Good news! Premier League football is finally back in our lives after the longest International break on record. Bad news! So is FPL.
Maybe I shouldn’t be so down. I’ve been sat on green arrows for two weeks whilst the Nations League stole our hearts. Way back when week 8 happened, I scored 73 points which comfortably beat the average of 50. That lifted my overall ranking to 157,083 – the highest I’ve been since week one. Oh my. With two transfers in the bank, how can we blow this position? Let’s break down the week 9 picture.
The Premier League comes at you hard, which is why the first game of the weekend is Chelsea vs Man Utd. Eden Hazard has been the best player in the Premier League this season in my opinion so needless to say I’d advocate having him pretty much regardless of the opposition. Jose Mourinho came back from the brink two weeks ago and it’ll be interesting to see if that was a turning point or a false dawn for the Red Devils. This would be a tough game for an in-form side let alone this current Man Utd squad, so I’d say stick with your Chelsea assets and worry about Man Utd another week.
Manchester City will fancy their chances in a home game against Burnley. With Burnley struggling to match their resoluteness (is that a word?) of last season, Pep’s men should be capable of putting them to the sword. That means FPL favourite Sergio Aguero comes into the equation as he avoided International duty, even with a Champions League game on the horizon. As ever there’s a myriad of options and I don’t know which ones Guardiola will favour. Sterling was great for England having scored twice and in normal circumstances, you’d say he’s a good bet for this weekend but the wheel of rotation can stop on anybody at any time. Benjamin Mendy returned against Liverpool which is a nice option to have as long as he’s been a good boy this week.
Tottenham’s trip to West Ham looks a little tougher than it did a few weeks ago. West Ham have improved since those early weeks and have been known to give Tottenham a tough time – albeit not last season. Harry Kane is always a threat and even with Dele Alli out, Christian Eriksen is expected to return which should help create chances for the England captain. I wouldn’t transfer in Spurs players especially for this game and they play Man City next week, so it’s not the easiest of runs for the Tottenham lads.
The late game on Saturday sees Liverpool travel to Huddersfield. The main talking points here are the Liverpool injuries and how many of them will clear up in time. Salah, Mane, Keita and Van Dijk encountered problems on international duty whilst Milner picked up an injury against Man City. This is the headache of the week, as, under normal circumstances, you’d back Liverpool to win at a canter but with a few little injuries combined with the Champions League in midweek, I don’t know how much of a risk Klopp will take. I am writing this before his Friday press conference though so he might say everybody is fine and I will look the fool.
The final “big 6” team to consider is Arsenal. It’s been quite the resurgence from Unai Emery’s men and after dismantling Fulham, I fully expect them to beat Leicester at home on Monday night – though you do wonder about Vardy’s pace against that Arsenal backline. Nevertheless, Lacazette and Aubameyang will fancy their chances of picking up attacking returns and with reasonable fixtures still on the horizon, it’s still a good time to invest.
Wilfried Zaha is carrying a knock. This displeases me but if he misses out it immediately makes Everton more appealing thanks to Palace’s shocking record without their star man. Richarlison operated (and scored) as a striker away at Leicester and as he’s a midfielder on the FPL game, this is wonderful news. Wolves are at home to Watford which looked a close game a few weeks ago but Watford have fallen off a cliff and are without both Kabasele and Holebas at Molineux, which can’t help their cause. Jimenez has proved to be a useful striking option whilst Jonny and Doherty are cheap-ish defenders who get well forward. Newcastle’s terrible run of fixtures seems to be over and they need to start picking up points. They have Brighton at home this weekend, one of three home fixtures in the next four. Kenedy (£4.9m) and Muto (£5.7m) got the goals against Man Utd and both could be cheap options based on fixtures for the next few weeks but fundamentally, Newcastle are not very good.
I’m playing this with a straight bat and captaining Aguero. It’s not very adventurous and no doubt, he’ll depart on 60 minutes but anything else seems reckless. Hazard is the man in form but there’s always a chance Mourinho will just shut up shop like the good old days whilst there’s only Firmino who seems a certain starter from the Liverpool front 3. The problem there is that I can see him being shifted to accommodate Sturridge if Mane and/or Salah are out. If I was chasing and had nothing to lose (or owned either player, to be fair) Lacazette or Richarlison would be my punt options.
All I can say is I’m really pleased I’m not wildcarding this week as I’m sure many people have to get the prices over the international break. There’s so much uncertainty, I hope for their sake a lot of it is put to bed by the Friday press conferences.
Currently, I have:
Begovic, Trippier, Alonso, Bellerin, Salah, Hazard, Walcott, Neves, Zaha, Aguero, Wilson. Subs: Hughes, Wann-Bissaka, Peltier, Fabianski.
I have two free transfers and £1m in the bank so I’m flush with options. I had planned Robertson and Mendy for Trippier and Bellerin but it’s a bit needless. Richarlison for Walcott has been in the pipeline for weeks whilst I’ve lost patience with Zaha and Neves. Crystal Palace are about to embark on a horrible run so I might have to rid myself of Zaha sooner rather than later with Mitrovic a real option. If Salah was to be ruled out, that would actually help me a great deal, in a sick sort of way.
Whilst I mull over how to wreck a team that has done reasonably well in recent weeks, all that is left to do is for me to wish you good luck and I hope all your arrows are green. It’s a Saturday 11:30 AM deadline, so do enjoy your Friday night.