fantasy premier league new player profile – Chelsea’s Gonzalo Higuain.


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Chelsea have signed striker Gonzalo Higuain on loan from Juventus.  Higuain is a 31 year old 1.84m (6ft) Argentinian International centre forward who has signed from Juventus although he was on loan at AC Milan at the time of his signing.  He is priced at £9.5m in FPL.  We look at the player and assess his prospects for Chelsea

fantasy premier league new player profile – Chelsea’s Gonzalo Higuain.

Background

Chelsea have a goal scoring problem of that there is no doubt.  Of the top 6 clubs Chelsea have scored 40 goals .  Man City have scored 62 and the closest to Chelsea is Man Utd at 46.  To make matters worse it’s not through lack of shots.  Only Manchester City have taken more but Chelsea, at an 11%conversion rate, are again lower than their top 6 counter parts with Man Utd next some distance away at 14.8%.

Chelsea have 2 strikers in Morata and Giroud.  Morata has ended up as a virtual comical figure through his inability to finish off chances and the situation has ended with him wanting to leave Stamford Bridge.  This season he has 5 goals in 16 appearances.  An exit back to his home country of Spain to Athletico Madrid seems imminent.  Giroud has only been used as an impact substitute despite Hazard publicly backing him as the CF.

Hazard has ended up as the centre forward false 9 despite a reluctance to do so.  Hazard has played 6 times in the premier league this season in that position.  Overall it looks relatively successful with 3 goals and 4 assists.  Chelsea have won 4 of those games and lost 2 although only scoring 8 goals in the process.  However the last 2 games against Newcastle and especially in the loss to Arsenal, the system looked spectacularly unsuccessful.



Having an unhappy Hazard not playing in his favourite position is a situation that can only help Real Madrid and not Chelsea.  Sarri despite having success at Naopli with Hazard’s Belgian team mate Dries Mertens as a converted winger to false 9 had to act to get Chelsea’s season back on track. Risking losing your current Champions League premier league spot to improving Arsenal and Manchester United is not going to help your job prospects with the Chelsea hierarchy. Higuain has been signed on loan with an option to buy to solve the problem and allow Hazard to move to his favoured left side position.  The general perception to the move seems positive as any betting site will still show Chelsea as firm top 4 favourites.

Higuain had his most successful season under Sarri scoring 36 times in Serie A.  That may have been 3 season’s ago but it was clearly enough to convince Sarri that he is the answer to Chelsea’s problems.

Only time will tell but is the issue really Sarri himself and his rigidity with his system?  His 4-3-3 possession style game could not be any further from Conte’s counter attacking 3-4-3.  Kante is now a box to box player instead of a midfield destroyer, Alonso is a full back not a wing back.  Luiz was transformed as a CB in the centre of a back 3 is now returned to a back 4.

Higuains stats 

Here’s his stats for the last 4 seasons:

higuain

So overall very good stats but it’s hard not to see that they are diminishing each year and the Milan stats are certainly nothing special.

Higuain has played 75 times for Argentina for 31 goals.  He’s also played 264 games for Real Madrid for 122 goals and 56 assists.

The prospects

So in the first instance he should be fairly gametime secure.  That’s subject to his match fitness and we may get a free look at him in the FA Cup at home vs Sheffield Wednesday on Sunday.  How many minutes he gets in that game maybe telling.  Zola in the press conference this week said it had yet to be decided whether he will start.

Certainly his price at £9.5m is interesting.  At that price point we have 3 players:

Firmino £9.3m – playing more as a CAM rather than a CF

Lacazette £9.3m – not gametime secure

Vardy – £8.9m – playing for a team outside the top 6.

Let’s look at the main strikers for the top 6 teams

higuain

So apart from the FPL gift that is Marcus Rashford he is pretty competitively priced and although he’s off the pace this season with his goal and assist per minute ratio historically he has been there or thereabouts as you can see.

The adjustment

Serie A has certainly been a competition that strikers have had mixed fortunes with when transitioning to the Premier League.  Morata is the only player as a striker currently operating directly from Serie A.  He has struggled to adapt to the physicality,tempo and pressing that comes with premier league football and once described it as football “on fire”

Other strikers who have come from Serie A such as Hernandez with Hull, Jovetic for Man City and Balotelli for Man City have all struggled in the premier league.

However Higuain does have an advantage of knowing Sarri ball and having played successfully with the manager.  Albeit 3 seasons ago.

It is an area of uncertainty though.

The fixtures

Here’s Chelsea’s next 6 premier league fixtures:

Bournemouth (A)
Huddersfield (H)
Man City (A)
Brighton (H)
Spurs (H)
Fulham (A)

So 2 pretty accommodating fixtures next.  Also an outside prospect of a double gameweek which would bring Brighton in to GW25.



Summary

Chelsea definitely have a goal scoring problem and with Hazard disliking the false 9 role and Morata apparently wanting out of Chelsea something had to be done to address the problem which has come to a head in recent premier league matches.

Higuain is an experienced striker with a good overall record, albeit one who hasn’t performed to any great level this season.  He’s priced pretty handily in FPL at £9.5m compared to most of the other top 6 strikers in the premier league.

He should be fairly gametime secure subject to match fitness which we maybe able to assess in their Sunday FA Cup game.

His challenges are his age at 31 as well as adjusting to the premier league which hasn’t exactly been a happy hunting ground recently for Strikers direct from Serie A.  To counter that he is familiar with the manager and the managers system having had a very successful season with him at Napoli 3 seasons ago.

However the first couple of PL  fixtures are very accommodating as a starter and there’s an outside chance of a double gameweek taking place in GW25.

You’re also always going to ask yourself though is it not worth spending £1.5m more to get Hazard who is a proven FPL performer?  Then if you do that do you really want a double up on a so far fairly inconsistent attack.

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