These articles are dual-focused, analysing a player’s role within their club from a footballing perspective before considering whether that information translates into them being a viable consideration for our FPL teams. Today’s instalment discusses Bournemouth midfielder David Brooks.
David Brooks took to the Premier League like a duck to water and was duly recognised as one of six nominees for the PFA Young Player of the Year Award. He predominantly played on the right-side of Bournemouth’s four man midfield in a 4-4-1-1 formation, although Eddie Howe’s attacking philosophy gave the Welsh international license to roam, often drifting inside as an inverted winger into pockets of space between opposition lines of defence.
One area that Brooks was particularly impressive was his usually reliable decision-making in the final third. This was not just evident in possession either, but also on the counter-attack when his quickness of thought and composure on the ball was required. Goals against Chelsea and Fulham and an assist for Junior Stanislas in the thrashing of Brighton came in this fashion.
A modest return of 7 goals and 5 assists (6 assists in FPL) was overshadowed by the standout seasons of teammates Ryan Fraser and Callum Wilson. But considering Brooks’ contribution to Bournemouth’s all-round play and the fact that those direct goal contributions came in just 2263 minutes of action, demonstrates that it was a very impressive debut season for the £12 million summer signing.
Statistically, Brooks’ season was not as clear cut. Using FPL’s ICT Index which combines a player’s influence, creativity and threat, he only ranked 59th amongst all players. A score of 167.5 was just over half of fellow midfielder Ryan Fraser’s (301.2). However, this model is more favourable when considered across a per 90 minutes basis with Brooks and Fraser at 6.66 and 8.56 respectively.
His expected goal involvements paint a similarly confusing picture as 7 goals and 5 assists came from an xG of 5.96 and an xA of 3.94. It would be easy to assume a degree of over-performance, however as mentioned earlier, Brooks’ composure in the final third is one of his strengths. His calmness in front of goal or ability to play the right weight of pass to give a teammate an easier opportunity than the pitch location indicates may have contributed to those numbers. Managing 20 attempts on target from just 41 in total (48.78%) supports this, with only three midfielders who had 40 or more shots bettering that percentage – Raheem Sterling, Ryan Fraser and Theo Walcott.
This is not to say Brooks will always outscore his expected data. However it is important to consider the nature of a player and attempting to draw a logical conclusion from that when delving into underlying numbers, rather than simply looking at them at face value.
Looking ahead to next season, Brooks looks set for a price increase in FPL. A points per match of 4.1 was higher than any other attacking player that started the season at £5.0m. In addition, any uncertainty about whether he would be a regular starter at Bournemouth was relinquished by 29 Premier League starts in 2018/19. That combined with it being a very impressive debut campaign in both footballing and FPL terms warrants a rise of around £1m to £6.0m or at a push £6.5m, depending on the valuations of King, Fraser and Wilson.
In short, Brooks’ debut season on the south coast went better than most outsiders would have expected as even being relied upon to start virtually every game when fit was not a foregone conclusion. With two promoted sides to start the season, including former employers Sheffield United on the opening day, starting with a Bournemouth player is bound to be a popular FPL strategy. Price will dictate whether that is Brooks or somebody else.