In this weekly series, @connect_nate will compare enticing players and project how they will perform over the coming gameweeks. Here, ahead of Gameweek 5, he previews Marcal and Semedo.
Marcal vs Semedo GWs5-9
In preparation for this article, I asked the Twitter FPL community to make requests about the decisions they’re struggling with most…
In a change of tract, defenders were all the rage in this week’s suggestions and in the end Semedo and Marcal won the vote. It’s no surprise that lots of cheaper options are appearing as suggestions with managers looking to make cuts to afford Ronaldo and Lukaku who I compared in last week’s article (linked here).
Comparison to rivals (2020-21 season)
In the above, I’ve deliberately picked comparisons with popular alternatives. You may have different alternatives in mind, but hopefully what is clear from the table is that Semedo and Marcal were not FPL options last season. Ayling and Tierney were forever unlikely not to return more and Coufal was setting Hammer fans’ souls alight. Semedo did present half-respectable numbers for a £5m defender, but given Wolves’ problems last season, his threat wasn’t enough to turn many heads.
Marcal vs Semedo (GWs1-4)
Ridiculously small sample size I know, but as we have limited data of these two in Wolves’ shirts anyway, the pretty noisy affair of a 4-game sample size has to be endured – after all, Wolves do have a new manager.
And suddenly, with the new manager, things have completely changed for Wolves and their full backs. The team are posting fantastic defensive numbers and creating chances – two things that had vanished from Nuno’s Wolves in 2020/21.
Marcal remains a more defensive option than Semedo as evidenced by his higher base BPS of 5.5 per 90 (vs Semedo’s 4.67). Neither player has shown their creativity so far under the new manager, posting similar numbers to last season except that Marcal has happened upon 2 FPL assists, both as a result of crosses.
Marcal has made 6 crosses in 4 games so he is hardly a prolific crosser. However, 3 of these have been successful (50%). Meanwhile, Semedo has put in 9 crosses with a 0% success rate. With the talent of Jimenez at the other end of these crosses, surely the better crosser will win out in this comparison between the two full backs?
Probably not to be honest. Both of Marcal’s assists came from bizarre circumstances – a stooping own goal that seemed so awkward to make possible by the Watford defender, followed by a tame shot at goal being blocked and then finished off by a more clinical teammate. Larger sample sizes may prove this dismissal wrong, but for all Marcal’s liveliness, it does seem like variance has had a strong hand in his FPL assists.
That said, Marcal does offer a goal threat with a highly credible 0.25 Big Chances per 90 and xG 90 of 0.14, but his lack of shots on target and a miniscule 0.75 touches in the box per 90 hints at the limitations of his threat. Crucially, Semedo dwarves these numbers with a ridiculous 0.67 Big Chances per 90, 0.27 xG per 90 and 3.67 touches in the box per 90. Without exaggeration, these underlying stats would be impressive for a budget midfielder or forward, let alone a £5m defender who collects extra points per goal and those all-so-tasty clean sheet points.
Marcal and Semedo xMins
Within the context of both players having strong understudies, the possibility of rotation is never far around the corner. However, so far Bruno Lage has shown faith in his players: Semedo came into the team in GW2 and has been Lage’s only change to his side across the four fixtures. Neither player has even been substituted with Lage largely withholding his substitutions to attacking players. A potential threat to minutes, Ait Nouri, has been subbed on, but it may be that Lage sees him playing a role further up the pitch.
Both players have been highly impressive and given this, I’m expecting both players to stay in the line up for the immediate future. Semedo’s slightly more nailed nature (having played much more last season and having the lesser of the 2 debuties) gives him an xMins of 86 per 90, while Marcal takes an xMins of 83 per 90*.
*These xMins assume neither player is injured.
Fixtures – GWs5-9
In the immediate future, the fixtures look great for clean sheets and attacking returns. While each team comes with a nuanced point about how it could be difficult, overall these fixtures do look favourable.
Projections for GWs5-9
Finally, we move to the crunch of the matter – using historic career numbers weighted with the most recent run of games, below are my point projections for Marcal and Semedo over the next 5 GWs.
The projections deliver on a fairly predictable result – Semedo should outscore Marcal over the next 5 games. However, the extra £0.3m Semedo costs is projected to only be worth 2.8 extra points. If you have nothing else to do with the money, it’s a tidy investment, but if you’re stretched, Marcal would be a shrewd pick as for both players, the vast majority of their points won’t be coming from their goal threat anyway.
It’s worth bearing in mind, my projection model is impacted by historic numbers, and so assumes some regression in Semedo’s current threat. If instead, Semedo continues operating so close to goal, the difference between the two players would grow to almost a point a game.
Personally, I’d be tempted to go Marcal, who offers the same clean sheet potential but for a discount. While there are still many doubts about Marcal’s nailedness, he is an attractive option by virtue of the even greater concern among many of his rival £4.5m defenders (such as Ayling’s CS potential, White’s attacking return potential, Veltman’s attacking return potential etc.). Marcal will also do better for bonus points when Wolves keep a clean sheet and neither fullback post an attacking return.
Just as Marcal benefits from the lack of £4.5m options, Semedo struggles because of the wealth of £5m options – not least Christensen, Coufal and Tierney. Two of whom have posted excellent attacking stats for a reliably long period of time, and all of whom sit in reasonably good-to-excellent defences.
It’s worth bearing in mind, later in the season, Marcal and Semedo may see their prices draw closer and with each £0.1m, Semedo becomes closer to the go-to option of the pair.
Thank you for reading!
I hope you’ve enjoyed and benefited from this article. Let me know what you think or any questions you have by commenting on Twitter, and don’t forget to like and share!
If you like this week’s article, feel free to check out the rest of the series. The information and analysis remain relevant and you can decide for yourself how accurate my projections have been.
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