With a Boxing Day lie-in potentially clashing with the gameweek 15 deadline this weekend, we expected transfer business to be completed earlier than usual.
However when analysing the ins and outs so far, it becomes apparent that managers are thinking even further ahead than that.
Nearly all of the players with at least 50,000 net transfers in this week, including the most popular 13, have two fixtures in GW19.
The most popular signing this week, with more than twice as many net transfers as anyone else, is Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah. His 16-point haul against Crystal Palace was his second double-digit score in four matches and he’s returned in every game since returning from self-isolation.
While many managers are planning to use their Bench Boost chip in GW19, another popular option is to Triple Captain either Salah or Manchester United’s Bruno Fernandes.
Fernandes is the second-most-popular midfield signing this week but with the two facing each other at Anfield in their first fixture that week, the Liverpool man is perhaps likelier to rack up a big score.
The Reds are one of 10 sides without a fixture in GW18 but with three relatively straightforward fixtures beforehand, this isn’t putting managers off the Premier League’s top points-scorer.
Many bosses are also likely to deploy their Free Hit chip to navigate the blank gameweek and will therefore not be concerned about any of their premium assets not having a fixture.
Double trouble in defence
Salah’s team-mates also dominate the other two outfield positions, with Andy Robertson the second most popular signing overall despite his £7.3m price tag.
Like another of the week’s five most transferred-in players this week, Stuart Dallas, Robertson’s attacking forays offer scoring potential at both ends of the pitch.
Like Liverpool, Leeds play twice at home in both of their GW19 matches and their fixtures look good overall between now and February.
Another popular defensive signing for those on a tighter budget, Charlie Taylor of Burnley also benefits from a gentle upcoming schedule and the double gameweek, albeit with two tricky away games in the latter.
The Whites’ knight rises
Completing the Reds’ hat-trick is Roberto Firmino, who edges out another Leeds player in Patrick Bamford as the forward with the most net transfers.
Often an unsung hero in the Reds’ attack and therefore an unpopular choice in FPL, the Brazilian’s recent flurry of goals has seen him emerge as a cheaper alternative to Salah or a way to double up on Liverpool attackers.
Meanwhile Bamford recently became only the second player this season after Dominic Calvert-Lewin to register nine price rises. Bamford’s next two opponents are struggling Burnley and West Brom, while Calvert-Lewin’s Everton travel to winless Sheffield United on Boxing Day, so we might not have long to wait for one of them to make it a round 10.
Wave goodbye to Werner
Making way for the aforementioned duo are three forwards who have proven popular for much of the season.
Timo Werner is a player of undoubted quality in a strong Chelsea team, but having to share the centre forward role in Frank Lampard’s system with both Olivier Giroud and Tammy Abraham has led to his owners growing frustrated.
The German has now dropped to £9.3m for the second time this season despite the Blues having two fixtures in GW19 and one of the easier-looking schedules afterwards.
Newcastle’s tricky festive fixture list, which sees them face Manchester City, Liverpool and Leicester in successive games, has triggered a sell-off of Callum Wilson.
Wilson failed to find the net in 90 minutes against Championship side Brentford in their midweek EFL Cup defeat, which may yet trigger a further flight from Magpies assets.
Meanwhile a fifth successive blank – which included a penalty miss – have seen plenty of bosses lose patience with Ollie Watkins.
While selling him may seem premature with Crystal Palace visiting Villa Park on Boxing Day, Dean Smith’s side then face three tough opponents back-to-back.
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