Let’s have a look at gameweek 8, shall we? There was no review last week, but I probably would’ve said that it’d be worth getting Kane in on a one week punt. That’s what I ended up doing. Didn’t go well.

Oh, and it’s another international break! Let’s look at xG and other lovely stats for the next week and a half.

Gameweek 8: Key Stats

FPL Points: Matt Doherty, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (15)

Total Shots: Andre Schurrle (7)

Shots in the Box: Eden Hazard, Riyad Mahrez, Lucas Moura, Glenn Murray, Joshua King (4)

Shots on Target: Paul Pogba, Sam Vokes, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Joshua King (3)

Attempted Assists: Felipe Anderson (6)

xG + xA – Top Performers (a combination of Expected Goals and Expected Assists):

Eden Hazard – 2.36
Callum Wilson – 1.96
Joshua King – 1.86
Ross Barkley – 1.26
Lucas Moura – 1.19

Hazard Continues to Shine

Over the past few weeks, a lot of talk has been about the main four attacking options in FPL: Hazard, Kane, Aguero, and Salah. They’re all elite, premium options that represent immediate captaincy candidates every week.

Well, this week, Hazard was the only one to provide any returns at all. Granted, we had Salah and Aguero play each other, though Kane thoroughly disappointed his owners this week. Myself included, the mouthbreathing swine. Him, not me.

Hazard claimed 14 points this week, scoring 1 and setting up another against Southampton. His combined xG and xA was 2.36, showing heavy involvement in clear chances. He also had 5 shots, as well as 4 key passes.

He’s really establishing himself as the elite option in FPL this season. He’s their primary source of goals, whether it be creating them or scoring them, and is in a much different role to what we’re used to seeing him in.

For the past few years, we’ve seen him under more defensive managers – under Sarri, he’s much further up the pitch. Sarri even said that he can envisage Hazard scoring 35-40 goals if he continues to focus on end product, and not just dropping deep to get involved.

Though the sample sizes are obviously greatly different, a comparison between his average heatmaps from this season and last season are interesting:

Eden Hazard Heatmap 2018Eden Hazard Heatmap 2017

He doesn’t appear to be drifting as much, sticking more to the left-hand side. He’s also generally operating higher up the pitch, especially with the inclusion of Olivier Giroud in the Chelsea side. Here are the average positions of each player in the Chelsea side that beat Southampton this week:

Chelsea Average Positions vs Southampton 2018

The other members of the Fab 4, Fantastic 4, or 1 Star, 1 Solid Option and 2 Underwhelming Dorks (that last one may be a bit long) have looked shaky recently.

Salah has been on the chopping block for a lot of FPL managers recently. His ownership has absolutely plummeted, with it currently sitting at 33%:

Salah Ownership 2018

The lad broke the record for points in a single FPL season, yet Kieran Trippier currently has more FPL owners than Mo Salah. His underlying stats are there, and he’s getting in the right positions, but… it’s just not clicking. The same can be said for Liverpool’s attack in general, really.

They’ve improved massively from a defensive standpoint. Van Dijk, Robertson and Alisson have been enormous in that regard, but so has the midfield. There’s a bit more control about Liverpool’s midfield, which may be taking away from their rampant attacking displays. Milner, Henderson and Wijnaldum, while solid and hard-working, doesn’t scream creativity.

Liverpool’s fixtures are turning, though. Huddersfield, Cardiff and Fulham await them within the next 4 games. If Salah can’t find his form in those games, he’s a goner.

When it comes to the other 2, let’s start with Aguero. While still an elite FPL asset, his time on the pitch has been somewhat limited recently. This stems from a knock picked up against Newcastle – since then, he’s routinely been taken off early.

Even with limited minutes, he’s managed to take more shots than any other player (38), more shots in the box (29), and has averaged a shot every 15 minutes. Here’s a look at players based on shots on target, as well as the volume of shots they’re taking per game, where Aguero stands out:

FPL Player Shots

Aguero will get a rest during the international break, as he hasn’t been called up for the national side. Good stuff, lads. He should hopefully see more minutes once he’s had a rest. Based on how Pep was gushing over Aguero at the beginning of the season in terms of his increased work rate and link-up play, as well as the fact that he’s still starting every game even with a knock – he should be fine in terms of immediate rotation.

When it comes to Kane… What a bloody disappointment. He managed 1 point against Cardiff. At home. Who had 10 men for over half an hour.

This takes me back to when Spurs played Hull and Burnley at home in consecutive weeks in the 16/17 season. Home bankers, where you’d expect Kane to fill his boots… blanks, both of them.

He did manage 6 shots, but his supply line was incredibly limited. Eriksen and Alli are both out with injuries, meaning that Spurs’ midfield consisted of Winks, Dier and Sissoko. As soon as those team sheets were announced at 2 PM on Saturday, I knew we were fucked. By we, I mean the dorks who brought in Kane solely for this fixture.

Without any creativity in the side, he was dropping deep. He also tends to do more of this when Lucas is in the side, who operates higher up the pitch to make runs in behind the defence. If I want a striker who’s going to drop deep to accommodate attacking wingers, I’ll get Olivier Giroud. He’s easier on the eye and the budget.

