Elite FPL managers utilised their wildcards ahead of gameweek eight of the season in a bid to change their goalkeeper line-ups.
By analysing the movements of a group of 1,000 managers with multiple top-10,000 finishes to their names, we can find out what the best of the best do to prepare their sides.
And it was all change at the back during the international break.
Finding cost-effective ways to fill two goalkeeper positions has long been a favoured tactic of the elite, and this season has proved no different.
Brighton’s Robert Sanchez (£4.6m) and Jason Steele (£4m) were heavily favoured at the start of the season, with the latter presumed to be the natural replacement should the former succumb to injury.
The pair have both seen significant drops since however, with upcoming games against Manchester City and Liverpool perhaps putting elite managers off.
Ahead of GW8 it was Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsdale and Watford’s Ben Foster who saw big ownership increases among the elite, with the former rising by 199 elite owners and the latter by 128.
Almost all of these transfers were made by the elites using their wildcards, with 225 playing the chip during the international break, more than in any other week so far.
Ramsdale’s popularity came after the Englishman played Bernd Leno out of the Arsenal side with three clean sheets in four appearances and 24 FPL points in that time.
The new Gunners signing conceded twice against Crystal Palace on Monday, but with Aston Villa, Leicester and Watford to come, the opportunity for further clean sheets could present itself.
Foster meanwhile has played each of his team’s last four games, and while he has not kept a clean sheet – and the Hornets face a horrific upcoming fixture list – at £4m he is too cheap to ignore as a back-up goalie.
Neither goalkeeper was the most popular elite addition ahead of GW8 however – that distinction goes to Manchester City’s Joao Cancelo.
The defender’s elite ownership rose by 408 ahead of the champions’ 2-0 win against Burnley, a game in which he cemented his credentials further.
Cancelo is the only Manchester City player to have played every minute of the league season so far, and has accrued six clean sheets and two assists in that time.
Being immune to Pep Guardiola’s rotation policies is enough to get most FPL bosses excited, but the Portuguese also has the benefit of ranking fifth for Creativity among defenders and second for Threat.
Factor in City’s remaining fixtures in 2021, which include just one game against a member of the traditional top six, and the defender looks impossible to ignore.
The other premium player who caught the eye of the elite ahead of GW8 is Romelu Lukaku, whose fixture list looked tailor made for him to score heavily.
The Belgian saw his elite ownership rise by 225 ahead of Chelsea’s game against Brentford, but fell at the first hurdle as he failed to score for the fourth league game in a row.
With Norwich at home the Blues’ next fixture, top bosses will hope he comes good against the newly-promoted Canaries.
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