After three weeks we are starting to build up a bit of a pattern and it should come as no surprise to see that the top 3 elite midfielders in our Goal and Assist Threat table are also the most selected midfielders in the game at the moment (along with Gylfi Sigurdsson of course). But is there anyone on the verge of breaking this stranglehold?
As usual, the table is below. Goal and Assist threat are based on the shots the player has and the chances he has created for others, all weighted by the probability of a goal determined by the location of the shot, type of pass for the shot, etc. using our ‘Expected Goals’ model.
We’ve not normalised the data on a per minute or per appearance basis yet. It makes no great shakes at the moment and we’ve noted those players whose game time so far is behind their peers in the review.
|Player||Goals||Sh||SoT||Shot Dist.||Goal Threat||Assist||KP||Assist Threat||Overall|
Goal Kings - Ramsey & Sterling
Ramsey and Sterling are off and running like no one else so far this season. We can’t look past either of them as ‘best in class’ players at the moment, or indeed their potential for the remainder of the season based on their pure ability, current role in their teams, and performances they’re putting in. If you don't fancy both of these players for your team you've got to seriously ask yourself why not.
Assist King – Fabregas
Fabregas is certainly on course for 20 assists this season. If he can show more goal threat and penetration in the box and thus look like he can get towards a 10 goal season then he’ll have no problem blitzing the 200 point mark you should be aiming for from your elite fantasy Premier League players, and we're expecting him to fire in a free-kick any day soon. However, without this added goal threat he's not going to be anywhere near a must-have player this season.
Up Steps Steven Gerrard
Gerrard gets a big rise in the table due to his penalty against Spurs. In terms of ‘expected goals’ penalties of course are the very best type of shot a player can get - you expect a goal. Penalties are not as frequent as regular shots of course and can tend to distort players stats if they aren’t the team’s dedicated penalty taker – e.g. Yaya Toure won’t match his points total from last year unless Aguero gets injured again. Gerrard though is the main man at Anfield for penalties and it looks very much that Liverpool, with their vibrancy in attack, could be on course to win 10 or so penalties against this season. A lack of real threat from open play though means Gerrard's points celining is pretty much capped at the level he's hit in recent years and around the 175 point mark. Not to be sniffed at, and makes him a very reliable player, especially if his penchant for bonus points continues, but you've got to feel there are others who can do better.
On the Rise? Santi Cazorla
We mentioned we hadn’t normalised the data by minutes played yet. If we had, Cazorla would be higher, perhaps above Fabregas. as he was rested for most of the 2-2 draw at Everton. In the following game, against Leicester, he played centrally with Ozil on the left and created a number of great chances for Sanchez and Ramsey. You have to imagine Ozil will return to his central role though once he’s up to full speed and Cazorla will move out left or lose his place in the first XI to Walcott.
Builiding Steam! Alexis Sanchez
One player who is definitely building up a bit of a head of steam is Arsenal’s big summer signing Alexis Sanchez. His goal and assist threat is rather underwhelmed by a poor 45 minute display up-front against Everton. The Chilean, along with many other World Cup players, may not be up to full fitness yet and is obviously new to the league and adapting. His goal and general display against Leicester though was a very positive step, and mirrors his performance in Europe against Besiktas; so far he’s 2 goals in 4 games for Arsenal. Note his shot accuracy so far in the league is 2 out of 7, 28%. Once he starts hitting the target around the 50-60% mark he has done in previous seasons at Barca the lad has the potential to explode. Save him a seat on the bus if you're interested.
Falling Fast – Eden Hazard
We can’t make out what’s going on with Hazard. He’s had just 2 shots in 3 games now. There are over 100 players who have had more shots than him so far, a hundred! And this includes Stewart Downing! Two of Chelsea’s games were against promoted teams and in the other they scored 6 goals. Overall they’ve have had 51 shots – Hazard has only had 2. His 10 key passes might look good on the surface but they’ve lacked cutting edge. More importantly, for a huge £10M fee in FPL, you can’t really settle for assists. We've said the same thing about Di Maria and will say the same of Fabregas too. We're not down on assists in general, they're nice, it's just goals are nicer.
The only thing keeping Hazard in the picture at the moment is he has a goal and assist to his name, and both came from his trademark quality of dribbling into the box from the left wing and making something happen. These moments of pure class are what make him so special as a player, and so explosive in FPL. This, plus likely penalty duties and a superb FPL track record. Has his role in the team changed this season with Costa and Fabregas on board? Has he been asked to be more creative? A quick comparison with last season - after 3 games last year Hazard had just 1 assist but was showing decent threat. By GW3 his 6 shots and 10 key passes would have been roughly equal with Gerrard in the above table. We’ll need to have a look at his performances to date in closer detail if he has a low-key game against Swansea this weekend.
Christain Eriksen (and the Also-Rans)
It’s with regret that we have to relegate Eriksen from the top tier of elite mids, at least for the time being. He still has potential but can’t really hold a candle to Ramsey, Sterling and co. at the moment, nor do Spurs look like they can match the number of goals that the top 4 will score this season. Juan Mata’s close range effort against Sunderland buffered his overall score in our stats but he’s only had 2 attempts on goal beside this. He’s another player who is unlikely to match the top guys and could possibly be marginalised further with arrival of Radamel Falcao. Yaya Toure had a number of good opportunities against Stoke City in GW3 in exactly the type of game where City dominate and the Ivorian can station himself in the opposition’s box. He'll score goals again this season, but his price tag remains prohibitive.
We’ll be extending this review to another bracket of players later in the week when we’ll look at the potential and stats so far of midfielders priced around the £6M mark. Gylfi Sigurdsson is of course the premium pick in this category but is there anyone else who’s worth a slot in your team alongside him?