Erling Haaland’s (£14.0m) foot injury is set to have major repercussions for managers in Fantasy Premier League.
Haaland's absence also comes ahead of a Blank Gameweek 18 (BGW18) for Man City and Brentford, with huge sales now expected as managers look to reassess their plans to navigate the reduced round of matches and beyond.
Who are the best replacements?
Should the Norwegian's injury force him to miss a number of matches, Julian Alvarez (£6.9m) can return to form as their lone striker.
According to the Fixture Difficulty Ratings (FDR), Villa’s encounter with the Blades is among three matches that score just two in the next five Gameweeks. That also applies to their home matches with Burnley and visit to Everton.
Villa's next five matches
AFC Bournemouth’s Dominic Solanke (£6.6m) has the form and short-term schedule to offer a solution.
His strike in the Cherries’ 3-0 win at Manchester United took his tally to four goals and 30 points in the last five Gameweeks.
Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Matheus Cunha (£5.7m) offers managers another in-form, cut-price pick.
The Brazilian has produced attacking returns in each of the last five Gameweeks, amassing 31 points thanks to three goals and two assists.
Cunha's GW16 goal v Nott'm Forest
Matheus Cunha sweeping home a well-crafted move 🤌 pic.twitter.com/lspflWzivh— Wolves (@Wolves) December 9, 2023
Meanwhile, Gabriel Jesus’ (£7.9m) recent return to action also lifts his appeal ahead of Arsenal’s favourable run of opponents.
From Gameweek 19, each of the Gunners' subsequent four matches score just two in the FDR.
Gabriel Jesus’s 10 shots in the box and seven shots on target are both team-leading totals over the last four Gameweeks.
Who are the premium midfield alternatives?
Crucially, Haaland’s hefty price tag also allows managers to reinvest the funds in midfield big-hitters such as Son Heung-Min (£9.5m) for BGW18.
The South Korean is likely to be among the top captaincy contenders at home to Everton.
Haaland sellers have to be wary of over-investing in other positions, though, and should give themselves an easy route back to the Norwegian.
Be wary of international tournaments
Looking ahead, both the Asia Cup and Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) will have an impact on how managers distribute their budgets.
Midfield big-hitters Son and Mohamed Salah (£13.1m) are among the participants and both could be absent from Gameweeks 21-24, depending on the progress of their nations.
Haaland’s potential for huge hauls, combined with his fixtures, could arguably make him more important than ever in that period, should he be fit and available.
Man City play at home to Burnley and Everton in Gameweeks 22 and 24 respectively, giving their talisman more opportunities for goals.