Suarez vs Sturridge

Sturridge is the form player right now but has he stolen his team mate's mantle as the no.1 player in FPL?

Daniel Sturridge is the form player in Fantasy Premier League right now. You’ll find his name crops up in most if not all our recent articles. Since his full return to action he’s taken a big stride forward each gameweek in people's estimations. We’d say he’s probably now drawn level in with team mate and the hitherto all-conquering Luis Suarez.

A plump chicken of a home game is next on the cards for Liverpool. Swansea have been pretty poor away from home this season and will be stretched after a huge night for the club in Europe against Napoli. For the first time since Aguero was on fire, Suarez has a genuine rival for captaincy.

Sturridge has almost doubled the points of Suarez over the last 5 weeks, and as you can see below Suarez has actually hit a season low, averaging a modest 5.4 PPG between GW22 and GW26 from 1 goal and 4 assists compared to Sturridge’s 10 PPG from 6 goals and 2 assists.

Before we go any further allow us to make a point abut Suarez. In no way do we think he’s lost it. He has 1 goal and 4 assists over the last 5 games. He’s hit the post twice. He’s still ace.

Looking closer at both players’ underling stats starting with shots and shots on target we can that on the surface they are pretty even. Suarez has a few more attempts to his name, Sturridge has a couple more on target. Our Expected Goals model however allows us to attribute a goals value to each player's shots based on the position of the shot, the type of pass it was from and whether it was a headed attempt or not. From this it’s apparent that Sturridge’s recent shots should typically count for more than Suarez. Additionally Sturridge has historically always shown a slightly better ability to turn his shots into goals.

The shot position data is detailed below but the key difference between the pair is Sturridge is tending to shoot more centrally whilst Suarez is shooting from wide areas where it is typically harder to score. This is mirrored in Suarez’s position on the pitch. Liverpool’s tactical setup is very free-flowing but Suarez is often positioned on the flanks as well as dropping in to link up play. He still gets forward a whole lot but Sturridge stays central and seems to have adopted the nominal ‘centre-forward’ role for Liverpool.


    Shots SOT Box Central Box Wide Outside Box xG CC xA xPts
Suarez 24 8 6 7 11 2.2 14 2.2 31.3
Sturridge 20 10 9 1 10 3.7 6 0.5 35.3

Suarez does boast a good deal more assist potential, far outnumbering Sturridge for Chances Created and Expected Assists. Using our model to put the shooting and creativity stats together we’d actually expect the pair to come out very close for expected points (xPts). Our model though does not do a great job of accounting for Bonus Points due to the ‘smoothing out’ which goes on when averaging data. To put that another way, you don’t get any bonus points on a Saturday afternoon for scoring 0.4 goals. In reality, Sturridge’s greater goal potential has translated to more bonus points. His goals have helped him to 12 additional bonus points compared with just 2 for Suarez.

Our Conclusion

You may have picked up from some of the language used above that we are starting to favour Sturridge, and it’s true. In the course of this analysis we've become even bigger fans of the the England striker and would captain him this weekend against Swansea but let’s take a step back and quickly go over what’s been said.

Sturridge’s superior goals and points per game on the pitch is undeniable, 50 points versus 27 for Suarez. Statistically and tactically Sturridge currently looks to have the higher potential of the twol. Although these latter two factors imply the difference between the pair has been more marginal than the recent points would suggest the indicators are all still pointing in the direction of Sturridge.

Fantasy managers are of course now becoming aware of this trend. Many will have toyed with the idea of captaining Sturridge last week and are no doubt kicking themselves for not doing so. This week we suspect people are feeling the opposite. Confidence in Sturridge will be up but fears will run high that the moment you doubt a player like Suarez he’ll bust you up with another explosive hat-trick. You’ve got to love fantasy football, right?

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