In FPL, looking at stats is very important to ensuring success over the course of the season. But at times, stats can disregard important differences in play that small tactical look-ins can clear up. That brings us to this piece which will serve to look at things that I find interesting from a tactical perspective from the past week to prepare for the upcoming week in draft and standard FPL leagues.
Diego Rico and the suffocation of a back four:
At the beginning of the season, there was a belief that Marcos Alonso’s attacking returns would suffer with Maurizio Sarri employing a back four and after week five, it’s clear that those fears were overblown. But in the case of Rico, the difference between his responsibilities in a back three versus a back four seem to be massive. Being that you cannot react to the Bournemouth lineup once it’s posted in OFPL, this limits Rico’s appeal to only draft leagues.
In a back three, Rico took a shot and created three key passes versus Chelsea. Facing weaker competition in Leicester City, Rico was unable to register any attacking returns due to needing to be more disciplined in a back four. The biggest question here is how often will Rico be in a back four versus a back three? To answer that, I’d have to be a fly on the wall of the Howe residence but it looks like the block of four is closer to the norm for the Cherries. In five of six games, this season (including the cup match versus MK Dons) Bournemouth has lined up in a back four as opposed to a back three. While the hope is that they will use the back three more, that may be reserved for tougher opposition as opposed to being something that will be used regularly.
Now on what to do with Rico, I think it depends on your team and leagues. Being that he will be the starter at left back going forward and that Bournemouth has a much-improved side this season, I’m all for holding him. While they won’t get clean sheets in every match, I do believe that he’ll still create more chances than he did versus Leicester who does have a pretty good defense. But if you do have a strong back line, he’s surplus to requirements and you should either pick up someone with more upside like Matt Doherty or Jonny of Wolverhampton.
Shooters gonna shoot, the Andre Schurrle story:
Coming back to the Premier League there were mixed feelings about what to expect from Schurrle. After leaving Chelsea for a return to the Bundesliga, Schurrle’s career has been mired by injuries limiting him to only two seasons since 2014 in which he played in more than 1000 minutes. But in his return to Fulham, Schurrle seems to be back to full health and then some with the sheer amount of shots that he is taking.
— Chuck Booth (@ChuckBoothSport) September 18, 2018
To begin, the shot selection of some of these is pretty questionable but if Schurrle is able to keep up this shot selection (Five shots versus Manchester City) in a high octane Fulham attack eventually more goals will come. Fulham has had a gauntlet to begin the season but starting with game week six, Fulham’s schedule opens up for the better. Facing Watford, Everton, Arsenal, Cardiff, and Bournemouth in their next five, The Cottagers will have a decent number of players among the goal scorers and my money is on Schurrle being one of them.
I’m transferring him into my OFPL squad as a replacement for Henrikh Mkhitaryan who has become too much of a rotation risk for Arsenal. His price gives me just enough to add Lukaku up top. In draft leagues, it may be a little harder to acquire him in Fantrax leagues as Schurrle is owned in 97% of leagues but if he’s available, I’d trade for him.
James Tomkins the leak plugger:
The little boy sticks his finger in a hole to save the town. James Tomkins returns to health to save Crystal Palace. Tomkins has played in three games for the Eagles this year and two of those three games are the only wins and clean sheets that the team has picked up this season. While much is made about how toothless the team is without Wilfred Zaha, the same can be said about how much of a leaking ship the defense is without Tomkins.
But what does Tomkins do to make the Palace defense so good? First of all, he's a human vacuum cleaner staying a step ahead of the game to intercept anything coming his way. This is shown in his six clearances versus Huddersfield and eight clearances per game. And on the rare chance that someone breaks the line of him and Sakho, Tomkins is able to make the tackle to clear his lines without giving up costly fouls and penalties.
The return of Tomkins makes Crystal Palace a playable defense as they have a good shot at clean sheets versus bottom half sides and also won't be embarrassed versus top half ones. In OFPL, the Presence of Tomkins raises the value of cut-rate options Wayne Hennessey and Aaron Wan-Bissaka but in draft leagues, everyone on the Palace back line is in play.
Harry Kane, Fatigue or a new role:
Watching Tottenham take on Liverpool one of the biggest things to stick out to me was how much Harry Kane was dropping deep while the team played long balls forward to Lucas Moura. While Lucas has the pace to get down the line, he is short in stature and was easily outmuscled by Liverpool center backs while he played in a center forward role.
Meanwhile, Kane was taking up spaces usually occupied by Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli leading to him only taking two shots and completing nine passes. All coming from someone who shot and took touches on a Ronaldo like level at six or so shots per game. While I’m not sure what’s up, Mauricio Pochettino swears that it’s not fatigue saying this to Sky Sports before the Liverpool clash,
“I think he is fit. I do not read and do not listen to what is going on around. The most important [thing] is that we trust.”
While you have to take Poche at his word, it’s clear that Kane’s role has shifted since his ankle injury last season. If he blanks again versus Brighton it will have gone from concern to slight panic and will likely end with him being dropped from my OFPL squad. While it looks like rest is what he needs, that will be impossible to come by with the run of fixtures that Tottenham has this season. With no real backup to him, one can only hope that Poche is able to get creative in getting his star man the rest he needs. If he doesn’t, Tottenham’s season may be over before it gets off of the ground.