#FPL GFCT – Pragmatic Strategy Report (GW4)

Strategic View

The start of the Season 20-21 has seen a boatload of goals, a general lack of clean sheets, and some really unexpected results. Teams and players have moved from the sublime to the pedestrian from Gameweek to Gameweek, and expectations had to have been reset.

The new handball rule seems to have increased the potential for penalties greatly – we have seen 6 penalties for handball in just the first three GWs – in the whole of 2019-20, there were 19 handball penalties. Do we need to look more carefully at penalty-takers?

As a general principle, empty stadiums (due to the Covid-19 related restrictions) have led to the dwindling of the home-ground advantage. This is not a major surprise – we had seen that trend in the delayed restart of season ‘19-’20, as well as in the Bundesliga.

Is there any respite for us FPL managers in these rather turbulent waters? Indeed there are. Many of the secure point scorers from the previous seasons have done well in patches. The top scoring defenders from last season – the Liverpool boys, Trent Alexander Arnold (7.5), Andy Robertson (7) and Virgil Van Dijk (6.5) reside near the top of the defenders’ points chart. Mo Salah (12.1) and Sadio Mane (11.9) are carrying on from the previous season, and Man City’s talisman, Kevin De Bruyne (11.5) has had one sparkling game, and another okay-ish one. A slightly neglected FPL asset, last season’s golden boot winner, Leicester’s ageless Jamie Vardy, has slotted in five goals already, and Southampton’s Danny Ings (8.4) and Wolves’ Raul Jimenez (8.5) are chipping in with goals, pretty much as expected.

Everton, with a new-fangled midfield sporting the polished James Rodriguez (7.7) and with Dominic Calvert-Lewin (7.4) morphing into the Merseyside Inzaghi, and having risen by 0.4 – are having a great start to the season. Leeds, with the genius Marcelo Bielsa at the helm, seem to be completely thrill-a-minute. Fulham have lost all three GameWeeks, and have conceded at least three in each of their games. Sheffield United have also lost all three without scoring a single goal, but pass the eye-test in defensive organization – the less said about their offence the better.

The season is young, and we can really only guess about how it will transpire yet. Some of you have already played your wildcards. Some of you have held on to it. Some of you have already clocked 200+ points after GW3, and some of you have barely crossed 100. Some of you are blaming your distinctly bad luck, and some others are patting your backs for the fine decisions you have taken. That’s all right.

We have only this to tell you. We have not even seen 10% of the season yet. It will be a long, arduous journey. You will have to be patient at times, and decisive at others. The only non-negotiable if you would like to end up with a great rank end-season, and win your mini-league, is the discipline of making sensible, well-thought-out moves GW after GW. Believe in the process.

It’s a marathon, not a sprint!

Tactical View

We would provide you with the generally accepted template team (within budget) at the moment, from % ownership, Twitter, and picks of top FPL players. This should give an indication on the prevalent thoughts at FPL-verse. At the moment, at the conclusion of GW3, it is as below.

Please note: Son (TOT 9.0) would have been part of the template had it not been for the injury that he incurred in GW3, and the associated price drops that have followed.

Template Breakers: Are players at each position who seem likely to become part of the template in the near future – players seeing a rise in ownership due to recent good performances.

DEF: Castagne (LEI 5.7)

MID: Fernandes (MUN 10.5)

STR: Vardy (LEI 10.0)

Operational View

Which players are the best picks according to the statistics?

