In case you missed it, check out our GW13 Q&A article where we were joined by FPL Logic and LetsTalkSoccer. We discussed the form of Sterling, the best replacements for Mendy and our ‘must-own’ FPL players for those still holding a wildcard.
1) What to do with Hazard? Should he be shipped out for another player, if so, who?
Five gameweeks is a very long time in FPL.
Over that period, the common FPL perception of Eden Hazard has transformed from “this season’s Salah”, season-keeper and perma-captain option to an injury-prone, inconsistent talent with an aversion to scoring goals when Alvaro Morata is on the pitch. The reality however, is probably somewhere in between.
Having started only 3 of those 5 gw through injury and presenting his owners with only a single assist and no bonus points over this period, it is clear that this is not the same Hazard who amassed 66 points between gw 3 and 8. Underlying stats support this – during the last 5 gw, Hazard has posted one xGI (expected goal involvement) every 226 minutes. This is in comparison to similarly priced or cheaper options such as Sterling (84.3 minutes), Silva (103) Sane (104.2) and Sigurdsson (112.4).
Hazard has the abundance of talent and fantastic fixtures (starting with Fulham this weekend, they play only 1 of the “big six” teams between now and gw 23) to deliver handsomely once again and could well repay owners who are prepared to show patience and weather the inevitable price drops, injury niggles and transfer speculation. However, they may do so at the risk of missing out on sizeable hauls and price rises from other very much in-form options.
Personally, for me the key issue is captaincy. Having lost faith in Hazard’s potential as a strong captaincy option over the coming weeks and having brought him in at his starting price of 10.5m, I suspect the time has come for me to cash in on significant profit and exchange him for Sterling or Sane. But if I do, I won’t be surprised if he delivers double digit hauls against Fulham. As we are all too aware – this is what Eden Hazard does.
By the time you read this article, Hazard’s price will have dropped at least once, if not twice, already. The question raises the appropriate question regarding Haz: What to do about his performance, not about his injury status. We’re not worried about his injury at all, and from what we’ve read it sounds like he isn’t either. So unless the injury progresses into something more serious, we don’t think that his 75% playing status should be the reason behind a potential transfer.
Hazard is currently tied for third place in terms of overall points (83, along with Salah). So, despite his dip in form, he’s still among the top producers. He’s a very spotty player: He’ll be white-hot for a few games and then be ice cold for another few. But, over the course of the season, he will still be towards the very top in total points.
So part of one’s decision should account for which they’re more concerned about: The upcoming gameweek or the overall score at the end of the season. If GW14 is critical, it could be worth getting rid of a slumping Hazard. If the OR after 38 weeks is the priority, he’s probably worth holding onto.
The last bit of advice is to take a wholistic look at your team. Are there other areas that need immediate attention? If so, tend to those first. This is not a do or die situation. A player of his calibre will find his form. If there’s an opportunity for Haz to bounce back, it’s at home against Fulham this weekend.
Now, if your team is looking good everywhere else and the Hazard issue is the only point of concern, then look into transferring him out. But don’t get swept up in “beating the price change” mentality or the bandwagon sentiment that everyone is getting rid of him so it must be a good idea. Assess your own situation, give it some thought and then make the move that’s best for you.
Similarly-priced replacement options include Sterling (probably the most popular option), Sane, Eriksen, Alli, Mane. For bit less money, there’s David Silva. And then there are lots of good mid-priced options, including Richarlison and Maddison. You don’t have to replace a premium player with another premium player. If you find a cheaper, equally viable option, that money saved can be used to upgrade other areas of your team.
After registering 74 points in his first 8 league matches, Hazard has only scored 9 points in his last 4 matches. Over the past 5 game weeks Hazard has been hit by minor injuries, missing GW10 and coming off the bench for a 25-minute cameo in GW11. Even so, it seems that Hazard has not regained his early season form and has caused headaches for the 2.5 million FPL managers that own him.
Hazard faces Fulham at Stamford Bridge this weekend, a tricky time to play them with the appointment of former Blues manager Ranieri. Fulham however have an awful away defensive record, something that won’t be resolved over-night, something even the miracle man Ranieri would struggle to achieve.
