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Hot and Cold

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Some players are bang in form, but others are just as far out. We look at a selection from the season’s early weeks.

Manchester United v Everton - Premier League
Beyond doubt, no longer the Troll King
Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Five game weeks Into the season and we are starting to get enough data to build our fantasy thoughts. Let’s take a look at those hot and those not in the 2017/18 Premier League

Hot

Those in fine form can be seen simply by looking at the league positions. Both Manchester clubs lead the way, scoring huge amounts of goals and keeping clean sheets along the way. Not surprisingly, many of the hot players belong to them.

Romelu Lukaku

Over the years there have been many goalscorers who have found the pressures of playing at Old Trafford too much for them. It’s early in the season, but Lukaku looks to be one who enjoys the attention and pressure the shirt brings. 4 goals and 1 assist in 5 games is what you want from an 11.5 m forward in FPL, and with 57.7% of players holding him, it’s high risk to build a side without the Belgian.

In Fantrax, where his style isn’t linked to huge returns, you can be selective about paying his steep asking price. In Togga, where you have a PSG type budget, you can enjoy him when the fixture is too good (Crystal Palace at OT in week 7 springs to mind)

Henrikh Mkhitaryan

Mickie has continued his end of 2016/17 into this season. 5 assists and a goal in 5 games is brilliant production. He picks up bonus points in FPL, is a perfect Togga rules player, and earns decently in Fantrax, so he’s the obvious Man Utd midfield choice.

Sunday’s 4-0 victory over Everton flattered United (and not for the first time this season). There were moments where Mickie appeared to be slowly walking/moving around. Jose will have spotted this, so I wonder if he is a player who every so often needs a kick up the bum to get him going. With Pogba out, he would likely start the next few fixtures. However, even as brilliant as he has been, he may get a few early substitutions or even the odd bench move during the European run, so I’d advise a little caution in Fantrax. Despite this, at his price there is no better midfield value in FPL.

Matt Ritchie

Ritchie has had a mixed bag start with 3 yellow cards in his first four matches but 4 assists in his last 3; only Mickie has more. The Scot holds corner duties whilst providing some wonderful whipped crosses into the box in open play. On top of all that, he is the club’s penalty taker. His first goal of the season is overdue.

Sergio Aguero

He may face reduced minutes, but Kun is Kun, one of the worlds very best forwards and maybe the best player in the Premier League. In 377 reduced minutes he has scored 5 goals and provided 2 assists. His rotation makes him a problem at his price in FPL, but we have seen before he can be as devastating off the bench.

City’s fixtures are great, and he offers an alternative to Kane/Lukaku but with less security of start. If he starts, then he is a must in Togga; Fantrax meanwhile is always going to be risky.

Gabriel Jesus

The young Brazilian has the best minutes per goal ratio in Premier League history with 11 goals in 977 minutes of play, or one per 89 minutes. It’s an amazing start for such a young player with no prior European club experience to move to the league and make such an immediate impact.

By comparison:

  • Kun: 127 goals (1 per 108 m)
  • Kane: 80 goals (1 per 120 m)
  • Thiery Henry: 175 goals, (1 per 122 m)
  • Luis Suarez: 69 goals (1 per 139 m)

So Jesus is unlikely to keep up his goal scoring tempo long term.

In the short term Jesus faces a Palace side whom City beat 8-0 over the two games last season.

David De Gea/Phil Jones

4 clean sheets in 5 games is what we have come to expect with a Jose Mourinho side. With the European ban, Jones is getting a rest midweek for a while, which is important considering his injury issues over the years. He remains a great pick up in FPL.

DDG is the league’s best keeper in my view. The club have done well to keep him from Real Madrid for now. He still remains the safest way into Red Devils clean sheets. The next two are against a Saints side struggling to supply their front men chances, and against a Palace side that have stats making them the worst Premier League side of all time as it stands. You would think there is at least one more clean sheet in those games.

Cold

The cold list contains a few high profile proven Premier League players whose season has disappointed so far.

Harry Kane

Too expensive to buy, but too scary not to own, that’s how I saw Harry pre-season. Needless to say, I bought him. Had he been given a clear pen or two, had he not kept hitting woodwork, and had he not missed a couple great chances, he would have done very well thank you.

