We reflect on the weekend double-header of Virtual FPL action and look ahead to Tuesday’s fixtures in our latest article on Ragabolly’s popular Fantasy management game, which has attracted almost 3,200 entries at the time of writing.
READ MORE: How to sign up and play Virtual FPL
GAMEWEEK 6/7 NOTES
Ruddy Faces… A First-Team Stint
Virtual FPL managers in the market for a sub-£4.5m goalkeeper may have a temporary solution on their hands.
Rui Patricio (£5.1m) is set for an eight-week spell on the sidelines as a result of getting injured in Gameweek 7, so John Ruddy (£4.3m) looks set to deputise in his absence.
Wolves haven’t been particularly watertight at the back in this simulated season, registering just one clean sheet and conceding on 14 occasions – only three teams have shipped more goals.
However, Nuno Espirito Santo’s side have had arguably the trickiest of starts, playing six of the current top ten in their opening seven fixtures.
Four of their next five games are against opponents who sit in the bottom six for goals scored.
On the subject of Wolves assets, Matt Doherty (£6.3m) returns from injury in Gameweek 8 after a four-match absence.
The Irish wing-back has already registered 20 attacking involvements (AI) in just 248 minutes of pitch-time, with his minutes-per-AI average second only to Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.8m) among regular first-team defenders.
Doherty already has two goals to his name this season, too.
These are the players we know are on penalty-taking duties from Virtual FPL league fixtures this season:
Crystal Palace: van Aanholt
Man Utd: Rashford
There are no huge shocks there (Luka Milivojevic (£6.7m) wasn’t on the pitch when Patrick van Aanholt (£5.6m) stepped up for Palace) and the penalty-takers for the remaining ten Premier League clubs we can probably take a good guess at from this season’s FPL data.
If you’ve run a friendly simulation and seen anything of note regarding those on duty from 12 yards, let us know.
Ragabolly confirmed at the weekend that missing penalties – as Neal Maupay (£5.7m) did twice in Gameweek 1 – doesn’t make any difference, while the spot-kick takers are “consistent unless the two main penalty takers are not on the pitch”.
With Gylfi Sigurdsson (£7.3m) injured for the next 13 Gameweeks and Leighton Baines (£4.9m) not a regular starter, it will be interesting to monitor who steps up from the penalty spot for Everton if they get one in the near future.
So far we have had 29 clean sheets in this Virtual FPL season, an average of 4.14 per Gameweek.
That in itself is on the low side compared to “real-life” football (5.17 is the average per Gameweek in the Premier League this season) but away shut-outs are even scarcer: there have been only eight clean sheets recorded by visiting teams (out of a possible 70) in this 2019/20 Virtual FPL campaign.
Liverpool and Burnley have both managed to secure two shut-outs on the road, with Watford, Sheffield United, Southampton and Everton registering one apiece.
Six of the eight clean sheets recorded in away fixtures were banked in the first three Gameweeks of the season and we have had just two since.
Wolves, Norwich, Spurs and Manchester City sit near the top of the team attack column despite having some tricky matches to start with, so does fixture difficulty matter in Virtual FPL?
In terms of attacking involvement, the results are a mixed bag.
Using Ragabolly’s colour-coded fixture ticker, we have looked at how many attacks teams are racking up in games of varying difficulties.
Where purple is the hardest and green the easiest, the average number of team attacks per game are as follows:
|Fixture||Number of games so far||Avg attacks per team per game|
There really isn’t a lot to separate the results above; in fact, teams are averaging 0.9 shots more per game in the tougher (red) fixtures than the easier (green) ones.
There are possibly some reasons for this – namely that the more attack-minded teams like Wolves, City and Norwich have had the harder starts – but there have been numerous instances of teams racking up season-high attack tallies in so-called trickier games.
However, looking at attacks conceded, the results go the way of the fixture difficulty:
|Fixture||Number of games so far||Avg attacks conceded per team per game|
Attackers might be more fixture-proof than defenders, then, if the above evidence is anything to go by – although it’s still relatively early days.
Virtual Pep emulated his real-life incarnation by benching Riyad Mahrez (£8.4m) and Sergio Aguero (£11.9m) on Saturday, despite the pair having racked up the points in the Gameweek 5 win over Bournemouth.
As Ragabolly reminded us at the weekend: “Mahrez scoring gives him a better nailed-on status, say from 60% to 80% [chance of starting], but never 100%.”
In all fairness to the simulated City boss, rotation was an issue elsewhere over the weekend.
The hitherto ever-present Joe Gomez (£5.3m) made way for Joel Matip (£5.2m) in the Liverpool defence, while Chris Wood (£6.1m) was benched for Burnley’s 1-0 defeat at Brighton on Sunday.
Ricardo Pereira (£6.3m) and Kasper Schmeichel (£5.4m) were even demoted to substitutes against Arsenal in Gameweek 6 but did return at Bramall Lane a day later.
More to Come from Salah/Mane?
Mohamed Salah (£12.7m) and Sadio Mane (£12.4m) sit first and second for vFPL points and first and third for attacking involvement following the completion of Gameweek 7.
And yet, the pair have relatively under-par chance-to-return conversion rates.
Sixteen of the top 25 outfield players for Virtual FPL points this season have double-digit conversion rates, with the average in this elite group at just over 12%.
Salah and Mane’s, by contrast, is around the 9% mark.
Might the Liverpool pair be slightly underachieving a tad, then, despite their recent hauls?
Teemu Pukki (£6.5m) is the best-value attacker in Virtual FPL this season, returning 7.38 points per million spent.
Not only that, but he is also the best-value vFPL asset in terms of attacking involvement, too, delivering 12.77 attacking involvements per million.
Team-mate Emiliano Buendia (£6.0m), who has already racked up seven assists, is second for that statistic.
VIRTUAL FPL PREMIER LEAGUE TABLE
Our spreadsheet that details team attacks (both for and against) by Gameweek and overall has been updated after the weekend’s results and has been slightly tweaked, so that the fixture difficulty rating colour (according to Ragabolly’s ticker) is reflected in the relevant Gameweek.
The updated standings are below:
TopMarx has also updated his interactive player stats spreadsheet after Saturday and Sunday’s matches, meanwhile.
A number of the stats featured in this article, indeed, come from his excellent document.
The stand-alone spreadsheet can be accessed via this link, with Fantasy managers able to make their own copy by selecting “File>Make a copy”.
INJURIES AND BANS
The only player currently suspended in Virtual FPL, Danny Ings (£7.1m), serves the final game of a three-match ban in Gameweek 8.
Matt Doherty (£6.3m) is back from injury on Tuesday, while Dele Alli (£8.3m) has only one more match on the sidelines to go before he returns.
Rui Patricio (£5.1m), as we have discussed, will miss Wolves’ next eight fixtures.
There were six other new injuries to report from the weekend, two of them long-term: Frederic Guilbert (£4.4m) and Gylfi Sigurdsson (£7.3m) will be out of action until Gameweeks 20 and 21 respectively.
Mamadou Sakho (£5.0m) and Tyrone Mings (£4.5m) will return in Gameweeks 9 and 10, with Charlie Taylor (£4.3m) and Dominic Solanke (£5.2m) available in the following round of fixtures.
Fantasy Football Scout mini-league leader DeltaFox remains top of the overall standings, while five other Virtual FPL managers in the top ten above are signed up to our mini-league: The Balance, Dheeraj Raja, Aritravo, MCR Reds and Eddie Campbell.
You can join the Fantasy Football Scout mini-league by entering the code 9RV4A via the below link.