to have those dreams dashed.

The two most popular City attacking assets, KDB and Sterling, have put their owners in precarious spots. Do we give them “one more week” (a phrase uttered by many a hopeful FPL manager every gameweek!) or is it time to make the move to other options? Coming out of GW16, we owned both Sterling and De Bruyne. Going into W17, we’re down to just KDB having opted to replace Raz with a very in-form Son.

Why did we choose to keep KDB over Sterling? Glad you asked! For us, it was a way to not only replace an underperforming player, but also one that’s the more expensive of the two, which frees up quite a bit of money for future use.

While KDB will probably not rival the number of goals Sterling will produce, the Belgian is likely to far exceed Raz with assists. During most games, KDB has one of the highest BPS scores on the pitch.

And while KDB doesn’t always get bonus points after the final whistle has blown, he’s always a likely candidate to walk away with 1, 2 or 3 extra added to his gameweek tally. In fact, he has 13 bonus points already this season, which is second-highest among midfielders (Mane is first with 15 bonus). KDB is a playmaker, as evidenced by his high bonus points total. And, he’s first among midfielders and second among all players in BPS, which is the calculation to award bonus points after each match.

To make a further case for De Bruyne, he’s top in the League for expected assists (xA) with 8.75.  That’s more than 3 ahead of the next closest player (TAA with xA of 5.30). Combining KDB’s xA per 90 mins (0.63) with his 0.27 expected goals per 90 (xG90), he’s at almost 1 goal involvement per 90 minutes played (xGI90 of 0.90). Or, 12.48 xGI in the 15 games he’s played this season.

One last box that KDB ticks for us: He’s on corners and free kicks, giving him that extra opportunity for goals and assists.

For those that currently own KDB: We suggest not letting his next two fixtures (Arsenal away, Leicester City at home) dissuade you, especially if you’ll want him back ahead of GW19. As we’ve said in the past, big-time players are expected to turn in big-time performances in big games.  That’s what makes good players great. We fully expect Man City to put in a couple goals against a leaky Arsenal side that has conceded the sixth most home goals in the League (12). And, at home, we can only assume that City will put at least one past a strong Foxes team.  If there are goals for City, KDB is likely to be directly involved.

 

FPLFootballAdvice:

No manager would have guessed that after the opening 7 gameweeks, the value of Kevin De Bruyne would come under question. Over this period he averaged 9 points per game, amassing an incredible 9 assists and 2 goals.

While De Bruyne looked unstoppable, those who enjoy stats would have acknowledged that the form wasn’t sustainable and was clearly out-performing these stats. Since gameweek 9 (rested in gameweek 8), De Bruyne has only scored 2 goals and grabbed 1 assist, a drastic decline in comparison to the early season form.

The stats though don’t necessarily justify this drop when looking over these two periods. Between gameweek 1-7, De Bruyne registered 18 shots and 29 key passes, while between 9-16 he had 26 shots and 28 key passes (notably one more match over this period). The stats are identical if not better in some departments, therefore it could be a case of the team, rather than De Bruyne, influencing the return on points.

In the opening 7 gameweeks, Man City scored 27 goals – including the 8 goal drumming of Watford which slightly skews the stats – winning 5 of these matches. While between 8 and 16 they have scored 17 goals, winning 5 matches and losing 2. It hasn’t been a secret that Man City have been in a poor run of form over the past month in the Premier League.

De Bruyne is currently the most sold of any player ahead of gameweek 17, his team mate Sterling closely following in second. However, we think that managers should seriously consider the decision when selling a FPL asset like De Bruyne.

Firstly, his value has risen by £0.7m since GW1, a reflection of his form throughout this season. If managers choose to sell De Bruyne, they must acknowledge any value built up in him. Starting the season at £9.5m – now priced at £10.2m – some managers have accumulated serious value in the Belgian. While it can be wise to sell a player before their expected decline in price, it must also be considered about how that player can be purchased in the future at this higher price point.

For us, we think that De Bruyne is still delivering the FPL returns we would expect of a GW1 £9.5m rated midfielder. Besides, Mane (109) is the only midfielder to score more FPL points than De Bruyne (97), with the likes of Salah (88), Son (88), and Sterling (81) all trailing.

He will be held by us for the coming gameweeks, whether that is due to logic or heart, we think it is the right call. Historic data is a big part of our decision making, and looking at the seasons gone by including this season, we think De Bruyne will remain an excellent FPL option. If managers were planning on selling, the top options in our eyes are Mane and Son.

“Can we trust Rashford and Man United?”

LetsTalkSoccer:

With 5 goals and 2 assists in his last 5 PL games, we’d say, yeah, Rashford can be trusted. As for other Man United players, we’re still unsure.

