The new turn of events and fixture swings have seen managers start preparing for the “big at the back” approach, whilst some are ditching the three-mium strategy. In order to prepare for the next two months, budget midfielders with superior output and a high ceiling will ultimately be key again.
10. James Ward-Prowse
A name that doesn’t scream points unless it’s from a dead ball 25m away from goal. Southampton has a great run of fixtures from GW 8 onwards only behind Chelsea in terms of fixture difficulty so he makes the cut for me. Ward Prowse is 6.4m, on penalties and corners which only enhances his creativity and goal threat. He had (10) chances created and (8) shots at goal. His next two opponents after the international break are two of the worst defences in terms of xGC. Leeds and Burnley have also conceded 113 and 102 shots respectively. He won’t get into the box often or have many shots in the box but if you’re feeling lucky and want a punt, Ward-Prowse could be your man.
Ward-Prowse (left) Connor Gallagher (right) – Gallagher makes late runs into the box and pushes higher when Palace build up their attacks. Ward-Prowse generally maintains his deep position.
9. Jack Harrison
Jack Harrison comes in at 9 for me. He makes the list because Leeds have some tasty long term fixtures. From GW 7-15 they rank first on the fixture analyzer which makes him a key long term option in my opinion. He hasn’t shown the form from last season just yet, but I personally believe fixtures bring form and we soon could see managers hopping on the Jack Harrison bandwagon.
8. Connor Gallagher
I found it fascinating Gallagher has the highest xG out of any budget midfielder this season (2.42). A fundamental piece to Viera’s plans and style of play at Palace thus far. He brings energy, hunger and a box to box threat from midfield, which they’ve been crying out for. One thing I noticed in GW 6 was that when Milivojevic is on the field he takes all the set-pieces over Gallagher which does limit his output production. It’s a bonus if he is on them but it just slightly makes him less appealing in my opinion. A fantastic option no doubts with Palace’s fixtures coming up.
7. Emile Smith Rowe
Talk about being clinical last weekend, Smith Rowe had (2) chances created, (1) shot in the box, (1) big chance and scored (12) points while announcing himself to FPL managers around the globe. He showed intelligence, progressive ball-carrying ability in transition and fantastic creativity which passed the eye test. Does this show how dreadful Spurs were or how good Arsenal actually can be? I believe a bit of both.
Smith Rowe played on the left in a 4-2-3-1 system while creeping into the box a few times in the first half when the ball was on the opposite flank.
6. Demari Gray
He’s playing much further forward with Calvert Lewin and Richarlison out injured. Rafa Benitez seems to of got Everton to tick again and we FPL managers simply can’t look past Gray at the moment. Currently sitting at 5.8m, his been quite clinical with his opportunities having only had (11) shots at goal with (7) coming in the box. Everton’s budget midfielders have been the standout in the team. We’ve also seen the likes of Doucoure and Townsend start racking up the points for managers.
Looking at the attacking radar per 90 mins between Gray vs Doucoure, we can see Gray is the more direct player. Doucoure is playing the box to box role in midfield whilst Gray is closer to goal and having a higher contribution in terms of big chances created and crosses. Doucoure is matching him or giving him a good run for his money in terms of shots on target and shots in the box albeit playing deeper. Either option I believe is great.
5. Ismaila Sarr
Arguably Watford’s talisman, his been phenomenal for the Hornets thus far and has given most defenders on the left flank a nightmare. Watford has a difficult run of fixtures coming up which is why I’ve ranked him (5th) but in some eyes, he is a long term hold and fixture proof for that price. Whether you want to go big at the back or have two premium forwards, Sarr allows you this luxury.
Compared with a few midfielders around his price bracket, Sarr comes out superior in most aspects. He had (36) touches in the opposition’s box which is more than Ferran Torres and Diogo Jota. His also scored (3) open play goals with a possibility of him being on penalties only makes him a key asset to own.
4. Bryan Mbeumo
An OOP player is the cream of the crop in the FPL world. He formed a brilliant partnership with Ivan Toney up top for Brentford so far. (13) shots with (8) chances created with an xG of (2.33) he is one of the best budget midfielders to target in the next few weeks. On set-pieces, gets into the box, loves to cut in onto his left foot almost Robben-esque. Brentford’s fixtures turn from GW 10 and I’ll be looking at a possible double up by then.
