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FPL tips: Why it’s time to go big on Liverpool. No, really

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Liverpool – Premier League – Molineux Stadium
(Image credit: Laurence Griffiths)

It’s safe to say that 2021 hasn’t been a good year for Liverpool so far, with just four wins in 13 Premier League matches, including six defeats in their last eight.

However, while their performances have undoubtedly dipped, they remain one of the strongest teams in the division.

That’s according to Threat at least, the FPL metric which assesses the quality of chance a team creates.

A score of around 100 historically equals a goal’s worth of chances, according to our analysis.

Therefore, by analysing Threat scores, we can see the average quality of chances created and allowed by each team across a match.

For example, a low Threat allowed and a high Threat created suggests a team is strong both defensively and in attack.

This underlying data can then offer hints as to which sides are due a run of good – or poor – form in the weeks ahead.

Reds still a menace?

Threat chart shows Liverpool, Chelsea and Man City have the best balance

(PA graphic)

Since the turn of the year, only Manchester City and Chelsea have averaged a healthier balance of Threat in their Premier League matches than Jürgen Klopp’s side – something that might surprise you if you looked at their awful run of results.

With fantasy managers deserting the Reds in droves, this data suggests they could prove a valuable source of differential premium assets.

Their schedule for the rest of the campaign is also one of the easiest, with just one of their remaining games ranked above three on the game’s Fixture Difficulty Rating (FDR) scale.

Get some Blues at the back

While it’s no surprise to see Manchester City way out in front on FPL’s Threat metric, it’s worth noting that Chelsea look capable of giving them a run for their money.

Under Thomas Tuchel the Blues’ defence has been almost as difficult to penetrate as Pep Guardiola’s clean sheet machine, while their attack compares favourably with the rest of the chasing pack.

Their next match at home to struggling West Brom – one of the worst performers on this Threat index – should provide a useful benchmark for what they can achieve over the final stretch of the season.

Time to switch between the sticks?

Interestingly the game’s most popular goalkeeper is part of 2021’s worst-performing defence in terms of Threat conceded.

In addition to being owned by over 40% of managers, Aston Villa’s Emiliano Martinez is also the top-scoring player between the posts with 153 points this season.

However the volume of chances that Villa have allowed their opponents since January suggests that he may not be the optimal choice for the run-in.

Dean Smith’s side are the only team in the Premier League to face an average of over 200 Threat per match in this period, so the clean sheets could dry up if their luck changes.

Toffees to tumble?

Everton and Brighton currently sit eighth and 16th in the league table respectively but looking at their recent underlying performances you’d be forgiven for thinking it should be the other way around.

While the Threat metric suggests that Graham Potter has his team playing at a similar level to Arsenal or Manchester United so far this year, the Toffees’ showing has been worryingly close to that of bottom club Sheffield United.

Carlo Ancelotti’s players are tempting fantasy picks for the remainder of the season given that they have an extra fixture to play and – like neighbours Liverpool – only one more game with an FDR above three.

However unless their performances improve, they may offer limited upside.