WHERE IT’S AT – PART 1

It’s the international break, but this time, instead of boring you about the fact that it is boring, and England, I thought I’d look at it as an opportunity. The Premier League is on holiday so what better time than now to pop round, break in, and have a good look through its drawers. Or, in other words, I’m going to have a look at some stats, see where it’s at.

We are now 7 gameweeks into the season, and the first point I want to share with you is that the season is running a calendar week later than the last. This time last year, the massive Gameweek 8 had already happened by now, and if you remember, Aguero then went on to get injured while playing away. My favourite memory of that break last season was down to Vladimir Voronkovs (24th). After Aguero’s five goal smash vs Newcastle Vlad took a hit to get him in, and then took another hit to get Aguero back out following his injury. Sorry to remind you of this Vlad, but it does serve as a warning to us all while our most essential players are off gallivanting on other business. Let’s hope something like that happens in this break too. Or let’s not.

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Oh no.

I’ve recently heard a number of fantasy aficionados getting increasingly superstitious about Gameweek 8. It’s usually a special gameweek with loads of points, and this season it comes right after the break. Of course it may not be special at all, maybe it’s just superstition, but you know, it might be amazing, so let’s be excited, I know I am!

Regardless, what’s key at this time is that both the PL and the FFUK league will begin to settle from this point on. The players and the teams are becoming more consistent, the template is forming, and our own Top 10 is beginning to take shape. The season start is always a little bit erratic, last season, none of the big hitters even started playing for about 5 or 6 weeks. This season, on the other hand, all the big hitters started from day one (except for Kane) although there has been a bit of up and down, especially when considering the form of the United or Chelsea stars.

But surely Spurs are the biggest surprise of the season so far. Off the back of beating Man City they seem very much to have picked up where they left off (just before they bottled it at the end of last season), and I’m sure I was not alone in forgetting them. As Sam Blake (7th) pointed out, for their emphatic win vs City they were without all of Dier, Dembele and Kane.

So now everyone’s touting Son, who only scored 4 times in 15 games last season, but has already scored 4 in just 4 games this time around. And this is on top of the renaissance being played out by England trio Lallana, Walcott, and Sterling. Chris (12th) would hate it. Imagine that! A triple English midfield, can’t kick a ball vs Iceland but bossing the Premier League with massive resurgences. And what about Rooney too! Oh, he’s finally been benched. Poor Wayne.

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Sad Rooney

One oddity I have noted is that unlike last season, ‘new’ players just haven’t emerged in quite the same way this season. Last season there was Mahrez and there was Vardy (I love going on about them), but there was Payet, Ayew, there was a young ginger by the name of Kevin de Bruyne. There was Ozil??? And there was, hmm, well there were actually a whole host of players who weren’t exactly new to the Premier League that were performing as expected (and are up there again this season).

How about this for a stat? By Gameweek 7 last season, Aguero had only scored 1 goal while a young gent by the name of Jamie Vardy had scored 6 goals (it had to stop right?) Poor old Callum Wilson had scored 5 including a massive hat trick before being sidelined for the rest of the season with a knee injury. There were also a number of forwards on 4 goals, Pelle, Lukaku, Gomis, Ighalo, and 6 players had scored 3 each. Not including Aguero’s single that makes 45 goals from 12 forwards by this stage last season. This season there are only 10 forwards who’ve scored 3 goals or more, scoring 39 between them.

So let’s have a look at how the mids are doing. A key factor this season is the number of mids playing up front for their respective clubs, not least Heung-Min Son in ‘Arry Kane’s absence. But there is also Sanchez and Firmino, with Sturridge seemingly not a big part of Klopp’s plan. Check this out. This season we have 14 mids scoring 3 or more goals by GW7, totalling 50 goals. This is against 8 mids scoring 3 or more goals by this stage last season, and they had scored just 26 goals. Wowzer.

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Here Comes the Son

A quick note on assists – there don’t seem to be many stand out assisters this season. Again taking a baseline of 3, this season only 5 players have achieved 3 or more assists so far, totalling 16 between them. Comparing to last season, that number doubles to 10 players, who had achieved 34 assists between them by now. My own inclination is that there have been more ‘un-assisted’ goals this season, but we’ll see what happens through the course of the season.

Hmm, so if the superstitious are correct and GW8 is a whopper, god only knows what we should be expecting! Maybe some defensive points?

Last season defenders were seriously in the points at the start, not least because 22 goals had been scored by defenders, with 22 assists to boot. This season, there have been 21 goals from defenders, 21 assists. Hmph. That’s almost exactly the same. At least something’s consistent then.

But the real stat you want is clean sheets. So at this stage last season there were 41 clean sheets in the Premier league in 7 gameweeks, and this season we’re on 30. That’s a crude 25% drop. It equates to about 44 fantasy points assuming everyone had decent defenders, very roughly (and not including lost bonus points and ignoring all the 0 point and 1 point defenders we’ve had thus far). Bearing in mind that a majority have (or had) wildcarded by now in both seasons we should have (had) decent defenders earning us points week in week out by now. Anyway, we’ll see later how much, if at all, those missing points have made a difference.

Saying that, there was a slight return for clean sheets in GW7 just passed, as Chelsea, Spurs, Arsenal, Southampton, Leicester all achieved clean sheets. Unbelievable really, that Man City had clean sheets in 5 of their first 7 last season, United had 4, then Spurs, Arsenal, Southampton, Everton, West Ham, Watford, and even Liverpool had all had 3 clean sheets by this stage. This year we’re picking from Spurs 4, Arsenal 3, Leicester 3 and Southampton 3. That’s it, just scraps from the other teams. But I think it’s fair to say that this quartet of teams look strong for cleanies through the season, with Southampton maybe perhaps the only surprise. You just can’t get rid of Southampton can you? What do you have to do to kill em off? Every bloody season, they sell all of their good players, get a new manager, and then do absolutely fine!!!

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Rickie Lambert, now at Cardiff City.

Next up I’m going to have a look at the FFUK league in more detail, before I attempt to siphon some player stats through the 2015/16 window and pick some performers for this season. Catch you in Part 2.

*Disclaimer: Please note, for this article I got a lot of information from Wikipedia, and a lot of stats from Fantasy Football Scout. If any of the information is wrong, blame Wikipedia, but if any of the stats are wrong, you can blame me.

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