We personally think that Hazard is edging his way towards an exit from our team, but this won’t be before GW14. It’s important to note that there are European fixtures this week, and decisions are best made after these where more information is learnt and potential injuries are avoided. Especially in Hazard’s case with the rumoured injury he is carrying, more information is necessary if you plan on selling and have money invested in him.
So he us, he will be staying in our team for this weekend, and wouldn’t be surprised if he comes back into form against Fulham.
A quick word on owners who are planning on selling to fund Sterling. Sterling has been in sensational form and playing in the highest scorers in the league. We think that this move – although a good move – should be made with caution. Let’s not forget that Hazard is still one of the best players in the league. We can’t knock anyone who makes this move, but it should be done with the understanding of risk associated with it. City play 9 matches in 30 days, rotation will be inevitable and with a player like Mahrez waiting in the wings, he has competition unlike last season.
2) After his recent performances, should managers be transferring in Sane?
It is probably fair to say that Leroy Sane’s season got off to a “false start”. After missing out on a place at the World Cup, he provided FPL managers with a fully-rested option in the Manchester City midfield and was a popular choice in gw1 squads across the world. And yet he played just 30 minutes across the first 4 games.
Since then, Sane has increasingly demonstrated his worth to Pep and FPL managers (5 goals and 6 assists), albeit as a significant rotation risk, arguably due to the presence of Benjamin Mendy. However, with Mendy out of the equation for a significant time, the argument goes that he should now get increased security of starts.
Certainly, when he does start, he does very well indeed. Indeed, he has returned in each of the six games he has started. Playing significantly fewer minutes than more expensive Premium midfield options, he has delivered an expected goal involvement (xGI) every 96.6 minutes – better even than Sterling (108.8), Salah (113.6), Silva (115.9) and Hazard (126).
The bottom line is that Sane can be expected to deliver FPL points that meet or exceed his price, whenever provided with the opportunity to play significant minutes. With the prolonged absence of Mendy, and with 33 points in his last two starts, Sane should continue to get the minutes he needs to deliver big scores. Like all City options, he will be prone to inevitable rotation – but paired alongside at least one of Aguero and Sterling, he looks a tremendous option for the coming few months, if not the season.
He’s currently averaging only just over 45 minutes per match. If that continues, it’s not worth the starting spot and the £9.3m price tag. But, with Mendy being out for several weeks, the popular sentiment is that Sane will see more playing time. If that’s true, he’s definitely worth a look.
For it to be worth it to us, he’d need to play significantly more – to the tune of 75-80 minutes at a minimum. Over the past 5 games, his average minutes has risen to close to 60. So he’s moving in the right direction. Before spending a transfer on him, we’d wait until the end of the week to see if Pep gives any clues to where Sane stands. For the price, we wouldn’t want a player that is constantly a rotation possibility. We would want assurances that Sane is going to start on the regular for the next couple months.
In terms of the best City midfielder to own, if KDB (remember him?) was fit, he’d be first on our list. But until he is, we’d look to David Silva first. He seems the least vulnerable to Pep’s rotation. Sterling comes in second and Sane a close third. Sterling probably represents the biggest chance for an insane haul in any given game, but the potential of rotation makes us hesitate just a bit.
All that said, we will probably take Sterling this week because of that potential to score a couple and assist a couple in a game, especially with the form he’s in. With Sterling, confidence is key, and he seems awfully confident lately!
We discussed Sane in our recent article highlighting the value he holds for FPL managers. At £9.3m, he is currently City’s second highest midfielder points scorer (69), only behind Sterling (95). Registering 34 points in his last 3 league matches, he has been in sensational form and firmly put himself in the FPL shop window.
With the recent injury to Mendy, many feel that Sane’s position has become safer due to the defensive duties being shifted firmly on Delph’s shoulders, giving Sane the freedom to express. The injury duration hasn’t been confirmed but it seems that Sane will benefit from Mendy’s absence.