United have not lost in their last 5 games (3 wins, 2 draws). But, other than Rashford, we don’t see much current value in any of his teammates.

Wan-Bissaka? Maybe. He certainly played well at The Etihad, where he didn’t let Sterling have a moment’s rest. But Man Utd haven’t had a clean sheet since Week 5, which is one of just two clean sheets this season.  Last season, AWB was a great attacking threat as a defender, but through 15 PL games, he has yet to be directly involved in a goal. But, if you’re looking for somewhat of a differential (15.4% ownership), he could be a good pick, especially when looking at the upcoming fixtures below.

Martial as an option? Again, maybe. We’ve all seen him light up a scoreboard. But he hasn’t really done it much recently – 1 goal and 2 assists in his last 5 games played. But, he could be a great differential (just 5.4% ownership) if his form picks up.

Despite their woes against lower-ranked teams, Manchester United is very much an emotional team, meaning that when they play with confidence, they’re hard to beat. Rashford himself is the same way. His current good form is largely a result of his increased confidence. With consecutive wins against Spurs and Man City, confidence should be extremely high for Man United. Playing at home against Everton in Week 17, we expect Rashford and company to have an excellent match.

 

FPLFootballAdvice:

Rashford has been one of the stand-out players the past month, guiding United to two excellent back-to-back victories.

For us, he has been a real consideration to buy this gameweek, therefore we created a detailed thread to try and come to a decision:

“How are you planning on negotiating blank gameweek 18?”

LetsTalkSoccer:

We just posted something addressing Liverpool’s blank GW18 on our Instagram page.

Our take is this: If you own Liverpool players, we recommend simply benching them…provided that your bench is in order. We mean having three outfield players (and possibly a goalkeeper if you own Alisson) that are regular starters. Chances are that these bench players aren’t top performers like Mane, Mo, TAA, VVD and Robertson are, but that’s OK.

With a viable bench, all you have to do is simply bench your Liverpool players. Not only does it help you avoid burning free transfers, especially if you’re going to want your Liverpool players back as early as Week 19, but it also allows you improve your bench.

A decent (or dare we say “strong”) bench is increasingly important throughout the rest of the season. We’ll continue to see teams rest players and manage their minutes as the season gets busier. And we’ll also see blank and double gameweeks. A solid bench is critical to not only survive, but actually thrive, in unpredictable and unusual future gameweeks.

So rather than burn transfers on taking Liverpool players out for Week 18 only to use other transfers to bring them back in, we suggest using those transfers to enhance your bench. Most managers are going to need to do sooner than later anyway, so there’s peace of mind taking care of it with the free transfers they’ll have ahead of GW17 and GW18.

Yes, there’s a chance you might see a bit of a dip in GW18 when your usual bench players are featured in the Starting XI, but in the long run, a good bench is vital to seeing those coveted green arrows. This is a long-term strategy as opposed to just a one-week plan. Whatever your decisions for Week 18, we do recommend ensuring your bench is as strong as it can be.

 

FPLFootballAdvice:

For those managers that are unaware, gameweek 18 is the first blank of the season. The Liverpool v West Ham fixture has been cancelled due to fixture clashes for the Reds, causing a few problems for manager’s squads. Here is how we plan to negiotate this gameweek.

We currently own 2 Liverpool players – Mane and Robertson – and unsurprisingly no West Ham players (sorry Hammer fans). While the temptation is there to sell one of the players to purchase another high value player, the value accumulated in Mane makes him impossible to sell. Meanwhile, while we haven’t built value in Robertson, the temptation of another teams defence isn’t as attractive as first thought.

Instead, we plan to strengthen the squad, bench the two Liverpool assets and ride out the gameweek. We think that this is a strategy that not only benefits this blank gameweek, but also the Christmas period as a whole. With the fixtures coming thick and fast, the possibility of rotation and injury is naturally much higher than the average gameweeks. A strong squad is essential in order to cope with these changes in sides.

So if a manager finds their selves in a similar situation, we recommend using the free transfers logically to prepare for the loss of these Liverpool players. A strategy we have seen talked about is the use of a free hit chip to field a strong starting 11. At first glance of the fixtures, it appears to be a very difficult set matches – Everton v Arsenal, Man City v Leicester, Spurs v Chelsea. Many highly owned players will be owned in these fixtures, therefore the free hit chip will provide the opportunity to invest in players outside of these fixtures, where the value may lie.

However, for us we don’t think that we can trust the assets that come from some of the sides on offer. Also, the free hit chip should be used with joy, and this set of fixtures really don’t get us excited.

Of course, if managers have been left in the situation of owning 3 Liverpool players along with injuries and a non-playing bench, then the wildcard might be a wise move. The wildcard must be used before the end of the calendar year – gameweek 20 – and could be a great time to use if the squad looks weak. A word of caution to those managers, remember the buy price of a player once you sell them, and whether their price tag can be afforded in the future. Managers need to avoid selling a player with a short term vision, to only price themselves out of rebuying later down the line.