Against one of the title contenders in GW 6, Brentford put up a tremendous fight and superb display. Mbuemo is the furthest forward staying close to Toney. Their link-up play is immense.
3. Said Benrahma
He started like a house on fire. I’ve never seen FPL twitter hype up a player as much as Benrahma during pre-season and rightfully so. I was one of them to be fair. Not only has he been pure gold but West Ham as a team is performing to an elite level. West Ham has the (3rd) best xG amongst all teams on (11.34). Their attack is clicking, has an abundance of quality and the chemistry between Michail Antonio and Benrahma has been mouthwatering to witness. Moyes seems to play him as a #10 just behind the striker. Earlier on in the season, he would start on the left wing with Pablo Fornals occupying the #10. I personally see him as a bigger threat just behind Antonio. Both could carry on their impressive numbers so I’d hold him if you’re one of those managers that have him in your arsenal.
Below we can see his average position and the (16) shots he’s taken. (2) of his goals have come in the box.
2. Bukayo Saka
He was electric against Spurs and looked extremely explosive. Arsenal has a great run and a nice sea of green fixtures on the FDR ratings. FPL is about adapting to new data and new trends that come our way. Arsenal did not start the season the greatest but they seem to be finding their feet again which makes their assets worth considering. Saka slotted in on the right while Pepe saw the bench. Arteta had a youthful attacking midfield of Saka, Smith Rowe and Odegaard playing just behind Aubameyang that worked to precision and suffocated Spurs in their own half. Saka is high on my radar.
The budget midfielder with the highest ceiling in my opinion. Most of us are starving for that Raphinha double-digit haul but I believe it won’t be long until we get our rewards. He could honestly be priced at 9.0m and I’d still want him in my team because he has everything you want and has the aesthetics that pleases your eye. Leeds have a beautiful run as mentioned earlier so Raphinha is a no brainer to me. Marcelo Bielsa’s side hasn’t found their rhythm yet in the Premier League however, Raphinha has been the shining light. This season so far his had (19) shots and created (13) chances. He also created (2) big chances and has had the same amount of big chances for himself. From an attacking perspective, everything Leeds do revolve around Raphinha or starts with him. He would be my number one pick for the long term.
Bonus Player (Mega Differential)
Dwight Mcneil :
If you want to target fixtures look no further than Burnely vs Norwich this weekend. Norwich has been extremely leaky in defence and Mcneil plays on the right-wing. Right-wingers that have played Norwich have enjoyed tons of success so far this season. Mo Salah (17) points, Riyad Mahrez (6) points, Marc Albrighton (7) points, Nicholas Pepe (6) points, Ismaila Sarr (15) points, Andros Townend (10) points although that was from the penalty spot however, we can see a trend. Dwight Mcneil is currently only 5.9m so he fits the mid-priced bracket that we’ve been speaking about in this article.
Looking long-term Burnley have a nice run of green fixtures to target. Dwight Mcneil isn’t the worst asset to own in this run and could reward those managers that are less risk-averse.
Now moving on to another small debate. Should we be doing Ronaldo ➡ Lukaku for GW 7 and onwards or have both at our disposal? I’ll look at the pros and cons below :
Before we jump in, something to consider is Trent Alexander Arnold seems like a doubt for GW 7 against Manchester City. We don’t know the extent of his groin injury yet but Klopp did say he is unlikely to feature. This opens up a new path to facilitate both Lukaku and Ronaldo if you wanted to go down that direction or you could simply just bench Trent.
- It provides a slight imbalance and infrastructure to your team
- Hard to divert into a new path unless with 2 free transfers
- Takes up a large part of your budget if you have other problems in the squad
- Budget forwards start outperforming them for much cheaper
- Not confirmed on penalties. Paying that much with uncertainty isn’t ideal
- It gives you a set and forget captaincy for a longer period, rotating between the two
- Both are playing for elite teams and can be explosive
I personally wouldn’t take Ronaldo out this week for Lukaku. I think Chelsea are still trying to figure out how to attack Lukaku and how to use him efficiently. Ronaldo is still a brilliant captaincy option this week against Everton at (H). You’d like to think Ronaldo is firmly on penalty duty after Bruno Fernandes’s miss last weekend.