Wednesday 28 August 2013

GW2 Match Centre

These match reports are now done using the new data as described yesterday. I've not yet got the technical stuff sorted out to quickly display the player ratings in a neat way so will just type out the key player's scores this time around. For a more visual experience I advise you to open up GW2 Player Ratings in a new window and use the search box to view each team's player ratings.

As a quick reminder xG (xGoals = Expected Goals) is a totting up of each team's shots and likelihood of a goal based on shot position, assist type, whether it was header or not, and situation. From this individual player xG and xA (xAssist) can be worked out to determine their xPts. Currently this is attacking points only, no appearance points or bonus points.

Fulham 1.0 - 2.4 Arsenal
Fulham tried to attack but just haven't got the quality or team right yet with new signings in key positions although Darren Bent got straight into the danger zones when he came on. Walcott had several good chances. Cazorla's shooting was mostly limited to long-range efforts. Giroud looks good for a 1 goal in 2 games kind of season.

Top Attack Ratings (xPts)
Fulham::Bent (1.5), Taarabt (0.9), Berbatov (0.6)
Arsenal: Walcott (5.1), Cazorla (2.1), Giroud (1.9), Ramsey (1.8)

Aston Villa 0.9 - 0.6 Liverpool
Liverpool got it away with a little here but Rodgers got his tactics right to limit Aston Villa's chances. They wanted a clean sheet and got one, Villa are much better as we've seen on the counter-attack, When  asked to break a team like Liverpool down they lack a real midfield schemer. Benteke is always good for a goal though as is Sturridge. these twos don't need many chances.

Top Attack Ratings (xPts)
Aston Villa: Benteke (1.1)
Liverpool: Enrique (1.4), Sturridge (1.4)

Everton 1.7 - 0.5 WBA
1.7 xG is just the average a home side should get against an average away defence so this is a failed opportunity here for Everton to show they can compete amongst the heights of Premier League goal-scoring. Either that or WBA can defend as well as Chelsea. That Fellaini tops Everton's xPts is an indication of how packed the Baggies penalty box was.

Top Attack Ratings (xPts)
Everton: Fellaini (2.3) Barkley (1.7), Mirallas (1.3)
WBA: Morrison (1.2), Long (1.1)

Cardiff 1.5 - 2.0 Man City
The weekend' highlight and a high scoring game with plenty of chances for both teams, Cardiff equipped themselves really well and if they can match this performance again this week against Everton their attacking players may warrant some interest. This may be a case of complacency for Pellegrini though who had his first taste of how not to defend defending from set pieces in the English game

Top Attack Ratings (xPts)
Cardiff: Campbell (4.2), Gunnarsson (2.4), Kim (1.1)
Man City: Silva (2.9), Aguero (2.0) Zabaleta (2.0)

Man Utd 1.2 - 0.4 Chelsea
Mourinho set out to stifle and suffocate and managed it with some ease. A real lack of ambition shown going forward for Chelsea should pretty much provide you with Mourinho's intentions this season. He'd be happy winning every game 1-0 and the high cost of players like Hazard will take a dip if he keeps the shackles on. Moyes has to considered be in the same boat though. He's more caution than cavalier.

Top Attack Ratings (xPts)
Man Utd: Rooney (2.1), Van Persie (1.5), Welbeck (1.2)
Chelsea:: Oscar (0.8), Ivanovic (0.8)

Newcastle 1.1 - 0.6 West Ham
Pretty much business as usual for these two team this season. A game of limited chances with plenty of set pieces played into packed penalty boxes. At least Newcaslte showed they can keep a clean sheet which was important for them.  

Top Attack Ratings (xPts)
Newcastle: Goufrfran (1.7), Marveauz (1.6)
West HamL Morrison (1.3), Nolan (0.7)

Hull 0.4 - 0.6 Norwich
Another game lacking any attacking quality and decided by a penalty goal and shaped by an early red card for Hull. Getting a clean sheet with 10 men and keeping the xG down to deserve it is very impressive. Norwich's new addition's up front do not look like they'll change the Canaries attacking returns away from home.

Top Attack Ratings (xPts)
Hull: Livermore 0.6), Brady (0.6)
Norwich:: Howson (0.8), van Wolfswinkel (0.8)

Stoke 1.5 - 0.9 Crystal Palace
Stoke look like they will go at least go for games this season and Crouch and Adam look half-decent fantasy options at £6m. It's hard to judge Palace yet based on two difficult games but relying on any of their players for your team looks difficult to do.

Top Attack Ratings (xPts)
Stoke: Walters (2.8) Crouch (2.6), Adam (1.7)
Palace: Chamakh (1.0), Moxey (0.9)

Southampton 1.2 - 0.6 Sunderland
Another interesting game in judging the prospects of two teams who are in a state of transition going into this new season. Southampton's attack will have to do a lot better than this if players like Lallana are going to get on our radar. Lambert still looks central to the best parts of their attack. For Sunderland it's too early to write off Johnson or Giaccherini yet but their £7m price tags will be hard to justify.

