Ten gameweeks into the 2021/22 season and things are heating up as things begin to take shape, both in the actual league and in the Fantasy Premier League. The fact that Mohamed Salah is killing it has stunned absolutely no one but the real question is, who else is doing well or very badly?
Are we really still on this argument? Really?
Come on people, just pick Mohamed Salah and be done with it. That’s right, I’m talking to the 18.9% of FPL managers, at the time of writing, who haven’t used that little squishy thing inside their rock-solid heads and brought in the best FPL asset that the new decade has given us.
Why? Seriously? Ok, well because he has scored 10 goals in 11 games, because he has also added 7 assists in 11 games, because he has scored 112 points in 11 games (a record) and because Mohamed Salah has either scored or assisted a goal in every game from Gameweek 3 onwards.
That run did include the Champions League until he blanked against Atletico Madrid earlier this week. So go on because even at his current price of £12.9m, Mohamed Salah is a bargain and a guaranteed chance of goals plus you risk losing out since he is owned by 71.1% of managers in the game.
Still the Chelsea defense
That’s right, five gameweeks later and somehow Thomas Tuchel has still got the Chelsea defense purring like no other side in the league. From gameweek 5 onwards, the Blues have kept five clean sheets in six games with only Southampton scoring against them. And that’s while having the third-best xGA (goals against) in the league, which is behind Manchester City and West Ham.
But – and this is a sensational kicker although not quite as sensational as what’s about to come after this – they’ve only conceded three goals. That’s right, three Premier League goals in 10 league games which is unprecedented by any standards. Manchester City have had six and West Ham have had 11 put past them while Liverpool, fifth-best xGA, have had 8 goals fly into their net. And yet – yup there’s another one – that’s not even the best part about the Chelsea defense.
Because over the last few gameweeks, with Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner injured, Tuchel’s side have found goals coming from other locations, mainly their wing-backs. Last week, I mentioned Ben Chilwell as one to have and while he didn’t score over the weekend, Reece James did, twice. And in the words of the Chelsea left wing-back “He (Tuchel) wants defenders to score goals and attackers to do the defensive side,” and it’s exactly why their touch map has transformed.
Only Arsenal’s Nuno Tavares, who has only played a handful of games, has more touches inside the penalty area than James or Chilwell with Marcos Alonso and Cesar Azpilicueta in the top five as well. Not only that, both Chilly and James had 40 plus touches against Newcastle United, while James had arguably his best game and scored in his second successive game. Chilwell wasn’t half bad either and has scored in four out of his last six, which just adds to everything about the two and Chelsea.
A very impressive win against Manchester City later and suddenly the air around Crystal Palace has changed because of the way Patrick Vieira’s side walked away with the points. They didn’t just sit back and defend, as the Roy Hodgson teams of the past did, but they battled their way forward and caused City more than a few issues. But at the heart of all that was one man in the form of Conor Gallagher, who finished the game with 13 points.
A very impressive tally for the young midfielder and it continues his uptick of recent form with Gallagher doing very well. So far, the on-loan Chelsea midfielder has taken the most shots of any Crystal Palace player, with 21, and has put nine of them on target, scoring thrice this season. Not only that, he has two assists to his name, has the most key passes for any Eagle and an xA of 1.6.
All very impressive numbers but if you place him amongst the league, Gallagher ranks a paltry 30 for G+A per 90 at 0.57 behind a slew of players. However, changed that to players who have played 600 plus minutes and Gallagher shoots up into the top 16, which places him in a better light. His form ranking, according to the FPL’s website, also places the midfielder amongst the top ten. It’s why he is placed in the lukewarm category which means you can either take the punt or watchlist him.
Manchester City’s forwards
Now Manchester City’s defenders are definitely ones to have and that’s despite the fact that they conceded twice to Crystal Palace and once to Club Brugge over the last week. Yet, their forwards are a different question altogether especially in the league with the club struggling to find the net. Phil Foden’s double the weekend before last does place the youngster in good light but nobody else is in the same bracket.
Why? Well over the last five odd gameweeks, Jack Grealish, Riyad Mahrez, Raheem Sterling, Gabriel Jesus, Bernardo Silva and even Kevin de Bruyne have combined for five goals. Out of the six players neither Grealish or Sterling have even scored since Gameweek 2, Jesus hasn’t found the net since his goal against Chelsea and De Bruyne last scored against Burnley. That isn’t to say that Manchester City are struggling to score goals because they’re most definitely not.
The Cityzens have the second best xG behind Liverpool, with only the Reds and Chelsea outscoring Pep Guardiola’s side this season, although the Reds have managed nine more goals than City’s 20. It’s most definitely a problem for FPL managers and Pep although having said that, they could go on and score 20 goals over the next five gameweeks and send this article into the dirt. There’s that as well.
And who to stay away from
So, who said buying three good quality players makes up for losing one superb and majestic star in the form of Jack Grealish? Absolutely nobody and Aston Villa are proving that with their struggles ten games into the new league season. The fact that Leon Bailey has struggled with injuries and that Emiliano Buendia is yet to adapt has many fans worried, especially with Danny Ings the lone man doing well.
The forward has netted three goals and added two more assists, which is the best from those at Villa Park, but the concern is how they’re struggling to do little else. Dean Smith is definitely struggling, but even then, Villa have netted 14 goals at an xG of 11, which isn’t great either. It’s also a problem when the FPL’s official website has John McGinn at the top of their form guide, for Villa players, ahead of Emi Martinez and Ollie Watkins.
What makes matters even worse? Martinez is their top FPL scorer with 42 points, the injured Danny Ings is second with 39 points and Matty Cash is in third place with 37. They’ve also lost their last four games with just three wins this season and it’s most definitely a concern for Dean Smith. As for FPL managers, they’re definitely not ones to consider at least not until Smith figures things out.