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FPL: The power front three – to play or not to play?

Well, it took 5 Gameweeks for most to realise, but the simple fact is Sergio Aguero is STILL the most explosive striker in the Premier League.  All the pre-match talk was of how many Harry Kane would smash past Swansea, whether Roberto Firmino would wreak havoc against Burnley’s untested substitute keeper or if Romelu Lukaku would punish his former employers.

As it turned out only Lukaku really delivered, but it was that man Aguero who has suddenly popped up on everyone’s FPL radars once more.  I have been a proponent of the mantra, “A fit Aguero is an FPL essential”.  Yes, Pep Guardiola can drive fantasy managers’ nuts with his unfathomable rotation policy, but even he has come out and said how vital Aguero is to Man City.

So, where does this leave us?  The early Wildcarders are no doubt ripping up their one or two week old teams to fit the Argentine in.  The rest of the non-owners are scratching their heads on how to fit this high-value asset in to a team already devoid of spare cash.  Two price rises already at the time of writing (Tues AM) with possibly a third and final rise before the Gameweek 6 deadline is already placing him out of potential reach for many managers who already own Lukaku and Kane.

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The question here is two-fold:

Is it possible to have the Power Front 3 (Aguero, Kane and Lukaku) without compromising your team too much elsewhere?

If the answer to Q1. is “No” then which combination is more effective and who is the fall-guy?

First off, let’s look at some facts and figures.

AGUERO – Has started 4 out of City’s 5 games so far, having been a substitute vs BOU in Gameweek 3, making a 24 minute appearance in the second half (bri/EVE/bou/LIV/wat).  He scored in Gameweek 1 vs BRI, scored and assisted in Gameweek 4 vs LIV and scored a hat-trick and assisted one in Gameweek 5 vs WAT.

[TOTAL POINTS: 41pts / 8.2 POINTS PER GAME]

LUKAKU – Played 90 mins in each of Utd’s 5 games (WHU/swa/LEI/sto/EVE).  He has scored in every game bar LEI in Gameweek 3, including a brace on the opening day at Old Trafford vs WHU.  He has assisted once, for Mkhitaryan in Gameweek 5 vs EVE.

[TOTAL POINTS: 37pts / 7.4 POINTS PER GAME]

KANE – Has played 90 mins in each of Spurs games except for 6 minutes in Gameweek 4 (new/CHE/BUR/eve/SWA).  It is well documented now that he blanked in the League in August, but got on the scoresheet with a brace vs EVE in Gameweek 5.  It can be considered he has been desperately unlucky as his shot to goal ratio does not make sense (32 shots to 2 goals). 

[TOTAL POINTS: 19pts / 3.8 POINTS PER GAME]

With 5 goals a piece, Aguero and Lukaku currently top the scoring charts, vindicating them perhaps as two of the three highest priced Fwds in the game.  Kane is behind several other strikers with his 2 goals but as the highest priced Fwd, and with his underlying stats threatening to go nuclear, it is a brave manager who will go without him going into the next 3 fixtures (whu/hud/BOU).

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Back to the question then, if this trio are the “Power Front 3”, is it feasible to have them all? Well yes.  But you have to compromise elsewhere.  It will be impossible to pack your midfield with the big names, and you will have to have a couple of options in your defence from the Poundland range.  For the purpose of this article, I am only going to concentrate on the potential cheap midfield options.

These kind of budget range players are the ones you will probably need to consider as a playing 4th midfielder rather than bench fodder, so they are definitely worth close consideration.

This isn’t as bad as it seems as there are some healthy lower priced options currently demonstrating some great form.  Pascal Gross for instance, has been involved in every single goal Brighton have scored so far. Admittedly, that is only 4 all season but he has scored 2 and assisted the remainder.  He is currently priced at £5.6m and is ahead of both Pogba and Silva in terms of points scored so far.

Newcastle find themselves in the lofty position of 4th in the Premier League table after a hat-trick of wins vs WHU, swa and STO.  This has been in no small part down to the form of Matt Ritchie (£5.9m) with 4 assists in those 3 wins.  A cheaper option from the Toon midfield is Christian Atsu (£5.0m) who scored in Gameweek 5 vs STO.

Sticking with the £5.0m bracket, due to the fact these players could be a great enabler to allow you to afford the Power Front 3, Southampton’s Steven Davis has quietly been going about his business with an assist in Gameweek 2 vs WHU and a goal in Gameweek 5 vs CRY.

N’Golo Kante is often discarded as a viable FPL asset due to his defensive nature; however, with a goal vs his old employers Leicester in Gameweek 5 and with Chelsea’s potential to pick up clean sheets he could be worthy of your consideration?

