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The domestic football action returns to screens following the international break and that’s music to the ears of Fantasy Premier League managers.
Of course, the action over the last couple of weeks has given several managers plenty to mull over while the fitness of a few assets are in doubt as well.
Here’s a few tips to help guide you through the murky waters of Gameweek five.
CAPTAIN – MARCOS ALONSO | CHELSEA | 6.8M
Handing the captain’s armband to a defender will always be a bold move but thanks to Marcos Alonso, it will no longer bring your sanity into question.
The Chelsea left-back is currently the game’s highest-scoring player this season with 44 points after the opening four weeks, including three double-figure hauls.
Alonso may be listed as a defender but shouldn’t be viewed as such. Think of him as a mid-price midfielder in form. He’s like a Riyad Mahrez of three seasons ago but better thanks to his eligibility for clean sheet points and the fact that he plays in a top six side.
The Spaniard’s five assists, one goal and two clean sheets has silenced pundits who questioned his effectiveness under Maurizio Sarri. With the visit of relegation favourites Cardiff City to come, Alonso should continue his scintillating form at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
He’s set to be a differential captain pick as well so the move, although not without risk, could pay off in a big way.
SERGIO AGUERO (11.3m) will most likely be the top choice for the captaincy this week and is the way to go if you prefer a more conservative approach. The Argentine should’ve picked up more than just the one assist in GW4 having had chances to add to his hat-trick against Huddersfield. Fulham travel to the Etihad this weekend having conceded nine goals already. Only Huddersfield and West Ham (10) have conceded more.
EDEN HAZARD (10.7m) returned to the starting XI prior to the international break and has looked sharp at the start of the season. He’s delivered attacking returns in each of the gameweeks so far with two goals and two assists to his name. The Belgian should run the show against Cardiff. The only question is whether he’ll convert his in-game influence into double-figure fantasy points.
CALLUM WILSON (6.2m) has two goals and three assists so far but should have more. The Bournemouth striker has had more shots inside the box (14) and big chances (7) than any other player this season. Eddie Howe’s side will continue to create chances for him as Leicester visit this weekend and he could deliver again, maybe in a big way if he can be more clinical.
TWO TO WATCH
ROMELU LUKAKU | MANCHESTER UNITED | 11.0M
Luke Shaw – who will most likely miss out this weekend through injury – is the only Manchester United player who has proved a worthwhile FPL asset so far this season. However, that could quickly change with Romelu Lukaku showing signs of life. The big Belgian impressed with a brace away to Burnley in GW4 when he really should’ve had a hat-trick. United have a good run of fixtures now and with an ownership of just eight per cent, Lukaku could pay dividends.
JAMES MADDISON | LEICESTER CITY | 6.6M
James Maddison has mustered a goal and assist four games into his maiden campaign with Leicester City. The attacking midfielder is at the core of the Foxes’ play in the final third. Claude Puel’s side have a favourable swing in fixtures now, beginning with a trip to Bournemouth.
TWO TO AVOID
MARKO ARNAUTOVIC | WEST HAM | 7.0M
With goals against Bournemouth and Arsenal, Marko Arnautovic seems to have picked up from where he left off last season. However, with West Ham still finding their feet under Manuel Pellegrini, the likes of Wilson (6.2m), Aleksandar Mitrovic (6.7m) and Wilfried Zaha (7.0m) look like more appealing options. Meanwhile, the Hammers embark on a tough run, facing Chelsea, United and Tottenham in the next five weeks.
BERNARDO SILVA | MANCHESTER CITY | 7.5M
Following a fine goal in the opening week, Bernardo Silva has struggled to deliver for his FPL owners. Even with Kevin De Bruyne’s injury, he faces stiff competition from David Silva, Fernandinho, Ilkay Gundogan and Mahrez. He was dropped to the bench against Newcastle and played as a right wing-back in GW2. David Silva (8.5m) or Raheem Sterling (11m) are better options while Gundogan offers greater value as well at just 5.5m.
