In this new weekly series, @connect_nate will compare two exciting players and project how they will perform over the coming gameweeks. Here, he previews Jota and Greenwood over the first seven gameweeks.
Jota vs. Greenwood GWs1-7
In the lead up to the new season, I asked the Twitter FPL community to make requests about the decisions they’re struggling with most. Given the plethora of midfield options this season, it’s no wonder that the majority of requests involved mid-price midfielders.
Just edging the final vote was for exploring Jota vs Greenwood – a comparison that has taken an even more interesting turn with the arrival of Tsimikas (£4.0m) to the scene.
How Jota and Greenwood Compare to Rivals (Last Season)
Last season, as the table demonstrates, Jota stood out considerably from similarly-priced rivals. Such is his dominance that he records the highest goal threat of all these popular mid-priced assets in each of the above key performance indicators for goal threat.
While Jota’s superiority is undeniable, Greenwood’s position within mid-price midfielders is more nuanced. Greenwood’s 5.29 touches in the box per 90, 3.29 shots per 90 and 2.3 shots per 90 are all second only to Jota. His 1.13 shots on target per 90, 0.47 Big Chances per 90 and 0.34 xG per 90 are all 3rd-best of the selected midfielders.
Assuming game time (which we’ll get to later), we can see that both Jota and Greenwood more than hold their own within this price category.
Jota vs. Greenwood – (More) Recent Form – GWs29-38
As we know, Greenwood underperformed until the final stretch of the season and this is reflected in his underlying numbers. However, during last season’s run-in, Greenwood demonstrated the truly extraordinary numbers he is capable of.
From GW29, Greenwood scored more frequently than Jota (1.02 xG per 90 vs Jota’s 0.66), considerably out-performing his xG when Jota was struggling to convert his own (0.65 xG90 vs Jota’s 0.87 xG90). Interestingly and for the first time, Greenwood also posted credible creative output, delivering 0.34 Big Chances per 90 to Jota’s 0.
Even during this time though, Jota’s underlying goal threat was significantly superior. He leads the way on several key metrics – xG 90, shots per 90, shots in the box per 90 and shots on target. Although, this was Jota’s weakest stretch of the season for converting xG and Big Chances, he was actually hitting better underlying numbers than earlier in the season.
Jota vs. Greenwood – xMins
One of the most important aspects of almost all of the exciting £7m-£8m midfielders is their xMinutes, which can be notoriously difficult to predict. The above table considers all games the two players were available for except GW38, where Jota got a 1-minute cameo after returning from injury and Greenwood was rested for the Europa League Final.
What is hopefully apparent is that Jota has worked his way into Liverpool’s team with a significant increase in minutes when he came back from his 1st injury of the season (from 62 minutes per GW to 73 minutes). From GW27 onwards, both Greenwood and Jota were involved in all of their team’s games either from the start or from the bench (when not injured and still discounting GW38).
Many have pointed out Firmino’s pre-season form when discussing Jota’s xMins for the opening of the new season. However, this seems a little reactionary. Jota was one of the only Liverpool players to come out of last season with his reputation enhanced. Towards the end of the season, his minutes increased to the detriment of incredibly talented players who saw less game time. I expect Jota to see roughly 70% of available minutes in GWs1-7.
Greenwood’s own xMins have been boosted by the medium-term absence of Rashford and the forever-protected Cavani. While Cavani is expected to get around 60% of available minutes in the 9 role, this still leaves 40% of those minutes for Martial and Greenwood to share. Martial’s long absence from the team could easily see him play little on the left (which is far from his favoured position anyway), and instead see Sancho play there the majority of the time, leaving the way clear for Greenwood to play on the right. In this way, I’d expect Greenwood to play very similar minutes to Jota – roughly 65% of available minutes.
Liverpool vs. Manchester United – Fixtures
Both Jota and Greenwood have very good opening fixtures. Arguably, Greenwood has fewer easy games, but Jota certainly has the two most difficult games in Chelsea and City at home. These differences balance out almost exactly in my xG-based FDR with neither Jota nor Greenwood taking a fixture advantage into the projections.
Finally, we move to the crunch of the matter – using historic career numbers weighted with the most recent run of games and bookies’ odds, below are my point projections for Jota and Greenwood over the next 7 GWs.
Continuing the trend of this article, it is Jota who once again comes out on top, beating Greenwood by over 0.8 points a game. No doubt the accuracy of these projections will come down to minutes played, but it’s worth bearing in mind that if career xG performance was taken into account, the two players would’ve been almost inseparable. However, neither player has accumulated a significant sample size of shots so I avoided the temptation to make such adjustments.
Greenwood may have had two remarkable purple patches for United, but he has also been through a painfully long bleak streak. As an older and more experienced player, it is no surprise that Jota showed a greater level of consistency than Greenwood last season. Ultimately, it is this consistency that means Jota slightly edges this statistical comparison of the pair’s opening prospects.
Thank you for reading!
This is a new series article, and I imagine that it will evolve and be adapted over the coming GWs so I’m really interested to hear your comments. Please do make suggestions if you’d like to see something different, and also don’t forget to share if you enjoyed or benefited from the article.
More to come
We hope you enjoyed the article and hopefully it will help your planning ahead of the 2021/22 Fantasy Premier League season. We have plenty more lined up for pre season and will be publishing advice, team reveals and more strategy guides right up until the big kickoff.
Be sure to keep your eyes on the FPL Connect twitter page for all our latest releases, this season promises to be our biggest yet.
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