We've produced a brief guide on some of the strategies and techniques we use when playing Footstock Single Contests. We've used tonight's Fulham v Sheffield Utd game to demonstrate how the stats can help with your selections and allow you to see how this may play out in practice. We've intentionally picked this game as the team and player stats may be less well known than other teams/players and the player prices are some of the most affordable on the Footstock market at present. However, these same strategies can be applied to any contest.
Anything can happen in the game of course, so nothing can guarantee victory but hopefully some of the following areas may help you decide on the right strategy for you if you do enter.
Contest Rules - £5 Contest (AKA Silver/Amateur Contest)
We'll mainly focus the £5 entry Contest for this example but the selection methods and stats are equally applicable to the other entry level contests too. We've commented on particular points for the other entry level contests where we think this may also be useful.
In the £5 entry contest we need to choose at least 1 Defender and 1 Midfielder and a maximum of 4 out of the 6 players from a club. So no matter what result you think the game will be, you'll need to understand who the best picks are from both teams. Given the fixture, the star budget of 18 shouldn't present any challenges tonight but that can often add a dimension that makes the picks more challenging and the stats even more useful.
Knowing the line-ups is a key part of picking your team for any Footstock Contest. But for Single Contests you'll know the starting line-ups an hour before kick-off so aside from a late injury you should have full knowledge of each starting player whilst picking your teams. Here are the lineups for the game:
*Lineup picture courtesy of Sofascore
There are different strategies that can be used when picking your teams and in reality it may be a mix of these (or others) for any one team selection. But here are a few strategies that we use....
Result driven - the win or the draw
Often the most sensible and simplest way to start is to consider what you think the result of the game will be. Pick the result and pick your team to suit. With players receiving 6 points for a win, this can be a key part of picking the winning team. It's often useful to look at the bookies odds for the results and the correct score to help give you a steer if you aren't sure.
At the time of writing, Fulham are 6/5 favourites to win, Shef Utd are 3/1 to win, with the draw priced at 9/4.
We also see the team last 5 form and season stats from the TradingScout team summary to help give us a steer on the likelihood of goals and clean sheets:
With Fulham having the better form, being at home and the bookies clear favourites we're expecting most teams in the contest to favour Fulham - so we expect most in the £5 entry to have 4 players and 2 from Shef Utd. But maybe some will favour the draw and pick 3 players from each team or indeed go for the upset and favour Shef Utd.
Note that there has been a Home Wins in 37% of games so far this premier league season and Away Wins in 39% of games. This compares to an all time premier league percentages of 46% home wins and 28% away wins suggesting home advantage this season is perhaps less than it has been in the past.
Result driven - high scoring vs clean sheets
This is often the next question we ask ourselves when deciding on the selections. If we expect a lot of goals then we'll naturally be inclined to pick more outfield/ attacking players but if you expect a clean sheet for 1 or more team then pick more defensive options. But with you only being able to pick a max of 4 players in a team for the £5 entry this can often be one of the most challenging decisions.
The average goals per game in the premiership this season is 2.72 goals per game which would suggest you need to ensure you pick a goalscorer to place highly in the single contest but that's not necessarily the case. The most common premier league scoreline this season has been 1-1. This happens to match the bookies most likely result for the Fulham v Shef Utd game at odds of 5/1. With Fulham winning 1-0 at 6/1 and 0-0 at 15/2.
As you can see above, with both Fulham and Shef Utd, only having 20 and 15 goals scored each then goals may not be in abundance, but then again Shef Utd only have 1 clean sheet all season and the two teams have let in 72 goals in the 48 games they have been involved with so maybe we can expect a couple?
Goalkeepers are often a common choice in single contests as they can often be a safer pick regardless of the score. If they keep a clean sheet then the 10 points means they will score well. However, even if they don't the 2 points for saves can mean they score well, especially as they don't receive any points deductions for goals conceded. In the £15 Gold/Pro contest the extra player means at least 1 goalkeeper is often in most teams (and regularly both) , but in the £5 entry it can be a much trickier choice.
The limited number of goalkeepers in 1* or 2* category means the £1 Bronze/Beginner teams don't often feature them but look out for them if they are available! For tonight's game Ramsdale (3*, £2.86 buy price, £2 sell price) and Areola (3*, £2.39 buy price, £1.55 sell price) have similar base PPG's for the whole season as a (Ramsdale = 10.05 , Areola = 10.34) but over the last 5 games Areola's base scores have dipped a little.
The peak score for goalkeepers is likely to be less than many outfield players, so if you don't expect the game to be low scoring then outfield players may be a better option for your spare picks.
Note - Areola's peak PPG score this season is 26.75 whilst Ramsdale's peak is 27.65
When it comes to Defenders we often see only the compulsory 1 defender being picked in order to maximise the potential of attacking returns. However, if you are expecting clean sheets or a dull game then loading up on defenders can be advantageous. Keep an eye out for defenders who are either out of position or are likely to play further forward in an attacking formation. The base scores can often be a good indicator of players who fall into these categories. When we look at both the Fulham and Shef Utd defenders, we can see some pretty high base scores so keep an eye out on the starting lineups and positions. Keep an eye out for those with an attacking threat too....
