Arsenal, Wolves and Crystal Palace provide some Fantasy Food for Thought

Red Hot Picks and Slow Burners – Can Mitro stay on fire? Will Richarlison reignite?

Guest post – written by Fabio Duarte @FDuarteCFC


The first four Gameweeks have brought Fantasy managers a wealth of new and exciting options, from marauding left backs to free-scoring target men. But as always, one golden rule of Fantasy Football should be followed. Do not chase last week’s points!

It can be difficult to sort the Salahs from the Sanogos and the Zahas from the Zakis. Using a combination of underlying stats and my humble opinion I aim to identify who is set continue delivering and who is about to convert promising displays into FPL points.

ED: Many thanks to Fabio for his first Guest Post on Give him a follow on twitter and let us know what you think of his picks! As always – the site is open for guest posts – email me at if you would like to feature your work here!


Red Hot – Neil Etheridge (4.6m) 31 points

The Filipino Cardiff City stopper has begun the season in fine form. The Bluebirds have impressed defensively, keeping shutouts in two of their first four games, albeit against modest opposition in Newcastle and Huddersfield. Etheridge’s high points total can be largely accredited to consecutive penalty saves made in the opening fixtures which are unlikely to be sustainable.

However, a closer look shows Etheridge ranked 7th in the league for saves made with 17, 4 off top spot. Cardiff’s reliance on dominant defensive displays is unlikely to stem the flow of shots conceded and therefore potential save points. Looking at the upcoming fixtures, The Bluebirds face away trips to Chelsea and Tottenham either side of home encounters against Man City and Burnley which may prove to be a far sterner test for the Cardiff City backline. However, there is evidence to suggest Etheridge may emerge from these with FPL points. Gameweek 4’s encounter with Arsenal saw Cardiff face up against one of last season’s top six for the first time. Neil Etheridge earned 2 save points through via 8 stops made, a season high in the Premier League, only topped by West Ham’s Fabianski (9). Speaking of Fabianski…


Slow Burner – Lukasz Fabianksi (4.5m) 11 points

West Ham have endured a tough start to the season, sitting rock bottom of the league. Their run includes defeats at home to both Bournemouth and Wolves. The Hammers have also conceded the most goals (10) level only with Huddersfield. Their upcoming schedule sees them face 3 of last season’s top 6 as well as a trip to Goodison Park in the next 5.

Yet it is not as bleak as it may appear for Fabianski owners. The Pole leads the pack for saves made (21), earning him 6 save points and a bonus point thus far. Looking further back, Fabianski has ranked 2nd, 3rd, 2nd and 1st respectively in the previous four campaigns, showing a remarkable consistency to deliver save points. Furthermore, West Ham’s tough schedule may see a similar tactical approach adopted to their Gameweek 3 trip to The Emirates. The Hammers played a deep defensive line, looking to exploit Arsenal on the counter. Crucially this resulted in a league high 9 saves being made. Were it not for Adama Traore’s last minute winner after a lapse in concentration from West Ham’s backline, Fabianski would have registered his first clean sheet of the season with bonus points to boot. It’s all well and good speculating about what might have been, but the timing of the goal at least shows promise for clean sheet points to come, adding to the 33-year-old’s inevitable save points.


Red Hot – Jose Holebas (4.8m) 34 points

Watford’s Greek fullback is perhaps the surprise package of the season so far. Holebas leads the way alongside fellow left back Benjamin Mendy with 4 assists. The underlying stats support Holebas’ high attacking output. The Watford man is ranked 4th in the league for crosses with 26 and 5th for corners taken: 14. 46% of Watford’s crosses have been delivered by Holebas, suggesting that he is a primary attacking source for the Hornets. A mixed bag of fixtures sees Watford face up against Man United away, before playing host to Fulham and Arsenal in the next three.

Watford have begun the season with a 100% record but last season’s away form may cause concern. Prior to their successful trip to Burnley, Watford had failed to score in any of their 7 away fixtures under Javi Gracia, picking up a solitary point to now-relegated Stoke and conceding 14 goals in the process. Watford’s recent history may also be an indication of things to come. Since their return to the Premier League 3 seasons ago, Watford have had a notable slump in the second half of the season, struggling to find the net and failing to counteract this with clean sheets.

