On the 2nd of September I published my first team selection article which was met with a lot of enthusiasm and I got a lot of feedback. Most of you liked the process of selection, some of you hated it but most of you encouraged me to continue to streamline the process so that we could all benefit in the long run.
I had written that in FPL and other spheres of life – “participants/risk takers have been humbled several times and despite that have been able to be consistent winners by embracing a process which they stick to no matter what because they know that outcomes cannot be accurately predicted but we can make the odds favourable by doing the right things over and over again“.
I think the above clearly shows that these processes are important to succeed and also that they keep getting refined as situations change. The quote below is also something important I had shared which clearly states that evolution is a part of the process and we need to not only imbibe it but challenge our assumptions, keep an open mind to others thoughts and most importantly we must revise out assumptions as real life feedback is given.
Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth – Mike TysonBasically stating that no matter the context, what they’re all saying is that your first plan is probably wrong. While it is the best starting point you have right now, you must revise it often based on real life feedback.
Its clear that a lot of transfer activity has taken place since I had locked in my first serious draft. Vinagre, the cheapest way into one of the best defensive lineups is no longer a viable option. Chelsea, a team that was already solid from an attacking perspective has been able to improve not only its attacking threat but also get in some experienced players on the defensive front. Everton was being overlooked by most despite having fantastic talent up front in Richarlison & DCL (albiet frustratingly wasteful) because their midfield was unable to help the attack and was not good enough to help the defense either. Since then we have James, Allan and crowd favourite Doucoure have all signed for Everton and the FPL community has had no choice but turn and take hard look at the many more opportunities staring at us right in our face.
Hence, as stated in the above quote it is time for me to change with the real time feedback that I have received. Below I will state what assumptions I was working on and how those have changed and how that has changed my thought process from my first draft and finally how I have ended with what I think is my new final draft.
Firstly, I had stated that I was going to be very risk averse and not take hits, and have a set and forget team etc.
Why? This was because I had made myself believe that if I study the stats well, I will be able to make the correct decisions which will reduce my hits and improve my outcomes.
I had completely overlooked the fact that as a Financial Investor I have learnt several times that despite having the best team, the best analysis, the best risk management that – within a split second all our assumptions can change and we can find ourselves flat on our face! If you have read the book – Long Term Capital Management – then you are aware that a group of Noble Prize wining economists not only went broke investing on their theories but almost took several financial exchanges with them.
Hence, its not the most intelligent person in the room that has the best ability to do well but the person who is willing to accept that they are wrong with their assumptions and have the ability to shift course, almost instantly, without any ego or remorse.
Secondly, I had built my team around last season’s statistics and what I ended up with was a very solid team for LAST SEASON! I had tripled up on 4 or 5 top teams and completely disregarded the fact that new transfers were a clear and present danger for some players in my team. So as an investor I am sure you would have read on a mutual fund pamphlet – historical returns are not an indication for future returns and so please manage your risk carefully. Hence, one should definitely keep an eye out for consistent players but also be mindful that new player might have the season of their lives and that we should remain nimble to accept and transfer them in if that is the case.
Thirdly, with regards to risk management we are taught that if we are somehow able to reduce our downside during poor market conditions then our ability to outperform is much greater when financial markets rise next. For example if we lose from 100 to 90 then we have lost 10% but if we go from 90 to 100 then we have to go up by 11.1%. Hence with COVID it does not make sense to triple up at the start of the season as if we keep losing out on points because our players game is postponed we will keep losing out against our competition and the gap will keep getting tougher to reduce as time progresses.
Forthly, with regards to risk management while you can stay within sectors that continuously perform well in the long run – for example our top 6 to 8 teams – then within those sectors we must take a few bets apart from our consistent wealth builders so that we can add some Alpha to our portfolio. This is similar to having our consistently good premiums but at the same time adding a few risk bets (players) based on the evidence that they can perform better adding to the upside of our possible points threshold. We can do this as long as we have the ability to hedge our bets. In my case this is similar to me taking a few good evidence placed bets on either new players or old players who’s prospect as an addition seems really exciting while we still have our WILDCARD! – This is our so called get out jail free card. This was built so that when our team has an unexpected number of injuries, unexpected events or our calls have just gone horribly wrong we can still change the course without being penalised.
