Romelu Lukaku’s reign as Fantasy Premier League’s must-have player could soon come to an end.
The Manchester United striker has been the most-selected player in the game ever since pre-season and has provided 70 points for his managers.
But after 10 per cent of players dropped him from their teams over the last month, he is looking over his shoulder.
Coming up on the rails
Mohamed Salah’s speed on the counter-attack was in evidence against Arsenal recently – the in-form Liverpool winger has now sprinted ahead as the fantasy league’s top scorer and could soon overtake Lukaku as FPL’s most-selected player.
While Lukaku’s ownership has slid to 48 per cent, Salah’s has risen from 32.7 to 44.5 per cent in just four weeks.
That leaves the Egyptian second in overall selection percentage and also in Press Association’s “heat score”, which factors in the change in a player’s popularity over time to produce a score ranging from 100 to -100.
Manchester City’s Leroy Sane remains top of that metric on 46.9, with Salah on 39.7. United’s Paul Pogba, back from injury and with more points per match than any player to have played more than 90 minutes, is fourth on 30.5 – edged out of the top three for now by Burnley full-back Stephen Ward on 31.5.
Lukaku, by contrast, is at -17.3 – the only players “colder” are team-mate Henrikh Mkhitaryan (-35.5), Tottenham playmaker Dele Alli (-22.3) and West Ham’s Javier Hernandez (-21.1).
The pound-for-pound punch provided by Burnley’s backline is extraordinary. A goal and an assist have helped make Ward the headline act with 61 points for just £5million.
But after three successive clean sheets, Matt Lowton and Ben Mee each have 51 points and goalkeeper Nick Pope has racked up 53 in eight-and-a-half games since replacing the injured Tom Heaton – all three are priced at £4.6m.
Huddersfield keeper Jonas Lossl has 56 points at the same price but shipped four goals against lowly Bournemouth last time out and Press Association Sport’s measure of fixture difficulty, based on bookmakers’ odds, argues against an immediate recovery.
The simulations average out to a projected haul of just 1.32 points for Town from their next three games as Manchester City, Arsenal and Everton lie in wait. Burnley’s projection is a slightly healthier 2.59 points.
No stopping City’s runaway train
At the other end of the scale, Pep Guardiola’s City side are projected for a remarkable 7.88 points from games against the Terriers, Southampton and West Ham, with the latter rated 25-1 to win at the Etihad Stadium.
That bodes well for Sane but his only club-mate in the top 10 of our hot list is midfielder Fernandinho – meaning you could get ahead of the game by picking up the likes of Raheem Sterling, Gabriel Jesus or Kyle Walker.
Everton and Bournemouth are projected around 4.5 points, with Callum Wilson, Leighton Baines and Charlie Daniels among those who could provide a helping hand. Oumar Niasse would also be on the list but for his two-match ban for simulation.