Top Attack Ratings (xPts) (xPts)
Southamptn: Lambert (2.6), Rodgriguez (1.6)
Sunderland: Dong-Won (1.4), Johnson (0.9), Giaccherini (0.9)

Tottenham 1.6 - 0.4 Swansea
Laudrup's mentality here was similar to other away managers this weekend. Try and get a clean sheet. Swansea did their usual job of preventing any chance of real quality, denying Soldado in particular and allowing Spur's less clinical midfielders the lion share of chances. . Spurs's new-look midfield did look strong defensively but with the Swan's lack of ambition going forward the jury is still out. The Emirate will be a real test.

Top Attack Ratings (xPts)
Spurs: Paulinho (3.7), Dembele (1.8), Chadli (1.6)
Swansea: : Chico (1.0), Shelvey (0.9)

Tuesday 27 August 2013

New Fantasy Football Stats (Primus Inter Pares)

What Alan Shearer Says
I was watching Match of the Day on the opening day of the season and they flashed up a graphic for Alan Shearer to talk about it.  The graphic contained stats for Daniel Sturridge and Coutinho's excellent performances at the end of last season. As well as Appearances, Goals and Assists they talked about shots on target.

This time last year they wouldn't have done this but over the subsequent twelve months underlying data like shots on target has slowly crept into the mainstream game as a meaningful stat to indicate what's going on under the bonnet of a football match.  I'm obviously pleased to see this, because it is important, but I am now ready to take it on a level or two.

Not All Shots Are Equal
Spending so much time looking at shots on target, comparing these against other shot data (like total shots, shots in box) and evaluating them against actual goals and, more importantly for us, fantasy football points I've become fully aware of the limitations. My FSCORE metric and Point Projections last season were predominately based on team's and player's shots on target.  I discussed the limitations  in this post, identifying a crop of important fantasy football players where the model just didn't fit. 

I've spent the summer months researching new data sources and am pleased to be able to vastly increase the quality of the data. Instead of looking at just shot totals, whether on target or not, or in the box or not I will now be incorporating the following:
  • Shot Zone: 6 yard box, central penalty box, side of penalty box, outside of box
  • Assist Type - attempt from a cross or pass
  • Attempt Type - Header or Shot (with foot)
  • Situation - Set Piece of Open Play
I have to again bow to 11tegen11 for his initial analysis of this earlier this summer. Shot Zone is the most important of these. It's common sense. The closer you are to the goal, the better the chance you have of hitting the target and scoring a goal. Shot Zone's is the most important single improvement to the model this season but the other factors should not be overlooked. 

For headed attempts the chance of scoring in the 6 yard box is relatively very good but the conversion rate for headers drops more quickly further from goal than it does for regular shots (with a foot that is). Similarly for set pieces, if the resultant shot or header is not close to the goal it's harder to score than it is for a shot from open play from a similar position.

Here's a table of just some of the most important "shot criteria":

Shot Criteria Typical
Any shot or header in the 6 yard box (Zone A) 35-50%
Shot from a pass in open play from central penalty box (Zone B) 25%
Shot from a set piece in 6 yard box or central penalty box 25%
Header from a cross into 6 yard box (open play) 18%
Header from a set piece in 6 yard box or central penalty box 15%
Shot from a cross in open play from central penalty box 10%
Shot from either side of penalty box (open play) (Zone C) 10%
Header from centre of penalty box (from a cross) 9%
Shots from outside the box (Zone D) 5%

Using the Model
Once the data is collated I add up each team's and player's shots to give an expected Goals value (xGoals)and an expected assists value (xAssist) and then combine both of these with the point scoring rules in FPL to determine expected points (xPts). You can see this in action already over at InsideFPL. I'll be doing weekly team and player ratings using xG for Teams and xPts for Players. 

xG and xA will also contribute significantly for improving the Player Point Projections. Assists will be much better modelled. Knowing whether a player is creating good chances or not is something that simply counting key passes cannot tell you. Leighton Baines is a great example of this. He racks up lots of key passes every match but looking closer at this new data you can see most of his crosses result in headers in shot zone B (9% conversion). Compare this to Theo Walcott who doesn't create half as many key passes but when he does they typically result in shots in the 6 yard box (35% conversion). 

There's also real super potential in drilling deeper into the type of shots a team creates or concedes, and then using this to determine what type of shots are most likely in any given fixture and which players will likely get these chances. 

There's a tonne more I could waffle about but this is it for now (like what is Zone BD?). I'll be doing Match Centre for GW1 and GW2 very shortly using this data and as mentioned you can take a look at Player Ratings (xG, xA, xPts) for GW2 over at InsideFPL.

Friday 23 August 2013

GW2 Captain Rankings

Gameweek One was fun, right? Quite a drawn out affair for my own team, hanging on to hopes that Luakau would do something. Quickly moving on then.

