In hindsight, the end of the Utd banter era was called prematurely. With Ole at the wheel and McFred in midfield I don’t know how we thought any different. It looks like another season of great laughs at Man Utd’s expense is ahead. All eyes will be on Tottenham Hotspur Stadium this Saturday evening in what is surely a must-win fixture for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Red Devils. I was present in the Sir Alex Ferguson Stand for Liverpool’s 5-0 demolition job on Sunday, and to say that the writing is on the wall for him is an understatement. Another embarrassing performance and result like that and he will surely be given the road on Sunday morning.
Elsewhere, the early kick off on Saturday sees two big sides who started the season poorly come head-to-head after both recently finding form. With Utd in turmoil, Arsenal & Leicester will sense a tantalising opportunity to launch an unlikely tilt at Champions League football next season. A draw is surely nailed on. Chelsea’s favourable run of fixtures continues with a trip to Newcastle, a historically difficult fixture for them (5 losses in their last 8 visits to St James’ Park) which FPL players will nevertheless recognise as a fantastic opportunity for yet another clean sheet and another festival of goals.
GW9 TOP PERFORMANCES
With Romelu Lukaku (11.5M) and potentially Jamie Vardy (10.8M) injured, Cristiano Ronaldo (12.9M) drawing 4 blanks on the spin, and Harry Kane (12.1M) still struggling to regain anything like his best form, the majority of your budget should be spread across your midfield. For now at least, these are the positions to make your premium picks. If you’re one of the 31.4% of players who don’t already have Mo Salah (12.9M) in your team then it’s a brain scan you need, not FPL advice. As he approaches full fitness, Kevin de Bruyne should soon begin reminding us exactly why he costs 12.0M, but for now the consistently brilliant Phil Foden (8.1M) remains the more risk-free option as Spurs prepare to face Crystal Palace at the Etihad.
I know I predicted Spurs to inflict more pain on Utd this weekend, but at £1.9M cheaper and with 30 points over Kane, the best addition would be Son Heung-Min (10.2M). If Utd are as defensively disorganised and slow to press as they were on Sunday, the trademark Kane ball over the top for the clinical Son could be extremely fruitful. If you sense another massacre on the cards (and who could rule it out?) why not double up on both?
The biggest conundrum to resolve is up front. With so much money saved by sacrificing the big dogs, what forwards should you place your faith in to secure you the goals? I’m steering clear of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (10M) since I’m still finding it hard to believe that Arsenal have truly turned a corner, and it’s hard to predict if Roberto Firmino (8.9M) will retain his place. Michail Antonio (8.1M) and Vardy are usually safe picks, however Vardy is carrying a knock and it remains to be seen if he will face the Gunners, and if we look beyond Villa away this weekend, Antonio will be facing the 5 most stubborn defences in the division back-to-back (Liverpool, Wolves, Chelsea, Man City & Brighton). Can he keep banging the goals in against such resilient opposition?
There are very few attractive striking options for under 6M, and if we were to look at form alone I’d say look no further than Watford’s Joshua King (£5.5M). Amidst the hype surrounding Salah & Mount, his hattrick against Everton went under the radar. He has 3 goals and 3 assists in his last 4 games, and in one of those games he came off injured at half-time. It could be difficult for him to maintain this run of form however as Watford have Arsenal, Utd, Leicester, Chelsea & City in their next 6. A wiser gamble would be on Southampton’s Armando Broja (£5.0M), owned by 1.4% of players, particularly as a bench option if you have Vardy or Firmino. Broja has 2 goals in 2 since coming into the starting line-up, and has Watford, Villa & Norwich in his next 3. FPL form aside, he looks a serious talent. I mean, of course he is, he came from Cobham! Along with fellow Cobham graduate Tino Livramento (£4.2M), the Chelsea loanee could well represent the best value for money this FPL season.
However, my top tip is Ivan Toney (6.5M), the tallest man to ever be 5’10. Other than the goalkeeper, Toney is the only player to play every minute for Brentford this season, but although his general performances have been impressive he is yet to set the Prem alight in front of goal. Brentford however have a great run of fixtures on the way, facing all of the bottom 3 back-to-back, and I expect Toney to display the goalscoring prowess that say him amass a record-breaking 33 Championship goals last season.
Speaking of David Raya (4.6M), he’s a great keeper option for the coming weeks, and the same goes for Swedish centre-back Pontus Jansson (4.7M). Brentford’s xGA is second only to Man City. As robust as they are at the back, they have been unfortunate not to collect more clean sheets despite facing 6 of the top 10 in their opening 9 games. Like Toney’s goalscoring form, I expect this to change in the very near future.
Before his hattrick last weekend, Mason Mount (7.5M) had went 25 games for club and country without scoring. However, he is still the top scorer since Thomas Tuchel took the reins and not only do I fully expect him (or 8.1M Havertz, if you’re brave enough) to build on his goalscoring momentum in the absence of Lukaku & Werner, but also to claim some of the creative responsibility from Mateo Kovacic (5.3M), who has 5 assists thus far. Another player who will be feeling confident in front of goal is Ben Chilwell (5.8M), who has three- and every one of them a Goal of the Month contender- from three since coming into the starting line-up. With Newcastle & Burnley next up, doubling up on Chelsea wing-backs Chilwell & Reece James (5.5M) could be an astute choice. Trevoh Chalobah (4.9M) has played 90 minutes in the last 3 games, but as he also started the Carabao Cup victory in midweek he may be due a rest, and Antonio Rudiger (£5.8M) is always the most likely to start.
Saturday 30th October
Leicester vs Arsenal
Burnley vs Brentford
Liverpool vs Brighton
Man City vs Crystal Palace
Newcastle vs Chelsea
Watford vs Southampton
Tottenham vs Man Utd
Sunday 31st October
Norwich vs Leeds
Aston Villa vs West Ham
Monday 1st November
Wolves vs Everton
Smith Rowe £5.5m
The universal rule of FPL this season is that if you pick anyone other than Mo Salah as captain you’ll end up looking foolish. Other than Vardy & Antonio, Salah has over double the points of every other player in FPL, so if you are captaining him every week you are effectively quadrupling (at least!) the gap between him and every other player.
I made the mistake of not doing so against Man City, and as tempting as Chilwell against Norwich was I wasn’t going to make the same mistake again v Man Utd. Despite Brighton’s impressive defensive record, the only top-quality side they’ve faced is City against whom they conceded 4 at home, and Salah owners will be whetting their lips at how many points the Egyptian might produce against them at Anfield. Given the likelihood of a clean sheet and a goal contribution or 2, Trent Alexander-Arnold (7.6M) or Chilwell might be similarly tempting.
On the other hand, if Spurs can make Harry Maguire look like Phil Jones dressed in a Harry Maguire suit again then Son or Kane could have 20+ points to their name this Saturday. Let’s just hope Roy Keane is on Sky Sports this time around for the inevitable TV gold.
gameweek 10 deadline:
saturday 30th october @ 11:00am!
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