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Fantasy preview: Lacazette and Monreal make their case

Howdy.

A new gameweek is nearly upon us, however there is still a day to go to get your squad in top shape. I’ll try to navigate you through this exercise.

Defense

The last week demonstrated how the Manchester clubs are not only firing on all cylinders up front, but also remain the least leaky at the back. There are two hitches however. United have only one manageable game left before the difficulty of their opponents goes up drastically. You might want to consider swapping your United defender(s) out after this week.

With City the situation is reversed: their immediate opponent is Antonio Conte’s Chelsea, however after that Pep’s team are relatively untroubled up until gameweek 27 (!) The problem with City though is the price of their wing-backs, Mendy and Walker. You’d therefore be wise to look at Otamendi/Stones, keeping in mind Kompany’s imminent return might hinder the latter’s chances for game time.

Things are looking dangerous for other top defenses too: Spurs have Liverpool, United and Arsenal coming up in gameweeks 9,10 and 12; Southampton will have a nightmarish run after gameweek 11; and things start piling up for West Brom too following gameweek 9. Until then we can find wiggling room. Another genuine option for the next 4 games is Nacho Monreal of Arsenal. The Spaniard kept three consecutive clean sheets, scoring bonus points on each occasion. Considering Arsenal’s immediate opposition it is an option worth exploring.

Key man: Ben Davies (5.7 mil)

Ace up your sleeve: Nacho Monreal (5.4 mil)

Midfield

Not much has changed since last week. Erisken, SIlva and Salah delivered again. Mkhitaryan scored a modest three points, but I wouldn’t write him off just yet: it was only the second time United’s midfielder returned under 5 points, plus his strike against CSKA shows he is in fine form.

Apart from that it’s unclear who to back. There is an understable urge to go for Sane, or Coutinho, but both are expensive options. The former is hardly a mainstay too and, given Pep’s constant rotation (Jesus’ owner weep in the corner), that’s not a horse I would back.

If you have enough faith in your third forward to deliver (I don’t), switching to a 4-3-3 might be an option. If you don’t, you need to find a bargain in the 6-7 million bracket. Ritchie and Atsu of Newcastle may remain viable alternatives, but both drew a blank vs Brighton last week and face Liverpool next. I wouldn’t get rid of either just yet if you have them: Newcastle have a relatively kind run up until gameweek 17.

But this hardly solves the immediate problem. That is, unless you are willing to go with Aaron Ramsey or Cesc Fabregas. The latter featured during midweek and was taken off earlier, presumably to give him some breathing space ahead of the clash against City. The former would be my pick though: Arsene Wenger is unlikely to drop the Welshman regardless of his return, plus Aaron’s energetic performance (coupled with an assist) against West Brom gives cause for optimism.

Key man: Henrikh Mkhitaryan (8.5 mil)

Ace up your sleeve: Aaron Ramsey (7.0 mil)

Forwards

Morata, Aguero, and Kane all had impressive returns last week. Lukaku was less buoyant vs Southampton, but ran rampant against CSKA, bagging a brace. Now is not the time to offload any of them, though be wary of United’s tough schedule after this game.

For his particular gameweek you should consider picking Lacazette over Morata though. There are two reasons for this: Morata was seen limping after the midweek clash against Atletico + City is a much formidable opponent than Brighton. It seems Lacazette has shaken off any doubts of his value with a brace on Monday and I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t get on the scoresheet against Brighton.

The question of your third forward remains though. Jamie Vardy is nurturing an injury and it’s unclear to what extent he’ll be involved, Roberto Firmino became the most transferred out player this week (after drawing a third consecutive blank) and Chicharito remains unconvincing and underwhelming despite breaking the duck against Tottenham.

Solutions? There aren’t that many to be fair. Sticking with Firmino or Chicharito is probably your best bet. West Ham play Swansea, potentially providing Chicharito with another opportunity for redemption, while Mane should be back against Newcastle. He looks to be the much-needed foil for Firmino to thrive, and I suspect the Brazilian’s non-existent returns lately had much to do with the Senegalese absence.

Key man: Alexandre Lacazette (10.3 mil)

Ace up your sleeve: Roberto Firmino (8.6 mil)

My team: Forster – Bertrand – Davies – Naughton – Blind – Silva – Mkhitaryan (v) – Fabregas – Eriksen (c) – Aguero – Morata

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