Greetings one and all (two) and welcome to Fantasy Football Shambles. There have been four gameweeks since we last spoke as well as the FA Cup third-round and a 9-0 semi-final. The Premier League returns to a fairly normal this week so here I am to guide you through all things FPL.
I won’t run you through every week that took place but when I left you, I was around 20k in the rankings. I did get to a high of 15,415th but now sit at 30,411th. That’s more like it. Is my team going off the rails or is it just misfortune? More on that later.
For now, let’s take a look at what’s ahead this weekend.
The most intriguing fixture of the weekend is at Wembley. Spurs are hanging on to the coat tails of the title race and they welcome in-form Man Utd on Sunday afternoon. With Solskjaer in charge, it’s four league wins in a row for the Red Devils but this will be a severe test. Rashford and Pogba have emerged as serious FPL options but it’ll be interesting to see how much joy they have here. Tottenham, meanwhile, have had Harry Kane and Son Heung-min in tremendous form – though it is the latter’s last game for a while as he heads off on international duty. My instincts are to get the form players in my team as soon as possible but I will probably hold off on PogFord until after this game.
The weekend kicks off with West Ham vs Arsenal. The Gunners have muddled their way through a tough patch – thrashed at Liverpool, held by Brighton and wins over Fulham and Burnley. Aubameyang scored in three of those games as his excellent record continues. Arsenal are still wobbly defensively though and I’d avoid their defensive assets. Marko Arnautovic has been an FPL favourite this season and returned with a bang against Brighton. However, he has made the headlines for all the wrong reasons this week as his agent tries to engineer a move away. West Ham have at least confirmed he is fit to play, so we’ll see how that plays out.
League leaders Liverpool suffered their first defeat of the season in the previous gameweek. They will be more confident of a result away at Brighton though with Salah and friends rested for the majority of the FA Cup loss at Wolves. The main talking point here is Liverpool’s defence – an injury to Lovren leaves Van Dijk as the only fit centre-half. Fabinho is expected to deputise but will that offer hope to Brighton, especially at set-pieces? The Seagulls aren’t bad at home so this might not be as easy as expected.
Chelsea should have an easier time of things at home to Newcastle. Rafa Benitez’s side are in woeful form and will doubtless set up for a point here. Getting it will involve stopping Eden Hazard which has proven beyond them on many occasions. It has to be said that the Belgian isn’t getting much help from teammates in that regard but I don’t expect this to be another Stamford Bridge blank.
Monday Night Football sees Man City take on Wolves at the Etihad. Man City have scored 16 goals this week – albeit against Rotherham and Burton – but that’s great form regardless. Sergio Aguero played neither game amidst reports of an illness, so you’d expect him to come back in here if fit. That might be a bit harsh on Gabriel Jesus who has five goals this week but Pep revolves and evolves. Yes. Raheem Sterling didn’t play on Wednesday so you can pretty much guarantee he’ll be involved Monday. Otherwise though, good luck. It’s not a foregone conclusion by any means. Wolves have taken points at the Emirates, Old Trafford and Wembley already this season as well as drawing with City and beating Chelsea at Molineux. It probably won’t be 9-0, anyway.
On paper, Southampton have a very nice run of games over the next five or so weeks. The new manager has introduced Jan Bednarek (£3.9m) back to the starting lineup and played Nathan Redmond (£5.2m) a lot further forward so there is plenty of food for thought in that regard. Any investment should be cautious for now though as the transfer market makes fools of us all.
Everton also have a good run coming up but their form is Jekyll and Hyde at best. Having lost to Leicester at home last time out it’s really hard to judge their home game with Bournemouth. Eddie Howe is running out of defenders, although he has signed Nathaniel Clyne to help out in that regard. Lucas Digne (£5.2m) has emerged as a useful attacking defender in recent weeks if you want to compliment the usual Richarlison/Sigurdsson selections.
There’s plenty of skipper options this week. Hazard at home to Newcastle is probably the way to go statistically, though home blanks against Leicester and Southampton have thrown a spanner in the works. Mo Salah is a threat against everybody and 38 points over the past four weeks really sum that up. Aguero/Sterling/Sane and everybody else in a Man City shirt come with the usual risk of minutes, no point going over old ground there.
This could be better.
Fabianski, Robertson, Azpilicueta, Wan-Bissaka, Salah, Hazard, Richarlison, Albrighton, Kane, Wilson, Zaha. Subs: Begovic, Duffy, Doherty, Neves.
How did I end up with some of these players? I honestly couldn’t tell you. I was eyeing up a wildcard this week but I think I will hold off. For this week, I will probably try and replace Albrighton with anybody else.
That’s all for my ramblings this week. The deadline is Saturday 12th January at 11.30am so all that is left to do is for me to wish you good luck and may all your arrows be green.