The week in Fantasy Premier League: Selling too soon, Kane V Aguero and the Christensen curse

Gameweek 24 had an air of nostalgia for Fantasy Premier League managers, as we watched former legends of the game come to the fore again.

A hat-trick from Sergio Aguero (MCI, 11.8) sparked fond memories of the ‘always captain Kun’ days when we barely had to think about who to put the armband on each week.

A 16-point return saw Eden Hazard (CHE, 10.6) carry on another FPL tradition as he once again reminded angry former owners why they brought him in the first place - right before another barren spell.

The week also saw a flurry of excitement around a rare swap deal that saw Alexis Sanchez (MUN, 11.7) and Henrikh Mkhitaryan (ARS, 7.6) suddenly emerge as viable FPL options once more.

Both have the potential to emerge as important differentials in the weeks ahead, but with Sanchez’s difficult fixture and Mkhitaryan’s lack of match fitness, we can afford to hold fire for another week at least.

Indeed, with the January transfer window closing at 11pm on Wednesday, if there’s ever a time to bank your transfer, this is surely it.

Of course, that’s a tough ask for the numerous managers who were hit with a mini injury/suspension crisis over the past week or so.

Although long-term absentees (particularly more expensive casualties like Marko Arnautovic), need to be jettisoned, there are some curious names among the list of most-transferred-out players.

Leaving so soon?

 

Heung-Min Son (TOT, 8.2) may face some challenging fixtures on paper, but his home form is as good as anyone’s right now, and the defences of Liverpool and Arsenal are hardly watertight.

He is now very much a first-team player, and when we look back at the end of the season, a mere £8.2m for a nailed-on Spurs attacking midfielder will be seen as superb value.

Perhaps prompted by the arrival of  Sanchez and his curious omission from Jose Mourinho’s list of "high quality" players, Jesse Lingard (MUN, 6.3) has been abandoned by over 110,000 FPL managers.

We have yet to see how Sanchez fits into a full-strength United set-up, however. Lingard could yet return to being the value pick he promised to be and deserves at least one more week in our squads until we know for sure.

Given the bizarre set of circumstances that has seen Andreas Christensen (CHE, 5.5) avoid FPL points in a solid Chelsea defence, it’s understandable that some owners feel they’ve had enough.

However, unless Conte actually trying to win an FPL mini-league himself, surely this unfortunate pattern can’t continue much longer.

Christensen still has a reasonable claim on a Chelsea starting berth, and shouldn’t be at the top of anyone’s transfer-out list.

Despite being touting him as an outside captaincy choice for GW25 by some, Raheem Sterling (MCI, 8.9) has endured a drop in ownership. With 39 points in his last four home league matches, sellers can expect to be punished when an injury-hit West Brom defence travel to the Etihad on Wednesday.

Big names all - but none stand out as much as the player dumped by almost 100,000 managers already - Harry Kane.

Kane or Aguero?

 

We’ve been here before, haven’t we?

The mere mention of the term "Kanexit" is enough to send a shiver down the spine of many unfortunate FPL bosses after the Spurs man clocked back-to-back hat-tricks as they looked on in horror.

The situation is different this time. The GW22 exodus was on the back of some poor returns in his previous outings - but that is hardly the case now.

Now, after Sergio Aguero’s haircut set his owners on the path to a massive points haul last week, many have decided that they need him in their team, and have opted to fund it by sacrificing Kane - for the time being, at least.

When you consider Aguero’s security of starts until the return of Gabriel Jesus, alongside three upcoming “red difficulty” fixtures for Kane, the timing seems perfect for this temporary swap.

However, although coming up against the Man United defence is never an easy fixture for anyone, Arsenal and Liverpool may not turn out be as difficult a challenge for Kane as they first appear.

If Aguero significantly outperforms Kane over the three weeks, it will be seen as a canny move. If not, managers will have wasted two free transfers, potentially some team value, and lost out on points from Kane, or some of the other names mentioned above, on what was a temporary measure.

If you’re looking for an alternative to fill those troublesome forward slots, the January transfer window has seen a whole new breed of budget and mid-priced strikers emerge, all practically guaranteed to disappoint and frustrate us in the weeks ahead.

Forwards on the move

 

If you’ve been struggling to fill that third striker spot this season, don’t worry - it’s not you, it’s them!

