Étienne Capoue grabbed his third goal of the season in Watford’s Gameweek 4 win over West Ham United and left many Fantasy Premier League managers wondering if their cheap fifth midfielder should be a regular starter from here on out. Others are more bold, asking if we are seeing the rise of this season’s Riyad Mahrez.
I’ll come back to Mahrez in a bit. First, here are Capoue’s statistics from the 2016-17 season.
All but one of his four efforts on target has beaten the keeper, giving him a shots on target conversion rate of 75 per cent, which is more than double the average for Premier League midfielders as a group. Yaya Touré managed to sustain that kind of conversion rate for a year in his 2013-14 miracle season, but only with the aid of penalties and free-kicks, which Capoue doesn’t have.
However, the biggest mismatch in these statistics is in scoring three goals off just six shots of any kind. Among midfielders, the Frenchman is joint second in the Premier League for goals scored, but outside the top 30 for shots taken. Capoue’s current goal output looks completely unsustainable unless his shot volume increases.
This is where the comparison with Mahrez comes in. Last season after four games the Algerian winger had a high shots on target conversion rate of 60 percent (excluding a penalty), but he backed that up with 12 shots, including eight in the area. His underlying data suggested more success was likely, whereas Capoue’s suggests overachievement so far.
The beauty of Capoue, of course, is his price. He started the season at 4.5m and has only risen to 4.8m so far. Even if his goal-scoring regresses, such that from here on out he only finds the net at a more sustainable rate to his shot numbers, he would still be good for the fifth midfield spot.