In his debut article for the Hub, FPL author David Wardale reflects on a fascinating weekend in this Gameweek 4 review.
The Cristiano Ronaldo (£12.5m) hype train ensured Gameweek 4 was actually GWCR7, with a record 2.2 million managers bringing him in and just over half of them captaining him.
He didn’t disappoint, scoring twice and notching 13 points on his second coming to Fantasy Premier League (FPL).
But, apparently, other players were involved over the weekend, so here’s a look at how it all played out.
Man United 4 Newcastle 1 – Ronaldo Ripples
Gameweek 4’s transfer activity was hectic, thanks to a perfect storm of Ronaldo, FOMO, the international break, FOMO, loads of wildcarding, FOMO and a season still young enough for most casual managers not to have given up yet.
And in that unseemly rush, Bruno Fernandes (£12.0m) lost well over 1.1 million owners.
Playing second fiddle to his Portuguese teammate, he managed five shots, two key passes and one big chance created. Oh, and a beautiful goal.
How does that compare to his average per match this season? Very well, actually, as those stats stand, respectively, at 3.5, two and 0.5. So the argument that Ronaldo’s presence will dilute Fernandes’ performance doesn’t stand up just yet.
But this was against Newcastle. And finding the money to have them both in your fantasy team is another matter entirely.
The same seems to be true of Luke Shaw (£5.5m).
He’s still the most-owned (44.9%) defender in FPL, but he’s suffered transfers-out in every gameweek since the start of the season.
Did Ronaldo, as predicted, bump up the left-back’s attacking threat? Well, he led the way among Saturday’s defenders for key passes (four) and big chances created (two), one of which led to a goal.
Prior to the prodigal’s return, Shaw had produced just five key passes, one big chance created and zero assists.
So the simple answer is yes, with that ‘only Newcastle’ caveat again in place and a reminder that Man United have now managed just one clean sheet in four matches.
Finally, Mason Greenwood (£7.7m) is currently cheap and effective enough to have actually gained owners during the Ronaldo frenzy.
But of his 13 shots for the season, only two came from Saturday’s match, although one of those did at least produce an assist.
He remains cheap. Will his 18.4% ownership stay cheerful should Ronaldo continue to hog the stats?
Chelsea 3 Aston Villa 0 – Premium Points
The template is dead – long live the template.
Previously on FPL, it was all about big money midfielders and a heap of cheap(ish) strikers.
Now, it’s how many of Ronaldo, Mohamed Salah (£12.5m) and Romelu Lukaku (£11.5m) can I squeeze into my side while not having to rely on the budget delights of Andrew Omobamidele (£3.9m).
Those who splashed out on both Ronaldo and Lukaku earned two 13-pointers and a side order of smugness.
Even the merest glance at the stats shows how hard done by Villa could feel – they outshot their hosts 18-12 and had six attempts on target to Chelsea’s four.
But Lukaku was ruthless and has that essential feel to him already, even with Spurs and Man City up next.
The fixtures ease considerably after that, although Champions League duties will up the rotating that Thomas Tuchel just loves to do anyway, as Mason Mount’s (£7.5m) 17% ownership found out the hard way at the weekend.
As for the returning Ollie Watkins (£7.3m), no Saturday player had more than his six shots, and he was well served in Villa’s 3-5-2 at Stamford Bridge.
But a run of fixtures up to the next international break involving a visit from Everton and trips to Man United and Tottenham suggests any investment in Villa assets can wait a while.
Crystal Palace 3 Spurs 0 – Kane Not Able
At least this new premium template doesn’t currently need to have Harry Kane (£12.3m) anywhere near it.
He and Spurs were wretched at Selhurst Park, with the England captain producing a remarkably consistent performance involving zero shots, no touches in the box and not a single chance created.
The sending-off of Japhet Tanganga (£4.6m) didn’t help, but now that Kane is one of their own again, Spurs fans are not going to stand for a situation where he’s had more appearances (three) than shots (two) this season.
Prior to Saturday, Nuno Espirito Santo had brought defensive stability at the cost of attacking intent. An injury to Eric Dier (£4.6m) put paid to the former, while the latter looks ever more damning – Spurs have now managed one shot fewer than the mighty Norwich (39).
Palace, meanwhile, are slowly shedding Roy Hodgson’s conservative baggage, with a dream debut for Odsonne Edoaurd (£6.5m) bringing him two goals and 12 points (including maximum bonus) from an amazing six-minute substitute appearance.
Conor Gallagher (£5.5m) set up two goals to continue his fine start to the season.
The midfielder leads the team for shots (10) and touches in the area (13) and is also on free-kicks and corners for the Eagles, who have a generally favourable run of fixtures following the next international break.
Gallagher and Wilfried Zaha (£6.9m), who has declared himself the side’s penalty taker after scoring from the spot against Spurs, look like the pick of the Palace crop for that run.
Leeds United 0 Liverpool 3 – Mmmm, Mo and Mane
Amidst all the Ronnymania, there’s been a reassuring sanity surrounding Salah.
