With many Fantasy Premier League (FPL) managers activating their first Wildcard ahead of Gameweek 7, we’ve picked out some of the best midfield options on offer across a range of price-points.
However, it will also be of interest for those looking at ‘free’ transfer targets ahead of the upcoming Gameweek.
All stats taken from this article are from our Premium Members Area.
You can read our look at the stand-out forwards here.
On current form, Mohamed Salah (£12.6m) is clearly the standout premium midfielder on offer.
Playing some of his best football since joining Liverpool, the Egyptian has already racked up five goals, three assists and 57 FPL points in just six Premier League starts. His 25 goal attempts, 22 shots in the box and 4.38 expected goals (xG) are all league-leading totals, while his 9.5 points per match is more than any other player in the game.
The Reds’ attacking form is also worth touching on. Jurgen Klopp’s side have now scored at least three goals in six successive matches in all competitions, averaging 22 shots per game, while they also lead their Premier League rivals for goals scored, big chances and xG.
Despite his premium price tag, Salah hands FPL managers a reliable captain option most weeks, and building your Gameweek 7 Wildcard squad around him is a wise move.
Despite a couple of testing fixtures up next, Bryan Mbeumo (£5.5m) remains one of the most exciting budget midfielders available in FPL.
With Ivan Toney (£6.3m) dropping a little deeper and linking play in Brentford’s 3-5-2 formation, Mbeumo has been tasked with running in behind, and as a result, trumps his team-mate for big chances, penalty area touches and xG.
Bryan Mbeumo v Ivan Toney goal threat 2021/22
His -1.41 xG delta suggests that he needs to work on his finishing, but the fact he is getting into good goalscoring positions is of course encouraging.
In an attempt to capitalise on Manchester City’s Gameweek 8 to 10 fixtures, investing in one of their attacking options makes a lot of sense.
However, with uncertainty surrounding Ferran Torres’ (£7.0m) game-time, plus Kevin De Bruyne’s (£11.9m) problematic price tag, team-mate Jack Grealish (£8.0m) may well be the best midfielder on offer.
The England international has now started every Premier League match for City since his £100m move from Aston Villa, and though there will surely be rotation at some stage, right now, he does feel like one of the more secure starters in Pep Guardiola’s XI.
Slotting in on the left of City’s front three, Grealish marked his home debut against Norwich City with a goal and provided an assist in the 5-0 win over Arsenal. He also scored an impressive solo strike on his Champions League bow against RB Leipzig, and despite a third successive Premier League blank at Chelsea in Gameweek 6, has contributed significantly.
The former Villa man is top or joint-top among his teammates for chances created, shots in the box, efforts on target, big chances, penalty box touches and expected goal involvement (xGI).
Raphinha (£6.5m) turned in his best performance of the season so far against West Ham United in Gameweek 6, as he netted his third goal of the campaign, while only the width of the post denied him another.
His -1.43 expected assists (xA) delta suggests that he has been unfortunate not to turn provider this term, and given that Leeds United have some appealing fixtures ahead, the Brazilian looks like an excellent Wildcard option.
However, his fitness and forthcoming involvement with the Brazil national team should be monitored ahead of Saturday’s FPL deadline, with his country due to take on Uruguay on Friday 15th October, just one day before the Whites visit Southampton in Gameweek 8.
“He let us know that it was becoming difficult to stay on the pitch. Throughout the whole week, he was recovering from the knock he received against Newcastle. He played a great game as long as he could stay on the field.” – Marcelo Bielsa on Raphinha, who was withdrawn midway through the second period in Gameweek 6
Ismaila Sarr (£6.3m) scored his fourth Premier League goal of the campaign last weekend, as Watford came from behind to earn a point against Newcastle United.
As a result, the Senegalese winger now ranks third amongst all midfielders for FPL points (39), ahead of an appealing trip to Leeds United in Gameweek 7.
Longer-term, however, there are legitimate concerns around Watford’s attack. Outside of their convincing 3-1 win at Norwich City, they have created just two big chances against Aston Villa (h), Brighton and Hove Albion (a), Tottenham Hotspur (a), Wolverhampton Wanderers (h) and Newcastle (h) combined, and with a mixed schedule coming up, that may be enough to put some off.
However, Sarr is Watford’s talisman, and has provided real value to date.
BUKAYO SAKA / EMILE SMITH ROWE
With nine points from their last three matches and an appealing schedule ahead, Arsenal’s budget midfielders are suddenly on the FPL radar.
Bukayo Saka (£6.2m) and Emile Smith Rowe (£5.3m) claimed season-high hauls in Sunday’s north London derby win, with 13 and 12 points respectively, which coincided with both players being used in arguably their best positions.
With Martin Ødegaard (£5.5m) installed as a no. 10 in Mikel Arteta’s 4-2-3-1 formation, Smith Rowe featured on the left, but would often drift infield into more central areas where he could affect the game, with Kieran Tierney (£4.9m) supplying the width down that side. On the opposite flank, Saka generally stayed wider, but Ødegaard would sometimes move into his zone, which in turn encouraged the England international to cut inside.
Arsenal’s average position map v Tottenham Hotspur in Gameweek 6, featuring Ramsdale (no. 32), Tomiyasu (18), White (4), Gabriel (6), Tierney (3), Partey (5), Xhaka (34), Saka (7), Ødegaard (8), Smith Rowe (10) and Aubameyang (14), plus substitutes Lokonga (23), Maitland-Niles (15) and Tavares (20).
