Championship Togga continues with the midfielders currently playing for a Championship side who could make an impact in the Premier League next season (if they make it there!). As with Part 1, there are some limitations to be aware of at the bottom of the article, but here are the players who made the cut:
Midfielder: Anthony Knockaert Team: Brighton & Hove Albion
Reasons for Promise: Knockaert was a bit part player during Leicester City’s great escape season of 2014-15, but this isn’t the same player as then. After spending 6 months in Belgium, the Frenchman returned to England and has been sensational for Brighton. He is the 8th top scorer in the Championship with 15 goals (with the 7 above him all being forwards) and is joint 11th in assists with 8.
Words of Warning: With all due respect to Glenn Murray, Knockaert is the stand-out attacking player in a defence-inclined Brighton team. Opposition managers in the Premier League are likely to identify him as the main threat, and therefore implement strategies to limit him. Whether this works – and affects his production – is another matter, but the opposition will be of a much better quality so it definitely is a possibility.
Premier League Equivalent: Riyad Mahrez; Leicester City. A left-footed winger that plays predominantly on the right side. Both players like to (and are good at!) running with the ball and taking long shots at goal.
Midfielder: Tom Cairney Team: Fulham
Reasons for Promise: Cairney scored as many goals this season (12) as more-recognised attackers such as Newcastle’s Matt Ritchie and Sheffield Wednesday’s Fernando Forestieri. Indeed, he is actually Fulham’s leading scorer, with 2 more than striker Chris Martin. Combine that with 10 assists (second most in the Championship) and you have a very good attacking midfielder.
Words of Warning: Cairney is very good with the ball, as shown with his 92.6% pass success, which allows him to create chances, make assists, and score goals. The problem is that Fulham (who lead the Championship in possession stats with 59%) aren’t going to get anywhere near that much of the ball if they make it into the Premier League. This would reduce Cairney’s contribution considerably.
Premier League Equivalent: Ross Barkley; Everton. If he takes to life in the Premier League, then he could easily have the same sort of influence as the Everton man. If not, then you might be looking more at a Tom Cleverley-type player.
Midfielder: Jonjo Shelvey Team: Newcastle United
Reasons for Promise: Jonjo Shelvey is the playmaker in Newcastle’s team; all attacks lead through him. He has a lethal long shot on him which bodes well for a team that takes a lot of long shots (6.5 per game; most in the Championship). He’s also Newcastle’s main free-kick taker, which is often a productive source of goals for many mid-to-lower Premier League teams.
Words of Warning: Shelvey makes this team because he is a Premier League player currently in the Championship. 47 league appearances for Liverpool and 79 league appearances for Swansea are evidence of that. However, he’s not actually had a great season with Newcastle. His 7.19 WhoScored rating ranks him 30th in the Championship; for a player of his reputation, this is a little low. He will need to perform better when Newcastle take a step up next season.
Premier League Equivalent: Paul Pogba; Manchester United. Well, a poor man’s version of Pogba anyway. Both players are seen as the key cog in their team’s machinery, though perhaps both should have contributed a little more in terms of goals and assists.
Midfielder: Gareth McCleary Team: Reading
Reasons for Promise: As the old saying goes: the best type of ability is availability. And McCleary is more often than not available for selection. Despite suffering from a couple of injuries this season, McCleary has played in 41 games for Reading; 3rd most at the club. The (usually) right winger can play on the left, through the centre, as a forwards, and even at right back. This sort of versatility is good news for Togga managers. Oh, and he’s also got 9 assists (joint 3rd in the Championship) and 9 goals (joint 39th).
Words of Warning: There’s not much to dislike with McCleary. The red card this season was his first since 2011/12, and provided he’s classed as a midfielder (which he should be), Reading’s leaky defence isn’t a concern for Togga managers. The only thing of note is his performances the last time he played in the Premier League with Reading: in 31 games (only 15 of which he started) he managed just 3 goals, 2 assists, and had a 6.47 rating.
Premier League Equivalent: Matt Phillips; West Bromwich Albion. Phillips hasn’t (at least this season anyway) played centrally, yet the ability to play both wings is the same as McCleary’s. Both players are best when dribbling and crossing.
Midfielder: Matt Ritchie Team: Newcastle United
Reasons for Promise: Another goal scoring midfielder, Ritchie has bagged 12 so far this season. This is largely thanks to the number of shots he takes. At 2.7 per game it is the joint 12th most in the Championship (and 4th most if you exclude forwards). He also makes 1.9 key passes per game (joint 19th) and 1.8 crosses per game (joint 8th). He’s also Newcastle’s penalty taker, which is always a bonus attribute in fantasy football.
Words of Warning: Ritchie’s 10 yellow cards is joint 13th most in the Championship. These -3 points can be the difference between winning and losing a Togga matchup, not to mention result in missed matches through suspension (Ritchie would have missed 3 games based on these stats; that’s 8% of the season). His 1.2 fouls per game is also higher than would be liked, particularly as it is often felt (perhaps wrongly) that referees are more likely to “let things go” in the Championship compared to the Premier League.
Premier League Equivalent: Robert Snodgrass; West Ham United. Whilst Snodgrass tends to play more centrally, the two players share similarities in style, with both able to pick a pass, particularly from dead ball situations.
Substitute: Aaron Mooy Team: Huddersfield Town
Reasons for Promise: Mooy was voted by Huddersfield fans as their player of the season, and the Australian centre midfielder has been pivotal in the club’s on-field success. His 7.08 rating is bettered only by centre back Christopher Schindler, and only the right back Tommy Smith has assisted more goals, demonstrating his importance from an attacking sense despite his defensive abilities.
Words of Warning: The biggest concern over Mooy is the simple fact that he is actually a Manchester City player – he is only on loan at Huddersfield. Whilst he’s had a great season in the Championship, it would be unrealistic to think that he’s in Guardiola’s City plans next year. There’s a good chance he could return to Huddersfield (either permanently or on loan again), but even if he does, the fact that he mainly plays as a defensive midfielder limits his Togga value.
Premier League Equivalent: Yohan Cabaye; Crystal Palace. Both players tend to play as the defensive central midfielder, though with the ability to push further forward when needed.
Just Missing Out: Rajiv van La Parra (Huddersfield Town); Stefan Johansen (Fulham)
All data is taken from WhoScored.com. The data provided is not a 100% accurate reflection of Togga scoring, but rather, the best approximation I could make given the difficulty (and time-consuming nature) of finding and calculating the appropriate statistics. Some of these limitations are listed below. It should also be remembered that the PPMs are based on performances in the Championship. In the Premier League – against much tougher opposition – these are all likely to be considerably lower.
- Dispossessions aren’t included in goalkeeper and defender stats.
- Penalty saves aren’t included in goalkeeper stats.
- The difference between a second yellow cards and a straight red card is not made (as it was unclear to me from the data source used).
- Shots on target are actually shots per game. This is probably the biggest impacting difference, as it will over-play the points contribution considerably. This was done because the shots per game data was more easily accessible than the shots on target data.
- The above difference is also applied to crosses (i.e. successful crosses are actually total crosses).
- All appearances – regardless of how long the player played for – count as 1 appearance. This will influence all the data, as well as stats such as clean sheet bonuses which are based on having to play for a certain length of time. However, it should affect all players equally, and therefore the relative comparisons should still be fair. This was done simply for ease of data collection.
- Positions of players are estimated based on WhoScored’s data. Togga’s classifications next year may be different.