Predicting the Bandwagon – GW28 Preview

In this weekly series, our resident data expert attempts to predict the newest bandwagon according to underlying statistics, formational changes and more. Here, we preview FPL Gameweek 28 of Fantasy Premier League.

by @FPL_FIDGET

Midway through GW27, the colour of your arrow will be hinging on your recent bandwagons picks. Bale, Kane and Shaw lead the GW for points, and City assets are ‘in the mud’.

While City do have a second fixture to redeem themselves, Spurs’ resurgence has shifted the status quo. Bale, Kane and Son all currently sit in the top 5 most transferred in players this GW, and as the only ‘big’ team to play in GW29, Spurs assets will be a priority for everyone.

In previous articles (GW26 & GW27), Spurs have been explored in detail, and the only notable point I’d add is that Bale does look set for minutes so becomes a definite yes for me. If you’re weighing up the Bale vs Son dilemma, then look at this article by @The_FPL_T.

Rather than repeat what has been said elsewhere, this week, I focus on non-Spurs assets, Mount and Richarlison as current bandwagons, and predict Aubameyang and Bertrand Traore to pop up as major bandwagons in GW29.

In this section, I evaluate the two popular bandwagons currently being jumped on for GW28, and whether they can come good for their new owners…

With the Euros looming, the number 10 spot for England is up for grabs, and Mount is brimming with confidence (which is just as well considering the levels Maddison and Grealish have reached this season).

His recent performances have been enough to earn him over 110,000 new owners already for GW28, and while current owners will be disappointed by his benching for GW27, it only makes Mount all the more interesting for non-owners.

Mount Touch maps – GWs1-10, GWs11-19, GWs20-27

The marvel of Mount’s season is in the range of roles he’s been asked to fulfil in such a short time. In the first 10 GWs, Mount was working hard defensively, but gradually he has moved further up the pitch, increasingly on the right and taken up corner duties. Since Tuchel arrived in GW20, Mount has operated even more on the right than the left.

The positional changes have also come with an increased goal involvement for Mount…

Mount Per 90: GWs1-10 vs GWs11-19 vs GWs20-27

Goals: 0.12 vs 0.11 vs 0.42

xG: 0.14 vs 0.1 vs 0.26

xG Conversion: -14% vs +10% vs +62%

Big Chances: 0.12 vs 0 vs 0.28

Penalty Area Touches: 2.88 vs 3.81 vs 4.75

Assists: 0.12 vs 0.21 vs 0

xA: 0.1 vs 0.26 vs 0.19

Big Chances created: 0.24 vs 0.42 vs 0.14

Mount’s changing roles has seen him go from a marginal player in Chelsea’s attack in GWs1-10 to a creative force in GWs11-19 and an attacking force in GWs20-27.

Without his defensive duties, Mount found himself in the penalty area more in GWs11-19 (2.88 vs 3.81), registering significantly more xA 90 (0.1 vs 0.26) and creating more Big Chances per 90 (0.24 vs 0.42). Then in GWs20-27, his creative numbers dropped and his goal threat significantly increased with more penalty area touches again (3.81 vs 4.75), more Big Chances (0 vs 0.28) and significantly more xG (0.1 vs 0.26).

For me bringing in any player requires a notable upturn in underlying stats, and Mount under Tuchel has exactly that.

Mount vs other mid-price midfielders Per 90 – Last 6 Matches

While Mount is joint best for goals, he posts modest numbers on underlying stats. His exceptional conversion rate recently (+97%) hints at regression back to his xG, which is very similar (0.3 per 90) to more creative players Raphina and Saka (0.28 and 0.32 respectively).

Mount isn’t in the box as much as Raphina and Saka (4.1 penalty touches compared to 5.07 and 5.83), and has received fewer Big Chances than Saka and Traore (0.39 vs 0.47 and 0.74).

As we’ve seen in Mount’s changing roles, his main goal involvement is very much as a scorer now so the fact that he doesn’t stand out in the table above is a concern.

Upcoming Fixtures

Chelsea’s fixtures are extremely encouraging apart from BGW29. Leeds, West Brom and Palace all have vulnerable defences to exploit.

It would be no surprise to see Mount make a massive impact in these games, especially given that he has just been rested in his GW27 game against Everton. Also, Mount has a tendency to pop up with significant xGI every 3-4 games so across this run, at least one haul is likely.

VERDICT – SWERVE

If you want Mount in your team, there has never been a better time. He is in his best form of the season, and has excellent fixtures.

However, Mount is not alone in his excellence. Saka, Raphinha, Traore and Lingard all have the benefit of a GW29 fixture. Elsewhere Son, Bale, Aubameyang and City are demanding slots.