The duo linked up well for the opener, ending the game as the Gunners’ expected goal involvement (xGI) leaders, and with fixtures now easing, could offer value in midfield.
Despite some worrying performances at Tottenham Hotspur in the opening weeks, Son Heung-min (£10.0m) has continued to produce, netting three goals and 32 FPL points in just five starts.
However, there are wider issues at Spurs.
Nuno Espirito Santo’s side have scored just four goals in six Premier League matches, while the underlying numbers – they rank 19th for xG and 20th for goal attempts overall – are equally concerning.
You get the feeling that Son needs an in-form Harry Kane (£12.1m) to truly thrive, which suggests that investing now is a risky move, but if you do feel like a punt on one of the best finishers around, Aston Villa (h) and Newcastle United (a) does feel like a reasonable couple of fixtures to attack.
In another energetic midfield display, Conor Gallagher (£5.7m) bagged an assist in Gameweek 6 after winning a first-half penalty against Brighton and Hove Albion.
The on-loan Chelsea man has now netted two goals and three assists since joining Crystal Palace, and ranks 11th amongst all midfielders for FPL points.
However, it is worth noting that the return of Luka Milivojevic (£5.4m) to Monday’s starting XI meant that he was no longer on set-pieces. Considering that a large chunk of his xA total had arrived from dead-ball situations, it is a blow, but he still warrants attention.
Gallagher has been the driving force in Patrick Vieira’s 4-3-3 formation so far this season, regularly breaking forward into the attacking third, which is captured on his 2021/22 touch heatmap:
With Leicester City and Newcastle United’s shaky defences up next at Selhurst Park, Gallagher remains a decent budget option.
If using a 3-4-3, 4-4-2 or 4-3-3 formation on your Wildcard, it’s highly likely that you’ll be on the lookout for a budget midfielder. And while Yves Bissouma (£4.6m) and Allan (£4.6m) are two of the more popular options right now, Aston Villa’s Douglas Luiz (£4.5m) has emerged as a viable alternative in recent matches.
Key to that has been a system change at Villa, which has seen Dean Smith line up his troops in a 5-3-2 / 3-5-2 shape. That has meant that the shackles are off central midfield pair Luiz and John McGinn (£5.8m), who no longer have as many defensive responsibilities with a back three stationed behind them.
Luiz’s new role is captured on his touch heatmap in Gameweeks 2 and 3 (left), when Villa used a back four system, and between Gameweeks 4 and 6 (right), in their new shape.
The Brazilian international’s creative numbers are also on the up since Gameweek 4, as he ranks joint-fifth amongst all midfielders for chances created and ninth for xA.
Having started 32 matches for Villa last term, his place in the starting XI is fairly secure and he should at least offer appearance points, with the potential for a few assists along the way.
In addition to the names detailed above, there are others who deserve a mention, too.
Providing Mason Mount (£7.4m) is passed fit, he is a nice mid-price option who has goal and assist potential, with the latter boosted by his share of set-pieces. You’d expect him to produce a steady stream of attacking returns in the coming weeks given Chelsea’s fixtures, and with his ownership down to just 9.5%, he could prove to be a clever addition.
Elsewhere, despite blanking at Leeds United in Gameweek 6, Said Benrahma (£6.5m) put in an excellent shift, with only an Illan Meslier (£5.0m) wonder save preventing him from breaking the deadlock early on. However, the fixtures are turning for the worse for the Hammers, especially when paired with a demanding UEFA Europa League campaign, which is worth factoring in when considering their assets.
After Saturday’s daunting trip to Chelsea, Southampton’s fixtures ease, with 90-minute man James Ward-Prowse (£6.4m) an option, albeit a fairly uninspiring one. However, being on penalties and all set-pieces shouldn’t be sniffed at, and he did show last season that he is capable of producing back-to-back goals and assists.
With the return of Roberto Firmino (£8.8m) from injury, owners of Diogo Jota (£7.7m) will surely have to get used to rotation, but he has proven that he can still deliver off of limited minutes. It does make him a tricky ‘buy’ though, and if predicting Klopp’s XI isn’t your thing, Demarai Gray (£5.8m) – the seventh highest scoring midfielder in FPL – might be worth a punt. Abdoulaye Doucoure (£5.6m) and Andros Townsend (£5.4m) are alternative options at Everton, but given that Gray is ahead – albeit narrowly – for shots and penalty box touches, it does feel like he is perhaps the Toffee with the most potential.
Demarai Gray v Andros Townsend v Abdoulaye Doucoure key attacking stats 2021/22
Before we finish up, there has been one glaring omission on this list: last season’s top scoring FPL asset, Bruno Fernandes (£11.9m). However, despite the fact that he could still be on penalties, he has registered just four shots in the box since Cristiano Ronaldo’s (£12.7m) arrival, and that makes it hard to justify the outlay. Manchester United’s fixtures also stiffen considerably over the next two months (see below), leaving them bottom of our Season Ticker. Given that fixture swing, now may be a good time to hop off the likes of Mason Greenwood (£7.7m) and Paul Pogba (£7.8m), rather than bring them in on a Wildcard.