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Ricardo Pereira and Sead Kolašinac are two of the most-transferred in Fantasy Premier League defenders ahead of Gameweek 27. And from the quickest glean of their statistics, it’s easy to see why. Both have six assists, both are byline-hugging wing-backs, and both cost less than £5.5m.

So, if you currently own neither but have both on your radar, do you opt for one, or both? If the answer to the second question is no, but the answer to the first question is yes, then which one gets the nod?

Now that the Blank Gameweek 31 fixtures have been confirmed, we know that Kolašinac is without a fixture, whereas Pereira and Leicester have a GW31 fixture vs. Burnley (A). That’s a significant tick in the Pereira column.

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But Kolašinac has impressed going forward – it’s worth remembering the Bosnian cost £6m in FPL last season, and with good reason – his six assists this season have come in just 1290 minutes, whereas Pereira’s six have come in 2043.

With Premier League fantasy football managers now in planning overdrive for the blank and double gameweeks, transfer focus is no doubt geared towards chips and fielding 11 players in the blanks. But that doesn’t mean that FPL statistics shouldn’t still be central to your strategy, so let’s run the numbers of Pereira vs. Kolašinac in greater detail.

Including Blank Gameweek 31, who has the best fixtures?

TeamGW27GW28GW29GW30GW31
ArsenalSOTBOUtotMUN
LeicesterCPLBRIwatFULbur

Note: Mobile readers can scroll table horizontally.

From a fixtures perspective – at least over the next five games – Pereira is the clear winner.

Three home games to lower to mid-table opposition and two winnable away games await the Foxes, with that game against the Burnley the all-important GW31 fixture.

Arsenal, meanwhile, have two excellent fixtures forthcoming, then two daunting matches vs. top-six rivals, followed by their GW31 blank.

If you’re basing Pereira vs. Kolašinac on fixtures, it’s a no-contest. 1-0 Pereira. But just because Kolašinac has lost his clean sheet already here, as evidenced by his attacking stats, he’s far from out of the running.

In fantasy football, attack is the best defence

Only three defenders have made more assists than Pereira and Kolašinac this season, and a look at their heat maps below shows us how advanced and positionally similar they are.

These heat maps illustrate both Pereira and Kolašinac’s touches across their last six matches. Both spend very little time defending in and around their penalty areas; their primary thoughts are to progress further up the pitch.

Interestingly, you can see that once presented with a situation where they could be involved in a goal their intentions differ. Kolašinac breaks into the box and more often than not drills the ball across goal for a team-mate, while Pereira tends to cut inside and either fizz in a cross or take aim himself. This possibly explains why Pereira has two goals this season. Conversely, Kolašinac is yet to get off the mark in the Premier League this season.

Touch Heatmaps for Sead Kolasinac & Ricardo Pereira

Data supplied by Opta.

However, remember that Kolašinac has played almost half of the minutes of Pereira and it makes the following stat all the more impressive: while the Leicester full-back has created 6 big chances as defined by Opta, Kolašinac has created 7.

Kolašinac also has the second-highest xA among defenders (5.18); conversely, Pereira’s xA of 2.83 is perhaps surprisingly low given his recorded FPL assists.

Kolašinac edges other attacking stats too. Unsurprisingly, his comparatively fewer minutes than Pereira means he bests the Foxes man for assists per 90 minutes (0.28 v 0.18) as well as xA90 (0.36 v 0.12)

However, Pereira actually trumps Kolašinac for attacking markers over the last five games. His xG of 0.16 and xA of 1.29 outmatch Kolašinac’s xG of 0.14 and xA of 0.41.

Given their inexpensiveness, both offer unreasonably good attacking value. But given his impressive stats per minutes played, Kolašinac just edges it.

Do their defensive stats suggest FPL clean sheets?

This section may shock you. Unless you’re fully abreast of how poor Arsenal are defensively, in which case set your face back to purely entertained.

Defensively, this is a clear win for Pereira. Leicester (34) have conceded fewer goals than Arsenal (37), and the Foxes’ xGA of 31.42 suggests they’ve been unlucky to have conceded as many as they have. In contrast, Arsenal’s xGA of 37.81 suggests they should have let more in. The Gunners have the worst defensive record in the top eight.

Arsenal have also conceded 16 more goal attempts than Leicester this season (86 v 70), while the Foxes’ minutes per chance conceded of 8.1 is far better than Arsenal’s 6.7.

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Leicester do concede to Arsenal on a couple of defensive stats though. The Londoners have conceded three fewer goal attempts in the box (47) than Leicester (50), and concede a big chance every 57.2 minutes compared to every 56.9 minutes with Leicester.

Remember back in paragraph eight where we looked at those daunting fixtures of Arsenal’s? Of course, you do. It’s hard to fancy the Gunners’ clean sheet likelihood even prior to their fixtures hardening up in GW29, and if your motivation for bringing in Kolašinac is clean sheets, you might want to look elsewhere.

Who should I bring in for Gameweek 27 onwards?

Kolašinac has two great fixtures approaching, both at home, vs. Southampton and Bournemouth. Two clean sheets should be the expectation from an Arsenal perspective, but the Gunners have kept the ball out just once in 10 league games. That’s not the defensive form I’d personally risk backing. But Kolašinac’s traction engine drive down the left side, and excellent attacking stats so far, meaning he’ll most likely be a chief forward threat over the next fortnight.

However, when the Gunners’ fixtures turn sour from GW29, Kolašinac’s appeal diminishes significantly. Clean sheets will be even more unlikely and his attacking threat will likely be inhibited.

This is why Pereira is the pick here. Leicester’s fixtures are kinder, the Foxes are better defensively, and while the Portuguese may come up short in height and attacking stats compared to Kolašinac, his goal contribution value is still fantastic for his price. That he often plays out of position is the icing on the budget wing-back cake.

Ultimately, Pereira’s involvement in both BGW31 and BGW33 is significant too.

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