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.
In June 2016, it was reported that the Dwight Gayle, the man Neil Warnock memorably called “the best finisher at the Club”,had left Crystal Palace to drop down to the Championship.
It seemed his new manager, Rafa Benitez, agreed with the old warhorse’s assessment, saying of his new signing at the time:
“Dwight is a great player, a proven goalscorer, and it is fantastic news that he has joined us”
Having helped Newcastle pip Brighton to the title last season, whilst winning the PFA Fans Player of the Season in the Championship, we feel it’s time to run the rule over the diminutive hitman.
Prospecting the prospect (using last season’s data)
So how good would Dwighty Gayle have been if he had played at this level last season in the Premiership? Well using the Squawka and our knowledge of the FPL bonus point system we can attempt to analyse him.
(Just a note on the data here: we’ve used Squawka data cross-checked against WhoScored records as there appear to be a couple of issues with the Squawka data. As with Knockaert, we’ve sent Squawka a message about this but have received no response)
Appearances: 32 appearances (22 over 60 mins, 10 times sub on/off) = 54 points ((22×2) + 10)
Goals: 23 goals (4×23) = 92 points
Assists: 2 assists (3×2) = 6 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, it’s 2bps; where he was on the scoresheet but it wasn’t a telling contribution, we will give the metrics and make an approximation
- Match winning: There’s no doubt that, despite limited pitch time due to injuries, when he is on the pitch Gayle is a match winner for Newcastle. Gayle scored the only goal in the 1-0 victory over Bristol City on 20th August. More than a month later, on 28th September, he scored a hat trick – including a last gasp winner as Newcastle came from 3-2 down in the final two minutes – in their 4-3 victory over Norwich. October and November saw string of impressive performances, starting with a brace in the 3-1 victory over Brentford on 15th October (including scoring the “winning goal” to put the Magpies 2-1 up), followed by another brace just three days later in the 2-0 victory over Barnsley on 18th October. He repeated this trick on 20th November, scoring the game-clinching brace in the 2-0 victory over Leeds. The next month, he scored another hat trick in the 4-0 win over Birmingham on 10th December (assisting the other goal, too), followed by scoring the opening goal and assisting the winner a week later in the 2-1 dispatch of Burton on 17th December. On 30th December, he scored a brace – including the one to put Newcastle 2-1 up, in the 3-1 defeat of Nottingham Forest. The amount of braces here is quite something. For all of these games (9 in total listed), Gayle is in firmly in the mix for 3bps – in fact, I can’t see why he wouldn’t have gotten 3bps in all 8 of them, given the minimum contribution was 1 goal (the only goal in the 1-0 win over Bristol City) or 1 goal and 1 assist (v Burton on 17th December). The total must be 24bps here.
- Result change: Gayle scored yet another brace in the 4-1 win over Reading on 17th August, but these were the 3rd and 4th goals, plus he also got a yellow card in that game. He scored the opening goal in the 2-1 win over Brentford on 14th January, but was forced off with injury after only 28 minutes. He also scored the opening goal in the 2-1 win over Wigan on 1st April. Let’s say he picked up 1bp for his brace (not a winning goal and yellow card would penalise his bonus), nothing for the shorter game and an additional 1bp for the game on April fool’s day. 2bps more.
- Contributions: He scored Newcastle’s consolation against Huddersfield in their 2-1 loss on 13th August, but also got a yellow card in that game. He also scored the 3rd goal in the reverse fixture in their 3-1 victory, but only came on as a substitute and his goal did not affect the outcome. He also scored the 3rd goal against Barnsley in Newcastle’s 3-0 final day win over them, but only played 10 minutes (according to WhoScored: Squawka have not recorded this game on their database). I don’t think he would have gotten bonus for any of these three games.
Total guessimated bonus for goals: 26 points.
For assists: We have already covered his two assists, for which his other contributions (a hat trick plus assisting the 4th in the 4-0 win over Birmingham on 10th December; scoring the first goal whilst setting up the winner in the 2-1 win over Burton on 17th December) have already netted him bonus in our estimation.
Total guesstimated bonus: 26 points.
Disciplinary: 3 yellow cards = –3 points / 0 red cards
Scores on the doors
175 points. That’s actually pretty impressive, considering he missed a fair portion of last term through injury, reduced to cameo roles for large swathes of the business end of the season. That would have landed him in the top 20 for FPL this year – equal to Kun Aguero! – and in the top 4 for forwards.
