Stag’s Take – Gameweek 14
Gameweek 14 was perhaps the weirdest Gameweek of the season. My 54 point haul was sufficient for me to climb up the ranks in the top 1% globally, yet over two million accounts surpassed my score for gameweek. That story played out across the board as the active template team stuttered; alternative sides packed with differential players who have low ownerships and other abandoned sides soared meaning that the overall average score of 50 points was better than the average score of the Top 1000 overall (46).
Last week’s article focused on helping managers dealing with the changes in the template team in the defender category in the aftermath of Benjamin Mendy’s injury as manager’s looked to reallocate their funds. One of the direct consequences of Mendy’s absence has been Leroy Sané finally earning more consistent minutes for Manchester City with Fabian Delph restricted to a withdrawn role whilst City have possession. Sané’s emergence, Raheem Sterling’s continued brilliance, and Manchester City’s general dominance contrast distinctly with the FPL performances of Eden Hazard and perhaps even Liverpool’s main assets. This column will look at Leroy Sané, Eden Hazard, and Mo Salah in some detail, and also examine consider Spurs’ Christian Eriksen who registered his first double figure haul of the season in his club’s 3-1 drubbing of London rivals Chelsea.
Leroy Sané (9.3)
A bit like Raheem Sterling six gameweeks ago, Sané, one of the highest scoring players of last season, has been curiously cast aside as an option because of his status as a frequent victim of Manchester City’s rotation policy “Pep-roulette”.
However, now that Mendy is out, I expect Sané’s position to become a lot more secure as he is the best player to provide the width and attacking prowess on the left flank in the Frenchman’s absence. Back in August, when Sané was struggling to get on the pitch at all (he played 30 minutes in total in the first four PL games), Pep explained to the media that the German winger’s absence had nothing to do with his form or fitness:
"[Sané] is not being left out because we are unhappy with his performance. We have to choose now Mendy is playing more wide. That is the reason why. He's ready with his physical condition. He doesn't need much time to get in better condition, it's not about that."
Mendy has missed four games his season, Gameweeks 5,6,7, and 13, each of which Sané has started and each of which he has scored attacking returns. In fact, the winger is yet to draw a blank when playing from kick-off this term.
It should be noted that Sané has been outperforming his underlying stats with regards to goals scored. In his last three league appearances he managed to score three times from just seven shots, four of which were in the box. He also gleaned two assists from creating six opportunities for his teammates to shoot, with just one of those chances meeting the criteria to be considered a “big chance”. He supplemented that with a further FPL assist for being fouled for a set piece which was subsequently converted.
With Sané, it seems like there is finally enough security to bring him into your side without too much apprehension of rotation. Each of City’s midfielders can expect to be rotated over the next four gameweeks as legs get heavy amidst a congested schedule – at least Sané has youth and less mileage this season on his side. His statistics don’t speak to even a fraction of his FPL potential as I have seen it in recent weeks too. He is so brilliant and so direct, he always looks like he is threatening to arrive just in time to slam home a cut-back or beat a defender on the byline to drive in a ball of his own. It seems City’s young wingers are their main scorers at the moment, meaning that I view the in-form Sterling as the only player likely to outscore Sané in the next few weeks – and he’s just 6.4% owned!
Mo Salah (13.0)
Last season’s Golden Boot winning exploits and consistent goalscoring this term only go so far in an FPL manager’s heart when you cost over an eighth of a team’s overall budget. With 83 points, the Egypt international is the joint-third highest scoring player in FPL yet many experienced managers are considering ejecting Salah from their sides in search of explosive returns from the likes of City’s sharpshooters and Harry Kane.
For me though, I don’t think selling Salah is a good idea. He continues to score every other week, which is the sort of consistency that we expect at his price tag. Furthermore those goals come off the back of promising underlying stats, with Salah matching Harry Kane and Sergio Agüero for shots in the box over the past four gameweeks (9), but outscoring both of them. Earlier in the season, Salah was guilty of spurning chances and falling below his xG score, in the past four games his three goals almost double what algorithms suggest he had a right to celebrate (1.75).
