The ABC FPL Transfer Guide
The Premier League is lurching into its second half with twists and turns aplenty in recent gameweeks and a lot has changed in the ABC Transfer landscape since our last look at the FPL assets across the division. Here’s an update on the fortunes and prospects of those at, or near, our criteria for elite FPL performance which are:
A) Get Returns (5+ FPL points) in at least three of their team’s six most recent matches
B) Get a Haul (10+ FPL points) in at least one of their team’s six most recent matches
C) Play at least 410 of the available 540 minutes
Only three strikers meet the full ABC criteria (one of whom has just picked up a nasty sounding injury). Two more have the returns, but no haul. Alexandre Lacazette is the clear front runner thanks to recent FPL match returns of 8, 7, 12, 2, 2 and 11. He has played at least 80 minutes in each of those except the second, when he still scored. He has the most goals (5) and Big Chances (8) of any striker in FPL over their last 6 matches and is the only regular frontman to have a minutes-per-goal just inside a whole match plus typical injury time (92.8 minutes). And yet, according to LiveFPL.net he is only owned by 1.76% of the Top 10K managers and the official site has him as 6.6% owned overall. His next opponents are Manchester United (who just conceded twice to Sheffield United), Wolves (Tuesday’s clean sheet against a random Chelsea XI was their first since GW7), Villa (who just let Burnley score three) and the chance generating machine that is Leeds. Don’t let any baggage put you off giving him very serious consideration.
Rejoing the elite list after a brief two week stay in GWs 8-9 is Ollie Watkins, though his haul of 11 from a trio of assists at home to Crystal Palace in GW15 will have to be replicated away to Southampton on Saturday evening for him to remain in this company. To the eye he seems more sure of himself in this Villa setup and is getting sharper which he will need to be as he confronts one of the tougher upcoming defensive slates – Southampton, West Ham, Arsenal, Brighton, Leicester – a run where you might have a defender playing against him in each fixture.Embed from Getty Images
Two strikers have been showing the elite consistency we look for if not quite the explosiveness. Michail Antonio‘s reputation precedes him meaning he is already owned by a whopping 61% of Top 10K managers coming off a goal or assist in each of his last three appearances. The other name, which you probably wouldn’t guess even if you were a Brighton supporter, is that of Neil Maupay who bagged goals in alternate gameweeks against West Ham, Wolves and Leeds. With an ownership of two close family members and someone he once signed a pair of boots for any return would be a huge differential, but he very rarely gets more than one goal involvement and is prone to the selection whims of Graham Potter. He’s unlikely to enjoy an encounter with Burnley’s Wall of Silence in three games’ time, but the prospect of facing Spurs and Liverpool before then was a lot more scary a mere 48 hours ago.
In Thursday night’s match Harry Kane suffered ankle damage of some kind so, along with Jamie Vardy, we shan’t be considering him until he’s back playing, though early season Son owners might be wary of José’s initial protestations of significant injury woe for the England captain. The only other striker with even two returns from the last six matches is Patrick Bamford. He is going through a bit of a lean spell, but he is in little danger of losing his place and Leeds are likely to carry on creating umpteen chances in most matches, so there is good reason to hope he’s back on form soon, though hauls are likely to be rare as the team generally spreads the scoring wealth around most of the attack. Those who can remember as far back as GW14 might also be willing to give Dominic Calvert-Lewin another chance as he returns to the Everton side just in time to face Newcastle, Leeds and Fulham.
Some say you couldn’t see Ilkay Gundogan‘s performance against West Bromwich Albion coming. We say his recent FPL match scores had been 10, 3, 11, 9, 3, 8 and 10, he was top for goals scored and shots in the box amongst midfielders across GWs 17-19 with a chance every 22 minutes and behind only Son and De Bruyne for big chances across that period, that reporters like the excellent Sam Lee of The Athletic had confirmed his new very attacking role was likely to continue, that he had been passing the eye test with noteworthy appearances at the sharp end of a perenially potent attack that’s just clicking into gear and that he was about to play the worst defence in the Premier League who had been shipping goals at an alarming rate. So we captained him. But what do we know? Raheem Sterling owners will also have been pleased that his 11 points finally restored him to elite FPL form. Foden is, of course, a wonderful player, but, as with Mahrez, spends too much time on the bench for reliable consideration. Bernardo Silva has stepped into the shoes of the injured KDB and should tick over, but Gundogan Value Gravity is surely inescapable?Embed from Getty Images
Something else that’s hard to ignore is the prolific form of Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka. Like Gundogan, he now has five returns from his last six (13, 6, 8, 3, 9, 13) and, also like him, you’d have expected such stats from team mates costing twice as much and would have gladly have paid top dollar for it. Somehow their bargain prices are acting like some kind of ‘doubt forcefield’ causing FPL managers to discredit what they’re seeing. For our money, Saka is probably the first name on Arteta’s team sheet and Gundogan isn’t going to be seeing a double pivot this side of Sergio Aguero playing 75 minutes. Given that you actually have to have three strikers, the only argument we can think of for not having both assets at less than 6m each is that Lacazette will probably ‘cover’ Saka’s numbers, but we’d understand if you weren’t persuaded by that.
