Kane and Salah in comparison

This article expands on a point I made on our Gameweek 24 podcast. We spoke about it during our topic on the consistency of Harry Kane and Mo Salah and whether that made captain choices basically between them from now on (the end of captaincy choice).

This has not made captaincy choices any easier however because of the consequences of captaining Kane during one of his blank weeks. But does the Spurs forward’s higher ceiling make up for this, or should we be looking to Salah more often?

Here follows our analysis of Kane and Salah as the only two captaincy choices you need to think about, with a short summary of the results from an FPL perspective.

This comparison is based on this year’s FPL data, with some additional stats used for further illustration.

Just to note that I haven’t captained Salah so far this year, and Nick has done it twice. In comparison, I’m somewhat of a Kane loyalist and have captained him 12 times, with Nick having done so on 10 occasions.

Kindly supplied by @tacticsfc

Kane

I think it’s fair to say, especially based on the numbers captaining versus Everton, that Kane is our de facto default captain at the moment. He’s registered 20 goals and one assist so far this season, and 147 points overall.

  • Kane’s record reads 6.7 points per game (ppg) over the 22 games he’s played in (he was absent for the United match in Gameweek 10).
  • Unfortunately, he’s recorded 12 blanks this season so far; a 55% blank rate (including the cameo in GW22 v Swansea – soz TCers for bringing that one up).
  • On only two occasions (Gameweek 13 at home versus WBA and the following Gameweek 14 away at Leicester) has he been limited to just one effort – so in 9% of his games he’s only scored one.
  • On the flipside, he’s scored more than 8 points in a 41% of his games.

All of this translates into an expected return of 12.8 points per game in the games he’s scored in. Insane.

The stats, of course, remain crazy for Kane: in 22 matches, he’s had 130 goal attempts: 20 more than the 110 he managed in 30 last season (he missed 8 games with injury). He’s just three penalty box touches shy of his number for last year (149 v 152) and has cut his frequency of attempts by around a third (shot every 14 mins this year v one every 23 mins last).

Salah

We actually gave Salah a fairly glowing endorsement when signing for Liverpool in the summer, but he’s still classifiable as a revelation by all accounts. He’s bagged 18 goals and supplied 8 assists so far this season and is the leading FPL points scorer on 179 points.

  • Salah has a superior record to Kane in terms of ppg, with the Egyptian recording 8.1 points per game versus the Spurs forward’s 6.7, whilst playing the same number of games (22 – including three sub appearances in total).
  • He’s only blanked in 5 games, meaning a 23% blank rate.
  • In only two games, or 9% of his games, he’s produced the bare minimum of an assist (5 points and 4 points, including the missed penalty).
  • But in 15/22 games, or 68% of matches he’s scored 7 points or more – higher than Kane’s 42%.

When Salah doesn’t blank, he averages 10.0 points per game, which is 2.8 less than Kane. But still not something you’d turn down!

Stats-wise Mo does get a couple over on Harry: he’s got a higher goal conversion percentage than Kane (20.4% v 15%) and creatively outmatches him, too, with the 8:1 output in assists. He also has better shot accuracy at 50% v 40%.

Their goal involvement is similar, with Salah at 50% and Kane at 48%.

The table below shows a selection of key stats cited above for an at-a-glance comparison.

Big games

The data set is limited here, but it’s still worth noting their record against the other five teams in the top six – more for Salah than Kane.

Kane has played four so far – hence the trio of tough fixtures after Southampton, perhaps – and has recorded an average of 4.75 points in those games. Exposing the shortness of data for this season, he’s recorded blanks in three (versus Chelsea, Arsenal and Man City), and a brace at home to Liverpool. He wasn’t available for the other top six matchup (United) Spurs have played in.

Salah has played six games against the big teams and has recorded an average of 8.2 versus the other five. That’s a goal and assist versus Arsenal (twice) and City, and goals versus Chelsea and Spurs. He only blanked in the 0-0 with United’s bus.

I’d not base anything on Kane here, but Salah’s showing up in five out of six big games might indicate an element of “fixtureproofness” in the Liverpool forward.

Verdict

Ultimately, Kane has the higher ceiling whereas Salah has the higher floor.

If Kane starts scoring, he’s likely to keep scoring and you should expect 13 points (26 points if you’ve captained him). Mo Salah will probably elicit a still hugely respectable 20 points should you captain him.

The key difference between them in my view is that, based on the evidence so far, Salah is more likely to score well, and consistently, than the half-blanking Kane is. Big games are of no concern to the Egyptian.

Kane’s reputation as a safe captaincy option is well earned to some extent due to the size of his explosions. Perhaps, if he gets in the groove, the England striker will proceed to blow away any pretenders to the throne of the default captaincy. However, I look at this data and wonder why Salah is seemingly never as close to Kane as he probably should be in people’s armband destination considerations each Gameweek. The consistency of output nudging double figures if he gets going, if albeit with a slightly shorter ceiling, indicate that Mo’s a man to consider strongly regardless of fixture.

We need more data to prove who is better, but for now it’s good to know what we can get from these two: a high ceiling with Kane, a high floor with Salah points to a sword v shield dynamic between the two players. Kane may blast you more, but Salah is more consistently able to net you a good captaincy haul. I suspect the promise of explosions will sway me more often than not, explaining why I’ve yet to captain Mo this season (maybe remedied this Gameweek!). Going forward, though, this analysis has meant I will now be even more seriously considering Salah for the captaincy – as in, on a par with Kane – each FPL Gameweek.

Pictures courtesy of @TacticsFC, a curated football (including FPL) podcast platform. Visit them here.

Data: FPL and Fantasyfootballscout.co.uk 

Thanks for proofing to Matt and Dave!

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