FPL Face-Off: Comparing De Bruyne vs. Sterling

Sterling and De Bruyne celebrate a goal
katatonia82 / Shutterstock.com

With Manchester City set to play their first game of the 20/21 season, FPL managers look to decide which premium player to target. Kevin De Bruyne’s current ownership (~30%) heavily outweighs Raheem Sterling’s (~5%), but should it?

Let’s take a look at the numbers from last season.

De Bruyne (Blue) vs. Sterling (Red) in 2019/20

KDB versus Sterling Key Stats 19/20
Comparing KDB (Blue) and Sterling’s (Red) key stats for the 19/20 season. (Source: FFHub)
De BruyneKey Stat Sterling
251 (1st)Points204 (7th)
209.0 (4th)Expected Points (xPts)218.3 (2nd)
13Goals20
8.4Expected Goals (xG)18.5
6Big Chances33
99Shots99
41Shots in Box83
23Assists6
19.5Expected Assists (xA)9.0
34Big Chances Created9
146Key Passes48

Takeaways

  1. Despite scoring a league high 251 FPL points last season, De Bruyne’s expected points ranked 4th overall – 9 points behind Sterling (2nd). Regardless who you think over-performed/under-performed between the two, the fact is that the gap between is smaller than it looks.
  2. Although both players produced 99 shots, Sterling was far and away the bigger goal threat. 83 of his shots were inside the box – over double De Bruyne’s 41. Sterling also had over 5x more big chances (33 to 6), and as a result, a much higher xG.
  3. In terms of chance creation, no one in the PL came remotely close to De Bruyne. He was the runaway leader in assists, expected assists, big chances created, and key passes.
  4. Despite being awarded 11 penalties last season, City struggled with their conversion. Late in the season, De Bruyne took over and converted 2 of 2. If he takes over the duties this season, expect a significant bump in his goal threat.
  5. Sterling’s more-advanced positioning drew significantly more fouls in the final third than De Bruyne (17 to 10), including 3 times in the box (3 to 0). Drawing 27% of City’s penalties does help mitigate the impact of not taking penalties.

Conclusion

Kevin De Bruyne was the standout FPL player last season, but the gap between him and Raheem Sterling is smaller than it might initially appear. With such a big ownership gap, Sterling offers an incredible differential with massive upside.

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