The market is ablaze with activity following Pep Guardiola’s Man City team selection at home to Burnley.
Joy for some and despair for others, it is the latter emotion driving Fantasy Premier League transfers.
Meanwhile, the unexpected defeat at Huddersfield Town has dented the already fragile confidence in Manchester United assets, another key factor behind the transactions now taking place.
Last week saw just 5,290,705 transfers made – the lowest of any Gameweek so far. Meanwhile, 114,879 Wildcards were activated, some 85,000 down on Gameweek 8.
However, despite that relative calm, the unpredictable price changes mirror the volatile nature of a Guardiola teamsheet. In the early hours of Saturday morning, we observed 21 drops and nine rises, certainly the biggest number of price changes we’ve seen over 24-hours this season.
Continuing our series of weekly articles, we at whogottheassist.com are reviewing and discussing the patterns and behaviours of Fantasy managers in a market that has become increasingly volatile of late.
All aboard Aguero
Pep’s shifting teamsheets have inspired FPL managers to shuffle their Man City assets.
This is perhaps a futile exercise given the prevailing uncertainty regarding Guardiola’s selections.
In Gameweek 9, Sergio Aguero’s start and goal from the spot has been enough to drive some owners of the rested Gabriel Jesus to ditch the Brazilian, turning to his team-mate as the replacement.
An astonishing 73,000 direct swaps have been made between the two South American strikers – the most popular transfer so far ahead of Gameweek 10.
Many who were frustrated with the five-point return from United’s Romelu Lukaku in the shock defeat at Huddersfield have also been latching on to Aguero.
The switch between that pair amounts to more than 60,000 transfers so far. That means that 70% of the 189,000 who have moved from Aguero have done so from either Jesus or Lukaku.
While there appears to be real confidence in the Argentine, City’s embarrassment of riches suggest that it’s unlikely that their manager will stick to a settled attack when all his resources are fit.
Sterling bench role sparks Sane Movement
Raheem Sterling’s omission was the other decision from Guardiola that had a seismic impact Gameweek 9.
Arguably in the form of his life, Sterling was rested as Bernardo Silva was handed a rare start.
That paved the way for Leroy Sane to retain his berth, despite playing the full 90 minutes in the Champions League against Napoli in midweek. Sterling played just 70 minutes in that contest, illustrating the folly of attempting to second-guess Guardiola.
This turn of events has seen the Aguero/Jesus situation mirrored in midfield, with Sane picking up owners from team-mates Sterling and David Silva.
Over 17,000 have moved from Sterling, though more – some 18,200 – have swapped from Silva.
Additionally, as was the case with Lukaku, we are also seeing owners of United assets make the shift to City.
Unsurprisingly, the fall guy is the out-of-form Henrikh Mkhitaryan. More than 35,000 managers have gone from the Armenian to Sane, the third most popular transfer ahead of Gameweek 10.
Otamendi in demand
As we noted last week, the reign of the premium wing-back looks to be faltering.
Key assets in that category – Marcos Alonso, Ben Davies and Sead Kolasinac – seem to have dried up.
Davies, in particular, is suffering a large volume of sales, with more than 58,000 having already lost patience after he was preserved on the Spurs bench for Liverpool’s visit.
Davies has started in just two of the last five Gameweeks.
An ineffectual display against Watford, curtailed to 67 minutes, has also hit confidence in Alonso. The Spaniard has dropped another 37,000 owners so far and since Gameweek 5 he’s suffered losses of 270,000.
The Chelsea defence continues to creak in the absence of N’Golo Kante, limiting Alonso’s clean sheet prospects. More alarmingly, his attacking potential has diminished, with Cesar Azpilicueta surprisingly stealing that thunder.
It’s a similar story with Kolasinac, who is being overshadowed by a run of attacking returns from team-mate Nacho Monreal.
The Bosnian lost 87,000 owners before Sunday’s two-point return at Everton. He’s already been sold by another 13,000 ahead of Gameweek 10.