We think that if you were currently in the market for a City midfielder, Sterling should be top of the list. However, at a premium price it would require the sale of another premium (as mentioned in question 1), and for those that aren’t willing to do this then there are other City alternatives. Sane would then be our pick if you couldn’t justify getting Sterling into your FPL team.
Outside of these two, the only other player that we would consider is David Silva (£8.6m). Silva has scored in each of his last 3 league matches, and started the last 8 proving he is not a rotation risk right now. Our worry over D.Silva in the long term is the return of De Bruyne which sounds like it will be in the next few GW’s. A great value pick but possibly rotation expected over the winter period.
3) Which Spurs players are the best to own after GW14? – is there value in GW14?
Spurs have presented something of an enigma this season – regularly putting in sub-par performances and yet achieving their best-ever start to a Premier League season. It begs the question what they are capable of once they embark on an outstanding series of fixtures – where they face only Manchester United of the “big-six” teams between gw15-28. Indeed, an excellent performance against Chelsea last weekend gave us a timely reminder of what their big names can deliver.
When considering FPL options, it is only right that we start with the FPL royalty that is Harry Kane, a name that is synonymous with goals – especially over the Christmas period. Harry is an automatic choice for many from 15 onwards, and indeed possibly for gw14 due to his outstanding record in London derbies. However, as the second most expensive player in the game and with a wealth of alternative options in the premium bracket, Kane arguably needs to do more to prove his relative worth in our teams.
Kane is largely reliant on goals for his points (7 goals, 2 assists), whilst options such as Aguero (8 goals, 6 assists), Sterling (7 goals, 7 assists) and Salah (7 goal, 7 assists) are more than able to provide greater all-round threat, with midfielders also promising a potential clean sheet point as well. His underlying stats are solid, albeit unspectacular for his price bracket, with a reliance on volume of shots rather than quality of chances. Conversely, he does provide security of starts and penalties.
Kane’s heatmaps demonstrate a significantly deeper role so far this season – although it can be speculated that this could change now he has been reunited with Alli, Eriksen and Son. Whilst it has certainly not been the case so far this season, better value might be found in these cheaper midfielders should they push on from the Chelsea performance, albeit with an additional risk of rotation with Moura and Lamella. Certainly, Son caught the eye against Chelsea, with a man-of-the-match performance – and played further ahead of Kane throughout the match, registering twice as many touches in the penalty area.
Ironically, one of Spurs’ best sources of creativity has been a defender, in the shape of Kieran Trippier (1 goal, 4 assists). Currently injured, once he returns, he will doubtless prove a popular choice for those looking to supplement clean sheets with pin-point crosses and set-pieces – albeit with a significant rotation risk. Those looking for assured starts may see the appeal in the returning Jan Vertonghen (£5.9m) whose return should only strengthen chances of clean sheets.
Personally, I see good value in Hugo Loris (£5.4m) as a fire-and-forget option until gw28. Although he hasn’t looked himself this season and has made a number of uncharacteristic mistakes (on and off the field), his underlying stats are actually excellent – posting a save percentage of 84.2% and an expected goal prevented (xGP) every 155.8 minutes. By comparison, his closest rivals are Allison (260 minutes), Leno (447.7) and Pickford (688.2).
From Weeks 15-28, Spurs have only one fixture above a 3 on the FDR scale (Week 22 at home vs. Man U). That’s a heck of a favorable stretch! Trippier is expected back and available for selection this coming weekend. Hopefully Poch will give an insightful update at his press conference this week. And maybe we’ll see Tripps get a little playing time in their Champions League game this week.
In addition, we think Eriksen and Alli are solid choices. Son is another one that can provide returns. And of course Sir Harold of Kane is looking much more worthy of the hefty price tag than he was a few weeks ago. He’s scored two and assisted one in the last three games. He seems to have found his groove, and that should provide rewards to his owners.
In terms of a value for GW14, we think Son is the one…if he plays. He’s not a sure thing, so we feel better recommending Dele to other managers.
Spurs have been in great form lately, winning 7 of their last 8 league matches. Their 3-1 victory over Chelsea last weekend put the players firmly in the FPL shop window and has attracted some interest from non-owners. The further appeal for Spurs players is the coming fixtures they have, including some great home matches until the end of the year.
