Salah vs. Mane was the source of much FPL debate last season. With the game now live, this piece is our attempt at solving this dilemma and guiding you towards the player we think has the upper hand in this battle of mammoths.
To break it down, we will be comparing the two across parameters such as:
- Goal scoring ability
- Chance creation ability
- ICT Analysis
- BPS Analysis
- Price Analysis
Before we begin, members’ can use our OPTA data tool to access all the stats from last season. It’s still a beta version (launch coming soon), but most of the functionality is there.
Goal Scoring Ability
While both the players ended up with 22 goals, a stark difference can be seen in the way they converted their chances.
The Egyptian has the tendency to get into better positions and takes significantly more shots. Salah has a higher risk appetite, with 30% of his shots coming from outside the box, although it led to only one goal.
Mane, on the other hand, has the upper hand when it comes to aerial ability. With 6 goals from 22 headed attempts, the player showed his dominance in the air. Let’s not forget Mane’s ability to score from outrageous angles which certainly doesn’t reflect on the xG numbers.
While Mane may have matched Salah’s goal-scoring exploits, the latter left his teammate in the smoke when it came to creating chances. With eight assists to complement his goal tally, Salah proved his status as FPL’s most premium asset.
Mane who had overperformed in comparison to his xG, faced the exact opposite situation when it came to providing the final pass. The player could only manage one assist in 35 appearances, which was 20% of his xA (5.12).
The entire range of underlying stats when it comes to chance creation support Salah. Whether it is final 3rd passes, the number of crosses, freekicks, key passes or big chances created, the player leads in all departments and it shows in the final assist tally.
The ICT index was released by FPL the season before in an attempt to use match stats. It generated a score for Influence, Creativity and Threat. Despite the novel idea behind it, the metric failed to catch up in the Fantasy community and has not been discussed much.
One key reason behind this is the fact that FPL does not clearly lay down how the index is calculated which leads to a lot of ambiguity. Their official stance is that they simply condense 40 match statistics into four distinct scores that influence FPL points.
To give a more thorough understanding, we see that:
- Influence quantifies the impact a player has had in affecting the outcome of the match. For attacking players it takes into account the number of goals and assists they have had.
- Creativity analyses the number of attacking passes and crosses to figure out how good a player is at producing goalscoring opportunities. On a broad level, a higher creativity score can be used to identify players most likely to give an assist. FPL also states the quality of pass and the location is factored in while calculating this.
- Threat is used to ascertain the player most likely to score a goal by considering the number of attempts and the location from where they were made. One can think of it as a substitute to xG, although xG calculation is a lot more defined.
All these three scores are then summarized into a single ICT score which provides an overall view of the player quality.
A common theme from last season was Salah’s inability to get all 3 bonus points. This happened even in matches where he was undoubtedly Liverpool’s main man. However, this should not come as a surprise to those who have followed the rules laid down by FPL. Despite trailing Salah by 171 minutes (almost 2 full matches!), Mane scored 6 more bonus points than the Egyptian.
While looking at attacking figures we tend to ignore statistics which may negatively impact their BPS score. Shots off target and times dispossessed are two such figures which have hurt Salah’s bonus chances. This is the flipside to Salah’s high shot taking numbers and his habit of attacking defences head-on.
Another thing to note is the defensive shift that Mane puts which undoubtedly help his BPS numbers. A cursory glance at the table below truly shows Mane’s superior work on the defensive side.
A key reason for Mane’s popularity last season was his ability to often match Salah’s return despite starting at a cut-price of 9.5m. But his new increased price will certainly reduce the Senegal international’s lure. On the other hand, Salah’s reduced price despite top scoring FPL charts for the second year in a row will surely be an additional incentive for managers to pick him.
However, all of us have been victims of situations where we miss out on a transfer solely due to a difference of 0.1m. This is exactly where Mane has the edge. That extra additional budget can truly improve players in other positions. Ultimately, individuals will have to take the tough call depending on the kind of team they want to build.
As shown above, Salah absolutely dominates Mane in most attacking metrics. He also proves to be more consistent with fewer blanks (<= 3 ) although the two almost match each other on the number of double-figure hauls.
With Mane’s price increased to within touching distance of Salah, I am inclined to favour the more consistent and reliable player (likely to be on penalties): Mohamed Salah.
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