A dramatic transfer deadline day followed by an international break that was preceded by Gameweek 3 with an average of 54 points doesn't really help FPL managers at all. However, with Cristiano Ronaldo back in England and a few other problems to solve, the biggest question on everyone's mind is.
Questions 1: Is he worth it?
Is he worth it? That’s the number one question on almost every FPL manager’s head ahead of the weekend’s footballing action but given that 1485931, at the time of writing, had brought Cristiano Ronaldo into their teams, the educated guess is that he is. I mean this is Cristiano Ronaldo after all, a gazillion time Ballon d’Or winner, scorer of a thousand plus goals and so many other accolades, and at 36 he is back in the Premier League for what many are calling the last dance.
It’s barely been two weeks since he was announced but the moment he was, the forward found himself in well over 10% of teams across the world. That’s despite his 12.5 million price and the fact that he might start off the bench but a few or rather 1485931, at the time of writing again, simply don’t seem to care because it’s Cristiano Ronaldo. The same man who even for a struggling Juventus side score 29 goals in the league, scoring 31 and 21 in the years prior to that.
Plus he’ll be on penalties and free-kicks – that hurts another player but more on that later – which only adds to his price-tag although it does mean dropping another premium option. The question – given the fact that Mohamed Salah, Bruno Fernandes, Raheem Sterling, Harry Kane, Romelu Lukaku, Sadio Mane, Kevin De Bruyne, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson are the options – is who drops out to facilitate the return of Ronaldo?
Question 2: Should you go all in on Chelsea?
Last season, even with the chaotic six months under Frank Lampard, Chelsea finished with the second best xGA (expected goals against) figure at 30.90. They also had the second actual best defense with 36 goals conceded and things, so far, have gone the same away. The Blues have conceded just the one goal, against Liverpool, in their opening three games at an xGA of 3.04 which showcases just how impressive their backline has become.
However, the kicker is the fact that their xGA is ranked sixth in the league behind sides like Everton and Brentford which has come as a major shock to many fans. But it does beg the question with the addition of Romelu Lukaku are Chelsea now the best placed team to triple up on? Last season it may have been Manchester United or Manchester City, with Liverpool taking the cake the year before but so far this season nobody has shown their mettle until Chelsea did in their last game.
Their performance despite being a man down has impressed quite a few FPL managers and with the biggest concern being their midfield and the lack of options there. But given the options everywhere else, the only other concern might be with their fixture list. While the Blues do play Aston Villa this weekend, they also face Manchester City and Tottenham over the next few weeks alongside Champions League duty in the mid-week round of fixtures. That only adds to their burden but after that, it’s a straight road with nothing but green lights until late November. Triple up? It’s on the cards.
Question 3: Is Bruno Fernandes’ time as an FPL god finally over?
855181. That’s the number of FPL teams that Bruno Fernandes has found himself dumped out of, at the time of writing, although the Portuguese is still a part of 45.9% of the teams in the game. And with Cristiano Ronaldo being brought in by just under 1.5 million managers – 1485931 to be exact – the concern is that Fernandes might be one of many who suffer. Especially given the midfielder’s £12 million price-tag and the fact that he has just been taken of off penalties.
Whether it's all the penalties or just a few, either way there’s a new spot-kick expert in town and when you consider the fact that Manchester United have averaged 12 pens over the last three seasons, it’s a concern. Furthermore, what makes it an even bigger problem is the fact that 45% of Bruno Fernandes’ goals in the league have come from…..you guessed it, penalties. But the even bigger problem is how it affects his numbers and they take a serious hit.
Without spotkicks, last season, 50 players have a better npXG than Fernandes, 19 players scored more goals than him – a list that includes Tomas Soucek, Chris Wood and Christian Benteke – and 22 players had a better expected npXG than Fernandes. It’s not a pretty look for the midfielder but his creative numbers match-up with the best as he had the best xA expected , the third best xA per 90, the fifth best assists per 90, created the most key passes and completed the second most passes into the 18-yard box.
It does mean that Fernandes might need to transition from being an offensive behemoth to simply being a creative one although you get the feeling that with Cristiano Ronaldo to aim at, those numbers might just improve even more. But does that make him worth the £12 million price-tag? It’s the million, quite literally, pound question and the answer is that nobody knows. For all we know, he might score 20 goals without ever getting close to a dead-ball this season.
Question 4: What about the eight Brazilian players?
Alisson, Fabinho, Roberto Firmino, Gabriel Jesus, Thiago Silva, Ederson, Fred, and Raphinha are all reportedly set to miss out this weekend after reports indicated that FIFA invoked Article 5. That is a rule that blocks clubs, who refuse to release players for international duty, from using the players for five days which, in this case, means for this weekend only. However, while there has been no official confirmation as of yet that would mean that the eight aforementioned player will miss out.
Richarlison is the only one who will be allowed to play because of a deal that the CBF (Brazil football federation) and Everton have in place. However, what this does is hurt FPL manages because, at the time of writing, Alisson is owned by 7.1% of managers, Fabinho by 0.6%, Firmino by 3.2%, Jesus by 6.6%, Silva by 2.1%, Ederson by 9.9% and Raphinha with the most at 15.6%. Fred is owned by a meagre 0.7% and isn’t really a big FPL concern anyway while Firmino might miss the weekend through an injury anyway.
The biggest concern has to be Raphinha given the Brazilian’s form over the last few weekends, which was why he earned his first call-up, but both Said Benrahma and Demarai Gray are valid options/replacements. As for the other five players, Edouard Mendy has an excellent run of fixtures and would be the ideal replacement for either Alisson or Ederson while Michail Antonio, Richarlison and perhaps Adam Armstrong could help with Gabriel Jesus.
But given that all eight players will be free to play for their clubs from next weekend onwards, the bigger question is why panic? Wait out the reported bans and then move on, like the rest of the world will but one thing is clear, wait for any official confirmation before making any changes.