Kevin De Bruyne has been hit by injury after injury this season, the latest coming in their GW35 match against Spurs. A shame for both Man City and the footballing world, as his talents have been in full display over the last few weeks.
De Bruyne produced two fantastic performances against Cardiff and Crystal Palace, returning back-to-back 11 point scores including 1 goal and 2 assists. Unfortunately for some FPL managers including ourselves, he was a differential wildcard pick that was brought in for the remainder of the season. While it hasn’t been confirmed how long the injury will keep him out, early reports suggest it could be for the rest of the season with a hamstring injury. In this article, we will be highlighting our top replacements for the Belgian to try and help those in a similar boat to ourselves.
Man City Coverage
The transfer thoughts over the purchase of De Bruyne in many wildcard squads was of the impression that he would play most games in the busy fixture schedule. After being out with his injury, and then managed back into playing 90 minutes, it had all the makings of a big finish to the season for De Bruyne. Unfortunately, those plans now have to be changed and an obvious place to begin to look for replacements is back at Man City.
Man City have been at the wrath of rotation under Pep, with the midfielders suffering at the hands of this throughout the season. Naturally, with only 3 league fixtures remaining we would like to select a player that will feature heavily in all. However, when investing in Man City assets the gametime is risked for the potential rewards.
Sterling is comfortably the leading midfield points scorer for Man City, currently on 217 compared to second place Sane on 146. However, Sterling is the premium option currently priced at £11.6m, a significant jump from De Bruyne’s £9.7m.
If managers have the money in the bank, then we think upgrading De Bruyne to Sterling is a good FPL move. For many managers, the injury to De Bruyne will be softened by the ownership of Aguero. If you don’t own Aguero and have the money, then replacing De Bruyne for Sterling should be a priority move.
If managers don’t have the money, then we don’t see any other Man City midfielder as a priority to own. The only other consideration would be Bernardo Silva (£7.6m), however doesn’t have the FPL potential like Sterling. Silva has played the most minutes of any Man City midfielder, and would be a good option if managers want gametime guarantee. However, Silva averages 4.2 points per match, and while this isn’t bad, a long way off Sterling’s 7.2.
The main reason for us not valuing any other Man City midfielder other than Sterling, is due to the Liverpool FPL assets. Liverpool have arguably the best GW36 fixture, playing a relegated Huddersfield side at home. Huddersfield have lost their last 7 league matches, conceding 19 goals and only scoring 5. We think that not owning a Liverpool attacking player could be a rank killer this weekend, so for those that do not own any, it would be a good week to transfer one in.
For those De Bruyne owners, it could be a good opportunity to get into one of these players. For us, we think that there are only two viable considerations – Sadio Mane (£10.0m) and Mo Salah (£13.2m). Obviously Salah is significantly more expensive than Mane, and would only be a De Bruyne replacement for those with money in the bank or planning multiple transfers. Here is a quick table, highlighting both player’s stats over the past 6 league matches:
|Last 6 league matches||Goals||Assists||Shots||Key Passes||xG|
From the statistics, we think that they don’t support the additional £3.0m required to own Salah over Mane. Mane is performing better than Salah, and would also be much easier for De Bruyne owners to afford. Liverpool players are not only good for this gameweek but for the rest of the season. Although they are still competing in the Champions League, they can’t afford to rest their key players and they both will feature regularly in the final 3 matches.
For those managers that already own a Liverpool attacking asset, we think a double up is still a good move. They face Huddersfield in GW36, followed by Newcastle away and Wolves at home. However, a double up in midfield might be too much money invested, therefore the likes of Firmino (£9.3m) should be real considerations. Downgrading De Bruyne to a budget option – such as the ones recommended later – could provide the money to upgrade a striker to Firmino. Food for thought for managers.
Alternative Premium Considerations
Aside from the mentioned players, we think that it is worth discussing the other premium options available. Eden Hazard is currently the second highest points scoring midfielder, only 6 points behind Mo Salah (230). While Chelsea have been inconsistent this season, Hazard has provided worthy FPL value throughout. He has scored 3 goals and registered 2 assists in his last 4 league matches.
At £10.9m, he is more expensive than De Bruyne and we are not too convinced that he is the best alternative. Chelsea face Man Utd away in GW36, followed by Watford at home and finish the season away to Leicester. His underlying stats are good, with 12 shots and 12 key passes over these past 4 league matches. However, we think that the investment in either City or Liverpool will provide much better FPL value over the next 3 matches. Chelsea’s inconsistency is a worry, and if they lose to Man United, Sarri may see the Europa League as priority.
