FPL Matchups GW4: Post Apocalypse

After GW3, I just want to get in to the next GW to be perfectly honest. I am compelled, however, to address the horror in order to heal our collective wounds. Just a reminder, my analysis is through the lens of a coach looking to exploit weaknesses in the opponents.

What happened in #GW3 was akin to a clean-up set when surfing. This is when a set of waves much larger than even the bigger waves of the day approaches, and they break further out in the water, clearing out all the surfers and dragging them towards shore. Returning to the lineup is difficult. You must withstand the force of a set of waves, then paddle through foam, then hurry out before the next set comes and cleans you up again. But return we must. The payoffs are great, and there are always good, empty waves to be had on the next set, as people try to paddle back in time.

Much like in surfing, we persist in FPL. We have just been cleaned up and the most dangerous thing we can do is lose our sense of direction. We must stay the course we have charted and overcome the anomalous FPL clean-up set. It is with this in mind, that I take a look at the common captaincy dilemmas of the week.

1-          KDB or Sterling @ LEE?

MCI look to get some self-respect back this weekend against the side that conceded the fewest goals in the Championship last season. This season, however, Leeds have conceded, 4, 3, and 0. It is difficult to know what to expect from these new sides just yet, but we can still look for potential trends in the data.

To start, we must understand that LEE earned a clean sheet against SHU, while posting an xGC of 1.40 and conceding 9 goal attempts in the box and 2 big chances. Leeds were helped by excellent goalkeeping and good luck. Additionally, LEE have the 2nd highest xGC (5.90), have conceded the 2nd most big chances (8), and the 2nd most shots in the box (33). So where can this good matchup be exploited best, and who stands to gain most?

LEE have conceded the second most chances from the center zone of the field (14), and the MOST chances from the left zone of the field (15).

Conversely, they have conceded the 5th fewest chances from the right side. If Sterling plays up top again, he could find paydirt, but if Foden plays up top and Sterling is on the left (LEE right side), I like Sterling much less. The player in prime position to take advantage of both these weaknesses is KDB. He operates in the middle, where chances are conceded by LEE, and he can drift to either side as well.

I also like Mahrez again in this matchup. Some uncertainty here as the roulette is impossible to predict, but I can see him quite easily returning if he attacks LEE left side.

Recommendation: KDB (Mahrez a good differential)

2-          Salah or Mane @ AVL?

It is time to view AVL as a difficult matchup, in my opinion.

Here is why:
xGC/90: 0.83 (4th)
BCC/90: 0.5 (1st)
SoTC/90: 1.5 (1st)

The back line for AVL, along with a seismic GK upgrade, have elevated them to the level of tricky matchup in my opinion. For the record I am using a made-up scale with these markers:
Enjoy – Exploit – Ignore – Tricky – Dangerous – Avoid – Real Madrid.

AVL is tricky and could become dangerous very soon.

*Side Note* Mings and Konsa are set piece weapons, & AVL have a nice run of fixtures from GW 9 to 14.

For those invested in Liverpool, and are willing to brave the tricky fixture, all I can offer is that AVL concede more chances on their left side than their right and center combined. This is a a trend that dates back to lockdown. From GWs 30+ to 38+ last season, 44% of AVL chances have been conceded from the left. This is Salah territory.

Recommendation: Salah

3-          The Field – Vardy, Ings, or Jimenez?

2 Mercurial FPL assets, and the holy santo of consistency. Of note here is that the marquee captain options discussed previously are away, every field option is at home. You decide for yourself if those details are relevant.

Vardy v WHU:
WHU have actually conceded the 3rd fewest big chances per 90 (1) and is in their xGC Delta (GC-xGC)is +0.86, which suggests they probably should have conceded 1 fewer goals than they have. I’d currently classify this defense as ignore, as I would anyone thinking of captaining Vardy. If you’re thinking about it, you’re a believer. Stats are irrelevant to the Vardy captainer.

Ings v WBA:
WBA have been the defense most enjoyed by opposing attackers. Ings has overperformed per his stats (xGIDelta +1.28, which is the same as Vardy’s) the past couple games, and Che Adams has underperformed per his stats (xGI Delta -0.52), and I like both of their potential to provide returns vs one of the worst defenses in the league. My favorite stats favoring Ings is that no team has conceded more penalty area touches than WBA (34) and the most shots on target (24).

Jimenez v FUL
When talking about Fulham, it must be recognized that they have allowed more than 5 goals more than their expected by xGC. They have an xGC Delta of +5.24. Positive regression is certainly due for Fulham as they look to claw their way to survival. Fulham is between 15th and 18th in most statistical categories:
xGC: 4.76 (15th)
BCC: 8 (18th)
SoTC/90: 17 (18th)
Goal Att in Box: 27 (16th)

They are by no means a good defense, but I don’t expect them to be this poor for very long. That said, I don’t think their change in form is scheduled for this weekend. I like Jimenez to atone this week.

I hope this captain analysis helps you in turning things right side up after last week’s wasteland. Thank you again for putting your life on pause for a moment to read my musings. May it help you up the ranks.


Gabriel Penazola.

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