Don’t Panic… yet…

So, we get it. FPL has turned out awfully for the last three gameweeks.

Premiums are misfiring and being benched all over the place, the so-called “essentials” are dropping off big time, the Pep Roulette wheel is firmly in operation.

You go into a week, thinking your premiums absolutely have to fire this week. That now’s their time. And it always seems to be the lower-priced players, like Lundstram or Rico, that end up nicking a clean sheet, and being your highest scorer.

Yes, the premiums can’t notch every week, but it’s little stats like the following that really seem to make you wonder why you even pick them at all.

Top-scoring players from GW7 – GW9 (inclusive): (found on the r/FantasyPL reddit page).

Danny Ings (£5.9m) – 25 points

Matt Targett (£4.4m) – 24 points

Marcos Alonso (£6.2m) – 24 points

Jamie Vardy (£9.1m) – 22 points

Jack Grealish (£5.9m) – 22 points

Adama Traoré (£5.1m) – 21 points

Willian (£7.0m) – 21 points

Matt Doherty (£6.0m) – 20 points

Daryl Janmaat (£4.3m) – 20 points

Jack O’Connell (£4.5m) – 19 points

Now, that is a top 10. And, more to the point, Danny Ings is the top scorer over the past 3 weeks… Says it all.

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Of these 10, only Jamie Vardy is owned by more than just 5% of managers. and only he, Matt Doherty and Marcos Alonso are at prices which could be considered “premium” for their position (and even that’s a slight stretch for Vardy).

Now, in terms of our premium midfielders and attackers, Sadio Mané is the one that comes closest to this top 10, with all of 17 points over the past 3 GWs. On the face of it, not bad, but let’s break it down.

Mané scored 12 of those points in just one game – in GW8 against Leicester. The Senegalese international blanked on either side of this, taking his blank rate to 5/9 games for the season so far.

By contrast, Willian, the most expensive midfielder in the above top 10, has blanked in 7/9 games this season, and he had much more pre-season than Mané too.

But don’t panic because of all this. Remember that last season, the three top goalscorers in the PL all ended on 22 goals, which is an average of 5.79 goals every 10 games.

Now, consider that Tammy Abraham, Sergio Agüero, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Teemu Pukki, Raheem Sterling and Jamie Vardy have all out-scored that rate in a game less.

We all have to accept this: there are going to be some blanks. We all know it anyway, but there is always hope for the premiums, even when it seems like there is to be no end to their blanks.

Before I say any more, the “top 6” which I am about to mention is composed of Aubameyang, Salah, Mané, Aguero, Sterling, and Kane.

Last season, Mané blanked 19 times out of 36 appearances, which was the highest percentage (52.8%) of any of the top 6 premiums. Agüero was the least frequent blanker, with his 12 blanks in 33 games working out at a percentage of 36.4%.

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However, Mané also possessed the second-highest rate of double-digit hauls among that same top 6 last season (which is what we all really crave in FPL), with 9 of his 36 games (25%) delivering 10 points or more, while Agüero came in with just 5 double-digit hauls in his 33 games (15.2%); the worst of the top 6.

The result of all of this, is that Mané actually outscored Agüero over the course of last season, ending on 231 points, which is 30 more than Agüero managed.

On the Salah front, he ranked 3rd of the 6 for both the lowest blank rate (15/38 – 39.5%) and the highest rate of double-digit hauls (8/38 – 21.1%). The Egyptian turned out as the highest scorer last season, leading the way on 259 points, 21 ahead of nearest challenger Eden Hazard.

So the lesson we all learn here, is that consistent blanks don’t always mean that the player will do badly all season. Especially in the case of the premiums, which is a group of players from whom we wrongly expect to see contributions each and every game.

In the case of the other highly-rated players, now might mark a downturn. This is given that Callum Wilson, the second-highest goalscorer of last season (outside of the top 6 and Hazard), only managed 14 goals, and the likes of Tammy Abraham and Teemu Pukki already have 8 and 6 goals respectively.

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However, there are always form players around for lower prices; your job is just to listen to your gut, do the research, and reap the rewards from picking them. Because, realistically, Pukki will not score 25 goals this season, and Abraham probably won’t get 33 either.

Keep the faith in the premiums, but also have the courage to pick your own differentials. You never know, they might just be the next Danny Ings.

And, if all else fails, just enjoy the fact that there is club football. After all, it’s not long until the next international break.

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