It has been a nightmare week for Jose Mourinho at Manchester United, 3 defeats in the space of a week has undone the good progress his side were making after a start of 4 wins out of 4.
Mourinho hasn’t lost 3 games in a row since his Porto days 14 years ago, proving his task at United is not as easy as simply throwing money at it. Mourinho had arguably the best transfer window of the summer, smashing records and bringing in huge names, (an impressive achievement considering United have missed out on Europe’s best competition) but after 2 consecutive league defeats and one in Europe to boot, his methods and tactics will come under great scrutiny.
In the Fantasy Football world, two straight defeats for any team is a cause for concern. As United have failed to return significant points for their owners in the past two rounds, I would expect ownership in their players to fall again this week. As the most owned player in the game, Zlatan Ibrahimovic was also the most captained player in gameweek 5 at 37%, and to moderate success as his assist for Marcus Rashford was (controversially) awarded by the FPL to the great relief of the 62% who own him. However, despite returning points in 4 of his 5 games this season, his price tag is rising to £12m and his ownership reaching to two thirds of all teams.
This is a concern. Not only is £12m a huge fee for one FPL player, but 62% ownership means a hit for that player will see no great leaps in the overall rankings for owners. On the other hand, owning a player with smaller ownership and potential to match or outscore Ibrahimovic will see great rank jumps if Ibrahimovic blanks. As players such as Lukaku and Costa offer the same levels of consistency at a lower price, it is likely that ownership in Ibrahimovic will begin to fall. There is also the return of Aguero to consider, many will prefer the Argentinian and use the Ibrahimovic money to upgrade.
It is true that Ibrahimovic has returned points in his two most recent fixtures as United continue to struggle, but other United players such as Anthony Martial have already seen their ownership evaporate. I don’t expect Ibrahimovic ownership to fall as sharply, mainly because United defenders are a greater risk. United have two clean sheets banked this season, but conceding 3 away at Watford before a fixture run of Leicester, Liverpool and Chelsea in 3 of the next four games suggests it will be difficult for the Red Devils to keep more any time soon.
A fair amount of managers have included two players from United’s defensive options, likely at £11m invested. While this paid off nicely for the first 3 gameweeks, the investment is no longer sustainable. Defenders are scoring in other teams for cheaper prices. One example this week was Seamus Coleman. Coleman was under 2% owned going into GW5 and £0.2m cheaper than Luke Shaw (24% owned), he scored 10 times more points, proving to be a competent differential pick.
While United are exasperating fans with their static displays, Watford have 7 goals in their last two games. In a superb home display for Gameweek 5, Watford brushed aside Man United with relative ease as Walter Mazzarri’s men earned their second win of the season.
Etienne Capoue scored yet again, delighting his ever growing owners (30%). The subject of many FPL discussions this season, the Frenchman now has 4 goals and an assist to his name since Gameweek 1. Truly incredible form, he now has over 1 million owners and many are no longer benching him. While 30% of his owners (330,000) did bench him in GW5, upcoming fixtures all against percieved weaker opposition Burnley, Hull, Middlesbrough, Swansea and Bournemouth make that number expected to fall greatly. His form is impossible to ignore now and still priced under £5m, he is a no brainer for FPL managers looking to downgrade a midfielder. Capoue was the most transferred in player this GW and it would no surprise if he was again before the next.
On 2 points before GW5, Juan Zuniga wasn’t considered an option by anyone. Less than 20 minutes of Football across the first 4 weeks led Zuniga ownership hovering at 0.5% before the Man United victory. Priced at £4.4m and facing a kind run of fixtures, Zuniga has suddenly beome a Fantasy Football option on the back of his gameweek 5 exploits. As Managers search for the best of the bargain defenders, Zuniga will be jumped on by many who will expect his game time to improve. A goal and an assist from his 9 minute cameo against United suggest a player with great explosive potential, there aren’t many defenders with that reputation, ones under £4.5m are certainly very rare.
Also delivering well for the Hornets is new signing Roberto Pereyra. A points return from each of his 3 games for Watford, a goal and 2 assists against tough opposition (Arsenal, West Ham and Man United) suggests a good season ahead for the £6m (in FPL) midfielder. Just 0.7% of managers have chosen to back Pereyra until now but with Capoue taking very much all of the limelight, differential hunters might be more interested by Pereyra as a long term differential asset.
Troy Deeney on penalties and the once prolific Odion Ighalo leading the line for Watford could also be on fantasy manager radars. Deeney is a low 3% owned and £0.7 cheaper than Christian Benteke, a player many backed by many in GW5 whose fixtures begin to toughen after GW6.
This GW5 fixture has thrown up many Fantasy football clues indeed. Watford have proved themselves a valid option in the FPL as far as I’m concerned where United have failed. It is too hard to see where United points are going to come from going forward and Ibrahimovic ownership is so high now it seems wiser to back someone lower owned. One thing we can say with absolute certainty however is never bench Capoue….
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