Some great research on Fantasy Football Scout has shown that the value offered by forwards costing £9.5 and below has fallen off a cliff this season.

Those happy to start two or even one striker from now on should be looking to spend as little as possible on a third, while still leaving the door open for some lucky bench points.

Ironically, in terms of points per game per million (ppgpm) Omar Niasse (EVE, 4.7) is comfortably the best value forward in the game.

He was the ace up the sleeve for many patient FPL managers waiting for a transfer out of Everton.

Now, after his late goal against West Brom reminded Big Sam of his worth, he looks doomed to limited minutes from the Toffees bench.

Aleksandar Mitrovic (NEW, 4.7) would benefit from a move, but Rafa seems unwilling to sell to relegation rivals.

Brighton may seem an unlikely place to look for attacking players, but Chris Hughton looks like he’s about to shift the emphasis to attack as they look to secure more three-pointers.

Leonardo Ulloa (LEI, 4.8) could be ideal if a proposed move happens.

He’ll face competition from new signing Jurgen Locadia (BRI, 6.0) when the former PSV striker shakes off an injury, but should have the quality to edge out the likes of Glenn Murray (BRI, 5.7), who has the added distraction of a tax fraud case to deal with.

Elsewhere, Jordan Ayew (SWA, 5.2) has finally started to get on the scoresheet for a quietly improving Swansea side. With a move to Chelsea now looking unlikely, Ashley Barnes (BUR, 5.2) is a reasonable pick at this price also.

For those willing to spend a little more, a star turn against Liverpool in the FA Cup has put Jay Rodriguez (WBA, 5.5) firmly back on the map. West Brom’s penalty taker can look forward to facing Stoke, Huddersfield and Newcastle from GW26.

One worth keeping an eye on also is Guido Carrillo (SOU, 6.5).

Although the 6’ 2” striker has yet to make a big impact at club and international sphere - yet given the competition at Monaco and Argentina, this reveals little. Eleven league goals in two seasons may not sound like much, but his 35% goal conversion rate and minutes-per-goal stats tell a different story.

QUICK TIP

 

When it comes to transfers, some FPL managers believe that buying a player in early in the week is an acceptable risk to bolster team value. Others prefer the reassurance of having all the information from the pre-game press conferences to hand before making a transfer the evening, or even hours, before the deadline.

There’s certainly merit in both, depending on circumstances particular to that manager or Gameweek (a tight budget, the prospect of midweek fixtures, etc.).

What we can all agree on though, is when would be the wrong time to make a transfer - and that is “during a game”.

Thousands of excitable FPL managers recently transferred in Nacho Monreal (ARS, 5.6) right before seeing him subbed off with an apparent injury.

He recovered to face Chelsea days later, but those managers were lucky not to have learned a valuable lesson the hard way.

Remember, you’re not buying concert tickets here. There’s not a finite amount of Nacho Monreals, or any other player, that you need to snap up before others can get their hands on them - so at least wait until after the match has finished before making your move.

BUY

 

Leaving aside the debate around Sergio Aguero (MCI, 11.8), those looking to bring some pure value into their side can’t go wrong with Luka Milivojevic (CRY, 4.7).

The Crystal Palace midfielder has become the Ruben Loftus-Cheek that Ruben Loftus-Cheek himself always promised, yet never quite managed, to become.

A budget midfielder who takes penalties and has proven capable of scoring from open play is a rare commodity in FPL - don’t let it pass you by.

TRY

 

For those looking to replace Arnautovic and free up some money in the process, Xherdan Shaqiri (STO, 6.0) offers a lot of potential for relatively little investment.

If he experiences anything like the ‘new manager bounce’ that transformed Arnie’s season, he’ll be a fixture in many sides before too long.

Stoke have the added appeal of a clear run of fixtures for anyone who wants to hedge their bets before settling on a Free Hit/Wildcard strategy.

GOODBYE

 

Owners of Arthur Masuaku (WHU. 4.5) will be glad to see the back of him at the earliest opportunity.

Since his three unexpected clean sheets against Chelsea, Arsenal and Stoke saw him gain an army of new owners, the attack-minded Hammers defender has been letting them down ever since.

A six-match suspension means he won’t be available until GW31, which will probably be a Blank GW for West Ham anyway. Even after that, he’ll have fences to mend with an old-school manager like Moyes.

 

By Ken Rooney

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