We continue our look into your FPL Dilemma by exploring two of the most expensive midfielders in this year’s game. Both have new managers at their clubs and have a history of strong performances. One is new Manchester United signing Henrikh Mkhitaryan, with the other being Chelsea star Eden Hazard.
Both players have big reputations, with the former having made his name first at Shakhtar Donetsk, before making the big move to Borussia Dortmund, where he had a stormer of a campaign last season. Hazard was Chelsea’s key man as they stormed to a convincing Premier League title under José Mourinho, however it will be the Armenian who will lineup for the Portuguese boss this season. We take a look at what each has to offer, which should get the nod in your FPL side and who comes out victorious in this FPL Dilemma.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan (9.5m)
Coming in for a significant fee, United fans will be expectant of the Armenian midfielder as he enters his first season at Old Trafford. Along with Eric Bailly, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and perhaps Paul Pogba, Mkhitaryan will be expected to shine, possibly lining up in the right-sides role he occupied in a prolific Dortmund side last term. The creative midfielder scored 11 and laid on a further 15 last season, totalling 26 contributions in just 28 starts last season in the Bundesliga. Should he be able to replicate such figures he will, no doubt, find himself among the highest percentage ownership players in this year’s game.
United begin under Mourinho games against: Bournemouth (A), Southampton (H), Hull (A), Manchester City (H) and Watford (A). United certainly have the firepower up top to finish off chances this season, something that they lacked significantly last campaign. Ibrahimovic and Rooney could prove to be one of the best pairings in the League and with Mkhitaryan playing in a creative role chances will be plenty at Old Trafford. Mkhitaryan may see great returns away from home with his pace making him frightful on the counter attack, and with Anthony Martial likely occupying the other flank, Manchester United may see great returns on the counter, as well as you FPL managers out there. Mourinho’s teams often cater to this style of play, with his sides remaining compact until they win possession, before streaming forward in expansive fashion, with the forwards looking to take the game to their opposition.
Eden Hazard (10.0m)
I think it’s fair to say FPL managers have seen the best and the worst of Eden Hazard over the last two Premier League season, which could likely be said for Chelsea players as a whole. Last season he managed just 104 points compared to his 233 the season before hand. Many will argue that Hazard may be a poor choice after what can only be considered an abysmal campaign both for Hazard and Chelsea. However, I was very encouraged by what I saw of Hazard at the Euros and more impressive be seemed to have that confidence back that saw him lead Chelsea to a title two seasons ago.
Chelsea start the season with matches against: West Ham (H), Watford (A), Burnley (H), Swansea (A) and Liverpool (H). These are comparable with Manchester United’s openers and could definitely yield strong returns for several Chelsea players. Having added Hazard’s Belgian teammate Michy Batshuayi from Marseille, Hazard may possess somewhat of a better connection than he does with the volatile Diego Costa. Antonio Conte coming in at Stamford Bridge may well see a change in the way Chelsea set up next season, and may see Hazard deployed in a freer, potentially even more advanced role. Hazard also has a point to prove, having himself claimed to be one of the world’s best. It’s rare to say this, but I think FPL managers will have to put last season behind them, because I expect players such as Hazard will come to the fore yet again and shine this campaign.
Who to Pick?
For me, this depends on what you think of the players’ respective sides and how they will play this season. Managers will look to implement their own style of play at United and Chelsea respectively, and the player that is utilised best will shine. Simple as. Mkhitaryan has ownership at 17.7%, meanwhile Hazard’s seems low at just 13.8%. Like I’ve said before, this shouldn’t really have too much influence on your decision when the marginal difference is so small.
However, overall, Hazard takes it for me. Antonio Conte has also mentioned that Hazard may be deployed as a striker at points this season, and that alone may give rise to huge returns for FPL managers. In many cases, just being in and around the action yields strong returns. Also, having seen him impress in a more advanced position against Real Madrid, he seems a good tip. Hazard was playing on the shoulder of the last defender constantly, and calmly rounded the keeper before slotting home on two separate occasions.
This isn’t to say you shouldn’t consider Mkhitaryan, because I do think he’ll be a hit in the Premier League, but it may take some adjustment over time. In FPL time is on managers’ hands, and should Mkhitaryan impress early on, I would recommend squeezing him in, as frankly his numbers speak for themselves.
Written by Ryan Nevin (@RyanNevin7)