Marc Albrighton was the popular choice. Every man and his dog had the Englishman in their sides, with the promise of a nailed-on option and even some potential attacking returns with a solid four assists in less than a thousand minutes last season. Everything was great and most Fantasy managers’ benches looked better because of him… until he got injured. Here we assess the other budget-priced midfielders that could replace him in our thoughts.
The Newcastle man from the Ivory Coast is almost certainly nailed on for the Magpies. Alan Pardew has sung his praises for years and even last year Pardew could be heard saying after a match in late March:
“He’s been terrific this year. He’s back to his very best, I would put him in our top three of the year.”
Tioté played the third most minutes of any Newcastle player in the Premier League last year and is commonly one of the first names on Pardew’s team sheet. The Ivorian’s talents lie as a defensive midfielder, though, which as we know in Fantasy Premier League (FPL) terms does not ordinarily correlate to Fantasy points. Tioté’s attacking potential is somewhat limited, so if you do draft him in, keep your expectations in Cheick, he averaged 0.72 key passes per 90 minutes last season as well as generating 0.75 chances created per 90 en route to a two-assist season. The statistic that stands out the most for Tioté, however, is his shooting – he averaged 1.43 shots per 90 minutes, which was more than any of the other midfielders he’s being compared with, as well as hitting 33% of those shots on target.
Those sound like some pretty good stats right? Well the only problem was that he didn’t score any of those shots last season and he has only scored once for Newcastle in his career, which was four years ago in his first season with the club.
Conclusion: Tioté does offers a few positives for prospective managers. He is nailed on and has got at least one assist per campaign since arriving at St. James’ Park ahead of the 2010/11 season but the downside is that his chances of adding a goal or two to his name are slim to none and he is a bit of a card magnet as he has averaged 11.75 cards a season at Newcastle. For those managers who are just searching for a player who will consistently play when fit, with the occasional assist out of the blue, he’s your man but don’t expect too much by way of points scored in the attacking half.
After playing in just 23 matches last year for an overachieving Southampton, the Kenyan should see even more playing time and be a nailed-on consistent starter for Southampton’s new manager, Ronald Koeman, this upcoming campaign. Victor Wanyama is the definition of a defensive midfielder and is as close to a player playing the Makelele role as you can see nowadays in the Premier League. He is a defensive anchor and was on the pitch for nine of Southampton’s incredible 15 clean sheets kept last season. Although they’ve lost a few key components in their back-line, Wanyama playing each match will be a large positive for the Saints, though 15 clean sheets will be harder to record for a second straight campaign. The downside, however, is that Wanyama offers owners extremely little hope of potential attacking returns.
Last season Wanayama created an abysmal 0.38 chances chances per 90 minutes, which was the lowest sum by far when compared to the other nailed-on 4.5-priced midfielders and unsurprisingly he didn’t record a single assist. On the shooting side the Kenyan is not much better. He averaged just 0.98 shots per 90, but when coupled with a disappointing 15% shot accuracy rate, it meant that Wanyama had more of his shots reach row Z then test the opposition keeper.
Conclusion: Many managers will flock to Wanyama as an option seeing just the face value – a nailed-on midfielder for a very cheap price in a relatively potent attacking side – but as the the stats will tell you, Wanyama offers extremely little in terms of potential attacking points and you will more than likely see a score of 1-3 points on your bench each Gameweek should you select him. If you just want the bare minimum out of your 4.5 midfielder (meaning that he’s just nailed-on) because you are worried about possibly benching points then Victor Wanyama is the way to go but he is really the worst option out of the four midfielders in consideration for your side.
Karim El Ahmadi
The Moroccan central midfielder looks set to feature for Aston Villa regularly this season, just as he did the last. Paul Lambert does have another option in Ashley Westwood for that second central midfielder spot alongside Fabian Delph, making El Ahmadi the least nailed of the four, but nonetheless he is still a pretty safe pick to start the vast majority of matches for the Villains. El Ahmadi has the best shooting statistics, on paper, of all our 4.5 options. Last season he averaged 1.29 shots per 90 minutes and an outstanding 44% of those shots were on target meaning he can be very active in Villa attacks. He produced two goals for Villa last season.
El Ahmadi is a decent passer as well. He played 0.75 key passes per 90 and created 0.79 chances per 90 minutes last season, ending up with one assist to his name. El Ahmadi also has the added benefit of occasionally being on some free-kicks and corners which can obviously only boost his appeal.
Conclusion: El Ahmadi is one of the better options at 4.5. He offers decent attacking potential for his price and he often will join in the Villa attack. His great shot on target percentage is reassuring to those who are willing to take a punt on him as you can hope for a few goals here or there. The downside to El Ahmadi is that the majority of his shots are taken from outside the box, and with Westwood lurking and Paul Lambert open to rotation between the two, he could be susceptible to losing his place in the starting XI which would render him a deadweight on your bench. So while the Moroccan is a good selection, he does have his fair share of risks tied to him.
Now we get to whom I feel is the best option of the four shown. Dean Marney is a holding midfielder for Burnley who likely offers the greatest potential return of attacking points for your investment. He will almost certainly be nailed on as he is a fans’ favorite and played 38 matches for Burnley last season. Marney does have Premier League experience from when he played with Hull in the 2008/09 and 2009/10 seasons. In his first season with Hull, Marney put on a great showing, racking up five assists in just over 1,000 minutes played. In his second he performed well once again, scoring a goal and getting three assists over the campaign.
Although these stats were all from five and six years ago, worry not – this past season while playing in the Championship Marney scored three goals and assisted seven more, a very reassuring set of stats for prospective owners. The Englishman’s numbers from last year are impressive as well and certainly tell the story behind his production last campaign. Marney produced 1.01 key passes per 90 minutes as well as creating 1.17 chances per 90 last season, which bodes well for those hoping he can come close to replicating his seven assists from from a season ago. Marney took 1.22 shots per 90 and a solid 30% of them found their way on target, both good statistics for a holding midfielder.
Conclusion: There really is not a better option than Marney. For 4.5, he provides the best number of potential attacking points to be had for that price, and should he start firing the way he is capable of, and indeed the way we’ve seen him do in the past, he could be excellent value. There is the chance he may catch a few price rises and, who knows, he might even come off your bench once or twice and delight you with a goal or assist showing.