Elias Kachunga

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 March this year, the news that the former record signing for recently relegated German Bundesliga side Ingolstadt joining Huddersfield full time, it’s safe to say, caused only very minor ripples in FPL terms.

The manager, Klopp-alike David Wagner, said at the time of our subject for today’s article, Elias Kachunga:

“I said in the summer this move was perfect for the club and the player…

The loan gave everyone the chance to see how Elias would adapt to English football. I think it’s now correct to say he has adapted well”

(From the BBC)

However, Hudderfield’s somewhat unanticipated play off success has us scouring their ranks (along with Newcastle’s and Brighton’s) for potential gems, leading us to look at the Congolese winger for this article.

Following the methodology of our series, we will use Squawka data (follow them here) to look at his past season and evaluate how good a prospect Kachunga may be in the Premier League.

Prospecting the prospect (using last season’s data)

So, let’s look at how many points he would have got if he was in for FPL last year, using a mixture of the Squawka data for his performance last season and our experience with the (sometimes nebulous) FPL bonus system.

(n.b. we have assess Kachunga as if he is a midfielder, given the fact that WhoScored (amongst others) say the majority of his games came in the AMR role)

Appearances45 appearances (43x played over 60 minutes; 2x subbed at 45 mins, 1x subbed on) = 89 points (43×2 +(2 + 1)).

Goals12 goals = 60 points (5×12).

Assists: 2 assists = 6 points (3×2).

Bonus: Let’s analyse the games he contributed in. This (of course) covers goals and assists for midfielders.

(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: He scored the only goal in the 1-0 game on 22nd October v Derby would also have probably netted him all 3bps. Additionally, a brace against Norwich away in their 2-1 win on 16th December would almost certainly have had him in the mix for 3bps. A less clear-cut case comes in his match v QPR on 17th September, when he made it 2-0, only for the Hoops to pull one back; logically, his goal was the difference, but the BPS system doesn’t entirely run on logic, so we’d maybe give him 2bps for this one.
  • Result change: He also equalised in the 1-1 draw v Birmingham on 5th November, probably netting him 2bps.
  • Contributions: Kachunga scored on 7 other occasions. He scored the opening goal on four occasions as Hudderfield won (2-1 v Brentford on 6th August; 2-1 v Rotherham on 27th September; 2-1 v Bristol City on 10th October; v 3-0 Norwich on 4th April), added equalisers before eventual wins twice (2nd equaliser v Rotherham in a 3-2 win on 14th February; the 1st equaliser v PNE on 14th April), and helped himself to one “win more” goal, scoring the 3rd against Brighton in a 3-1 win on 2nd February. For these, we might give him 1bps for scoring the opening goal in 3 of the 4 matches when he did it (i.e. a further 2bps), and maybe 1bp more for one of the equalisers.

          Total guessimated bonus for goals: 13 points

For assists: Kachunga supplied both assists in Huddersfield’s 2-1 victory over Barnsley on 20th August, which, given one was scored by a substitute and the other by a defender who would have lost points from conceding, may well have given him all 3bps.

Worryingly for a winger, that’s it in terms of his assists: however, with 54 key passes not converted (1.2 key passes per game) it could well be the profligacy of his team mates rather than his poor delivery that is to blame.

Total bonus points scored: 16 points.

Clean sheets: 12 clean sheets = 12 points

Disciplinary: 7 yellow cards (-7 points) / 0 red cards

Scores on the doors

Kerching-a for my FPL points total?

176 points. But, we can’t give him that, as he’s played more games than in a PL season (38). We therefore need to find out his points per game (ppg), which is 3.91ppg (176/45) to give an extrapolated score.

This would be 149 points (3.91×38). That would have gotten him just inside top 30* in FPL last year, even on points with Wilfred Zaha, Raheem Sterling and Tom Heaton. For midfielders, he’s be in the top 20.

*we cannot give later ranks exactly as there are a lot of tied players – for higher ranks, we can assign that more confidently

Evaluation and conclusion

Well, a lot to talk about.

We can’t simply give Mr. Kachunga a “good” rating here (4.0). If only it were that easy.

Instead, we need to look at his projected score in the wider context: clearly, he won’t have the same sort of season in the Premier League where, unless Huddersfield adopt some perhaps containment tactics, his team will find themselves on the back foot a good deal and, perhaps, be on the receiving end of a few hidings. Their offensive opportunities could be scarce, reduced to the odd breakaway, especially when playing against more established teams who will take the initiative and force the Terriers onto the defence.

Additionally, though nominally classified as a winger, his output seems to heavily reliant on goals which, as mentioned, will likely be limited in 17/18. Worryingly, WhoScored’s assessment of his attributes includes “crossing” as a key weakness:

Additionally, his weakness in holding on to the ball is further cause for concern; failed dribbles and failed passes do not bode well for being awarded bps in FPL, as well as a penchant for committing fouls (7 yellow cards last season again is not a good stat).

All in all, it’s really tough to anticipate exactly how well Kachunga will adapt to the Prem. We think maybe 110-120 points (i.e. top 40 midfielders) could be likely, but a lot of it depends on how well the athletic Congolese gets on in the top tier.

However, with the release of the fixtures, Kachunga’s stock has risen somewhat. An opening 6 games that avoid the big guns (cpl NEW SOT whu LEI bur) could well see us opting for him as our 4th (3-4-3, or Nick’s 4-4-2) or 5th mids (3-5-2, probably as I will go) in our squads.

A lot depends on the pricing. 5.5 would be excellent, but a 6.0 is looking likely due to the impact he had on Huddersfield’s season last year. However, even that would be OK in the midfield slot I’ve earmarked him for.

It’s all a bit up in the air at the moment, but with the fixtures announced and Huddersfield starting strongly (cpl NEW SOT whu LEI bur), avoiding the big guns, Kachunga has suddenly been catapulted into relevance. Obviously, much depends on the pricing for other players around the 5.5-6.5 mark (think Redmond last year), but, as a 4th or 5th midfielder, he is now looking quite the decent punt.

I’m not sure we can quite give him the 4, given his stats and the inevitable downturn his output will take in FPL (probably)! But, as with many things, context is king. I am certainly seriously thinking of putting him into my side as my “dark horse” differential for Gameweek 1, but I am not seriously expecting much if I do put him in. That means a fence-sitting score – reflecting the fact it’s a punt that could go either way – is probably the most apt.

Overall rating: 3 / 5 – An uncertain 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.

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