Eden Proves A Hazard For Future Plans.Embed from Getty Images
A few weeks ago I suggested that those who decided to remove Mohamed Salah would need to select a player who could match or exceed his points tally in order to make the transfer worth it. Well, we all knew that a certain Belgian was capable of delivering points, that’s a given. But could anyone have foreseen how outstanding an FPL asset Eden Hazard would have proven to be? Three double digit hauls, 10 bonus points and (with the exception of Gameweek 6 against West Ham) returns in every fixture faced, Hazard has taken his place at the top of the tree in terms of total overall score. No player has seen their price rise more times than Hazard, and at over 40% ownership he has effectively become essential to the game.
I don’t wish to dwell too much on my mistake of going without Hazard- I felt I was doing the right thing by patching up other weaker areas of my team instead of going for the heavy hitter. But the reality is, taking Hazard and pitching a 10-man squad would have yielded more points in the long run. Those who had the foresight to select him at the start now effectively have a 0.6m advantage over those only just bringing him in. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but for those going forward it does make me wonder how anybody could possibly go without him going forward. In my opinion, he has a clean run of fixtures up to Gameweek 12- a deadly captain option. Even Manchester United with their general disarray amongst the club cannot be considered a sticking point when considering Hazard. There seems to be no slowing down, he is truly a player that looks to be fixture-proof.
The problem with Hazard is that his 11.1m price tag means that he takes up a significant portion of our squad budget, which begs a key question: who do we sacrifice in order to keep him in the team? Harry Kane is seemingly back to his usual self- and that thought in its own right is a terrifying prospect. Sergio Aguero continues to tick over with a nice drip-feeding of reliable points. Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane look to be immediate fall-guys with their lack of returns, but after their match with Man City they have the caveat of an outrageous run of fixtures all the way up to Gameweek 16, with only Arsenal a potential roadblock to goals. These are four excellent fantasy options, and that’s before we even consider Raheem Sterling, who is in outstanding form, and the return from injury of Kevin De Bruyne. Quite simply, we can’t afford them all- so we have to choose who misses out. It would take a brave player to decide against Hazard.
Target Terrible Terriers and Tuneless Bluebirds For Top PointsEmbed from Getty Images
It’s always an absolute gift when we get a team in the Premier League that can practically guarantee you a result. When I say this, it’s easy to get clouded in the top teams- the Manchester City & Liverpool’s of this world. But actually, the teams who are hideously bad are of far more value than meets the eye. Think back to Aston Villa in 2016 or, for the more veteran players, Derby County in 2008. These were teams that were absolutely hopeless- conceding goals at will, whilst offering very little goalscoring threat. Only a masochist would consider picking players from these sides.
But for those who own the players of their opponents, these are the sort of sides that are an FPL dream- you know your defenders will likely get easy clean sheets, and more pertinently you know your attacking players will gain a lot of points. We are very lucky this season- for not only do we have one team that look absolutely useless in the division, but we have two. The current Cardiff City and Huddersfield town sides are without doubt two of the worst teams to have ever featured in FPL, and could rival Derby County for the lowest ever points tally in the Premier League table.
We’re only 7 matches into the season and Cardiff and Huddersfield have both conceded 16 goals. Couple that with the fact that both teams combined have only mustered 7 league goals & it’s not a surprise that neither side has had a win. So, what an excellent time to select players who face both sides in close proximity! In Gameweek 9 and 10, Mohamed Salah & his Liverpool teammates have back-to-back matches against the terrible twosome- a pairing that promises, should rotation not curtail it, a bucketload of points. It’s not just the big teams that could destroy the Bluebirds and the Terriers- in fact, both Fulham and Brighton face both teams within Gameweek 9 and 14, offering huge potential for returns at either end.
FPL is about predicting who will do well- and while no outcome is a guarantee, these two teams offer the safest bets you’ll ever wager.
And Finally…Embed from Getty Images
It’s always a pleasure when a player you punt on does well- and in that regard, I was absolutely delighted to see Wolves’ Rui Patricio, someone I’ve had all season, deliver a 10-point return against Southampton. The funny thing is that the whole Wolves back line is an absolute haven for value- from the 4.1m Ryan Bennett to the comparatively expensive 4.6m bonus magnet that is Willy Boly.
Yet surprisingly in the whole Wolves team only Ruben Neves has an ownership greater than 12%, with the 4.5m Matt Doherty, who has delivered 26 points in the last 3 Gameweeks, is owned by less than 5% of players- a real differential amongst the crowd. I don’t know why people aren’t bringing in Wolves players in their droves- but for some odd reason they generally aren’t. You can’t even use upcoming fixtures as an excuse- the likes of Crystal Palace, Watford and Brighton offer great potential for their assets. Take Jonny Castro: a 4.4m defender that scored over the weekend, has outscored Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Trent Alexander-Arnold over the last 3 weeks, yet has had less transfers in than both aforementioned players.
At a time when the discussion of tight budgets and fitting people in is extremely prominent, it is criminal to ignore Wolves. This is not your typical Championship promotion side we’re discussing here- this is a top 10 side who have been grossly under-priced, and it won’t be long until the rest of the player base wakes up to the benefits that Wolves can bring to their side. If you haven’t got a Wolves defender, get one. If you’ve already got one, consider getting another!