Stag’s Take – Gameweek 15
The double-derby Sunday of Gameweek 14 didn’t disappoint, as Kane and Aubameyang went head to head to be Sergio Agüero’s replacement in hundreds of thousands of FPL teams after his no-show at the Etihad where Bournemouth visited on Saturday. A bout of trainspotting by keen-eyed FPL managers, which concluded Aguero has not travelled in Pep’s 19 man squad to Watford, mean that the Argentine is not expected to be in the Man City squad again on Tuesday with Chelsea at The Bridge looming less than four days later. Given the time constraints between the Gameweeks and the fact that Kun Aguero has been sold over 500,000 times more than the second most sold player (Anthony Martial) ahead of the midweek fixtures, this column will solely look at the two elite strikers leading the race to replace the City ace.
Harry Kane (SOU, lei, BUR, eve, BOU)
In spite of starting the season with concrete breezeblocks bound to his heels, Harry Kane is on touch with the PL’s top scorers over a third of the way into the season. The England international has begun to look rejuvenated, making good runs and getting in good positions, which has been enough for many to forgive him blanking at home to Cardiff in Gameweek 8 when was last the transfer du jour.
Even with manager-less Southampton to come, I think managers are overly enthusiastic about Harry Kane. Two previous Golden Boot wins, four returns in his last four PL games, and a World Cup Golden Boot win is bound to cloud peoples’ visions to some extent and spur over-exuberance; but it shouldn’t be as it is. Comparing Kane’s heatmaps in the first 8 games of the season with the last six tells the story of a frustrated striker who has been forced back to link play with teammates rather than selfishly focus on his own goalscoring – his penalty area touches half been cut in half from 6.6 per game to 3.3. By consequence Kane’s shots in the box per game has fallen from 2.9 to 1.8, but his goal attempt figures have increased, highlighting that he has entered into a turkey shoot from outside the area where his probabilities of scoring are low and which is bound to sap his BAP potential a la Mo Salah, as the system punishes those who try and rewards the economical players. For the xG acolytes, Kane’s xG per game has also narrowly fallen though these numbers narrate different stories: In the early weeks Kane’s xG per game was 0.6 because he had a few high probability shots; now it is 0.5 as he accumulates the number with potshots from range.
That’s not to say that Kane is a bad player, or a bad FPL prospect. He is clearly one of the best strikers in the world who is slowly returning to his best – I just don’t think he’s as close to showing that in the PL as many think. He has to save that for in just seven days’ time, when Spurs go to the Camp Nou with their Champions League ambitions hanging by a thread. Southampton should not be seen as a straightforward opponent either – with Hughes gone, the Saints players have to regroup and show off their abilities to as-yet un-appointed new manager. That sort of motivation could be important when energy levels are sure to be low on both sides.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (mutd, HUD, sou, BUR, bha)
Given my analysis of Harry Kane’s form, it won’t surprise you, dear reader, to know that I have gone with the 400,000 plus managers who have opted for Auba for Gameweek 15. Looking at the numbers, it seems that roughly 60% of Aguero-sellers have gone for the Arsenal man whilst around a third have picked up Kane. Just to note, the remainder look to be bringing in cheaper strikers like Wilson, Mitro, and Arnautovic to fund moves for GW11, 12, & 14 hero Felipe Anderson as well as Man City’s two wingers.
Back to Auba: I pointed out Kane’s uneconomical approach to shooting earlier; Aubameyang is the opposite of that. His conversion rate for the season is approx. 32% - double the likes of Aguero and Kane, but actually quite close to what Auba managed last season after arriving in the Premier League. He tends to be a clinical player, finishing 22.4% of all his shots in his final half-season at BVB and 26.7% of his efforts the season before when he scored 31 goals in 32 games en route to the Bundesliga Golden Boot.
A comparison with Harry Kane over the last six gameweeks re-tells the story we saw on the pitch on Sunday. Auba is oft involved in the build-up but looks to pass rather than shoot when he is far from goal, instead relying on his creative teammates to craft an opening for him to score. That does occur too, as Auba has averaged 1.2 big chances per game – which is a pretty huge tally; he has finished two thirds of them. Kane, for contrast, scored less than half the big chances presented to him in the last six.
Thus, with Auba a lot boils down to faith. To what extent do you think Aubameyang is over-performing and bound to regress towards the mean? I am a believer.
Headline pick: Mo Salah – Liverpool look set to rotate as minor injuries will keep Mané and perhaps Robertson out, meaning The Reds will be more reliant on the Egypt international than usual as they travel to Burnley. The Clarets are not the defensive powerhouse they once were, conceding barrels of shots every week as was typified by the 22 efforts recorded by Crystal Palace in Gameweek 14.
Second best: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – Mark Hughes was sacked after a 2-2 draw with Manchester United, showing just how far United’s reputation has fallen. United had recorded just one clean sheet at Old Trafford this term, and actually greet Arsenal with a minor defensive injury crisis brewing. United are just another team now and shouldn’t be feared by any attacking players of Auba’s talents.
Brave Pick: Marko Arnautovic – If you have Felipe Anderson, he is also viable. The Hammers are in good attacking form and face Cardiff in London. They should win comfortably and Arnie is well-positioned to deliver the blows to Cardiff.
Stag has been providing #FPL Tips since July 2015 and has been a contributor for Rotoworld.com since August 2016. He is a self-proclaimed wannabe fantasy football genius, a student, and die-hard tea enthusiast.