We must use this aggressively to our advantage because FPL managers have come to play – to WIN!
This was the team I had chosen initially and while I would have been over the moon to have this team last season for the reasons stated above and a few more below I have decided to change.
I will be sharing a lot of the stuff I shared in the previous write up so that others who did not read that understand the process and those who might have forgotten can run through it. Thank you for your patience!
So let’s get straight into it! I recently read the book “The Expected Goals Philosophy” by James Tippet. I can’t recommend the book highly enough and I feel it has helped build my confidence significantly while looking at the stats. It has also helped me understand that how one looks at the Team statistics is different from how one should look at the Player statistics. While Players can continue to outperform their stats from the short to medium term it is extremely rare for a Team as a whole to do so. The Team will eventually revert to the underlying statistics while a player who outperforms his data is considered to be an elite finisher.
So what did I learn from the Team statistics of last season?
The table shows that City is miles ahead of any other team when it comes to their attack. Liverpool outperformed their attacking stats and while we could see a reversion they are still expected to score a lot of goals as they continued to create a lot of Big Chances.
If you look at the difference between the expected data and the actual conversion then its clear to see that Everton, Brighton, Burnley & Sheffield are very wasteful and could easily have had a lot more goals considering the Big Chances Created.
On the other hand Spurs & Arsenal significantly outscored their BCC and their expected goals and assist data showing that they could see a sharp reversion if they do not improve their attacking game play.
We can also see that most teams scored between 40 to 60 goals in this season. Its the teams that crossed the 60 barrier which are the teams that we would like to be involved with while choosing our attacking assets.
The defensive data (sorted by big chances conceded) shows that Wolves are a very difficult team to score easily against. In fact Liverpool, Burnley, Sheffield all who’s assets seemed like excellent FPL assets actually gave a lot more Big Chances to their opponents.
Chelsea massively underperformed their defensive data and conceded a lot more goals than they should have. On the other hand Arsenal & Sheffield massively outperformed their defensive data and could have conceded a lot more goals than they actually did. Spurs gave very few Big Chances but also managed to keep just 7 clean sheets.
We can also see that even the worse defensive teams get around 7 to 9 Clean sheets a season. So the real advantage only comes in when our defensive assets start to accumulate more than 10 CS’s plus attacking returns.
Now that we have an idea about how teams performed with regards to their underlying statistics we can have a look at the upcoming fixtures:
The first Wildcard is expected to be used by GW16 latest hence after looking at the FDR’s I’ve only looked up till GW16. Further when we break the FDR in batches of 8 GW’s then we can see a very large swing in FDR rating changes for teams as well from GW9. For example City, Leeds, SHU all have much better fixtures from GW9 to 16 as against Spurs, Fulham and SOU who’s fixtures deteriorate significantly as compared to the starting 8 GW’s.
I have used a couple of FDR’s and added my own tweaks to come up with these ratings. (Please use your own for your analysis)
I have further shortlisted the teams from which I would want to build my opening GW team from using the article – “Season Review by FPL Poker Player” that was released yesterday on our blog. If you haven’t already read it please do so after finishing this article. It’s a must read!
I have kept FPL Poker’s conclusions in mind regarding the last 8 GW’s and the positive xG difference for teams both home & away. To that I have added my own observations from the above table for teams throughout the seasons. This has helped me shortlist the following teams to choose players from minus the GK & place holders for now. These are MCI, LIV, WOL, MUN, EVE & CHE.
I have also made changes to my plans having seen FPL Poker PLayer’s updated spreadsheet for the first few GW’s which was published today. If you have not gone through that then you cannot say that you are completely prepared.
Initially I had decided to stay away from EVE & CHE till I saw how they played and whether they were actually be worth bringing in. However, with my WILDCARD intact, I want to take a few risks and not unnecessarily over think it and unnecessarily reduce the amount of teams I can pick players from. From the above list we have 6 solid teams to choose from and I will do exactly that.
This will help me diversify the COVID risk and it will also force me to narrow down and choose which player I want from each team because it is impossible to have them all! While I might choose the incorrect option I am equally excited to see if I don’t. Over the course of the next few seasons I have no doubt that this will not only help me develop the knack to choose the best player from each team but to also be able to segregate the fact that I would like to concentrate on a teams defense but not on their offense.
