Winter Wildcard: Making The Most In The Middle

by Phil McGrath on January 27, 2015

The winter wildcard is in full flow for fantasy premier league managers and with just over two weeks to go before it expires, we thought it was time for us to take a closer look at some players that could prove useful to managers, who are looking to make the most of their money. 

While managers will be aware of the big names that consistently produce the goods week in week out, there is also a need to balance the books and with that in mind we have once again turned to our friends over at Asliga.com to help us find more bang for our buck. 

Cheap midfielders are the order of the day and while we have been blessed with some very effective and very cheap options up top, who it must be said have jumped out at us, the midfield has not been as kind to us and we need to go and do some digging. 

Of course the January transfer window is also open, so there is always the chance that we may get some new players into the game over the coming days, but for the moment we can only deal with what we have. 

So to start off our search we have once again jumped straight into the stats and analytics that Asliga have provided for us and we have decided to go back over the last three week’s of fantasy action to see if we can find some value. Now at this point it must be said, that different managers will have a different idea of price when it comes to determining value, for us we have decided to go for the cheapest of the cheap and spend no more than £5.5 million on our midfielder. 

With that amount of money to spend, we are not committing to a long term buy, this is one that we can realistically do whatever we want with, we can bench them when the fixtures don’t suit, or if they fail to perform we will have not hesitation in selling them, simply put, at this price they will owe us nothing and we will not be stuck with them if they fail to produce the goods. 

The first thing that we need to do is find some candidates. So we have gone into the stats section of Asliga and set our parameters. Remember, they have to be a midfielder, be worth £5.5 million or less and have played in two of the last three league games. To help us speed up the search we have also set the search results to rank them by FPL points over the last three, so that way we should have the highest points performers and the ones who should be on form, so lets see what we can find. 

 

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As you can see we have found six players that fall in line with what we are looking for and at first glance it looks like we could have a tough time separating them and making a decision on just one. In order for us to do this we need to take a closer look at where their points have come from. 

 

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As we can see Crystal Palace’s Jason Puncheon leads the way on 24 points, the former Southampton man has registered two goals and an assist in his last three appearances and looks to be benefiting from the arrival of Alan Pardew at Selhurst Park. Next up is Southampton’s recent addition to the squad Eljero Elia. The 27 year old is on loan at St Mary’s from Werder Bremen until the end of the season and could prove to be a well calculated gamble by Koeman. Third on the list is Jack Colback, the Newcastle man has managed a goal and an assist in his last three, as have Scott Arfield and Seb Larsson who come in at number four and six, with Hull’s Ahmed Elmohamady coming in at number five with one goal in his last three outings. 

At this point we have a six man list of players who all fit the bill and who all have produced at least one goal over the last three weeks, but we want to try and whittle them down even more, so we need to take a closer look at their stats over the last three weeks. To do this we are going to have a look at some of the key factors, which will decide whether or not these returns are by fluke or sheer endeavour. 

To do this we are first going to focus on their shooting stats, so we will look at their total shots, shots on target, their shooting accuracy and their shots to goals ratio. 

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Surprisingly enough it is Scott Arfield who leads the way with six shots over the last three weeks, however he has only managed to get one of those on target, which I think is safe to assume is the one he converted back in gameweek 21 against QPR. Jason Puncheon is second having managed five shots, two of those hit the target and as we know they lead to his two goals against Tottenham and Burnley. Ahmed Elmohamady is third with four shots, with one on target, then we have Larsson with three, all of which were on target, Elia with two, again all on target and Colback with one, again on target. 

While the accuracy rating may be enough to help us to decide, you have to look past that. If we were to take their accuracy out of the equation, would you want a player in your side who has only managed one shot on target in three weeks, or two in the case of Elia? For us the answer is no, but before we cast our final judgement on those players we need to look at their team involvement  and their assist potential.

To do this we have looked at their amount of crosses, how many accurate crosses they provided, their assists and the amount of key passes and final third passes they have made.

 

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One of the biggest surprises is the fact that Elmohamady has provided not only more crosses than anyone, but he also leads the way for final third passes and is second in terms of key passes, yet he has not picked up a single assist. Larsson is second in terms of the amount of crosses, yet leads they way for accurate crosses with five. Puncheon is once again in the top three having also managed 16 crosses, but only four have found their mark, while Colback, Elia and Arfield make up the bottom three.

Really there are a number of take aways from this, Elmohamady is getting forward and producing crosses and passes in the final third, but with the Hull strike force going through a rough patch, he is not getting the rewards his performances may deserve, which unfortunately for him means that he can not be a viable option for our team.  

Scott Arfield is another that hasn’t made the grade, he may have managed a goal and an assist in the last three weeks, but with only one shot out of six on target and only one cross, which also found it’s target, over the last three, it strikes me that these could well be flukes and not ones that we are likely to see on a regular basis. So for that fact, he is out. While we had hoped to lose three players from the list, it is proving a little more difficult to separate the final four based on what we have looked at thus far, so for the moment the four stay and we will see if we can’t whittle them down some more. 

The last set of number we can look at are their bonus point potential, their points pre minute return and indeed their points per million return, hopefully this will aid us in our attempt to find a winner. 

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Well it would seem that Larsson is the last man to go. He has the lowest number of bonus points, he has the lowest points per million ratio and the highest minutes per point ratio, so that rules him out. So we are left with Puncheon, Colback and Elia. 

While we have looked at all the personal stats that matter, it is time for us to focus on their respective teams. How have they been performing and what does the future hold for the trio?

First up we will look at Puncheon and Palace. The Eagles are currently unbeaten under Alan Pardew and look to have found some renewed belief under the former Newcastle manager. Puncheon is facing three home games in his next four and while this is what we would like to see, with those games coming against Everton, Newcastle and Arsenal, there could be tougher times ahead for the former Blackpool man. 

Jack Colback is next up, the magpie’s are currently without a manager after the departure of Alan Pardew and this makes us very uneasy about the former Sunderland mans prospects. The Toon Army have only won one of their last six and look to be in free fall at the moment. Newcastle have the opposite run of fixtures to Palace and face three away games in their next four, travelling to Hull, Palace and City, with a home game against Stoke in the middle.

Finally we move onto Eljero Elia, his stats are slightly askew given he as only played twice, but he does look to playing in the best team. Southampton are unbeaten in their last six, drawing only one and looking forward they too face three home games in their next four. The Saint welcome Swansea, West Ham and Liverpool, while their away trip will take them to Loftus Road to face QPR.

Really when we look at all the stats and figures and the upcoming fixtures, it looks like it is down to a straight shoot out between Puncheon and Elia, There is no doubting that Puncheon has proven over time that he can do it, but given the fact that Elia has come straight in and scored twice, who knows.

For me I am going to go for Elia, he is playing in a better team and really when you look at his career he has played at a much higher level than Puncheon. In fact Elia played in the 2010 World Cup final for Holland against Spain. It seems to have only been his “off the field antics” that have seem him drop down the pecking order over the last couple of years at both Juventus and Werder Bremen, but with the gifted winger promising to do whatever it takes to get himself back on track, we like the cut of his jib!

There you have it I think you will find it makes for some very interesting reading. If you would like to know more about this super tool the guys at Asliga have built head on over to their site Asliga.com and check them out and as a special bonus they were also kind enough to give us a promo code that will grant you immediate and free 14 day access to their amazing stats and fantasy tools. 

So why not head over there now and enter the code “GREENARROWS”  to get your hands on everything they have to offer for free!