Hello and welcome to the Midfielder edition of Most Popular. We analysed the defenders last time now it’s time to see who people have selected for a spot in their midfield. This will be in a two-part article with an analysis on the 5 most selected players each article. Let’s get stuck into it!
Alexis Sánchez – Just like the most popular defender the most popular midfielder is another recently transferred player, this time it’s Arsenal striker Alexis Sánchez. Sánchez made the move over from Barcelona after a fantastic World Cup for a reported fee around the £30m mark and as a result has been selected by a massive 33.5% of managers. Sánchez has numerous appealing aspects about him but none can surpass the fact that he can be selected as a Midfielder in Fantasy Premier League, despite many suggesting he will start up front for Arsenal. Deployed as a Winger for Barcelona, Sánchez sometimes struggled to impact games and as a result struggled to succeed the expectations many put on him. During this years World Cup Sánchez made claim that he should be played up front, where he was a force to be reckoned with for national team Chile. With Oliver Giroud facing no competition since his move to Arsenal it is difficult to determine whether he will be shifted aside for the more prolific summer signing Alexis Sánchez or whether they’ll start two up front. At 10.5m he certainly is a steal and if he is deployed up front will receive 1 more point per goal he scores and will also receive an extra point whenever Arsenal keep a clean sheet. Because of this it is definitely worthwhile investing in Alexis Sánchez as one of your teams premiums this year. With the likes of Ozil, Cazorla, Wilshere, Arteta and Walcott feeding him through balls it seems like a harder task not to score. Because of all these factors combined Sánchez is definitely worth the effort to squeeze in your team, then again he takes up over 1/10 of your budget so its one of many decisions that needs to be thought about before the season kicks off. Also keep an eye on Arsenal’s pre-season friendlies and see where he is deployed, if he’s starting up front I’d consider Sánchez as a lock.
Ross Barkley – Every season there is a player that steps up and takes his game to another level, last season it was Ross Barkley. Barkley was at times simply unstoppable last season but struggled to get consistent game time. Barkley has currently been selected by 28.6% of managers who are clearly okay with selecting him despite his inflated price tag of 7.0m. Last campaign Barkley finished with 112 overall points thanks largely to his 6 goals and 4 assists. The worrying factor, as mentioned before, was his inconsistent game time, which saw him only register 2288 minutes played, leaving him well behind when ranked with other midfielders. Everton have a reasonably tough opening 8 weeks, facing Leicester, Arsenal, Chelsea, West Brom, Crystal Palace, Liverpool, Manchester United and Aston Villa. With Everton failing to make any big name signings over the summer he could well become a massive cog in this Everton unit however at his awkward price I’m personally not willing to take the punt. Keep an eye on how he is developing pre-season and reassess at the start of the season. Definitely one to watch.
Eden Hazard – The third most selected midfielder so far this pre-season is the Belgium winger from Chelsea, Eden Hazard. Hazard is currently selected in 23.6% of teams mainly due to his improved consistency shown last year and his assuredness in Jose Mourinho’s ever changing line up. Hazard last year scored an impressive 14 goals and 10 assists for an overall score of 202 points which resulted in him being one of the dominant players of last season. However it’s not all goals and assists from Hazard, with the Belgium play maker still struggling to consistently perform week in week out, often going missing for weeks, sometimes months, at a time. As frustrating as it is for his managers that constantly keep the faith in him but it’s a bitter pill to swallow when he bangs in a hat trick and you’ve not long traded him out of your side. Chelsea have a relatively mixed opening 8 weeks, facing Burnley, Leicester, Everton, Swansea, Manchester City, Aston Villa, Arsenal and Crystal Palace. Big games against Arsenal and Manchester City which will test their development since last year and will no doubt require some of Hazard’s magic to seal the 3 points for Chelsea. If he can improve on his consistency and not fade in and out of games so much Hazard will be one of the highest scoring midfielders in the competition. He’s absolutely imperative to Chelsea’s success so will be at the forefront of their attacking play. With the acquisition of Diego Costa to actually finish the eternity of chances he creates his assist count should no doubt increase from last season. He’s currently locked in my team and I reckon should be in yours as well but owning both him and Sánchez will prove a difficult task, at this stage it seems like one or the other – that decisions up to you!
Aaron Ramsey – Last years surprise of the season certainly came from the Welsh central midfielder from Arsenal, Aaron Ramsey. Ramsey was simply sublime last season before succumbing to injury, which basically cut short his season after the New Year. After last seasons heroics Ramsey has found himself in 20.7% of teams and is currently the fourth most selected midfielder so far this pre-season. After his dominant season last year the powers to be have priced Ramsey at a hefty 9.0m, putting him in the ‘premium’ category for this season. Priced the same as fellow proven midfielders in Silva, Ozil, Gerrard and Mata it’s a difficult to determine whether or not he’s worth selecting over the aforementioned superstars, although if his season last year is any indication he will be fantastic once again. Last season saw Ramsey bang in 10 goals and 9 assists from only 1761 minutes of football, which resulted him in finishing the season with 146 overall points, a very solid effort considering his previous best was 105 back in 2011/12. My only issue with Ramsey is his significant price increase from last year, although it is somewhat expected, and whether or not he will be able to back up his improvements from last year. His pre-season form has been great, he looks good to go again!
Yaya Toure – To round out the top five most selected midfielders so far this pre-season is the big Ivorian from Manchester City, Yaya Toure. Yaya was one of the most dominant players last year and became one of the best players in Fantasy Premier League, as much of a surprise as that was to many! Toure was overlooked by many during pre-season last year because of his naturally defensive role, the fact being defensive midfielders don’t typically score well in Fantasy Premier League, despite their massive role for their team. Toure certainly proved he was an exception to this rule last year, registering a whopping 241 points largely due to his massive 20 goals, 9 assists and 34 bonus points. Due to his dominance last year he has been priced heavily at 11.0m but it seems 19.6% of managers are willing to pay whatever for last season’s highest scoring midfielder. There have been rumours circling over the summer that Toure has been unsettled at Manchester City after not receiving recognition on his birthday… Hmm… I don’t know what to think of it either. He hasn’t been in the news recently so has seemingly got over his little tantrum. Toure should be dominant once again this year as he’s such a vital cog in Manchester City’s team however his steep price is too much for me to squeeze him into my team at this stage. Certainly on my watchlist though.
Well that wraps up the top 5 most selected midfielders so far this pre-season. I’ll be back shortly for another edition of Most Selected, this time analysing the midfielders that just missed out on the top 5. Until then, cheers!