Gameweek 4 FPL Q&A – Is ‘big at the back’ still a smart move?

Gameweek 4 is the last week before the first international break, so it’s important to do well otherwise you are looking at a bad score for 2 weeks! After the United loss and another blank for Liverpool and Man City defenders, big questions have been asked ahead of the weekend.

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In this GW4 FPL Guest Q&A article, we are joined by LetsTalkSoccer who will be sharing their thoughts on the most popular questions ahead of gameweek 4. This week we will be discussing when to know to sell a player, whether big at the back is dead, United assets and captaincy picks.

“When do you know it’s time to sell a player?”

LetsTalkSoccer:

It’s different for each player, in our opinion. Let’s take Kane for example. After his brace in GW1, he’s blanked two games in a row. But, we all know he’s capable of 20+ goals and more than 200 FPL points in a season when he’s fit. We’d be much less inclined to let him go because of a bad showing or two.

On the other hand, if we chose the wrong £4.0m defender who isn’t starting or getting any points to speak of, and we see Lundstram over there for the same price and he’s banging away, we’d jump ship pretty quickly and get the new guy in.

For us, it comes down to: Is holding onto this player much longer going to hurt us more than help us over the medium/long term? Back to Kane…Kane is an investment. And just like many investments, they often take time to provide a good return.

Speaking of both Kane and investments, his price seems like it will drop (or maybe already has by the time you read this article). We’ve seen several managers thinking about dumping Kane just because his price might drop. We don’t see this as a real reason to drop him. And, remember, if his price does drop it will go back to £11.0m, where it was when the season began. If a price drop does make Kane affordable for some managers, we might even recommend buying him.

Again, we know what he’s capable of doing and it’s just a matter of time before he does it. If a blue chip stock took a dive, making it more affordable to the masses, we imagine that many people would buy it knowing that at some point that stock will increase in value significantly. Same thing here with Kane (or Robertson, or any other player that we know can – and will – deliver).

So, back to the question…it really depends on the player and the circumstances surrounding him.

 

FPLFootballAdvice:

This question is one that we can truly relate too in the form Gylfi Sigurdsson. We bought Sigurdsson for gameweek 1 with the intention of holding over the opening 6 fixtures, that were very attractive for Everton. However, 3 gameweeks have passed, no attacking returns and being substituted after 60 minutes last week while trailing 1-0. The signs haven’t been great for the midfielder. 

We think that there are a number of considerations when deciding whether it’s time to sell. Firstly, the reason you are planning on selling is because they are not returning, a clear sign that instigates the temptation to sell. The next thing we consider is the underlying stats, has this player just been unlucky? 

Taking Sigurdsson as an example, over the last 3 game weeks his underlying stats have been:

  • 2.28 sh90
  • 1.90 kp90
  • 0.23 xG90
  • 0.16 kp90

The stats show that he has been involved in the attacking phases, but his low expected goals highlight the quality of chances haven’t been great. 

Next, we want to consider the alternatives available with the sale of this player. Priced at £7.8m, selling Sigurdsson can open the door for in-form players such as Martial (£7.7m), Mount (£6.2m), McGinn (£5.6m). We like to compare the stats to these players, to see whether these alternatives have the potential to provide significantly more FPL value. 

The final thing we consider is the performance of the team and the upcoming fixtures. Some scenarios have good players playing in struggling sides, therefore the player isn’t necessarily to blame. If there is potential for that side to improve, then this could positively affect the FPL value of that player. So be sure to look at both the player and the side. 

These are the main factors we consider when deciding when best to sell a player. Price drops can be a big influence on decisions, with the masses sometimes forcing your hand. We advise to ignore price drops in being the major decision maker, unless it prices you out of a player you are desperate to own. Follow some of the suggestions we made and don’t make rash decisions!

“Budget at the back instead of big at the back?”

LetsTalkSoccer:

We think it’s somewhere in the middle. Let’s call it “balanced at the back”!

As we’ve preached for a while, balance is what we’re striving for over time. In order to do that in FPL, it means a mix of premium, mid and budget players. That doesn’t mean premium in the back, mid in the midfield and budget up top. It means a mix on each line: defense, midfield and forward.

 

FPLFootballAdvice:

Plenty of talk about this topic after Liverpool failed to keep a clean sheet for the third gameweek on the trot. With many managers investing in double Liverpool defence, excluding attacking returns, the gamble hasn’t paid off yet. 

Looking at the expected goals against (xGA), Liverpool have 3.97 when they have actually conceded 3, suggesting they are over-performing. Of course 3 game weeks is too small of a sample to make any significant decisions, but it’s clear they are giving big chances away. The second best defence last season, Man City, have also been giving chances away with an expected goals against of 3.17.

