When I was asked by our editor to write this article on Sunday, the task was to highlight alternative striking options given the recent spate of injuries. This seemed straightforward enough but thanks to the recent developments and press releases from clubs, it proved to be less straightforward!! I have had to rewrite this a few times so I hope some of you find this useful. Fingers crossed, no more players get injured or recover quicker than expected before this gets published!
by Kuda Godfrey
The question for many #FPL managers like myself who have used their wildcard chip during the International break is which striker should we turn to replace *Morata / Aguero? *At the time of writing, some unofficial reports on social media are suggesting that Morata could be ready for the #UCL game next week on Wednesday 18th October vs Roma. If proved accurate, that brings up the possibility of Morata being back in action by #GW9 at home to Watford.
To make #GW8 transfer matters worse, the official Man City Twitter page released a statement earlier this week that Aguero was already back in light training! With both these developments in mind, keep an eye out for the manager press conferences on Friday before hitting that transfer button! If they are both available at the weekend, the term “putting the cat among the pigeons..” springs to mind!
Having 2/3 premium strikers (£10.0m+) is proving popular with managers this season and looking at the current ownership data on the #FPL website pre wildcard data (see graphic above) most teams will either have one or both of Lukaku (£11.8m) owned by 59.3% and Kane (£12.7m) owned by 39.5%. Essentially, the rest of the strikers are potentially fighting for one spot on most managers teams!
G.Jesus (£10.5m) and owned by 16.1% has already proved to be the most popular “sideways” move for impatient Morata/Aguero owners but that means a lot of your rivals might now own him. If that doesn’t bother you then Jesus certainly has a lot in his favour. Man City are in fantastic form and with back to back home fixtures against Stoke and Burnley, what’s not to like..? However, there are a couple of potential drawbacks. Guardiola likes to rotate his players and with Jesus having played 90mins in both Brazil’s World Cup Qualifiers this week, he might be a risk. Man City also have midfielders who could play as a “false 9” like De Bruyne or Sterling so if you already own these players you might be in luck.
Vardy whose price rose to £8.6m earlier this week to demonstrate his popularity is now owned by 13.9%. My concern is that this current Leicester side is not the same counter attacking machine that won the Premier league. Though they still seem to be able to perform well against ‘Top 6’ sides who will attack them not sit back. This was evident in the games vs Arsenal and Liverpool where Vardy scored 2 and 1 goal respectively. Leicester host West Brom in their next game and then travel to Swansea. With the greatest respect to those two sides, they do not possess the same attacking power so will Vardy get enough chances to expose defenders on the counter. Another worrying factor is the form of Mahrez who seems to be getting reduced minutes as of late. Mahrez and Vardy forged a great partnership in that title winning season and again at the beginning of this season. Vardy should still be on penalties and his blistering pace means he always has a chance if there is a loose defensive pass.
Firmino at £8.5m and owned by 21.2% is currently my favoured alternative option. He didn’t feature in Brazil’s first game and played under 10mins the second match so he should be well rested. Many managers have sold the Brazilian this week causing him to drop in price on the back of the 16min cameo vs Newcastle and because he has blanked since #GW3 vs Arsenal. You must be wondering why I am recommending him them…? If you don’t already own Coutinho or Salah then I think Firmino offers a great price into the Liverpool attack. Sturridge also didn’t take his big chance when he started ahead of Firmino in the last game so I think the Brazilian will return to the starting line up vs Man Utd. Like Vardy, Firmino should be on penalties and I wouldn’t be surprised to see one awarded in this fiery match. After Man Utd, Liverpool travel to Spurs and then to Huddersfield. I wouldn’t be worried about the Spurs game as Liverpool still have a good record against ‘Top 6’ sides even including the loss to Man City.
Batshuayi at £8.1m and only owned by 0.9% would be PERFECT differential striker if he was guaranteed minutes and if Morata is confirmed to be out for longer than 1 game in the press conference. However, the fact that Morata went off injured vs Man City in the 34th minute and Conte didn’t bring on the Belgian striker straight away doesn’t fill me with confidence! Batshuayi only made a cameo appearance in the second half on the 73rd minute. It seems even if he gets a start vs Crystal Palace and scored, he will be benched as soon as Morata is deemed fit so I don’t think he is a long term option. Chelsea like Man City also have midfielders who can play as a “false 9” such as Pedro or Hazard so my advice would be to stay away for the time being. If I was a current Morata owner and I was on a wildcard, I would simply bring in Hazard for the time being and then switch them over when Morata returns.
Rashford at £7.6m and only owned by 8.9% is a great way into the Man Utd attack for those on wildcards who are considering selling Lukaku but still want some potential cover! To be fair to those managers, I can see the logic as Man Utd next matches are Liverpool (away), Huddersfield (away), Spurs (home) and Chelsea (away). Apart from the Huddersfield game, Lukaku will finally get tested for the first time in the league against top class center backs. This might limit his chances but with defenders occupied with the Belgian striker, it could also create space for team mates like Rashford to exploit given his pace and trickery.
To summarise, I excluded a number of strikers from the final list for a couple of reasons. Firstly, if I felt the midfield options in their team currently have higher point ceilings. Such as Lacazette at £10.4m and owned by 14.9%. He is clearly a classy striker and he will score goals but he is still getting used to how Arsenal play and the return of A.Sanchez is going to eat into his potential points as they make similar runs. So until they forge a better understanding, I am not prepared to invest in him just yet. Chicaritto at £7.0m and owned by 19.1% was another one that was close to making the list but West Ham are currently not utilising his qualities and the return of A.Carroll has pushed him out wide. At this stage, I would rather have midfielders like Antonio, Arnautovic or Lanzini ahead of him. Finally, the rest of the strikers were omitted because their teams are not producing enough chances for them so until that changes I am not prepared to suggest them as long term investments. However, if your third striker slot is purely just for budget purposes and they are unlikely to play in your teams barring injuries then strikers like Abraham at £5.5m and owned by 6.1% or Depoitre at £5.2m and owned by 0.3% would be my choices as I’ve seen glimpses of potential in both.
Thanks again for reading and you can find me on Twitter at @KG_FPL.