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FPL tips: Top managers stick with Villa pair despite gameweek blank

Aston Villa v Southampton – Premier League – Villa Park
(Image credit: Gareth Copley)

The choices of elite Fantasy Premier League bosses ahead of gameweek 11 showed that the best brains in the game don’t mind taking a blank once in a while.

This was illustrated by their general retention of two of Aston Villa’s key players, despite the Midlands side not having a game in GW11.

In our sample of 1,000 managers with multiple top-10,000 finishes to their names, these are the players that dominated this week.

A graphic showing which Premier League footballers were owned by elite Fantasy Premier League managers in gameweek 11

Villans remain

Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish (left) gestures towards referee Paul Tierney and the match officials after the Premier League match at Villa Park, Birmingham

Jack Grealish and Emiliano Martinez (Nick Potts/PA)

Such is the attraction of Jack Grealish and Emiliano Martinez that the pair remained selected by more than half of our sample at 58.6 per cent and 51.7 per cent respectively despite no game for Villa.

Both did see a reduction in ownership from elite bosses, but clearly most concluded that they are good enough long-term picks that it wasn’t worth burning a transfer to replace them.

Villa have fixtures against Wolves, Burnley, West Brom and Crystal Palace up next, with opportunities for clean sheets certainly on the cards against at least two of those four.

Meanwhile all-rounder Grealish has given managers no reason to doubt him so far, the England man producing Threat and Creativity scores of 40 and 66.4 respectively in his latest game.

Sticky Toffee

Everton’s Dominic Calvert-Lewin celebrates scoring his side’s first goal of the game during the Premier League match at Turf Moor, Burnley

Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Clive Brunskill/PA)

Dominic Calvert-Lewin is another player the elite managers seem to think is worth backing for the season, his ownership among them relatively unchanged over the last seven gameweeks.

Calvert-Lewin’s 83.3 per cent top ownership is a huge vote of confidence from a group of managers who know their onions – it suggests they believe the England striker is no flash in the pan.

The underlying numbers support this view, with Calvert-Lewin the top striker for cumulative Threat this season, hinting that he is good value for his goals.

The Everton frontman has backed up his seven goals in the first five games of the season with a more sustainable four in his last six, and at £8m remains excellent value.

Jota quota

Liverpool’s Diogo Jota (right) has a shot blocked by Brighton and Hove Albion’s Lewis Dunk during the Premier League match at the AMEX Stadium, Brighton

Diogo Jota (Kirsty Wigglesworth/PA)

Another well-priced player on Merseyside is making waves not just among his team’s supporters, but among top managers too.

Diogo Jota has settled quickly into one of the world’s most potent attacks, and is pulling his weight with four goals in six games.

The Portuguese was backed by 51.9 per cent of elite managers ahead of GW11 and has never been more popular among them this season, his ownership increasing by 165 ahead of Liverpool’s win against Wolves.

Jota may have come off the bench for the Reds in that fixture, but has demonstrated his ability to score as a substitute already this season, as well as to make an impact in the starting XI.

At £7m he remains cheap for a productive midfielder.

King pair

Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah (left) and Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne battle for the ball during the Premier League match at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester

Mohamed Salah and Kevin De Bruyne (Martin Rickett/PA)

These players are not guaranteed to remain in favour with the best managers though – just ask Mohamed Salah and Son Heung-min.

The premium pair were owned by more than 90 per cent of bosses as recently as GW8, but with Salah missing a game due to coronavirus, and Son’s fixture list looking tricky, the elite wasted no time in dropping them.

Instead it was Kevin De Bruyne and Bruno Fernandes who were the popular midfielders in GW11 at 71.1 per cent and 77 per cent ownership respectively among the cream of the crop.

De Bruyne rewarded them instantly with a goal and an assist contributing to a 14-point haul, his best of the FPL season so far, while Fernandes made it four consecutive games in which he has registered at least a goal or an assist.