This Week in FPL: GW9 | What you need to know

Fantasy Premier League is seemingly more popular than ever, with over 5.7 million players playing FPL this season on the official site. There’s an ever-increasing number of articles and podcasts dedicated to fantasy football and constant discussion on Twitter and on other social media as a result. We’re now heading to GW9 already. 

In some ways, this makes it more difficult than ever to make decisions regarding what to do with your fantasy team. Sifting through the almost endless amounts of information available to you has become a valuable skill. How do you know which people know what they’re talking about? Below is a summary of the main debates and conversations around the Fantasy Premier League game ahead of Gameweek 9, rather than a vain attempt to provide a hot take as to who is “essential” or a “must-have”.

GW9 The Main Conversation

Many FPL managers have spent the international break debating with themselves whether or not to keep Mohamed Salah in their team. Salah is again among the most transferred out players and features in the section below. He is the most expensive player in the game at £12.8m and hasn’t lived up to that price tag so far this season. His 42 points place him as the 7th top scoring midfielder. Chelsea’s Eden Hazard, in comparison, is the game’s top scorer with 74. Salah has amassed three goals and two assists this season, which isn’t awful, and he has two great fixtures next in Huddersfield (A) and Cardiff (H). Salah is also listed as doubtful on the FPL website with a muscle injury that he sustained on international duty.

You’d expect Salah to start scoring soon, especially with Liverpool’s next two fixtures being against two of the worst Premier League teams. But time is running out for Salah, as he’s just so expensive. He does have great underlying stats, but he’s not converting chances and Liverpool don’t look like scoring as many goals as last season. Liverpool are a lot stronger defensively than they have been in seasons past and don’t need to rely on their front three to win the games on their own. Jürgen Klopp’s side do not need Salah to break records again this season, and perhaps this is contributing to Salah’s drop in fantasy output.

Most Transferred In 

Matt Doherty (DEF, WOL, £4.7m) – The Wolves wing back was the top points scorer in GW 8 and has a goal in addition to two assists so far this season. Wolves have kept 4 clean sheets and have looked far more competent defensively than many people were predicting. Their defenders are cheap and Doherty’s attacking contributions have been enough to persuade 401,208 fantasy managers to transfer him in this gameweek.

Eden Hazard (MID, CHE, £11.3m) – Hazard has been incredibly impressive for Sarri’s new-look Chelsea side, amassing 7 goals and 3 assists despite only starting six games. 263,974 players have transferred in Hazard this gameweek, bringing his ownership to 48.1%. Hazard’s next five fixtures include games against Manchester United and Spurs.

Alexandre Lacazette (FWD, ARS, £9.6m) – Lacazette has started in each of Arsenal’s last five Premier League matches and this trend looks set to continue with the Frenchman in great form. There are doubts surrounding many of the game’s premium priced forwards, which has prompted 247,770 managers to transfer in Lacazette over the international break.

Callum Wilson (FWD, BOU, £6.4m) – Only Manchester City and Arsenal have scored more goals than Bournemouth this season. Callum Wilson has great underlying stats, with 5.34 xG so far, per understat.com. The Bournemouth attacker has benefited from the good form of his teammates Josh King and Ryan Fraser, but has a tougher patch of fixtures emerging. Wilson plays Manchester United, Arsenal, Manchester City and Liverpool between now and GW16, but 237,349 managers have been confident enough in his ability to transfer him in regardless.

Gylfi Sigurdsson (MID, EVE, £7.4m) – The Icelandic midfielder has a history of being a worthy fantasy asset and scored 181 points in the 2016/17 season. He was a poor choice last campaign, and playing under a manager as uninventive as Sam Allardyce likely played a part in that. Sigurdsson has four goals in his last four games, which includes a brace against Fulham in GW7. Everton have a mixed bag in terms of upcoming fixtures and 184,299 managers have transferred in Sigurdsson ahead of GW9.

Most Transferred Out

José Holebas (DEF, WAT, £4.9m) – The Watford full back is suspended for his side’s trip to Wolves after picking up five yellow cards in the first eight games of the season. Watford’s form has taken a turn for the worse after their good start and they’ve conceded nine goals in their last four games. Unless Holebas can continue to earn points for attacking contributions upon his return to the side he doesn’t represent good value for money with cheaper defenders on better defensive sides (such as Wolves) available. Holebas has been transferred out 302,979 times this gameweek.

Mohamed Salah (MID, LIV, £12.8m) – Per understat.com, Mohamed Salah has 5.91 xG and  2.04 xA. He is still getting into fantastic positions and creating opportunities for himself and for his teammates. However, things haven’t been going right for him, and to a lesser extent, his forward partners Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mané. Salah hasn’t produced enough points so far this season to justify his price tag and 225,811 players have sold the Egyptian.

Sadio Mané (MID, LIV, £9.9m) – Another Liverpool player rounds out the top 3 most transferred out. Mané, like Salah, picked up a knock over the international break and it’s unclear whether or not Mané will start for Liverpool at the weekend. Mané hasn’t had a goal or an assist since GW4 and other premium midfielders like Eden Hazard have become far more popular.

Wilfried Zaha (MID, CRY, £7.0m) – Crystal Palace have looked terrible going forward in recent weeks and this has impacted Zaha’s prospects as a fantasy option. Christian Benteke’s absence has, perhaps surprisingly, appeared to hurt Palace and Zaha in particular. Crystal Palace have only scored five goals so far this season and this makes it very difficult to be enthusiastic about Zaha. 165,669 managers have transferred him out so far this gameweek.

Lucas Moura (MID, TOT, £7.4m) – Barely over 100,000 players had the Tottenham midfielder in their team at the start of the season. But, after scoring three goals and earning himself an assist in the first four games he has shot to 21.2% ownership. Lucas has not been involved in any of Spurs’ last six goals from a fantasy perspective and plays Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal in gameweeks 10, 13 and 14. 132,509 managers have opted to go in a different direction at the position with other similarly priced options like Sigurdsson emerging.

Under the Radar

There’s been a lot of talk about Kevin de Bruyne recently. The Manchester City midfielder looks to have recovered from his injury at a far quicker pace than was estimated and could return to the field as soon as this weekend. The Belgian had 18 assists last season and 21 in 2016/17. He scores the occasional goal, too, and is one of the first names on the City teamsheet when fit. He is not rotated as much as many of City’s other options, and this makes him extremely valuable as a fantasy asset. His injury has seen his price drop to £9.7m, which makes him affordable for Mané owners looking to bring in de Bruyne.

Especially when considering Aguero’s extensive history of injury issues, de Bruyne offers an almost unique opportunity to cover Manchester City’s attacking output and he’s cheaper than Aguero or Sterling. It is, in my opinion, too early to bring him in though. We don’t know whether or not he’s fully fit or how much he’ll feature against Burnley in GW9, and he has a tricky away trip to Spurs in GW10. Kevin de Bruyne is, however, definitely worth considering, especially with expensive midfielders like Salah and Mané perhaps not living up to their current inflated price tags and the fact that Raheem Sterling costs £11.1m. Kevin de Bruyne is owned by just 3.7% of FPL players ahead of GW9.

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