In season’s past, we’ve had virtually no options for an affordable player in our forward line, forced to invest in the likes of Kane, Aguero and Lukaku and damaging the rest of our team as a result. This season could be different with 3 standout options all of the same price, it’s time to delve into the qualities and potential pitfalls of Zaha, Arnautovic and Tosun who are all priced at a tempting £7.0m.
Wilfred Zaha (£7.0m, Crystal Palace)
Starting off with the Crystal Palace man, Wilfred Zaha, who is one of two of these players who has been reclassified on FPL from midfielder to forward. Originally on the right wing, the latter half of the season brought Zaha further forward to a front 2, partnering Benteke. The change meant that Zaha is now getting involved more than ever, bombing forward and constantly finding himself in the box winning penalty after penalty.
Crystal Palace won more penalties than anyone else last season, earning 10 penalties (8 of these were scored) and Zaha won 5 of these. They don’t even register on the ‘chances created’ statistic which he averaged 1.72 chances per 90, which beats both Tosun and Arnautovic last season with 1.34 and 1.43 respectively. Admittedly these were rarely converted (Zaha only managed 2 assists last season outside his penalty wins) thanks in part due to his teammate’s ability to finish. There’s time for that to change though and it might start earlier than we think. Benteke has been unable to play a part in Crystal Palace’s pre-season due to injury so Zaha has been partnered up front with Sorloth and we’ve already seen a couple of glimpses of magic from this pairing. Palace’s fixtures start extremely strong, with Liverpool in gameweek 2 being the only game against a Top 6 side in the first 9 fixtures. Zaha offers a seemingly reliable option who should start the season strong and deliver for his £7.0m price tag.
Cenk Tosun (£7.0m, Everton)
Whilst Arnautovic and Zaha are more than familiar with the Premier League, Cenk Tosun is still one of the new boys. Signing for Everton in January 2018, Tosun has made a big impression in his short time for the team. Despite being there for half the season, Tosun’s 5 goals put him at the 2nd highest goal scorer for Everton last season. New boss Marco Silva has made a mark on the team already with the huge signing of Richarlison from his old team Watford. This inclusion shows an intention of strong attacking football from Everton this season and who better to own than the player that will be at the forefront of that attack?
However, there has to be a question over Tosun’s reliability as a starter. He didn’t walk straight into the team, with Calvert-Lewin and Niasse sharing minutes here and there, but even when Tosun earned his place, he still rarely hit a full 90 minutes. That’s not necessarily enough to rule him out as an option and early signs in pre-season have been good, but you cannot be completely confident at the start of a new season with a new manager at the helm that different starting 11s will be used and some of those won’t include Tosun. Everton’s fixtures also start very strong and like Palace, only have to face one of the Top 6 in their first 9 matches, with Arsenal in gameweek 6. If Everton do play more attacking, positive football there’s absolutely no reason that Tosun can’t outscore Zaha and Arnautovic, but he does bring with him an element of risk that you don’t get with the other two.
Marko Arnautovic (£7.0m, West Ham)
Currently the most popular of the three, Marko Arnautovic is the other player with a reclassification from midfielder to forward. Making a huge impact as the lone striker for West Ham for the majority of last season, Arnautovic finds himself at the top of most of key areas statistics wise. Goals scored, he sits at a very respectable 0.43 goals per 90 minutes, higher than Zaha and Tosun (0.29 each) and that’s supported by the total shots too, taking 2.70 shots per 90 whereas Zaha averaged 2.30 and Tosun just 1.53. If any team has bolstered their squad this transfer window, it’s West Ham. Yarmolenko and Felipe Anderson both attacking midfielders should only benefit Arnautovic’s potential output.
However, there is the small matter of fixtures. I’ve mentioned the fact that both Palace and Everton only face one of last season’s Top 6 in their opening 9 games – in that same period, West Ham play 5 of the Top 6. It’s not to say returns will be impossible due to his fixtures, but out of his 11 goals last season, just 2 of those came against the top 6 teams (Chelsea and Arsenal). We’re said to always treat “form over fixtures” and Arnautovic’s form in pre-season has been impressive, but you couldn’t consider Zaha or Tosun’s form to be bad or even worse but Arnautovic’s fixtures are definitely much worse. With a new respected manager in place and plenty of promising transfers, hopefully we see a season like 2015/16’s campaign rather than the last 2 years and if that is to happen, the Hammers will need to start the season strongly and Arnautovic could well be the pivotal player.
Overall, mainly in thanks to the reclassification of both Zaha and Arnautovic we have 3 very viable options in an affordable price bracket for the forward position for the first time in a few seasons. I would consider Zaha to be the safest option, with Tosun and Arnautovic both capable of keeping up points wise but I have less inclination to back them straight out of the gate. Ultimately, the main benefit we have in this situation is quite simply that they’re all priced the same. If the player you back doesn’t look to be doing the business, it’s a very straight forward swap to one of the others, it’s a surprising luxury we rarely get in FPL that price isn’t the problem.
Written by FPL Bandit (@FPLBandit)