Sergio Aguero’s renaissance was inevitably felt in the market this week.
A total of 8,310,169 transfers were made for Gameweek 6 – much higher than the 6,384,221 made at the same point last season. While we have 1.1 million more players in the game, we saw just 7,142,233 in Gameweek 5 so, clearly, there has been far more activity.
Managers rushed to get in City representation for the plum home tie against Crystal Palace, and many earned rewards in another whirlwind weekend which saw all of last season’s top six secure victories.
Leading strikers were banging in the goals for fun, but big wing-backs such as Marcos Alonso and Ben Davies blanked to punish their recent investors.
So how did the market react?
Continuing our series of weekly articles, we at whogottheassist.com are reviewing and commenting on trends and behaviours in the market, looking at common themes and giving our view on the viability of the transfers taking place.
The power-three strike force
Alvaro Morata is at the forefront of many Fantasy managers’ minds at the moment.
The Spanish forward netted a hat-trick this at Stoke City to bring his tally to six goals and two assists in six league matches – a hugely encouraging start to his Stamford Bridge career.
Not surprisingly, he is the most popular target so far this Gameweek, with over 200,000 transfers-in.
The men being sacrificed in the most part are Gabriel Jesus, Roberto Firmino and Wayne Rooney.
Jesus didn’t kick a ball for Man City after a full match in the EFL, Firmino registered a third successive blank and Rooney failed to produce in what many had pinpointed as a favourable match-up versus Bournemouth.
However, with Morata there remain concerns that he could just be a flat track bully.
He was playing against a Stoke City defence beset with injuries and also missing the influence of Kurt Zouma, who was ineligible against his parent club.
When Chelsea played Arsenal in Gameweek 5, he was competently shut out of the game by Shkrodan Mustafi and, with Man City next up, it may be that new owners may miss out on instant returns. The much-improved City defence have allowed the fewest shots so far (41) and claimed four clean sheets from their six fixtures.
Elsewhere, with Romelu Lukaku, Aguero and Harry Kane all delivering points, we were left coveting a fourth striker slot.
The trio are all seeing purchases due to successful returns and, with cheaper forwards the ones being ditched, it seems many managers are now committing to a “power-three” forward line.
Budget strikers offer alternative
Ronald Koeman’s ‘Ni-asse’ was saved by his forgotten striker Oumar at the weekend.
The 5.0 man – who wasn’t even registered on FPL prior to kick-off – delivered from the bench, scoring twice as Everton came from behind to beat Bournemouth and bring a four-match winless run to an end.
Notably, Niasse wasn’t named in the Europa League squad, meaning that he looks primed for league action this weekend against Burnley, and perhaps for matches to follow.
Everton’s much vaunted fixture swing is now underway, with the visit of Burnley and a trip to Brighton up next. Over 45,000 managers have taken a punt on Niasse so far.
However, even with a brace and no European football, he will still face stiff completion from the likes of Rooney, Sandro Ramirez and Dominic Calvert-Lewin for a starting berth.
Given Koeman’s previous stance on the Senegal striker, it perhaps won’t take much for him to lose confidence in Saturday’s match winner.
Elsewhere, other cut-price options emerged such as Tomer Hemed for Brighton who, also priced at 5.0, scored his second goal of the campaign.
However, his 30,000 new owners look set to suffer instant punishment after he picked up a retrospective charge for a stamp on DeAndre Yedlin. A three match suspension looks likely.
Tammy Abraham has been tempting us as a third striker option since the season kick-off. His second goal of the campaign against Watford earned him maximum bonus points and has convinced over 30,000 new owners to risk investment, boosting his value to 5.6.
The Swans have a kindly trio of fixtures to come, with West Ham, Huddersfield and Leicester City all looming. Although Paul Clement’s decision to start with Wilfried Bony over Abraham suggests there is still need for caution.
In addition, other than Crystal Palace, the Swans are the least potent side on show, with the fewest shots and shots (40) in the box (28) recorded so far.
Wing-backs clipped by dominant centre-halves
This was a Gameweek where centre-halves dominated their wing-back rivals.
Marcos Alonso and Benjamin Mendy both drew blanks to sting those who had invested premium funds in defence.
Alonso owners were extremely unfortunate to see their man blank after being substituted in the 58th minute. Insult was added to injury as team-mate Cesar Azpilicueta, who is 0.6 cheaper, earned two assists, a clean sheet and a bumper 14-point haul.
This has sparked over 81,000 saleas of Alonso, with 25,000 managers making the straight swap between Chelsea’s two Spaniards: the third most popular direct switch of the Gameweek so far.
