The Stag surveyed the expanse of colours laid out before him. The jerseyed knights jostled for positions, snarling as they sought the upperground and overenthusiastically celebrated their triumphs. However, The Stag required a differential. Only a knight less than 20% of the herd would do. Only one knight could help him vault the others over the next 3 gameweeks. Only one knight could bring him the fabled Green Arrows. A knight to brighten his day.
My inaugural pick for my weekly slot is Southampton's Senegalese international Sadio Mané. Coming in at just 7.5% ownership, lower than Saints teammates Fonte, Wanyama and Pellè. I put Mané's low ownership down to his steep enough price. At 8.0, he falls into direct competition with mid price options (7.0 & 7.5) like Henderson and Milner. Even more so, he competes with slightly more expensive midfielders, particularly the Arsenal group that cause so many FPL headaches.
Why have I spouted out all that irrelevant rubbish about ownership you ask? I just want to put you all at ease that there are reasons why people haven't selected Mané other than possible performance doubts. Another reason which cannot be discounted is that many people feel they have sufficient cover for Southampton's attack when they have the aforementioned Pellè. I feel Mané is as good a pick as Pellè if not better. I'll dive into basic stats to justify this!
Last season, Mané managed 11 goals and 4 assists in 30 appearances. Quite a few of them were off the bench too before he really established himself at the club. Regardless, that comes out as more than a goal every three games and a goal or assist (G/A) every second match. That's a fantastic return! He racked up 15 BPS too along the way.
Mané is deployed as both a winger and sometimes a shadow striker. Obviously, the latter is the more appealing from an FPL point of view. However, his most memorable Premier League game to date came while he was playing off the wing. If you don't know what I'm alluding to then I'll enlighten you. Mané bagged a hat-trick at the tail end of last season against Villa in a record 176 seconds. That's clinical goal scoring ability!
Now, as Chief says; "Form is key, class doesn't matter." I could tell you all about last season but that means nothing now. In Mané's competitive games so far this season, Europa League qualifying games versus Vitesse, he notched up an impressive 2 assists in a 3-0 victory in the first leg. In the second leg, he got on the scoresheet in a 2-0 win. He hasn't lost his attacking bias clearly!
Stag's Knight is based on 3 gameweeks worth of potential. My picks should ideally have form and fixtures on their side. Mané has both the former and the latter. The Saints travel to St James' Park to play Newcastle this weekend before hosting Everton and going away to newboys Watford. Newcastle's struggles in defence have been well documented and I don't believe they've bolstered up much over the summer in that department. Everton's defence also conceded a lot of goals last season. While they'll certainly fix their issues, I still think Mané has the ability to unlock them. Watford seem to be the weakest of the promoted teams and their mountain of summer signings will need time before they become an effective unit (if ever). A team such as Southampton who are aiming high should rip them to shreds. If they do as I expect, Mané will be involved.
If you want to get in contact with me to ask a question or just hurl abuse, you'll find me on Twitter - @FPLStag.