Our final Digest piece of the season is here ahead of Gameweek 38.
In this article, we scrutinise a player, team and discussion point that attracted our interest in the previous weekend’s matches – be it for good or bad reasons.
The Player – Ryan Fraser
What a season Ryan Fraser (£6.3m) has had.
Yes, there have been lean periods: the Scottish winger blanked in ten matches between Gameweeks 19 and 29.
Fraser is, however, the best-value Fantasy midfielder or forward in 2018/19, based on points per million spent (28.4 at the time of writing).
A total of 21 attacking returns (seven goals, 14 assists) is more than in his previous two campaigns combined, with no midfielder under £8.5m directly involved in more of his side’s goals this season.
Fraser provided the cross for Nathan Ake‘s (£5.1m) winner against Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday and only Eden Hazard (£11.0m) has more assists to his name this season.
Bournemouth’s win over nine-man Spurs has to be taken with a pinch of salt, of course, given that the Cherries had two men over on the Lilywhites for almost all of the second half.
Nevertheless, Fraser posted some eye-catching statistics.
No Premier League player supplied more crosses, successful crosses, key passes or “big chances” than the pint-sized winger in Gameweek 37.
Fraser’s individual total of ten successful crosses was more than any other Premier League side managed as a team at the weekend.
This wasn’t a freak occurrence that only owed to Spurs’ ill-discipline, however.
Fraser has delivered more crosses and successful crosses than any other midfielder this season, while his total of 28 big chances created is not only the best in the division but also hasn’t been bettered as far back as our records for that statistic go (eight years).
It is perhaps no surprise that Callum Wilson (£6.8m) was missing for large periods of Fraser’s aforementioned dry spell.
Wilson has supplied five assists for Fraser, while the Scotland international has created half of Wilson’s 14 goals.
The pair have proven deadly on the counter-attack in Bournemouth’s two most recent away fixtures at Brighton and Southampton, which saw the Cherries score on a combined eight occasions.
Eddie Howe’s side are again away in Gameweek 38, visiting a Palace side that have the second-worst home record in the division.
There is further encouragement for Fraser and his Fantasy owners in the form of the Eagles’ recent defensive statistics.
When clubs are filtered by their last six matches, no side has conceded as many headed chances as Palace – a possible good omen for Fraser’s assist potential given his dominance at dead-ball situations.
Roy Hodgson’s side also rank 17th for attempts from set plays conceded over this time, while no Premier League team has allowed more crosses.
The Team – Burnley
One of umpteen teams with effectively nothing to play for in Gameweek 38, Burnley take on Arsenal on the last day of 2018/19.
The Gunners’ recent away record (two wins from 12 league matches on the road) and their lack of clean sheets on their travels this season (their only shut-out being the 1-0 win over ten-man Watford in Gameweek 34) will no doubt be of interest to Fantasy managers looking for a final-day differential.
Only Huddersfield Town have allowed more big chances than Arsenal when clubs are filtered by their last six matches, while Cardiff City are the only team to have allowed more opportunities from set plays in this time.
No Premier League side has allowed more headed chances than Unai Emery’s troops over this period, with the Gunners also ranking joint-17th for shots on target conceded and joint-16th for attempts in the box conceded.
On top of this, Arsenal are in Europa League action in Spain less than 72 hours before they head to Turf Moor.
After the 1-1 draw with Brighton effectively ended their hopes of a top-four finish, Emery said the focus was now on the Europa League.
Those considering Chris Wood (£6.3m) or Ashley Barnes (£5.6m) will no doubt be encouraged by Arsenal’s vulnerability in the air and from dead-ball situations, something that may also benefit James Tarkowski (£4.7m) and Ben Mee (£4.6m).
Up until the special case that was the Gameweek 36 defeat to Manchester City, Burnley had scored in all 12 of their preceding dozen home league matches.
There wasn’t much to be positive about in the 2-0 defeat to Everton last Friday, however, with Burnley very much second best for most of the evening.
No side in the division had fewer attempts on goal, shots in the box or efforts on target than Burnley in Gameweek 37.
We ought to cut the Clarets some slack – Everton are one of the form teams in the top flight and have now kept eight clean sheets in the last ten Gameweeks.
Of more concern would be Sean Dyche’s decision to tinker with a hitherto settled side, with Johann Berg Gudmundsson (£5.5m) and Robbie Brady (£5.4m) getting rare run-outs on the flank.
Rotation is a widespread concern in Gameweek 38, with numerous dead rubbers up and down the country handing Premier League managers the chance to give starts to some of their long-suffering bench players.
Speaking of whom, Matej Vydra (£5.6m) has had to wait patiently as Wood and Barnes have started the last 18 league matches together up front.
Peter Crouch (£4.4m) is also now back to full fitness after appendix surgery.
Joint-club-record signing Ben Gibson (£4.8m), meanwhile, has made just one start at centre-half all season.
On the flip side, though, is the desire to finish the season on a high and reward a dedicated fanbase with a positive performance.
Dyche echoed those sentiments in quotes published in the Lancashire Telegraph on Wednesday, saying:
I don’t mean we weren’t up for it [v Everton], but that edge when there’s something riding on it, good or bad. You have to deliver and when it’s not there it’s a strange kind of feeling.