Meanwhile, Monreal has attracted over 51,000 new managers.
Some of that traffic has come from United’s Eric Bailly, who continues to suffer losses following successive Gameweek no-shows.
But Nicolas Otamendi is the main benefactor from Bailly’s demise.
An unpredictable source of Man City’s top score in Gameweek 9, the Argentine’s late headed goal delivered 15 points for his 850,000 owners.
This has inspired almost 100,000 to swoop for the centre-back, with 13,000 heading from Bailly.
The aforementioned Davies and Alonso are also feeding Otamendi’s rise, accounting for another 21,000 of his trades.
King size Richarlison
Watford’s quicksilver Richarlison has gradually built up his bandwagon in recent Gameweeks, but only now is it gathering pace.
An assist in the 4-2 defeat at Chelsea – lifting him to sixth in the midfield standings – has been enough to inspire a new level of interest.
Statistically, Richarlison is something of a monster, recording more shots (32) than any other midfielder. He appears to be the main candidate to replicate the fixture-proof midfield value presented by Bournemouth’s Josh King in 2016/17.
But it’s surely the Hornets’ forthcoming fixtures behind the current spike. Marco Silva’s side now face an attractive quartet of opponents (STK eve WHU new), which should give Richarlison the platform to kick on further.
He’s the third most acquired asset since Friday’s deadline, with over 107,000 jumping on board ahead of the meeting with Stoke City.
Again, Mkhitaryan is the major fall guy. He has lost over 19,000 owners to the Samba star, while Sterling is the next biggest contributor, with 7,000 making that swap. That, along with the Silva sales, is perhaps driven by Otamendi’s appeal as FPL managers clear a City slot to exploit the defender’s potential.
Kane’s Wembley brace turns heads
It took less than five minutes for Harry Kane to finally break his Wembley hoodoo on Sunday afternoon, latching onto a Kieran Trippier flick to perhaps put to bed the theories surrounding his struggles on “home” turf.
Though the most expensive asset in the game at 12.7, he has not been immune to the sensitivity of the market, with his price and ownership rising and falling on several occasions.
Only last week, we saw Kane taking losses as managers rushed to the Jesus solution.
But having soared to the top of the FPL standings with Sunday’s 16-point return, Kane may just be edging back into the “indispensable” category.
We’ve already seen a spike in the market, with 75,000 making their move for the Spurs striker, even with the Gameweek 10 trip to Old Trafford as a potential deterrent.
Notably, a third of those trades have come from Lukaku, who will share the pitch with Kane on Saturday.
Morata still a target
Alvaro Morata has suffered a stilted few Gameweeks, with his injury curtailing what appeared to be a potential run of form and precipitating mass sales.
However, a return to the side for Chelsea’s midweek clash with Roma saw many managers reverse that trend and show confidence ahead of Watford’s visit.
Unfortunately, Morata’s one-point performance will have only caused concern, though his new owners can look to a promising array of fixtures to inspire stronger returns.
This has made Morata one of the more confusing players to assess this week.
Despite his abject display, he’s attracted a lot of interest in the market. The straight swap from Jesus to Morata has made up over 22,000 transactions. Meanwhile, another 12,000 have swapped from Lukaku, with 7,000 Jamie Vardy owners also heading in his direction.
Notably, however, this is balanced by 11,000 making the trade from Morata to Aguero, with 8,700 moving from the Chelsea striker to Kane.
It’s yet another situation to monitor in a confusing market.
Having witnessed the lowest number of transfers seen so far this season, we could presume that uncertainty and short-termism is currently defining the market, driving many to show caution with their transfers.
We can cite the trading within the City squad and the constant fluctuations in Morata’s market as an indication that managers may be wise to watch and wait rather than move at this time.
The wider trend we expect to develop – as mentioned last week – is the shift away from the early-season heavy defensive set-up.
The performances and fixtures for assets such as Richarlison, along with the return of midfield heavy-hitters Eden Hazard and Alexis Sanchez may just force a rethink on formation and budget allocation.