The third gameweek of the 18/19 FPL season is in the books, and I’m already running out of intros for these articles.

It’s been a bit of a different week. In the first two gameweeks, we’ve seen enormous scores from plenty of managers, with highly-touted players all delivering. This week has been a bit more of a mixed bag. Personally, I scored 95 and 93 points in the first 2 weeks. This time around? 50.

Injuries, red cards and worrisome form have led to plenty of wildcards, too – 9.3% of players in the top 1,000 have already popped their wildcard.

So, what are the main talking points of the week? Let’s have a look.

Gameweek 3: Key Stats

FPL Points: Aleksandar Mitrovic (16)

Total Shots: André Schürrle (11)

Shots in the Box: Mohamed Salah, Callum Wilson, Romelu Lukaku (5)

Shots on Target: André Schürrle (5)

Key Passes: Mohamed Salah (6)

Penalty Area Actions: Charlie Taylor (13)

Cheap Strikers Are Delivering

One key area to focus on this week was the continued value to be found within the cheap striker bracket. Much like mid-priced midfielders, this bracket can be a goldmine that produces an enormous amount of value for your side.

This week, the top point scorer was Mitrovic (6.6m) with 16, bagging 2 goals, 1 assist, and all 3 bonus points in Fulham’s 4-2 win against Burnley. He’s off to a solid start this season, also scoring in Fulham’s away defeat at Spurs.

Looking at the underlying stats, he’s looking rather promising here. He’s had 15 shots, the third-most of any player in the league, and has an xG (expected goals) score of 2.36, the fourth highest in the league.

The main worry would be the upcoming fixtures. They play away from home in 3 of their next 4 games, with trips to Brighton, Man City and Everton. It’ll be interesting to see if he can keep this form up, but he’s looking good.

Bournemouth’s front two of Josh King (6.4m) and Callum Wilson (6.1m) both returned, the former’s penalty being much to the chagrin of those who sold him. I’m one of those who sold him. The bastard. King’s stats were much improved, with him having 4 shots, including the aforementioned penalty which saw him end up with 9 points.

Wilson only grabbed an assist, but his stats continue to impress, with him having 5 shots in the box – the joint-most of any player this week. Over the season so far, he’s had 6 big chances – the most of any player. He’s also top of the charts for expected goals with 2.79, a higher score than Sergio Aguero and Mo Salah.

Premier League xG - GW3

Source: Understat

Other cheaper forward options also managed to return this week, with Arnautovic (7.0m) and Zaha (7.0m) being the main picks here, scoring a goal each. Zaha is a solid pick, though Arnie is a slight injury risk after going off injured against Arsenal – a game he could’ve had a hat-trick in.

While we’re on the subject of xG, there’s an interesting Twitter thread which showcases players that are both underperforming and overperforming based on their xG and xA scores:

A few of the cheaper strikers are actually mentioned in the underperforming players list, including Danny Ings, Callum Wilson, and Troy Deeney. They’re all deemed to have underperformed due to having a higher xG than their actual returns so far. For example, Wilson has 2 goals, but an xG of almost 3, indicating the potential to do better than he already is.

I’ve also mentioned this because Danny Ings is on the list of underperformers, and I’m dead set on becoming a Danny Ings propaganda machine. Do me proud, son.

The stats are in their favour, and the value for top scorers is seemingly in defence and midfield, so it’s worth monitoring these cheaper strikers as time goes on. Of the premium strikers, only Aguero and Kane have provided any real returns so far, with the others really failing to justify their prices as it stands.

Richarlison’s Replacements

It was 3:41 on a mild Saturday afternoon. Bournemouth were hosting Everton, with it being goalless going into half-time. What was to come next… would be a massive pain in the arse.

Richarlison got sent off.

The man who’d scored 3 goals in the first 2 games and was a staple in so many teams. The man who’d become a core part of the “template”. A mid-priced midfielder playing in a forward role in an attacking side with great fixtures. Gone, just like that.

Naturally, choosing a replacement for Richarlison has been one of the bigger talking points this weekend. Here are the main candidates:

Straight Swap – Theo Walcott (6.6m): The most straight-forward approach would be to replace him with Walcott, the lad playing on the opposite wing in the same team. Walcott has 2 goals and an assist in the first 3 games, though these have come through just 4 shots and 3 attempted assists.

His stats are actually very similar to Richarlison, who could’ve easily been deemed to have been overperforming. Richarlison was generally a bit higher up the pitch over the first two games, but Walcott should (hopefully) take the mantle of being a larger goalscoring threat if Bernard takes Richarlison’s spot; more of a playmaker than a goal threat.

Walcott’s ownership dictates that he’s a very popular replacement:

Walcott Stats FPL GW3

Credit: Fantasy Football Fix 

There’s also the fact that, as Andy said on the Scoutcast this week, you must own Theo Walcott at some point of each FPL season. This could be that time.

Safe Switch – Pedro (6.6m): Another highly-touted replacement for Richarlison has been Pedro. He’s also scored twice in the first three games, but has taken 9 shots compared to Walcott’s 4. Pedro edges Walcott for total shots, shots on target, shots in the box, and attempted assists, all in fewer minutes.

Pedro vs Walcott FPL GW 3

A big reason for Pedro’s popularity for this slot would be the fixtures. Chelsea play Bournemouth and Cardiff at home in their next two games. Bournemouth aren’t great defensively, and Cardiff just aren’t great. There’s a good chance half that match will see Cardiff’s full backs kicking Eden Hazard into orbit, which could potentially create space for Pedro.

