With Alexis Sanchez’ move to Manchester United imminent, we assess its impact on the FPL World, focusing especially on the Manchester United and Arsenal assets.
THE SEASON SO FAR
Participation in Confederations Cup in the summer coupled with constant transfer link-ups with Manchester City (a move that collapsed at the eleventh hour) meant Sanchez’ season began amongst a lot of confusion. The 2-2 home draw with Chelsea looks certain to be his final bow in an Arsenal shirt as far as Premier League is concerned. It was his 19th league game of the season and as it stands, the Chilean has been involved in 12 goals so far this term – 7 goals and 5 assists to be precise.
It is indeed a far cry from the highs of last season but considering the fact his head hasn’t been there all this while, the stats are quite decent nonetheless. FPL’s second most expensive player at £11.8, Alexis finds a place in just 2.8% of the total teams out there but with him finally getting his desired move to Manchester, expect his goals, assists and ownership count to jump up in the forthcoming gameweeks.
IMPLICATIONS FOR MANCHESTER UNITED ASSETS
Rumours are rife that Jose Mourinho would utilise the Chilean on the right-wing, which would certainly imply Juan Mata’s place in United’s starting eleven is in danger. This could indeed lead to a domino effect as far as United’s front three or front four are concerned. If United are to persist with a 4-2-3-1 formation, then Juan Mata (£6.8), Jesse Lingard (£6.4) and even Paul Pogba (£8.0) could end up fighting for the number 10 role. Left-wing spot would be a two-way battle between Anthony Martial (£8.0) and Marcus Rashford (£7.6) as expected.
However, these two may end up vying for a place on the opposite flank if Sanchez chooses to play on his preferred left-side. Romelu Lukaku (£11.3) is the unanimous choice for the striker’s role even if Zlatan Ibrahimovic (£9.6) is to return back. So in all, expect Sanchez, Pogba and Lukaku to be the permanent fixtures in the Red Devils’ frontline with others risking rotation irrespective of the formation.
IMPLICATIONS FOR ARSENAL ASSETS
For Gunners, filling this Sanchez-sized hole would be a mighty task as in him, Arsenal will be losing their most potent attacking talent. With Theo Walcott also swapping London for Merseyside, that leaves them with Danny Welbeck (£7.3) and Alex Iwobi (£5.1) to take up his spot. However, one man who should benefit the most out of this transfer is the man coming to the Emirates as a part of this swap deal – Henrikh Mkhitaryan (£7.6).
The Armenian had a splendid start to the season and lead the assists column for a brief time before fading away. It’s no secret that Arsene Wenger loves a more attacking approach to the game over a conservative or counter-attacking one. This approach should indeed help unleash the best of the former Borussia Dortmund man.
Another man who could stake a claim to the very position is Aaron Ramsey (£6.9). The Welshman was arguably Arsenal’s best player this season before picking up his usual hamstring problem at Southampton. Now available, Ramsey could be a great asset provided he could recover his pre-injury form soon enough. A lot of Ramsey’s chances playing further up the pitch relies on Jack Wilshere’s (£5.4) ability to maintain his fitness for long. Any injury to him would mean the Wales international dropping back into central midfield alongside Granit Xhaka (£5.2).
The situation may alter if Arsenal are to make further signings in this transfer window but as it stands, it seems like a four-way battle for filling the spot to be vacated soon by Alexis Sanchez. This hypothesis is made assuming Arsenal will continue with a 3-4-3. However, if they are to revert to a 4-2-3-1, more spots could be up for grabs.
The impending transfer of Alexis Sanchez to Manchester United will no doubt cause a huge stir in the FPL World. It has been observed that the managers who have gone with a midfield-heavy approach this season are turning out to be more successful with every passing gameweek. The move could encourage many managers (especially the ones supporting Manchester United) to adopt this approach.
And if Alexis is to start delivering the goods right from the word go, it might possibly end up revolutionising the way managers have generally approached the virtual game like never before. Taking a cue from some of the other draft fantasy games, FPL might witness the introduction of an option where managers could designate a player different positions (midfield/forward or defender/midfielder) based on their convenience. This season may well cause a drift in that direction.