A final point to note is Holebas’ disciplinary record. A Premier League high 14 yellow cards were awarded in his first full campaign, reduced to 7 last season (albeit in fewer minutes). However, Holebas has kicked off the new season with 6 fouls and 2 yellow cards; a small sample perhaps, but given his recent history further yellows and suspensions could be to follow.

Slow Burner – Patrick van Aanholt (5.5m) 13 points

A left-back who has not faired as well is Patrick van Aanholt. He kicked off the season with an 11-point haul thanks a clean sheet, an assist and 2 bonus points. Since then PvA has only added 2 points to his overall tally. Tough fixtures against Liverpool and Watford, both of whom are yet to drop points, yielded nothing of note. Southampton represented a more manageable task on paper but Palace and van Aanholt both came away empty-handed.

There were two key absentees from the Palace team sheet, which would suggest an upturn in fortune for the Dutchman’s FPL backers. At one end of the pitch affecting Palace’s defensive solidity was the absence of James Tomkins, whilst at the other they went without star player Wilfried Zaha. The Eagles have not won a Premier League match that Zaha has failed to start since the beginning of last season, which will obviously have a knock-on effect for his teammates‘ fantasy points scoring prospects. Both players are set to return to action for a set of fixtures reading Huddersfield (A), Newcastle (H), Bournemouth (A), Wolves (H).

Van Aanholt may be yet to register a goal this season but his scoring exploits in each of his last 3 seasons (5, 5, 6) show he is more than capable. His stats this season show no signs of these numbers declining this time around. The flying Dutchman has had 6 efforts on goal, placing him 4th amongst defenders. Of these shots, 2 have been on target, level with Marcos Alonso and Benjamin Mendy. He also passes the eye test, linking up well with Jeffery Schlupp to assist the Ghanaian in their 2-0 defeat of Fulham.


Red Hot – Richarlison (6.7m) 21 points

Everton’s new signing has started the season much like he did the last. He has delivered 3 goals in his opening 3 games and looked to be Everton’s main threat, earning himself his first Brazil call-up. Richarlison scored 5 league goals in his debut season, all of which were scored under Marco Silva’s management, not netting again after November. The Brazilian winger appears to have restored his form after Silva signed him from Watford, but will this fast start continue? Richarlison received a straight red against Bournemouth following an exchange with Adam Smith, seeing him miss the next two league fixtures. The 21-year-old makes his return to action for Everton’s visit to the Emirates.

In 210 minutes, Richarlison has taken 5 shots, hitting the target with 3, all of which resulted in goals. A conversion rate of 60% is unlikely to be sustainable across an entire campaign. However, all of Richarlison’s goals this season have come from no further than the penalty spot, suggesting that good positioning may be just as important to his goals as the accuracy of his finishes. With the delivery of Leighton Baines and Gylfi Sigurdsson there is no reason that these chances will not continue to present themselves.

The aforementioned Arsenal game will likely provide plenty of opportunities for Richarlison to run in behind as well as challenge from set-pieces. Following this, Fulham, Leicester, Crystal Palace and an out-of-sorts Manchester United complete a promising September and October period for the 6.7m fantasy option.

Slow Burner – Aaron Ramsey (7.4m) 6 points

The slowest of slow burners, Aaron Ramsey is yet to deliver anything more than appearance points and is unlikely to be on many fantasy managers’ radars. At 7.4m, the Welshman has already dropped in price as early adopters look to switch to the likes of Lucas Moura, Roberto Pereyra and Pedro. It is clear that Unai Emery still hasn’t settled on his favoured starting XI as he attempts to get the most out of Aubameyang, Lacazette and Ozil without compromising his pressing philosophy. Ramsey has featured in all four Premier League matches so far, starting the last two fixtures both of which Arsenal emerged triumphant.

Ramsey has fantasy pedigree best shown in the 2013/14 season where he scored 10 and assisted 9. Last season Ramsey’s numbers came close to matching those heights with 7 goals and 10 assists, many of these coming towards the end of the campaign. Looking at Ramsey’s numbers this year, he ranks 4th among midfielders with 5 shots on target from the 7 taken, particularly impressive given his lack of game time. If Ramsey is able to cement himself in the Arsenal midfield these numbers are only set to increase.

