Afternoon and welcome to Fantasy Football Shambles, our weekly FPL-based preview of the weekend ahead. We’ve reached gameweek 12, which means we are almost a third of the way through the season. What’s more, there’s an International break after this but then it’s constant football until March. Sign me up. First though, let’s lick our wounds of last week.
It actually wasn’t that bad, my score of 65 beat the average of 52 but such is my lofty position in the overall ladder at the moment it wasn’t enough for a green arrow. A slight drop to 69,200th is really not a concern, let’s face it I’m not going to be first so I’ll try and keep the rank down to 5 figures and that’ll please me. What now then?
It’s a Super-Duper-mega-cancel-your-plans-Sunday where there are four games, three of which are televised. The main event is the Manchester derby, where blue and red collide at the Etihad Stadium. Man City have scored 12 goals since we last spoke, which is quite remarkable. Obviously, I expect them to score but who can forget the derby of April where the world expected Man City to win and they contrived to lose 3-2. Pep was able to rotate his squad in midweek and Gabriel Jesus scored a hat-trick, Pep’s wheel of rotation will be going supersonic this week as he tries to pick his 11 for this one. I expect Aguero will be recalled, Sterling seems to always place and David Silva won’t be going anywhere, especially with De Bruyne out. The Man Utd recovery continues, they basically resemble Homer Simpson as a boxer at present, taking hit after hit but still winning the match by just still being standing at the end. Martial is in tremendous form but can they carry over the form which saw them outlast Juventus on Wednesday? I have no idea.
We’ll go in reverse order seeing as I’ve started. Arsenal also play at 4.30pm on Sunday at home to Wolves. Arsenal drew 0-0 with Wolves-lite (Sporting Lisbon) on Thursday but were able to rotate the big guns for the most part. That should see Aubameyang and Lacazette combine again and Wolves have hit the skids recently, so it seems a good weekend to have either.
The early afternoon game sees Chelsea host Everton. Eden Hazard’s recovery from a back injury has been rather more serious than I first thought, managing 30 minutes last weekend and an hour in the Europa League on Thursday. That surely points to his return to the starting lineup for the visit of Everton. Chelsea are just much better with him on the field so I think it’s likely he will start and play until he drops rather than coming on for a salvage mission. Morata is also worth considering now he’s found his scoring touch again, at just £8.7m he’s cheaper than a lot of premium strikers but a big drawback is that he tends to share playing time with Giroud, especially if he hasn’t scored. It’s worth noting for Everton that the form of Richarlison as a striker is really starting to blossom, he’s still available for £6.9m and although this is a tricky game for them, Everton face Newcastle, Cardiff and Watford at home in three of the next four gameweeks. Get him before that price rises.
Liverpool host Fulham in the first Sunday game and I think the whole country is expecting a bloodbath. We all know this sort of fixture – free-scoring top team plays at home to very leaky bottom-five side. Obviously, that brings Salah, Firmino and Mane to the forefront of my mind. I do worry Salah is due a rest but surely Klopp wouldn’t rest him for International duty? That makes no sense, though his inevitable rotation will come at some point and it’s going to annoy me a great deal. In summary, pile on your Liverpool assets this week and hope it goes to form.
Only one “big 6” side in action on Saturday and it’s Tottenham, away at Crystal Palace. Everyone is quite down on Spurs but their form is really quite good. 5 wins in their last 6 despite a lot of injuries suggests they are worth backing this weekend, though I have a few gripes. Firstly, other than Kane, it’s a bit of a mixed bag who else will play. Lamela has been a good source of goals this season but he has a dodgy hip. The cold weather won’t help that. Eriksen and Alli have been in and out with injuries whilst Son did well in the cup the other week, then there’s the inexplicable presence of Moussa Sissoko. Kieran Trippier has been a great source of assists from right back but even he seems to be taking some hits at the moment for a few defensive errors. It’s Chelsea and Arsenal in the next two after this for Tottenham so I’d say hold on to what you have for now but if you’re looking to invest, maybe keep your powder dry until December.
I’ve prattled on longer than normal in the first section so the bargain bin update will mostly be about people who are injured. Josh King is a major doubt for Bournemouth, Harry Maguire and James Maddison look likely to miss out for Leicester and Joe Gomez is carrying a knock for Liverpool. I’m intrigued by the Shaqiri situation at Liverpool, at just £7m, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him play after being left out on Tuesday. Otherwise, Cardiff vs Brighton is the early game on Saturday…
Salah do do do do do do orrrr Mane Mane. Maybe Firminoooo…or Sergio Aguero. I won’t present captain choices in a song ever again, I promise. But the reality is that it looks like a Liverpool week, as long as there are no selection shockers. My vice-captaincy is going to Hazard. I know I said Aguero in the song but that was purely because it fit, in reality, I think there’s every chance he will score but there are more enticing options than him this week. My outside punt is Jamie Vardy as Leicester host Burnley. Sean Dyche’s men just can’t defend for some reason and Vardy is most likely to punish that.
I went for the two defender swaps last week which cost me nothing and gained me even less. Hopefully, it’ll be better, long-term. I’ve already done Richarlison for Walcott, after the horse has bolted but it had to be done.
Fabianski, Mendy, Alonso, Robertson, Duffy, Salah, Hazard, Richarlison, Wilson, Aguero, Jimenez. Subs: Hughes, Wan-Bissaka, Neves, Begovic.
Absolute scenes last weekend as Jimenez got some points whilst Neves remained rooted to my bench. I can’t decide between the two Wolves lads this week for who gets my 11th spot, I don’t fancy them away at Arsenal but who knows?
A bit of a mega update this one then but you won’t hear from me for two weeks thanks to our beloved Nations League. Good luck for this weekend and may all your arrows be green. Toodles for now.