FPL

6 months ago

FPL Forwards: Statistical Head-to-Head Battles

Further to my analysis assessing key midfielder head-to-head battles, I will now assess the key striker head-to-head clashes. There are quite a few appealing forward options at a spectrum of price points, so picking your go-to guy at each price can be challenging. New players and teams to the league further muddy the water. To help clear these waters, I have looked at the numbers of numerous key battles, namely:

  • Ings v Jimenez
  • Kane v Vardy
  • Martial v Werner
  • Mitrovic v Adams

As I mentioned before, data is not the be-all and end-all. Team’s fixtures have to be taken into account, like Mitrovic’s brilliant start fixture-wise. Both player and team form is also important, making Adam’s an appealing asset given his post-restart displays, for example. If you weigh up all these important factors and yet you still cannot decide who is the better option, take a look at the charts below. I have grouped key duels into one article to save you time, and I hope you can continuously refer to it as you finalise your team. 

Read more: FPL Midfielders Statistical Head-to-Head Battles

 

Ings v Jiménez

FPL – all £8.5m

FanTeam £8.5m & £9.0m respectively

A nice caveat for those that want peace of mind is that Jimenez is made of steel, having played 3,244mins of a possible 3,420. He also ticks over with goals and assists, so he is a nice set and forget for the season if that’s your thing.

Ings outscored the Mexican by 5 goals last season, but their xG shows there is nothing between the pair. Looking at xG SoT Non-Penalty we see that Ings is the more natural finisher. However, Jimenez is on penalties which is another string to his bow. It still remains to be seen if they revert to Ward-Prowse at Southampton with Ings momentarily taking up this duty when chasing the Golden Boot post-restart.

 Jimenez betters Ings for assists looking at xA and big chances created. For me, this negates the fact Ings is a better finisher and levels out the playing field

Ings being a better finisher is further evident when we look at goal conversion %, where Ings is superior with a fantastic strike rate of 23.7%.

So let’s look at minutes per xGI to see who is better then. Oh, they are the same. With Ings being expected to be involved every 152mins and Jimenez every 149mins.

So how do we decide between the two? If you have a preference for one, just trust your gut then look at fixtures and team form. For me, Wolves are the better team and have great fixtures come gameweek 3, so I’d prefer Jimenez. He also is less injury-prone and does not rely on out-performing his stats. He is the safe, wholesome pick.

For those of you who like graphical presentations, I have grabbed the below ploys via understat.com. It is highly useful for player comparisons over 90mins. This visual confirms what I have discussed below. Ings edges it for goals, but Jimenez is a better all-round FPL asset.

   

 

Kane v Vardy

FPL – £10.5m & £10.0m respectively

FanTeam £11.0m and £10.5m respectively

The stats are quite compelling here in telling us Vardy is the better pick. Kane did miss some game time due to injury.

Nevertheless, if we look at the mins per xG (207 v 155), xA (948 v 803) and xGI (170 v 130), Vardy trumps his English counterpart on every account

So Vardy it is then, right? Wrong! Or maybe right. It depends on your view. It is surprising FPL priced Vardy the cheaper of the two despite his superior stats. My rationale for this is Kane playing for Spurs who are on the up, while Vardy is playing for Leicester who are on the down. So it comes down to team performances rather than individuals. I suspect Kane will be the better pick over the whole season, but Vardy can be brilliant in bursts. Keep an eye on his fabulous fixtures from gameweeks 4-13.

Other stats that stuck out for me are:

  • Although both players had a similar number of shots (80 v 89), the majority of Vardy’s came inside the box (51 v 80), unlike Kane's. Reminiscent of Kane dropping deep.

  • Both have a brilliant goal conversion rate (22.2% v 25.8%)

  • Vardy created three times as many big chances as Kane (12 v 4)

The below graph also illustrates that Vardy is the better assist merchant of the two.

