The Numbers 20/21: Gameweek 1

After what felt like a relentless onslaught of The Numbers blogs at the back end of last season, we’re back with a bang. The reversion to three subs has been welcomed by SportStack traders for the in-play opportunities it opens up; it’s also hugely beneficial for the sake of the AlphaStack Team of the Week, where we have seen plenty of high payouts despite the slightly reduced slate of games. With that said, base payouts were mostly disappointing (emphasis on *mostly* because there is certainly one huge exception). This is no doubt because of the changes to the scoring table, where blocked shots are credited for 2p rather than 5p. Whether we’ll see this trend begin to change as some of the more dominant teams hit their stride, as half-chances turn into chances, remains to be seen. Let’s jump into the first lineup of the season, which looks something like a 5-2-3 formation, with goals coming from all over the place.

Alisson – total payout 17p; base payout 7p

For the first TOTW of the season, we include a goalkeeper who didn’t shower themselves in glory. Jordan Pickford and Vicente Guaita performed respectably but Alisson was at the heart of the weekend’s blockbuster result. Liverpool beat Leeds 4-3, but of course it would’ve been a real statement if Alisson had been on his game. Leeds amassed an xG of just 0.27 for the game and had the ball in the net twice more, but were foiled by the linesman’s flag. Alisson didn’t manage a save, with his base payout of 7p coming from a ball recovery, a CBI, a high claim and a few passes.

Timothy Castagne – total payout 69p; base payout 29p; 1 goal

Leicester’s form in the second half of last season was particularly concerning and there have been legitimate concerns that their transfer window has been too quiet. Timothy Castagne was the only arrival, but his contribution in Leicester’s 3-0 win over West Brom will go some way to satisfying the critics. West Brom offered little going forward, and it took some time for the Foxes to click, but Castagne was on the scene when they finally did. He headed home a Dennis Praet cross in fine fashion. He had 10p from CBIs and 7p from passes made, while the changes to the scoring table nudged his final payout 3p higher than it would’ve been otherwise.

Romain Saiss – total payout 80p; base payout 40p; 1 goal

Moroccan international Saiss barely put a foot wrong for Wolves as they raced into a two-goal lead at Bramall Lane. Saiss powered home a header for Wolves’ second goal and was instrumental in keeping the Blades at bay for the remainder of the game. He had 24p in CBIs, 4p for passes made and 3p for ball recoveries. He was even seen joining a Wolves counter attack late in the game that ended with Aaron Ramsdale tipping Saiss’ effort onto the bar. Saiss’ base payout was one of the better ones this weekend, largely due to the fact his only negative contributions were one foul conceded and one shot off target.

Gabriel Magalhaes – total payout 69p; base payout 29p; 1 goal

Arsenal’s new man made an immediate impact, taking the SuperStack competition as the Gunners beat Fulham 3-0 at Craven Cottage. He scored the second goal, putting the game beyond any doubt, and was assured defensively. Fulham threatened little and so he is bound to be tested more in the coming weeks and months, but he had 5p from ball recoveries and 6p from CBIs, as well as a massive 13p from passes made.

Semi Ajayi – total payout 7p; base payout -3p

West Brom’s Semi Ajayi had a tough introduction to the Premier League as he paid out just 7p in the home defeat to Leicester on Sunday. He earned West Brom’s only yellow card and struggled to impact the game positively. He made five ball recoveries but also gave away two fouls and a couple of unsuccessful dribbles. This led to a base payout of -3p, and rather begs the question of what the point was of West Brom playing five in defence.

Reece James – total payout 77p; base payout 30p; 1 goal, 1 assist

Cesar Azpilicueta will have a job on his hands reclaiming his favoured spot at right-back after Reece James’ performance on Monday night. The 20-year-old had the freedom of Chelsea’s right wing with Kai Havertz doing a disappearing act ahead of him. He scored a belter of a goal to snatch the momentum away from Brighton shortly after they equalised, and claimed a (slightly fortunate) assist as Kurt Zouma wrapped up the game with a scuffed shot from a James corner. The other highlight in this performance was the right-back’s eight CBIs.

Jeff Hendrick – total payout 75p; base payout 25p; 1 goal, 1 assist

Given the signing of Ryan Fraser this summer, fellow new-boy Jeff Hendrick is unlikely to start out wide too often for Newcastle. His performance on Saturday will have made Fraser’s job of getting into the starting lineup a little more difficult though, as the Irishman assisted Callum Wilson for Newcastle’s first before himself rifling home in the dying minutes. We are intrigued by his solid base payout of 25p, which would’ve given him a total payout of 50p without goal involvements. He was industrious out wide and may be a more attractive long than he was last year at Burnley, where he averaged just 34p over the course of the season.

Jorginho – total payout 74p; base payout 27p; 1 goal, 1 assist

At times linked with a move away from Stamford Bridge, it came as a bit of a surprise to see Jorginho lead Chelsea out at the Amex on Monday evening. At least when comparing the make-up of their payouts, his performance was very similar to Hendrick’s. Brighton made life tough for Chelsea, and Jorginho earned 10p from ball recoveries and 8p from CBIs. He tucked away his penalty with aplomb, and earned an easy assist for Reece James’ remarkable strike. Youri Tielemans was a strong candidate for this position having earned a base payout of 41p, but Jorginho being given the captain’s armband makes him an interesting option this season. It perhaps implies that he’s in for a fair amount of playing time, although it could just have been a lack of other viable options.

Richarlison – total payout 83p; base payout 58p

Undoubtedly our favourite performance of the weekend was Richarlison at Spurs, despite the fact that he couldn’t find the net. He produced a monstrous base payout of 58p, a thorn in Tottenham’s side all afternoon. The most remarkable part is perhaps the fact he registered one shot on target in this monster payout, and missed the target on four occasions. He won three tackles, made TWELVE ball recoveries, four CBIs and TEN dribbles. The new scoring matrix worked to his favour as well, as he earned 12p from fouls won. It was the complete performance – as bizarre as it sounds, a goal involvement would only have been the cherry on the cake. Ancelotti set Everton up well in an asymmetrical 4-3-3 formation, and it will be interesting to see how they evolve over the course of the season.

Mohamed Salah – total payout 96p; base payout 35p; 3 goals

While we, as a collective, loved Richarlison’s display, Mohamed Salah was certainly a strong contender for Jay’s favourite performance of the weekend, as he picked the Egyptian in last week’s pod. By dint of two penalties and a superb lashed finish, Salah earned the highest payout this weekend and helped Liverpool to three points against an impressive Leeds side.

There is a lot to unpack in terms of Salah’s 35p base payout. He was tackled on a massive 14 occasions, losing 14p for being tackled, and a further 7p for unsuccessful dribbles – on the flip side, he did earn 14p for successful dribbles. Most strikingly, Salah had five blocked shots. These would’ve likely added a whopping 25p to his payout under the old scoring matrix, but nowadays they are worth only 10p in total.

Raul Jimenez – total payout 69p; base payout 29p; 1 goal

It feels right starting the season with an AlphaStack favourite up top. Jamie Vardy could’ve been selected here as he actually paid out more than Jimenez, but the Mexican’s base payout was far superior. Unfortunately, the majority of his good work was done three minutes into the game, as he placed a Daniel Podence cross tidily into the top-left corner. This took his buy price to 60p, not giving anybody a chance to really get a feel for the game. Still, he contributed throughout, earning 10p in CBIs, 8p for fouls won, 3p for ball recoveries and 5p for an additional shot on target.

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