From an FPL perspective, the main man in our eyes is Harry Kane, currently valued at £12.3m. Although perceived as being ‘off-form’, he has still scored 7 goals and 2 assists so far this season. With the continuing minutes risk associated with Aguero and their busy fixture schedule, there’s a good argument to move from Aguero to Kane for GW15.
The Spurs defence has been inconsistent this season, keeping 5 clean sheets in 13 matches. This though hasn’t been helped by the injury to arguably their best defender in Vertonghen, who has been out since GW7. With him returning to the bench against Chelsea, you can only assume that their chances of future clean sheets will be improved.
In regards to defensive FPL assets, Trippier (£6.2m) is the best choice, however currently injured with the return date unclear. Outside of him, at £5.9m Vertonghen provides some great value and limited rotation risk at the heart of the Spurs defence.
The big decision for many managers is choosing the right Spurs midfielder over these fixtures. Moura currently leads the points scoring but has proved that he is a rotation risk with Lamela and Son rotating for his position. Alli (£8.9m) and Eriksen (£9.2m) are the two that we would recommend focusing on, with Eriksen getting the nod due to his set piece influence.
4) Should we be worried about Arnie with his injury concerns/contract rumours?
Niggling injuries and uncertainties, contracts and transfer rumours are all very much part of the “Marko Arnautovic experience” – in addition to goals, assists and value.
For little more than £7m, Arnie provides us with a nailed, talismanic figure of significant talent with an incredible set of fixtures that doesn’t see West Ham playing a “big-six” team until gw22.
True, recent weeks have been unremarkable, with the exception of a 12-point haul against Burnley, but he did miss gw10 through illness and wasn’t realistically expected to deliver points against City last weekend. Nonetheless, his underlying stats do not point towards anything of real concern. Indeed, over the past six gw, he has delivered an expected goal involvement (xGI) every 167.8 minutes, despite playing games against Tottenham and Manchester City – ahead of Harry Kane (184.2 minutes).
Even if there was cause for concern, very few alternative options at his price range exist that would warrant selling – especially ones with good fixtures to match good underlying stats. In my eyes, Arnie still presents good value, and expectations of returns each week are not entirely in line with his price. Personally, I am more than happy to keep and monitor – safe in the knowledge that if he does fail to deliver in the coming weeks, a revitalised Mitrovic may be a good replacement from gw17 onwards.
He’s had some nagging injuries, and that’s a concern although it’s hard to tell how concerning they should be. He’s continued to play up to now, but at some point if this goes on, you’ve got to assume he’s going to get sidelined. Thankfully, his injury this time is listed as a knock and not his hamstring. The hammy injury has been the nagging injury that worried his owners a few weeks ago. He’s a very tough athlete, and he strikes us as someone that would not sit out unless absolutely necessary.
Even with Andy Carroll now available, West Ham need Arnie up top, especially against a revitalized Newcastle squad. If you own him, we advise not selling him just yet. If you can, wait until Pellegrini has his press conference later in the week. Then you can make a decision. Even if he is injured, a simple formation change where you put him on the bench, may be all it takes.
As for the contract rumors, those don’t concern us at all. If anything, when a player is rumored to want a move to another club, we normally see him play even better. Just like a contract renewal, the player has more incentive to demonstrate his worth. If anything, this should fuel Arnie even more, which should result in more returns. We see it as a positive.
Arnautovic has been a frustrating player to own this year, showing glimpses of brilliance and great FPL value. Scoring 5 goals and 2 assists, his season has been holted by continuous minor injuries, casting doubt over his game time. His recent comments in regards to contract talks and desire to play at higher levels has also added to the worry of owning him.
At £7.1m and the talisman of West Ham, on his day he proves to be the best value player in the game. For those considering selling the Austrian, the consideration to make is the fixtures that West Ham have. 7 of the next 8 teams they face are currently in the bottom half of the table, and face the 4 worst defences in the league over this period (Cardiff, Fulham, Southampton, Brighton).
We wouldn’t recommend selling him just yet unless the injuries continue to hamper his performances and game time.
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