There’s another double-header of Virtual FPL action upon us this weekend, with Gameweeks 10 and 11 taking place on Saturday and Sunday.
The deadline for both Gameweeks, as ever, is at 19:00 BST.
In our latest piece, we look back on Gameweek 9 of Ragabolly’s excellent Fantasy management game and preview the forthcoming simulated action.
READ MORE: How to sign up and play Virtual FPL
GAMEWEEK 9 NOTES
After three matches on the sidelines through injury, Dele Alli (£8.3m) returned to the Spurs starting XI and scored in the Lilywhites’ 3-1 win over Sheffield United.
The midfielder has racked up seven attacking returns in six appearances this season (one of which was curtailed by injury) and averages 8.1 vFPL points per match – the same as Sadio Mane (£12.4m) and the joint-fourth-best among players in his Fantasy position.
Alli is sixth among midfielders for attacking involvements per 90 minutes (10.73), too.
Spurs are now a clear third for goals scored in Virtual FPL, just three behind Liverpool.
The cut-price Erik Lamela (£5.7m), who has started seven of Spurs’ last eight matches, recorded his second successive double-digit haul on Thursday, while Son Heung-min (£9.8m) maintained his ever-present record with a goal of his own against the Blades.
THE FERNANDES EFFECT
Will the brief absence of Bruno Fernandes (£8.5m) have an impact on Manchester United’s attack?
The 4-1 win over Bournemouth on Thursday would suggest not, with Paul Pogba (£8.3m) and Anthony Martial (£8.5m) stepping up in the Portuguese midfielder’s absence with double-digit hauls in that rout of Eddie Howe’s side.
However, it should be noted that United recorded their second-lowest number of attacks in a game this season, in what was effectively their easiest fixture.
The favourable nature of the Red Devils’ next three games might make those underlying stats a moot point but it would not be a surprise to see their total number of attacks continue to be below the usual levels given how influential Fernandes was before his injury.
Virtual FPL managers who dip into our team attacks spreadsheet on the odd occasion (see below) will have noticed that Aston Villa have been surprisingly sitting second for fewest attacks conceded for some time now.
Those decent underlying stats haven’t really translated into too many clean sheets (only two of them), however, and only six teams have shipped more goals.
Furthermore, Villa have actually enjoyed one of the best fixture runs in the division in the opening quarter of the season.
The Villans have yet to face any of the top five teams for goals scored and it’s league leaders Liverpool up next in Gameweek 10.
Expect to see Dean Smith’s simulated side slide down the defensive rankings soon, then.
On the subject of Villa, Jack Grealish (£6.5m) scored from the spot for the second successive game – pretty much confirming that the midfielder is first in line for penalties, given that Wesley (£5.5m) was on the field at the same time.
Attack v Defence
Liverpool have racked up 308 attacks this season, a whopping 250 more than Newcastle United have managed.
The gap between the top and bottom attacking sides is chasmic but it’s less so when analysing defensive stats – just 78 attacks separate Liverpool, the side who have conceded the least chances this season, from West Ham, the team who have allowed the most.
This follows on from what we discussed on Tuesday about clean sheets being relatively scarce even amongst the bigger sides: 13 of the 20 top-flight clubs have kept a meagre two shut-outs or fewer in the opening nine Gameweeks, with the best being Liverpool, Palace and Burnley’s four.
While attackers are proving adept at finding the target in even the most testing of matches, fixture difficulty does seem to make a bit of a difference when it comes to defensive returns (revisit our research we did in Tuesday’s article on this).
Indeed, not a single clean sheet has yet been registered against either Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Wolves or Spurs.
GAMEWEEK-BY-GAMEWEEK PLAYER DATA
Another day and yet another excellent feature Ragabolly has added to the game.
Week-by-week player data is now available via the top menu bar (click on ‘Player Data’), which provides a breakdown of each player’s key information, such as minutes played, goals scored and bonus points accrued.
VIRTUAL FPL PREMIER LEAGUE TABLE
Our spreadsheet that details team attacks (both for and against) by Gameweek and overall has been updated after the latest matches.
The fixture difficulty rating colour (according to Ragabolly’s ticker) is reflected in the relevant Gameweek.
The updated standings are below:
TopMarx has updated his interactive player stats spreadsheet after Thursday’s matches, meanwhile.
The new ‘Player Picker’ feature, which can help with your transfer-making decisions, has also been optimised.
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
It was a fairly uneventful evening on Thursday in terms of player unavailability, with not one player picking up an injury or red card.
We do have two returning Fantasy assets in Gameweek 10, with Tyrone Mings (£4.5m) and Alex Iwobi (£5.6m) now available for selection after enforced lay-offs.
Dominic Solanke (£5.2m) and Charlie Taylor (£4.3m) will be back for Sunday’s fixtures, meanwhile.
Fernandes will return for next Thursday’s matches.
Eddie Campbell remains top of the pile in the overall Virtual FPL standings and heads the Fantasy Football Scout mini-league, although MCR Reds has narrowed the gap to three points in both.
Six of the top ten managers above are all signed up to our mini-league.
Mr Hindsight leapfrogged Francisco Lamarque to reach the summit of Greyhead’s Great and the Good league, with the league creator himself sitting in third.
In the Mods and Cons mini-league, elfozzie remains in first place and has moved up to joint-62nd in the world.
You can join the Fantasy Football Scout mini-league by entering the code 9RV4A via the below link.