What should Fantasy Premier League managers be monitoring when Brighton host West Ham?
The return of Friday Night Football means that Fantasy Premier League managers have an early gameweek deadline to contend with again as Brighton and Hove Albion take on West Ham United at the Amex.
This promises to be an intriguing clash and the purpose of this preview is to pinpoint a couple of things that you cannot afford to miss.
The fixture list has finally eased for the Seagulls and they now embark on a 9 game run that sees them taking on the Hammers, Newcastle, Wolves, Everton, Cardiff, Leicester, Huddersfield, Crystal Palace and Burnley.
Going on such a run without facing any of the Big 6 certainly brings a number of their fantasy assets into the equation but last year’s star man Pascal Gross remains injured so is it perhaps better to focus on the clean sheet potential of the Brighton rearguard? Unfortunately this is not the case, simply because this is the one area that remains a major concern for Brighton.
Ahead of the 2018/19 season, Statsbomb lauded Brighton for embracing analytics with their transfer activity, even going as far as to suggest that only Liverpool had fared better in this area.
It therefore comes as a bit of a surprise to see that Brighton have not quite got to grips with the value of set pieces or more to the point, their inability to defend them. The Seagulls conceded 21 times last season from set play scenarios, 4 more than any other side and a tweet from @11tegen11 suggests that this problem area has not been addressed.
Opposing sides are sure to cotton on to this and will look to exploit it over the next 9 games, so the number of clean sheets they attain during this period may well depend on the Seagulls showing a marked improvement with their defensive actions at corners and free kicks.
West Ham arrive at the Amex in fine form but all eyes will be on one man – Marko Arnautovic. The Austrian international has been a revelation since switching to a centre-forward role and former Hammers’ boss, David Moyes, deserves credit for making this transition happen.
Data from Understat reveals that Arnautovic has scored 13 times, while chipping in with 6 assists from just 23 appearances when playing as a central attacker. His xG90 of 0.60 for the current season also catches the eye and there is the promise of much more to come, given that he still isn’t 100% fit.
With the creative talent of the blossoming Felipe Anderson providing plenty of ammunition, ignoring the claims of Arnautovic is not something we would advise any fantasy manager to do.
There isn’t too much to choose between the two sides based on our latest goal projections but the home side know exactly what needs to be done, if they are to claim all 3 points – stop Arnie and defend those set pieces! Easier said than done.
Spurs have the pick of the GW8 fixtures, so a back-to-form Harry Kane tops the latest armband rankings but the claims of Arnautovic, a player that should be on everyone’s watchlist, should not be under-estimated.