GW23: Emerging Prospects, Fading Stars

Are the fantasy stars of Mata and Eto'o on the rise and which heavy hitter is fading out?


Welcome to this new article were we'll be running an eye over some of the latest developments in player ownerships and evaluating whether they are good moves. The definitions of emerging prospects and falling stars will be loose, but hopefully the analysis won't be!

Emerging Prospects


Juan Mata


With a move to Manchester United, Juan Mata provides the perfect example of what this article is about. Mata was a fantasy hit last year, ending as the 2nd highest scoring midfielder, with a PPG of 6.1, but has been out of favour with Mourinho this year. A move away from Stamford Bridge brings the Spaniard right back into contention and presents an excellent alternative in midfield. With current ownership of just 4.2% he also represents a rare opportunity of differential status and proven quality.

Taking a quick look at Mata’s stats we see his attacking activity is massively down this year on last year. But I feel it would be fairest to look at his stats from the 2012/13 season, when he was playing regularly and in a role he was suited too, as it’ll give us a better idea of how he might do in Manchester.

Comparing Mata’s stats last year, to Hazards this year, we see that Mata could match Hazard for points if he can replicate past performances. His PPG matches Hazards this year to demonstrate what a brilliant fantasy asset he could be. He shot more often than Hazard has been, though fewer are on target, and created more chances. At Manchester United he’s likely to play a more creative role with Van Persie and Rooney in the team, so expect assists rather than goals from him.

Player Season Apps Mins Points Goals Shots On Target Assists Key Passes
Mata 13/14 13 66.2 2.3 0 0.8 0.1 0.2 2.3
Mata 12/13 35 81.1 6.1 0.3 2 0.7 0.3 2.7
Hazard 13/14 22 87.2 6.1 0.4 1.8 0.8 0.2 2.4

Not only are the stats good, but the outlook is good as well. Since he is cup tied in the FA Cup and Champions League, he is virtually guaranteed a start in every premier league game. His injury record is also good, suggesting he’ll be a reliable pick in midfield. After a stop-start first half of the season, Mata will also be well rested and chomping at the bit to play regular football in an effort to get his career, and world cup chances, back on track. He’s also a route into Man United’s nice fixtures, which include Cardiff, Stoke, Fulham and Crystal Palace in the next 6, ranked 2nd for attacking fixtures in the next 6 GWs.

So far Mata sounds perfect, but we do have to add some caveats. He is out of form and may not be fully match fit, his stats this year are a huge worry since there’s no guarantee that’ll he’ll get back to performing like he did last year. It’s also not clear how he’ll fit into the team, especially with Van Persie and Rooney back fit.

However, Mata’s possible return to first team football could be as exciting for fantasy fans as it will be for football fans.

Verdict: Speculative Buy. But await team news before the deadline to see if he starts.


Samuel Eto’o


Off the back of a hat-trick againt Man United in GW22, and a month long knee injury keeping Torres out for a month, fantasy managers are presented with a way into the Chelsea frontline in the form of the Cameroonian striker. With Demba Ba out of favour it seems like Eto’o will be first choice for Premier League games.

With Suarez and Aguero securing places in every team, there’s only one slot left for a striker, so it should be used wisely. Priced at 8.2, Eto’o is competing with the likes of Negredo, Sturridge, Giroud, Lukaku and Adebayor, so here’s a comparison of their key stats.

Player Apps Mins Points Goals Shots On Target Assists Key Passes
Eto'o 12 63.3 4.9 0.5 0 1.3 0.1 0.8
Negredo 21 66.2 4.4 0.4 2.7 1.1 0.1 0.9
Sturridge 14 82.7 6.8 0.8 3.4 1.6 0.2 0.9
Giroud 20 90.6 5.3 0.5 3.5 1 0.3 1.2
Lukaku 20 81.8 5.2 0.5 2.9 1.3 0.3 1
Adebayor 7 82.9 7.1 0.7 2.1 1.1 0.3 1.4


Eto’o clearly keeps pace with his rival, with the second most shots on target per game, despite averaging far fewer minutes. Accounting for him playing fewer minutes would see Eto’o beat all but Sturridge for his attacking activity. He’s also the only player on the list who’s not currently scoring more than we would expect him too, so there’s no need to fear for regression in his goal scoring.

The worry with Eto’o is his game time, he’s only played 12 out of 22 league games so far, and has never started more than 2 in a row. This may be due to rotation and other options upfront, but it might suggest that the 32 year old doesn’t have the fitness he did 5 years ago at his peak. Even with Torres out and Ba unfavoured, Eto’o still presents a huge risk in your team.

With Hazard so widely owned now, it’s worth considering whether your willing to double up on Chelsea attackers, especially since they face Man City away in a couple of weeks and Mourinho has so far been very cautious in big games. It’s hard to imagine Mourinho wanting to concede many at the Etihad, but to stop their devastating attack you really have to sacrifice attacking threat. Having said that, Mourinho will probably look to attack on the counter, and while Eto’o lacks the pace of his youth, he will be the beneficiary of those counters. A home game against a woeful West Ham next will delay these fears though.

Verdict: Worthy of a Punt. There are better and more reliable options, notably Sturridge, but Eto’o has the potential to deliver if you’re sure of his gametime.

Fading Stars


Mesut Ozil


It seems odd that one of the best players in the premier league should be the first player to be highlighted as a fading star, but he is the 3rd most transferred out so far this gameweek with owners losing patience with the German who has not scored or assisted since GW16.

Using those last attacking points as a cutoff, let’s compare how Ozil has performed during his dry run and before that run.

Player

Game Range

Apps

Per Game Stats

Minutes

Points

Goals

Shots

Shots on Target

Assists

Key Passes

Ozil

GW17-22

4

89.5

2.5

0

1.3

0.3

0.0

3.8

Ozil

GW4-16

13

90.5

6.9

0.3

1.3

1

0.5

2.8

We see there’s absolutely no drop-off in Ozil’s underlying stats, in fact he’s created far more chances in the last 4 games than in the previous 13! All that’s changed is his shot accuracy is down, and his team-mates aren’t converting the chances he is creating. The absence of Ramsey, Walcott and Giroud through injury may explain the lack of conversion. In any case, the lack of points is not due to Ozil’s play.

So, Ozil’s production hasn’t dropped off, but there’s now the option of Santi Cazorla who has returned to the fray after a long term injury, and declared his presence with 2 goals versus Fulham the previous weekend. How do these two compare?

Player

Apps

Per Game Stats

Minutes

Points

Goals

Shots

Shots on Target

Assists

Key Passes

Ozil

17

90.3

5.9

0.2

1.3

0.8

0.4

3

Cazorla

16

82.6

4.1

0.2

2.7

1

0.1

1.9

One stat stands out to me here, shots per game. Cazorla has twice as many shots as Ozil, and has more on target per game. He isn’t as creative as Ozil, but he’s more shot happy, and unlike Ozil he isn’t relying on teammates to get his points.

If we narrow Cazorla’s gameweek range to only look at his performances since his return from injury and the difference is even bigger. Since GW18 he has averaged 4.4 shots per game, and 1.8 shots on target per game, he’s also created 2.8 chances, just shy of Ozil’s 3. Considering he’s a 0.5 saving over Ozil, it’s hard to see why the Spaniard shouldn’t be chosen ahead of his teammates.

Verdict: Sell. His performances are still great, but with a cheaper option in the Arsenal midfield that offers a bigger upside there’s a clear reason to ditch Ozil at this time.

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