Five 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 the highest scorer has shocked no-one but the real question is, who else is on the top of their game?
There’s definitely something different about Chelsea and the last eight odd months have been nothing short of spectacular stuff from Thomas Tuchel and his men. But with their incredible start to the season, Tuchel’s side have taken their game up to another level because when they look bad, they win. Nothing seems to stop the Blues anymore and the addition of Romelu Lukaku has only amped things even more.
But much like last season, Chelsea’s defense continues to remain as solid as possible with Aston Villa’s Cameron Archer scoring the first goal that the Blues conceded from open play last night. That’s the first goal conceded from open play this term about two months into the season which is just downright scary. But for the FPL bosses out there reading this, that is perfect because it means clean sheets after clean sheets after clean sheets.
Not only that, they’ve conceded just one goal (the joint best defensive record in the league) at an xGA of 5.5 which showcases just how impressive the defenders and Edouard Mendy have been. Plus you’ve got the added bonus of having Marcos Alonso as a consistent pick, so far, and the Spaniard is also on corners as well. Plus with his 38 point return so far alongside Thiago Silva’s 22 and Antonio Rudiger’s 33, it means a combination of any two could give you a decent haul. That’s the hope anyway and their fixtures are about as good as they get after this weekend’s clash against Manchester City.
After just one goal, and six assists, for West Ham last season, things have already changed for Said Benrahma and that might have a lot to do with his change in position. The attacker has been playing a lot more off the wing, in a fluid front four which seems to be working for him. Five goal contributions including three goals has seen the midfielder fly into FPL teams across the planet. But consistency has always been a concern for West Ham and yet, without Antonio, he scored.
Now he was slightly lucky to get his deflected goal because it ended a two game goal drought and yet, Benrahma’s form is on the uptick. The midfielder does have an npXG of 1.2 which does show he is overreaching and outdoing the stats but then again, that seems to have never mattered for the Algerian. His time at Angers, Brentford and Nice all showcased him outdoing the metrics by a decent amount although things have changed at the London Stadium,
Instead of being the potent goal-scorer he was in the Championship, Benrahma has contributed more to the creative side with 27 key passes (passes leading to a shot) last season. He has backed that up with 6 so far this season, contributing to two assists along the way, which does point to poor finishing rather than him not creating. The question is, with Antonio back can the Hammers rediscover their best and find a way forward. If they do have any hopes of doing something close to that, then Benrahma will be key and with 39 points so far, he is one worth having.
Arsenal’s front line
Few teams have struggled as much as Arsenal have so far this season with the Gunners scoring just the two goals so far. The first one was against Norwich City before Martin Odegaard put a free-kick past Burnley last weekend. Beyond that, the Gunners haven’t really gunned (sorry) down anyone this season and that is a massive concern for fans and FPL managers alike.
However, they have managed to score nine goals in the Carabao Cup against West Bromwich Albion and Wimbledon which doesn’t really say much but it shows that players can still find the net. Even then, the North London side have the tenth worst xG (6.1) although that’s a figure still better than Tottenham, Aston Villa or even Leicester City. But all three of the aforementioned sides have scored more than Arsenal which points to an even graver issue and that’s their forwards struggling to score.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s performances last season was put down to injuries, the lack of a pre-season and the fact that Arsenal weren’t creating much. A few of the factors have changed but the forward is still struggling to hit the net with him taking nine shots so far but his shots on target percentage is a paltry 33.3%. That’s well off the average while Alexandre Lacazette has barely played, with just 31 minutes to his name. They’re definitely on a cold streak and unless things improve, ones to stay away from.
Who doesn’t love Jack Grealish? That’s the Aston Villa version at least because so far, the Manchester City Grealish hasn’t really turned up. Sure, he’s got two goal contributions but in five games and his form isn’t really great. However, that’s mainly because Grealish has turned from being a sole creator and the entire Aston Villa offense to being a part of a team at Manchester City.
It’s probably why his xGchain90 and xBuildup90 have all shot up but at the same time, Grealish does have the third-best xA at 1.6. He also has just one assist but only Trent Alexander-Arnold has created more key passes than the Englishman. So why has he been frozen out in this particular article? Well, essentially because while the stats show us exactly what Grealish can and does offer to Manchester City, the fact that Ferran Torres and Bernardo Silva are doing it at a better rate is an issue.
Not just that, but Grealish hasn’t quite adapted to his new side yet and that has seen his actual contributions drop off a bit, mainly his shots and the quality of them. While his one goal was a deflected effort from inside the six-yard box, outside of that Grealish has taken six more shots and hit the target once. Furthermore, since his move to Manchester, the attacker has averaged less than 2 shots a game which is definitely a big cause for concern.
Combine that with Kevin de Bruyne and Phil Foden’s return and Raheem Sterling’s looming presence and plus the fact that Pep Guardiola’s roulette wheel is already in motion, it makes Jack Grealish’ situation a dicey one. Especially now that the attacking midfielder has gone two games without either a goal or an assist which in Manchester City’s world, is a big no-no.
Who to stay away from!!
This was going to be an entire section on how Harry Kane was bad, in the worst form of his career and playing for a team with the worst xG in the league but then he went and scored in the Carabao Cup. Now that, normally, wouldn’t have been an issue but Tottenham actually had their best game as they peppered John Ruddy with shot after shot. And yet, the bigger concern was how fluid and really threatening going forward Wolves looked without Raul Jimenez.
This is a one-off game but even then, with Hwang Hee-Chan in the team plus Adama Traore replacing Fabio Silva at half-time with Daniel Podence as the third man, Wolves looked a threat. So much so, that they waltzed back from going 2-0 down to lose on penalties. That’s a different thing altogether but without Jimenez, the team looked better and that is definitely a concern. The Mexican hasn’t really recovered his form or threat since his head injury, which is to be expected and he seems frustrated with himself over that.
Removing and then throwing his protective head gear off the field last weekend showcased that but in the five league games this season, Jimenez has taken 14 shots. That’s a good sign but the fact that only one has hit the target is a genuine issue. However, he has also created 13 key passes but at an xA of 0.9 which is probably why he has 0 assists. All that is despite the fact that Wolves have the seventh best xG in the league and yet, they’ve scored just twice.
It says that Wolves are waiting to click offensively and Jimenez could very well go and prove me very very wrong in the near future but so far, it just hasn’t happened for the Mexican.