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Another international break comes to an end and we return to the excitement of the Premier League.
Sadio Mane’s injury amongst others have left Fantasy Premier League managers with a few concerns while there’s also the big clash between Liverpool and Manchester United to consider with the latter facing challenging fixtures ahead.
Here are a few pointers to guide you ahead of Gameweek Eight.
In the last Gameweek, Romelu Lukaku (11.8m) just about saved our blushes with a late goal against Crystal Palace.
This week, Alexis Sanchez is the top pick for the captaincy. It’s a bit unexpected given that he’s only just returned to the starting XI but he’s already made a strong case for the armband in his last couple of outings.
He’s registered an assist in each of the last two fixtures and delivered a stellar attacking display against Brighton in particular. He had the most shots on goal in the league during the last round, eight in total, and created six chances as well.
If the Chilean is getting back to his best, then Arsenal’s fixtures won’t really matter too much in terms of playing him. Like Harry Kane or Eden Hazard, he’s likely to deliver regardless of the level of opposition when he’s in his element.
In any case, the next three fixtures for the Gunners look pretty inviting. Most importantly though – and this is key – Sanchez is selected by just 2.6% of FPL managers. A player of that calibre and reputation is bound to score big, soon, and when he does that’s going to provide a few managers who pay his steep price a tidy differential…. perhaps even this weekend.
HARRY KANE is in superb form and is probably a great pick for the captaincy this week and could easily wind up being this weekend’s highest scorer as Tottenham host Bournemouth who are second from bottom. However, the Englishman is yet to score at Wembley in the league this season.
Meanwhile, Manchester City are arguably the most likely to score big this weekend as they entertain Stoke and with Sergio Aguero recovering from injury, GABRIEL JESUS (10.5m) and DAVID SILVA (8.5m) are both good options as well.
GYLFI SIGURDSSON (8.2m) is yet to deliver for Everton this season but he is creating chances and returns to the club in form after helping Iceland to wins over Turkey and Kosovo to secure a spot in next year’s World Cup.
Back into the fold and ideally, he should be straight back into several FPL squads as well. In his first start of the season in the last GW, Virgil van Dijk put in a beastly performance. Yes, he gave away a penalty, but a closer inspection of his stats shows he had three shots at goal, won 11 aerial duels and racked up three interceptions, seven clearances and four blocks. Beast.
The Burnley defender has sneaked up to third place in the game’s highest scoring defenders with 41, tied with Arsenal’s Nacho Monreal. At just 4.6m, he’s a real bargain and apart from having to face City away in GW9 and Arsenal at home in GW13, Burnley have a good run of fixtures all the way to GW19.
A hamstring injury away on international duty rules Sadio Mane out for the next six weeks and will no doubt see him dropped by most of his owners in FPL as well. Mohamed Salah (9.2m) and Philippe Coutinho (9m) are straight swaps while the likes of Silva and Christian Eriksen (9.7m) are also standout out options in midfield.
The Armenian began the season in fine form but his influence has started to wane in the last couple of weeks, providing returns only once in his last four outings. With Liverpool, Spurs and Chelsea to face over the next four rounds, now may be the time to cash out.
Liverpool fans may be feeling anxious about Saturday’s Premier League clash against in-form Manchester United, with the Reds, who have lost Sadio Mane to injury, having won just one of their last seven games in all competitions.
However, the Merseysiders can take encouragement heading into the match at Anfield from the club’s record under boss Jurgen Klopp against fellow ‘big six’ outfits – United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal.
Last month Klopp’s team lost 5-0 at City after being reduced to 10 men, but that was only the second defeat they had suffered in 20 league meetings with other ‘big six’ sides since the German took charge in October 2015.
And they have nine victories from those games, giving them a win percentage of 45 – which is considerably higher than the figure for each of the other five clubs over the same period.
Here, Press Association Sport shows how Liverpool compare to their rivals on that front as they prepare to host United before playing Spurs away in their following league match.
P20 W9 D9 L2 Pts 36 (win percentage 45)
P21 W7 D7 L7 Pts 28 (win percentage 33)
P19 W6 D9 L4 Pts 27 (win percentage 32)
P17 W5 D7 L5 Pts 22 (win percentage 29)
P20 W5 D6 L9 Pts 21 (win percentage 25)
P19 W3 D8 L8 Pts 17 (win percentage 16)
The striker swap shop is back in full swing as Fantasy Premier League managers come to terms with the effects of the international break.
The game’s leading points scorer, Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero, faces a spell on the sidelines after being injured in a car crash and though second-placed Romelu Lukaku is fit after an ankle knock, Alvaro Morata is another player giving his managers headaches.
The likes of Gabriel Jesus, Jamie Vardy and, if you have the extra money in hand, Harry Kane make for natural replacements – but could there be an under-the-radar fix on offer?
Michy Batshuayi has scored all of two points so far and played only 98 minutes of Premier League football this season, but has been prolific in other competitions and could benefit if Morata is forced to miss any time.
The Belgian is owned by less than one per cent of managers and has barely made a ripple in Press Association Sport’s “heat index”, which tracks players’ overall selection percentage as well as the change in their popularity over time. Scores range from 100 to -100 and Batshuayi is on 1.10.
At only £8.1m he could help you steal a march on your rivals in your mini-league, even if only for a short period – and there will be replacements available once he returns to Chelsea’s bench, with Vardy, Roberto Firmino, Marcus Rashford and Danny Welbeck similarly priced.
Eden Hazard could also take on a more advanced role to cover for Morata – the £10.5m midfielder is probably too costly in a single transfer, but if you can make the finances work he looks primed to find his form after a slow start.
The same can be said of Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez, albeit at an even steeper £11.9m. He and Hazard both started their respective clubs’ last games but remain outside the top 100 in selection percentage.
Chelsea also have a friendly run of upcoming fixtures, against Crystal Palace, Watford and Bournemouth – but the same can be said for the league leaders…
Simulations based on bookmakers’ odds average out to a projected haul of 6.99 points for the Blues across those three games, but Manchester City are the first team all season to crack the seven-point barrier in Press Association Sport’s fixture difficulty projections.
Stoke, Burnley and West Brom are not expected to trouble City, particularly with the former two visiting the Etihad Stadium – their 7.55 projected points help to explain the £10.5m Jesus’ heat score of 23, third in the league.
David Silva, who leads the Premier League in assists, is second at 30.2 – behind only Tottenham striker Harry Kane on 39.8 – while Nicolas Otamendi, Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane also feature in a blue-tinted top 10.
Morata, who at one point would have been third, crashed out as the uncertainty over his availability grew while Aguero’s -86.2 is the lowest heat score in the league.
Perhaps the best value player so far clocks in only 10th in the heat index – Burnley’s £4.6m full-back Stephen Ward has only three points fewer than Silva (£8.5m) and four fewer than Kane (£12.7m).
Huddersfield’s surprising start has also provided value but approach with care – they and Bournemouth are each projected to pick up under two points from their next three games.
Provided by Press Association Sport