Short Post: As we head into GW5, our focus shifts back to Harry Kane who has broken his duck while facing a delicious set of fixtures (SWA, Whm, Hud, BOU). Kane is far and away the best option for captain from a 1) statistical standpoint, 2) fixtures standpoint, and 3) minimal risk/replacement perspective. With Tottenham beginning to find their footing, we see little deviation over the next couple of weeks and believe the benign choice is the right one. Kane continues to separate himself in almost a statistically significant fashion versus premium priced peers (averaging nearly 2x the number of goal opportunities vs next best).
Partnering with Harry up top we also like Jesus and Lukaku. While off to a slower start, City have silenced skeptics who questioned their position as most likely to win the league. Bookies at the start of the season had City as favorites with United as a close second. While Lukaku & Co put together some decent performances (which saw the convergence of City/United outright odds), City’s domination of Liverpool last week reminded individuals how deadly this team can be when it clicks. An Aguero+Jesus partnership, which initially seemed taboo, proved itself to be a viable go-forward strategy. To be clear, we still think it is difficult to pinpoint who exactly in City’s midfield is worth owning, that being said, the forwards are easier. Jesus away at Watford is still a worthwhile matchup.
Lukaku, Mhki, & questions about United. The Red Devil’s 2-2 draw last week against Stoke was a nice reminder that all teams can have bogey fixtures. On paper, United dominated the game in possession (63/37%) shots (8/18 vs Stoke’s 5/10) and set-pieces (11-5), but failed to contain Stoke’s advances, particularly on the flanks. With Pogba out for the foreseeable 6-8 weeks, the team will undoubtedly suffer. Pogba has been quintessential as a center piece both in 1) creating opportunities, 2) managing the center of the pitch, 3) controlling the tempo of the game, and 4) taking opportunistic (sometimes too much) shots on target. Mhki, in someways will be more nailed and we expect most managers to do a like for like Pogba-to-Mhki swap. His production however, will likely suffer given less supply and potential additional requirements of him on the pitch (filling the Pogba void). We feel the same about Lukaku. Over the next couple of weeks, we will probably move to Lacazette or Morata for similar upside, greater savings, and better differential but we’d like to give the Rom-Taryan partnership one more week against a vulnerable Everton at home. Welcome home Wayne.
In other midfield assets, we like Alli, Redmond, and Carroll (not by choice, but rather financial constraints. Southampton STILL have a nice set of fixtures for the next 6 weeks counteracted by the fact that they STILL suck offensively. A 2-0 loss to Watford will beget the return of a full squad with best foot forward. Expect Redmond and Tadic to return to the stage together. Alli and Tottenham should be self-explanatory when up against Swansea at home. With Alli still suspended, accounts with enough cash to park him in their squad should consider him as a surrogate option to Kane with a £3MM discount.
Defensively, we think Liverpool and Tottenham are best options for cleans this week. Both play at home versus relatively inept teams who struggle to scrap together even minor opportunities on target. Southampton are still in the running for most affordable but also best ‘fixtured’ side: Cry, MUN, STK, New, WBA, Bha, and BUR. With the return of VVD and new signings, we only consider Cedric and Bertrand consistent options for now.