Don’t look now, but time’s almost up for you to keep tinkering away at your FPL team. Roster’s lock on Friday at 7pm (BST), 2PM (ET) and 11AM (PT), so don’t get caught with any players you aren’t entirely certain will be back GW1 – especially those high-priced assets. There is no point having an expensive, double figure player riding the bench when you are literally starting on a level playing field with everyone else. While there will certainly be players you long to have on your squad from day one, if they are not yet training with the team due to World Cup action, just wait to wildcard them in after a few weeks of play and rotations/starting XIs are mostly settled.

So while you elaborately sort through that enigma of trying fit in as many high-priced players to your starting lineup as possible, let’s talk about some expensive ones we might see on Friday night’s opener: Manchester United hosting Leicester City.

Man Utd’s First 10 GWs

GW Opponent H/A
1 LEI H
2 BHA A
3 TOT H
4 BUR A
5 WAT A
6 WOL H
7 WHU A
8 NEW H
9 CHE A
10 EVE H

The Red Devil’s fixtures alone to start the season should give any manager great enthusiam when considering selecting Manchester United assets. They have a very favorable start to the year, with only two teams registering as “4s” on FPL’s scale: Spurs GW3 and Chelsea GW9 (still never been able to figure out how they decide which teams are assigned which number and if home/away affects the fixture difficulty…) There are a handful of expensive players you may consider bringing in from Manchester United, mainly Romelu Lukaku, Alexis Sanchez, and David De Gea. The first two are the most expensive players available from ManU, while De Gea is the most expensive keeper in the FPL game.

As an aside, Pogba priced at £8.0m is by far and away the best ManU MF asset available, but since there is some real heavy tension in training camp (WHAT?! WITH MOURINHO? NO WAY!) over him returning to Juventus or potentially moving to Barcleona, I cannot 100% recommend owning him. The Premier League’s transfer deadline ends today at 5pm (BST; 12pm ET), foreign deadlines are later in August, most noticeably Serie A finishing on August 18th and La Liga ending on August 31st. While no new players can be brought into a Premier League side, players can still be sold to foreign clubs with active transfer windows. For full disclosure, Pogba is currently on my team but might not be there in a few days should these rumors persist and a potential exit looks likely.

Enough with the Mourinho pout trolling and let’s dive into which Red Devil assets, if any, are worth your while, and if there are better options for you at the same position.

Romelu Lukaku, Manchester United, FWD, £11.0m – It’s hard for anyone to say that Lukaku individually had an outstanding run with the Belgian national team, however that team was built around having tons of different playmakers that could score at will, so he was not the focus of the attack despite being the biggest and most imposing striker in the tournament. His 4 goals and 1 assist were not exactly against the high level of competition Belgium ended up seeing throughout their cup run, as all 4 were in the first round, scoring 2 versus Panamá and the other 2 against Tunisia. Hell, Lukaku’s best play in the tournament was a play he didn’t even touch the ball, showing all of us FPL managers once again that he’s more of a presence at the front of an attack rather than a player with great scoring prowess. To be fair, that dummy was incredible, but if those are the plays we can expect from Lukaku, then another player below should be the greatest beneficiary from his newfound style of play.

What does this all mean for FPL? Well, at the premium price point of £11.0m, he is tied for the 2nd most expensive forward alongisde Aguero and Aubameyang, all three of which are only behind Harold Kane. Just looking at Lukaku’s numbers from last year, it doesn’t seem like he stacks up to the rest. He finished 4th among all forwards with 16 total goals in 34 apperances, 4 behind Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy and just one ahead of Roberto Firmino, who had to play second fiddle to the Egyptian God of FPL, Mo SalahAguero finished on 21 goals in 25 appearences, 4 of which were multi-goal affairs (2 hat tricks, 1 brace, and the 4 goal decimation of Leicester last season). P.E. Aubameyang finished on 10 goals in just 13 appearances, with two braces to boot. Lukaku had just one multi-goal match last season in GW1 versus West Ham. At £11.0m, I want a forward with brace potential every match, and while the Lukaku of old at Everton had as many braces and hat tricks as the next guy, I don’t see it in his bag of tricks for the upcoming season.