The point to be made, we think, is that if Alonso had played just two minutes more it is likely we wouldn’t have seen one third of those trades, illustrating just how sensitive to point totals rather than context the market really is.
We also saw other centre-backs continue to perform, with the likes of Phil Jones and Nicolas Otamendi bringing in valuable points for their owners.
Otamendi has had over 68,000 managers acquire his services, having started in every Gameweek so far.
With 23 points in his last three matches, he offers a cheaper alternative to his more expensive counterparts in the wing-back roles, although Vincent Kompany’s return to fitness will put rotation back on the agenda.
Jones mustered a clean sheet and also got three bonus points.
Over 92,000 managers have swooped for the England defender, making him the third most bought player so far this Gameweek. His price has already risen by 0.1 as a result, but he’s still great value, at 5.2, for a United defender who is assured of his start while Victor Lindelof continues to acclimatise.
Crystal Palace visit Old Trafford next. The Eagles are yet to score in the league and their main striker, Christian Benteke, will be sidelined. It all adds up to further rewards for Jones and instant dividends for his Gameweek investors.
City goal rush maintains investment
A 5-0 win against Palace meant that City are now 16 goals to the good from their last three Gameweek outings.
We’ve already mentioned Aguero, but his creative sidekick David Silva is another who continues to draw in new owners. With an 11-point return from a pair of assists – he now has six in six matches this season.
After a disappointing 2016/17 campaign, the Spanish playmaker looks to hitting new levels in Fantasy terms and appears essential to Pep Guardiola’s gameplan. Over 110,000 managers have brought in the midfielder thus far, making him the second most bought player this Gameweek.
There are no real surprises for which sales are fuelling the Silva wagon, with over 16,000 stragglers still owning Paul Pogba trading him out. And those on City team-mate Kevin De Bruyne – who continues to be be put in the shade by Silva as a creative force – are also making the swap.
Over 18,000 have shifted De Bruyne for Silva, which has given managers an extra 1.6 million to play with, enabling other possibilities such as the popular Roberto Firmino to Morata trade.
The Man City supporting cast also impressed yet again, with the likes of Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane fetching 13 and 16 points respectively.
Sane is now the sixth highest-scoring midfielder (and Sterling the eigth), despite neither playing more than 300 minutes in total. The market has also noticed them both, with Sane earning over 62,000 new owners and Sterling attracting more than 51,000.
Their hauls came at the expense of Gabriel Jesus, who is the third most sold player already, with over 118,000 exits.
However, the rotating cast alongside the core of Silva, De Bruyne and, perhaps, Aguero will surely bring missed minutes and perhaps disappointment further down the line.
Coutinho buys chips for the red roulette
Back fit and firing for Liverpool, at 8.8 Philippe Coutinho represented fantastic value for those managers brave enough to adopt him early on.
A 13-point haul has already led to over 78,000 transfers-in and a price rise to 8.9. But with just 5% ownership, he remains a convincing differential at this stage.
However, with Sadio Mane returning for the Gameweek 7 trip to Newcastle, Coutinho may be forced into a deeper role and to share the points with Jurgen Klopp’s attacking front three. Liverpool’s fixtures are tightening too, with Manchester United and Spurs to come over the next three Gameweeks.
The (so far) reliably productive Mohamed Salah is also growing in popularity, but Firmino owners appear to have lost patience after three successive blanks.
Over 139,000 managers have moved him out – more than any other player – with over 43,000 of them choosing to replace him directly with Chelsea’s Morata.
The rise of alternatives like Morata and Alexandre Lacazette, alongside the return of Aguero to FPL prominence, has challenged the Kane/Lukaku-heavy template sides we saw at the start of the season.
It’s worth recalling that in the first five Gameweeks, we were highlighting the movements toward a strong backline, with the other positions being undercut to move cash to the defence.
That trend looks to be turning, with the likes of Alonso beginning to be sold and the Ben Davies gravy train derailed by his one-pointer against West Ham.
Could it be that now we are seeing a re-balancing of squad value, with funds being pushed to the top of the pitch? It looks that way.
However, it’s worth bearing in mind that, alongside Coutinho’s haul, Alexis Sanchez registered his first points of the season last night with an assist for Lacazette’s opener. And Chelsea’s talisman, Eden Hazard, seems destined for a first start against Manchester City.
It might just be that one of those two premium midfielders announces themselves this weekend, sending the market into yet another template-busting flurry prior to the international break.
Given the twists and turns we’ve seen already this season, we certainly wouldn’t rule that out but, for now at least, the big-hitting forwards dominate both our thinking and the market.