The Premier League returns tomorrow after another tedious international break, and with it returns its lesser Fantasy twin. Let’s try navigating the murky waters thereof ahead of gameweek 8.
Unless you own Kane or Lukaku (or both) you have probably been sweating most of the break. By the way, while we are on it, getting rid of the Belgian ahead of United’s tough schedule (5 of United’s next 9 opponents score 4 and above on FDR) must be on your mind. Lukaku’s even spread (2 games of 10+ points and one blank aside) would be a bit of a worry to me at least.
Lacazette remains a solid option to stick to. Arsenal’s next three opponents are Watford, Everton and Swansea. City and Spurs are daunting in gameweeks 11 and 12 respectively, but it’s a good run after that too. In the current climate Lacazette remains the safe option.
The current climate being an injury to Morata, coupled with uncertainty over Aguero. If you have either in your squad, I would hesitate before getting rid even for this one game. Aguero is back in training, while the last word on Morata is that he’s working hard to be fit for Palace. Buying Jesus is a risk, given Aguero’s seeming cemented starter status, plus the Brazilian played a full game against Chile on Wednesday, so it’s unclear how many minutes he’ll get this Saturday. Morata, meanwhile, may even be completely fit for all we know. I’d wait on Conte’s and Pep’s press conferences before doing anything rash.
If Aguero isn’t ready, Jesus will definitely get minutes. If Morata isn’t fit too, I’d certainly go for the young Brazilian. As a good third forward, or even second, I’d consider Jamie Vardy. Leicester have a kind run for the next ten games and only 4 forwards have been more prolific than Vardy points-wise, 2 of which (Aguero and Morata) might not feature for all we know. In which case Vardy quite literally becomes the third-best PL forward currently.
Key man: Jamie Vardy (8.6 mil)
Ace up your sleeve: the returning Danny Welbeck (7.4 mil)
More certainty and room for manoeuvre here. Mane’s injury is bad news for his owners, most likely scrambling for a replacement right now. If you can afford to upgrade to Sanchez, you won’t get a better chance. Alexis had a stormer of a performance against Brighton with 8 shots and 6 key passes. The Chilean seems to be back to his best, as such it will be foolish to ignore him. Sanchez was top with 264 point last season.
If you can’t afford such an upgrade, going for another Liverpool wide player (Coutinho or Salah) may be premature just yet. Klopp’s side stuttered badly in creating chances and scoring goals during Mane’s suspension, it’ll be only reasonable to see how they fare without the Senegalese again.
You can of course consider Cristian Eriksen, although be mindful of Spurs’ immediate schedule: in the next 5 games they face 3 opponents with an FDR rating of 4. The sky is clear after that.
Personally, I would go with David Silva. A lot of people are shouting “Sterling”, but the Englishman role as a starter hinges on Aguero’s health. Silva is certainly a safer bet in terms of regular minutes, unless you want to give De Bryune a go. The Belgian has somewhat redeemed himself lately.
Finally, if you are on the lookout for a budget midfielder, there are four good choices that may also prove clever distance picks: Richarlison, Choupo-Moting, Ritchie and Brady. The former two are exceptionally prolific in terms of scoring, the latter pairing are better creators. Exercise caution with Richarlison and Ritchie right now though: the former faces Arsenal and Chelsea in the upcoming weeks, the latter is nursing a slight injury.
Key man: David Silva (8.5 million)
Ace up your sleeve: Matt Ritchie, provided he returns (6.0 mil)
Things get tricky again here. Getting in a Chelsea defender is a good idea, giving their generally solid defense and easy schedule, but the only budget pick is Cristensen, at 5.5 million. Azpilicueta, Moses and Alonso will play of course, but all cost south of 6.5 mil. Luiz and Cahill are valued at 5.9 and 6.3 respectively.
The good news here is Kante’s injury. It might be good news for Cesc owners, as the Spaniard is practically guaranteed playing time if he wasn’t before, but it also might be good news for Christensen owners or potential buyers. Conte has plugged the midfield hole with Luiz before, which means that third central defender spot may be up for grabs. And Christensen has played the bulk of 4 games as it is.
A safer, if somewhat more expensive bet, is Nicolas Otamendi. Stones might be rotated in and out with Kompany’s imminent return, but I can’t see the same happening with the Argentinian. Given CIty’s run, Otamendi is certainly an alluring option.
Last but not least, Arsenal’s defensive worries should open the door for some, or all, of Rob Holding, Calum Chambers and Per Mertesacker. The last word is that Mustafi is out for three weeks at least, while Kolasinac and Koscielny also struggle with fitness issues. The smart buy here is Monreal, who will definitely play no matter what and whose immense 16-point return last week’s catapulted him to third place points-wise.
But it’s also worth taking a look at how Wenger plugs the Mustafi-shaped hole. My suspicion it will be Rob Holding who comes in. He enjoys the most trust from the Frenchman. Arsenal have a relatively easy three-game period for now, afterwards we can reassess where Mustafi is in terms of readiness.
Key man: Nicolas Otamendi (5.7 mil)
Ace up your sleeve: Rob Holding (4.7 mil)
My team: Forster – Bertrand – Otamendi – Naughton – Davies – Silva – Fabregas – Mkhitaryan – Eriksen – Lacazette (V) – Morata/Vardy (C)