This is our “prospecting the prospects” series, where we run the rule over lots of FPL prospects who will enter the game next season– our directory for these (over 20!) is here. This series analyses a selection of significant newcomers to the FPL game by simulating how they would have performed using last season’s stats (wherever they played) in FPL, then provide our evaluation of the player as an asset ahead of the new season.
Leeds and New Zealand striker Chris Wood has moved to Burnley for a club record fee of £15 million.
Burnley confirmed the news on Twitter with Wood, who has been given the no.11 shirt, looking proud to have joined his new club!
SIGNING: Burnley Football Club is delighted to confirm the signing of Chris Wood from Leeds United for a club record fee.
More to come… pic.twitter.com/hYgQ6fOHnF
— Burnley FC (@BurnleyOfficial) August 21, 2017
Prospecting the prospect (using last season’s data)
Appearances: 43 appearances, (37x played over 60 minutes, 6x subbed on/off) = 80 points ((37 x 2) + 6)
Goals: 27 goals (4 x 27) = 108 points
Assists: 4 assists (3 x 4) = 12 points
Bonus: To give an estimation of the bonus points he would have got, we need to review the games that he was instrumental in, ie when his goals and assists arrived to come to a rough calculation of how well he did.
(Occasional random bonus points (bps) are sometimes awarded in FPL where a player has bossed it but not actually got on the score card. We’re not estimating these as we’re using pure data rather than contextual data (e.g. watching the games he played in) to make perform this analysis. Plus it’ll only be an extra one or two points either way, which won’t change the story.)
For goals: this is best looked at by breaking down his contribution to games – where he was undisputed difference in the game, we will assign 3bps; where he was involved in changing the result but didn’t win the match, we’ll look at each game on merit; where he was on the scoresheet but it wasn’t a telling contribution, we will give the record of what happened and make an educated guesstimate on what may have been awarded.
He opened the scoring in Leeds’ 2-1 win against Blackburn on 13th September, which we have awarded 3bps. He also scored the opener from the spot, his first of 5 penalties scored this season, and in this instance deemed by the bonus point system as the winning goal, in the 2-0 victory over Cardiff on 17th September for 2bps. The only goal in the 1-0 win against Ipswich on 24th September also gains him 3bps. On 13th December, he netted the opener in the 2-0 victory over Reading, but better performances from other team members according to the match report mean he’d have had to settle for 2bps. He also scored the only goal in a 1-0 win against Derby on 13th January for 3bps. He scored the opener in the 2-0 win over Forest on 25th January for 2bps. The only goal in the 1-0 win against Sheffield Wednesday on 25th February, also nets him 3bps. He also scored twice on four occasions last year, with three of them being match winning: with a brace in the 3-0 win against Rotherham on 2nd January definitely getting him another 3bps; similarly, braces in the 3-1 win against Birmingham (3rd March) and the 2-0 win against Brighton (18th March) means he also gets 6bps (three per game).
A last minute equaliser against Fulham on 16th August opened his account for the season, which was worthy of 2bps given his overall contribution in the game. We have also given him 2bps for scoring the opener in the 1-1 draw with Wigan on 18th October. In a 3-2 win against Norwich on 5th November he scored the goal to put Leeds 2-1 up, but gets 1bp as other players fared better in the match. A brace in the 3-2 defeat against Barnsley on 21st January, including scoring the opener and a penalty to make it 3-2, were not enough to turn the game for his side but worthy of 2bp. A last minute equaliser against Newcastle on 14th April wins him 2bps too. He also scored the opener in the 2-1 wins against Rotherham (26th November) and Bristol City (14th February) which gets him 4bps (two bonus per game). He scored the equaliser from the penalty spot against Wigan on 7th May, netting him a further 2bps.
For scoring the second goal in Leeds 2-0 win against Sheffield Wednesday on 20th August we have awarded 1bp as the match report rates him highly, and we’ve also awarded 1bp also for his goal – the second – from the penalty spot in a 2-0 win against Burton on 29th October. On 3rd December, he made sure of victory in injury time against Villa, getting him 1bp. A goal in the 2-1 loss against Huddersfield on 5th February would win him another 1bp.
One of his assists came in the 4-1 thrashing of Preston North End. In this game Wood only played for 10 minutes and this was his only contribution so we aren’t awarding bonus points for this. He also provided the assist in Leeds 1-1 draw with Ipswich but this again was his only contribution so we won’t give him a bonus for this either.He again assisted a goal in a 3-0 win against Preston (a team he seemingly allowed others to score against) where he also received a yellow card so we haven’t given a bonus. His final assist came in a 2-1 defeat against Burton – no bonus there due to the defeat.
