The striker swap shop is back in full swing as Fantasy Premier League managers come to terms with the effects of the international break.
The game’s leading points scorer, Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero, faces a spell on the sidelines after being injured in a car crash and though second-placed Romelu Lukaku is fit after an ankle knock, Alvaro Morata is another player giving his managers headaches.
The likes of Gabriel Jesus, Jamie Vardy and, if you have the extra money in hand, Harry Kane make for natural replacements – but could there be an under-the-radar fix on offer?
SEND UP THE BAT SIGNAL
Michy Batshuayi has scored all of two points so far and played only 98 minutes of Premier League football this season, but has been prolific in other competitions and could benefit if Morata is forced to miss any time.
The Belgian is owned by less than one per cent of managers and has barely made a ripple in Press Association Sport’s “heat index”, which tracks players’ overall selection percentage as well as the change in their popularity over time. Scores range from 100 to -100 and Batshuayi is on 1.10.
At only £8.1m he could help you steal a march on your rivals in your mini-league, even if only for a short period – and there will be replacements available once he returns to Chelsea’s bench, with Vardy, Roberto Firmino, Marcus Rashford and Danny Welbeck similarly priced.
Eden Hazard could also take on a more advanced role to cover for Morata – the £10.5m midfielder is probably too costly in a single transfer, but if you can make the finances work he looks primed to find his form after a slow start.
The same can be said of Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez, albeit at an even steeper £11.9m. He and Hazard both started their respective clubs’ last games but remain outside the top 100 in selection percentage.
Chelsea also have a friendly run of upcoming fixtures, against Crystal Palace, Watford and Bournemouth – but the same can be said for the league leaders…
NO END IN SIGHT TO CITY DOMINANCE
Simulations based on bookmakers’ odds average out to a projected haul of 6.99 points for the Blues across those three games, but Manchester City are the first team all season to crack the seven-point barrier in Press Association Sport’s fixture difficulty projections.
Stoke, Burnley and West Brom are not expected to trouble City, particularly with the former two visiting the Etihad Stadium – their 7.55 projected points help to explain the £10.5m Jesus’ heat score of 23, third in the league.
David Silva, who leads the Premier League in assists, is second at 30.2 – behind only Tottenham striker Harry Kane on 39.8 – while Nicolas Otamendi, Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane also feature in a blue-tinted top 10.
Morata, who at one point would have been third, crashed out as the uncertainty over his availability grew while Aguero’s -86.2 is the lowest heat score in the league.
Perhaps the best value player so far clocks in only 10th in the heat index – Burnley’s £4.6m full-back Stephen Ward has only three points fewer than Silva (£8.5m) and four fewer than Kane (£12.7m).
Huddersfield’s surprising start has also provided value but approach with care – they and Bournemouth are each projected to pick up under two points from their next three games.
Press Association Sport