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FPL tips: stick with Liverpool despite setback

Southampton v Liverpool – Premier League – St Mary’s Stadium
(Image credit: Naomi Baker)

The first gameweek of 2021 provided some surprising results, but looking at the scorelines can only tell Fantasy Premier League managers so much. The underlying data available via the official website can paint a more detailed picture of how teams truly performed.

We have broken down each club’s attacking and defensive performance using the game’s official Threat metric – which awards points for each attempt on goal proportional to the likelihood of scoring – to tease out some insights.

No luck for Liverpool

FPL Threat for gameweek 17

Arsenal lived up to their gameweek 17 Threat ranking but Liverpool were unlucky (PA graphic)

The Reds lost to Southampton but allowed the lowest Threat total of any team this week, just 51, while only three clubs created more than their 228.

Sadio Mane racked up 94 by himself against his former club – the second highest of any PL player in GW17 – as well as his rejected penalty appeal so can consider himself unlucky not to have rescued at least a point.

Full-back Andy Robertson was also the week’s top-scoring player on the Creativity metric, which rewards actions that tend to lead to assists, so managers should keep faith in Liverpool’s left flank for the time being with Monday night’s reverse looking like a mere blip.

The Gunners are firing again

Alexandre Lacazette, right, and Bukayo Saka

Alexandre Lacazette, centre, and Bukayo Saka stood out in the Threat rankings (Mike Hewitt/PA)

The only player with more Threat than Mane this week was Alexandre Lacazette (95), in an Arsenal attack which collectively scored highest on this metric (321).

Despite the Gunners having Palace and Newcastle at home in their next two matches it may be too early to take an £8.2m punt on the Frenchman, who has been in and out of the starting 11 lately.

A less risky bet could be his team-mate Bukayo Saka, who has been a near ever-present and racked up the third highest Threat tally in GW17 (78). Saka now has 541 total Threat this season – the most of any Arsenal player and only 20 points less than Bruno Fernandes despite costing nearly £6m less.

Are the Foxes fizzling?

Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy (centre) has a shot on goal against Newcastle

Leicester’s threat was limited despite victory over Newcastle (Stu Forster/PA)

Only two clubs have allowed more Threat per match than Newcastle this season, but they managed to keep Leicester quiet on the whole.

Despite securing their fifth successive away win, the Foxes racked up GW17’s third lowest Threat total and over the last three gameweeks only five clubs have fewer Threat points.

With a blank gameweek ahead for Brendan Rodgers’ side and tricky fixtures to come against the likes of Chelsea and Everton, does this diminish their appeal as FPL assets?

Planning for gameweek 18

David McGoldrick, centre, shoots at goal against Burnley

David McGoldrick, centre, is a left-field option for gameweek 18 (Dave Thompson/PA)

Managers looking to ring the changes for gameweek 18’s reduced fixture list may be looking for the best of the rest from the 12 teams in action.

The Magpies’ often generous defence could give chances for Sheffield United to finally break the shackles and David McGoldrick has 202 Threat over the last five weeks.

Aston Villa’s in-form Bertrand Traore and Anwar El Ghazi, as well as Ollie Watkins, could take advantage of a surprisingly open Tottenham backline while Manchester United’s Paul Pogba recorded his highest Threat score of the season, 58, and Luke Shaw a season-high 50.9 for Creativity against Villa – Burnley are next up for the Red Devils.