With midfield slots at a premium, xGI per 90s of 0.45 don’t stand out. For that reason, I’ll be avoiding this bandwagon.

4 goals in 5 games has seen over 50,000 FPL managers shift their attention to Richarlison ahead of GW28.

The Brazilian has indisputable talent, but bar some early season performances, he has only recently started hitting the heights he is capable of. Below I explore where Richarlison’s form has come from.

Richarlison’s Position Change GWs18-23 vs. GWs24-27

DCL’s injury in GW24, prompted a shift in Richarlison’s positioning to centre forward. Such was Richarlison’s success that Ancelotti has kept him there even after DCL’s return.

This position change sees Richarlison do less defensive work, and also operate higher up the pitch, near the top left corner of the penalty box. Richarlison’s pace is the perfect complement for DCL’s aerial prowess and opposition defenders have struggled to handle them both.

The through ball or balls to run onto have given Everton easy routes to attack, and with Rodriguez hopefully returning from injury in GW28, this threat will only increase.

Richarlison GWs1-23 vs GWs24-27

Goals: 0.13 vs 0.65

xG: 0.27 vs 0.44

xG Conversion: -48% vs +47%

Big Chances: 0.38 vs 0.81

Penalty Touches: 5.11 vs 3.08

Total Assists: 0.32 vs 0

xA: 0.08 vs 0.01

Big Chances created: 0.19 vs 0

The rise in goal threat (xG per 90 of 0.27 vs 0.44) is noticeable and more than makes up for his drop in xA per 90 (0.08 to 0.01). As Richarlison has moved from creator to scorer, his Big Chances created have dropped (0.19 per 90 to 0) and his Big Chances received have more than doubled (0.38 to 0.81).

Richarlison’s excellent Big Chance numbers helps to explain his swing in xG conversion: he has had better (easier) chances to convert.

Richarlison vs Selected Forwards Per 90 – last 6 Matches

Recent weeks have seen a lot of this season’s favourite FPL forwards drop out of the top selection for underlying numbers. Bamford, Watkins and DCL have fallen away with DCL only making the above table for the sake of comparing him to Richarlison.

Richarlison’s finishing has been highly impressive, but he falls behind the others when it comes to penalty area touches (3.08 per 90) and Big Chances (0.81 per 90).

Diagne’s and Antonio’s xG per 90 are highly impressive, and their poor luck is likely to come to an end soon. Meanwhile, Kane has been back to his best, and is looking virtually essential for FPL managers. Martial was also highly impressive once more in his GW27 game against City, and is certainly one to watch given the recent struggles of Rashford and Cavani.

Upcoming Fixtures

Everton have highly attractive fixtures, and are likely to see a DGW in GW30 or soon after.

Despite this, I am worried about their fixture run from an attacking point of view. Everton haven’t produced the best attacking numbers, and all of their upcoming opponents are capable of strong defensive performances.

VERDICT – SWERVE

All this comes together to make Richarlison low on my priority list. Personally, I will be targeting players who have a fixture in GW29, and re-assessing Everton in GW30 when Richarlison have Palace and possibly a DGW.

The potential in GW30 is strong, but I really see that as a tempting one week punt. Overall, I haven’t seen enough from Everton to make me confident they’ll break down Burnley easily or get many chances against Brighton and Spurs.

In this section, I look ahead to anticipate who will be the biggest bandwagons in GW29.

With 4 goals in 4 games, Aubameyang may be back to his best, which is an odd thing to say about one of the league’s most consistent performers. Until this season, people would be forgiven for labelling Aubameyang as ‘ever-green’. Over the last few seasons, Aubameyang has dragged Arsenal into respectable league positions, but this season he just hasn’t been at it.

Aubameyang Touch Map GWs1-23 vs GWs24-27

It is no surprise to see that Aubameyang’s most prolific spell of the season has come when he’s been played more centrally. Moving further into the box has meant Aubameyang has had more chances, and with chances, goals are inevitable for a player of his calibre.

Since GW24, Aubameyang hasn’t been asked to run the line, and has instead been used for his threat to run at defenders in and around the box. Naturally, he is already rewarding Arteta for the tactical change.

Aubameyang vs Premium Mids Per 90 – Last 4 Matches

There has been something of a changing of the guard when it comes to premium assets in recent weeks. The four biggest goal threats of the season have all diminished in Bruno, Salah, Son and Sterling, although Bruno seems to produce returns regardless of underlying numbers and Son has significantly upped his creativity.

Meanwhile, Pepe, Bale and Aubameyang have come seemingly out of nowhere to shatter any confidence in the template. Of them, Aubameyang leads the way.