 

 

Martial v Werner

FPL - £9.0m & £9.5m respectively

FanTeam - £10.5m & £10.0m respectively

The comparisons get a bit tricky from here. These two players will be the main strikers for attacking clubs both vying for a Champions League spot and hoping to push closer to Liverpool and City. However, Werner played in the Bundesliga last year for RB Leipzig. A complete different kettle of fish. Meaning the numbers are not like-for-like, as they faced different opposition. Also, the depth of data available for Werner is not as detailed.

Both players greatly outperformed their xG. This indicates they are both clinical strikers, evidenced by their goal conversion rates of 21.3% and 23.9%

If they keep this up and stay injury-free, I would expect both to near and potentially surpass 20 goals this season. Werner’s xG is superior to Martial’s by a distance, but I wouldn’t read into that too much given this was in the Bundesliga.

Werner shot more often, every 24mins, compared to Martial, both hittinh 50% of their shots on target. If we are looking for a differentiator, it is assists. Werner’s xA of 8.9 is brilliant for a striker and evidences his early days when he played out on the left. So we could be looking at a premium Jimenez here. He also created 19 big chances compared to Martial’s 8.

Out of the two, Werner pips it for me. However, having both of these strikers is an option I am currently considering. Regardless, come gameweek 2, you will have to have one attacking asset from each of these teams. Look at which Manchester Utd and Chelsea midfielders you like too when trying to choose between these strikers.

Don’t let the below graph put you off Martial – we are talking two different leagues here with different depths and calibre.

 

Mitrovic v Adams

FPL – both £6.0m

FanTeam - £6.5m & £5.5m respectively

Mitrovic and Che Adams provide appealing budget striker options with decent fixtures to start, so picking between the two is difficult. So is analysing the pair! To try to make this comparison, I have assessed Adams’ Premier League season last year with Mitrovic’s last Premier League season in 2018/19. But as you can see, Mitrovic played nearly 3 times as much football. To make this comparable, I calculated the stats on a per 90mins basis and my assessment will focus on this.

Interestingly, both players underperformed when it came to xG. In Mitrovic’s case, I think this was a result of his tendency to endlessly shoot, hence his low goal conversion of 8.4%. This isn’t necessarily a bad trait as more shots lead to more goals. It is worth noting that Adams also had a poor xG performance and goal conversion of 11.1% and he also only converted 2 of his 10 big chances. However, in his case, I credit this to a slow start. He only really got moving post-restart and I believe this will be rectified this season.

Mitrovic has the benefit of penalties, but looking at xG per 90mins, Adams still trumps the Serbian.
Adams beats Mitrovic in most categories when assessed per 90mins; assists, chances created, goal involvement, penalty box touches and big chances

Mitrovic just had the more shots – evident how he is Fulham’s talisman while Adams shares output with Danny Ings.

So in this statistical head-to-head Adams trumps Mitrovic. The concern with Adams though is gametime. A safe approach may be to get Mitrovic in at the start for his appealing fixtures, leaving you the option to swap to Adams if we are seeing he is getting consistent starts.

Note the below chart takes in all of Mitrovic’s time in the Premier League, including his spell at Newcastle. While Adams only has one season of data.

 

Wrap-Up

That’s my latest statistical head-to-head for you. I hope this helps you with any decisions you are struggling with. This article will be beneficial to come back to closer to the deadline just to have a look at the numbers again.

To summarise:

  • Not much between the two, I believe Jimenez is the safer pick over Ings and a better all-round FPL asset

  • Vardy’s season last year is statistically superior to Kane’s. Team performance may sway it in the other direction this year

  • Werner looks better but it is very hard to compare these two. I prefer Werner, but make sure you have a Manchester Utd attacker of some sort come gameweek 2

  • Che Adams is the stronger options but is more prone to rotation which makes Mitrovic more appealing for the start of the season at least

As always, if you want to reach out to me with any questions DM me on Twitter or create a thread on the forums. 

FPL_Pup
Author

FPL_Pup

Sports fan and FPL addict from Ireland (still has not forgiven Thierry Henry). Loves numbers in both studies & profession and has incorporated this into FPL in recent seasons. Has played FPL for 8 seasons, finishing in the top 40k 5 times, with the best finish of 8k. Find on Twitter @FplPup if you have any questions

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