The latest decisions made by the top 10,000 Fantasy Premier League managers look like the perfect ingredients for significant movement at the higher end of the worldwide rankings in Gameweek 36+.
Not only was there no clear consensus for the captaincy, the chip deployment means there is more squad variety among the top 10k than has been seen thus far into the Premier League’s restart.
The most recent battle for the armband is likely to be the biggest deciding factor in how this round pans out though, creating some incredibly polarising results at this level.
As you can see, there were four assets who came into Gameweek 36+ with more than 10% backing for the captaincy among the top 10k.
Raheem Sterling (£11.8m) emerged with the largest support but his 20% support can hardly be described as much of a majority, only 3.2 percentage points higher than the number of top 10k managers who placed the armband on Christian Pulisic (£7.3m).
The fact that he managed only an assist against Norwich on Tuesday evening certainly opens the door for those who looked outside of the American.
Plenty of attention will settle on Manchester United as they travel to Selhurst Park, because Bruno Fernandes (£9.0m), who has registered attacking returns in every away match since the Premier League restart, has been backed by 16.6% of the top 10k for the captaincy.
Despite a loss of 55,000+ owners in Gameweek 36+, Kevin De Bruyne (£10.8m) is still in the picture with 11.5% support for the armband with Bournemouth preparing for a trip to the Etihad Stadium.
With both of those statistics in mind, Fernandes (108.3%) and De Bruyne (87.2%) remain the top two players for effective ownership among the top 10k FPL managers for this round.
The 7.9% of such bosses who captained Gabriel Jesus (£9.8m) for Gameweek 36+ may feel a lot more comfortable in having done so now that they have seen the split for the armband in the top 10k. While he has the fifth-highest support for the armband at this level, the gap between the Brazilian and Sterling stands at just 12.1 percentage points.
Meanwhile, Gameweek 36+’s fixtures convinced a sizeable number of managers inside the top 10k to deploy the Free Hit chip.
16.8% were convinced to trade in their current crop of players for a temporary selection, one of the largest swells of support for the chip this season.
Not many others were considered for Gameweek 36+ either, 1.7% of the top 10k going with the second Wildcard, 2% on a Triple Captain and 3.41% opting to Bench Boost.
That means 3.6% at that level are still waiting to use the second Wildcard in the final two Gameweeks, just over 10% want to use the Triple Captain in that time and just under 13% are saving the Bench Boost.
Most importantly, a large number of top 10k managers are looking to use the Free Hit either in Gameweek 37+ or 38+, specifically 34.6% of them.
As you can imagine, most of this season’s best managers in the world have played the majority of their chips, with 47.1% of them exhausting their supply as of Gameweek 36+.
Of great interest is the small number of bosses at this level who buck the trend. 6.8% of them are likely to play a chip in each of the remaining Gameweeks, having deployed only two of them so far.
Meanwhile, at least 0.8% at this level have wasted the opportunity to use all their chips this season, 0.1% of the top 10k in a position where none of those available in the second half of the campaign have been played.
It is no surprise to see Manchester City and Chelsea assets were the main reason for Free Hitting among the top 10k in Gameweek 36+ with their favourable fixtures against Bournemouth and Chelsea respectively.
These managers were largely unequivocal in their verdict on the best options from Pep Guardiola’s squad, with Jesus and Sterling both selected by more than 70% of top 10k Free Hitters, while Phil Foden (£5.5m) was in just under 40% of such squads.
That means De Bruyne was unable to squeeze into the top five midfielders in terms of popularity, somewhat interesting compared with how many at this level captained the Belgian for Gameweek 36+ and what his effective ownership stands at.
Meanwhile, there were a number of Chelsea options considered in both defence and midfield with at least 40% going for Cesar Azpilicueta (£6.1m) and Marcos Alonso (£6.1m), who both kept a clean sheet against Norwich.
Meanwhile, Pulisic was the most popular midfielder in top 10k Free Hit squads, chosen by a whopping 81.5% of them, even more than Fernandes (79.3%) and Sterling (70.1%). Willian (£7.4m) was the comparatively differential option on Pulisic, chosen by just 48.2% of such managers at this level, while 38.7% have Foden lined up for the Bournemouth game.
Also of interest is the fact that Lucas Digne (£5.8m) is the most popular defender on Free Hits, while Danny Ings (£7.5m) pulled in considerably more support than Olivier Giroud (£6.7m), who scored against Norwich.
Naturally, the Wildcard squads take a much more long-term view, as much as that is possible with the end of the season edging ever closer.
As a result, Pulisic is the only Chelsea player to find a place in such selections among the top 10k managers, considering that, after Norwich, they face Liverpool (away) and Wolves (home).
The Gameweek 36+ Wildcarders were much more interested in the two Manchester clubs, with Fernandes taking up space in 93.5% of these squads, Anthony Martial (£8.4m) in 65.9% and Mason Greenwood (£4.9m) in 81.2% of them.
As has been the case with Wildcards and Free Hits recently, there is not too much consensus about the best options in defence, John Egan (£4.6m), Digne, Charlie Taylor (£4.4m) and Romain Saïss (£4.7m) all pulling in at least 34% backing by Gameweek 36+ Wildcarders in the top 10k.
With Free Hits so popular this week and Wildcards still used only sparingly, the overall top 10k template has not shifted too much.
Jesus has broken into the top three most popular forwards but Sterling still sits outside the top-five midfielders which, when you consider his captaincy backing, makes him still an incredibly effective weapon at this level in Gameweek 36+.
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