He was a premium asset who still gained managers in the scramble to get CR7, and his 54% ownership (as well as a gameweek-leading 1.7m captainers) enjoyed a goal and bonus points as Liverpool swept past Leeds.
But there is another midfielder with Salah-like stats this season.
Sadio Mane (£11.9m) has matched the Egyptian for shots on target (eight) and surpassed him for attempts (22 v 16), shots in the box (19 v 13) and big chances (5 v 3).
Liverpool have been an attacking juggernaut thus far. Should Mane curb his wastefulness, he could become the main driver.
Only Salah and Michail Antonio (£7.9m) have now scored more points than Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.5m) and the right-back made it two double-digit hauls in three weeks with a 12-pointer at Elland Road.
Whatever the rights and wrongs of the Bonus Points System, TAA is a bonus magnet. He’s also very expensive, especially when you’re trying to shoehorn Ronaldo etc into your team.
But in a Liverpool side back to their defensive best, his attacking threat means he’s fast becoming indispensable.
The 12%-owned Patrick Bamford (£7.9m) is anything but at present.
He averaged just above six points per start over the first 15 matches of last season, but that dropped to 4.4 for the rest of the campaign.
One goal in four matches this season has led to three straight weeks of sales and a price drop.
The striker, like Leeds in general, currently lacks sharpness. Only five forwards have had more shots than his 11, but 16 can match or better his three attempts on target.
Leeds’ tricky start to the season is now over. They, and Bamford, need to start reminding FPL managers of their worth.
Everton 3 Burnley 1 – DCL Hell
Three players went into Monday night’s match at Goodison Park with ownership around the 12% mark.
One, Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£8.2m), didn’t make the squad, with Everton manager Rafa Benitez estimating his striker’s absence, with toe and other issues, at ‘two-to-three weeks, maybe more’.
Number two, Lucas Digne (£5.4m), blanked as the Toffees failed to keep a clean sheet for a third match in four. The Frenchman is in the top three among defenders for key passes, with nine, but none of those have produced a big chance.
Which left the third player, Demarai Gray (£5.7m), to do much of the heavy lifting. He did just that, with his third straight goal, although the 0.7%-owned Andros Townsend (£5.4m) stole the show courtesy of a goal, an assist and maximum bonus.
The pair find themselves in the top eight for points per million among midfielders, where they are joined by Abdoulaye Doucoure (£5.5m), who chipped in with two assists on Monday night.
Things turn tricky for Everton after November’s international break, so now is the time to tap into their bargain boys.
As for Burnley, their fixtures are even better than that, but Sean Dyche’s side deserve only to be damned with faint praise at present, so they should be very proud of having scored one more goal than Wolves this season.
Two 1-0-ers – Man City, Arsenal et al
On any other weekend, a whopping 1.1m new owners for Man City’s Ferran Torres (£7.2m) would have raised an eyebrow or two.
But this was Ronaldo’s gameweek, and it certainly wasn’t Torres’ day as he followed up his 18-point monster haul against Arsenal with a blank at Leicester.
Man City did Man City things – dominating possession and bossing the shot count while keeping a third straight clean sheet – and three of their back line are now to be found in the top four for defenders’ points.
Those boys can attack, too. City’s back four have had 20 shots between them this campaign. For context, the Foxes have managed just 29 across the entire squad.
Shots have not been an issue for Arsenal.
They banged in 30 against Norwich, and finally managed to stop any going in the other end, thanks in part to the new double act of Gabriel (£5.0m) and Ben White (£4.4m) at the heart of what previously had passed for their defence.
At the other end, a Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£9.9m) goal won it and a fine run of fixtures all the way through to the year’s final international break in November should prompt investment in key Gunners assets.
The ‘Best’ Of The Rest
Three owners triple captained Antonio as he was sent off for a second bookable offence deep into West Ham’s 0-0 draw at Southampton.
Well over 900,000 managers had brought him in for the match, and his -1 return has prompted plenty to get rid seeing as he’ll be sitting out Sunday’s visit from Man United.
Wolves finally managed to score as they beat Watford 2-0, even if their first goal of the season came from Hornets’ defender Francisco Sierralta (£4.4m).
Interest in Wolves defenders is on the up now that their fixtures have turned for the better, with the 2.1% on Fernando Marcal (£4.5m) enjoying a clean sheet, two assists and maximum bonus for 13 points.
He produced just six more points than that from 618 minutes of action last season.
Defensive returns were expected from both teams in the game between Brentford and Brighton and that remained the case for 90 minutes, until Leandro Trossard (£6.4m) went and ruined it by scoring his first goal of the season for the Seagulls.
Brighton’s next four opponents (LEI, cry, ARS, nor) are a mixed bag, while the 16.7% still invested in striker Ivan Toney (£6.4m) might well be cutting and running with Wolves, Liverpool, West Ham and Chelsea up next for the Bees.
Don’t forget to check out our Ultimate FPL Gameweek 5 Guide which has everything you could ever need to help you make the best decisions ahead of the deadline.
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