While the stats show the team might be struggling defensively, we still have faith in the premium defenders. The question is whether owning 4/5 premium defenders is the correct strategy, which the data is currently suggesting not. 

The start of the season has started like every year, players emerging as FPL value that shakes the previous pre-season plans. We are confident in historical data that premium defenders will emerge as the highest scoring by the end of the season. We think big at the back is still a smart FPL move, however the options are out there if you decide to move away from it.

“Stick with United assets?”

LetsTalkSoccer:

It depends on which assets you have. We think AWB and Maguire are keepers. Both of them have tracked quite well on the BPS. Once the goals are limited, these guys could be strong assets, not only for clean sheets and the occasional attacking return, but also for the bonus points they can deliver. Additionally, AWB’s heatmaps show that he’s playing a little higher towards his opponents’ attacking thirds.

With 2 goals, 1 assist in his first three games, we like Martial as an option too. He’s clearly a major part of OGS’ attack this season. And assuming he’s fit for GW4, we recommend him as for strong consideration. This season could be his season. Pogba and Rashford could be good gets too. But for the money, we like Tony.

 

FPLFootballAdvice:

Things were looking very good for United and Ole until their 2-1 loss to Crystal Palace last weekend. A surprising result which has had a big impact on FPL managers. After his penalty miss, Rashford is currently the 3rd most sold player, followed by Wan-Bisakka (5th) and Martial (6th). 

We are almost glad that United lost this match, as it is the perfect example of how one bad result to affect decision making. Only 1 week ago, the likes of Maguire, Wan-Bisakka and Martial were ‘must-owns’ and now they are on the chopping board. If that Rashford penalty was a few inches to the left then this topic wouldn’t be in discussion – fine margins.

We like to look at the underlying stats in games like this, to determine whether there is reasons to be worried. Only scoring 1 goal, Man United had an xG of 2.24 (impacted by the penalty), 22 shots – however only 3 on target. While the loss is a worry, the stats don’t hint at a dreadful performance that should start the mass sale of their assets.

Man United still have decent fixtures coming up, with the likes of Southampton, West Ham and Newcastle in the next 5 games. If you don’t currently own, we recommend holding on buying the players to assess whether this was a blip or the start of something bad for United.

If you own, we think holding is a valid move as there isn’t enough information to suggest jumping ship. Of course, the Martial injury is a different story which should be monitored over the press conferences and sold if needed!

“Captaincy pick for GW4?”

LetsTalkSoccer:

While there is an element of gut instinct when it comes to choosing a captain, we also want to present the analytical side too.

GW4 captaincy pick

Here, many common favorites for the armband are compared by goals, assists, FPL points, expected goals and expected assists per 90 minutes, as well as a look at home each player has performed against his GW4 opponent.

Despite the presumably difficult matchup, both Kane and Aubameyang have done quite well against each other’s team. And although neither of them have been delivering the big hauls consistently, this game has all the indicators that it could be a high-scoring affair.

If managers have their doubts in an out-of-form Kane or relatively tame Auba, it’s hard to look past the boys in sky blue, Sterling and Aguero. They’re home to Brighton. The Etihad is never a kind place to visiting teams. This game has an Aguero hat-trick written all over it.

While he didn’t have goal involvement for Liverpool last game, we think Mane is going to be front and center against Burnley.

And, finally, what kind of FPL managers would we be if we didn’t mention Pukki?! The man is on a tear, and against a West Ham team that is tied for second in most goals allowed this season, he could very easily extend his goal scoring streak.

 

FPLFootballAdvice:

Man City players are the clear captaincy favourites for gameweek 4 with their home fixture against Brighton. Man City have scored 10 goals in their opening 3 matches, with an expected goals (xG) of 9.51. highlighting this could be sustained form. Worth acknowledging that 3 matches is a small sample to make any clear conclusions.

5 goals already to his name including a hat trick, Sterling is our top pick and expect him to be the most captained. He has posted the highest expected goals (xG) of any player and is the joint top goal scorer. Sterling can’t be ignored.

Aguero has quietly gone under the radar with 4 goals already, and an ownership of 18%. With the recent injury to Jesus, his gametime looks secure for the weekend and could be a wise captaincy pick for owners.

Our latest video discussed how Man City players are looking essential to FPL success, which we can watch below:

Outside of Man City, our differential captaincy pick would be Jamie Vardy. He scored his first goal of the season last weekend, however his stats still aren’t explosive as we usually expect.

Leicester play Bournemouth at home this weekend, hoping to continue their unbeaten start. Notably, Bournemouth have the second-highest expected goals against (xGA) – however they have played Man City – so Vardy could get chances. At 7.7% ownership, we think he is a viable differential captain for GW4.

 


 

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

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