Spurs Positions vs Cardiff 2018

Regarding Kane as an option, I think I’ll be waiting a while before considering him again.

Assessing Arsenal Assets

So… turns out that Arsenal are doing pretty well. They’ve won 9 games in a row, are full of confidence, and have managed to create some decent FPL prospects.

The name at the top of the list is Lacazette. He scored twice against Fulham, notching a handy 12-pointer. They won 5-1, with Aubameyang managing 2 goals and an assist in 28 minutes, bringing in 15 points – the most of any player this week.

Aubameyang has been a difficult one this season. Going into things, he was at the top of most players’ wishlists, having scored 10 goals in just over 1,000 minutes last season. He’s spent most of his time out on the left wing, notching just 2 goals and 1 assist in the 7 games prior to his haul against Fulham. I wouldn’t really consider him as things stand, as Lacazette has emerged as Emery’s first choice striker. Plus, Lacazette hasn’t been called up for France, somehow, during the international break.

With Lacazette, the one thing putting me off him would be the underlying stats. He’s scored 4 goals this season, though he’s only taken 19 shots, with only 13 coming inside the box. It’s a tricky situation, pitting two schools of thought against each other: Eye Test vs Numbers. The underlying stats aren’t inspiring, but he’s playing very well and doing so for a side in excellent form.

He’s averaging a shot once every 28.2 minutes – less often than the likes of Arnautovic (25.9), Ings (23.3), and Mitrovic (21.2).

Another thing putting me off him, and Arsenal assets in general, would be their fixtures. They’ve had an extremely kind run of fixtures recently, though a few tough ones are coming up.

Arsenal Fixtures October 2018

Their next two fixtures are great. The Palace game is interesting from a defensive standpoint, as they’ve got scored a goal at home yet this season. After that… they play Liverpool, Spurs and Man United, as well as Wolves and Bournemouth – two other form sides.

Essentially… I’m interested in Lacazette, but not much else from the Arsenal side.

Alonso’s Attacking Intent

Marcos Alonso has been an FPL Godsend over the few years he’s been in the league. Since the start of the 16/17 season, he’s scored 14 goals and has 12 assists, on top of 32 clean sheets. As of now, he’s comfortably the top-scoring defender this season with 60 points so far – second only to Hazard of all players.

One interesting thing to note with Alonso has been a change in his attacking intent recently.

In the first 4 gameweeks, Alonso had 12 shots, scoring once and claiming 5 assists, a few of which came from those shots. Since then, he’s only had 4 shots and hasn’t provided an attacking return.

He had 134 touches in the final third, as well as 16 penalty area touches in the opening 4 games. These have dropped off since then, with 69 (nice) touches in the final third and just 3 penalty area touches over the past 4 weeks.

Of course, his FPL returns from the first few weeks were going to be unsustainable, though it’s interesting to see such a drop in direct attacking actions over the past few weeks.

As someone that’s had Alonso for a while, he’s not exactly on the chopping block. The talk around this seems to be coming from wildcarders, looking to free up some funds. For me, he’s probably staying for the season.

Though the underlying numbers have dwindled, he still operates rather high up the pitch. Here are the touchmaps for Alonso and Robertson over the past 4 gameweeks:

Alonso vs Robertson FPL

Chelsea’s upcoming fixtures are good, and the threat of rotation is staved off by Sarri not being a big fan of it, plus Chelsea’s Europa League ventures against much lesser sides. All in all, it’s worth monitoring, but I wouldn’t lose him, absolutely not.

Everton’s Emerging Midfielders

One final area to touch upon would be Everton’s midfield. Well, I say midfield – one of them has started to play up front for them.

In their match against Leicester, Richarlison actually played up front for Everton. This is one of those situations FPL managers dream of. A relatively cheap midfielder, for an attacking side, playing as the sole striker. I get tingles just writing it.

He scored in his first foray up front, but only managed 1 shot in the entire match. Plus, the majority of his touches were actually on the left-hand side of the pitch. Not too many were in central positions:

Richarlison Touchmap vs Leicester 2018

This’ll be interesting to monitor going forward. Will playing up front make him an even great goal threat, or will he be helping to bring others into play with his back to goal?

Speaking of the others, there’s one that’s been flying recently: Gylfi Sigurdsson. A true FPL favourite of days gone by, it’s always nice to see Gylfi doing well.

Gylfi has returned with double-figure hauls in the past 2 game weeks, with 14 and 10 points respectively. In those two matches, he’s had 10 shots and has attempted 9 assists. He’s had 16 shots in the past 4 gameweeks, the joint-second highest of any player. On top of that, he has also created the most chances of any player over those 4 gameweeks:

It’s taken a little while, but it looks like Gylfi is really finding his feet, and is becoming a huge FPL prospect again.

Everton’s fixtures are odd, though. In the next 6 gameweeks, they have 3 outstanding fixtures which alternate with 3 awful ones.

Everton Fixtures October 2018

The potential for hauls against Palace, Brighton and Cardiff at home is excellent. Plus, looking at his records against these top sides, he has 4 goals and 3 assists in 12 games against Chelsea, as well as 3 goals and 3 assists in 8 games against Man United.

If I didn’t have a mouthbreathing troglodyte in my team that needed binning, Sigurdsson would be at the top of my shopping list.