Player Picks GW28-30

Which players should you look at to bridge the gap between now and GW31?

A little earlier this week we looked at the expected goals scored for all clubs in our article Fixture Outlook GW28-30'. The aim of that article was to pick out the teams with the highest probability of goals over the next 3 weeks. GW31 is on the horizon and will feature double fixture for the likes of Man City and Liverpool. In the meantime we are wanting to identify a player or two to see us through.

We picked out Chelsea, Fulham and Southampton as amongst the best prospects amongst clubs without blank fixtures but on a closer look at the numbers we thought we should include Norwich, Crystal Palace and Cardiff too..

We've thrown a bunch of popular and not-so popular players into the table below. xPPG represents the players expected points based on shots and chance created. We use our 'Expected Goals' model to weight each shot/key pass based on the location and type of shot/pass. It essentially equates to each player's opportunities to score points. Some players historically are better at converting their chances. Hazard, in particular, is pretty ace.

PPG is actual points per game played (over 60 mins) and both values are based on the last 6 gameweeks.

xPPG PPG
Willian 3.3

2.3

Oscar 3.2

3.0

Eden Hazard 3.4

5.7

Adam Lallana 3.5

5.7

Rickie Lambert 3.7

5.8

Jay Rodriguez 3.9

4.0

Steven Davis 2.6

4.8

Steve Sidwell 2.1

2.8

Kieran Richardson 2.4

4.3

Emmanuel Adebayor 3.5

7.2

Craig Noone 2.9

3.0

Wilfried Zaha 2.1

2.5

Robert Snodgrass 4.7

5.8

Thomas Ince 3.4

7.5

Jason Puncheon 4.3

5.6

Established

Long-time owners of Hazard and Lallana, and lately Adebayor, are clearly in the driving seat at the moment. These are the three players that everyone wants right now and are proving popular transfers this week. Slightly more on the outside (but looking in) are Saint’s forward pair Lambert and Rodriguez. Of the two we’d expect Rodriguez to score more in open play but Lambert’s can always boost his score with a penalty or free-kick. We really can’t split the pair and would not be surprised if either/both outscored the more popular Adebayor over the next 3 gameweeks.

Emerging

In the table we’ve listed a variety of midfielders from our highlighted clubs Chelsea, Fulham, Norwich, Cardiff and Saints. To be honest with you, before we produced the draft of this table we were all set to feature Chelsea’s Willian as an astute differential for the next few weeks, driven mainly by Chelsea’s position at the top of goal-scoring table.

Willian’s stats don’t back this up though, his Points Per Game (PPG) is poor, and his shooting and chance created stats (xPPG) don’t offer much hope that's he's been getting (but not taking) the chances. There’s a similar story with Oscar. It seems Chelsea is all about Hazard and Eto’o/Torres plus the set piece threat from Terry and Ivanovic.

Instead we’re looking at Robert Snodgrass and Jason Puncheon. Of our selected players, Snodgrass boasts the best stats (xPPG) and tied in second behind Adebayor for points scored (PPG)*. This is impressive and short term fixtures of AVL(A) STO(H) SOT(A) offer some hope for more. Norwich’s onward fixtures look good too, with the Canaries facing Swansea, Fulham, West Brom and Sunderland through to GW34.

Ince’s arrival at Crystal Palace and impressive debut have taken some of the limelight away from Puncheon but he still has 3 goals in the last 7 games and the stats show has the edge over Ince. He comes in a good £0.5m cheaper too. Crystal Palace’s fixture list is a boon for both players with generally good match-ups for the rest of the season plus a DGW with Everton on the horizon. Their next opponent, Swansea, are returning from a morale-sapping defeat in Napoli so this week could be a good time to sign.

* – note Thomas Ince has only 2 games played so his 7.5PPG is not representative.

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