Fantasy Premier League

Is Saka still one of the best five midfielders in FPL?

By The Scout 23 Jan 2024
FPL- Gross, Saka, Foden

The Scout analyses the data to assess the drop-off in output from the most-owned player in Fantasy

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Bukayo Saka (£9.1m) has done little to justify his spot as the most-owned player in Fantasy Premier League recently, with just a single goal in the last six Gameweeks.

Over 101,000 managers have already parted company with the winger after his poor form continued last weekend with a blank in Arsenal's 5-0 home win over Crystal Palace, although he still sits in over 62 per cent of squads.

Saka has managed a mere 18 points over the last six Gameweeks, placing him joint-40th among midfielders.

That's a hefty 31 points behind Richarlison (£7.0m), who was the top-scoring midfielder on 49 points, scoring six goals thanks to his new role as a centre-forward for Tottenham Hotspur.

The underlying numbers tell a somewhat different story, with Saka impressing across a host of key statistics.

His 23 shots, 17 shots in the box and five big chances all place among the top two midfielders across those six Gameweeks.

But he has been let down by his finishing, converting a mere 4.3 per cent of his shots.

By contrast, Mohamed Salah (£13.1m) and Cole Palmer (£5.8m) each scored four goals, converting 19 and 20 per cent of their attempts. Palmer’s output is all the more impressive given that only five of his shots were from inside the box. 

Richarlison has matched his Spurs team-mate Son Heung-min (£9.7m) for both shots and shots in the box, albeit in one more match. The Brazilian’s six big chances and six goals were both top in his position in Fantasy.

Midfielders goal threat compared, last six Gameweeks
Player Shots Shots in box Big chances Goals Goal conversion
Saka 23 17 5 1 4.3%
Salah 21 18 3 4 19%
Palmer 20 5 3 4 20%
Foden 19 9 0 1 5.3%
Barkley 18 5 1 2 5.6%
Richarlison 17 15 6 6 35.3%
Son 17 15 3 3 17.6%

Rotate your mobile device to see full table 

Although he failed to produce any assists over those last six Gameweeks, Saka has been one of the league’s standout creators.

His 16 key passes rank joint-fourth with Phil Foden (£8.0m), while he also matched the Manchester City star’s three big chances created.

Brighton & Hove Albion’s Pascal Gross (£6.5m) has impressed the most, with his 25 key passes and five big chances created both more than any other midfielder.

Saka’s team-mate Martin Odegaard (£8.5m) also features high in the analysis; despite his single assist, the Norwegian supplied 20 key passes, second only to Gross.

Midfielders creativity compared, last six Gameweeks
Player Key passes Big chances created Assists
Gross 25 5 2
Odegaard 20 2 1
Sarabia 17 3 3
Foden 16 3 3
Saka 16 3 0

Rotate your mobile device to see full table 

How does Saka compare with earlier this season?

Saka’s recent displays are in sharp contrast to his start to the campaign.

The Arsenal winger scored five goals and supplied eight assists in the first 15 Gameweeks, delivering 6.6 points per match. 

The underlying numbers, however, indicate Saka’s attacking prospects have actually improved of late, in spite of his drought in Fantasy.

Per match, his 3.8 shots, 2.8 shots in the box and 0.8 big chances are all around double his averages in the opening 16 Gameweeks.

Notably, he has remained just as creative, making 2.7 key passes per match across both periods.

The main difference has been his woeful goal conversion rate, slumping from 17.9 per cent down to 4.3 per cent.

Saka's season compared*
Period Shots Shots in box Big chances Goal conversion Key passes Big chances created
GW1-15 2.0 1.5 0.4 17.9% 2.7 0.6
GW16-21 3.8 2.8 0.8 4.3% 2.7 0.5

*Statistics are per match

Arsenal attackers compared, 22/23 v 23/24

Added to his goal threat statistics, Saka was involved in a team-high 39 of Arsenal’s 115 shots over the last six matches, taking 23 and creating 16.

Yet due to his own poor finishing and that of his team-mates, he managed only one goal.

Comparing the goal threat of Arsenal’s top scorers over the last two seasons indicates Arteta’s key attackers are struggling to match their exploits from 2022/23.

The Gunners were a reliable source of goals last season, with four of their players - Gabriel Martinelli (£7.7m), Odegaard, Saka and Gabriel Jesus (£8.0m) – all scoring at least 11 goals.

Martinelli’s 15 goals were joint-top with Odegaard, with the Brazilian’s 19 per cent goal conversion rate the best of any Arsenal regular.

Saka was just one goal behind the duo, while Jesus also proved vital; his 186.6 minutes per goal near-identical to the 185.5 minutes of Martinelli.

Arsenal's top goalscorers, 2022/23
Player Goals Goal conversion Mins/goal
Martinelli 15 19% 185.5
Odegaard 15 16.1% 207.2
Saka 14 15.7% 226.6
Gabriel Jesus 11 14.3% 186.6
Trossard 8 14.5% 284.4

It’s been a different story altogether this season, with Saka currently their leading scorer on six goals.

Indeed, only five sides this season have a top scorer who has fewer goals – promoted trio Burnley, Luton Town and Sheffield United, along with Fulham and Manchester United.

Assessed against last season, Saka’s goal conversion rate has dropped from 15.7 per cent to 11.8 per cent, while his minutes per goal have slowed from 226.6 to 292.5.

While that sheds more light on his goal drought, the statistics of his team-mates also give some indication as to why his assists have also slowed.

Despite his brace off the bench against Palace, Martinelli is averaging a goal every 324.5 minutes – a drop of 139 minutes per goal from 2022/23. His goal conversion rate is down from 19 per cent to 11.4 per cent season on season.

Odegaard and Gabriel Jesus have also suffered similar slumps in both goal conversion and minutes per goal, showing that it’s not only Saka who is struggling to find the net with his opportunities.

Arsenal's top goalscorers, 2023/24
Player Goals Goal conversion Mins/goal
Saka 6 11.8% 292.5
Nketiah 5 15.6% 204
Havertz 4 16% 315.5
Trossard 4 14.3% 200.5
Martinelli 4 11.4% 324.5
Odegaard 4 10% 398.5
Gabriel Jesus 3 8.6% 346
So, what should Saka owners do?

The statistics show that Saka remains one of the most appealing players in Fantasy for both goals and assist potential.

Despite his recent failings, there is plenty of optimism for a turnaround in form, with his improving goal threat over the last six Gameweeks particularly encouraging.

Nonetheless, the numbers also indicate that Arsenal attackers, in general, are failing to hit the heights of last season and Saka's high cost of £9.1m means he will be far from essential if this malaise continues. 

While there is no immediate rush to sell, given that both Salah and Son are still unavailable, Saka’s long-term place in managers’ midfields looks very much in peril unless he, and his team-mates, starts to convert more of their opportunities. 

Both Palmer and Richarlison look far better value and cost significantly less, while the rush to acquire Kevin De Bruyne (£10.6m) for Man City's Double Gameweek 25 could soon make Saka surplus to requirement for some.

View all the latest FPL tips ahead of Gameweek 22 in Fantasy Premier League

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