The week in Fantasy Premier League: #Kanexit fallout, budget strikers and Firmino V Coutinho

Two hat-tricks later and those questions about whether Harry Kane is worth that £12.8m outlay have been answered in some style.

Those who had faith enough to not only keep, but also captain the Spurs man reaped the rewards, as the rest were left to ponder what might have been.

Yet although would be quite a stretch to call any FPL strategy that ends up sacrificing consecutive hat-tricks a success, some #kanexiters were quick to point out that they still managed a respectable score - largely due to respectable performances from new recruits such as Aguero, Firmino and Alonso.

Those brave enough to have sold Kane neither want nor require any pity, however - the balance between stubbornness and patience is key in FPL, and too much of either can be punished in any given week.

The saga had one more twist in the tale, however.  Soon after Kane added another match ball to his collection, he became the most transferred-in player in the game - despite having no fixture to play in GW21!

No doubt triggered by greener FPL managers, perhaps a few of the more experienced managers also fell victim to the mass hysteria and bought him prematurely, fearing that a likely price rise ahead of Double Gameweek 22?

Sanity seems to have been restored to the market since - although at the time of writing, Kane still stands at around 20,000 net transfers in during this Gameweek. Go figure.

However it worked out for you, this last week will live long in FPL folklore, echoing through the decades as a cautionary tale that we will earnestly recount to our bored grandchildren around crackling 4D fire simulation units.

As the dust settles, it’s worth remembering why so many managers chose #kanexit - to fund the ever-growing range of tantalising options in midfield.

Is the Power 5 midfield realistic?

 

By now it’s clear that the combination of value, consistency and explosive points potential offered by some midfielders has become increasingly hard to resist. Everyone wants five in midfield, but there’s more than one way to crack an egg.

Assuming Kane is now a part of all of our long-term plans, where to go from here largely depends on your attitude to the importance of concepts like squad fluidity and value for money in FPL - and that brings us neatly on to one Ruben Loftus-Cheek (CRY, 4.6).

  

Although he hasn’t quite become the fourth-midfielder we were hoping he’d become, ‘RLC’ is primed to usurp 2014/15-era George Boyd as the best budget midfielder in FPL history.

His potential means he can be played and his price means he can be benched - so having him on board opens the door to a range of formations including 3-5-2, 4-5-1 and 4-4-2, depending on Palace fixture difficulty.

Another option is to go all-out with a Power 5 midfield - but that almost certainly means sacrificing value-for-money elsewhere.

So who makes up this ideal midfield? Well, Mo Salah (LIV, 10.1) is more or less essential and is now owned by 97.5% of teams in the Top 10,000 worldwide, and Raheem Sterling (MCI, 8.8) has emerged as the unlikely standout choice in the Man City midfield.

However, generating the cash to squeeze the likes of Kevin De Bruyne (MCI, 10.3), Eden Hazard (10.8), Alexis Sánchez (ARS, 11.8) and Philippe Coutinho (LIV, 9.2) means getting some cheap attackers to fill one or even two forward slots - and there’s little to get excited about here.

For weeks, Dominic Calvert-Lewin (EVE, 5.5) has been a reasonable default choice, but an exit strategy will soon be required here. Big Sam recently revealed that the youngster was “suffering from a bit of fatigue” and “needs a bit of a rest” - before agreeing a £25m deal for Turkey striker Cenk Tosun.

Starting at the bottom, Collin Quaner (HUD, 4.6) is dirt cheap and has started Huddersfield’s last three.

Elsewhere, a barren run since GW11 hasn’t shaken Mark Hughes’ faith in Peter Crouch (STO, 4.9). Huddersfield’s Laurent Depoitre (HUD, 5.4) has been getting on the scoresheet lately, and could be an option if you’re prepared to put his lack of minutes down to Christmas squad rotation.

Jordan Ayew (SWA, 5.0) could continue his run of starts if he finds favour with Swansea’s new boss Carlos Carvalhal, although with just two goals in 1,505 minutes of football this season, he’s a cheap enabler and little else.

Be warned - it could be a hard slog owning two of these players. They can drift in and out of their club sides, and have little points potential even when picked. Having a budget defender or midfielder coming off your bench with the chance of an assist or a lucky clean sheet is a far more comfortable prospect.

All of which means splashing out for a mid-priced second striker, which raises a key question…

 

Firmino V Coutinho

 

Now that Charlie Austin has become the most emphatically unavailable player ever, his demise has once again created a wasteland of value options up front.

Wayne Rooney (EVE, 7.5) is facing tough fixtures, so now anyone looking for the prospect of a few goals below the £10m range is now left with a choice between Jamie Vardy (LEI, 8.6) and Roberto Firmino (LIV, 8.8) - if you can even call it that after the Brazilian’s double-digit hauls in each of his last three matches.

But with Mo Salah already a fixture in our squads, the question now is whether to also bring Coutinho into the mix.

His impressive returns aside, he has looked noticeably happier in recent matches.

This may well be because a deal with Barcelona has been done for next season, but either way, it bodes well for his FPL prospects in this one.

  

Having Salah, Coutinho and Firmino may seem appealing, but having three attackers from the same team is a high-risk strategy. The weeks where Liverpool score one or no goals - as has happened eight times already - will most likely saddle you with a poor Gameweek with just a single match played.

It also rules out getting one of Andrew Robertson (LIV, 4.6) or Alberto Moreno (LIV, 4.5) as a cheap route into an improving Reds defence.

A straight comparison between the Brazilian pair would seem to favour Coutinho - but such is the strange FPL world we find ourselves in at the moment, the “advantage” Firmino enjoys over his teammate is simply that he fills one of those troublesome forward slots.

QUICK TIP

 

Maybe they’ve just been having a better season than the rest of us, but a surprising amount of FPL managers have yet to use their first wildcard.

Remember folks - it’s a use-it-or-lose-it chip, and you have just hours left to avail of it!

BUY

 

With his share of free kick duties and tendency to loiter with intent around the opponent’s box, Marcus Alonso (CHE, 7.2) is getting harder to ignore.

Comfortably top of pretty much any attacking stats table that matters among defenders in the last four Gameweeks, he has richly rewarded his owners in that time.

 

There should be plenty of clean sheets in the offing too, with Arsenal alone providing any significant risk to the Blues backline right up until GW28.

Keep an eye out too for John Stones (MCI, 5.4), who is quickly nearing a return to a City defence that has kept 10 clean sheets so far this season.

TRY

 

As FPL managers, we can often be guilty of pigeonholing certain players, and a reluctance to alter that perception can cost us precious points. This is especially true in the case of young players like Jesse Lingard (MUN, 6.1).

His failure to complete 90 minutes since GW9 hasn’t helped him shed his reputation as an inconsistent fringe player, but when you’re playing as an attacking central midfielder for United and clocking four double-digit returns in seven matches, this quickly loses relevance.

A mooted move for Juventus star Paulo Dybala could yet dent his long-term appeal, but with injury-hit Southampton as well as Everton and Stoke up next for United, it’s hard to imagine Lingard failing to reward a modest £6.1m investment before the January deals are done.

Joe Allen (STO, 5.1) is worth a look too - he’s performed well in his new attacking role in Stoke’s central midfield.

 

GOODBYE

 

Bournemouth and Southampton defenders are not among the most widely owned in the game, but any remaining in your squad should be jettisoned immediately.

  

Gameweek 13 was the last time either of them managed a clean sheet, and they’ve been shipping an alarming amount of goals of late. Recent injuries to key players will hardly improve matters.


 

Join the conversation - comment here

House Rules for comments - FAQ - Important message for commenters


Most Read in Sport