If you want to look even cheaper, either as a playing 4th Mid, or as your 5th Mid bench option then there are a few players still in the £4.5m range.  Please be careful though; they are priced that way for a reason.  Regular points hauls will be few and far between with the best you can hope for being the odd 3pt return if they chance upon a clean sheet.  Pre-season, Swansea’s Tom Carroll, Palace’s Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Watford’s Nat Chalobah were popular picks.  Those last two are still worth a look, but no returns so far suggest that FPL got their prices spot on.

Emerging picks in the £4.5m bracket seem to be Pedro Obiang at WHU who scored vs HUD in Gameweek 5, Jack Cork at BUR who has played the full 90 in every match, but who hasn’t added to the assist he grabbed in the away game at CHE in Gameweek 1.  With Leicester’s fixtures due to turn favourable, £4.4m Andy King could be a potential diamond after getting his first full 90 minutes of the season and grabbing an assist vs HUD in Gameweek 5.

If you do decide to go with a playing 4th midfielder from the £4.4-£6.0m range, with a cheap bench fodder 5th Mid, then the Power Front 3 of Aguero, Lukaku and Kane are achievable.  Your defence will also suffer (don’t go thinking you can have Kolasinac, Alonso and Mendy for instance!) but with some canny selections with favourable fixtures and rotations you should be able to afford at least one top-range Defender.

The trick will be to employ the “Hop On Hop Off” strategy with these cheaper midfielders and defenders.  You will need to monitor form and potential closely and use your transfers to cannily jump onto the “next big thing” – with any luck before they bang!  Points chasing can be fool’s gold in FPL (think Jese, Richarlison and Choupo-Moting recently).  Not for one second am I saying the options discussed above will be consistent in their return of points, just that they are in either good form NOW or could potentially start to return some points in the near future.

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But, if you are not willing to make these sacrifices that will inevitably weaken your team elsewhere, you may wish to forego the Power Front 3 option and just go with two of Aguero, Lukaku or Kane.  In this scenario, your team will invariably be stronger elsewhere as there are plenty of 3rd Fwd options ranging in price from £4.9m (Tomer Hemad at BRI) to £8.7m (Roberto Firmino at LIV) and every increment in-between. 

Jamie Vardy (£8.5m) is currently injury flagged, but it is not thought to be serious and with 4 goals already he is matching Gabriel Jesus who is £2m more expensive.  Chris Wood at BUR is on 2 goals in his first 3 games and is only £6.5m, a cool £3.8m cheaper than Alexandre Lacazette who has managed the same return in 5 games. 

Perhaps you are one of those managers who likes to rotate formations, going 3-4-3 and 3-5-2 dependant fixtures?  If that is the case then the BRI/BOU combo of Defoe (£7.8m) who has just opened his account after a goal drought of 16 years for the Cherries and Gross (£5.9m) or Knockaert (£5.8m) may appeal to you? Ok, so Knockaert may not have provided returns yet, but I’m betting this WILL change shortly! Their rotation reads: NEW/LEI/EVE/sto/SOU/new or swa

Maybe Abraham (£5.5m) at Swansea is your choice as 3rd Fwd? He is certainly demonstrating some good underlying stats that do not reflect his single goal so far.  He rotates very well with a Mid from West Ham.  Arnautovic (£6.9m) will return from suspension this weekend, Antonio (£7.5m) is playing in an advanced role and even Ayew (£7.0m) seems to be recapturing his glory days at Swansea with a goal and an assist in a substitute appearance in Gameweek 4 vs HUD.  Their rotation reads: WAT/SWA/HUD/BRI/cry/BRI

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So, in summary, the Power Front 3 is achievable.  Yes, your team will obviously be weaker elsewhere but there ARE options in the lower price ranges that may offset this.  Employing a “Hop On Hop Off” strategy could prove to be key to making this tactic sustainable, and that involves a huge element of luck and pre-planned transfers after some analysis.

The safer option is to just choose 2 of the Power Front 3, and hope you choose the right combination.  Price rises could soon put the other one out of your reach if you choose badly.  Not discussed here is your current overall rank (or mini-league position) and whether you are in a good place or chasing.  If chasing, having the highly owned players isn’t going to help you a great deal and a 3rd Fwd differential could be a better tactic for you.

Finally, a brief mention was made of the 3-4-3 / 3-5-2 rotation strategy was discussed.  You will obviously find other rotations other than the two I listed, but this could be a viable strategy if employed correctly.

Good luck in whatever you decide to do…

As for me? I’m currently on an Active Wildcard and the Power Front 3 are almost certainly going to be my frontline by the Gameweek 6 deadline!!

Written by @FPL_Fly

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2 Arsenal 2 2 0 0 6
3 Manchester City 2 1 1 0 4
4 Manchester United 2 1 1 0 4
5 Brighton & Hov… 2 1 1 0 4
6 Tottenham Hotspur 2 1 1 0 4
7 AFC Bournemouth 2 1 1 0 4
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13 Leicester City 2 0 2 0 2
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