Man United welcome Paul Pogba back from injury, but has Gameweek 12 come a week too soon for his FPL return?
Our good friend and colleague @FPL_Connect from FPLConnect.blog has returned to Fantasy Football Pundits HQ after a short, unwelcomed international break and is keen to get stuck-in with his differential punt picks for Gameweek 12
We once again tasked Simon with finding us THREE Fantasy Premier League differentials for Gameweek 12, with an ownership no higher than 5%, who also have tasty fixtures this weekend.
This week, however, Simon was feeling brave and decided to bend the rules a little, but with good reason – and just to confirm, Simon will not face an internal disciplinary for his actions.
As always, I wish you the best of luck for Gameweek 12 and hope that my 3 punts of the week offer you plenty of food for thought ahead of the weekend’s FPL schedule.
In one of my weekly articles, Team FPL Connect Picks, I go up against the other two team members of FPL Connect, attempting to predict key players and differentials and when Gaz put Murray forward as his differential, I must admit, I did let out a sly chuckle, only to be fed a nice piece of humble pie as Murray scored yet another goal.
This extends his tally to 4 goals in his last Premier League matches now, providing incredible value for those who chose to get on the veteran early as a cheap enabling third striker, with him costing just £5.7m at the start of his run.
The whole premise of the ‘enabling cheaper third striker’ is to ‘enable’ us to use the money that the cheap striker gives – to invest elsewhere in the squad, but Murray is doing much more than just enabling, for those that have owned him the last 2/3 weeks.
Some will argue that perhaps the ship has sailed, but maybe it hasn’t?
With Hemed coming on for 11 minutes, confirming his availability for selection again, there are slight concerns about him coming back in and replacing Murray, but I seriously doubt Hughton would take out a striker that has scored 4 goals in his last 3 matches.
Murray got his chance and he has taken it – it would be extremely harsh to take him out now, don’t you think?
In the last 4 gameweeks, he’s had 15 penalty area touches, 8 goal attempts (all inside the box and 6 of them being on target) and has had 6 big chances (4 taken).
This suggests that, whilst Brighton don’t get away shot after shot, they do create good chances for Murray and he’s demonstrated a clinical nature with 75% shot accuracy and a 66% goal conversion ratio of the last 4 gameweeks.
With the leaky Stoke defence up next – a defence that have conceded 27 big chances so far this season, only bettered by Palace (28) – for Brighton, I can only see Murray retaining his starting place and extending his current purple patch.
I’m cheating a little bit for this choice, as the Fantasy Football Pundits team task me with finding punts below the 5% mark for ownership and RLC is owned by 5.3% of overall FPL managers, however, given his cut-rate price of just £4.5m, most of those managers are likely benching him week-in, week-out and I ask, is it perhaps time to unleash RLC from his bench-warming role?
The answer to this in most cases depends on how you want to structure your team and how you have structured your team.
I think it’s a good way into going with 3 top-heavy forwards like, Lukaku, Kane and Morata for example – RLC could be the cheap enabling 4th midfielder in a top heavy structured team with those choices listed.
In years gone by, the most popular tactic was 3-4-3 with a cheap enabling 3rd striker, such as Murray as mentioned previously, but for those unconvinced by the cheaper strikers this year, or simply just utterly convinced in the wealth of premium forwards available, RLC could serve the same function as a Murray could, but in the midfield department.
His underlying talent and confidence was on show for all to see when Germany rocked up to Wembley last Friday, putting in the kind of performance that really raised the eyebrows of football pundits everywhere, with him being touted as the best England player on the pitch and arguably the stand-out performer of the whole match.
He’s currently being deployed on the right of Hodgson’s system and has 180 minutes in his last 2 games, as well as an assist.
With a beautiful run of fixtures coming up that include, Everton (H), Stoke (H), Brighton (A), WBA (A), Bournemouth (H) and Watford (H) in the next 6, I think not only could he provide attacking returns this week for us, but could potentially string together a run of form that sees him achieve attacking returns in a more consistent fashion.
I’m cheating again in this one as Pogba is at 8.4% overall ownership, but again, the majority of his 8.4% owners, if not all, will be ‘ghost ships’, or to put it more bluntly, ‘dead teams’.
He’s also not 100% back from injury either, but every news outlet I’ve consulted so far has him featuring this weekend in some capacity having returned to full training with the rest of the team and if he does, he’s proved to be very influential to United going forward before he got his injury.
In the 4 games he’s played, he’s had 19 penalty area touches, 17 goal attempts (8 of them coming inside the box) 4 big chances and has fired in a goal attempt every 21.2 minutes.
Distribution wise, he’s created 9 chances for his teammates in those 4 games with him getting 2 assists.
To some, Pogba is a ‘waste of money’ and he had plenty of critics last year, but there’s no doubt whatsoever how much United have missed Pogba since his injury this season:
1. With Pogba – United were averaging 2.5 goals per game – without him, they’re averaging 1.6 goals a game.
2. With Pogba – United were averaging 19.5 shots per game – without him, they’re averaging 11.3 shots a game.
3. With Pogba – United were averaging 61.7% possession – without him, they’re averaging 50.6% possession.
4. With Pogba – United were averaging 580 passes per game – without him, they’re averaging 472 passes per game.
Pogba’s return could also have positive implications for Lukaku, as he’s struggled to score goals recently with United lacking that creativity that Pogba provided them.
Moreover, with Pogba sidelined, the onus has been on Mkhitaryan as their sole creative player – this is always much easier to stop when there’s just one creative outlet in the team, with Pogba back however, that’s double the creators which is doubly hard to stop.
With United’s fixtures turning good ahead of two juicy home fixtures against newly promoted sides Newcastle and Brighton, Pogba’s return could not be timed better.
This weekend might be a little early for some, but for the managers that like a punt, this weekend could be a great time to take a gamble on Pogba for that exact reason.
We’ve already seen this year how good an FPL asset he can be, so the only question is; how early do plan on getting on the Pogwaggon?