In this piece, I look at Leicester City, Newcastle United and Manchester United to narrow down some of the choices available to Fantasy Premier League (FPL) managers – especially those playing the Free Hit – in Double Gameweek 33.
James Maddison v Harvey Barnes
The Barnes v Maddison dilemma is an interesting one. Obviously, the minutes played in the UEFA Europa Conference match on Thursday could have a bearing on the decision but let’s have a closer look at the underlying numbers for the two over the last six matches.
It is worth mentioning that Maddison has played 393 minutes compared to 463 for Barnes.
Above and below: A comparison of Harvey Barnes (left) and James Maddison (right) over their last six matches
Barnes is the clear winner in terms of expected data, coming out top for expected goals (xG, 1.69 vs 1.04) and only marginally behind for expected assists (xA, 0.60 to 0.75). As usual, Barnes’ wayward shooting lets him down and the xG of Maddison’s shots on target is greater (1.32).
A closer look at the underlying goal threat numbers shows an alarming trend: Maddison has not taken a single shot in the box over Leicester’s last six matches while Barnes has taken 14. However, only two of Barnes’ attempts have been big chances, so he is clearly more of a quantity over quality player. Barnes has had 30 penalty box area touches to Maddison’s seven.
Maddison is way ahead on the underlying creative numbers, which makes me wonder why their xA was so similar in the earlier image. He has created 13 chances to Barnes’ five and three big chances to just one. Perhaps the opportunities he did carve out were of low quality.
On the basis of this, there’s really not much to split the two. Barnes’ benching in their last league game and withdrawal at half-time on Thursday does improve his prospects of starting both matches in Gameweek 33, with Maddison starting every fixture after the international break. I would marginally prefer Barnes as Maddison seems more of a ‘home game banker’ with 77 points at the King Power versus 53 away. Barnes has also scored more at home (50 v 41) but the difference is not as stark.
Fabian Schar v Matt Targett
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