Fantasy Premier League

Who is the best forward to replace Haaland in Fantasy?

By The Scout 15 Dec 2023
FPL forwards

The Scout looks at form, fixtures and underlying numbers to compare the short-term options

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With Erling Haaland (£14.0m) unlikely to be fit for Manchester City's Gameweek 17 home meeting with Crystal Palace on Saturday due to a foot injury, Fantasy Premier League managers have been selling the forward in big numbers.

In Friday's press conference, Pep Guardiola said he doesn't think Haaland will be ready to face the Eagles.

"He arrived today, he will see the doctors and then we will see," Guardiola said. "He has had treatment. Hopefully, he can travel to Saudi... I don't think he will be ready to play this weekend... It’s not a fracture, just stress. The doctors say we have to take it day-by-day or week-by-week and see how he feels."

The Norwegian is the most-sold player in the Gameweek, earning over 750,000 sales.

Given that Man City are then without a Premier League fixture in Gameweek 18, due to their participation in the FIFA Club World Cup, Haaland could be out of action in Fantasy for at least the next two Gameweeks.

Certainly, those who don’t own Ollie Watkins (£8.4m) should now make their move for the Aston Villa forward.

While Villa’s home encounter with Sheffield United in Blank Gameweek 18 is immediately appealing, FPL managers should view his acquisition as a long-term one and find another way back to Haaland, aiming to ultimately pair Watkins with the Norwegian.

See: FPL experts: Who are the best forwards to own?

Along with the Man City forward, Watkins could be particularly crucial to managers’ plans when the Asian Cup and Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) get underway in Gameweek 21, taking midfield big-hitters like Mohamed Salah (£13.1m) and Son Heung-min (£9.5m) out of the picture in FPL.

For 39.4 per cent of managers who already own Watkins, this is a move they don't have to make. For them, there is now an opportunity to consider a short-term replacement for Haaland. So, who is the best pick?

In-form options

AFC Bournemouth’s Dominic Solanke (£6.6m) has been the most-bought forward ahead of Friday’s 18:30 GMT deadline.

He has been a major influence on the Cherries’ recent five-match unbeaten run, scoring four goals and collecting four bonus points.

Solanke is among a number of forwards to impress over the last six Gameweeks, with a mere five points separating the five top-scoring players in this position.

Fulham’s Raul Jimenez (£5.2m) has combined four goals with eight bonus to lead Haaland by 34 points to 33 over this period.

Wolverhampton WanderersMatheus Cunha (£5.7m) has been the most consistent performer thanks to his all-round contribution.

The Brazilian has produced attacking returns in each of his last five outings, equalling Haaland’s output thanks to three goals and two assists.

Jay Rodriguez (£5.3m) has also proven a handy value asset. The Burnley forward has 22 points and just one blank in the last four Gameweeks.  

Top-scoring forwards, GW11-16
Player Pts G A Bonus
Jimenez 34 4 0 8
Haaland 33 3 3 4
Cunha 33 3 2 4
Solanke 32 4 0 4
Jackson 31 4 1 3
Watkins 27 3 1 3
Rodriguez 26 2 1 3
Who's getting the most chances?

The underlying statistics over the last six Gameweeks back up the merit of moving to Solanke.

His 22 shots, 21 shots in the box and eight big chances each put him among the top two forwards.

The numbers also show how frustrating a pick Darwin Nunez (£7.6m) has been for Fantasy managers. Liverpool’s Uruguayan places among the top three for shots, big chances and shots on target, yet he has failed to score a single goal.

Everton striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£5.8m) has suffered the same fate as Nunez. Nonetheless, the statistics show he has matched Fulham’s Jimenez for shots in the box, big chances and shots on target. 

Meanwhile, Wolves’ Cunha has proven the most accurate, with nine shots on target helping him convert 20 per cent of his opportunities. 

Goal threat compared, GW11-16
Player Shots in box Big chances Shots on target Goal conversion
Solanke  21 8 7 18.2%
 Haaland 19  9 7 15.8%
Watkins  16 4 6 17.6%
 Nunez 15  8 8 0%
Joao Pedro  15 1 8 20%
Jackson  14  7 7 28.6%
 Edouard 12 3 4 14.3%
Cunha 11 3 9 20.0%
Calvert-Lewin 11 3 7 0%
Jimenez 11 3 7 33.3%

Who has the best fixtures?

Assessing the short-term schedule can help managers get the most impactful replacement for Haaland.

Once again, Solanke looks among the most promising options.

According to the Fixture Difficulty Ratings (FDR), each of AFC Bournemouth’s next three matches against Luton Town, Nottingham Forest and Fulham score just two.

FDR compared over next four Gameweeks
No. of matches scoring 2 in FDR Club
4 Chelsea
3 Bournemouth, Man City, Newcastle, Spurs
2 Arsenal, Aston Villa, Burnley, Brentford, Everton, Fulham, Luton

Chelsea and Newcastle United also offer very appealing runs of opponents, but rotation up front looks inevitable at both clubs over the busy festive spell.

Man City’s schedule underlines why managers need to get an easy route back to Haaland, with the champions facing Everton, Sheff Utd and Burnley among their four fixtures over Gameweeks 19-22.

That run could also raise the prospects of his team-mate Julian Alvarez (£6.9m) if Haaland remains sidelined beyond Blank Gameweek 18.

Arsenal’s upcoming fixtures also suggest Gabriel Jesus (£7.9m) could be brought in as a mid-term asset. All four of the Gunners' matches in Gameweeks 19-22 score only two in the FDR.

So, who is the best Haaland replacement?

Solanke looks the best short-term solution, with the form, fixtures and underlying numbers suggesting he can continue offering great value at only £6.6m.
 
While Matheus Cunha’s consistency and impressive goal statistics suggest he can also keep rewarding managers, Jimenez’s goal conversion rate of 33.3 per cent looks unsustainable. That factor, combined with Fulham’s visit to Newcastle this weekend, makes his acquisition more of a risk. 

When the Asian Cup and Africa Cup of Nations start in Gameweek 21, the hefty price tags of Salah and Son could persuade some managers in Fantasy to drive more funds into their forward lines, making Gabriel Jesus another to consider at that time.

View all the latest FPL tips ahead of Gameweek 17 in Fantasy Premier League

 

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