If you were to predict the highest scorers of the 2015/16 Premier League season back at the very beginning, there is no doubt that you would have been incorrect thus far. Instead of Sergio Aguero, Eden Hazard, David Silva and Alexis Sanchez, so far this season it has been all about Riyad Mahrez, Jamie Vardy, Odion Ighalo and Romelu Lukaku.
Somewhat surprisingly, Leicester still find themselves at the top of the Premier League table mainly due to the often herculean efforts of Mahrez and Vardy. It is these performances that have provided us with the main “bandwagons” of this year as it would be crazy to leave them out.
In recent weeks, however, some of these once essential players have gone off the boil. In a game where it is increasingly difficult to make up the difference on other teams, many may therefore be tempted into a transfer soon enough. In this article I have a look at some of the game’s previously most popular bandwagons and whether the time has come to say thanks and move on.
Riyad Mahrez (Leicester)- OUT
Mahrez is still owned by over 60% of teams, largely due to his mightily impressive contributions earlier in the season. The Leicester midfielder has grown in price from £5.5 million to over £7 million over the duration of the season, having scored 13 goals and getting 8 assists. Gameweek 15-17 in particular highlights the impact the player has made, scoring 49 points in three games.
The main concern with Mahrez, however, is that since then he hasn’t scored once and only managed an assist in the last game. You can’t say that he hasn’t had the opportunity to score either as he has missed both of the last two penalties he has taken. With Mahrez already struggling to make an impact, you would feel that it may be a push to get back on form against the likes of Liverpool, Manchester City and Arsenal in the next three gameweeks. As a result, it may be time to cash in and move on.
Alternative Options: Willian (Chelsea) £7.1 million, Andre Ayew (Swansea) £6.8 million, Gerard Deulofeu (Everton) £6.1 million, Dele Alli (Tottenham) £5.7 million, Michail Antonio (West Ham) £5.3 million
Jamie Vardy (Leicester)- OUT
Much like Mahrez, Vardy was Mr. Consistent as he broke the record for scoring in eleven games on the bounce. This season he has scored 16 goals and got 5 assists, most recently scoring in Leicester’s 3-0 victory against Stoke. Also like Mahrez, the striker has risen in price from his £6 million starting figure to over £7 million.
The concern once more, however, is that Vardy has comparatively gone off the boil and has scored one goal in seven games. As previously mentioned, Leicester have tough opposition ahead of them in the next three gameweeks and Vardy could continue to struggle. With all this being said, the once highly coveted partnership of Mahrez and Vardy could rather drastically disappear from fantasy teams as the weeks go on.
Alternative Options: Charlie Austin (Southampton) £7 million, Benik Afobe (Bournemouth) £6.1 million, Enner Valencia (West Ham) £5.8 million, Steven Naismith (Norwich) £5 million
Mesut Ozil (Arsenal)- IN
Ozil is in the top five highest point scorers of the season so far and his assist count is definitely to thank. The Arsenal midfielder has assisted 16 goals and scored 3 himself so far- already equalling the total of assists to his name in the past two seasons combined. It is these kinds of statistics that have resulted in over 50% of managers choosing him and that have seen his value increase from £8.5 million to £10 million.
The injury to Alexis Sanchez did make life somewhat easier when it came down to choosing an Arsenal midfielder as Ozil became the main man. In recent weeks, however, Ozil has not contributed at all on an attacking front and was rested for one game against Stoke- a game that ended in a 0-0 draw. With a similarly priced Sanchez now returning from injury, many managers will be tempted to transfer out one for the other especially considering their prices and the increased likelihood of the Chilean scoring rather than assisting goals.
This being said, both Ozil and Sanchez have their draws and the German international will no doubt return to form sooner rather than later. The main thing to decide therefore is whether or not you think Sanchez will make a quick return from injury and make an immediate impact. Previous form would suggest yes but I wouldn’t rush to transfer out Ozil just yet.
Alternative Options: Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal) £10.9 million, David Silva (Manchester City) £9.9 million, Christian Eriksen (Tottenham) £8.4 million
Romelu Lukaku (Everton)- IN
Based upon his performances in recent times, it is easy to see why rumours of a big money summer move for Lukaku are surfacing. The young Belgian international has scored 15 goals so far this season and got 5 assists to date. This means that his goal tally has been consistently over 10 goals for the last four seasons in the Premier League. Bearing in mind two of those seasons were on loan and he is still only 22 years of age, it is difficult to deny that Lukaku is an impressive talent.
While the striker has been in fine form this season, in recent weeks he too has been struggling to score. Since scoring 2 goals against Stoke in gameweek 19, Lukaku has managed 0 goals and 1 assist. As a result, many have already started to transfer him out but I would argue too soon. Everton have Newcastle, Stoke and West Brom coming up in their next three games- all fixtures in which you would have to favour the Toffees to win. Lukaku himself also scored 4 goals in the three reverse fixtures and will be refreshed after sitting out of his side’s FA Cup win against Carlisle.
Alternative Options: Olivier Giroud (Arsenal) £9.2 million, Anthony Martial (Manchester United) £7.6 million,
Dimitri Payet (West Ham)- IN
Don’t be fooled by Payet’s current ownership figures of 21.9%. The midfielder is such a vital player in West Ham’s ranks that had he not suffered an injury part way through the season, those percentages would no doubt be closer to 40%. At £7.5 million at the start of the season, Payet offered great value and if the Hammers were going to score a goal it was likely that he would be involved in one way or another.
Now the midfielder has returned from injury, the bandwagon is slowly setting off once more and his most recent goal against Bournemouth shows why. Despite not scoring against Manchester City last time out, his performance was exceptional and its only a matter of time before he gets back in a good spell of form. West Ham have Aston Villa, Southampton, Norwich and Sunderland coming up over the next four gameweeks and subsequently Payet should definitely be considered if you don’t have him already.
Alternative Options: Roberto Firmino (Liverpool) £8 million, Ross Barkley (Everton) £7.3 million
Odion Ighalo (Watford)- IN
Ighalo, by no means, began the season as a bandwagon but gradually lured managers in with his £5 million price-tag and consistent scoring run. The Watford striker did not even start in their first game against Everton, but still managed to find the net in their 2-2 draw. Since then he has become a key member of the squad, scored 15 goals, got 6 assists and risen in value to nearly £6.5 million.
Despite being the second highest point scorer overall and subsequently being a bargain, Ighalo is still only owned by less than 40% of teams. Watford have some tough games coming up against Chelsea, Tottenham and Crystal Palace but Ighalo has scored against the Blues and Spurs before. While many will be expecting Watford to slow as the season comes to an end, Ighalo has the ability to keep pushing on.
Alternative Options: Benik Afobe (Bournemouth) £6.1 million, Enner Valencia (West Ham) £5.8 million, Steven Naismith (Norwich) £5 million
Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)
Roberto Firmino (Liverpool)
Dele Alli (Tottenham)
Dimitri Payet (West Ham)
Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal)