With seven Gameweeks crammed in since the beginning of April, it’s been a challenging period for Fantasy Premier League (FPL) managers. But here we are, with just two rounds of fixtures to go.
For myself, I’m hoping for a strong finish that would cap off a testing season that saw me down at an overall rank of 271,064 in Gameweek 30.
However, since then, I’ve managed six consecutive green arrows, and head into the final stretch at 67,097.
So, with two Gameweeks to go, I need to carefully consider my options in an attempt to break the top 50k, which I’m 14 points off.
My initial plan, at least prior to Diogo Jota’s (£7.0m) injury, which has ruled him out for the remainder of the season, was to sell Kelechi Iheanacho (£6.2m) and bring in a new forward.
To scout potential recruits, I plugged in my ‘Hitman’ custom table, which focuses on a selection of statistics I like to look at when searching for goalscorers. In this particular example, I’ve included the top ten using data from the last six Gameweeks:
The idea behind using statistics to start my search is to filter players, and as a result focus on a smaller, more manageable group who I can then run the eye test over.
Having factored in, amongst other things, fixtures, rotation concerns, fitness and price (my budget is £6.9m), I removed Christian Benteke (£5.5m), Jamie Vardy (£10.2m), Matej Vydra (£4.8m), Callum Wilson (£6.5m) and Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£7.6m) from my search, leaving three forwards to consider.
- Price: £6.5m | Minutes played: 2561 | Goals: 12 | Assists: 3 | Bonus points: 16 | Total points: 134
- GW37-38 fixtures: LIV | shu
Chris Wood (£6.5m) has been in superb form since the start of March, scoring eight goals and providing three assists in 10 matches. There have been goals against Arsenal, Everton, Southampton, West Ham United and Fulham, and of course his hat-trick at Wolverhampton Wanderers.
That upturn in form has coincided with an increased attacking output from Sean Dyche’s side.
However, part of me does feel like I may have missed the boat with this one, and it’s hard to get too excited about his Gameweek 37 fixture against Liverpool, which means I’ll probably look elsewhere.
- Price: £5.7m | Minutes played: 1934 | Goals: 4 | Assists: 2 | Bonus points: 5 | Total points: 73
- GW37-38 fixtures: SHU | ful
“I think he’s coming to terms with the language, the Premier League and to England. He’s far better than what he was and we know there’s a player in there – that’s for sure. I’m delighted he’s got a few goals now and looks a threat.” – Steve Bruce
Okay, hear me out.
We all know Joelinton (£5.7m) has struggled since he completed his £40m move from Bundesliga side Hoffenheim, but it’s worth noting he has been one of Newcastle United’s better performers since the beginning of March, and has now scored three goals in his last seven appearances, despite just five starts.
I also expect him to be on penalties, which does boost his potential.
However, regardless of my stance on Joelinton, do I trust the Magpies’?
It makes sense to focus on their performances from Gameweek 30 onwards, which is when Steve Bruce reverted to a back three formation.
Above: Newcastle United’s attacking record in the Premier League since Gameweek 30
Looking at the attacking data, it all looks reasonably encouraging ahead of games against relegated Sheffield United and Fulham. The return of Allan Saint-Maximin (£5.1m) and Wilson, at least for a period, has proved crucial, as did the decision to switch to a 3-5-2 and recall Matt Ritchie (£4.9m).
Despite this, you can never be sure which Newcastle will turn up. Remember Arsenal in Gameweek 34?
I’m probably not going there with Joelinton, but I’m not completely against the move, especially if you’re in need of a mini-league miracle.
- Price: £6.5m | Minutes played: 1814 | Goals: 9 | Assists: 5 | Bonus points: 16 | Total points: 107
- GW37-38 fixtures: wba | SOU
Gameweek 34 saw the return of Michail Antonio (£6.5m) to West Ham’s attack, after recovering from a hamstring injury which forced him off against Wolverhampton Wanderers last month.
He responded with a quickfire double, but has since blanked against Everton and Brighton and Hove Albion. However, he ended Gameweek 36 with four goal attempts, one big chance and seven penalty box touches, which is encouraging.
It’s also worth noting that no forward with substantial game-time to their name has a better rate of expected goal involvement (xGI) per 90 minutes this season, and with games against West Bromwich Albion and Southampton to come, Antonio looks like my best option given his schedule and numbers over a longer period.
So, I now have two options to mull over before deadline.
I can either press ahead with my planned Iheanacho > Antonio transfer, and as a result bench Jota and bring Craig Dawson (£4.5m) into my starting XI, or I can focus on that problem area in midfield.
If I do choose the latter and sell Jota, I like Raphinha (£5.5m) as an option, despite looking a little off the pace on Saturday.
Mason Greenwood (£7.2m) and Phil Foden (£6.1m) are other alternatives, but minutes are a concern here, knowing that they could be hauled off early given their team’s respective commitments in Europe.
However, another name at Newcastle has caught my eye, too.
- Price: £4.7m | Minutes played: 1036 | Goals: 6 | Assists: 0 | Bonus points: 2 | Total points: 60
- GW37-38 fixtures: SHU | ful
Joe Willock (£4.7m) is an intriguing differential, currently owned by just 1.0% of FPL managers.
Against Manchester City last time out, he scored his fifth goal in as many games, and looked a real threat running from deep. He’s generally been the most advanced of Newcastle’s midfield three, and with matches against Sheffield United and Fulham coming up, I see no reason why he can’t maintain his form moving forward.
Above: Midfielders sorted by expected goals (xG) since Gameweek 30.
His budget price tag would give me more flexibility with transfers in Gameweek 38, too.
So, as attention turns to Tuesday’s deadline, here’s how I’m currently setup, with the captaincy, at least for now, on Harry Kane (£11.8m):
That may change to Mohamed Salah (£12.8m), but the fact Aston Villa conceded 23 shots to an average Crystal Palace side in Gameweek 36 is encouraging for owners of Kane, Son Heung-min (£9.7m) and Gareth Bale (£9.2m).
As it stands, I’m leaning towards a forward transfer (Iheanacho > Antonio), but will decide on that closer to deadline.
So, best of luck for the run-in everyone, and thanks for reading.
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