He has the second highest goals per 90 (1.21 vs Bale’s 1.4), highest xG 90 (0.84 vs Bale’s 0.76), second highest Big Chances per 90 (1.21 vs Sterling’s 1.23) and 3rd most penalty area touches (6.33 vs Pepe’s 9.89 and Sterling’s 7.9).

Aubameyang’s numbers are incredible, and reflect the renewed confidence he has in himself, and the comfort he has operating centrally.

Upcoming Fixtures

Aubameyang historically has struggled against top teams so although he has a game in GW29, West Ham isn’t a great fixture to attack. That said, it is a fixture when others blank, and his other games are appealing. I’d expect Aubameyang to be able to exploit the weaknesses in Spurs’ and Liverpool’s defences.

VERDICT – JUMP ON

Bar Bale and Kane, I don’t think there is a better option than Aubameyang for the weeks ahead. He has the stats, is in form and has reasonable fixtures. Elsewhere, popular premium players are dropping off, and blank in GW29.

While I would prioritise Spurs, Aubameyang could be an excellent differential and even differential captain in the gameweeks ahead.

A highly impressive player, Traore, is just about keeping Villa going in the absence of the mercurial Grealish.

Traore has had to work his way into what has become a surprisingly strong Villa team, but since GW12, he has started every game, and with the increased game time, Traore has gone from strength to strength.

Traore per 90 GWs1-11 vs GWs12-22 vs GWs23-27

Goals: 0 vs 0.43 vs 0.19

xG: 0.09 vs 0.23 vs 0.52

xG Conversion: -100% vs +87% vs -63%

Big Chances: 0 vs 0.22 vs 0.74

Penalty Touches: 3.95 vs 3.77 vs 2.97

Total assists: 0.49 vs 0.11 vs 0.19

xA: 0.09 vs 0.14 vs 0.09

Big Chances created: 0.49 vs 0.22 vs 0.19

Traore’s season has taken a few turns, and like Mount explored above, he has transitioned from a creator to a scorer in recent weeks.

At the beginning of the season, Traore created a lot of Big Chances (0.49 per 90), but has since dropped off (0.19 per 90 since GW23). His xA has remained relatively consistent over the season, but due to the finishing of his teammates, and possibly the quality of the chances he was creating, Traore got many more assists per 90 at the beginning of the season (0.49 vs 0.19 since GW23).

Traore went on a goal-scoring spell between GWs12-22, far exceeding his xG (by 87%), but this has since dropped off (he has underperformed his xG by 63% since GW23). Crucially, his xG 90 has more than doubled in recent weeks (0.52), and he has received over three times as many Big Chances since GW23 (0.74 per 90).

What this tells me is that Traore is very much due. When a player posts good xG 90 and a number of Big Chances, it is only a matter of time before their finishing returns, as we saw with Traore earlier in the season.

Traore vs Selected Midfielders Per 90 – Last 6 Matches

When we explored Mount above, we passed over Traore’s sudden lift in form. His xG eclipses all his rival midfielders, and so does his number of Big Chances.

What separates Traore is his woeful conversion rate, at a staggering -63%, which drops him to second worst in the above table for goals per 90. These kind of bizarre variances between goals and xG rarely last long before evening out, and consistent returns are likely to be on the cards for Traore if he can maintain these underlying numbers.

It is important when looking at xG conversion to focus on aggregates, because variations in a player’s finishing are less significant than popular narratives would have us believe. The data company, xG Philosophy go so far as to claim that at an elite level, discrepancies between goals and xG come down primarily to luck, not finishing ability.

Upcoming Fixtures

Traore has a game in BGW29 and is likely to get a double soon after. The immediately promising games give way in GWs31-32 to potentially very difficult games, before some easier games appear once more.

VERDICT – JUMP ON

From watching Traore, there is no doubt in my mind that he is an incredibly dangerous player, who is capable of surprising the FPL community in the coming weeks. From what I gather on Twitter, he is someone who has gone largely under the radar, but the stats are there to recommend prioritising him over any budget midfielder.

My interest in Traore will peak should the Villa vs Everton fixture move to GW30. That double, particularly if Grealish is out, will be ripe for targeting and Traore is an excellent way to do exactly that.

Thank you for reading!

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading the third article in this new Weekly Series on Bandwagons. Please retweet, follow and join the discussion.

If I get calls wrong, let me know about it!

All statistics are taken from FFScout (which I have a paid subscription to) unless indicated otherwise.

Total Assists includes Assists and Fantasy Assists

Source: fplconnect.blog

Predicting the Bandwagon – GW28 Preview