Arsenal have arguably the best set of fixtures throughout the remainder of September and October. The Gunners face none of last season’s top 6. Having put 3 past each of West Ham and Cardiff in their previous two games, Arsenal have shown they can score well without playing at their best. Arsenal’s games have been wide open this season: a high defensive line, high pressing and very offensive fullbacks have resulted in matches full of opportunities. Hector Bellerin and Nacho Monreal have crossed the ball from the by-line in every fixture so far with opportunities often being wasted. Aaron Ramsey arriving late in to the box may just be the man to start taking more of those chances.


Red Hot – Aleksandr Mitrovic (6.7m) 29 points

The 6’2” Serb has carried on where he left off last season with the Cottagers, leading the Premier League scoring charts alongside Sadio Mané with 4. Last season’s January loan move saw Mitrovic hit 12 in 17 in the Championship, a marked improvement from his Newcastle form. Now signed on a permanent deal, the centre forward has wasted no time reacclimatising to the Premier League. His underlying stats are up there with the best thus far, firing 18 shots and hitting the target on 9 occasions, the highest in the league. Of the 9 misplaced shots, 2 have hit the woodwork, showing how accurate he has been in the early weeks. Interestingly, none of these chances have been penalties, which Mitrovic is likely to be first in line to take.

There is no doubt Mitrovic’s aerial ability is his biggest strength.  3 of his 4 goals this season have come off his head, making 50% of his total Premier League goals headers. This makes corners and crossing useful metrics to monitor when assessing Mitrovic’s point potential. Concerningly, Fulham only rank as high as 18th for corners awarded, and 15th for crosses delivered at this early stage. This means Mitrovic is somewhat reliant on the quality of delivery from Fulham’s fullbacks, Joe Bryan and Cyrus Christie, who currently lead the way in crosses for the Cottagers.

The upcoming fixtures do not appear too favourable in terms of potential headed chances. A difficult away trip to the Etihad is unlikely to present the Serb with many chances due to City’s dominant ball possession and high defensive line. The following two fixtures see Fulham welcome high-flying Watford before travelling to Goodison Park to face Everton. The two clubs are tied in 6th for headed clearances, suggesting an aerial dominance that may stifle Mitrovic, especially given he has won just under half of his aerial duels (11/23). A home trip to Arsenal could present similar problems to Man City. However, given the Gunners’ poor defensive record and inability to defend set-pieces so far, this may be a more fruitful hunting ground for the Fulham man.

Slow Burner – Raul Jiménez (5.5m) 12 points

11 shots, 4 of which have forced saves, is a reasonable start to life in the Premier League for Wolves’ on-loan front man. No Wolves player has bettered him in either stat so far, showing Jiménez to be the focal point of the much-fancied Premier League new boys. A disallowed goal and shot off the woodwork makes Jiménez’s numbers appear a little more favourable and suggests the Mexican is somewhat unfortunate not to have added to his solitary Gameweek 1 strike.

There were some question marks over the Benfica striker’s game time coming into the season, with Leonardo Bonatini being signed permanently and Diogo Jota’s ability to play in the same position. Despite this, there is little to suggest Jiménez will be anything other than a regular fixture up top, having started every game and missed just 4 minutes.

Wolves have had a tricky start in terms of fixtures, having already faced Manchester City, Leicester and Everton, but have come away with just one defeat and notched 3 times in those games. Having seen off West Ham 1-0 in Gameweek 4, Wolves now face a kinder run of fixtures including welcoming Burnley and Southampton to Molineux before away games versus Crystal Palace and Brighton prior to the end of October. If Wolves are set to continue their relatively strong start as many fancy, investing in the budget forward may be a wise move.

 written by Fabio Duarte @FDuarteCFC



“Fabio is an aspiring copywriter, studying Psychology at the University of Reading.

His passions include football, the media and social psychology.

He is currently looking to build up a portfolio of diverse writing and will happily consider any requests at


Posted on 14 Sep 2018, in Player Selection and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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