If you combined Harvey Barnes and James Maddison you’d have a sort of FoxZord(tm) that ninjad its way to 20 FPL points every single week before springing off into the local countryside in search of some hounds to chase. As it is, you’ve got The One Who Always Returns and The One Who Booms And Busts (though currently not so often as to deny him elite FPL status). And, just to complicate things, Youri Tielemans completes the MegaFoxZord(tm) by providing the super cool head required to despatch penalties with aplomb (is there another way?). They’re all good, they’re all bang in form and enticingly priced and you should probably have one of them. For more details, see FPLFoxy’s excellent deep dive into all things Leicester.Embed from Getty Images
Up at Old Trafford, Bruno Fernandes (6, 10, 2, 3, 5, 2) and Paul Pogba (3, 5, 11, 3, 9, 2) are capturing the zeitgeist with a tribute to the England playing days of managerial headliners Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard – both a force to be reckoned with in their own right, but with an irritating tendency to mute each other when placed in close proximity on a football field. Both Manchester United men are still achieving elite FPL performance, but currently at the ‘lower’ end of that and when an asset like Fernandes is owned, and typically captained, by literally every FPL manager *except* the trio that own Neil Maupay it does create an outrageously tempting opportunity to bet against the house in search of major rank uplift (thanks, Ilkay).
Joining Gundogan, Saka and Tielemans in the ‘All Elite And Less Than £6.5m Midfield’ are Raphinha and Tomas Soucek. The Leeds attacker (8, 3, 8, 2, 2, 13) has now found his range in the English game and could claim Jack Harrison’s mantle as their ‘Midfielder Most Likely To’ while Soucek (10, 3, 11, 2, 2, 15) has resumed his celebrated portrayal of The Road Runner, out of sight as us hapless FPL managers construct our Acme Spreadsheets which show in great detail exactly why he is doomed to failure only for him to arrive late in the box on the big screen just behind us bellowing “MEEP! MEEP!” as he delivers yet another unstoppable goal and we watch in horror as our expensive laptop flies out of our hands and arcs inexorably towards the nearby fish tank.
In the ‘bubbling under’ category we find Jack Grealish and team mate Bertrand Traore. Grealish (2, 2, 7, 2, 6, 8), though a treat to watch, is on his way down in terms of FPL dividends having not had a haul since GW14, but still producing a return every other game, while Traore (7, 2, 7, 3, 8, 2) is on the way up and, as he begins to look a regular on an attacking team, is yet another cheap midfield asset with the potential to rack up points. Liverpool’s attack finally showed their teeth again in their dismissal of Spurs, but £12.5m Mo Salah (2, 3, 2, 3, 1, 2) has dropped off the ABC radar completely. Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino fizzed back into action on Thursday, but yet more central defensive losses could tip their team back into a struggle to control and create. The same match has also taken its toll on Spurs with the loss of Kane as well as possibly some team belief. The evening finally saw Heung-Min Son fall off our elite list and who knows what the near future holds for his chances of a return?
