Attacking Question Marks

With time on my hands and a plan in the works, there are a list of players I am currently targeting to bring in, as well as other who remain on a watch list. Currently without a wild card, activated for GW5, I have taken my first consecutive 4 point hits of the season, in order to shift my 5-2-3 formation to one with more attacking potential. We have already seen the potential of running big at the back with premium wing backs. We have also experienced life with 3 big forwards. Now it appears the tide is turning and fantasy managers turn their attention to bolstering their midfield.

The return of premium stars, Eden Hazard and Alexis Sanchez to the pitch hasn’t seen fantasy managers flocking to bring either in currently with TSB% of 2.8 and 5.1 respectively. Sanchez at £11.8 and Hazard at £10.6 come with a heavy price tag, while other midfielders have posted better returns at a cut rate. We don’t have to look much past Man City, who have 6 midfielders with TSB% 20.1 or greater, all coming at £10.1 or less. Gameweek 12 we may also see the return of Paul Pogba, coming back from injury after missing 7 weeks after posting 31 points through 4 game weeks. At £8.1, he’s one to watch, as he was key to Man United’s dominant play to start the season.

As mentioned, Man City players dominate the midfield scoring with Leroy Sané (73), Kevin De Bruyne (64), Raheem Sterling (62) and David Silva (61) all coming in £8.5 or less. As we have already seen, Pep’s rotation has been unpredictable at best. Gameweek 8, Sterling came off a 15-point haul only to be benched the following week. Leroy Sané has been the recent darling, starting the last 6 weeks, posting 4 double digit returns, but drawing no points last week against Arsenal. I have chosen not to play Pep’s roulette, due to the uncertainty of 7 midfielders vying for 5 starting positions, I would rather start a midfielder who is assured to get 90 minutes on the pitch.

While that decision limits my midfield option, it should allow me 3-4 premium midfielders, all of whom should play the full 90 minutes. Leading the way, Liverpool’s Mohammad Salah. Honestly, I didn’t think he would flourish like he has to start the season coming over from AS Roma. His 72 points is second overall in the league and with a great run of fixtures through GW22, he is nearly “essential” status. Liverpool also welcomed back Sadio Mané from injury, returning 2 assists. After the international break, the band should be back together as Philippe Coutinho returns to fitness.

While Liverpool appears to be hitting stride, there is some unrest with Spurs. Injuries (or Poch injuries) to Dele Alli, Harry Winks and Harry Kane, force them to miss their international duties, in order to be fit when Spurs visit the Gunners out of the break. Their lack of attacking returns and inconsistency is a concern. Fixtures against Burnley, Swansea City, Bournemouth and Crystal Palace saw Spurs score just 4 goals. All these fixtures appeared primed for attacking points, yet Spurs did just enough to pick up the victory.

Harry Kane, £12.6 is tricky. At his price, fantasy managers believe he should be outscoring all other players this season. At 65 points, he’s behind Sané, Salah and Azpilicueta on the season. More concerning, his inconsistency at Wembley and against weaker teams, as witnessed by 4 no returns. Yet 38.6% of fantasy managers have Kane leading their attack, second to the struggling Romelu Lukaku, who’s still owned by 47.6% of teams. From my point of view, I am willing to hold the premium forward, for his ability and dynamic potential he carries. Four double digit returns on the season, as well as memories of how he finished the 2016/17 season still have him in favor with me. However, I will think twice before I tap him to captain my squad.

The injury to Alli could be a blessing, as he’s got a single return in the last 8 fixtures. However, this is similar to how he performed last season with just 3 goals through 12 games before returning in 8 of the next 10! His midfield partner, Christian Eriksen is quickly falling out of favor. No returns in his last 3 fixtures with his last assist way back in GW2! His saving grace, at the moment, he’s posted 3 goals but a deeper lying position is a cause for concern due to knocks to Dembele and Winks. At £9.6 and £9.3 for Alli and further lack of returns and fantasy mangers will be offloading the Spurs duo.

Up front, one thing is for sure, all the forwards appear equal with 4 points separating Sergio Agüero, Harry Kane, Romelu Lukaku and Alvaro Morata. Each bring some question to their starting role. In Agüero fantasy managers must deal with Pep’s rotation, while Kane, as previously mentioned has been inconsistent as the leagues highest priced player. Lukaku labelled as a “flat track bully” has not returned a goal in his last 4 (or 7 in all competitions) games, 3 of which were on the road. Morata appears to have returned to favor of some FPL managers after a game winning goal against Man United last weekend, but he was coming off goalless run of 4 games.

Moving forward Lukaku has 3 good fixtures; NEW/BHA/wat, while Agüero has lei/hud/SOU/WHM in the next 4. Kane with a question mark faces ars/WBA/lei/wat/STO/BHA, 3 fixtures against weaker teams. Morata may have the best long term outlook; wba/liv/SWA/NEW/whm/hud/SOU/eve/BHA/STO.

While I considered a 4-5-1 or a 5-4-1 formation, it appears I will have Morata in my squad by GW14 to take advantage of that run of fixtures. He will partner with Kane, who will be on a short leash. Should he fail to return, he could be playing on borrowed time.

With 11 gameweeks in the book, the FPL is still without a template, however there are a few essential players coming to the forefront. Using a TSB% of 30 would provide fantasy managers with David De Gea, Mohammad Salah, Romelu Lukaku and Harry Kane as “must have” players in our template. However ownership doesn’t draw a complete picture. Budget midfielders have played a important role, as this season’s Etienne Capoue. We will take a look at those potential investments in the upcoming article.

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