GW1 Stats – The Misplaced Hotshots

Premier League GW1 – Starts Saturday 12th September 2020

As we restart the statistical clock for the new Premier League season, it means the return of hit series “Did You Know” will be a few weeks away, if only because we need some numbers to crunch first.

While although you may be disappointed in this, we can at least offer you a palette cleanser before the start of a new FPL campaign and one that involves the hotshots within the fantasy managerial realm.

More often than not, goals win you matches and they also secure you a decent amount of FPL points – be that as a fox in the box or a player that has perhaps been incorrectly labelled as a midfielder in the game.

The latter element has certainly benefitted managers in the last couple of the seasons, as the Liverpool pair of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane have provided endless amount of goals and subsequent glee.

While it seems there could be a new member of this awkwardly positioned club for the 2020/21 campaign and although Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is Arsenal’s talisman on the pitch, collective heads have been scratched regarding his positional category in this season’s FPL game.

Yes the Gabonese forward has been classed as a midfielder – albeit the most expensive at 12.0 (joint with the Liverpool duo mentioned above) and when you look at the bracket that the African trio are now in, it begs a rather pertinent question.

Are the FPL positional classifications too rigid for modern day football?

When you consider that any of these three will be operating more as a wide forward, then opposed to a genuine midfielder and also with the ability to drift into a central striker role when required or desired, placing them in the middle third of the pitch seems largely incorrect.

But as the world of FPL fails to keep pace with tactical innovation, is it time to think outside the box (if you will pardon the pun) and add some form of hybrid positional category – one that labels players as wide forwards.

A class of player, that could be selected in either the midfield or attacking units of the team and by doing this it then removes the rather clumsy allocations that we have at present. Then again, why stop there?

If we progress this idea even further, maybe it is time to select formational shapes and if you select two wide forwards for example, then they must come from this particular grouping rather than just say four or five midfielders across the board.

Therefore, you could operate with a 3-4-2-1 and the two are comprised of the genuine wide forwards, as you have selected this particular playing style and sacrificed two out and out forwards instead.

Obviously it could work, but in doing so it may run the risk of upsetting the gaming environment of two separate levels:

  1. It becomes too close to Football Manager
  2. It loses the simplicity that draws so many people in each season

Maybe it is that simplicity that means we have to see the likes of Aubameyang, Salah or Mane as midfielders this season and even though the people behind the creation of FPL know this classification is rather crude, it is the best they can do within the parameters of the game.

Another point to take into consideration is although the three in question are midfielders this season, they do come with something of a luxury tax and with them starting at 12.0 picking any two of the three, is going to mean sacrifices elsewhere.

Sacrifices that may come in the attacking section of your team and when you consider Harry Kane starts at 10.5 this season, one wonders if the value is more in the goalscoring midfielder and the additional points that he will bring.

As always there will have to be a balancing act along the way and with these square pegged midfielders trying to be forced into a round hole, it does look tempting to place more of your 100.0 budget in this department.

Of course, that is before you even consider the selection of Kevin De Bruyne and with total goal contributions being as high as they were, one could argue that at 11.5 he could be the preferred option of them all.

The positional classification debate always rears its head at this time of year (or perhaps August) and although we are not going to see any radical changes in the short-term, one does wonder if something will give in the end?

Tottenham Fan. Football Writer, Podcaster and Statistician.

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