FPL 2021/22: WHO WILL SCORE MORE? Benrahma vs. Raphinha (Gameweek 2-4)

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 Benrahma and Raphinha over GWs2-4.

Benrahma vs. Raphinha GWs2-4

In preparation for this article, I asked the Twitter FPL community to make requests about the decisions they’re struggling with most…

Just like in the lead up to GW2, Benrahma featured heavily in people’s thoughts. The final poll saw the Benrahma option take over half the vote, but the comments clearly showed that people were just as interested in seeing Benrahma being compared to Moura or Barnes or a number of other mid-price options.

The likely GW2 absence of Gundogan (£7.5m) means that £6m-£7.5m has become an even more interesting price point.

How Benrahma and Raphinha Compare to Rivals (Last Season)

Last season, as the table demonstrates, Raphinha was the most nailed of all the selected players, being beaten for minutes only by Bowen despite not starting until GW9. Raphinha far exceeds all the mid-price midfielders for underlying creativity numbers, making 2.43 Key Passes Per 90 and creating 0.46 Big Chances Per 90.

His shooting also compares nicely with the more expensive Barnes (£7m), but when it comes to Big Chances Received and xG, Raph falls behind with only 0.18 and 0.21 respectively per 90. Despite this, Raphinha scored goals as a frequently as Greenwood (0.33 xG 90 vs 0.34 xG 90), hinting at his potential as a clinical finisher.

While Raph is clearly a standout option, Benrahma is one of the few non-premium midfielders who is similarly creative. His xA 90 (0.25) is just below Raph’s (0.29), but his Big Chances Created per 90 (0.31) is significantly inferior to Raph’s (0.46).

Benrahma, Bowen and Moura (if Kane leaves) are all tipped to step up this season. As it stands, Bowen is by far the closest to Raph; Moura well off the pace; but Benny the most interesting of the three. This interest comes in part from Hammers fans’ vocal praise, but also from power house performances in the Championship with Brentford.

Benrahma – Championship 2018-20

The table above collated from Infogoal.net demonstrates the incredible numbers Benrahma achieved in the Championship. While the numbers demonstrate some consistency, it is where Benrahma changed over the 19/20 season that strikes me as particularly noteworthy.

In the 18/19 season, Benrahma’s 38 appearances were spread across 2,452 minutes. Over that time, Benrahma’s xA was a brilliant 0.28 per 90, which mirrors what he achieved last season in the Prem. Benrahma also managed an incredible xG 90 of 0.28 but he over-performed this to achieve 0.37 G per 90.

However, in the 19/20 season, Benrahma saw more minutes – 3,842 across 48 appearances but a reduction in xA to 0.22 per 90. This sizable drop was balanced by an even greater increase in xG per 90 to 0.38.

Benrahma’s first game of the season where he recorded 0.45 xG 90 suggests the development in Benrahma’s second year at Brentford could be duplicated in his second year back with West Ham. He has had the time to develop confidence, and now as their main man (in Lingard’s absence), West Ham fan’s hopes of Benrahma kicking on may well be realised.

If Benrahma can get close to his Championship xG 90 without losing too much of his assist potential, then we could have a highly exciting FPL asset on our hands.

Benrahma vs. Raphinha – xMins

From his first start for Leeds, Raphinha’s xMins were set – he would start almost every game and would rarely be substituted. I’m expecting Raphinha to get roughly 95% of available minutes this season.

Benrahma averaged more minutes per appearance (54) and a higher start % (62) before Lingard arrived, and with the number 10 spot there to be won, I’d expect Benrahma to get even more minutes this season (assuming Lingard does not come back into the frame at West Ham). In the short term, I expect Benrahma to continue to start the vast majority of games and play most of the match at roughly 85% of available minutes until GW4.

It’s important to note that both players could see their xMins significantly hit in the coming weeks. If Lingard does make the move back to West Ham, Benrahma will either be pushed out to the left wing (with Fornals being dropped), or he will be the one to miss out. Should Raphinha feature for Brazil in the final World Cup Qualifier on September 10th, isolation rules would likely mean he’d miss out on GW4 entirely.

West Ham vs. Leeds – Fixtures GWs2-4

The two players have similar fixtures between now and GW4 with both playing at home twice and one top 6 team. However, Benrahma’s fixtures do look slightly easier with Southampton expected to struggle a little with the loss of Vestergaard, while Liverpool are expected to perform better defensively this season.

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 Benrahma and Raphinha over the next 3 GWs.

Raphinha edges it as you’d expect*, and this would be the case even if their xMins were identical. However, the fact that the two options are so close suggests that perhaps Benrahma is the better option in the short term as he comes in at £0.5m cheaper.

*A limitation of this projection is that it does rely on a slight increase in Benrahama’s underlying numbers but a relative status quo for Raphinha who could very well push on himself this season.

Conclusion

Raphinha would be my recommended pick as he’s safer with a higher projection despite slightly harder fixtures. Raph then goes onto a much easier run afterwards suggesting that he is also a longer term pick.

That said, if you were willing to take a risk then Benrahma could save you some money. His fixtures remain fairly good for a while, and although, my projections assume a slight upturn in underlying numbers, you may fancy Benrahma to have a more dramatic improvement this season, in keeping with his performance against Newcastle.

Finally, the lack of certainty around both players means that rolling this week remains a very sensible option. By GW3 or GW4, we’ll know more about whether Lingard will join West Ham and how Raphinha is affected by the Brazil World Cup qualifiers.

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.

We’ve also launched our ‘custom mini-league’ site, a huge innovation on the current mini-league format. To find out more, click here and become a member for FREE.

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