Total guessimated bonus for goals: 46 points.
Disciplinary: 2 yellow cards = -2 points / 0 red cards
Scores on the doors
244 points over 43 games. If we were to say he played all 38 games in the Premier League and divide the total accordingly on this basis, he would have had a ppg of 5.67 and would have a total of 215 points. The 7th highest overall players last season and only behind Kane and Lukaku in terms of numbers for forwards. But of course, it’s the Championship – we’ve seen many forwards smash it down there (Cameron Jerome, looking at you) and not cut the mustard in the top flight.
Evaluation and conclusion
An epic 27 goals made him the top scorer in the Championship last term, 4 more than fellow Premier League alumni Dwight Gayle, Tammy Abraham and Glenn Murray. Huge, huge returns.. but can he cut it in the Premier League or will he ‘do a Paddy’ a turn of phrase we have used previously for Championship strikers who fail to perform at the highest level, named after a certain Patrick Bamford?
When reviewing Mr. Wood we should therefore compare him to some fellow Championship turned Premier League strikers. One thing that works in his favour is his sheer size. To do the “Hegazi analysis”, at 6 foot 3, he will be one of the tallest Premier League strikers, the same height as Lukaku and slightly taller than Harry Kane. Defenders would certainly find him menacing and his aerial prowess mean that headed goals are a certainty.
Wood comes with a strike rate of one in every three games, but last season’s 31 in all competitions, and 27 in the league (43 games played) shows that he’s a young man on the up at the age of only 25. The move to Burnley – where Sean Dyche will doubtlessly develop him and help him propel his career forward – is a great move for the New Zealander to allow him to test himself in the top tier.
One player to perhaps compare him with is the man who he will be replacing, Andre Gray. Having signed for Watford for £18 million his first season in the Premier League was considered impressive enough for a big money move to be made. However, his return of 9 goals, 3 assists and 108 points last time out wasn’t enough to get FPL fans hearts racing. His return of 23 goals in the Championship was also less than Chris Woods however and he is also 5 inches shorter! It could be argued that by getting rid of Andre Gray, who was often mercurial last season and also had his season derailed early through the digging up of old tweets, and buying Chris Wood could end up being a shrewd piece of business.
Wood’s new striking partner at Burnley, Sam Vokes is also a useful comparator. Closer in height to Wood, Vokes was less famed for his prolific goalscoring as much as his general hold up play in the Championship but he actually performed slightly better than Andre Gray, scoring 10 goals last season, supplying 4 assists to gain 121 points. He has also started this season well with a brace against Chelsea. Sean Dyche has a preference for 2 up top, so with Wood and Vokes leading the line for Burnley, opposition defences will have to be on their guard, especially on set-pieces.
Another ‘big lad up top’ that successfully made the jump to the Premiership was Rickie Lambert. The former beetroot picker turned England International also scored 27 goals in the Championship and went on to net 15 goals in his first season in the top flight, which would’ve been around 140 points. If Wood can achieve that sort of return and also be priced kindly (6.5 or lower) then our third striker questions could be answered.
The question is: will Burnley be able to generate enough chances to make him a valuable asset? With a midfield seemingly bereft of creativity, though Clarets fans will be hoping Robbie Brady steps up this year, Wood may find goalscoring opportunities limited. It is worth noting that 5 of his goals were from the penalty spot – he didn’t miss a single one last year, and whether he will be on penalties remains to be seen. Burnley’s regular penalty taker Andre Gray has left the club but others like Jonathan Walters and Sam Vokes may make a case to assume the duties.
As expected, Wood comes in at 6.5, the same price as the man he replaced and perhaps in line to be who will solve Burnley’s striker issues. With trends in the market always evolving – for example, this week we saw a rush on Chicharito – it could well be that the saving some cash and opting for Wood if he hits the ground running could occur. Lambert’s record of scoring 27 in the second tier and then 15 in the top flight could be the case for the powerful Kiwi as there appears to be a trend that larger Championship strikers – Grant Holt being another example seem to find the jump to the Premiership but smaller framed strikers like Patrick Bamford and Dwight Gayle find it more challenging.
Touch wood that he settles quickly and finds his feet at Premiership level.
Overall rating: 3 / 5 – An above average prospect for FPL
*derived from a completely subjective scale from 1-5, where 1 is bad and 5 is excellent
Caveat: we thoroughly accept this system of evaluating players isn’t flawless. However, we feel that it’s a nice approach to getting a feel for how a player might do.