A key thing to keep in mind is how your player choices compliment eachother. So it may not be beneficial to pick a defender on the team you think will lose, and it could be beneficial to pair a goalkeeper and a defender in a team where you think a clean sheet is likely. Remember that defenders lose 2 points per goal conceded so the expected goals in a game will often heavily influence the number of defenders we pick.
Goals and Assists driven vs focus on the Base
One strategy we sometimes use it to simply focus on the players that will most likely have a goal or assist regardless of the team.
The other is to focus on the base scores of all players regardless of the likelihood of them scoring if you are expecting a low scoring game, thus maximising your chances of winning even if your player doesn't score. If you can find a player that has a high goal threat and a high base then even better!
If we look at Fulham's attacking options we have a difficult choice to make. With Maja making a big impact since his transfer he's difficult to ignore but we have a few high base options competing for those places!
Shef Utd's midfielder and attackers are limited to 5 options in the starting XI and on first glance looking a little less attractive than Fulham.
Avoid the striker with the low base?
With there being such a big emphasis on goals and assists in the Footstock scoring matrix it can be very tempting to simply pick the main striker and hope they score. But its worth considering how likely each player is to score in any single game. If you look at the anytime scorer odds at the bookies, you'll often see that players are less likely to score than you initially believe. So if that player has a low average base score then picking them can often mean its an all or nothing pick - if they score then great, but if they don't you may be on the back foot against other teams that didn't pick that player. If we look at Billy Sharp for this fixture, his anytime goalscorer odds are roughly 11/4 at the time of writing. Plus, as you can see from the TradingScout player summary below his base scores are typically pretty low if he doesn't score. His highest base in the whole season is 4.65 so if you do pick him, don't expect his base score to be particularly high and hope that he scores!
Good luck with your selections tonight if you do play and we hope some of the above information is of use. We've also included some other general areas to consider in your future team picks below which can apply to any contest.
If there is a clear favourite for the game then it's likely that others will be picking that team too so we've sometimes used a tactic to base a team selection based on the result being an upset. The odds mean that this outcome is of course less likely but if it does come in, it can mean that you are competing with less people for top spot in the Contest.
Set piece takers
The Footstock scoring matrix includes 0.5 points for each cross, which can heavily favour set-piece takers. Knowing who these are can therefore be useful. However, as crosses are included in a player's base score, the base score itself (along with goals/assists stats) can typically give you a quick indicator of these players already whilst also accounting for other base stats such as successful dribbles too. At the moment we've therefore not included a summary of set-piece takers in our TradinScout EPL Contest tool to keep the information as simple as possible in order to aid quick and easy team selections, but let us know if this is something you think is worth us breaking down in more detail in the future.
Avoid the player who often gets subbed?
Another useful thing to consider is how likely the player is to get subbed if they start. If you know that a player often gets subbed off then not only do they miss out on the 0.025 points per minute they don't play but they obviously don't accrue points for other actions....so its perhaps not worth picking this player if your team selection tactic is heavily favoured towards base scores. Again, our TradingScout player summary can give you a snapshot of the minutes played by each player for every game and the PPB90 stat can be used to assess the likely base score for each player based on the minutes you expect to play e.g. if a player has a PPB90 of 9 but you only expect them to play 60 mins then you can estimate them to have a base of (9 / 90 * 60) = 6 within that 60 mins.
It seems counterintuitive to select substitutes within your lineups and it isn't something that we would recommend that you do particularly often. However, in some instances it can be a feasible option e.g. if there is an impact sub where you want to have a differential or if the player restrictions force it e.g. if there isn't a 1* player in the starting lineups but you need to pick one for your Bronze/Beginner team.
As you can see, there are a number of strategies that you can use to pick your teams but one of the key things is to make sure that your selections complement eachother. So for example, avoid picking the low base striker on one team and all defenders on the other as it's unlikely that this will be an optimal selection - either the striker scores and the defenders don't get a clean sheet and lose points for the goal, or the striker doesn't score and will get a low score.
You may not know which strategy you will use until you look at the lineups and stats. That's one of the reasons why we've built TradingScout in the way we have. Being able to see all of the players stats in a single view enables you to quickly focus on the players of interest - whether its to quickly see the highest base scoring players to fill 2 spots from the team you think will lose, to quickly check on a players last 5 game form, or to check the underlying base scores for a player who hasn't previously played many games. We want to make this as quick and easy to find without confusing it with a lot of detail that you may not initially need. You can, of course, dive into the detailed stats too but we believe that more often than not, the summary stats that we show can give you most of the information that you need very quickly and let you focus any additional research you want to carry out on specific areas that think may give you that final edge or the areas that our stats indicate may be worth further investigation.
That said, if there's anything that you think you would like to see us include in TradingScout that would both improve our tool and help you make your contest selections then please do get in touch via Twitter (@tradingscout) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
For £3pm you can can get access to our EPL Contest tool where some of the above stats were sourced from as well as our Virtual Contest tool and Footstock games tools. Register and subscribe at www.tradingscout.co.uk.
Also, for further details on how we calculate our PPGB and PP90B stats and why they can be useful for EPL Contests take a look at our blog post here.
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