The week in Fantasy Premier League: Replacing Mendy and learning to trust Anthony Martial

There's nothing like the restorative powers of an international break - niggling injuries that kept players immobile for a fortnight miraculously disappear as a new round of league fixtures approach.

The week in Fantasy Premier League: Replacing Mendy and learning to trust Anthony Martial

There's nothing like the restorative powers of an international break - niggling injuries that kept players immobile for a fortnight miraculously disappear as a new round of league fixtures approach.

There was one legit injury that came to spoil our fun, however - and nobody in the game is more fun to own than Benjamin Mendy (MCI, 6.4).

As pleasing as it is to see a player commiserate with his FPL owners whenever he misses out, those who persevered with him through his last injury won't be as patient this time around, with fixtures coming thick and fast over December.

Injury doubt Kieran Trippier (TOT, 6.2) is also on the chopping block, as a curiously listless Spurs prepare to face Arsenal and Chelsea, meaning defenders are in high demand as we prepare for Gameweek 13.

Let's get the formality of mentioning the two obvious candidates out of the way first. 

While the days of Marcos Alonso's (CHE, 7.1) days as a freewheeling makeshift forward seem to be over, his performance against Everton gave plenty of room for optimism, and FPL's top-scoring player was very unlucky not to come away with at least a goal.

A long-threatened assist from Andy Robertson (LIV, 6.5) underlined his appeal, but for those looking for something different, there are cheaper routes into that impressive Liverpool defence.

It's not often you can pick up England's first-choice centre-back for £5.1m in FPL, so the lack of interest in Joe Gomez (LIV, 5.1) is puzzling, especially when compared to the enthusiastic uptake for teammate Trent Alexander-Arnold (LIV, 5.1).  

The latter's superior attacking threat aside, the perception that they are both equally prone to rotation may be flawed. Gomez's greater consistency and versatility, as well as his newly-acquired Rory Delap power-up, should see him play more minutes in the long run.

There's a similar picture for a galvanised Leicester squad who have conceded just a single Big Chance over their last two matches. Interest in out-of-position Ricardo Pereira (LEI, 5.1) cooled after his GW10 benching, but his 14 points since then have reignited interest.

Ever-present Ben Chilwell (LEI, 5.1) is also an interesting option as he looks to establish himself in the England set-up.

Elsewhere, for anyone who was avoiding Matt Doherty (WOL, 4.9) until Spurs and Arsenal were over with, the timing couldn't be better. Wolves, who face goal-allergic Huddersfield and Cardiff next, seem to have recovered from their recent wobble and were minutes away from shutting out Arsenal.

Don't let a few missed price rises prevent you from buying this season-keeper - it's still a bargain price for the man who's fired more shots on target than any other defender so far this season. 

Recent games have seen a tentative reassessment of the Everton defence among those hoping to smash the template.

Lucas Digne (EVE, 4.8) has attracted massive interest in the community of late - Everton's corner-taker lies second among all defenders for both Successful Crosses (22) and Chances Created (20) so far this season.

Outside of the bubble however, it's actually teammate Michael Keane (EVE, 5.0) who has attracted more transfers in. His table-topping 16 goal attempts in the box (all headers) may look appealing, but he's only managed four in the last four Gameweeks.

Even Man City can't match Chelsea's underlying defensive stats over the past four Gameweeks, but this week's trip to Spurs is hardly the start you'd want for your new £5.6m+ defender.

By contrast, Newcastle and Brighton have the fixtures to attract interest - DeAndre Yedlin (NEW, 4.5) and Lewis Dunk (BRI, 4.5) being the standout options here.

Of course, the obvious answer all of this is Aymeric Laporte (MCI, 6.0).

So far, his left foot and international exile have made him that most precious of commodities - a guaranteed starter in a Pep Guardiola team.

He's the Volvo pick - safe, reliable, equally unlikely to provoke either frustration or excitement. He'll keep your coverage of the City defence intact, but consider this: if Mendy is the standout player to have in that defence (and clearly, he is), will you be able to stomach making that second "sideways move" of replacing Laporte when he starts tweeting those training videos?

It's a sad state of affairs when we're looking to defenders for our FPL thrills. It just hasn't been a season for the forwards so far in FPL, and GW12 was quite possibly the worst of all time.

 

The continued slide in their fortunes has seen our attention switch to the growing number of enticing midfield options, with one name chief among them.

Time to trust Anthony Martial?

The perception of Man United as an uninvestable proposition in FPL has deep roots at this stage of the season, but now with six goals and an assist in his last five matches, the reasons not to own Anthony Martial (MUN, 7.6) are looking more tenuous by the week.

First, there was concern over his security of starts. Since then, Jose Mourinho, perhaps realising how precarious his position has become, is adopting a more pragmatic approach to team selection, with players' form now seemingly paramount.

Certainly, Martial's place seems assured for GW13, given that the main rival for his position, a jet-lagged Alexis Sanchez (MUN, 10.0), seems more likely to play centrally now.

This week, the concern is that Martial's shot conversion rate is unsustainable and that he is massively overperforming his Expected Goals.

Certainly, his conversion rate won't be 44% by season's end, but he has always outperformed his underlying stats and is in some pretty impressive company in that regard.

However, this reluctance to shoot just for the sake of it, far from being a liability, actually makes him extremely bonus-friendly - including 11 in just four recent matches. He's the anti-Salah.

A look beyond the stats reveals yet more reasons to make the switch. 

He appears to be United's second-choice penalty taker now, and given that Paul Pogba's primary ambition when taking them is to convince EA Sports to introduce a new PlayStation button combo for his run-up, don't be surprised to see that could change very soon.

The prospect of facing City curtailed sales last week, but should Martial continue to score in the weeks ahead, you're almost guaranteed price rises galore as United's sizeable support happily jump on the bandwagon.

Finally, and those supporters won't like hearing it, but Martial is blatantly playing for a move away from Old Trafford. Contract negotiations have stalled, and after reportedly rejecting the chance to sign him in the summer, the Frenchman is highly motivated to become a more attractive proposition when the money men at PSG open their not inconsiderable chequebook in January.

QUICK TIP

If you're looking to catch up in your mini-league and partial to a bit of mind games, try casually mentioning how awful Callum Wilson's next fixtures are, followed soon after by an ostensibly unrelated comment on just how emphatically an in-form Salomón Rondón (NEW, 5.7) took his two goals against Bournemouth last week.

You'll need to keep a straight face throughout, but with any luck, he'll connect these two equally misleading statements, and you'll be quids in.

BUY

Well, would you look at that Everton midfielder - off scoring goals for Brazil again!

His conversion to a centre-forward has endured a few bumps along the way, and there'll be a few more, but Richarlison (EVE, 6.9) is there to stay and can only get better, starting with home ties against Cardiff, Newcastle and Watford in the next four.

TRY

He may seem to prefer assisting than scoring, but Raúl Jiménez (WOL, 5.8) has now become the default third striker for those determined to play a full complement up front.

GOODBYE

There's a big upside of being one of the first to bring in these young, inexpensive starlets who we hope to burst on to the scene. The only problem is that they hardly ever do - at least not at first. This week, step forward Grady Diangana (WHU, 4.5).

We'd all like another £4.5m Raheem Sterling or £5.0m Harry Kane, and one day we will - but don't go derailing your season in search of them.

Top of the League

A slew of eerily similar points totals meant that there was no change at the top of the Official Irish Examiner League (join code: 19990-119302) this week.

Will O'Shea's Flymetosaidmoon stay top on 858 points, followed by Paul Hanover's WAG Magnets on 841, with Matt Dixon's Gazzanigas in Paris just one point behind in third.

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