Jack Woodfield examines the festive fallout of #KaneExit in the Gameweek 21 preview as well as how to navigate the first blank gameweek of the season.
Christmas can be the merriest of times, and it certainly was for those who captained Harry Kane in Gameweek 20.
The talismanic striker broke records like they were unwanted Christmas gifts as he punished beleaguered Southampton with a second hat-trick in as many gameweeks.
In fairness, Southampton’s best impressions of Christmas trees aided Kane significantly; he won’t have received more generous gifts than from Saints’ lackadaisical defenders. But the striker’s fantastic festive form has been a shot in the arm for long-enduring owners who lost faith in Santa Kane, and his 34 points from successive games was the perfect stocking filler for #KaneRemain bosses.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 26, 2017
Spare a thought, however, for #KaneExit backers this Yuletide. The holidays can be arduous enough: making small talk with the in-laws and hearing about Cousin Jimmy’s promotion at his marketing firm in inexplicable detail, without watching Kane hit six goals in two games – a third of his total league goals for this season – when you packed him off prior to GW19.
— Harish Yadav (@yadavharish05) December 26, 2017
Alas, GW21 is a reprieve for KaneExiteers. Spurs and West Ham fall off the fixtures list ahead of their double gameweek in GW22, and the question for both Kane owners and non-Kane owners is do you stick or twist?
Don’t Hurry-Kane Out
It makes very little sense ousting Kane from your team for a solitary week, barring one reason: you only recently purchased Kane and wouldn’t lose much on team value.
Alvaro Morata, whose Chelsea side host Stoke in GW21, and Sergio Aguero, whose Man City side face Crystal Palace, are suitable replacements. Otherwise, the logical call is to bench Sir Harold and restore him to captaincy duties the week after.
For ardent KaneExiteers, the prospect of his double GW will likely entice the majority into reversing their stance, as it should, with salivating ties with Swansea (A) and West Ham (H) awaiting.
Of course, acquiring Kane this week is plain barmy. Yet, it seems, some can’t resist – either through fear of an incoming price rise or sheer fixture-skimming impulsiveness.
50,000 transfers IN for Kane, Son, Arnautovic, Alli or Cresswell
They have one thing in common….
— FPLPriceChanges+ (@FPLPriceChanges) December 26, 2017
Purchases of in-form Hammers striker Marko Arnautovic are soaring too, despite his own BGW in GW21. Like Kane, the Austrian offers tremendous value for GW22 following an inspired goalscoring run of five goals in five games.
Thinking Before Tinkering
Holding or carrying a free transfer could be sage this week. Possessing two free transfers for GW22 provides flexibility to tinker without having to take a points hit, and with the additions of Heung-Min Son and Dele Alli, who scored 14 and 15 points respectively in GW20, there are exciting DGW options looming.
However, if your transfer plans revolve only minimally around GW22, and GW21 is your primary focus, then there are stats worthy of perusal to aid with your strategising.
Alvaro Morata returned from suspension with a bang to Chelsea’s starting XI in their 2-0 Boxing Day triumph over Brighton, and the Blues’ GW21 visitors Stoke City travel to Stamford Bridge having conceded the second most away goals this season (22, two behind West Ham).
Of Morata’s 10 league goals, Cesar Azpilicueta has assisted six – it’s a staggering, heart-warming partnership between the Spaniards, and one reaping plenty of points. ‘Dave’ flourishes when Morata plays, and is arguably their chief creative threat until Eden Hazard realises that playing magnificently is no substitute for consistent double-point hauls.
Cesar Azpilicueta to Alvaro Morata (6) is the most common assist-to-scorer combo in Europe’s top 5 leagues this season.
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) December 27, 2017
Moreover, Stoke face a defensive debacle ahead of their unenviable trip to Stamford Bridge, with just Kevin Wimmer and Geoff Cameron certain to be available to face the Blues. Morata is arguably the go-to captain option for GW21.
Ryan Shawcross is likely to miss out this weekend after he was forced off at Huddersfield through injury. “We think it’s a calf strain,” said Hughes. “It might be [a kick] and [he] got a spasm, but the reality is he’s done some damage and will be unavailable.” #SCFC
— Ben Dinnery (@BenDinnery) December 26, 2017
No Kurt Zouma [ineligible] at Stamford Bridge. Martins Indi is still around 2-3 weeks away. Eric Pieters has an outside chance of recovering from a hip injury. “We might be able to get [him] back at the weekend, but that would be touch and go.” #SCFC
— Ben Dinnery (@BenDinnery) December 26, 2017
A slightly cheaper striker in scintillating form is Roberto Firmino. The Brazilian was somewhat in the mire prior to GW15, returning three goals and three assists, an unassuming return by his high standards. But a brace in GW15 preceded another four goals and two assists, and Firmino’s ownership has duly spiked in that period from 906,579 to over 1.6 million.
This man last 3 GWs ..
vs BOU ⚽️ 🅰️
vs ARS ⚽️ 🅰️
vs SWA ⚽️ ⚽️
— FPL Engineer (@kareemalaa539) December 26, 2017
Having been substituted on 67 minutes against Swansea, Firmino’s starting berth should again be secure against Leicester. The Foxes haven’t kept a clean sheet on the road in seven games.
No Case for the Defence
A side with similar defensive woes are, incredibly, Manchester United. With just one clean sheet in seven, David De Gea’s 2.4m+ owners – the Spaniard is the second-most owned FPL asset – have been short of festive cheer for a while, and even the reintegration of Phil Jones in GW17 hasn’t yielded the solidarity his influence ensured in the first third of the season.
Southampton were woeful against Spurs, yet still found the net twice despite the absence of top scorer Charlie Austin, who will remain suspended at Old Trafford. There are no viable Saints assets worth championing at this junction, but United’s pricey defenders should be reconsidered while they sort their problems out at the back.
Follow Jack for more FPL insight… Follow @JWoodfield365
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