  1. Goalkeepers
  1. Matt Ryan: Brighton only have an xGA of 3.37 after 3 games. Considering that they played Manchester United and Chelsea in 2 of these matches, their xGA rank of 4th (out of teams who have played 3 times) is impressive.
  2. Jordan Pickford: Everton boast the most impressive xGA (1.58), so spending a little extra for Pickford doesn’t look too bad.
  3. Emiliano Martinez: Fewest BCC/90 (0.5), 3rd fewest minutes/xG (110), from GW6 to GW15 AVL only play 2 top 9 sides from last season. PLUS he saved a pen!
  1. Defenders
    1. Michael Keane: As mentioned above, Everton have been the most impressive team defensively based on xGA. Keane currently has the highest xGI (expected goal involvement) of any defender. Put the two together at a good price and you’ve got yourself a good FPL option. Keane also has the 6th highest baseline bonus among defenders so any return, be it a clean sheet or goal/assist is likely to translate into bonus points.
    2. Timothy Castagne: At only 5.7, Castagne is on a high quality defence and gets forward enough to produce an xGI of 0.4, which is currently ranked third in the league among defenders. Keep in mind the loss of Ndidi is big, and limits Leicester’s defensive assets. Castagne certainly passes the eye test, but with an inconsistent manager, and only 1 key pass, 1 big chance, 1 big chance created, and 1 successful cross, he is not for the meek at heart.
    3. Andrew Robertson: At 7.0, you’re paying for the dependability of Liverpool. Robertson is currently ranked second for xGI among defenders. Robertson has an xG90 of 0.2 and an xA90 of 0.16.
      1. Robertson vs TAA
        1. R: Big Chances Created 1, Total BC 1, Key Passes 2, xGI 0.92
        2. T: Big Chances Created 2, Total BC 0, Key Passes 6, xGI 0.61
        3. Robertson worth the 0.5M savings?
  2. Midfielders
    1. Mohamed Salah: He’s got an xG90 of 0.80 and an xA90 of 0.28. Liverpool have the highest xG in the league so far (8.59).
    2. Sadio Mane: Mane has the highest xG90 of any midfielder at 0.84. He has an xA of 0.16.
    3. Wilfried Zaha: Crystal Palace’s talisman has an xG90 of 0.67 and an xA90 of 0.14. Palace have an xG of 3.75, which is tenth in the league.
    4. Kevin De Bruyne: KDB has an xG90 of 0.57 and an xA90 of 0.45. Manchester City have an xG of 3.52 over their first two matches.
  3. Forwards
    1. Dominic Calvert-Lewin: With an xG90 of 1.40, DCL is on fire in an Everton side that are ranked second in xG (7.70). His xA90 is negligible at 0.02.
    2. Jamie Vardy: The Leicester talisman has an xG90 of 1.21 and an xA90 of 0.06 in a Leicester side that rank third in xG (6.81).
    3. Neal Maupay: Brighton’s #9 has an xG90 of 0.88 and an xA90 of 0.16. Brighton have an xG of 6.30, which is fourth in the league.


Let us try on a more granular lens to see which other players may belong on our watch lists based on xGI/90. Over or under performance against XI and fixture difficulty making the metric WL (Watchlist).

To qualify players must have been nominated by the research group, not benched for more than 30% of game time and selected by less than 10% of managers.

It is important to note that some of the top performers are due to regress significantly, i.e. they are over-performing their XI (XG +XA). Another way of putting it is that Tyrone Mings if he carries on at the current run rate will score 418 points, clearly impossible – trust you now get my point.

This can be identified by Soucek (box added for emphasis) in that he is now due an involvement given his XI, and the eye test for that matter as an owner!

So who to consider, well it must take into account your structure, plans and weak links but i think the players listed may all do a job for you in the next 5 game weeks.

Our Punts

Every week, three team-members would come up with three punts of not-very-highly-selected players each, of their choice. Basis? Some are based on solid stats. Some on eye test, and some on muscle-memory and fixtures. No explanations are provided – punts are punts.

  1. Chase’s punts: Vardy, Mahrez, Maupay.
  2. Gabriel’s punts: Semedo, Keane, Che Adams
  3. Baganboy’s punts: Greenwood, Maupay, Harvey Barnes.
  4. Ajit’s punts: Werner, Foden, Saiss

I hope you all enjoyed this edition and you can expect this biweekly report going forward too.


GFCT Team.

Shom Biswas

Chase Blocker

Chris Turner

Gabriel Penaloza

Published by baganboy

Good-ish FPL manager, poor FPL advice-giver. ID: 16025 @baganboyFPL at Twitter.

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