Fantasy Premier League managers everywhere love a good moan about the allocation of bonus points - usually when one of their players gets short-changed. This week was very different, though.
The bonus points system itself is a laudable endeavour, ostensibly designed to spread the points around a bit, rewarding some of the lesser lights for their more subtle contributions to a match.
In FPL, it's reassuringly stats-based, unlike some past formats which saw English reporters invariably award maximum points to Wayne Rooney and John Terry, with little, if any, regard to the quality of their performances.
However, one single action in Gameweek 28, Stoke goalkeeper Jack Butland (STO, 5.0) managed to make a mockery of the whole thing.
Despite making an error that probably cost his team a much-needed victory, Butland collected three bonus points - and people were not amused.
I know we’ve had the #FPL BPS debate so many times, but when a Keeper can catch the ball 9 times (the majority weren’t “saves”), and throw the ball into his own net & get 3 whilst another player gets 0 for a goal & assist because he showed attacking intent & missed a few, well... pic.twitter.com/UsMd586dZA— Fly🔻 (@FPL_Fly) February 25, 2018
This can all be put down to an unusual quirk in Stoke’s defensive set-up since Paul Lambert’s arrival. Although the Potters have been allowing a fair amount of shots, many from set plays, they have conceded just five Big Chances in that time - that’s level with Man United and fewer than Tottenham.
This translates into lots of easy saves and recoveries, which has seen Butland top of the table over the last five Gameweeks when it comes to both saves (24) (including seven “caught” saves) and recoveries (66).
The solution to this anomaly would be fairly simple - doubling the current -3 BPS penalty for "Making an error which leads to a goal" should do it, as well as weeding out some poor defenders in the process.
Get it sorted for next season, FPL.
I was pretty open about my dislike for the Captaincy feature of FPL during a recent interview with the 3 Amigos Podcast.
Failing to captain Aguero in a four-goal Gameweek doesn't help, admittedly, but as someone who remembers those bygone days when you more or less had to chisel your fantasy football team into a slab of granite, I've always found the swings offered by captaincy and chips in FPL to be a little off-putting.
There have been times where the captaincy choice has been almost automatic (think Ronaldo, van Persie, Saurez) - perhaps we're approaching that again?
The strategy from now on seems pretty clear. Those who are leading their mini-leagues will look to the consistency of Mo Salah (LIV, 10.5) to keep their rivals at arm's length, while the rest of us will have to rely on the likes of Sergio Agüero (MCI, 12.0) and Harry Kane (TOT, 12.6) to produce some heroics.
Although it would be foolish to rule him out completely, the return of Gabriel Jesus raises the nightmare scenario of Aguero becoming a one-point substitute on any given Gameweek. With the league title presumably won, pre-Champions League rests in GW32 and 33 could well be in the offing.
When it comes to Kane, although he still has a small edge over Salah when it comes to scoring big, the Egyptian scores more points, more often.
📊Data table - Salah 🆚Kane
Updated the data from my comparative piece from a few weeks ago, which established that Kane had the higher ceiling and Salah the higher floor, as we struggle with who gets the armband this Gameweek (Harold = HUD; Mo = NEW) 🤔February 26, 2018
With three of Spurs’ next four GWs away from home, the fact that 13 of his 24 league goals have come at rival grounds does offer some hope for Kane owners.
However, it's hard to get away from the fact that anyone who dared #AlwaysCaptainSalah from the start of the season would be flying right now.
In this case of this guy, you wouldn't even have to make any transfers!
Rolling the dice with differential players
It takes more than a few good captaincy shouts to launch an unlikely mini-league comeback - you'll need to recruit a few big-hitting differentials.
As unpalatable as it may seem after the week they've had, Arsenal must be given every consideration.
There's something about the 'soft' culture that's been allowed to ferment at the club over the past few years that has seen them really turn on the style when the pressure is off.
With a top-four place little more than a mathematical possibility at this stage, that pressure has fallen off dramatically in recent weeks, to put it kindly.
Now is the time to load up on Arsenal players. After the City game they have absolutely nothing to play for, no chance of making top 4 and favourable fixtures. Normally when they hit some form. #fpl— #FPL Penguin (@FPL_Penguin) February 25, 2018
Those capitulations against Man City will put them off the FPL radar of most - but they won’t be playing City every week. If players like Aaron Ramsey (ARS, 6.9), Henrikh Mkhitaryan (ARS, 7.8) and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (ARS, 10.5) can pick themselves up off the floor, they have what looks to be an easier run of fixtures than anyone for the remainder of the season.
You really have to take your hat off to Glenn Murray (BRI, 5.8). Still only 3.3% owned, the 34-year-old has confounded expectations to notch 10 goals so far this season, including five in his last six starts.
Just a reminder that Glenn Murray now has more Premier League goals this season than...
That is all. pic.twitter.com/ftOvwnhizd— Footy Accumulators (@FootyAccums) February 24, 2018
That said, keep your eye on new arrival Jürgen Locadia (BRI, 6.0), who needed just eight minutes to score on his Premier League debut.
I like the look of Izquierdo and Locadia this week and a little beyond too. Locadia scored 4 goals in one game for PSV earlier this year.👀— Yahoo Daily Fantasy (@YahooFantasy_UK) February 23, 2018
Disappointed owners blindsided by Callum Wilson's drop in form from could do worse than pick up Steve Mounie (HUD, 5.7) once that trip to Spurs is out of the way.
The in-form pair of Rajiv van La Parra (HUD, 4.8) and Alex Pritchard (HUD, 5.4) could be other sneaky differentials in a plucky Huddersfield side who need points in the bag before their fixtures turn in GW35.
For those who value form over fixtures need look no further than Marko Arnautovic (WHU, 6.9). He was unlucky not to score against Liverpool last week, and before that, he returned a goal and/or assist in his previous seven matches. He's still just 5.6% owned.
Geoff Cameron (STO, 4.3) could be the answer for anyone looking a cheap enabler for some BGW31 coverage. The veteran looks to have found favour again, and spent most of Stoke's trip to Leicester playing (slightly) out of position as a defensive midfielder.
It’s always useful to keep an eye out for a ‘whipping boy’ team - knowing a team is liable to concede a few goals in any given match can help us make the right calls when it comes to captaincies, wildcards and Free Hits.
There's been no shortage of candidates at various points over the season so far - but while they've all shown signs of life since, West Brom look relegated already.
Keep an eye out too for the team who thinks they’re safe, downs tools, and end up narrowly avoiding relegation, There's one every year, and they should be making themselves known in the coming weeks.
Is anyone playing with more confidence than Xherdan Shaqiri (STO, 6.3) right now?
The Swiss dynamo is beating Eden Hazard for shots on target lately and is quickly shedding his reputation as a streaky player best avoided.
Some tough fixtures await, but no blanks, and that pricetag is hard to ignore.
Although yet to score since his return from exile, Riyad Mahrez (LEI, 8.7) has been attracting some attention.
We know he has the quality - if his head is right, he has the fixtures to reward the faithful.
With three players all apparently competing for one spot alongside Alli, Eriksen and Kane in the Spurs attack, that charming aura of childlike wonder just isn't reason enough to hold on to Heung-Min Son (TOT, 8.1).
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