The worry I have about Pedro would be the number of minutes he actually plays over those two games. Hazard is back in the team, and Willian is an overbearing threat for that right wing slot. Personally, I believe that Pedro will start as he’s a better fit in Sarri’s system, but Willian can easily come on for him around the 60-65th minute in each game.

Bandwagon Choice – Lucas Moura (7.1m): The soup du jour at the moment would be Spurs’ Lucas Moura, who’s coming off the back of a 15-point haul this week. He scored twice and claimed all 3 bonus points in Spurs’ 3-0 win away at Man United, providing a constant threat with his pace and dribbling, playing up front alongside Harry Kane.

Lucas’ stats aren’t particularly outstanding – he’s only had 5 shots this season and has registered 1 attempted assist so far.

Another interesting Twitter thread would be this one, focusing on data visualisation of the form of FPL options so far this season:

Lucas is firmly in the camp of “excellent FPL form, average underlying stats” here. That being said, he’s similar to Walcott in the sense that while the stats aren’t there, he’s looked good. He’s also playing rather centrally for Spurs – here’s his heatmap for the season so far:

Lucas Moura Heatmap

There’s also the ever-looming threat of Son Heung-Min who may well return for GW5 following the Asian Games.

Potential Bargain – Ryan Fraser (5.6m): Bringing up one final option, though there are many more, I’d like to cover a much cheaper player who’s definitely looking the part: Ryan Fraser.

Now, this may be a bit daft, but picking up Fraser in this slot could free up money to be used elsewhere, potentially allowing you to upgrade a defender – a key part of the team this season, as we’ll cover in a moment.

Fraser’s scored 1 and created another so far this season, but the creative stats are what stand out to me. He’s top of the league when it comes to xA (expected assists) with a score of 1.70:

Ryan Fraser xA

Bournemouth’s creative maestro also top for big chances created with 5 so far. He’s had 5 shots in the opening 3 games, and has taken 11 corners, showing at least partial set piece responsibility.

My personal choice is Walcott. I’ve gone for the fixtures and the fact that he’s 100% nailed on, and could be a bigger focal point of attacking with Richarlison out of the picture. I like Pedro, but the threat of Willian coming into the side worries me.

Defenders Continue to Impress

In the past two gameweek reviews, we’ve seen that the defenders have been smashing it. Well, they’re continuing to do so. In gameweek 3, there were five double-digit hauls from defenders, including Marcos Alonso (6.7m) and Kieran Trippier (6.0m) who were mentioned last week, where they also claimed double-digit hauls.

Alonso claimed 2 assists, with one coming from an effort which was turned into his own net by DeAndre Yedlin, and the other coming from winning a penalty. Though neither of these would count as attempted assists, they both came from him being an active threat in the box. Even with his defensive deficiencies, his ability to create havok going forward just makes him an incredible FPL asset, even in a back 4.

Andrew Robertson (6.1m) scored 9 points even without an attacking return, though not through lack of trying. He attempted 4 assists against Brighton, one of which was for Alexander-Arnold who could’ve capped off an FPL dream goal – defender to defender.

Over the first three gameweeks, 46% of bonus points have been shared out between defenders. Looking at the top baseline BPS scorers, the top three are Robertson, Mendy, and Alonso – the only players to crack 100 BPS so far this season.

FPL BPS GW3

As it stands, having a strong defence is imperative. Full backs are flying forward, centre backs are racking up BPS via pass completion and CBI (clearances, blocks and interceptions), and some of them are taking ownership of set pieces, like Alexander-Arnold and Trippier.

The aforementioned “template” back three of Mendy, Robertson and Alonso looks like it’s here to stay

Prime Triple Captaincy Option

Your captaincy choice is always a vital part of the weekly FPL decision making process. You assess the form, the fixtures, and choose accordingly.

Sometimes, everything falls perfectly into place, which brings up the option of using the triple captain chip.

This is often during a double gameweek, where you’ll opt for a primary captaincy option who has two matches in a single gameweek, often against poor opposition. This can sometimes be to your detriment, though. Playing two games in three days is bloody difficult, even for the very best. This fixture congestion often leads to rotation – if not for the nailed on players, then for the ones around them.

Playing your triple captain chip in a single gameweek can be an option, too. The first real chance for this comes in GW4, when Man City host Newcastle.

Sergio Aguero is emerging as an early option for the triple captain chip. 

His record against Newcastle is excellent – he’s scored 14 goals in the 12 games he’s played against them, including a 5-goal mega haul in a 6-1 win in 2015. Aguero Record vs Newcastle

Source: Transfermarkt

We know that Aguero is in fine form, too. He scored twice in the community shield and scored a hat-trick against Huddersfield in GW2. Though he didn’t register any returns against Wolves last week, he looked sharp, hitting the woodwork twice.

The stats are excellent, too. Aguero’s had 16 shots – the most of any player in the league so far – averaging a shot every 15 minutes. As we saw previously, he’s currently third for xG, with a score of 2.48.

One interesting item to note, for me at least, would be that Newcastle had a higher xGA score away from home (31.36) last season than Huddersfield (30.44). Last season, Huddersfield went to the Etihad and got a 0-0 draw. This season, they were demolished 6-1, conceding over 30 shots. Many comments have been made about how City have worked massively on improving against sides that defend deep and remain compact.

Though Newcastle fared well against Chelsea, it could be a different story at the Etihad, with Aguero being the main threat. Could you imagine something like this happening again?

Aguero vs Newcastle 5 Goals

Would you consider using your triple captain chip this week? Would you even consider using it at all outside of a double gameweek?

 

 

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