Gameweek 2 of the 18/19 FPL season is in the books, and it turned out to be quite an eventful week. Well, the build-up to the gameweek was where the majority of the drama took place – we’ll take a look at that further on.

Here’s an overview of GW2, including a selection of the main talking points + takeaways from this week.

Gameweek 2: Key Stats

FPL Points: Sergio Aguero (20)

FPL BPS: Sergio Aguero (82)

Shots: Sergio Aguero (9)

Shots in the Box: Sergio Aguero, Gabriel Jesus, Danny Ings (6)

Key Passes: David Silva, Gylfi Sigurdsson (6)

Che Kun Aguero, Che Capitanoooo

Since Gabriel Jesus rocked up in Manchester, FPL interest in Aguero has dropped somewhat. There’s always the issue of Pep’s Wheel of Rotation – which one of them will start? Can they play together? Does Pep prefer Jesus?

Worries were alleviated when Aguero started in the Community Shield, bagging a brace against Chelsea. Here’s the impact that match had on his ownership, shooting up by around 20%:

Aguero Ownership - 18/19 FPL Season

Those prior worries returned in full force going into this week, though. Jamie Jackson of The Guardian penned an article claiming that Aguero could be dropped for the Huddersfield game, with Jesus in his place.

This sent the FPL community into a bit of a tizzy, as many had earmarked Aguero as a prime captaincy option for GW2. It didn’t help when Jose Alvarez, someone well-connected at City, retweeted this article, fanning the flames. This debacle led many to switch the captaincy away from Aguero, opting for the safe option of Salah.

Aguero only went and scored a hat-trick, also claiming an assist and all 3 bonus points. He started alongside Jesus, while Sane, Sterling and Mahrez were benched. Stats-wise, he had 9 shots, leading the line for a ludicrously dominant City side that beat Huddersfield 6-1.

Pep also had some kind words to say about Aguero after the match, saying: “I’ve never seen Sergio like right now, in my period here.”

City’s next few fixtures are absurd, including upcoming home games against Fulham and Newcastle.Man City Upcoming Fixtures 2018

With his current form and City’s fixtures, as well as his ownership, it’d be difficult to go without him. He also rotates the captaincy fairly well with Salah. This is a defensive rotation chart for City + Liverpool, but you get the idea:

Aguero + Salah Captaincy Rotation

Full-Backs Flying Again

In last week’s review, we saw that most of the big points hauls were coming from attacking full-backs. Well, that’s been the case again, with plenty of them returning well and looking like key FPL prospects going forward.

Though the top-scoring defender was a centre back, Bournemouth’s Steve Cook, we saw double-digit hauls for Alonso (13), Pereira (12), and Trippier (11). Other full-back favourites Robertson and Mendy brought through returns as well, the latter claiming 2 assists.

One that particularly stands out here is Marcos Alonso, who grabbed both a goal and an assist in Chelsea’s 3-2 win against Arsenal. Though he’s playing as a left back as opposed to a left wing-back, he’s still been getting far forward for Chelsea under Sarri.

Alonso has had 6 shots so far this season, with 3 attempts in each game. He also has 3 key passes, has hit the woodwork once, and won a penalty against Huddersfield. He’s also a set piece threat, with deep free kicks being aimed towards him. There’s also the threat of him banging in a 25-yarder from a free kick, too.

Benjamin Mendy was back to his brilliant best. He was flagged up in last week’s review for getting pretty far forward – he really stepped things up this week.

City demolished Huddersfield 6-1 with Pep playing what was more-or-less an asymmetrical 3-5-2. Bernardo Silva could be classed as the right wing-back, though spent plenty of time drifting inwards.

Mendy operated on the left and dominated the wing by himself. His heatmap from that match is insane:

Mendy Heatmap vs Huddersfield 2018

He attempted 12 crosses, the 2nd-most of any player in GW2. He also had 3 shots and was pretty unlucky not to claim a third assist. He’s an absolute machine down that left-hand side, giving City a completely new dynamic.

