Twenty days into the new year and already the Premier League has gone a little crazy especially after Steven Bergwijn’s heroics. But with Mohamed Salah out for another week, it does mean the search for a replacement continues and given the options, it’s far from a straightforward choice.
Kevin De Bruyne
Only one man has been brought in by more managers ahead of the Gameweek 23 deadline and that happens to be the rather lovely Philippe Coutinho. With more than 421000 managers, at the time of writing, signing Coutinho, De Bruyne sits below him with 232490 new owners and that has come as a shock to absolutely no one. The Belgian is always packed with points, even during an injury hit season, but since his return to fitness, KDB has hit another level.
He now has six goals and one assist in just 11 starts and the fact that he practically ran the game against Chelsea only bodes well for FPL bosses. Not only that, he has created five chances in his last four games, ten key passes in the same number of games but only one assist. So far, the Belgian has underperformed his expected assists number, which is about four times the number of assists he actually has.
All that bodes well for FPL managers because with Southampton up next, it could see De Bruyne potentially have a field day especially given how leaky the Saints have been. They’ve got the 15th worst defense in the league with the 16th worse xGC and combine that with a Manchester City who’ve scored ten goals in their last four league games, it does make for excellent reading.
No Mohamed Salah, no Sadio Mane and the FPL god’s gift in the form of the lovely Diogo Jota is out of form. The Portuguese forward has blanked in three out of his last four games, with an assist against Chelsea, and seems to have lost a little form which means we must look elsewhere in the Liverpool team for points and who better than Trent Alexander-Arnold. The defender is owned by 45.6% of FPL managers and has earned about 99276 new owners, at the time of writing, but could still prove to be a valuable captain punt.
Especially after his assist against Brentford made him the first defender in the history of the Premier League to register 10 or more assists in three different campaigns. He is also only outscored by one Egyptian in red while Joao Cancelo is a good ten points behind Alexander-Arnold. Add that to the fact that he has four goal contributions in his last five games and it certainly does make him worth the armband.
It’s still a risky bet though given that Liverpool have kept just two clean sheets in the same period albeit against Leicester City and Brentford. Not exactly a perfect choice but he does, however, lead the league for assists, xA, key passes and shot-creating actions as well which makes the right-back a rather intriguing choice.
Now if this does go wrong, you can blame me completely but as it stands, Bruno Fernandes ended an eight game run where he scored just once, with four-goal contributions in two games. Not only that, the Portuguese midfielder looked a far more threatening outlet than he has all season and that may have a lot to do with the way United changed things around. A slight tweak from Ralf Rangnick and it saw Fernandes pounce on the chance to end a torrid run of form.
It does make him, at the time of writing, the best possible captain option in the absence of a certain Egyptian even if he may never truly hit the heights he managed last term. The 32 goal contributions is sensational but Fernandes definitely has a platform to kick on and showcase to the world just what he can do. Combine that with the fact that the Red Devils face former boss David Moyes and his injury-hit West Ham side, it could make for a goal-filled game.
The Hammers did just concede three goals to fellow injury-hit, and relegation-threatened, Leeds United and are without first-choice center-backs Angelo Ogbonna and Kurt Zouma while Vlad Coufal and Aaron Cresswell in doubt for the game. He is also on set-pieces, albeit sharing duties with Alex Telles, which is always a nice boost.
And the punt
There are a few managers who have opted to bring in Jack Harrison and after his hattrick, who can blame them? But this season at least for Leeds United, few players have been as consistent and lethal as Raphinha has this term. The Brazilian has found a more lethal touch this season with 8 goals and two assists, for a total of 90 points, and is the Peacocks’ top scorer at the moment.
However, this is a punt because Leeds United seem to be on a rollercoaster at the moment. The news that Patrick Bamford will miss a few more games doesn’t help and it does add even more pressure on the Brazilian. Yet, even despite that, Raphinha has either scored or assisted in there out of his last four league games, and could have had another goal to his name if his free-kick against West Ham hadn’t crashed off the crossbar.
It doesn’t make that any less of a punt though especially when you’re handing the Brazilian the armband but if it actually works, then the payout could be massive.