These articles are dual-focused, analysing a player’s role within their club from a footballing perspective before considering whether that information translates into them being a viable consideration for our FPL teams. This instalment discusses Wolves forward Raul Jimenez.
Whilst teammate Diogo Jota took half a season to find his feet in the Premier League, Raul Jimenez hit the ground running straight away with a goal on his debut against Everton. That was the first of 17 goals he managed during the 2018/19 season, helping newly promoted Wolves into next season’s Europa League and the cusp of an FA Cup Final.
As an ever present in the Premier League, Jimenez was very much the focal point of Wolves’ attack throughout the season. His role at the top end of the pitch was clear – getting into dangerous positions in order to score or set up a teammate. This resulted in only nine Premier League players managing more than his total of 178 touches inside the box in the season just gone.
However, Jimenez also carries huge importance in the transitional and defensive phases of the game. The effectiveness of his hold up play became increasingly apparent as the season progressed, gradually contributing to Diogo Jota’s more prominent role as Jimenez himself and their partnership grew in confidence. Their goalscoring record goes without saying, but the way they combine to begin counter-attacks, hound opponents out of possession and contribute defensively often goes under the radar.
Adept in both boxes, Jimenez was able to complete 39 clearances, joint second amongst forwards behind Aleksandar Mitrovic. He again finds himself inside the top three Premier League listed forwards for interceptions, cutting out opposition attacks on 26 occasions, only behind Junior Hoilett and Ayoze Perez. During a time that so much emphasis is placed on pressing, having a forward like Jimenez who is able to defend high up the pitch and regain possession is vital.
Contributions like these do not directly come into the equation in FPL, however it is often important to consider the all round game of a player when assessing their likelihood of remaining in the team during a period of poor form. That is of course backed up by Wolves’ faith in the striker, having secured his services on a permanent basis over a month before the end of the 2018/19 season. A quick glance at Everton’s failed attempts to replace Romelu Lukaku over the past two years is the perfect indication that for sides chasing European football, finding a proven Premier League goalscorer without breaking the bank is very difficult.
Jimenez is exactly that player and yet another example of how well the club have recruited in recent seasons. Not only did he score 13 Premier League goals in his debut season, but this was backed up by with his involvement in Wolves’ play. For total shots (111), attempts in the box (88) and expected goals (15.20), Jimenez ranked inside the top five Premier League players – only Salah and Aguero were able to do likewise. That definitely would not have been expected by many outsiders when he signed a year ago. With an innate ability to get into goalscoring positions and convert chances on a regular basis, there is no reason why Jimenez cannot be back amongst the goals in 2019/20.
Therefore, Jimenez has the capability to continue his form from last season in the defensive, offensive and transitional phases of the game. Particularly impressive is his proficiency in getting into goalscoring positions, that was not matched by many Premier League players in 2018/19.
However even despite very impressive underlying numbers, Jimenez could struggle to equal or better his 13 goal and 181 FPL point campaign of 2018/19. This is in view of the fact that he and Jota may occasionally not be selected as pair due to the additional matches Wolves face as Europa League participants. Both players bring the best out of each other and if one is left out for a particular fixture, it is fair to assume that the other will not be as productive on the pitch.
Nonetheless, given how well Jimenez performed last season in all aspects of the game, it would certainly be a risk to overlook him in FPL. Whilst ownership numbers are not hugely important so early in pre-season, an asset of his calibre, at his price and if in 30-40% of teams, would be close to impossible to ignore.