The midweek Premier League fixtures threw up interesting results for Fantasy Premier League managers as those who like to experiment were more likely to succeed than those who stuck with conventional picks.
Kevin de Bruyne was the only man selected by more than 10 percent of FPL managers to make it to the Dream Team, as Theo Walcott, Emre Can, Nick Pope, Nathan Ake and Kieran Trippier made it a memorable gameweek for the mavericks that like to dabble in the differential market.
One man, in particular, is slowly but surely turning FPL heads on his return from injury.
Wilson’s good run benefits FPL backers
To fight back from one career-threatening injury is brave enough, to return from two and make it count like Callum Wilson seems to be doing is remarkable.
No one has benefitted from Eddie Howe’s tweaks to the Bournemouth set-up than the English striker as he made it to the Dream Team for the second time in three weeks.
After a hat-trick in gameweek 12 against Huddersfield, Wilson went quiet till gameweek 20, where he bagged a goal against West Ham. In his last six gameweeks, the Englishman has fetched 41 points, courtesy of four goals and two assists.
More importantly, his two double-figure totals have come against Arsenal and Chelsea, in weeks when managers were likely to bench Wilson.
For Wilson, there’s more at stake than just Premier League survival for his team. His form is peaking at the right moment, meaning that the only man ahead of him, Sergio Aguero, is priced double that of the Bournemouth forward.
As the race to be back-up to Harry Kane heats up, Wilson is certainly making a case for his inclusion with some fine hold-up play and incisive finishing. If seven goals and two assists in 15 games since his return from injury are an indicator of his progress under Howe, that plane to Russia might just a seat with his name on it.
Hazard’s erratic form a worry
Eden Hazard, normally one of the most reliable faces in the game, has been underwhelming by his own lofty standards this season. Goals and assists have come in patches, but much like Chelsea’s own form, he’s just not been consistent enough.
Now in his sixth season of English football, the Belgian is headed for his second-lowest points total ever, after the disastrous season of 2015-16. Despite having missed the first three games through injury, Hazard has notched a goal or an assist on only eight occasions this term.
The flip-side to dropping players like Hazard is their tendency to explode but in the last 13 gameweeks, on only five occasions has he scored or assisted a goal. Many transferred him in for Chelsea’s home game against Bournemouth, but the 3-0 loss merely prolonged the agonies of Hazard owners this season.
All eight midfielders with a higher total than the Chelsea wide midfielder have a lower price than him and barring Dele Alli, a higher points-to-minutes ratio than him. Others such as Anthony Martial, David Silva, Willian and Jesse Lingard have also done more more justice to their time on the pitch than the Belgian.
At 10.7, it’s not time to drop Hazard just yet but if you do have him in your team for more than 10 gameweeks now, maybe it’s time for a re-think or a swap with a cheaper, more effective option. Raheem Sterling and Christian Eriksen present interesting alternatives.
Laporte may be fix for City defence
A few weeks back, this column had advocated against City defenders due to the error-prone re-emergence of John Stones. With Aymeric Laporte’s club-record acquisition from Athletic Bilbao, those problems may be a thing of the past as Laporte slotted in effortlessly alongside Nicolas Otamendi.
The obvious winners in this case are Kyle Walker owners, as they can look forward to a clean sheet alongside an assist or two. Those plumping for Ederson over David de Gea or Nick Pope are blessed as well, with the Brazilian having one of the safest pair of hands in the division.
The losers? Stones, obviously, as Guardiola’s patience runs thin with the young English centre-back. Vincent Kompany’s injury troubles could mean the end of his time at the Etihad. Laporte at 5.5 and Oleksandr Zinchenko at 5, also look good value for money in a new-look City defence.
Sturridge, Walcott, Benteke, Vardy, Sanchez: the differentials
West Brom managed to pull a mini-coup of sorts by signing Liverpool forward Daniel Sturridge. Body popping aside, the obvious benefits of signing a player of his calibre could be felt in his link-up play with forward Jay Rodriguez.
As with Wilson, both stand an outside chance for Russia 2018 but another man who has made a switch and reaping massive benefits is Walcott. His two-goal return last week was the first time he netted a brace since 2016 and although a return to the Emirates is on the cards this week, the former Arsenal man could be an invaluable long-term addition before a potentially sudden price rise.
Christian Benteke’s form isn’t too shabby going into a home fixture against Newcastle as his last four returns for Crystal Palace read 5, 5, 5, 8. In Riyad Mahrez’s absence, Jamie Vardy might have to do the heavy lifting and although not as prolific as Leicester’s title-winning season, 11 goals this term is a decent return for a club in mid-table.
Last, but not the least, Alexis Sanchez didn’t have the best of starts for Manchester United but could be in the thick of things against a Huddersfield team going through the motions. A wounded United could easily run riot at Old Trafford and expect the Chilean to get involved in some goal-scoring action as Jose Mourinho’s men look to bounce back from a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Tottenham Hotspur.
For the second week in a row, we would recommend staying away from the obvious obsession that is Harry Kane as Spurs travel to Liverpool. Now, the Reds have conceded a fair few this season but if anyone should be tipped to score in this match, it should be that man Mohamed Salah.
However, this column is obliged to go with form favourite Aguero for the second gameweek running as a trip to Turf Moor could mean trouble for Sean Dyche’s Burnley. For all of Kane’s exploits this season, Aguero stands only four goals and 18 points behind the Englishman and could close the gap further this weekend.
As long as Gabriel Jesus and Leroy Sane remain on the sidelines due to injury, a greater share of the goalscoring duties fall on the Argentine’s head which mean that more play is likely to go through City’s all-time leading goalscorer.
Risk-takers may involve Roberto Firmino or even Olivier Giroud, who is likely to start his first Chelsea game against Watford. It will be interesting to see how the latter syncs up with Hazard, as the Frenchman will be expected to hit the ground running owing to Alvaro Morata’s wretched form.
For those with an even greater risk appetite, Wilson or even a rejuvenated Jordan Ayew, with four goals in his last seven might present a tempting option.
Updated Date: Feb 03, 2018 15:58 PM