The points per game here is a stonking 5.65ppg (175/31), which, if we were to gross up for the whole 38 games, gives us 215 points overall. That’d take him above Diego Costa into 3rd place amongst strikers, and 7th overall, ahead of KdB and just below Christian Eriksen. Boom.
Evaluation and conclusion
People might say we’ve seen Dwight Gayle before at Crystal Palace. However, with 15 of his 23 appearances in 2013/14 (7 goals) and 14 of his 25 appearances in 2014/15 (5 goals) coming from the bench, it’s clear to see that he was very much viewed as a poacher by the Palace coaching team at the time, perhaps cuing his move up north to Newcastle. I’d perhaps say that we haven’t seen him play as the main striker before, which will be interesting.
It’s fair to say, however, that he tore up the Championship. The amount of braces or more scored in games that he got on the scoresheet for is a strong sign, with him scoring at least a brace in 7 of the 14 games he was involved in in which he scored: a 50% “brace plus” rate. There’s no way to know whether that will be repeatable, but that explosive quality is something that would be embraced by FPL managers as a potent force.
To help us assess how well Gayle might do, I think we should look at a comparator. A similar player is Burnley’s Andre Gray, who scored an identical 23 goals to Gayle in the 2015/16 Championship season to drive Burnley’s push for the title, albeit he was able to appear in 10 more games.
In his step up to the Premier League, Gray – who was in many squads, including mine, at a 6.5 price tag at the beginning of last season – proved a tad hit and miss, with 9 goals and 3 assists his final tally for the season, taking him to 108 points. It’s worth noting that this is a score accrued over 34 games rather than 38, given his enforced absence for 4 matches when some rather unsavoury behaviour in the past came to light. If we were to draw up a ppg for him across 34 games, and then extrapolate, this gives him an extra 13 points – 121 points (i.e. 108/34 = 3.17ppg = 3.17×38 = 121). That’s OK – in the top 20 for forwards, equal to club mate Sam Vokes. You just had to own him at the right time.
Another comparator could well be Hull’s Abel Hernandez, who scored 21 goals and 2 assists for Hull in the Championship in the 2015/16 season. Valued at 6.0 at the start of the season, he went on to manage 4 goals and 4 assists in 26 games, scoring 72 points. That gives him a 2.77ppg, 105 points projected if he’d played 38 games. That’s just outside the top 100, equal to players like Jordan Pickford, Cedric and Winston Reid. That puts him 4 points above Divock Origi in the top 20 for forwards, behind fellow comparator Andre Grey.
We’d imagine that that Gayle will be aiming for a similar or better impact than Andre Grey in the Premier League, proving that he can cut it after being reduced to a bit-part role as a Palace player. He won’t want to be in and out of the squad like the Uruguayan Hernandez. I think the truth will be that Gayle will be a decent impact player, brought into the squad if Newcastle have a decent run of fixtures and you’re in need of a third striker. We therefore think he might prove a canny acquisition at certain times of the year, with much hanging on how Rafa Benitez handles transitioning the Championship winning side to a Premier League one.
Much obviously depends on if Benitez sticks with him in the Premier League, too. There are no, as Benitez would say, “facts” yet to say that he’s been deposed (at time of writing).
Pricing is also important. If given a 6.0m price tag or under, Gayle might well come into quite a few drafts as the third striker, but, of he mirrors Gray’s 6.5m he might well find he struggles to appeal as money becomes ever more tight this year (as I mentioned in a past future trends article). The fact that Sam Vokes, Gray’s partner in crime with 15 goals and 4 assists in the Championship, was given the 6.0 implies that FPL towers deemed Gray the bigger threat. Hernandez at 6.0 as, perceivably, Hull’s main threat may be a counterpoint: is it that they assess the strength of the squad in price brackets, given the Tigers’ threadbare side at the start of last season? If that’s true, a 6.5 also seems likely, given the number of players who will be anxious to flourish in the Premier League like Matt Ritchie, Ciaran Clark and Jonjo Shelvey in the side.
As with a lot of the Championship players, it’s tough to give anything higher than a 3.5 for them, as we’ve seen the step up is huge. Nick mentioned Patrick Bamford in the last article on Anthony Knockaert, and he (so far) is a prime example of how someone can do really well in the Championship but not too great in the Premier League. The Danny Grahams and the Cameron Jeromes of this world are amongst other examples.
I think we’ll have to rate positively him based on his potential to score explosively, albeit with the caveat about price and whether Benitez truly trusts him to be his main striker in the big time.
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.