Tottenham beat Man City in a Champions League classic, but while their European journey continues the effect on the Premier League could be a negative. Spurs have one of the busiest fixture schedules due to their Champions League commitment:
(Source: Sky Sports)
Tottenham are already suffering from a long term injury to Kane, and their resources are stretched going into this schedule. We expect some players to be rotated due to prioritising certain matches and to avoid fatigue.
Son (£8.8m) is notably suspended for the first leg against Ajax, and therefore a certainty to play against West Ham on Saturday. He has struggled to recreate his fine early season form, scoring 1 goal and assisting 1 in his last 8 league matches. His minutes have been managed over this period, but his underlying stats have fallen taking only 10 shots and 8 key passes. He has averaged 3.13 shot per 90 this season, so something has happened to see his average decline over this time.
Eriksen (£9.3m) has been in better recent form, scoring 1 and assisting 3 goals in his last 4 league matches. There are worries with the upcoming schedule over Eriksens gametime, having played 90 minutes in his last 15 league games. It’s clear that he is now Pochettino’s trusted man in the team, and therefore will play in the big matches. But with the fixtures, it would make sense for him to be rested at some point during the Premier League.
We think that Tottenham assets still have FPL value, especially with some nice home fixtures remaining. However, with the European matches, buying them will come with a gametime risk and in turn could affect their FPL value.
For some managers, the injury to De Bruyne has created a cash cow to downgrade the midfield spot and upgrade in other areas. In this case, we think there are a number of cheaper options that still offer great FPL value until the end of the season.
Milivojevic (£6.4m) has already overtaken his FPL score from last season (144) with 161 points including 12 goals and 2 assists. The crazy stat for the Crystal Palace man is the fact that he has scored 10 penalties this season along with 1 free kick. It would be against our logic to pick a player based on penalties, but it seems it is a regular occurrence at Crystal Palace with tricky wingers like Zaha and Townsend.
Crystal Palace have some favourable fixtures to finish the season:
Although Palace have two home fixtures, they have the second worst goalscoring record, only scoring 14 goals in 17 home matches.
Sigurdsson has enjoyed another successful season, scoring 13 goals and assisting 5. However, as an FPL asset it seems that he has flown under the radar, currently only owned by 6.7% of managers. Priced at £7.3m, we think that the cheaper price of Richarlison (£6.4m) has provided an alternative throughout the season. Although more expensive, Sigurdsson has still been great FPL value and is currently the 6th highest scoring midfielder on the game.
He has enjoyed decent recent form, scoring 2 and assisting 2 goals in his last 5 league matches. Notably over this period he has faced Chelsea, Arsenal and Man Utd all at home – no pushovers. His underlying stats have supported his recent form, taking 13 shots and 18 key passes in these 5 matches. Similar to Milivojevic, Sigurdsson has the added bonus of being a set piece taker, although not scoring as many from the spot (2).
Everton have a mixed bag of fixtures, playing Palace away in GW36, before facing Burnley at home and finishing at Spurs. However, they have won 4 of their last 5 matches and should fancy their chances against the upcoming opposition.
Deulofeu (£5.6m) enjoyed a great game against Huddersfield, scoring two goals to add to his brace in the FA cup semi-final. He has scored 9 goals and 5 assists and registered 3 double digit scores. He has averaged 2.32 sh90 and 1.26 kp90 and faces a nice run of fixtures to finish the season.
Watford face Wolves and West Ham at home, while facing Chelsea away between these. At his price range and only 5.3%, he could prove to be a great differential until the end of the season.
As mentioned, there are certainly viable options to replace De Bruyne in those FPL teams. The question is largely around who else features in the squad, and whether you have Liverpool and Man City coverage.
We think that if managers don’t have any other attacking Man City players, then this is a great time to invest in Sterling. He is out of the price range so would require a downgrade of another player or money in the bank, but we think he is worth it. The exit from the Champions League will see his minutes more secure, and his recent form along with the team shouldn’t be ignored.
The next priority is the investment in Liverpool attacking assets, especially with the visit of Huddersfield this gameweek. We think doubling up isn’t a bad move and their final fixtures justify this move. Mane would be the pick of the two, with the recent form of both not justifying the additional £3.0m for Salah.
Spurs assets can provide FPL value until the end of the season, but the European commitments could see future rotation, especially for Eriksen. While Hazard has proved his value throughout the season, and although Chelsea are inconsistent, he can score in any fixture.
Of the budget options, our top pick would be Sigurdsson or if you are looking even cheaper, Deulofeu. Milivojevic continues to score FPL points (and penalties) and with the fixtures they have, could easily finish the season strong. While his value is in penalties, the fact they have managed 10 suggests that they are a serious factor to consider when choosing him.
We hope that this analysis has provided those currently owning De Bruyne with some helpful advice. We are in the same boat so will be documenting our decisions, so be sure to check that out over on Twitter.
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