Mohamed Salah continues his march to the top of the Fantasy Premier League standings – but is it time to look at one of his Liverpool team-mates?
The Egypt forward leads the league in points (113, the only player over 100), selection (54.1 per cent of all managers) and Press Association Sport’s heat score, which combines overall selection with the shift in a player’s popularity over time.
He will remain popular, with Liverpool now topping our projected points rankings based on simulations using bookmakers’ odds, but Philippe Coutinho – a million virtual pounds cheaper – also has much to offer.
The Brazil playmaker’s Champions League hat-trick in midweek is likely to alert more managers but he is owned by just 7.8 per cent at present so could help you steal a march on your mini-league rivals.
The cream rises…
After the likes of Stephen Ward, Ahmed Hegazi and Richarlison consistently punched above their weight in the heat index, the top seven all now come from the Premier League’s ‘big six’ clubs.
Scores range from 100 to -100 and Alvaro Morata (36.84) is closest to Salah’s 38.04, with Chelsea team-mate Eden Hazard fourth on 26.61. Hazard’s ownership has more than doubled over the last three weeks but only to 12.8 per cent, so he too could make a difference if you have £10.8m spare.
Third-placed Raheem Sterling is the lone Manchester City representative remaining in the top 10, with Manchester United’s Ashley Young and Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey ahead of seventh-placed Coutinho.
The remainder of the top 10 are hardly under the radar either – some guy called Wayne Rooney in eighth, Jamie Vardy ninth and Xherdan Shaqiri rounding out the hot list as Ward and his Burnley defensive colleague Ben Mee drop out.
But then again…
Manchester and Tottenham also supply the 10 coldest players, making it a game of extremes for those challenging for Champions League places.
Five United players are down in the doldrums, headed by Romelu Lukaku. The striker ended his goal drought in the Champions League win over CSKA Moscow but drops from third to fifth in selection percentage, having led the league from pre-season until gameweek 13.
Paul Pogba’s suspension has him sixth-coldest, with Phil Jones, Nemanja Matic and old faithful Henrikh Mkhitaryan also feeling the chill.
Tottenham’s slump sees playmakers Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli and early-season darling Ben Davies on the cold list but as City fall from the top of the projected points for the first time in a long time, Leroy Sane and David Silva are closest to Lukaku’s -46.74 score.
Lucky number seven
Seven players under £7m have 70 or more points – United’s David De Gea and Antonio Valencia, Chelsea pair Cesar Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso, Pascal Gross (Brighton), Richarlison (Watford) and Sead Kolasinac (Arsenal).
The defenders there are among the more expensive in the game but for managers in wild-card territory, the magnificent seven would cost less than half of your budget – making a fine core to build around with money left for a couple of high-ranking strikers.