Right, it’s been a while since I’ve done this fantasy column. Hopefully I’ll have enough time and inspiration to keep it going over the coming weeks, as I’m back to work pretty soon. I’ll try to keep these pieces concise and informative.
So, without further ado:
The defenders dilemma
The question on everyone’s (or, at least, every third player’s) lips right now is: what do you do with Benjamin Mendy? City’s left-back has been a steady presence in Pep’s ever-rotating side for the first four games.
Along with Ederson, Laporte and Fernandinho, Mendy played every minute during City’s opening four fixtures. Naturally, the minute I brought him in on the Wildcard, he injured his knee/ankle/foot and will miss the upcoming trip to Cardiff.
I looked at the defenders’ market with two sets of criteria: how good teams were at defending their own goal and how good their defenders were with going forward. What jumped at me were how high Wolverhampton and Watford were if we look at shots conceded in the penalty area and big chances conceded overall. Watford came 6th on both, Wolverhampton 4th for shots allowed and joint-second for big chances allowed.
City, Chelsea and Pool were the other top 5 suspects (and in case you don’t have Robertson and/or Alonso yet – you know what to do). However coupled with individual stats I got a clear winner to replace Ben Mendy in case you have both Robertson and Alonso already … Matt Doherty is your guy.
He might have caught your eye last weekend already, with a clean sheet, assist and 3 bonus points, but his numbers are impressive enough regardless: Doherty is 4th for penalty box touches (behind Pereira, Alonso and Robertson) and is top when it comes to shots inside the box (7). Interestingly enough, Wolves have also conceded an extra goal based on the difficulty of shots they’ve faced – however the sample size is too small to say they are “due” a clean sheet.
If you want to go slightly less left-field than a 4.4 million Wolves defender, you can go for Holebas (Watford’s defense is among the best, remember?) – who tops the charts in chances created (11), Patrick van Anholt (7th in pen box touches and shots inside the box) or Shaw (nothing particularly stat-outstanding, but good fixtures and a potentially more sound defense on his side).
Pick of the bunch: Matt Doherty, 4.4 million (just wait until he played United this weekend!)
The “up-to-7.5 million” bracket is a tricky one. Quite a few midfielders rack up decent numbers, but how much are you prepared to trust them when all this promise has little (or nothing) to show for it thus far?
I have initially started the season with Gross, transferred him out for Richarlison after one GW, then transferred out Richarlison after his red, kept Pedro for a couple of weeks and now … Pedro is injured.
Pedro is still among the best in some key metrics (pen box touches, goal attempts inside the box), but I was always uneasy about owning the Brazilian. It wasn’t with a particularly heavy heart that I sold him, however the alternatives are not straightforward.
A lot of people are going with Fraser after his incredible 18-points haul last weekend. He appears a good pick – top in his price bracket for chances created (11), that includes big chances (6) and joint-third for shots inside the box (7). However I was put off by his expected goal involvement – which stands at under 2 goals, whereas his actual tally is 5 (3 goals and 2 assists).
Therefore I went with Maddison, who has an incredibly kind run on his side, only slightly overblown goal involvement (GI from now on) and appears to be a set-piece taker for Leicester. But his only other decent metric is chances created (8), where he is behind 7 players under 7.5 million (including surprise candidates in Willian and Filipe Anderson).
The one man who betters or equals Pedro in actions inside the opposition’s box (shots and touches) is Pereyra, who is also decent in creating chances (7) and his immediate fixture is Fulham away – a side which conceded the most shots inside the box and big chances too. He would have been my third Watford player (after Hughes and Holebas) though, so…
Pick of the bunch: it’s a close call between Fraser (5.7 mil) and Pereyra (6.3 mil) to be fair. Fraser is a better creator, but his goal haul was an anomaly. Pereyra would get you better goal threat, but worse immediate schedule. Personally, I’d give Pereyra a shot.
Wrapping it up
Haven’t touched on strikers here, but it’s probably the area with most clarity. Ignore Aguero at your peril (he’s first and second for pen box touches and shots inside the box respectively, while also top for chances created (12, in case you were wondering).
Wilson is your ideal back up going by the same metrics, while Arnautovic, Jimenez and Ings can provide valuable alternatives. That comes with a warning regarding the former and latter though – Arnautovic is an injury doubt (also faces Chelsea), while Ings will play no part against his parent club this weekend.
Hopefully I’ll expand a bit more on strikers next week … but this is nearing 900 words and I promised to be concise! Best of luck in your Fantasy exploits this weekend and have a laugh at my team once the matchday is over (below).
My team: Begovic – Trippier – Holebas – Alonso – Robertson – Moura – Maddison – Hazard (v) – Mane © – Aguero – Wilson
Russian Gooner. No, it’s not always cold in my home country 🙂
A staunch Arsenal supporter since 2004. Started writing about the Gunners in 2013.
Currently in London to get a degree in journalism.