“Captaincy options”

LetsTalkSoccer:

Because there are a few great options, the right captain choice could make all the difference in GW17.

The chart below provides a look the performances of several popular FPL attacking assets against their upcoming opponents – detailing number of games played against the opposition, goals scored, assists made and their average goal involvement per game.

GW17 captaincy options

As you’ll see, Martial, Sterling, and the Liverpool front three have particularly good histories against the teams they’ll face this weekend.

Taking a more recent look, we have some highly in-form players…

  • Vardy is on an 8-game scoring streak with 11 goals in that timespan, including a double in Week 16. Not too shabby!
  • Rashford looks extremely confident. With a big goal at Man City over the weekend, that’s his 5th goal in the last 5 games (along with 2 assists).
  • Mane was rested in GW16. But prior to that, he had 4 goals and 3 assists in 5 games.
  • Son has delivered 3 goals, 6 assists in the previous 7 matches.
  • Ings has scored 1 goal in each of his last 5 fixtures.

So many compelling in-form options!

Lastly, let’s look at the form the opponents carry into Week 17:

  • Everton (at Man United) are tied for most goals allowed in away games (17).
  • Norwich (at Leicester City) have conceded the second-most goals so far this season (34).
  • Watford (at Liverpool) have conceded the third-most goals in the League (30) and are also tied for most away goals allowed (17).
  • Wolves are a bit stingier defensively, sitting more or less in the middle of the pack on goals conceded at home and further down the list in overall goals allowed.
  • Arsenal have allowed just as many goals at home (12) and they have away.
  • Man City, while conceding goals, allows less than most other PL teams.
  • West Ham have allowed more goals at home than on the road.
  • And, Bournemouth are fairly middle of the pack regarding goals conceded.

Taking it all into account, Vardy at home to Norwich and Mane at home against Watford are our two main captain options, with Salah mixed in there too. For those looking for a bit of a differential we think Rashford and Martial can provide hauls.

As we always tell our Instagram followers, you can analyze data to death, but nothing compares to instinct.  Because we could find the data to support any of the players above, plus lots more players, that gut feeling cuts through all the noise and tends to be the best predictor. How many times have us FPL managers muttered to ourselves “If I’d only gone with my initial pick!”

Whomever you choose are your GW17 captain, we with you the best of luck and nothing but green arrows. Cheers mates!

 

FPLFootballAdvice:

For us there are a number of stand-out fixtures that provide attractive captaincy options for this weekend. The first of those – and one of the obvious choices – comes in the early kick off between Liverpool and Watford in the shape of Sadio Mane.

Mane was rested against Bournemouth to the horror of his owners, but we think that his rotation isn’t a thing to worry this gameweek. Over his last 5 league matches, Mane has scored 4 goals and assisted 3, returning an impressive 45 FPL points.

His opposition will have new manager Pearson in charge of his first game, and for some people the notorious ‘new manager bounce’ can be a worry, similar to that at Everton. However, if this is to happen, Pearson will have to work some early miracles. Liverpool have won each of their 8 home matches, scoring an average of 3 goals per game. Mane has recorded 9 of his 15 attaching returns at home, a combination that spells trouble for Watford.

It feels like we are banging the same drum as the rest of the FPL community, but sometimes the obvious choice is the best choice. Jamie Vardy just won’t stop scoring right now. The Leicester man has now scored in 8 straight league matches, a total of 16 goals – 5 more than Abraham and Aubameyang.

Leicester face Norwich at the King Power this weekend, looking to continue their unbeaten run at home. Unfortunately for Norwich, the troubles have particularly been on the road, only winning 1 game in 8 attempts, conceding 14 goals.

With an ownership of 51%, it has become a massive rank risk for managers to put the armband on any other player. During gameweek 14, we opted to captain Mane (who blanked) while Vardy scored his customary goal. Being an owner, the natural thing would be to see a green arrow, however his mass captaincy ownership consequently lead to a red arrow.

While there is a genuine debate to be had over whether Mane or Vardy are the right captaincy option this week, it feels almost wrong to go against Vardy. His ownership is the highest in the history of the game, and his form is the best of any player in the league. We think that trying to overthink FPL can sometimes lead to big mistakes throughout the course of the season.

We advise to play it safe and go with the fox in the box, Jamie Vardy. We are a big fan of reflection on decisions after gameweeks, and even if he were to blank, how could any manager not justify their decision to captain him? Now let the FPL gods choose our fate.

 


 

Big thanks to LetsTalkSoccer for contributing to this weeks Q&A article, be sure to give their accounts a follow for top tips throughout the season.

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