Bottom line is 2 goals and no assist in 5 games, which means he hasn’t been worth his 12.5m preseason price in FPL. In Fantrax and Togga, he still earns phantoms in their points systems. It’s in FPL where his performance hurts most.

This week’s flop against Swansea was a bitter pill. There will be some itchy fingered FPL fantasy managers having thoughts of selling him or even using their wildcards.

At 6.4, nobody has had more shots per game than Kane, and he is way ahead of the pack. In 2nd place is Lukaku with 4.8, 3rd Joselu and Paul Pogba with 4.3, 5th Mohamed Salah and Tom Ince at 3.8, and 7th Daniel Sturridge with 3.7.

Kane is along with Kun is the game’s most explosive player, but patience is starting to run out.

Alexis Sanchez

Last year’s star player Sanchez has hardly featured in the opening 5 games. His 11.9m price tag in FPL is based on last season. Right now he isn’t anywhere near value. Still, the injury to Danny Welbeck gives Sanchez a chance back into the starting 11. With WBA and Brighton about to visit the Emirates back to back, don’t expect him to be cold for much longer.

Mesut Ozil

Having missed game week 5 through injury, Ozil has played 4 complete 90 minute games without providing a goal or assist. His numbers suggest that he is a little unlucky on the assist front — No player has provide more key passes (I guess key passes are a matter of opinion, but still).

More the issue has been his performances overall. He spent the summer not signing a new contract after telling Arsenal fans that he came to play for Arsene Wenger (that’s the Wenger who signed a new deal and is still asking Ozil to do the same), and how he loved the club and looked forward to better times.

His performances have many Gunners fan hot under the collar. When you naturally don’t press play or track back you better do wonders with the ball, but so far he has done nothing positive to help his cause either in the real world or in fantasy football.

Right now Ozil is as cold as they come, but he has all the talent to change that. Having voiced like a leader, he needs to show us on the pitch from here on.

Siggy

His one of my all-time favourite fantasy players, but he hasn’t been played to his strengths in the early games at Everton.

Up until the game at Old Trafford, Ronald Koemann has mainly played him on the left of his side. This was a problem that Siggy faced when he played for Spurs where he never really clicked. Lacking pace and the requirements to run up and down he doesn’t look the same player when asked to cover a side of the pitch.

At United on Sunday, we saw Siggy lineup up in a role behind Wayne Rooney, and he looked better for it. Everton have had a rough start to the season. Confidence is low with the younger players, with Will Keane and Jordan Pickford both starting to make nervous mistakes. It’s at times like these that senior players need to step up and calm things down. Sigurdsson is one who seems to enjoy such responsibility.

His coming fixture run is wonderful: Bournemouth (h), Burnley (h), Brighton (a), Arsenal (h) and Leicester (a). I’d be surprised to see him on this cold-list after that. Being such a fantasy fanboy of his, maybe I’m just hoping.

Joshua King

Last season’s midfield dynamo has suffered the most with Bournemouth’s tricky start to the season. King hasn’t missed a minute in the 5 game weeks so far, but he hasn’t scored a goal or supplied an assist.

King is listed as a forward in FPL/Fantrax. If he could find half or more of last season’s form, he would be a wonderful option in either game. A trip to an Everton side that have shipped a hatful of goals since the international break offers the chance to come good.

Pedro

The Spanish star had a great season last year, first forcing Willian out of the starting 11 and then keeping his spot with his end product. 2017/18 meanwhile has been different, and he has started poorly.

After missing the opening game of the season, he has yet to play 90 minutes. 1 assist and no goals isn’t the player we saw last year. At this point, it’s not even clear whether or not he will start each week.

Sometimes hot and sometimes cold

Salah has 3 goals and 2 assists but has been benched once and subbed early once. When on the pitch, he has been great in all of FPL, Fantrax and Togga.

Salah has a natural ability to get into goal scoring positions, and if he had natural finishing ability he’d really be the Egyptian Messi.

Looking so well suited to playing for Klopp, he is fast becoming a must have. His performances have been hot, but I worry that he could be rested when Mane comes back and another set of internationals arrive.

Have you caught any of these players in your fantasy sides? Whom do you see cooling down and warming up from the list above? Is Salah a must have yet? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

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