Recognising when to recruit a player slipping into form is a key element of Dream Team.
But gaffers should be equally aware of when to transfer a struggling asset out of their XI.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the most-popular players with fewer than 80 points to their name at this relatively late stage of the season.
DREAM TEAM’S MOST-POPULAR PLAYERS WITH FEWER THAN 80 POINTS
- Oleksandr Zinchenko (£3.7m) – 75 points – 18.4% ownership
- Raheem Sterling (£4m) – 63 points – 14% ownership
- Dejan Kulusevski (£3.2m) – 54 points – 8.1% ownership
- Reece James (£5.6m) – 69 points – 7.5% ownership
- Kyle Walker (£3.5m) – 46 points – 7.3 ownership
- Jadon Sancho (£2.9m) – 56 points – 6.8 ownership
- Andy Robertson (£3.9m) – 64 points – 6.4% ownership
- Marc Cucurella (£3.5m) – 69 points – 6.1% ownership
- Kalidou Koulibaly (£4.5m) – 70 points – 5.8% ownership
- Bernardo Silva (£2.9m) – 66 points – 5.4% ownership
As one would expect, a common denominator in this list is injury lay-offs.
But that’s not a suitable excuse for every player on the list.
For example, while James averages a healthy 3.8 points-per-game when available (a rate bettered by only eight defenders), Sterling averages just 2.3 points-per-game, putting him below Willian (£3.2m), Christian Norgaard (£3m) and Jack Harrison (£3.1m) in the same metric.
It’s a similar story for Kulusevski, who averages two points-per-game when fit.
The 22-year-old Swede scored five goals and provided eight assists in 18 Premier League appearances last season after his January switch to Spurs.
Injuries have limited his involvement this campaign but he’s still featured in 20 league games (16 starts) for a return of two goals and six assists – that’s a significant drop-off.
Like Kulusevski, Bernardo earned his status as one of Dream Team’s most-selected midfielders in 2022/23 through a string of healthy returns.
The Portugal international was rightfully named in the PFA Team of the Year and, initially, he seemed to have carried over his form as he started 2022/23 with seven goal involvements in the space of 13 games between August and October.
However, he then went 17 games without a goal or assist during the season’s middle third – tens of thousands of Dream Team bosses ditched him during that time but 5.4% are still hanging on, rather optimistically.
Given that he’s a regular starter for the team that have registered the most points collectively across the last five years, it’s remarkable how often Walker underwhelms.
For whatever reason, he always seems to lag behind his fellow defenders at Man City.
Granted, the rapid right-back missed 14 consecutive games with injury prior to the World Cup but even when fit he averages just 2.1 points-per-game, fewer than Rico Lewis (£3.3m), Sergio Gomez (£4.1m), Manuel Akanji (£4.3m) and every other City defender.
Finally, the majority of Dream Team gaffers will probably be surprised by Zinchenko’s inclusion in this list.
The adaptable Ukrainian has been a key contributor to Arsenal’s promising title challenge and while he was sidelined with injury for nine games in a row early in the season, his appearance count of 27 is not insignificant.
Sometimes it’s just the case that a player’s noble efforts don’t translate to Dream Team success – there’s still time for Zinchenko to repay his backers when the Gunners resume their hunt for silverware after the international break.