The City manager was quoted in an interview in Spain this week saying that the Belgium playmaker’s latest deal included a clause set at that figure, which equates to €250million.
But Guardiola claims his comments have been misunderstood and says he is not even sure De Bruyne’s contract contains a release clause.
Speaking at a press conference, the City boss said: “I don’t know what his release clause is. The journalist asked if we’d sell him for €250million and I said no. But that is my personal opinion. Here in England there are not release clauses. You have to negotiate with the club.”
Asked further if that meant no such clause existed, Guardiola said: “I don’t think so.”
De Bruyne, who joined City in 2015, signed a new five-year contract in January. The 27-year-old, City’s player of the year as they won the Premier League last season, is currently sidelined with a knee injury sustained during a training session last month.
Guardiola, whose side host Fulham on Sunday, said: “He’s not fit for tomorrow, but he’s progressing well. The physios and doctors told me he’s getting well. Hopefully the terms of two-and-a-half to three months is going well.”
City are also hoping to tie England international Raheem Sterling, who joined City in the same summer as De Bruyne, to a new deal. Reports have claimed terms are still some way off being agreed, but Guardiola is prepared to be patient.
He said: “It’s well-known we’re delighted with him and would like that to continue. My club knows my opinion about that and we share that.
“After that it is the club and the agent and I am outside that. Sometimes this kind of thing needs its own time.”
Guardiola is expecting a difficult afternoon as unbeaten City resume their title defence following the international break against the promoted Cottagers, who have collected four points in their last two games.
He said: “I’m really impressed. I was delighted to have two weeks watching them. Normally we only have three or four days and don’t have too much time to watch our opponents.
“In this case I had time and I saw three games and I am really impressed. I’m pretty sure they’ll have a good season.”
Guardiola was not willing to discuss much the news that Merseyside Police have been unable to identify any suspects involved the attack on City’s bus ahead of last April’s Champions League game at Liverpool.
When asked about the matter, he said sarcastically: “I am not the police. The cameras were not good there.”
The West Ham boss remains adamant he is unfazed by Twitter account @ExWHUemployee, which it has been reported correctly predicted more than 60 Hammers starting teams.
The social media account has more than 50,000 followers, who are often told the starting line-up well in advance of it being officially published on the club’s channels.
But Hammers manager Pellegrini believes it makes little difference if the public know his starting team ahead of time.
Asked if he is angry about the repeated leaks, Pellegrini replied: “No. First of all the news is not true, because I’m not angry about that.
“Normally in every team that I have managed, the day before the game, I work with set-pieces, so all the players know the day before who will play and who will not play.
“So, many players can talk with other players. I’m not keeping the starting XI until three or four hours before the game.
“There are a lot of ways or reasons why some people can know the team before it is released.”
Pellegrini believes West Ham’s opponents can gain little or no advantage from knowing his starting XI early, especially in the Premier League.
Asked if he knows the source of the leaks, Pellegrini said: “I don’t have any idea, I’m not worried about that.
“I’m worried about trying to win the points.”
And when quizzed on whether opponents stand to gain from the early information, Pellegrini continued: “I don’t think that is the most important
“Maybe if you’re going to play against Chelsea, Watford, against Liverpool, you are sure that it will be the starting XI from the last game and they’ll play exactly the same way.
“So I don’t hide too much about the starting XI.”
West Ham will travel to Everton on Sunday still bidding for their first points of the Premier League campaign, following four straight defeats.
Jack Wilshere has been ruled out of action following an ankle issue picked up in training, while Javier Hernandez is ill.
“Jack felt a sprain in his ankle two days ago,” said Pellegrini, of former Arsenal midfielder Wilshere.
“We’ll see how he is in the next few days. He doesn’t have a chance to play this weekend and on Tuesday we will see how he is after he has a medical