Time to Reconsider Fantasy Football Tactics as Mohamed Salah Outshines Haaland
In the realm of Fantasy Premier League (FPL), it appears that the time has come for managers to reassess their strategies. Mohamed Salah, priced at £12.7 million, is making a strong case with his fourth double-figure point haul in five Gameweeks.
Last Saturday, the Liverpool superstar, of Egyptian origin, stole the show by scoring twice against Everton, amassing a season-high 16 points.
However, it's intriguing to note that only 1.24 million FPL managers entrusted Salah with the captain's armband, compared to the staggering 6 million who favored Erling Haaland, priced at £14.0 million.
Erling Haaland's immense popularity is having a profound impact on FPL dynamics. His incredible 88% ownership makes him the default captain choice week after week, rendering him almost unsellable. The fear here is that a significant point haul from Haaland could send non-owners plummeting down the Gameweek rankings.
Despite the Haaland phenomenon, Salah's performance in the 2023/24 season has been nothing short of remarkable. Over the past eight Gameweeks, he has outscored Haaland in six, accumulating a total of 75 points, catapulting him to the top of the player standings.
In the last four Gameweeks alone, Salah has outperformed Haaland by 42 points to 18, effectively creating a 48-point advantage for those who chose to back the Liverpool maestro.
Admittedly, three of Salah's goals in this run were converted penalties. However, when you consider that Haaland faced teams like Nottingham Forest, Wolverhampton Wanderers, and Brighton & Hove Albion during this period, his tally of just two goals seems considerably underwhelming.
Statistics Paint the Picture
Digging deeper into the numbers, the statistics tell an even more compelling story. In the last four Gameweeks, Haaland managed only five shots, while Salah launched an impressive 15. The Egyptian also trumped Haaland in key passes, eight to three.
Team statistics reveal a similar pattern. Manchester City's performance has dipped considerably, managing only 44 shots in the last four Gameweeks, a whopping 30 less than Liverpool. Incredibly, they rank second to last for shots in the box, better only than Fulham. Meanwhile, Liverpool leads the pack in shots, shots in the box, big chances, and shots on target.
Advantage Salah in the Schedule
Looking ahead, Salah appears to have a distinct edge in terms of potential points. Fixture Difficulty Ratings (FDR) indicate that four of Liverpool's next matches score just two, whereas Man City faces only one such fixture.
This raises the question: should managers consider parting ways with Haaland to redistribute funds and build more balanced starting lineups? For instance, pairing Aston Villa's Ollie Watkins with Man City's Julian Alvarez costs just £1.3 million more than Haaland. Watkins has outscored Haaland by seven points, and Alvarez is only six points behind.
Haaland's stats have also dwindled considerably. His once-prolific numbers have taken a hit, with an average of 1.2 shots per match in the last four Gameweeks compared to 5.8 in the opening five. He's also seen a drop in big chances, from 2.6 per match to 0.5.
Comparing his performances this season to the same fixtures in the previous year, Haaland has failed to live up to his stellar debut campaign. His returns are lower in six of seven comparable matches, with an average of 6.6 points per match compared to 9.1 last season.
On the flip side, Salah's consistency shines through. He's outperformed his total from last season's matches in seven out of nine fixtures. His average of 8.3 points per match this season surpasses the 5.2 points per match in the same matches last season.
Changing the FPL Landscape
Erling Haaland's colossal popularity has reshaped the way managers approach Fantasy Premier League. The "always own, always captain Haaland" strategy has become a prevalent, risk-averse approach. Nonetheless, the statistics now point to a potential shift in the FPL landscape. Salah's remarkable form and the opportunity to diversify funds should give managers reason to reconsider the status quo.