Lukaku could be good for stretches, but at his price point, I’d much rather Aguero or Aubameyang, the latter having rested all summer and primed to have his first full-season in the premier league under a new regime in North London. Aguero is a hat-trick away from being the most-owned forward in the game, as everyone knows he is the deadliest striker in the league when he’s in top form. I’ll take either of them over Lukaku all day.

Alexis Sanchez, Manchester United, MF, £10.5m – The mercurial Chilean finished 2017/18 having scored just 9 goals and tallying 10 assists between his first 24 weeks with Arsenal and remaining 12 weeks for ManU, scoring 2 goals and 5 assists for his new club. His point total of 152 was significantly lower than 2016/17 campaign, where he finished as the highest point total asset in the entire FPL with 264 points on 23 goals and 11 assists. Has Sanchez lost a step? Is he no longer the player he once was? At 29 years-old, it’s hard to believe he doesn’t have another season or two left in the tank, but then again certain players’ abilities are only unlocked when the personnel around them helps them become a more complete player. After only having played a handful of matches last season, we can’t say for certain if ManU’s squad is built to allow Sanchez to run riot on his own or have him facilitate goals for others, but we do know that he should start every Prem match and will have Pogba (if he stays) feeding him the ball on the left.

So far, the big non-transfer talk of the off-season has been which World Cup participants players will be returning in time for GW1 and those others who are well-rested from early exits or having not featured in Russia all summer. Sanchez’s case is the latter, as Chile failed to qualify for the past world cup, granting Sanchez his first summer break since 2009: he had played internationally with Chile in Copa America or World Cup every summer since 2010. While the jury is still out on whether his results last season were from a lack of interest, diminished talent or just fatigue, any high-level athlete known for chasing down every opponent to mercilessly score a goal can use a good rest now and then.

As Manchester United’s highest-paid player, Sanchez will most certainly start every week on the left wing for Mourinho and should be able to excel if Lukaku can draw defenders to the opposite edge of the box, giving Sanchez the space necessary for him to penetrate defenses and create opportunities for himself and his teammates. There is also a very likely chance that Sanchez will be taking a number of set pieces this season, so he is a good bet to maintain his assist total from the last few seasons.

Sanchez is tied with Eden Hazard as the 3rd highest-priced midfielders at £10.5m, and so far has only been selected by 8.6% of teams. That puts him at 17th overall on the midfield selection percentage, behind Hazard (9.7%) and Gross (9.1%) and ahead of Son (8.2%) and Jorginho (8.1%). Sanchez looks like a great asset to start the year because we know his playing time is assured, unlike Hazard who is coming back from the late World Cup exit. Furthermore, it seems clear that Mourinho trusts him to play a full 90mins giving it his all, especially after having coached against him while he was at his best over the past several seasons in the premier league as well as a few seasons in La Liga. One last benefit to bringing in a high-priced player like Sanchez to your side is that you can pivot off him to virtually any mid-level midfielder while cyphoning off money elsewhere, and just easily scrape together another £0.5m needed to turn him into Radio Raheem once Sterling is back in the fold for Guardiola’s blues.

Sanchez offers a high floor playing for Manchester United this season, and while Mourinho’s teams are never known for their prolific defenses, I think Sanchez has the opportunity to go ahead and lead this team in the attack. Although it is completely understandable to see someone balking at his high price tag after a mediocre 2017/18 campaign, just remember he began last year under a lot of scrutiny and transfer speculation, and now with a great summer break to clear his mind, he might be ready to prove doubters wrong again.

David De Gea, Manchester United, GK, £6.0m – Alright, I get it. De Gea was the highest point scorer for Manchester United last season in FPL with 172 points. But United sucked last year, so that’s not saying much. He also was the top GK in all of Fantasy, besting Ederson of Man City by 14 points and Fabianski by 15 points. Let’s put some stats into play here and think about things for a second.

GK scoring is as follows: 2 points for an appearance over 60 minutes, 4 points for a clean sheet, 1 point for every 3 shots saved, -1 point for every goal conceded, 5 points for each penalty saved, plus yer magical bonus points. Ok then, let’s take a peak at the table below.

