Welcome back to the FPL funhouse. Another week of rotation caused more than a few broken hearts but I’m pleased to report my arrows remained green mostly thanks to Mr Salah but so many of the lads made me proud. My score of 77 beat the average of 55 and saw us rise to an eye-watering 21,078th in the world. Hold me. It’s only enough for the bronze medal position in the Ronnie Dog Media title race so all this tells you is that there are at least two people better placed to give advice than me within these fictional walls and that’s before you ignore the other 21,000. Think positive, as I may be on the downfall pretty quickly.
Anyway, this week there’s been a bit of an injury crisis at Anfield and a few more knocks to contend with elsewhere as the festive fixtures begin to bite. As ever I’m going to try and navigate you through it with all the skill and precision of a bull in a china shop.
The weekend begins with Man City hosting Everton. Gasps all around, Man City lost last weekend. They are fallible. Granted, Chelsea away is one of the toughest fixtures on the calendar no matter who you are and Everton at home isn’t as challenging. That said, Everton took a point here last season and that was with Wayne Rooney playing. As of this writing, I haven’t heard Pep’s presser but from mid-week, Aguero will be on the bench at best and De Bruyne is more likely for midweek. Perhaps more worryingly, David Silva is ruled out for a few weeks which could mean 3 or 4 games at this time of year. It does, however, mean Bernardo Silva looks rotation proof at the moment and you’d expect him to be joined by Fernandinho and Gundogan based on current fitness, with Phil Foden next in line. Delph is also an option but with Mendy out he might be needed at left back. Gundogan is just £5.4m and is interesting me as an option right now, but more on that later.
Harry Kane’s 15-minute cameo cost a lot of people a lot of points. Not just because he did nothing, nearly everybody had a better choice as vice-captain. Anyway, he’s rested now and hopefully that’s the end of it. Tottenham host Burnley this weekend and assuming Kane is back in action, that should be a good chance for him to atone for last Saturday. Eriksen was also rested last weekend but Son is in tremendous form so as ever the conundrum with Spurs is trying to fit them all in. A potential bargain though is at right back where with Trippier and Aurier struggling we might see Kyle Walker-Peters, who at £4.2m is filthy cheap.
Sunday sees Chelsea go to Brighton in one of those away games where you are fairly sure Chelsea will win but it depends on Brighton putting on one of their clinics. The problem is, without Duffy, they don’t look as strong and Chelsea will be on a high after winning last weekend. They were able to rest most of the team in the Europa League but still lost Morata to injury. That’ll either mean Giroud or Hazard as a false 9 again. Chelsea clean sheets have been all too rare but they will fancy their chances here.
Arsenal remain in top form and they visit Southampton on Sunday lunchtime hoping to avoid the famous new manager bounce. There’s a pretty vulgar phrase that you can’t polish a turd and whilst I am not saying all of Southampton are turds, the point is I think it will take more than a new manager to turn their fortunes around especially against a team as free-flowing as Arsenal. Lacazette played and scored on Thursday which will either be a confidence boost for Emery to start both again or he’ll be back on the bench. Aubameyang registered an assist last week in a game where Arsenal were meant to go ballistic but if you look at the stats, Auba loves a Sunday goal. Perhaps that’s more down to when Arsenal play their games but I’m happy to hang hopes on it if you are.
The big game though is Liverpool vs Man Utd. Klopp has a bit of a defensive injury crisis with Matip and Alexander-Arnold both ruled out for the festive period this week. Joe Gomez, of course, was ruled out last week so if Nathaniel Clyne can get fit he could play at right back, otherwise, it’ll be Milner or Fabinho. Dejan Lovren at just £4.9m is all of a sudden looking fairly locked in as a starter alongside Van Dijk, even if he’s not very good. Man Utd remain a mystery to us all. They have many injuries and Mourinho was in standard form in his presser saying everybody is injured, including Martial. If you’re relying on Man Utd at this stage you’re a braver man than I.
That was more rambly than normal so my bargain of the week is Robert Snodgrass of West Ham. At just £5.3m he seems to be secure of his place in the West Ham lineup right now and with Arnautovic out, the attacking returns are being spread out. The Hammers are at Fulham this weekend. Lucas Torreira is getting forward from midfield more for Arsenal, so you can always consider him as a cheap midfield option at £5.2m.
Crystal Palace are without Zaha (and Tomkins) this week so Leicester will be heavy favourites to beat them.
Harry Kane seems the sensible choice even if he let us all down last week. It wasn’t his fault. Mo Salah, of course, rewarded anybody who backed him last weekend and he scored the decisive goal in the Champions League. The worry is that Man Utd will try and shut the game down. Raheem Sterling is usually a safe bet at the Etihad, even if it goes against my “never captain in the early game” rule.
Pretty sure I’m bringing in Gundogan for Hughes this week. It’s not ideal but it might pay off.
Fabianski, Robertson, Bellerin, Doherty, Salah, Hazard, Richarlison, Gundogan, Wilson, Hernandez, Kane. Subs: Neves, Wan-Bissaka, Begovic, Duffy.
Wilson is a doubt but I’ve got no problem with Neves or Wan-Bissaka coming in for him if needs be.
We’re back to a more normal deadline of 11.30am on Saturday morning so all that is left to be said is I wish you good luck and may all your arrows be green. See you next week!