The captain pick this week is not straightforward with no "gimme" games. I expect Everton to score the most goals this weekend of any team and Jelavic looks sharp and central to the attacking setup at Goodison.  Van Persie's place at the top of the rankings this week is a reflection of his and Manchester United's indomitable record at Old Trafford. Chelsea look a little vulnerable and not yet the defensive monsters they were under Mourinho last decade.

Arsenal are an enigma. They were unlucky not to score more against Villa last week but still looked way off the pace, but then go and put Fenerbace to the sword. A lot depends on Fulham and how they approach this game.

Spurs are heavily fancied and Soldado leads captain polls on various sites. On what evidence I ask?! I'm not personally into the new look Spurs yet. They'll have to do a lot more than they did against Palace. 

I am probably going to captain Van Persie. If I have a moment of madness I'll pick Sturridge instead. If I could take a free punt it would be on Jelavic.

Friday 16 August 2013

GW1 Captain Rankings

Phew. Thought I wouldn't make it. If you didn't know already I've joined up with for this season and have been blogging there (here) for the last few weeks. Please follow me over, we're working on some great stuff!

But here are the Point Projections / Captain Rankings for GW1! Chelsea's double gameweek pretty much makes ranking the non-chelsea players difficult but you can filter the data easily to see how players like Walcott and Van Persie might do.  Also note that this list includes all players so you may see some odd names in there. Right click and 'Exclude' to hide them

I'm pretty sure Hazard (C) is the one this weekend. Hands up if you're going to captain Lukaku instead? 

I haven't finished my own team yet but the core is in place. I'll have more on that next week. 

So, see you soon and good luck this weekend.

Thursday 15 August 2013

Fantasy Premier Pre-Season Guide [Winners]

Thank you all for the response to the giveaway post on Monday. I never knew I had so many people following along. To be honest, it's hard to tell from the other side of the computer screen.

Here are the winners of Monday's giveaway. This "competition" was run on Twitter as well as mentioned, so I picked the 5 winners at random from the 100 or so people that entered.
  • Jody Sanham  
  • Stu
  • legriff
  • Ervin Ang (@DieHardCFCFan)
  • Crossbar
I've contacted the winners from Twitter direct 'cos I can do that there. For Stu, legriff and Crossbar please email me at and I'll send you the details on how to claim your copy. Well done! In case of attempted fraud I've taken a note of your blogger profile IDs so will be able to sort any funny business out should it come to that.

For those who've missed out and who would still like a copy of this guide I've also got a 20% discount code 'SOTFRIENDS' (without the apostrophe). You can use this code to get a discount on any of the packs InsideFPL have. Take a look.

Tuesday 13 August 2013

Fantasy Premier Pre-Season Guide - Free Giveaway

I've got 5 free copies of InsideFPL's Pre-Season Guide to give-away. I played a major part in putting this guide together, it's full of ace strategy and analysis, point profiles and projections for every player in the game, recommended picks, suggested GW1 teams and much more. I have been pretty much referring to this guide myself to put my own team together.

For a chance to win a free copy simply leave a comment on this post.

You can also a 20% discount by entering the coupon code SOTFRIENDS. Take a closer look at all the guide has to offer over on at . Winners will be announced tomorrow.

PS - I'm running this same give-away on Twitter today and if you have an account there you'll be able to enter twice @shots_on_target

Friday 2 August 2013

Pre-Season Guide [by InsideFPL]

I've been working a lot with InsideFPL and we're very proud to announce the imminent release of our Pre-Season Guide for Fantasy Premier League 2013/14. It's quite special, even if we say so ourselves.We appreciate doing well in fantasy football is not just all about picking players, it's about playing the game too

As well as a comprehensive review of players the guide is also packed full of exclusive strategy and analysis, including a statistical evaluation of form vs. fixtures, a breakdown of point-scoring across several seasons, an introduction to game theory and much, much more. You'll also get team by team breakdowns with stats, profiles and point projections for every player in the game.

The Pre-Season Guide is scheduled for release next week, 6th August.  You can follow this link for a closer look and to receive a 30% 'Pre-Order' discount.

Here's more on what's inside:

Team and Player In-Depth Analysis
Profiles for every team and every player including analysis of last season's points and orecast points for this season using our powerful prediction engine

The Best Teams
3 complete and optimised FPL teams for GW1 complete with transfer strategy plus our own team and thoughts for the new season.

Exclusive Strategy
Strategies to manage your team through all 38 gameweeks, including transfers and wildcards, your budget and team value and sound decision making

Is This for You?
The guide contains everything you need. Whether you are a new player who wants to some simple and concise advice, an experienced pro looking for some thought-provoking analysis, or you just want that extra edge to win your money league.

Early Bird Offer : 30% Discount
Follow this link to register your interest, check out a free sample, and claim a 30% discount. Get a free sample chapter