From the poll results, about 30 per cent of the visitors to this blog are looking for budget midfielders to replace Dimitri Payet and just over 20 per cent want a premium midfielder. However, almost half want a mid-price option and we’ll start the search there.

Although some Fantasy Premier League managers may have enough money in the bank that they don’t need to go hunting for a cheap Payet replacement, a few would undoubtedly welcome the chance to save an extra million to help them buy back Sergio Agüero when he is fit. As a result, Willian (6.9m) has been a popular name banded around as managers look to fill the Payet void. The thought process is obvious because the Chelsea player:

  • costs 1.2m less than Payet
  • plays for a big-name club (albeit one playing poorly this season)
  • has recorded two goals and two assists this season
  • is now getting 90-minute games, and
  • has some good fixtures coming up (NOR, tot, BOU, lei, SUN, WAT).

But do the statistics indicate Willian is a good purchase?

Willian Gameweeks 1-12 2015

The first thing regular visitors to this blog will notice is the yellow and green. I have had to break away from my usual colour scheme for the first time because Willian shoots so infrequently from inside the box that it would not have been possible to tell whether the last two recorded instances took place in Gameweek 4 or Gameweek 12. That propensity to shoot from distance is a big drawback with Willian. Shots taken from long-range usually have a far lower chance of being converted than shots taken inside the box.

The Brazilian’s shots on target to goals conversion rate is only a touch above average and the rate at which the chances he creates are turned into assists is standard. The problem is that Willian simply doesn’t do most of these things very often. He only played 47 minutes between Gameweeks 5 and 7, but even with that taken into account his figures aren’t great, as the next chart demonstrates.


The chart shows the how often per 90 minutes Willian, Mesut Özil (8.8m), Philippe Coutinho (8.2m) and Payet (8.2m) create assists and chances, and record shots, shots in the box, shots on target and goals.

We can quickly see that three of these players have stand out qualities. Özil and Payet are great creators of chances. Özil may be seeing those chances created turn into assists at a higher rate than we would normally expect, but the high frequency with which the German international creates chances means he should still do well even if that rate drops a bit.

In my recent review of Payet’s performance,  I noted the French international’s chances created convertion rate could improve, while his shots on target conversion rate could decline. But the number of chances created and shots on target he took meant he remained a viable option until he was injured.

Coutinho doesn’t create many chances for team mates, but he does excel in taking lots of shots. However, it is worth noting that he has tended to inflate his figures in games against weak opposition this season. The Brazilian may run hot and cold for FPL managers who have him in their squad but at least he offers something.

Embed from Getty Images

Willian doesn’t offer a clear advantage in any particular area and many FPL managers shopping in the higher mid-price bracket would like to know their midfielder can be a moderately good source of assists or goals or both.

The winger might provide a return for managers who bring him in because he is on free kicks and corners for Chelsea, and he does have some kind fixtures in the next six. Furthermore, his chances created numbers have improved with more game time. But Willian doesn’t currently offer enough creativity or goal threat to be my Payet replacement.


16 thoughts on “Willian

  1. moneyball666 says:

    I did look at Willian and decided against him. He’s been in good form all season and has only 2 goals and 2 assists to show. Many of which he was lucky to get.

    Chelsea’s fixtures are superb, unfortunately there’s not a stand out player yet to add to our FPL teams.


  2. Ruth_NZ says:

    I mentioned Willian as a value option (to some derision) before the season started and he hasn’t done badly so far.


    He passes the eye test, he’s playing very well in an advanced position and has plenty of set pieces. To his 2 PL goals you have to add 3 CL goals and 2 for Brazil, so 7 goals in 17 games so far. Not shabby at all for a 6.9 midfielder.

    I haven’t gone for Willian because I wanted Bolasie (whose stats are probably even worse). But if Chelsea’s results improve and they start scoring more (and the signs are there) then Willian could prove to be a good value signing I think. He is certainly having his best season for Chelsea and showing why they paid £32m for him.


    • moneyball666 says:

      Interesting, made me revisit the Willian proposition, he is tempting and it’s very much a ‘do I? Don’t I?’ transfer scenario, more so when you consider Chelsea’s plum fixtures. Despite Chelsea’s poor form this season. One thing has been consistent throughout; Willian’s performances.

      If I can receive receive minimum of 30pts (including appearance points) over the next six games from him that’s a good return for 6.9m midfielder.

      By my estimation that’s 2 goals and 2 assists. More than achievable considering his form, the opposition he’s facing, bonus potential and set pieces.

      Willian shouldn’t be ignored especially at that price.


      • It sounds like Willian is a player who divides opinion between those who tend to judge their players on what they see and those that tend to look to the stats for guidance.

        Some of the fixtures do look good and his underlying stats may improve as a result.


        • Ruth_NZ says:

          The stats would look better if you included all games.

          Another that I promoted pre-season (and was in my GW1 team until he had an injury scare) was Lukaku. People on FFS scorned him as a “troll” in general and referred to his 10 goals the previous season. Except he didn’t score 10 goals in 2014/15, he scored 20, it just so happened that 10 of them came in EL games and cups.

          Isn’t it tunnel vision to only look at PL stats when assessing the form and capability of a player?


          • moneyball666 says:

            Player prospect in FPL is a combination of stats and viewing players performance on the pitch. I wouldn’t solely base it on stats. Some would argue against that. Fair enough we all have our approaches to playing the game.

            Another player who’s been considered as a Payet replacement is Deulofeu. Now, compare his overall stats with Willian. You’ll find Willian’s are better. Yet, managers prefer Deulofeu over Willian as he’s cheaper!


            • I agree Moneyball that a combination of visual assessment and stats is a good approach. Sadly, I don’t get to see many games so I have to rely on stats quite heavily. I make that clear in the About page. I have also said several times that what I post is only one more piece of information to include in deliberations (if at all). There’s plenty of other information that should be factored in to making a decision on a player.


          • There are logistical reasons why I only look at Premier League fixtures (e.g. FourFourTwo Stats Zone doesn’t list performances from Europa League or C1C). There are also methodological reasons – I want to compare like with like. Looking at Premier League teams playing other Premier League teams means we are dealing with entities of known strength.

            For you I have just taken a quick look at Willian’s Champions League performance. He has scored 3 goals (all of them free kick) from 5 shots on target. That’s a 60 percent SoT to goal conversion rate, which is unlikely to be sustainable. It may tell us though that Willian has an effective free kick, which could be another factor to consider in our deliberations.


  3. moneyball666 says:

    Willian’s stats in the CL are impressive. It solidifies the view that he’s a player performing this season. If a player is performing this will translate to assists and goals. Especially as a midfielder. Mourinho said last season that he wanted to see more goals from Willian this season.

    Mourinho can bring out the best in a player if they have the correct attitude. He’s a world class coach and there are countless examples in his managerial career where he has improved players. He turned Schneider into a world class (proven in 2010 world cup) midfielder.

    Wouldn’t surprise me to see Willian as Chelsea’s player of Season in May.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s