Top FPL managers have identified the midfield as the area they are keen to tinker with in the opening weeks of the 2021-22 Premier League season.
By analysing the movements of a group of 1,000 managers with multiple top-10,000 finishes to their name, we can find out what the best of the best do to prepare their sides.
And between gameweeks one and two, the cream of the crop chopped and changed with abandon in the middle of the pitch.
That much is clear in the data – six of the seven most sold players among the elite were midfielders ahead of GW2, while the four most popular additions were midfielders also.
Said Benrahma tops the list of inbound middle men, his net ownership among our 1,000 top bosses increasing by 55 after his goal and assist against Newcastle.
That immediate faith was rewarded as the 26-year-old repeated the trick in the 4-1 rout against Leicester, showing excellent value for his £6.2m price tag.
With Crystal Palace and Southampton to come – both rated two out of five for difficulty on the Fixture Difficulty Rating – those who added the Algerian will feel happy with their decision.
Two Manchester United midfielders took second and third in the popularity stakes meanwhile, with Mason Greenwood and Paul Pogba proving attractive propositions after their 5-1 mauling of Leeds.
Greenwood – who had already been backed by 299 of our bosses in GW1 – saw his elite ownership rise by 38 after his goal against Marcelo Bielsa’s men. He duly rewarded those managers with another effort in a less encouraging draw with Southampton.
Pogba meanwhile was backed by none of our top manager sample in GW1, but four assists in United’s opening game encouraged 22 to add the France international.
Pogba claimed an assist against Southampton to make it five for the season already – with no games against the traditional top six until mid-October, will more jump on the bandwagon?
With so many midfielders being brought in, so must others depart – Leicester’s Harvey Barnes is one of those, having seen his ownership among the cream of the crop drop from 473 to 420.
Barnes has scored 15 goals and notched 15 assists in the last two seasons, but a first-week blank and a second-half substitution was enough to damage his reputation immediately.
Elsewhere, a bevy of mid-priced midfielders – Nicolas Pepe, Diogo Jota and Kai Havertz – are all on the slide.
Arsenal’s Pepe finished last season strongly, but no goals for the winger – nor for his club – in GW1 saw top managers questioning his place in their squads. Another blank in GW2 will do little to enhance his reputation.
Chelsea’s Havertz meanwhile only played for eight minutes in GW1, and as a result was dropped by a smattering of top bosses for the Blues’ game against Arsenal.
Despite playing for 89 minutes in his side’s 2-0 win in GW2, he failed to directly contribute to a goal – might the nine elite managers who stuck with him allow him time to settle into the new season?
Last but not least, Liverpool’s Jota saw his elite ownership drop from 137 in GW1 to 126 in GW2 despite a goal in the Reds’ 3-0 win against Norwich.
Perhaps the fact he only played for 60 minutes made some bosses nervy, but the Portuguese added a second to his tally in GW2, and has already accrued 16 FPL points this season.
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