I will tie this in with the fact that I will give no weightage to ownership at the start of the season, I will not be bogged down by historical facts such as midfielders should be given preference to strikers because they haven’t performed well in the last 2 seasons and most importantly I will be concentrating on whom I feel based on the current evidence is most likely to get the most minutes so I can avoid unnecessary transfers down the line.
I am currently looking to build a squad that will play till GW 8 atleast. I am not looking to use my WC early currently.
Formation & Price points:
I will be making sure that I have price points covered so that I can easily switch players in case of injury or covid postponements. However, I will not be too hard on myself. I will look at combinations as well, so two 9.0 mln strikers can become a 10.5 mln and a 7.5 mln pair going forward.
Initially, I was on a 4-4-2 formation but I have chosen to go with a 4-3-3 formation which I can change if and when a few value picks evolve. At the moment keeping in mind the team and player stats I am happy with this 4-3-3 structure that will evolve and finally be where I want it to be by GW3/4 latest.
Its very interesting to see that historically it is a 4-3-3 formation team that has provided the best points for me historically. Something I was amazed to see when I checked my history.
I am also not against taking a few hits to get to where I want to be with my team knowing that I will want to have those players in my team for the next 4 to 6 GW’s.
With the premium picks all very expensive this year I have decided to go with a 4.5 mln Keeper & 4.0 mln backup. There is not much between them as far as the data goes as one can see:
McCarthy has less saves than Ryan per 90 but faces less shots even in the box. Ramsdale is now at 5 mln but its tough to decide looking at his CS’s per 90 whether SHU will be able to be the defensive mammoth it was with Henderson.
Keeping this decision simple I’ve decided to go with Ryan & Walton because if there is an injury Walton can come on without me having to waste a transfer. With Ryan having consistently averaged around 3.55 points over the years I would expect a target of around 135/140 points for the season. I will have a relook on my WC.
Reasoning for the above:
While Doherty and Robertson are right up there with Trent and Van Dijk, I’ve decided to see how Doherty settles in with Spurs first. If he continues to be as offensive as he was with Wolves, there is no doubt that come GW9 he will be in my team. The fact that Spurs has not been good defensively is also putting me off for the moment. Robertson is as good as TAA as far as I am concerned but I’ve gone with TAA because he is the more expensive option. In case he gets injured it will be easy for me to move to Robbo rather than the other way around.
Saiss & Vinagre are my way into the Wolves defense and it helps me maintain my price points. They have fantastic fixtures till GW8 which will give me time to scout the other teams. I do not expect the departure of Doherty to affect their defense and till Boly remains healthy I continue to believe that they will remain rock solid in defense.
Mitchell is a place holder for Ferguson of CRY. I expect Ferguson to play regularly once fit.
As you can see the defense I had chosen in my first shared draft – Doubling up along with me being a little undecided with what Nuno and Wolves are trying to achieve has put me off this combination.
The loss of VVD effects the overall return, there is no doubting that. However, all the above teams minus SHU are expected to have excellent defenses and the players are expected to be first choices. Egan is a placeholder currently unless SHU is able to impress us again with Ramsdale. The price points are generous and a combination of transfers can help me get VVD back if I’d like once I can make an informed decision. Overall the CS expectation along with basic attacking returns is still very much intact.
Reasoning for the above:
The above table is sorted by Goals per 90 but by expected attacking returns Salah is clearly far ahead of the others. While my eye test states that Mane is the type of player I will enjoy watching due to his finishing but Salah is the consistent point scorer for three years in a row and with him being the leader in the Big Chances per 90 he should do well. Aubameyang as a midfielder now should do really well and with his great first two fixtures he is the place holder for KDB to join the team in GW3. KDB’s Assist per 90 and chances created is so far ahead of anyone else in the league its impossible to ignore him. He is also one of the only players that does consistently well no matter who the opponent is. Unlike other premium assets who rack up the big scores mostly against the weaker teams.