It’s difficult to call players essential after just 2 gameweeks, but bloody hell I can’t imagine not owning him.

Another standout full-back performance was from Spurs’ Kieran Trippier. His 11-point haul came from a goal and all 3 bonus points in Spurs’ 3-1 win against Fulham. His goal was a free-kick, bringing back memories of his early goal against Croatia.

It was nearly complete, it was nearly so sweet.

Anyway, Trippier’s stats were promising: 2 shots, 2 key passes, and 13 attempted crosses – the most of any player in gameweek 2. His heatmap, while not as ridiculous as Mendy’s, was still outstanding for a defender:

Trippier Heatmap vs Fulham 2018

He seems to be taking ownership of set pieces for Spurs now. He took 4 corners compared to Eriksen’s 1, and of course scored from a 25-yard free kick. This could have a big knock-on effect for Eriksen, making him slightly less of an FPL prospect, especially with the similarly priced Mane doing so well.

Trippier has a few things on his side – enormous ownership, outstanding crossing ability, near-ownership of set pieces. The main thing going against him would be Pochettino’s penchant for full-back rotation. If Aurier ends up getting the Champions League games, Trippier could be a prime defensive choice.

One full-back that didn’t provide any returns but has the underlying stats would be Ben Davies. He only scored 2 points against Fulham, though his stats were still impressive. Davies had 4 shots and 3 attempted assists/key passes, with him being very unlucky not to at least grab an assist.

What stands out, in particular, would be his xA (expected assists) score – he leads the league here with an xA of 1.25:

Ben Davies Stats - Expected Assists

Source: Understat

With Rose not being a fixture in the side, and stats like these – Davies could provide similar numbers to the other flying full-backs, if the chances he creates are finished. With both Davies and Trippier, it’s worth noting that Spurs went back to their 3-at-the-back formation, bringing back Alderweireld.

These full-backs are really becoming a key part of most FPL sides, helping to shape somewhat of a template. Heavy hitters are returning well, with this being a very common sight amongst the FPL community (isn’t it pretty?):

Mendy, Robertson, Alonso FPL

Mid-Priced Midfielders Continue to Deliver

Last week’s review also focused on mid-priced midfielders, with many of them doing well. Again, that theme continues, with many of these mid-priced maestros continuing to do well.

Theo Walcott was the top-scoring midfielder this week with 13 points. 1 goal, 1 assist, all 3 bonus points; lovely ol’ job. It’s difficult to trust Theo considering his lack of returns in recent years – breaking the 100-point mark just once since 2013. That being said, he can really do well in Silva’s attacking system and could emerge as an FPL option.

His mate Richarlison continued his form, scoring again and claiming 2 bonus points, tallying up to a respectable 9-point return. His stats are essentially the opposite of what they were last season. He’s scored 3 goals from 4 shots, whereas last season he was ludicrously profligate.

He’s up there with Mendy and Mane as the players that are just skyrocketing in price – he’s on the verge of hitting 6.8m. With Everton’s fixtures, as well as his 30%+ ownership, he’s becoming difficult to avoid.

Comparing him and Walcott’s touchmaps, it appears as if Richarlison is more involved higher up the pitch:

Richarlison vs Walcott FPL

Pedro also scored again, claiming 8 points in Chelsea’s win against Arsenal. There’s a debate as to whether he’ll still continue to play when Hazard is back, but I think he’ll stay. As mentioned in the previous article on Sarri, I think he suits them a lot better than Willian. His direct style of play and constant runs will be something that Sarri bloody loves.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan scored 1 and created another, claiming 12 points against Chelsea. Any returns from Arsenal players in their first two fixtures – City and Chelsea – were pretty much a bonus. Their run of fixtures from here on is unreal, making players like Mkhi absolutely prime FPL options:

Arsenal Fixtures 2018

James Maddison also scored, picking up 9 points this gameweek. He’s been one of the lesser-touted mid-priced shouts, making the step up from the Championship, though he’s done well so far. He impressed against United and scored against Wolves, with Leicester also having some great fixtures on the horizon.

