FPL Gameweek 7 – Navigating The Premium Strikers Conundrum

As top FPL scorer Sergio Aguero looks set for a spell on the sidelines following his involvement in a car crash in Amsterdam, the striker headache facing FPL managers has eased somewhat heading into GW7.

However, with every big-ticket forward, apart from the rested Gabriel Jesus, scoring at least once in GW6, we evaluate which striker could come out on top of the GW7 standings while assessing the best medium-to-long term options.

Alvaro Morata, now £10.3m after a price rise early in the week, scored two of his three goals on Saturday following the substitution of Stoke City’s only available centre-half, Bruno Martins Indi. That pitted the Spaniard up against a three-man backline consisting of Glen Johnson, Darren Fletcher and Erik Pieters; the stuff dreams are made of for a Premier League striker.

Three of Morata’s four shots on target found the net for an eye-watering 75% conversion rate.

While the former Real Madrid man can’t be expected to maintain such an extraordinary strike rate, fixtures against Crystal Palace (a), Watford (h) and Bournemouth (a) from GW8 onwards should see the Chelsea hitman provided with ample opportunity to provide fantasy returns.

Morata, however, will face a stern test of his credentials in GW7 as Manchester City roll up to Stamford Bridge. Pep Guardiola’s team have conceded just twice in six gameweeks, restricting their opposition to a league-low average of 6.8 shots per game.

Former Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku (£11.7m) looks to have the pick of the fixtures among heavy-hitting forwards in GW7, as a ragged Palace side trudge into Old Trafford. The Belgian mustered just three attempts away to Southampton in GW6, one being the saved header which he then bundled past Fraser Forster. The St Mary’s fixture provided a worrying development for fantasy investors in Manchester United’s attack, with Jose Mourinho opting to grind out a 1-0 win as Chris Smalling replaced the 33%-owned Henrikh Mkhitaryan (£8.5m) for the final 15 minutes. Something that resembled a 6-3-1 formation unsurprisingly saw Lukaku starved of service in the closing stages of the tie.

Graphic from @alanob2112

While the visit of Roy Hodgson’s side should allow the Red Devils another opportunity to clock up a big home scoreline, fixtures against Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea in the next five gameweeks will reveal Mourinho’s true colours. It would be no surprise to see the Portuguese manager placing the shackles on his attack in order to win points against the bigger sides, in which case Lukaku could become expendable following GW7.

Harry Kane (£12.5m) rewarded faithful owners with another brace in GW6 against West Ham, following on from his two-goal haul away to Everton. The operative word here is ‘away’; the England striker has yet to net at Wembley this season (in the Premier League, at least), with Mauricio Pochettino’s charges mustering just two strikes at their ‘home’ ground (one an own goal). While talk of a hoodoo will eventually be blown out of the water, Spurs are struggling to break teams down at Wembley. Kane struck the woodwork twice at the London Stadium, for a total of five times this season so far; more than any other player…and club.

The 23-year-old managed seven attempts against the Hammers, with both on-target efforts hitting the net. A trip to Huddersfield this weekend should give Kane the chance to add to his haul of four goals over three away fixtures; almost 85% of the striker’s FPL points have come on the road so far this season.

A Champions League hat-trick, admittedly against European minnows Apoel, is at least indicative of a striker on form. There is no doubt that Kane will be in the Golden Boot race near the end of the season; if Tottenham do translate both away and European form to performances at Wembley, FPL’s most expensive player could easily prove a valuable option.

Like Kane, Alexandre Lacazette (£10.3m) is a nailed-on penalty taker at a top-six side. The Frenchman dispatched a spot kick in the second half despite the presence of Alexis Sanchez (£11.9m) on the pitch. Lacazette’s penalty record speaks for itself:

On the downside, Arsenal’s summer signing has completed 90 minutes just once in six gameweeks, though he has started all three games since Wenger’s men were embarrassed away to Liverpool in GW3. The threat of rotation is lessened due to Danny Welbeck’s injury, with Olivier Giroud yet to earn a starting berth in the Premier League.

Lacazette missed one big chance against West Brom on Monday night, while also seeing an effort in the box blocked from a total of four shots inside the area (including the penalty). The next four gameweeks see the Gunners playing Brighton and Swansea at home, sandwiching trips to Watford and Everton. Lacazette could profit from such a kind run of fixtures, particularly if Mesut Ozil is reintroduced to Arsenal’s starting lineup; the German has already created three big chances in four starts, while also playing four accurate through-balls. A run of fixtures that pits Wenger’s men against Man City, Spurs and Man Utd between GW11 and GW15 does mean that an exit strategy will need to be planned out by any Lacazette investors.

Which three?

Lacazette, Lukaku and Kane look the standout options in the premium price bracket for GW7 considering fixtures, form and stats.

News of Sergio Aguero’s potential fractured rib after a car crash in Amsterdam last night means that the trio will see serious transfer activity before Saturday’s 11.30am deadline.

Lukaku could easily become a victim of Mourinho’s pragmatism from GW8, however, while the Belgium forward has also relinquished penalty duties since failing to convert from the spot in GW3 against Leicester City. 10 goals in nine games across all competitions for Lukaku means any sellers will undoubtedly be taking a big risk. For those planning a wildcard, often popular during the international break that splits GW7 and GW8, the Man Utd No.9 looks the obvious Aguero replacement. Lukaku’s ownership, complemented by a visit from pointless Palace, will see the Belgian emerge as the top captain pick once more.

For those who have either used the wildcard chip or are letting it burn a hole in their fantasy pocket, Kane and particularly Lacazette could prove more fruitful moves considering the fixture list up to GW11.

Similarly, Morata is one of the top transfer targets in the wake of the Aguero news, with the potential for another price rise before GW7 begins. Between GW8 and GW22 (which begins on January 1), the Blues’ toughest tests come at home to Man Utd in GW11 and away to a shaky Liverpool defence in GW13. The reintroduction of Eden Hazard (£10.5m) should only help the former Real Madrid man add to his growing Premier League tally, as evidenced in Madrid on Wednesday night:

A GW8 tie at home to Bournemouth, who have conceded an average of 15 shots per game so far this season, should allow Kane and Spurs to find their Wembley form. While the England man, Morata and Jesus (£10.4m) now look the dream forward line in the medium term, the balance of your FPL team will undoubtedly suffer. Jamie Vardy (£8.5m) could ease those budget pains as the third striker option, however, with Leicester facing a very kind run of fixtures until GW12. Be warned though that the Foxes forward is managing a hip injury which will mean sweating his involvement on a weekly basis.

Despite the undoubted top-heaviness of filling FPL sides with expensive strikers, we can expect to see more and more forward lines loaded with premium options if these heavy hitters continue to find the net with such regularity.

Stat sources: WhoScored.com, PremierLeague.com, transfermarkt.com