In this weekly series, @connect_nate will compare enticing players and project how they will perform over the coming gameweeks in FPL. Here, ahead of Gameweek 6, he previews Gallagher, Gray and Sarr.
Gallagher vs. Gray vs. Sarr GWs6-8
In preparation for this article, I asked the Twitter FPL community to make requests about the decisions they’re struggling with most…
Finding the best budget midfielder is going to be key to redistributing funds to defences as Chelsea and City fixtures look set to improve in GWs 7 and 8 respectively. While this article looks at the short-term pick, it’s worth bearing in mind that the right budget midfielder could be a solid long-term pick, especially given the underlying numbers and output of these players so far.
Comparison to rivals (GWs1-5)
The above list covers a selection of top midfield options in the budget bracket (under £6.5m). For creativity, Bowen, Traore and Gallagher far exceed the other three. Although Bowen and Traore create the most chances per 90 (2.48 and 2.45 respectively), it’s Gallagher who has been creating Big Chances most regularly (0.5 per 90), and his xA 90 is 2nd best to Bowen (0.2 vs 0.27).
Gray has the highest goals per 90 of the group (0.62), however he has some of the worst underlying numbers with only 3.3 touches in the box per 90 and 0.62 shots on target per 90. His overperformance of underlying numbers has been highly impressive, but looks entirely unsustainable.
Of the selection, Gallagher and Sarr stand out for goal threat. Gallagher has had fewer shots on target per 90 (1) and fewer shots in the box per 90 (1.75) than Sarr (1.8 and 2.2 respectively). However, Gallagher has had more Big Chances per 90 (0.8 vs 0.6), and crucially his xG 90 is significantly higher (0.65 vs 0.44), which hints of the quality of the chances Gallagher has received.
In fact, Gallagher’s xG per shot has been an incredible 0.26 compared to Sarr’s still reasonable 0.17. More intriguing still, Gallagher’s underlying numbers are despite difficult games away to West Ham and Liverpool and at home to Brentford and Spurs.
Overall, Gallagher looks the far greater prospect as he leads the way creatively and in terms of threat. However, Sarr is a strong second as his threat far exceeds the creativity of other players and just edges Mbeumo’s threat, who is an exciting option in his own right, especially given his cheaper price and the fact that he plays in a much better team.
In complete contrast to these notable players, stands Gray, who appears a very noisy anomaly and one that may not deserve to be in the conversation at all (despite his impressive performances).
Gallagher, Gray and Sarr xMins
As Gallagher and Gray are new to their respective clubs, there is little value comparing previous season’s minutes. Gallagher has played every minute since coming into the team, and realistically he isn’t in a team filled with options so it seems highly likely he’ll retain his place. I’m expecting the same for Sarr based on what we know from his previous seasons at Watford when he was nailed.
Gray has featured heavily this season, which reflects the lack of quality in Everton’s squad with Sigurdsson out of the picture and James injured and apparently unwanted. Given how well he has played, his minutes look nailed, but given his underlying numbers, I wonder if Everton fans will be concerned by the fact that their team has been noticeably improved by a player who struggled for minutes at Leicester (a team that genuinely challenges for the top 4).
Fixtures – GWs6-8
Palace’s difficult run of fixtures continue; Brighton is an excellent team defensively; Leicester may not have been up to their previous standards but are still challenging; and Arsenal have been excellent since their team returned. However, Palace do play 5 of their next 8 at home.
Everton have a brilliant game to attack against Norwich, but then their fixtures become much more difficult for the medium term. Watford’s next two are excellent games, a difficult GW8 is followed by reasonable fixtures in GWs 9 and 10, before a decidedly tricky medium-term run.
Projections for GWs6-8
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 Gallagher, Gray and Sarr over the next 3 GWs.
The projections reveal numerous interesting facets to this comparison. Firstly, Gallagher’s lack of historic numbers skew his projections as there is limited evidence that Gallagher can sustain such numbers. In contrast, Gray has maintained these numbers for many years and in many teams, and in fact actually surpassed those underlying numbers last season. Likewise, Sarr’s strong historic numbers have kept him in good stead even if they don’t reflect his more attacking and less creative role in Watford’s side.
Gallagher’s fixtures and propensity for yellow cards further damage his points potential, making him only the second-best option of the three despite his incredible recent numbers.
I’m unsatisfied with the projections the model has produced – in particular for Gallagher. His performances have been a revelation this season, and it’s tempting to consider the rest of his season as an inevitable success. However, the small sample size of recent form creates the danger of extrapolating current underlying numbers.
Overall, if I had to pick for the short term – GWs6-8 – I’d lean towards Sarr who keeps occupying excellent positions for Watford and always looks the most likely Watford player to get an attacking return. Having said that, for me, the longer term pick would be Gallagher; his lower price tag, the fact his fixtures improve and the possibility he continues at his current rate of underlying numbers mean that he excites me most of the three.
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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