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FPL tips: Michel Antonio is the hottest pick among elite players in 2021

FPL tips
(Image credit: PA)

Sometimes the best FPL tips centre on formations, sometimes captain choices, and sometimes just a single player. Since the start of the calendar year, the elite managers of the Fantasy Premier League have already made some major moves in the transfer market.

By studying the dealings of 1,000 managers with multiple top-10,000 finishes to their name, we have analysed how the elite are shaping their squads as the business end of the season approaches.

So who is hot property among the cream of the crop in 2021?

A graphic showing the most popular footballers in 2021 among elite Fantasy Premier League managers

Under the Hammer

Michail Antonio was owned by zero elite bosses at the end of 2020, but by gameweek 20 more than 60 per cent of our sample had acquired the West Ham forward.

Antonio missed a large chunk of the season through injury, but his numbers while on the pitch have been impressive – he has two goals and one assist in his past three appearances.

File photo dated 17-07-2020 of West Ham United’s Michail Antonio

(Justin Setterfield/PA)

With Threat scores of 57 and 69 in that period, Antonio looks good value for his goals too, suggesting he has a good chance of continuing to score consistently through the season.

Furthermore, at the start of the season the Englishman managed three goals in six games – at £6.4m, if he was to replicate that form until May, he would be hard to ignore.

The case for the defence

Manchester United’s Harry Maguire wears a rainbow coloured captain’s armband in support of the Rainbow Laces campaign during the Premier League match at Old Trafford, Manchester

(Phil Noble/PA)

Five of the highest rises among the elite since 2021 began are defenders, namely John Stones, Joao Cancelo, Ruben Dias, Rob Holding and Harry Maguire.

With zero defeats between them in the five games leading up to GW20, it’s no surprise to see defenders from Manchester City, Manchester United and Arsenal gaining favour, while the relatively low costs of these players may also help explain their popularity.

With Cancelo and Dias the most expensive among them at just £5.9m, and Arsenal’s Holding a bargain at £4.5m, a successful FPL defence can be acquired for a modest outlay.

However, wider trends may have encouraged the top bosses to refresh their rearguards.

With the goalfest seen at the start of the season now apparently over (the PL averaged more than four goals a game in two of the first four gameweeks) bosses appear increasingly to be focusing on defence.

City slickers

Manchester City’s Riyad Mahrez celebrates scoring his side’s fourth goal of the game during the Premier League match at The Hawthorns, West Bromwich Albion. Picture date: Tuesday January 26, 2021

(Michael Regan/PA)

Those with a keen eye will have noticed that while there are five defenders in our top 10, there are also five City players: Cancelo, Stones, Dias, Raheem Sterling and Ilkay Gundogan.

Yes, the elite know a good run when they see one, and that’s exactly what City’s is – Pep Guardiola’s side have won seven games in a row in the division.

In that time they’ve earned six clean sheets, scoring 18 goals and moving top of the Premier League as a result.

Stones in particular seems to have revitalised the team’s defence – since the England centre-back returned to the side, City have earned nine clean sheets out of the 10 games he has featured in.

In attack, meanwhile, Gundogan has quietly accumulated seven goals in eight games, averaging more than eight FPL points per game in that period, while Sterling registered a mammoth 105 Threat in the 5-0 win against West Brom, scoring a goal and notching an assist too.

Given their dazzling form, jumping on the City bandwagon might not be the worst move in the world.

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