In each edition of the Fantasy A-League Focus we take a look at some of the key issues emerging in the A-League and analyse their implications for fantasy coaches.
Return of the Fink
After a mediocre start to the season (by his standards), Gui Finkler has been in sensational form for the Victory in their last 3 A-League games. The Fink has found the back of the net 3 times (from 3 shots on target), and managed 2 assists and 7 shot assists (5 against Wellington in Round 4). With a home game against traditional bunnies Adelaide to come in the next round, the time has certainly come to add Finkler to your side to compliment the fantasy points machine that is Aaron Mooy.
Red & Black Storm Rising
Last season (domestically) the Western Sydney Wanderers endured the campaign from hell – they were beaten in the FFA Cup by part-timers Adelaide City, and finished 9th in the A-League with just 4 wins. The loss of star players like Tomi Juric and Kerem Bulut followed by a defensive disaster in Round 1 against Brisbane seemed to suggest that another season of pain was on the cards. However, since then the Wanderers have played some outstanding football and have already equalled their tally of wins from the previous campaign.
The statistics for shots on target support the statement that they are the form team of the competition – they currently have a better ratio of shots on target to shots on target conceded per game than any team in the competition (2.4 shots on target for every shot on target they concede). They have had the 2nd most shots on target (33 – only Melbourne City with 36 have had more) and conceded the 2nd least shots on target to their opponents (16 – only Sydney have allowed fewer, 14).
In terms of fantasy football, the clear standout has been Mitch Nichols. Nichols is currently ranked 2nd in points for Midfielders and 3rd overall, with 30 points in his last 3 games. In that time he’s scored twice from 5 shots on target and also had 5 shot assists, which suggests he can maintain this form. The Wanderers also offer a second premium Midfield option in Dario Vidosic, however he is yet to really explode in terms of points – he’s scored just once this season and has only picked up 12 points in his last 3 games. Despite this, he has hit the target 8 times this season (doing so in every round except Round 1), suggesting more goals will eventually come. The story of the last 3 rounds however is Mark Bridge, who has made the most of his first 2 starts of the season with 2 goals and an assist, adding to the assist he had off the bench in Round 5 for a total of 28 points in his last 3 games. Should Bridge keep his starting spot and the Wanderers continue their good form, more points should be on the horizon.
Don’t pick Federico Piovaccari though. Despite finally hitting the back of the net – and in consecutive games no less – Bridge has the same number of goals and shots on target despite playing 292 fewer minutes of football than Piovaccari. That’s less than half the amount of game time (547 minutes to 255 minutes) for the same output, or actually worse when you consider Bridge’s assists (Piovaccari has none).
- The shots on target statistics suggest Adelaide United have improved greatly in recent weeks, but still aren’t getting the goals they deserve – and are conceding far more often than they should be. The Reds have managed the same number of shots on target this season as Brisbane (28), yet have 8 less goals. At the other end more than half (51.7 per cent) of the shots on target they’ve conceded (29) have been goals – again, the same number as Brisbane, however Brisbane have conceded 9 less than the Reds. With the addition of Eugene Galekovic expect the Reds to tighten up at the back (they allowed Newcastle no shots – on target or off – on Sunday) and at the other end eventually the goals should come too. This weekend they face the Victory though, so perhaps don’t make a move on any Reds players just yet.
- Henrique has been the saviour for Brisbane in the last 2 rounds, scoring both of the Roar’s goals. It may be nonetheless wise to wait for him to be fit enough to start before adding him to your team though. Brisbane (32) have only 1 less goal than top scorers Melbourne City (33) but have done this from 28 shots on target compared to City’s 36. This suggests Brisbane will not continue to score at their current rate unless they start getting more shots on target – fortunately, they next face the Jets, who have allowed 39 shots on target this season – only the Mariners (41) have conceded more.
- Speaking of the Jets, they are still riding their luck despite being winless for 3 games. The Jets have scored 8 goals from just 15 shots on target (the lowest total in the league, 5 fewer than Perth who have played a game less and nearly half of the next worst teams in this statistic) while conceding only 7 goals from 39 shots on target allowed. To put that into perspective, they have scored the same number of goals as Sydney FC despite having exactly half the number of shots on target (30). They’ve conceded 1 more goal than Sydney FC despite allowing more than double the number of shots on target (14). It simply isn’t sustainable to continue these trends, so don’t bank on Jets players unless they tighten up at the back and start taking more chances up front.
- In terms of individual players, Bruno Fornaroli still leads the league in shots on target with 11, followed by Roy Krishna with 9 and a host of players with 8. Fornaroli could add to his tally significantly in the coming rounds when City face the Jets (who allow their opponents 5.6 shots on target per game) and the Mariners (5.9 shots on target conceded per game). Before that City face Perth, who are a much tighter unit defensively. Perth have conceded 3.7 shots on target per game – the 4th best record in the league behind the two Sydney teams and Victory. This is despite having conceded the same number of goals as the Jets – they just aren’t as lucky. No one is.
Team shots on target and shots on target allowed statistics via Opta / A-League match centre. Player shots on target via Fox Sports Fantasy A-League.