Double Gameweek 22 came to a conclusion on a night of contrasting fortunes for Fantasy Premier League (FPL) managers.
Wins for Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur are analysed here from an FPL perspective in our latest Scout Notes piece.
DEFENCES ALL AT SEA
Nine goals were scored across Wednesday’s two Premier League fixtures and there could have been more/others besides that, with Opta’s expected goals (xG) metric suggesting we were done out of at least another two goals:
- Brentford 2.53-1.98 Man Utd
- Leicester 1.98-4.58 Spurs
For all bar Spurs, who had actually been in decent defensive nick during an admittedly easy recent run of games, Gameweek 22 was merely a continuation of some awful form at the back.
The fact that David de Gea (£5.2m) has made 35 stops (the most in the division) and picked up eight save points in Ralf Rangnick’s seven matches in charge, six of which have been against bottom-half teams, is a damning indictment of Manchester United’s rearguard.
The Spaniard was again forced to produce some heroics against Brentford, who themselves now have just one clean sheet in their last 17 league matches. Alvaro Fernandez (£4.5m) paid the price for his unconvincing displays between the posts and Jonas Lossl (£4.5m) took his place against the Red Devils.
As for Leicester, they have underwhelmed at the back all season and their clean sheet against Liverpool before New Year looks even more freakish now. Spurs could have been out of sight by half-time, with seven so-called ‘big chances’ falling the Lilywhites’ way in total.
Above: Leicester are bottom for expected goals conceded (xGC) over the last six matches
If you’ve got Brighton and West Ham attackers left over from their recent Double Gameweeks, then their fixtures in Gameweek 23, against Leicester and United respectively, don’t look as bad as they first seem on paper.
MADDISON DELIVERS AGAIN – BUT SHIP MAY HAVE SAILED FOR NOW
Ten attacking returns and 64 points in seven matches represents a phenomenal run of form for James Maddison (£6.9m), who was on course for yet another double-digit haul before Steven Bergwijn‘s (£5.9m) late brace at the King Power Stadium.
Seven of those attacking returns have come against out-of-sorts defences in the shape of Newcastle, Watford and Southampton but the England international has also contributed against better backlines versus Spurs and City in that time, blanking against two more competent rearguards in the form of Villa and Liverpool.
He’ll need to keep that stellar form up against some of the division’s meanest defences in the coming weeks, while a likely blank in Gameweek 27 and the possibility of no doubles until Gameweek 33 (that will probably be the case if the Foxes keep progressing in the Europa Conference League) means that the Foxes’ assets aren’t going to be top transfer targets for many.
BRUNO FERNANDES: THE IMPERFECT ’10’
Above: The most popular captaincy choices among the top 10k in Gameweek 22 (from LiveFPL)
Cristiano Ronaldo (£12.5m) returned to fitness to belatedly play a part in Double Gameweek 22 but it was all for naught for the veteran striker, who cut a frustrated figure when being substituted in the 70th minute.
There was a 21-point difference between what he and Bruno Fernandes (£11.7m) served up in the Gameweek just gone, with his compatriot adding two assists to go with his brace against Aston Villa.
While fortune has played a part in his monster Gameweek 22 haul (his first goal against Villa, for instance), Fernandes has unquestionably looked all the better for Rangnick’s recent tactical tweak.
Abysmal at times as one of two ‘number 10s’ in Rangnick’s failed 4-2-2-2 experiment, Fernandes has been more at home playing on the left side of United’s three-man midfield, armed with a license to drift into more central areas – as he did when teeing up Mason Greenwood (£7.2m) and Marcus Rashford (£9.4m) for their goals.
“I think most of the top teams in Europe and also in England play in a 4-3-3. I think for him it’s better than being pinned to a number 10 position because then he can make himself available in different areas of the pitch, not only in the centre. For me, he is not a wing player but I think in this position, as an eight, he can find the spaces himself, he can sniff the moments in which areas we have to play the ball to him and he can make himself available. I think this position, as an eight, is almost perfect for him.” – Ralf Rangnick on Bruno Fernandes
A lack of form among United’s other attacking midfielders paved the way for budget FPL midfielder Anthony Elanga (£4.8m) to start twice in Gameweek 22 and it’ll be interesting to monitor his progress and game-time in the coming weeks to see if we have another Greenwood circa 2019/20 on our hands. The teenager nodded in United’s opener at Brentford, having been teed up by another bargain-bin United asset in good form, Fred (£4.9m).
The Brazilian, the ‘other’ number eight in Rangnick’s 4-3-3, has created more chances than everyone bar Fernandes among his teammates since the change in manager, despite effectively playing just four-and-a-half games.
Above: Manchester United players sorted by chances created since Ralf Rangnick took charge
KANE PROMINENT BUT STILL WASTEFUL
Harry Kane (£12.3m) loves facing Leicester and he really should have had a hatful on Wednesday, registering a whopping 10 efforts on goal. With an attempt cleared off the line, a header striking the bar and a one-on-one chance blazed over, Kane was profligate against the Foxes but nevertheless took his goal well and produced a fine assist for Bergwijn’s second strike.
Over the last six matches, Kane has scored on four occasions and compares very favourably to other Premier League players for a number of key stats:
|Metric||Total (Rank v other PL players)|
|Goal attempts||33 (1st)|
|Shots in the box||21 (1st=)|
|Efforts on target||12 (1st)|
|Big chances||7 (2nd=)|
|Expected goal involvement||5.90 (1st)|
There should be more to come from Kane in terms of actual FPL returns, as he is the biggest underachiever among forwards this season when it comes to expected goals (xG) – and a man of his proven Premier League pedigree isn’t like to underperform for an extended period.
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