FPL Gameweek 8 – Sterling or Mahrez?

FPL Gameweek 8 is nearly upon us, the template is starting to shift and its the last bit of domestic top flight football for a few weeks. Some interesting questions are being asked of managers and there is every chance this week to get ahead of the pack with the potential injuries. Kevin De Bruyne is potentially out for Manchester City, also people are concerned over Aguero’s fitness too. That is two popular premium picks potentially out this weekend but this represents opportunity.

City Injuries

Kevin De Bruyne tweaked his groin against Everton, Pep has gone on record and stated he might play against Wolves on Sunday but he is not sure. People also seem to think that Aguero is carrying a knock and may miss out. People thought he was moving gingerly when coming off the field in the Champions League. Although nothing is known on this one if its true or not. With Manchester City players widely owned in FPL, if De Bruyne is out it is going to affect most teams as City will likely set up a bit different tactically. Let’s discuss. 

Tactics Without De Bruyne

Three times Manchester City have lined up without De Bruyne so far this season, and at least according to Wyscout this has resulted in a 4-2-3-1 formation rather than the preferred 4-3-3. This has resulted in Bernardo playing on the left still in his wide playmaking role, or Sterling and Mahrez being the wide players. Honestly I am not sure which of these systems will be employed on Sunday. I was hoping that the Bernardo ban would have been confirmed to give clarity but that has not happened. Yesterday I was certain Mahrez would start but after having a bit of a deeper look I honestly don’t know now. 

Mahrez and Sterling

Only one point separates these guys in FPL that is a bit of a crazy stat when you consider how fast Sterling started the season. Not that I thought for one second Sterling would be scoring every week, I still stand by my assertion that Sterling will get around 17 league goals. 

Both players have been in good form you only have to look at their shot maps for the season to see that. 

This is Sterling’s and Mahrez’s shot maps for the domestic season so far. Look how consistent Sterling’s is, always a threat in the box (the top one). Always a target for a De Bruyne cross, Sterling certainly miss the Belgians creativity. 

The stats don’t and if there was one player I wish I had this week its Sterling. He is currently averaging 3.21 (28 in total) shots per game, with an accuracy of 42.9%, his conversion rate currently stands at 28.57% which is in line with elite finishers. He is also averaging 2.29 shot assists per game and 8.13 touches in the box. Not gonna lie the more I write the more worried I am about not owning him. 

Mahrez is also similarly in red hot form, he is only averaging 2.76 shots per game (20 in total) but his accuracy is much higher at 60%, his conversion rate is only 15% percent but early in the season his appearances were much more sporadic. He has only played 653 minutes compared to Sterling’s 786 which is nearly a game ands a half more in layman’s terms. He is currently per game averaging 4.41 touches in the box, 3.17 touches in the box and has an average xG of 0.44 and an xA of 0.52.

Mahrez offers a different kind of threat, he is starting to find his feet in Pep’s system, he is being utilised to run at the defence and create chaos. In the last couple of games you have seen why City shelled out £60m to sign him. 

You would still expect that Sterling over the course of the season will score more points in FPL. But with a price difference of £3.1m and Sterling as prone to Pep rotation as much as anyone, Mahrez offers tremendous value going forward. WIth that price difference potentially funding a premium striker or the ability to attain someone of the ilk of say Jamie Vardy.

FPL Strategy

This is the tricky part, now De Bruyne is injured just what do you do? Well you’ve got options. First of all De Bruyne looks to only be out for one gameweek and by the time we are back from internationals he should be raring to go. 

So the first question you have to ask yourself is, do you plan on getting De Bruyne back immediately? If the answer is yes then the only way I would be selling is if I had a wildcard or two free transfers. It allows you to have a one week punt on someone, Son, Mahrez, Yarmolenko etc. Then you can slot him straight back in on your wildcard or utilising your transfers. Next week represents a good week to wildcard too, Leicester have a nice fixture swing and Arsenal and Chelsea still have good fixtures for the foreseeable.  

If the answer is no, you do not plan on buying him back then first of all I think your insane, second then you need to look at this more long term. I would probably opt for Mahrez and just take the rough with the smooth in regards to minutes. He is in form and has a good chance of returns when on the pitch. Alternatively you could opt for one of the lower priced midfielders who are in form, such as Yarmolenko or McGinn. You could also use it as an opportunity to jump on Mount if you do not own or take a punt on Callum Hudson-Odoi, there are so many options in the middle of the market. 

For what its worth I am holding him and utilising my bench I have Hudson-Odoi coming off there. Then it will be KDB business as usual from GW9. 

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