Prospecting The Prospects: Jack Grealish

Our “prospecting the prospects” series returns for 2019-20!

This is where we run the rule over the of FPL prospects of some who will enter the game next season. This series analyses a selection of these newcomers to the FPL game by simulating how they would have performed using last season’s stats (wherever they played) as if they had been in FPL, then providing our evaluation of the player as an asset ahead of the coming campaign.

Aston Villa won the play-off final in May 2019, beating Frank Lampard’s Derby (as we’re contractually obliged to call them).

One man it must have meant much to is Brummie born Jack Grealish, and the 23-year-old certainly seemed to enjoy the 2-1 victory despite perhaps not shining as expected:

Grealish, who can be deployed at left attacking midfield as well as in the no10 role, has been on the radar for many years, with links to Tottenham in the past. However, with his beloved Villa up in the Premier League, we’d wager it’s safe to assume he’ll stay and continue to be an influential member of the team.

Let’s find out how good he was last season to assess his potential as an FPL prospect, using WhoScored data and match reports.

Prospecting the prospects

Appearances: 31 appearances + 1 under 60 mins = 63 points

Goals: 6 goals (5×6) = 30 points

Assists: 7 assists (7×3) = 21 points

Clean Sheets: 9 cs (9×1) = 9 points

Disciplinary: 5 yellow cards: -5 points

Let’s estimate the bonus now (nb skippable, just to show I haven’t made it up!):

2nd Nov: 1 goal, 1 assist in 2-0 win over Bolton for 3

25th Nov – 1 goal in the 4-2 win in the Brum derby – not a decisive goal but got MoTM, so a kind 1

2nd Mar – Goal in win over Derby unlikely to give bonus as it was the final one 0

10th Mar – Scored winner to secure a Villa double in the Brum derby in narrow 1-0 win, but also got a yellow card; dominant performance for Tyrone Mings, so probably 2

10th Apr – Scored winning goal in 2-1 win over Rotherham, for all 3

19th Apr – Scored opener/winner and assisted second in 2-0 win, another 3

Grealish guesstimated bonus from G/A: 12

Scored on the doors

Grealish comes out with an, at first glance, rather disappointing 130 points. However, he was out of the team between December and February with a shin injury.

Nonetheless, with a total of 15 career goals and 16 assists, 6 goals and 7 assists constitutes his highest returns from a season ever.

His points per game is a fairly decent 3.9, which means if we then adjust assuming he’d played all Premier League games (i.e. PPG*38), we see his score improve to ~150 points last season.

That puts Grealish about 25th overall last season, scoring 5 more than Hugo Lloris and 3 less than Richarlison.

Evaluation

Let’s start off with some vital statistics.

According to WhoScored, Grealish had 76 key passes last season. Let’s assume those equate to “chances created” in FFS stats. That’s a decent rate, remembering he only played more than 60 minutes on 31 occasions.

Also, Grealish recorded 24 shots in the box, perhaps slightly under what we’d hope at less than 1 per game. He took 69 shots overall, though, in the 31 appearances he made, which is a decent 1.3 per 90 mins.

Those chance creation stats are encouraging, and puts him on a level with the likes of Christian Eriksen. Of course, this is a bit of a false comparison as who knows if the Englishman can do it in the Premier League, however Eriksen’s maiden season in FPL may be worth examining quickly. In 2013/14, he scored 132 points, scoring 7 and supplying 9 assists in a Spurs side whom were a different proposition back then. This is a bit of a “Rolls Royce” comparison, with Eriksen playing in a much better team and capable of 200+ in a season (as per 2016/17) which I don’t think we should be expecting of Grealish. Nevertheless, it’s a good starting point in terms of stat similarity and first season outputs.

Looking around that points total leads to a new signing who performed well in the Championship before making the step up in James Maddison, whom we looked at for Prospecting the Prospects last summer here. In the article, we gave him a conservative 3/5 as a rating and it’s fair to say, with 137 points, 7 goals and 7 assists, he lived up to that at 6.5m. He scored far more goals than Grealish for Norwich (14 in 2017/18), and certainly wasn’t shy on attempts with 83 shots on goal this season, joint sixth with Richarlison and Eriksen. That may be near expectations with Grealish given the diminished game time but decent attempt numbers on the Villa man. It also seems this 130ish points ballpark feels about right.

Grealish is certainly a handful, as shown by his attempting 98 dribbles this season, successful in 58 of them. This is level with fellow Englishman Andros Townsend, who also seems to represent a decent look at how Grealish could be based on points scored. The Palace winger scored 135 points in 2018/19, cutting inside to score 6 times (including a memorable worldie at the Etihad), and accidentally assisting others 5 times. Andros also managed 25 shots in the box last season, and created 61 chances – near to Grealish’s ballpark. Obviously this is a very top level look at the stats that I have available, and Townsend is definitely a flank man whereas Grealish is only occasionally stationed there, but as FPL assets there could well be a match here: assuming both will get a similar price tag, 135 points may be assumed a decent haul for the Villa attacking midfielder.

Through the expected high price, Grealish also invites easy Jota comparisons, who was surprisingly classified as a 6.5m midfielder last summer. The Portuguese OOP ended up scoring 139 points, but there were teething difficulties despite high expectations: he didn’t score until Gameweek 15, disappointing early backers. Though he later improved and we’re expecting a good season to come from him (and maybe reclassification), the point is that we need to be cautious early doors with players who smashed it in the second tier: the Portuguese was the Championship’s top scorer in 2017/18.

Grealish was revealed on 27th June to be priced at 6.0.

Though it’s probably going to be the highest Villa midfield asset, at least it’s 0.5m cheaper than the cautionary tale of Ryan Sessegnon (15 goals, 6 assist in the Championship) who only provided a modest 97 point return for a 6.5m  price tag.  Additionally, the past high price mark (6.0) for midfielders throws up examples like Anthony Knockaert (15 goals and 8 assists in the Championship; 88 points in 2017/18).  Again, one hyped by people like us in Prospecting the Prospects beyond his potential as an FPL asset! In any case, the lesson here perhaps is that a sub 100 score would be a disappointment, but not without precedent.

The latter trio lit up the Championship, but failed to ignite in the Prem. Bearing in mind Grealish’s 6 goals and 7 assists is his best return ever -in contrast to those Championship terrors – I’ll certainly be wary of any hype around him.

Given the limited number of appearances he had compared to the consistency of output, and the influence he seems to have on Villa, he certainly seems to have the quality to step up. If he can perform consistently and statistically assume the “talisman” mantle he’s often written into, whilst staying fit, he could at times play his way into our teams.

tot BUR EVE cry WHU for the opening five means a tricky start with former(?) suitors Spurs, but three out of the next four are then at home, so there could be some appeal but I think they’ll be tricky ones for the Villans to navigate.

In conclusion, I think that Grealish might be a bit of a situational player who may get managers’ attention if form and fixtures come together for him. Who knows, he could do a Riyad Mahrez and take FPL by storm on the cheap. Initially, though, given the 6.0, I’m happy to wait and see how he adjusts to life at the top level before thinking of buying.

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

Disclaimer: we thoroughly accept this system of evaluating players isn’t flawless. Predicting how well a player will do is an inexact science, and there are many ways to do it. However, we feel that it’s a nice approach to getting a feel for how a player might do in FPL.