Premier League first timers, Brighton, were four minutes of stoppage time away from winning the Championship title, just four minutes away from pipping the expected dominance of Newcastle to a title, that in the eyes of the many, was a worthy crown. One shred of acclaim to Brighton's name is that their star player, Frenchman Anthony Knockaert, won the Player of the Year award in the second division. Naturally that puts him under the FPL microscope, and we look at the facts and figures that could support an argument that he'll be a player to consider for next season's Fantasy Premier League.
First of all, let's look at the statistics behind the former Leicester man (yes, the one who missed the infamous pen that led to that Deeney moment). Fortunately the French winger was able to finally redeem himself, and resist signing for rivals Newcastle in January, on course to being crowned the divisions best player.
Anthony Knockaert (BRI): 2016/17 Season
League Appearances: 45 (44 starts, 1 substitute appearance)
Position: Right winger (and occasional number 10)
Did he take Brighton's penalties?: No, Glenn Murray did
Was he on any set pieces?: Corners and free kicks (but the takers are rotational
Discipline: 10 yellow cards, 0 red cards
Pass completion: 81/3%
Shots per game: 2.4 shots per game
- 96 key passes (more than twice as many as any team-mate)
- Ranked first for both shots (106) and chances created in the Championship
Knockaert's 2016/17 Championship Goals
Brighton 3-0 Nottingham Forest (1 goal)
Brighton 3-0 Rotherham (1 goal)
Reading 2-2 Brighton (1 goal)
Brighton 1-0 Huddersfield (1 goal)
Sheffield Wednesday 1-2 Brighton (1 goal)
Brighton 5-0 Norwich (1 goal)
Birmingham 1-2 Brighton (1 goal)
Brighton 3-0 QPR (1 goal)
Brighton 2-1 Sheffield Wednesday (2 goals)
Brighton 3-0 Reading (1 goal)
Rotherham 0-2 Brighton (1 goal)
Brighton 3-0 Derby (1 goal)
Wolves 0-2 Brighton (2 goals)
Knockaert's Goal Stats:
Home goals: 9/15 goals
Away goals: 6/15 goals
Free kicks: 0/15
Inside the box: 12/15
Outside the box: 3/15
Knockaert in the 2017/18 FPL Season
Estimated Price: £5.5m - £6.5m (most likely the higher end of the value)
Position: Right winger
Knockart is known as the Little Magician by Brighton fans, and having watched his tale of the tape there are definite comparisons to Riyad Mahrez. Predominately on the right wing, Knockaert is left footed and cuts in whenever he can. He loves to dribble, turn in, and fire low shots to the keeper's near post. The Frenchman has great balance, allowing him to wrong-foot defenders and midfielders.
In terms of his goals, he scored half of his goals as the target man in the box, and poaching missed opportunities from the Forwards, which is exactly what the likes of Marko Arnautovic and Sadio Mane love doing. As for his eight assists, all were from crosses, with only one coming as a direct result of a corner.
The step up to the Premier League means that the Frenchman will be well scouted, but the biggest concern that might appear over the course of the season is how Brighton will line-up.
Chris Hughton suggested post-season that Brighton might adopt a 4-4-1-1 formation, with new signing Pascal Gross sitting behind talisman Glenn Murray. This pretty much anchors Knockaert to the right wing most predominately. On the other foot though, Brighton played counter-attacking football for large chunks of the season, with Knockaert benefiting greatly.
Brighton, as newcomers, may have to take lessons from how Middlesbrough lined up, and better it, as realistically that is the standard that many believe the squad are walking into - and heading into the new season Brighton are favourites for the drop with fellow promotion rivals, Huddersfield. Newcastle, they have Rafa Benitez and a much larger war chest, and are expected to do marginally better in their survival efforts.
Middlesbrough struggled creating chances to a lone Forward to lacked mobility, which is exactly what Glenn Murray is, even though he is a proven goal scorer. This translates to full-backs of opposition sides having free roam, which in turn means that Knockaert will have increased defensive duties which will potentially impact on his FPL returns.
More optimistically, Knockaert is a skill wizard, which means he'll be ticking the boxes when it comes to the Bonus Points System, and this could be where the winger flourishes. The likes of Hazard and Mahrez, but on a budgetary scale, is what Knockaert potentially offers, if Brighton live up to the billing in the opening weeks of the season.
Faith will be determined when the Premier League fixtures are published on Wednesday 14th June at 9am, but after inspection Knockaert is player to definitely risk if Brighton's first few fixtures are cast in a favourable light.
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