But we want to finish right against a good side in Arsenal, for the way we go about our business, and for the fans, who’ve been amazing.
It’s easy to support when things are going well. But we’ve had really good support even when things haven’t been going as well, the fans stuck with it, home and away, and it would be nice to take on a big side in Arsenal and give something to the fans.
Asked about the possibility of rotation, Dyche gave out mixed signals.
The Burnley boss said:
It depends because equally, the players who have been out there doing it will want to see the season out for their own needs.
Ben Mee, I thought was outstanding again tonight and he, in theory, could play every minute [of the season] next week which is an amazing achievement.
Corky I think did it last year and it is an amazing thing for a Premier League footballer.
It is not just about changing it, it is about the reward for the players that have played and finishing the season. Most players want to finish the season fit and well and performing.
The threat, no matter how small, of rotation in Gameweek 38 is something we can do without as Fantasy managers but Burnley and Arsenal’s underlying stats seem to be aligning nicely for the final-day encounter at Turf Moor.
The Discussion Point – What to do with Wolves assets in Gameweek 38?
Away at title-chasing Liverpool, Wolverhampton Wanderers have one of the toughest fixtures of Gameweek 38.
Owners of Wolves’ Fantasy assets, therefore, face something of a dilemma ahead of Sunday’s deadline, with many amongst us facing a ‘play, bench or sell’ conundrum going into this weekend’s match at Anfield.
Nuno Espirito Santo’s side were well-represented in the top 10k as of the Gameweek 37 deadline, as the below table (taken from Ragabolly’s livefpl site) shows:
|Combination||% owned by top 10k|
|Doherty, Jimenez and Jota||26.63%|
|Jimenez and Doherty||49.1%|
|Jimenez and Jota||48.65%|
|Jota and Doherty||28.1%|
Diogo Jota (£6.3m) and Matt Doherty (£5.3m) each have ownerships of just over 50% in the top 10,000, with Raul Jimenez (£6.9m) owned by a whopping 93.82%.
There is certainly a movement towards selling in the wider FPL community: Doherty and Jimenez are the most-sold players of Gameweek 38 in their respective positions, with Jota the fourth-most-sold Fantasy midfielder.
Wolves come into Sunday’s game on the back of three successive wins, however, along with a track record for competing well against the ‘big six’ clubs.
The latest win for Santo’s side was a 1-0 victory over Fulham, which would have been more emphatic in nature had it not been for wayward finishing and some smart goalkeeping.
Jota’s owners, in particular, will wonder how he didn’t register an attacking return, with the Portuguese midfielder twice dragging inches wide and forcing Sergio Rico (£4.4m) into two excellent saves.
Jimenez frustrated for different reasons, registering only one shot in the box (compared to Jota’s five) and blanking for the third home fixture in a row.
Doherty, at least, registered his first double-digit return in a match since Gameweek 8.
Wolves’ overall record against the big six in the league is competitive, having won four of their 11 matches and only failed to score in two of them:
On top of this, Wolves have also beaten Manchester United and Liverpool at Molineux in the FA Cup.
Their record against the top half-dozen sides on the road is not bad either, with their only defeat being a 3-0 loss to Manchester City in which they played over 70 minutes with ten men:
Three of the above matches were 1-1 draws, while they also dispatched Spurs 3-1 at Wembley.
This record might also be of interest to the many of us with Liverpool assets going into Gameweek 38, given that Spurs, Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal all failed to score more than once when facing Wolves on home soil.
Looking more closely at the three main players in the Wolves team – Doherty, Jimenez and Jota – against the big six leads to some interesting findings.
Overall, their records against the top half-dozen clubs in the league are:
|Player||Apps||Goals||Assists||Blanks||Points per match|
|Jota||8 (inc 1 sub)||3||1||4||4.5|
Away from home, this record reads:
|Player||Apps||Goals||Assists||Blanks||Points per match|
|Jota||4 (inc 1 sub)||0||1||3||2.5|
It is easy to see why Doherty is deemed surplus to requirements by many in Gameweek 38, without a league clean sheet against the big six all season and with only one attacking return in five away appearances against these clubs.
There has to be a disclaimer against Jota, though, with three of his four overall blanks against the big six coming before his conversion into a bona fide striker in Gameweek 15.
Since then, he averages 6.2 points per match against the top half-dozen clubs.
Jimenez meanwhile has only blanked once against a big six side on the road – that being the 3-0 defeat to City when his legs were preserved with a half-time substitution.
There are other factors in play here, of course, including Liverpool’s record of clean sheets at Anfield (11 in 18) and the fact that the Reds held Wolves to nil in the reverse fixture in December.
Jota and Jimenez sit second and eighth respectively among all players for xGI over the last five Gameweeks, though, shrugging off any talk of an FA Cup semi-final hangover.
As the stats in the above tables suggest, playing one of these two players at Anfield in Gameweek 38 mightn’t be the worst idea in the world – particularly if City swiftly race into a commanding lead at Brighton and extinguish a deflated (relatively speaking after the euphoria of Tuesday night) Liverpool’s chances of winning the league title.