Player, Team Final Price Total Points CS Saves Goals Conceded Pens Saved Bonus Points Bonus Points System
De Gea, ManU £5.9m 172 18 115 28 0 10 757
Ederson, MCI £5.7m 158 16 58 26 2 10 666
Fabianski, WHU £4.7m 157 9 137 56 3 14 772
Pope, BUR £5.0m 152 11 113 35 1 19 701
Ryan, BHA £4.6m 146 10 124 54 2 13 726
Pickford, EVE  £4.9m 145 10 121 58 1 16 724
So these stats clearly show that Manchester United led the league in Clean Sheets – whether that is De Gea, their defense, or Mourinho’s tactics is up to you to decide – but that the Spaniard did not earn as many actual Bonus Points as four other keepers just on this list, despite having the second highest BPS point accumulation. This is because his defenders also get lots of BPS when they keep clean sheets because they are doing a lot of work in front of him to keep clean sheets. If you think United can keep 18 CS again, by all means, go ahead and select him. However, until I see how they play come Friday vs Leicester City, I will gladly take my money elsewhere.  To further my point, Fabianski, who allowed 56 goals (-56 points!!!!), tallied more BPS than De Gea on the season. De Gea also did not tally as many saves as Fabianski, Ryan, or Pickford – which come a lot more often to shitty teams – and therefore lost out on some volume point accumulation there.
The reason everyone loves having De Gea on their team is that he is a “set it and forget it” keeper. You start him every week and never worry about the opponent, the defense in front of him, or what mood Mourinho is in for that particular match day. Getting a clean sheet in nearly half of their league matches is impressive, but that also means there were a lot of matches in which De Gea returned 2-3 points, just like all keepers do all far too often. Remember that any GK you pair with De Gea automatically puts your GK budget up to a minimum of £10m, also known as 10% of your starting budget; if you want a serviceable one not named Speroni, it will cost you even more. If you are smart in selecting goalkeepers from teams that both have favorable fixtures and complementary schedules, you could bring your GK budget down to £8.5m-£9.5m and easily come out ahead and have money to save for your other, more precious position players. That means a lot early in the season, and wildcarding later to a better combination as the season progresses is also a possibility once you have more money in your coffers.
  1. Von Hayes says:
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    Hey man are you still running Pogba out there tomorrow? He’s been in my lineup since day 1 even though he’s burned me in the past. I’ve tried to take him out a dozen times and use saved money to upgrade on backline but don’t love any other combo I come up with.

    • Cafuné

      Cafuné says:
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      @Von Hayes: I thought I responded to this last night, guess my internet didn’t send the comment through, my bad!

      I’ve taken out Pogba and currently don’t have any Man Utd players. His super agent trying to get him to Barca sounds an awful lot like what happened to Coutinho last year in August, and Barca have until the end of August to mess with his and Mourinho’s minds…

      I definitely think Sanchez is a good shout to start the season, he’s going to play 90 minutes most matches and should be very happy with his new contract:

      (https://www.eurosport.com/football/eye-watering-details-of-alexis-sanchez-s-manchester-united-s-contract-revealed_sto6882351/story.shtml)
      £391,000-a-week basic wage
      £75,000 bonus for every game he plays
      Annual £1.1m signing-on fee

      In my case, I currently prefer some of the 9.0-9.5m MF (Eriksen, Mahrez, Mane) over him, but Alexis the one I’d be most likely to bring in.

      Outside of him, McTominay is gonna start and is probably the most interesting 4.5m “bench fodder” MF that might get real stater’s minutes since everytime Mourinho and Pogba have had friction, he’s slotted into that CM role. Fred at 6.0m also could be good value, but Im in general planning to stay away until their “regular” XI is sorted in GW2 or 3

  2. EnglishMetsFan says:
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    For United I would look at Pogba but only if he starts week 1. This is unlikely.
    Lingard is also good value and potentially Rashford too. Both under 7.5

    • Cafuné

      Cafuné says:
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      @EnglishMetsFan: Agreed, off Pogba to start my year, hard to bring in a MF getting flagged with transfer rumors when there are so many other good players from 6.5-9.5m…I like Lingard and Rashford if they get starts are definitely good value plays. I think Lingard would be hard pressed to hit the same form that made everyone bring him in last season, but if he gets sneaky hot then yes he might be a play if Mata ends up being used more in Cup games and Champions

      Good luck to you this GW and all season!

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