FPL notes: Why De Zerbi started £3.9m Steele + benched Sanchez

We assess the key Fantasy Premier League (FPL) talking points from Gameweek 26 in our Scout Notes series.

Here, we focus on Brighton and Hove Albion v West Ham United.

The numbers you see in this article are taken from our Premium Members Area, where you can access Opta player and team data from every single Premier League fixture.


Roberto De Zerbi threw the Double Gameweek plans of many Fantasy managers into disarray by benching Robert Sanchez (£4.6m) for Saturday’s win over West Ham United.

Owned by around 11% of FPL bosses both overall and in the top 100k, Sanchez was the subject of over 110,000 transfers in ahead of Saturday’s deadline.

But despite a Brighton double-header in Gameweek 27 being imminent, the Spaniard’s owners may now be forced to offload him.

Jason Steele (£3.9m), himself attractively priced at the bottom end of the FPL goalkeeper market, got the nod at the Amex on Saturday, helping Albion to what was only their third clean sheet in 13 matches – not that he had much to do against a woeful West Ham, who could muster only three efforts on goal all game.

De Zerbi’s comments below (the first before the match, the second after it) don’t make it sound like this was a one-off benching for Sanchez.



For all the talk of Alexis Mac Allister (£5.4m) playing in a more advanced number 10 role in open play, something that again happened against West Ham on Saturday, the Argentina international’s two attacking returns arrived via a penalty and a corner-kick routine.

Mac Allister dispatched an 18th-minute spot-kick after Kaoru Mitoma (£5.3m) had been fouled, his fourth success in a row from 12 yards in 2022/23, before his flick-on from a corner was chested in by Joel Veltman (£4.6m) for Brighton’s second goal.

These were Mac Allister’s first attacking returns since the restart; perfectly timed for the 115,000+ new owners he attracted, many of them Wildcarders, ahead of Gameweek 26.

Mitoma tapped home from point-blank range to make it 3-0, with the Japan international and Mac Allister departing the game with double-digit hauls in their back pockets.

It all left a blanking Solly March‘s (£5.1m) owners feeling miffed but points-dodging days like this are inevitably going to happen when you plump for one or two of Brighton’s attacking midfield trio. March was excellent overall, assisting the assister for two of Albion’s goals and wasting a good opportunity of his own from six yards. On another day, this could have been a fifth double-digit haul in 10 appearances.

Budget FPL forward Evan Ferguson (£4.6m) was similarly impressive despite a blank but while March, Mitoma et al have little threat to their starts, the teenage striker has to contend with Deniz Undav (£5.0m) and the fit-again Danny Welbeck (£6.5m). Welbeck looked sharp upon his introduction and scored Albion’s fourth and final goal from distance.

Brighton have now plundered 20 goals in nine post-restart fixtures, so they really are worth investing heavily in ahead of the Double Gameweeks ahead. West Ham averaged just 1.12 expected goals conceded (xGC) per game in 2022/23 before Saturday (one of the best rates in the division) but, as a testament to how potent the Seagulls are going forward, Brighton racked up a Gameweek-high 3.70 xG against the Hammers.

“Certainly in my second time back, it would be one of the worst [results] and one of our worst performances as well. But I could give a bit and say we put a huge effort in, put out our strongest team to try and get through in midweek in the FA Cup. We did everything we could in the first 80 minutes and couldn’t quite see it through at Old Trafford. Did that play a part today? I believe it did.” – David Moyes on West Ham’s performance, a week on from the 4-0 win over Nottingham Forest

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