Here at Cloudbet we’ve taken a close look at the season’s trends and drilled down into the numbers to figure out which players add the most value to their respective teams. We looked at whose appearance - or omission - causes the betting markets to move the most - thus gauging a player’s importance to his team.
To put it another way, who proved irreplaceable?
Here's the Top Five. And it's probably not who you think.
The Top Five most valuable players to their own teams in Premier League
- Alisson - Liverpool
- Allan Saint-Maximin - Newcastle Utd
- Jack Grealish - Aston Villa
- Bruno Fernandes - Manchester Utd
- Wilfried Zaha - Crystal Palace
1. Alisson - Liverpool
The players most valuable to their team are not necessarily the best players in the league, but Liverpool's goalkeeper could make a case to be on both lists. Yet his position at No.1 here is due as much to who Liverpool have (or don’t have) to replace him as to his own talents.
Alisson is ranked No.1 in Premier League shot stoppers (84%), while Adrián - Liverpool’s first-choice back-up keeper - languishes at No.22 (62%). When Alisson is replaced by Adrián, confidence in the betting markets tumbles - a lack of confidence seemingly shared by manager Jurgen Klopp's determination that the club sign at least a mildly competent reserve goalkeeper for the next season.
Alisson's appearance on a team sheet drops Liverpool's odds by 15% - no mean feat at the Champion's already short odds.
2. Allan Saint-Maximin - Newcastle Utd
This is Newcastle Utd’s Premier League record this season when Allan has played:
Played 18 Won 10 Drawn 4 Lost 4 - Points 34
Goals For 24 Goals Against 17
This is it when he hasn't:
Played 14 Won 1 Drawn 5 Lost 8 - Points 8
Goals For 9 Goals Against 26
Newcastle's per-game rate when Allan Saint-Maximin started this season (1.89) would earn 72 points over a 38-game season - all but guaranteeing a spot in the Champions League. On the flip side, an average points-per-game rate of just 0.73 when the winger doesn't start would have put the Toon on 28 points over a 38-game season - and relegated.
3. Jack Grealish - Aston Villa
Villa’s skipper has the dubious honour of breaking the record this year for being 'player most fouled in a Premier League season' - with still an incredible nine games to go.
Seems Premier League players were obviously pretty aware of this list already!
The Brummie has played in all but two Premier League games this season and was central to Villa's Great Escape, finishing up just 1 point above the relegation zone.
Ahead of the match against Liverpool in November for which Grealish was injured, Villa's odds lengthened by +15%, highlighting his impact as the club talisman.
4. Bruno Fernandes - Manchester Utd
The Portuguese midfielder may have only played half a season for United, after signing in late January this year, but he improved the Red Devils in the betting markets by an average 12%. One look at the markets proves this 'Bruno Factor'.
Early in February, when United played Chelsea, there was zero difference in how the teams were perceived compared to the first game of the season. By the time Man Utd played Brighton this month, the change compared to the teams' first meeting back in November suggested Fernandes was worth an extra 0.7xG per game to United.
17 July: 2-0 v Crystal Palace. Man Utd supremacy of 1.57 vs 24 Aug: Man Utd supremacy of 1.22 - Bruno Factor: 0.35/goal
14 July: 2-2 v Southampton. Man Utd supremacy of 1.51 (-1.5 HDC @ 1.87) vs Pre-Bruno on 31 Aug: Man Utd supremacy of 0.88 - Bruno Factor: 0.63/goal
5. Wilifried Zaha - Crystal Palace
Zaha's effect on Crystal Palace is reflected by a 10% odds shift when he's absent.
The last Premier League game Zaha didn't start for Crystal Palace was the first game of the season at home to Everton. Palace were clear favourites to win the match before the game, but with Zaha only on the bench, Everton's odds tumbled.
More recently, with Zaha subbed off after 15 minutes in the Liverpool game in June, Palace's win odds instantly lengthened.
The price at KO was Liverpool -1.5 1.95 (Goals 2.75 pk) = 1.62 / 2.92
At 22 minutes, with Zaha off the field, the market price was trading at Liverpool -1.5 2.04 (Goals 2.25 2.04 over) = 1.95 / 2.95
A supremacy change of 0.33.
Quite simply, bettors only have confidence in Palace when Zaha's on the pitch - despite his woeful form, only having one goal and one assist in his last 20 games.
But if he does move on this summer, as expected, there's another name that might be on this list next year: It's actually forward Jordan Ayew's goals that kept Palace up. Without his nine strikes, Palace would have amassed up to 14 fewer points.
Just missing out on the Top Five, but worthy of an honourable mention, at No.6 is Tottenham stalwart Harry Kane - thanks to the scoring form over the last two seasons of his regular replacement, Spurs’ newly-crowned player of the season, Son Heung-Min.
And the most valuable player (in gambling terms) in Premier League history?
Gareth Bale, in his last season at Tottenham.
The Asian betting markets moved at least 25% against Spurs in every match Bale didn't play. This equates to 4/5 moving to 11/8, or 1.80 to 2.40.
That's something that's not been seen before, or since.
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