Furthermore, watching Liverpool for even thirty minutes will highlight to you how Salah is getting in all the right positions and his teammates are trying to supply him – it just so happens that it hasn’t paid off for FPL managers in a double-figure score more than once so far. Keep the faith – Salah is sure to bag a brac or hat-trick at some point soon; if that happens and you don’t have him, your cheeks will be as red as the arrow indicating your plummeting rank.
— #FPL Stag 🇨🇽 (@FPLStag) November 29, 2018
Eden Hazard (11.1)
"I am worried that Hazard had a back injury and now ankle. He has lost a lot of training, so it is normal he is not at the top of his physical condition. This week it is useful for him to have training. He cannot play 10 matches in 30 days - sometimes he has to rest." – Mauricio Sarri 11/28/2018
Chelsea’s unbeaten record so far this term came to a shattering halt at the hands of Spurs and Moussa Sissoko last Saturday as neutralising Jorginho in the centre of midfield made The Blues’ attack impotent. Suddenly the GW14 clash at home to Claudio Ranieri’s Fulham no longer looks like the plum fixture many (including me) believed it would be for Hazard and Co.
What’s worrying about Hazard is how much his underlying statistics have regressed in recent weeks. Earlier in the season he continually got on the ball in the box and registered plenty of attempts. His numbers in both of these areas have fallen, very much in tandem with the obvious slowdown in Chelsea’s form. It seems almost ludicrous to think that I completely understand why Hazard is the most sold player since last weekend in FPL… but I do. City’s attack at home to Bournemouth is far more tempting than anything The Blues are offering, and so whilst “Haz” is always capable of conjuring up goals and assists by himself, I’d rather have the City assets.
Christian Eriksen (9.2)
One thing that links Leroy Sané, Mo Salah, and Christian Eriksen is that they all form part of the elite club who successfully hit double digits for both goals and assists in FPL last season. Like Sané and Sterling before him, a slow start to the season and an injury hiatus means that Christian Eriksen’s ownership is scandalously low (4.2%) for the fine service he has done for FPL managers consistently over the past few years. However, two assists against Chelsea in GW13 and a crucial midweek goal in the Champions League mean that the Dane is firmly back on the radar.
In spite of playing just 130 minutes of a possible 360 in the last four gameweeks, Eriksen has created seven chances for his teammates to shoot, which is just four less than the leaders in that area in the period (who are bizarrely Willian and Joao Moutinho). Two of those were “big chances” and Eriksen’s assist tally matches that. That productivity is indicative of just how good Eriksen is – throw in the fact that he takes set pieces and his chances of attacking returns only grow. With Harry Kane prohibitively priced, Eriksen and Dele Alli look like great differential options for the coming weeks as Spurs continue to build on their historically good start to the season.
Sergio Agüero (Bournemouth H)
Even when it seems like City’s midfield players are the most dangerous players in their attack and the most likely source of FPL points, the Argentine striker still provides the comfort blanket of most likely being the most popular captain in a given gameweek. The truth is that Aguero has been unfortunate not to pick up more than two goals and two assists in his last three – a number of the tap-ins scored by his illustrious teammates were mere feet from being his, whilst nobody in sky blue has had more efforts on goal or in the box than Kun. To be honest, giving any City attacker the armband is a good call against Bournemouth; the luck is choosing the right one.
Given City’s attack are so insatiable as captaincy picks this weekend, it seems folly to me to recommend any other player to you for your armband. Assessing the fixtures, fit-and-well again Marko Arnautovic facing Newcastle away looks like a good match-up for the Austrian whilst Chelsea could turn their form around again against Fulham, with Eden Hazard obviously the most likely source of their attacking success.
Best of luck in Gameweek 14, may your arrows by green.
Stag has been providing #FPL Tips since July 2015 and has been a contributor for Rotoworld.com since August 2016. He is a self-proclaimed wannabe fantasy football genius, a student, and die-hard tea enthusiast.