As we ready our FPL squads for the Gameweek 18 of the Premier League season, some players are naturally drawing our attention, be that due to an attractive cheap pricetag or indeed increased opportunity. Here@FPLJesus brings us some players he believes are under-owned when both those factors are weighed, and also a few players who he feels are over-owned. Who should you buy, and who should you sell?
Underowned – Buy
Zlatan Ibrahimovic – 35% Owned, £11.4m
At 35% owned it could be argued that picking the United striker would act purely as a shield pick which can limit rises in the overall ranking for managers. However, since Zlatan was a popular early FPL pick there has always been owners of the player in the millions. At his peak ownership, Zlatan was owned by over 2 million managers but finds himself at just 1.1 million owned now. This suggests that many of his current owners have had him for the entire season. Commendable perhaps after his resurgence in form, but ultimately it means that a bulk of dead teams (39.1% of all teams) account for Zlatan’s ownership.
This knowledge should be encouragement to Costa owners undecided on their reaction to his suspension. The fear would be that replacing him for just one game may pay little returns but cost value to resign him as his price falls. As Zlatan has appeared to have regained some form in time for Man United’s kind festive fixture run (Sunderland and Middlesbrough at home before a trip to West Ham away), his value is starting to rise again presenting a chance for Costa owners to bank some value on the Chelsea man before its lost. Another reason to ditch him for Ibrahimovic.
As Harry Kane and Dimitri Payet owners will know too well after recent weeks, form and fixtures don’t always translate into points.
When the opportunity for points presents itself (as it does now for Ibra) the backing will become so great in numbers that, should he fail to return big points, it will hit the majority of managers equally thus reducing the rank fall. I therefore think this one could be a no-brainer. It would certainly save a couple of transfers by holding Costa for his suspension, but if Zlatan continues his good run over the next 2 gameweeks, Costa’s inevitable zero points for GW18 will feel like an investment completely wasted.
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Phil Jones – £4.8m, 2.6% Owned
The Man United centre back has been cursed by injury in recent seasons severely reducing his minutes and affecting his form so when many saw the current United pairing of Rojo and Jones, regularity and clean sheets were not something to be expected. However two clean sheets in the last three game weeks after now completing 7 straight league fixtures for United suggests not only an assurance in minutes, but that form is improving nicely too.
At £4.8m, Jones is very well priced for a United defender who have two home games against weak opposition in GWs 18 and 19 (Sunderland and Middlesbrough). It wont necessarily guarantee points in the new year but at 2.6% owned, Jones looks like a great differential for the final two fixtures this side of the season’s half way point.
Adam Lallana – £7.2m, 17% Ownership
After a brilliant GW16, Lallana was the most transferred in player for the following gameweek. Although its a risk to bring a player in for the derby in GW18 for no other reason than that they are unpredictable, it was still a transfer that made sense for the future. Lallana has 6 goals already this season, his best tally in a Liverpool shirt and all before the half way point has been reached. The form is impressive and with Coutinho out injured and Sadio Mane shortly packing his bags for the African Cup of Nations, the choice between Lallana at £7.2m or Firmino at £8.6 if asked now would likely be the same answer for everyone.
Upcoming fixtures include two consecutive home games against Stoke and Man City before an away trip to Sunderland and with Liverpool counting two wins on the bounce there is plenty of potential there for Lallana to score some fantasy points for new recruiters. At £7.2m there is little risk.
Overowned – Sell
Roberto Firmino – £8.6m, 13% Ownership
Despite playing all but 4 minutes of the last 6 gameweeks Roberto Firmino has blanked in every appearance. Truly disappointing for those anticipating a rise in FPL contribution during Coutinho’s absence but even more disappointing has been the visible drop in form for the Brazilian. For managers to stick by the midfielder is a testament to Liverpool’s form this season but 6 consecutive blanks means it has to be time to ditch the misfiring Liverpool man irregardless of the upcoming fixtures.
Coutinho’s influence on Liverpool’s play has increased hugely this season, and it was he who was the preferred option for most managers but while the pair were playing together, Firmino’s stats were not far behind his compatriot offering a worthy replacement at the time of Coutinho’s injury.
It is not uncommon for a player to appear perfect for an opportunity only to let his manager down. Theo Walcott is someone who Firmino could be compared to in terms of past disappointments but Theo is enjoying good form currently. Alexis Sanchez was often used in Walcott’s position in the past but finds himself upfront every week this campaign. This has given Walcott a greater chance for inclusion in the match day squad and that alone provides ample explanation for his upturn in fortunes, but while he was disappointing owners in past seasons his situation was more like Firmino’s is now.
When Wenger was using Walcott to replace Sanchez, disappointment was inevitable and the same should have been obvious for Firmino. The best players in any side will consistently return points while the second or third options in the same side simply wont be as good no matter how good the stats or fixtures appear to be. This should provide a good lesson going forward as many alternatives are usually available for any sudden situation, the lesson being to recruit a different teams star man if forced to replace a big hitter instead of his actual replacement or weaker option from the same team (Ihenacho anyone?). I know Sadio Mane would have been a successful trade for Coutinho but he has always been dearer and likely to incur a transfer hit adding complexities to the debate. Theres no need to complicate things, Firmino is a fraud, get him out.
Robert Snodgrass – £5.6m, 5.3% Ownership
There is no doubt Hull will be relegated at the end of the season but in terms of FPL that doesn’t matter too much at this stage. The problem owners of Hull players have is that, while the weaker sides can offer value sometimes and Snodgrass has proved good value for stretches this season, the Hull form has become so awful, Snodgrass’ desire to leave the club has gone public.
What I am taking this to mean is that Hull are not only having problems on the field but off it as well. Snodgrass has never had explosive ownership but has been considered value at points during the season scoring a goal and assist as recently as GW15 making him arguably their best asset. At just 5.3% owned there won’t be many people reading this who didn’t already realise Snodgrass was essentially a dead option, but owners aren’t going to see an orange flag on the player for wanting to move as soon as January and it feels like Snodgrass would take him out of your teams himself if he could.
Jamie Vardy – £9.6m, 9% Ownership
After scoring a hat trick against Man City, 55,000 managers signed up Vardy for their teams presumably believing he was back for a Christmas party just in time for the games against Bournemouth and Stoke but unfortunately his 9% owners have been let down badly.
A three game ban means the Vardy train never left the station after scoring exactly 0 points in the two games since his hat trick. While owners can take comfort in the fact two of the other best strikers in the league are also suspended for this gameweek, finding a replacement for the same price or less will be tough.
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