The week in Fantasy Premier League: Transfer window strategy, the Nathan Ake problem, and going 3-5-2

Fashions come and go in Fantasy Premier League just as in life, and in case you haven’t heard - 3-5-2 is so hot right now.
The week in Fantasy Premier League: Transfer window strategy, the Nathan Ake problem, and going 3-5-2

Fashions come and go in Fantasy Premier League just as in life, and in case you haven’t heard - 3-5-2 is so hot right now.

Previously the domain of rebels and hipsters, the form of Deli Alli (TOT 8.6) and tentative return of Philippe Coutinho (LIV, 8.2) has had the FPL community questioning the wisdom of sticking with their trusty 3-4-3 formation.

The logic is sound - with so much potential in midfield (Sanchez, Hazard, Eriksen, Phillips etc) why not clear five places for them? It certainly seems to working for some people.

It’s worth bearing in mind though that several FPL stars have aligned to create the conditions for this - namely the decline of top-priced Sergio Aguero (MCI, 12.8), and the emergence of enticing (but fragile) third striker options like Peter Crouch (STO, 4.7) and Ashley Barnes (BUR, 4.5).

It may well be the way to go, but an Aguero hat-trick or scoring run from a £6-7m third striker (Andre Gray, perhaps?) could soon see us looking for an escape route.

So tread carefully - FPL managers know that in this month, more than any, nothing is certain.

The Transfer Window

January a traditional time for many Premier League players to air their dirty laundry in public.

Recent comments by Slaven Bilic that Dimitri Payet (WHU, 9.1) “does not want to play for us” and that “we are not going to sell” should keep the France playmaker, along with his West Ham teammates, firmly off your FPL radar for the foreseeable future.

The uncertainty around other want-away defenders like Jose Fonte and perhaps even Virgil van Dijk could see Maya Yoshida (SOU, 4.2) emerge as a cut-price route into the Southampton backline.

Hull seem to be sniffing around for a few attacking players, which could cast doubt on the prospects of 3-5-2 enablers like Adama Diomande (HUL, 4.5) - or signal the departure of Robert Snodgrass (HUL, 5.8).

Arsenal’s signings certainly have a familiar look about them, don’t they?

I can’t see Gunners fans quite being as jovial if this is the extent of Arsene Wenger’s January business, although it doesn’t do any harm to the prospect of in-form Olivier Giroud (ARS, 8.6) keeping his place up front.

The arrival of Morgan Schneiderlin (MUN, 4.6) should help shore up the Toffees defence - boosting the prospects of players like Leighton Baines (EVE, 5.5) ahead of a great run of fixtures from GW22 onwards.

Big Sam barely has his feet under the desk over at Crystal Palace, but he’s already made bids for “three or four… defensive players” including Carl Jenkinson (ARS, 4.9), apparently.

Martin Kelly (CRY, 4.4) was beginning to look like a bargain last week, but he’s best avoided now, along with the entire Palace back line, until the dust settles here.

And if you really needed another reason to avoid buying a Man City player, it duly arrived in the form of 19-year-old wonderkid Gabriel Fernando de Jesus (MCI, 9.0).

Although Pep’s rotation has calmed of late, the Brazilian’s introduction should see normal service resumed soon.

For more on transfer-window strategy, you can read my

Read More:

Save a free transfer in GW23 if you can, and pick up a bargain when the window shuts. In the meantime, stick to nailed-on regulars who are going nowhere.

Oh yeah, and don’t buy Joey Barton (BUR, 4.5).

The Nathan Ake situation

Nobody saw this one coming

Forget the big-money transfers - it’s the loan recall of Nathan Ake (CHE, 4.4) to Chelsea which has had by far the biggest impact in FPL terms.

It’s caused problems in particular for Ake owners who already had three Chelsea players in their squad.

Almost 40,000 managers pulled the trigger and decided to sell him straight away - which could end up being a big mistake.

Although it’s more likely than not that he will be a squad player, Ake has the quality to slot straight into the Chelsea side - his stats sit comfortably alongside those of his new (old?) teammates.

He’s versatile and could be utilised in one of Chelsea’s three centre-back slots, or as a defensive midfielder. He could facilitate a shift forward for Luiz, or allow Azpilicueta to replace Moses at wing-back.

Wednesday’s news that Marcos Alonso (CHE, 6.5) was carrying a niggling leg injury offers further encouragement (although he did train yesterday).

One thing is for certain - if Ake secures anything resembling a regular place in the best defence in the league so far, owning him is an absolute no-brainer.

My advice? Even if you have four Chelsea players, try to keep him for one more week - you just might have the future most-owned FPL player in your squad right now for just £4.4m.

Even if he doesn’t start, you could feasibly keep Ake, as long as your other defenders are first-team regulars. Start him in every game, and when he does start for Chelsea, you could clean up.

Still, that loan recall is probably the last nasty surprise we’ll get this week... right?

You wait for one podcast...

A few of you may have heard my podcast debut this week, after being invited on the Fanfeud FPL Show alongside host Dave O’Grady and pundits Richard Kenny and Siddharth Mohindroo.

I don’t actually sound like that, do I?

Well, if that didn’t put you off, I’m also set to join colleagues on The Irish Examiner Football Show next week, so keep an eye out for that too.

QUICK TIP

Don’t captain Eden Hazard (CHE, 10.4) away from home.

BUY

We all want to avoid the spectre of “chasing points”, but when a proven goalscorer like Deli Alli (TOT, 8.6) starts hitting this kind of form, playing so high up the pitch, he becomes impossible to ignore.

If you’re not bringing him in, ask yourself this: is it because you think there are better players available at that price (fair enough), or because you’re annoyed that you didn’t buy him at £8.1 before he scored those 44 points?

TRY

Charlie Austin’s gone, and he isn’t coming back.

Perhaps it’s time we all just accepted that, moved on, and finally put an end to that maddening search for a third striker by ponying up that extra cash for Jermain Defoe (SUN, 7.8).

He stands alone in that price range now that Benteke is off penalties, and is free of all the downsides plaguing lower-priced rivals like Crouch (rotation), Gray (fixtures) and Carroll (form) at the moment.

GOODBYE

No goals in four and diminishing gametime signals the end for Divock Origi (LIV, 6.7) as a fantasy asset.

His four-game scoring run tempted many seeking an exciting mid-priced striker, but there was always a doubt around his long-term prospects, and so it proved to be.

With the imminent return of Philippe Coutinho (LIV, 8.2) freeing up Firmino (LIV, 8.5) to compete for that central attacking role, Origi’s fantasy owners would do well to look elsewhere.

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