Beesotted contributor David Anderson (@DavidAnderson_1) pits Brentford midfielder Saïd Benrahma against Nottingham Forest attacking midfielder João Carvalho as we look forward to the match between the two sides at the weekend
Forest welcome The Bees to the City Ground in which defeat for The Tricky Trees would make it three losses out of four since Martin O’Neill’s emotional return to the club.
Since arriving, the Ex Ireland Manager has tweaked the forward line, benching Grabban and Carvalho and opting for the crudeness of 35 year old Daryl Murphy and Guedioura.
This tactic may appear to have been a genius move from O’Neill, with Forest scoring three goals and beating Wigan 3-1. But looking at underlying performance (xG), Wigan totally dominated the 90 minutes and Forest capitalized with some spectacularly fortunate, low value goals.
O’Neill could very realistically be looking at three out of three losses to date.
So we move to our player comparison and this week’s focus features two creative forces behind a lot of the good work both sides produce.
Having recently fallen foul to O’Neills recent selection statements, how has Portuguese U21 star João Carvalho fared this year when stacked up against Brentford’s Algerian wing wizard, Benrahma.
Age & Height
Carvalho – 21
Benrahma – 23
Both 5ft 8in
Minutes in Championship
Carvalho – 2056
Benrahma – 1414
Contribution to Goals & Assists
3 goals, 6 assists . Directly involved in 9 goals
4 goals, 9 assists . Directly involved in 13 goals
WhoScored Overall score
Carvalho – 6.68
Benrahma – 7.06
Carvalho – 1
Benrahma – 5
Key passes p90
Carvalho – 1.4
Benrahma – 3
39% – 4.1 of which 1.6 are successful
54% – 5.8 of which 3.1 are successful
Carvalho – 1.2
Benrahma – 3.9
Touches in the box P90
Carvalho – 1.84
Benrahma – 4.58
Carvalho – Ariel duels. Defensive contribution
Benrahma – Discipline. Ariel duels
Carvalho – £12million
Benrahma – €3m according to L’Equippe
Benrahma is two years Carvalho’s senior but both players are young – learning and playing in their first seasons in the Championship – a foreign league for both players. The league is relentless in style so you’d expect a settling in period, especially with players of these ages.
The two have taken to the league extremely well posting impressive numbers and heavily contributing to their new employer’s attacking output.
Carvalho is represented by Super-Agent, Jorge Mendes. With that name, an inflated price usually follows around said player. At £12million, you’re getting an asset destined for full international football with plenty of resale value built in. But is it value for money right now?
As a dangerous No.10, his role is to affect the game offensively wherever he can. At 21, he is of no age at all. And one would expect the performance numbers of Carvalho likely to increase with his own development and an in an improving side.
The big questions surround Martin O’Neill and his playing style with people asking whether he is likely to have the same faith in Carvalho shown by Karanka. Early team selections point to that not being the case.
It would be interesting to hear Jorge Mendes’ personal thoughts on the O’Neill appointment as he’ll want his talented young creative force to look as expressive as possible in a side playing beautiful football thereby increasing the book value of his player.
In Benrahma, Brentford look to have signed an exceptional attacking talent who is already looking like one of the best attackers in the league. Operating mainly from the left and cutting in on his right foot to devastating effect, he is proving almost impossible to stop for 90 mins (top for average shots P90 for players with over 15 appearances)
In every one of the measures we’ve focussed on above, Benrahma is outperforming Carvalho.
He’s directly involved in more goals. He is more effective with his dribbling. And because of this, we can comfortably call him the more creative player.
Projections are looking largely positive for the two players and injury permitting, both are sure to have successful careers.
In the short term, Carvalho has to force his way into O’Neill’s ideas and lodge himself back into the side. He’s a creative spark and is surely needed by Forest as this week’s opponents, Brentford, are offering opposition teams fewer chances in the last few weeks than they did under previous manager Dean Smith.
A young magician may be exactly what is required to open the Brentford back door.
Benrahma on the other hand is guaranteed to start for Brentford with his upturn in form directly linked to the brilliant run The Bees are currently on (10 undefeated in all comps)
Benrahma has either scored or assisted at least once in his last three league matches, scoring a perfect 10 on Whoscored.com in his last outing against Blackburn.
Both have their weaknesses. Ariel duels are not either player’s forte. Whereas Benrahma has to watch his discipline and Carvalho has to work harder on his defensive contribution to the team.
With Saïd Benrahma and João Carvalho, we’ll excitedly await to see which player has the greater impact on this game. All the signs point to Benrahma. But if he is given the chance, Carvalho has a point to prove. And has the skills to do it.
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