DEFENDERSEmbed from Getty Images
With all that money you’ve saved on cheap Arsenal and Manchester City attackers you can now fill up on top scoring Arsenal and Manchester City defe-… Ahhhh… Yes…. The Ol’ limit of three players per club thing. The Limster. Limmity Lim Lim Limmy. Limolito. Liminho. I’m drifting… Anyway, even if you’ve gone full GundoLacaSaka there’ll still be a spot or two left for players Holding almost everyone down and Canceloing their attacking hopes and… yes, sorry. Right. Cancelo is the one being a slightly withdrawn KDB for £5.9m, John Stones used to be the cheap one but is now up to £5.2m and owned by everyone who owns Fernandes and doesn’t mind also picking City players while Ruben Dias is The One Giving The Orders and hence least likely to be rotated but costs as much as the occasionally rested but ludicrously attacking inverted-KDB one. Over at the Emirates, Rob Holding is the eyebrow-raisingly top value one, Kieran Tierney is the fragile but assist-likely one, Gabriel is the also fragile but dangerous from set pieces one and Héctor Bellerin chips in with a return or two but is a bit expensive. David Luiz is, was and evermore will was… anybody’s guess.
Across London at the London Stadium of London you’ll find All Purpose Aaron Cresswell who can sort out all your left sided defensive needs and also win the free kick, place the free kick, take the free kick and (probably) sing the free kick. His album also includes the singles ‘Cross For Antonio’ and ‘Take Your Dawson To The Corner’. Unfortunately for him he is imminently to be asked to attempt covers of Mo Salah (Running Down The Wing) and Ross Barkley Is A Villa Man (and so is Jack Grealish) which could bring his string of hits (4, 6, 11, 8, 2, 5) to a temporary halt.
Matt Targett (6, 2, 1, 6, 12, 4) might take his own turn in the spotlight as he continues to benefit from his captain pulling the strings to get him in down the left though, as mentioned above, the next handful of opponents are all pretty dangerous (even Southampton when their best man manages to have their Ings ready).Embed from Getty Images
Everton’s defence has gone all binary: 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1. That’s their goals conceded in each of their nine most recent outings. The two most recent 0s came away from home, which is very promising until you notice that their next three visits are to the relaxing spa venues of Elland Road, Old Trafford and Anfield. Home seems more likely to be where the clean sheet is as Newcastle, Fulham, Southampton and Burnley are the upcoming guests. Michael Keane and Yerry Mina are always ready to provide that extra special service of a thumping set piece header from close range while Lucas Digne, now apparently unleashed as a sort of latter day Leroy Sané, must be spending his newly spare defenders’ training time fine tuning his trusty DCL range finder.
Ben Mee showed in midweek that he is still a) his side’s defensive lynchpin and b) as much fun from set pieces as any of those Everton lads, as Burnley… *checks notes*… added their triumph over much-fancied Aston Villa to their recent humbling of the champions on their own patch. How Burnley keep being touted as a “promising upcoming fixture” for their opponents is beyond us. Stuart Dallas (5, 6, 12, 1, 2, 2) is still clinging on to first class FPL scoring despite Leeds vying with Liverpool for the ‘Most Comprehensively Crocked Set Of Proper Centre Backs’ award while… *checks notes once more*… Trent Alexander-Arnold (2, 6, 2, 6, 2, 14) has finally found his permanent staff badge for the Elite Defenders Club again after losing it in the wash back in September (we *told* him to keep the lanyard in a drawer).Embed from Getty Images
Trent’s team-mate Andy Robertson is still getting returns, though was playing more defensively than usual against Spurs. The Manchester United pair of Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire are the most reliably present of their two-steps-forward-one-step-back rearguard. James at Planet FPL identified (fore)head prefect Lewis Dunk as one of only two ‘nailed’ Brighton players along with Adam Webster, though their upcoming opposition looks formidable. Craig Dawson is yet another good from a dead ball, we are on tenterhooks to see what Thomas Tuchel has in mind for Ben Chilwell, the Southampton lads are a bit scuffed up but still usable and Oleksandr Zinchenko has just brought home four clean sheets in a row but is the fourth choice FPL defender at his club.
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Well, this is fairly straightforward. Have either Ederson or Bernd Leno. Done deal. Ohhh, the pesky limit thing ag-… right, well you’ll have to have somebody else, obviously, and they are annoyingly quite much of a muchness. The guys with their noses in front are Vicente Guaita (3, 9, 7, 10, 0, 2) and David De Gea (10, 3, 6, 7, 3, 1). Both are owned by 5% or fewer of FPL managers and both have attractive upcoming fixtures, especially Guaita who is decent value at £4.8m. Literally half the first choice keepers in the Prem currently have two returns from their last six. If you’re somehow in the mood to swap despite the Big Hitter Injury Festival happening all around us Edouard Mendy and the delightfully bargaindacious Alphonse Areola have the most appealing fixtures.