Why Kevin De Bruyne is perplexing FPL owners ahead of GW3
At the start of a new Fantasy Premier League season you will often hear some prospects being referred to as ‘set and forget’. This basically means that they will be in your starting line-up, week in, week out, regardless of fixtures and that the thought of transferring them out is unlikely to cross your mind at any point of the season.
Kevin De Bruyne was one player that fitted this profile for many FPL managers but after just 2 gameweeks the alarm bells are starting to ring. The Manchester City midfielder may be known as the Ginger Pele but he is yet to register a goal or an assist in the opening 2 fixtures. However, it is his deployment that is raising eyebrows, with the Belgium international seen sitting very deep in City’s midfield following Kyle Walker’s earlier dismissal in the match with Everton on Monday. Many will discount this as a one-off due to the fact that City were down to 10 men but there are a number of other factors to consider, especially when looking at a player that accounts for 10% of your overall budget.
City’s abundance of attacking talent means that rotation is always a risk but even though De Bruyne would seem to be the most exempt from this, some respectable sources are suggesting that he might start on the bench this weekend.
It remains to be seen whether Pep Guardiola sees De Bruyne orchestrating matters from a deeper role in the long run but the absence of Yaya Touré from the starting line-up certainly means that we have a new look City to contend with, as a whole host of summer recruits vie for playing time.
Now if you read our Harry Kane article where we touched on the value of Expected Goals, you may have noted that a similar metric can be applied to assists. This means we can see how De Bruyne might have been expected to fare in the opening fixtures under normal circumstances. An xG of 0.14 and an xA (Expected Assists) of 0.10 per 90 minutes is way down on what he achieved last year.
There is clearly a temptation to take him out but the sample is perhaps too small, so we will give him the benefit of the doubt this weekend but strongly advise a watching brief. For what it’s worth, De Bruyne has taken 8 of the 17 corners City have won this season, having been responsible for 136 of their 280 in the last time campaign.
Walker’s suspension complicates matters ahead of GW3, so we’re going to take a speculative punt on Jason Puncheon with Alex Iwobi making way. Iwobi is unlikely to see too many game minutes at Anfield, while the Crystal Palace midfielder might find himself playing in a more advanced role with Wilfried Zaha and Ruben Loftus-Cheek ruled out.
The Eagles have some decent upcoming fixtures as well, so Puncheon might be capable of picking up some short term returns, while also giving us the added insurance of having an extra player on our bench that is expected to feature this weekend, in the shape of Swansea City’s Tom Carroll.
Romelu Lukaku keeps the armband for the 3rd successive week but all eyes will surely be on that Manchester City team sheet!