His individual stats weren’t particularly outstanding against Wolves, though. His goal came from his only shot (a deflected effort), and he didn’t register a key pass. Even with that in mind, he’s one to keep an eye on.

It’s interesting to see so many mid-priced midfielders doing so well right off the bat. As we’ll cover in a second, most teams are seeing 2 players in this price bracket make an appearance.

Early Wildcards Taking Shape

Going into gameweek 3, it seems as if a number of wildcards are already being played. Teams who haven’t had players like Mane, Aguero, Mendy and Richarlison are being overhauled.

It’s an interesting subject, considering that early wildcards have been a popular choice for a while now. Well, maybe not this early – more around the GW4-6 mark, coinciding with the first international break.

With these early wildcards flying around, there’s seemingly a bit of a template that’s come about. Here’s what it looks like, more-or-less:

FPL 18/19 - GW3 Wildcard Template

Ederson is seemingly the pick of the litter in goal. De Gea hasn’t impressed, nor have United as a whole; especially defensively. He also allows for a City triple-up without gambling on the midfield rotation roulette.

The back three is very, very common, with it being what I have currently: Alonso, Robertson and Mendy. They’re all very attacking full-backs for 3 of the top sides in the league.

Salah is a given, though some brave souls are going without him for the next few weeks. Mane is popular too, boasting 32% ownership and two double-digit hauls so far this season. That slot could also be used for Hazard, more of a differential choice; potentially an outstanding one.

Then, we’ve got two mid-priced slots, as mentioned earlier. Richarlison features in the majority of drafts, with Mkhitaryan emerging as a popular option as well. Pedro is the other standout option in the mid-priced bracket if he keeps his place in Sarri’s front three.

Aguero is up top for most sides, though Aubameyang is an alternative with Arsenal’s outstanding fixtures.  The other two striker slots are probably the most up in the air at the moment. Most sides opt for 2 cheaper options to help bolster the midfield + defence. Zaha and Arnautovic are popular choices, with the former featuring in 49% of teams in the current top 1,000. He’s also got some handy fixtures coming up.

Then there’s the other striker. I’ve personally seen Ings mentioned rather often, someone who I’m a big fan of. He had 6 shots in GW2, all of them coming in the box, with him also scoring Southampton’s only goal against Everton. He’s cheap enough to take a punt on, has some good fixtures, but can also be rotated.

The lads at Who Got The Assist have run through wildcard options in their latest pod.

Though it’s difficult to identify a template so early on, this is what the majority of early wildcards are looking like as it stands. If you’ve popped your wildcard already, what’s your team looking like?

Going Without Salah?

One topic worth briefly touching upon would be the idea of dropping Salah. This is being floated around, considering that Mane has been outscoring him so far, for a much cheaper price.

The main piece I’ve seen on this came in a Reddit thread over on /r/fantasypl, with a user talking about removing Salah from GW4 to GW8.

Their main reasoning seems to be Liverpool having a relatively tough run of fixtures in that time. After the upcoming Brighton game in GW3, they’ll play Leicester, Spurs and Chelsea away, topped off by a home game against Man City.

Liverpool Fixtures 2018

Due to their tough fixtures, his appeal as a captain drops slightly. If you’re not captaining a 13m player, then what’s the point?

It’s certainly an interesting idea, especially with players like Aguero and Aubameyang being such prime captaincy options. With the previous wildcard template, it’d be very difficult to fit these players together, so you’ll have to choose.

On the other hand, he’s currently top for xG (expected goals), and second for xA (expected assists), having scored one and claimed another 2 assists in the first 2 games.

Premier League xG + xA

Personally, I’m sticking with Salah. I’m one of the few brave men that opted for #Kanexit – a movement towards the end of 2017 which saw a few managers ditch Harry Kane in favour of strengthening elsewhere. He proceeded to score 2 hat-tricks in 2 games. Many of us came crawling back straight away.

Does Salah’s price make him difficult to own, especially during rough runs of fixtures?

 

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