Stick or Twist - Gareth Bale

It’s time to roll out our first Stick or Twist piece of the season, as we tackle the conundrum of whether we sell or keep Gareth Bale in our Fantasy Premier League (FPL) squads.

Bale’s explosive form last season, coupled with a very kind spell of opening fixtures, prompted huge swathes of Fantasy Managers to find room for the Welshman in their initial squads.

Fast forward three Gameweeks, and Bale’s meagre total of five points has lead to a barrage of sales, with Bale dropping to 9.4 in price, and looking set for another price drop this week.

The question is: are Fantasy Managers right to lose faith, or do we need to show a little more patience with a player who racked up ten goals and fourteen assists last season?

Reasons to Stick

One glance at the fixture list, and there’s our main reason. Home clashes against QPR and Aston Villa in the next four, along with a trip to Reading, mean Bale has every chance to redeem himself.

Bale will surely get opportunities in these games, and with the likes of Moussa Dembele, Clint Dempsey and Emmanuel Adebayor coming into the fold, Bale’s chances of scoring and assisting should improve.

Bale’s stats from the previous three matches also suggest he’s still heavily involved. He finds himself in the top ten midfielders for chances created (just one less than Edin Hazard), while Bale’s number of goal attempts are only bettered by Santi Cazorla and Marounne Fellaini.

Put these upcoming fixtures and stats together, and the potential is there for attacking returns.

Reasons to Twist

The high-scoring alternatives to Bale in midfield are making it tempting to cash in on the stuttering Welshman. A switch to the likes of Edin Hazard, Yaya Toure or Santi Cazorla is ever so tempting.

Alternatively, downgrading Bale to a mid-priced midfielder could broaden your options elsewhere. A switch to the likes of Steven Pienaar, Kevin Nolan or Nathan Dyer would free up much needed cash for the big boys up front.

Tottenham’s form under Andre Villas-Boas is a major worry, with just three goals and two points from their opening three games. Factor in the new players needing time to gel, and Bale is playing under ‘work in progress’ conditions – far from an ideal scenario for a 9.4 midfielder.

If you’re a form over fixtures person, then firing Bale from your squad could well be a no brainer.

Final Verdict

Personally, I think I’m going to keep Bale, and resist the urge of a switch to Cazorla, who faces a trip to Man City in Gameweek 5, and a home clash against Chelsea in Gameweek 6.

If Bale fails to produce the goods in his next two matches – Reading (A) and QPR (H) – then selling in Gameweek 6 seems a certainty, when Spurs travel to Man United.

However, I have Edin Hazard. If you don’t, a Bale to Hazard switch this Gameweek seems more worthwhile, with Hazard’s price rocketing and home clash against Stoke in Gameweek 5.

Do you have Bale in your squad? Are you uncomfortable at the prospect, or happy to keep faith? I’d be interested to hear your views!