1 month ago

FPL & FanTeam January Transfer Dilemmas

The hotly anticipated double Gameweek 19 is nearly behind us. After the FA Cup fixtures are completed this weekend, we should have a much better idea of how the season will pan out albeit not completely, with Covid-19 strains lurking around every corner. Nevertheless, there are still many questions on the tip of our tongues already. I reached out to you and got some great discussion points.


Who do I replace Kevin de Bruyne with?

Kevin de Bruyne was agonisingly subbed off in the 58th minute against Villa which was worsened when they got a last-minute penalty you would have expected him to take. To rub salt in the wound, it was confirmed that he is now out for 2 to 3 weeks and is a major doubt for the Liverpool game. Meaning he misses at least 3 gameweeks and likely more.

The obvious replacements are Bruno and Son. But I suspect most will have them. So that leaves me looking down the pecking order with  3 standout options for me: Grealish, Gundogan and Barnes. Maddison is also a good shout, but I am leaning towards Barnes here who has 8 shots in the box in his last 4 matches compared to 3 for Grealish and 3 big chances compared to 1.

Looking at their last 6 matches, Grealish has just racked up 2 assists, while Barnes has managed 3 goals and 1 assist. Barnes is the better goal scorer while Grealish is the better creator. With El Ghazi benched, you’d fancy Grealish to have penalties in his locker, though.  Adding the 2 together in the last 6 matches Grealish has an xGI of 3.06 while Barnes has 2.58. This indicates Grealish is just about the better pick. Both have pretty good fixture runs, but I would wait for the FA Cup ties to be completed as then it may become clear that Villa will have a double gameweek in the near future, making this an easier choice.

Yet, my favourite pick is Gundogan. In his last 7 Premier League matches he’s banged in 5 goals! Racking up an impressive point average in these games. Surely this is unsustainable? Well, looking at his last 6 matches he has scored 4 goals from an xG of 2.49 — an over-performance, but not beyond reason.

With de Bruyne out, he now looks to be on penalties. He is also getting in much more prominent positions. In the last 6 he has had 24 penalty box touches, not too far off Barnes’ 28. Gundogan beats Barnes for shots in the last 6 games (18 v 16), shots in the box (13 v 9), shots on target (7 v 5) and big chances (4 v 3). He doesn’t offer too much creativity and nowhere near Grealish, but he still beats Barnes for chances created (9 v 6). That said, de Bruyne is the tick to Man City’s clock – so I wonder if the team as a whole will suffer from his absence.

For those thinking of something different, I offer you Zaha. Crystal Palace’s fixtures (WHU, WOL, new, lee, BUR, bha) have taken a lovely turn. Zaha is their talisman, bagging 8 of their 22 goals this season. He is 7th among midfielders for xGI this season with 7.96. So he should have a bit of fun over the next month.

Other differentials I would consider are Pogba who has a kind run of fixtures and 2 goals and an assist in his last 4. And Rodriguez, who has just returned from injury, but I would consider him only if Calvert-Lewin coincidingly returns from injury too.

For now, I am leaning towards Gundogan. There is uncertainty over how City will perform but they have great fixtures in the next 3. I also like him because of his price. Such a downgrade gives me the funds for the Adams to Kane upgrade.

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Should I buy Antonio?

I waited and waited and waited to get Antonio but he just never returned from injury. So I tripled up on Cresswell, Coufal and Soucek instead. Not that they did badly, but I think Antonio will now dominate the £6m striker category providing excellent value.

Encouragingly, he played 90mins in the FA cup followed by another 90mins and 83mins in the Premier League. So he now looks fully fit (until the next injury hits). In the two Premier League games he bagged a goal each time and all 3 bonuses for a sweet 18 points. He may have only had 5 shots, but 2 of these were big chances tallying to a xG of 1.51. He also created 2 chances, 1 being a big chance.

5 shots, 2 chances created and 8 penalty box touches against Burnley and West Brom. It doesn’t know the lights out on paper but his performance on the pitch did. A decent fixture run (cpl, LIV, àvl, ful, SHU) makes him a worthwhile investment.

Should I sell Salah?

Going into Christmas we saw Salah rested yet coming off the bench to score 2 goals and 1 assist in 33mins. With Liverpool’s kind fixtures after that (WBA, new, sou, - , MUN & BUR), we were expecting big things. Yet they only managed to pick up 3 points and score 1 meagre goal in these 5 games! More worryingly, they don’t look like they are coming out of this dry spell any time soon.

In defence they are continuously suspect without Van Djik, while Alexander-Arnold keeps setting and then breaking his own record for losing the ball in a match while in attack they look fruitless. I think they are really missing Jota’s presence, he gives them something different. In his last 5 matches, Salah has had just 2 shots on target and created 5 chances. Mane on the other flank has only fared slightly better with 3 shots on target, although he has created 15 chances with 9 of these coming against Burnley.

It is not like me to say this, but I would happily sell Salah. The player and team form are just not there. This is heightened by the fact that they play Spurs, Leicester and City in their next 6. However, Salah’s saving grace for me and many others is the fact Kevin de Bruyne is now injured so he is my priority to sell this week. After this gameweek, Salah then faces West Ham and Brighton so I would probably keep him for them fixtures. And who knows, Jota could return then and improve their attack.

So Salah gets a stay of execution in my team but for others, I would I wouldn’t be fearful of selling him. He is falling way short of his price tag.

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Should I double up on Manchester defence?

Yes. Furthermore, I would be contemplating a triple up. They have kept 8 clean sheets in their last 10 games! Stones just bagged a brace and followed this up with a big chance against Villa. Dias got an assist and is looking equally menacing from corners. He is overdue a goal. Speaking of overdue, a return Cancelo is bursting at the rims for one hitting the post against Villa. He has a XGI of 1.89 in the last six matches which is first among all defenders – and he was even dropped for one of these games.

These are the most nailed options at the back and are great options. Particularly as the absence of de Bruyne may hinder City from an attacking perspective.

As always, best of luck to everyone, and if you want to reach out to me with any questions DM me on Twitter or create a thread on the website.




Sports fan and FPL addict from Ireland (still has not forgiven Thierry Henry). Loves numbers in both studies & profession and has incorporated this into FPL in recent seasons. Has played FPL for 8 seasons, finishing in the top 40k 5 times, with the best finish of 8k. Find on Twitter @FplPup if you have any questions