My squad has a problem: Jadon Sancho.
On the one hand the answer is simple – sell. He’s not starting for Man United, he has no form, and Marcus Rashford is back to add extra competition for places. When is he going to get a run in the side?
On the other hand, he’s got great potential. United pursued him for over a year, they made him the fourth highest-paid player in the Premier League, and he had a decent record at Dortmund with 50 goals and 64 assists in 137 appearances. Surely they aren’t going to leave him on the bench for ever?
And this is Draft – good players are hard to come by.
We’ve seen already this season with Sancho’s England colleague, Ben Chilwell, how quickly things can change. He appeared out-of-favour at Chelsea but in the space of a few Gameweeks that notion had been thrown out of the window.
Tuchel, it seems, was just giving him extra time to recharge his batteries after the highs of winning the Champions League and reaching the final of the Euros with England.
Sancho is also having to re-adjust to life in Manchester following his summer move.
I’m making excuses for him.
But is there really any harm in leaving him on my bench? I’ve got 12 other outfield players to fill the 10 positions in my first XI. As mentioned last week, he can just be one of my ‘sleepers’.
Following matches against Man City and Chelsea this month, the fixtures are favourable for United. And maybe during the congested festive period Sancho can take advantage of the inevitable squad rotation and, finally, produce a few attacking returns…
That’s the hope.
Squad Evaluation & Opportunities
My defence is looking in decent nick: Alexander-Arnold, Chilwell, Rudiger with Zinchenko and Pereira.
Oleksandr Zinchenko is a rotation risk but I expect he will start seeing some time on the pitch, at least in the short term after Kyle Walker picked up a knock in midweek.
And Ricardo Pereira should be first choice when fit and offers some attacking threat.
The two defenders I’m considering are Marcos Alonso and Emerson Royal.
Alonso is not first choice but at least if Ben Chilwell misses the odd game in December, Alonso is his direct replacement.
Emerson Royal could become a great option at Spurs under new boss Antonio Conte. A lot of unknowns at the moment – worth listening to Zophar’s analysis of the Italian on this week’s episode of the FPL Wire – but it could pay off moving for Royal early especially with a favourable run of matches.
Royal is by no means certain to keep his spot and we don’t know how Spurs will do under Conte, but this is Draft – we need to anticipate or we could miss out on opportunities with our rivals picking from the same small pool of players.
Zinchenko, because he’s the least certain starter, is the player I would swap out.
My midfield is not in great shape: Sancho, Sarr, Gundogan, Pulisic and Elyounoussi, while up front I have Antonio, Wilson and Werner.
Mohamed Elyounoussi has been the most disappointing and with the fit again Stuart Armstrong replacing him in the second half against Watford, his time could be up – despite Aston Villa and Norwich up next.
Given that I’ve decided, rightly or wrongly, to stick with Sancho, this doesn’t seem like the right moment to keep hold of Ilkay Gundogan, who is another rotation risk.
Chelsea pair Pulisic and Werner aren’t certain of minutes either, but there were encouraging signs from the German before his injury while Pulisic has a big upside when he plays. And hopefully, when both are fit, at least one of them starts. Although that’s by no means certain.
One potential replacement I’m considering in midfield is Conor Gallagher. He is proving himself an important player in Viera’s side and the ticker is largely green for Palace until the New Year. What’s more – and this is crucial for my squad – I can count on him for minutes.
The same could be said of Jarrod Bowen, although the fixtures are slightly less appealing, and Leandro Trossard presents a good option too with opponents Newcastle, Aston Villa and Leeds offering less-than-water-tight defences.
Turning to the Fantasy Football Scout members’ area, a comparison between the trio and Ismaila Sarr highlights their worth.
In terms of goal threat, Bowen leads the way – his 54 touches in the opposition penalty area ranks fourth among all midfielders behind only Salah, Mane, and Grealish.
Trossard has taken more shots in the box than Gallagher but generally had harder opportunities: the on-loan Chelsea player has been presented with four big chances to the Belgian’s one.
Gallagher also leads the way when it comes to the quality of chance created, while a share of corner duties boosts both his and Bowen’s crossing stats.
When looking at the expected data, it’s Bowen and Gallagher who, unsurprisingly, stand out.
Bowen, in fact, ranks third for expected goal involvement (xGI) behind only Salah and Mane in midfield.
So they are my top two transfer targets this week with Trossard in third in the likely event I miss out on one of them.
Looking at the fixtures, I’ll go for Gallagher ahead of Bowen, given that West Ham face Liverpool, Man City and Chelsea before Gameweek 15, and I already own Antonio.
Odsonne Edouard, Adam Armstrong, and Kelechi Iheanacho are all available in attack but I think I’d rather stick with Werner for now and see how he gets on after the international break. Especially as Iheanacho was taken off at half-time in Leicester City’s 2-0 defeat to Arsenal.
With Werner injured and Sancho out of favour, I’m down to one outfield sub. This makes Gallagher and Bowen even more important because they are nailed on to start for their teams.
Last weekend in my Draft league I suffered another defeat, this time to Mitch Burden. Although it’s a quirk of the head-to-head format that if I’d played Mitch in Gameweek 9 and my Gameweek 9 opponent, Sam, in Gameweek 10, I would have won both matches. Que sera sera.
Hopefully my luck changes soon.