Greenwood can make a stats person scratch their head due to his lack of big chances and xG levels but his xGI Delta (G+A – Goal Involvement) is the highest amongst the midfielders. He passes the eye test with ease but unlike other players that I like he has not returned both on the goal and the assist front. This is something I will have to remain watchful off. However, at his price and his points per match return of 8+ it’s impossible for me to ignore him. JWP is a place holder with 5 goals and 3 assists last season. He is on set pieces and penalties & I am comfortable holding him till GW4 when Foden will be taking his place. Foden is my punt at the start of the season. He really impressed me during the restart and with 5 subs allowed again I expect him to get game time. I might have to suffer a few sub points but at his price point if he does settle in well he should be great value in a team that scores for fun.
I am going with the assumption Jadon Sancho is a done transfer for MNU and with that Greenwood is not as much of an appealing asset because his minutes can be reduced drastically.
I have simply removed Greenwood and added McCarthy from CRY. I expect him to be bench fodder and as stated above I will be sticking to an eventual midfield of Salah – KDB – Foden.
I currently prefer the strikers as the main point achievers in the 6 listed teams above while selecting and as per my plan to choose whom I think will be the best value within their attacks I am favouring the forwards in CHE, MNU & EVE.
Reasoning for the previous choices:
In the above table you can see the 4 strikers I have zeroed down to for consideration. The list is sorted by Assists. Its a surprising factor which most managers might not look at but knowing myself I would like to have a striker that can get some kind of attacking return even if he doesn’t score a goal himself. It keep the returns ticking and its easier for me to remain patient.
Jimenez takes an aweful lots of shots but has a poorer strike rate than the others but with his expected attacking returns topping the table he is the first one that will be in my team. Martial and Ings both pass the the eye test very well but Ings will only be the place holder till my first transfer for Martial in GW2. Martial gets nod for the second spot as he is a part of a team that scores a lot of goals and I do not see that changing any time soon. He also contributes via assists which Ings does not do much of.
With no new signing on the wing from Wolves and a depleted attacking threat from the end of last season I have decided to move on from Jimenez. He has been a fantastic but for the moment I much rather go with the Wolves defense with Coady-Boly-Saiss holding fort over their offence.
As per Infogol Everton we exceptional in attack after Ancelotti’s appointment, averaging 2.17xGF per game until the postponement. I feel the midfield will bring back some of this offensive drive and as per Infogol again DCL recorded a 0.51 non-penalty xG per 90 minutes which is right up there with elite strikers as per this metric. He had an xG of 16.07 and scored 13 times. He had 27 big chances which in his price bracket was awesome and second only to Vardy and Jesus in the premium bracket. He had only 1 assist, something I do not like but at his price he fits in the frontline well and we give him a chance!
Chelsea had a hugely impressive 2.06 xGF and 1.21xGA per game as per Infogol and should have secured top 4 with much more ease. Even Chelsea, like Everton, were huge underachievers at both ends of the pitch. As per Infogol Timo Werner had an xG/avg. match of 0.72. This is insane along with an xG for the season of 20.8, netting 28 times, signaling that he is actually extremely clinical.
THE FINAL LINEUPS:
For GW1 this will be the squad:
For GW2 this will be the squad:
For GW3 and forward, hopefully till GW8 this will be the team:
In case KDB & Foden are rising in price and I am getting priced out then I will take a -4 and make the GW3 changes in GW2.
I recently read an article by lukejerdy on FFHUB titled – “Picking my FPL team the Maths approach.” Its a fascinating read & I highly recommend it!
Anyway long story short he stated that the winner last year won with a whopping average point score of 67.76 points!
Yes, you read that correctly and just for the fun of it I have taken the average scores for various players from the same article to see where I stand if I were to use those averages and set and forget my team which I intend on having in GW4 onwards. Here’s the result:
Thats a whopping 71.18 points on average per week!
Not bad haha…
Now how does that stack up with the new team?
It is not surprising to see that to have a much more nailed on team and manage our risk we have in the process lowered our expected points in the table above.
However, this seems like a much more realistic impression of what I could expect if I plan well and have tonnes of luck!
Thank you for reading till here and as a manager dedicated to improving and learning I look forward to your constructive feedback on my team.
I appreciate you giving my updated team research a go again and I am very grateful!
I intend on keeping this team minus any injury or covid postponement.
I wish all of you all the best this season and I will look to publish my next season review in the break between GW8 & GW9 where we can together study the updated stats for teams and players alike.
Ajit Dhillon.Follow @DhillonAjit
Credit: Data has been used from FFScout, FFHub & Infogol.