Another Premier League weekend is nearly upon us and we’d all like to do better this time around, don’t we? Let’s try and figure how we can achieve that.
First and foremost I have to apologise to those of you who followed my advice last week to wait on Jesus and turn your attention to Vardy instead. Aguero was indeed passed fit against stoke, but the Argentine spent most of the game clicking heels on the bench. Jesus, meanwhile, bagged a brace and 13 points overall. Compared to Vardy’s 2-point return that’s some disparity.
In my defence I can say I myself opted for Vardy instead of Jesus, and even captained the Englishman. Oh well. Lessons learned I guess. Grab Jesus if you have the cash – the Brazilian started all but one of City’s league games, and another goal against Napoli in midweek should ensure he keeps his place.
Additional midweek positive was the return of Alvaro Morata, though I would at least give him one more game to show what level he is at physically. Against Roma the Spaniard looked underwhelming, fluffing an early chance and then disappearing for pretty much the rest of the game. Even his assist to Hazard was a lucky bounce (quite literally!)
However if you are on a lookout for a forward (I’d stick with Vardy for now though), both Manolo Gabbiadini and Tammy Abraham represent cut-price options. With Gabbiadini it is more a gu feeling: the Italian has been quiet thus far, and his 12-point return last weekend is an outlier. More importantly, after just three games Southampton face a nightmarish run – so have an escape plan if you risk taking Gabbiadini.
Abraham has been more effective than his Italian counterpart, with 3 sizeable returns to Gabbiadini’s 2. His schedule looks less daunting too: only Arsenal and Chelsea score above three on FDR in the next 8 games. After gameweek 16 however feel free to offload Abraham, as his next 9 games aren’t a walk in the park.
Key man: Gabriel Jesus (10.7 mil, Burnley at home)
Ace up your sleeve: Tammy Abraham (5.7, Leicester at home)
If your options appear somewhat limited in attack, especially with Lukaku and Kane drawing blanks and Morata still in uncharted territory form-wise, fear not: midfielders will compensate for any shortfall in points.
For starters, Eden Hazard looks back on song with a brace against Roma in midweek. The Belgian looked sharp and can conceivably pick up the slack from Morata should the Spaniard require it. With Fabregas still underwhelming in terms of points produced and Willian a bit-part player, Hazard looks your best bet for a Chelsea midfielder. Chelsea have an insanely kind run too, with United, Liverpool and Arsenal the only 4+ teams in the next 19 (!) games.
Goals galore from Liverpool in midweek might put you in the frame of mind to consider Coutinho and Salah, however I’d be wary for now, as this article clearly shows neither have been really efficient in the league lately. Klopp’s men have Tottenham to deal with right now too, so waiting another game or too might not be such a bad idea.
I won’t really go into City’s insane midfield, where even Fernandinho can be considered a genuine options after bagging a goal against Stoke: all I’ll say is that you are missing a trick if at least one of Sterling, SIlva or Sane are not in your team. Snap to it.
Finally, it is well worth looking at another three midfield options: Alexis Sanchez, Wilfried Zaha and Eric Choupo-Moting. Zaha played as a forward last week, causing Chelsea’s defence immense problems and racking up insane numbers as well as the winning goal. With Christian Benteke still sidelined it’s not hard to fathom Zaha continue playing up top. You should really make way for him in your team at just 6.7 mil.
Choupo-Moting has arguably been Stoke’s best player, and a price of 5.6 mil is second only to Richarlison in terms of his attacking threat. Stoke, like Crystal Palace, have a pretty clear schedule, and at such a price Choupo-Moting can even be considered for the bench, while achieving numbers worth putting him into your XI.
Last but not least, I’m pretty sure this week we’ll see Alexis Sanchez start again for Arsenal. The Gunners’ dire performance at Watford coupled with an injury to Danny Welbeck means we’ll see the Chilean almost inevitably – and he’s been really good against West Brom and Brighton. Beware of Arsenal’s tricky schedule though – after Everton and Swansea the Gunners will face City, Spurs and United inside just five games.
Key man: Wilfried Zaha (6.7 mil, Newcastle away)
Ace up your sleeve: Eric Choupo-Moting (5.6 mil, Bournemouth at home)
Backing Spurs against Liverpool will be tricky, as Poch’s men are without a win against the Reds for five season. It’d be generally a great idea to forget about Spurs defenders for the next four games – after Liverpool they face United, Palace and Arsenal. Clean sheets don’t really look to be on the cards in the near future.
Bailly’s ongoing injury and uncertainty over Jones can open the door for Smalling into your team, at least temporarily, but United have an even trickier schedule – after Huddersfield this week it’s Spurs, Chelsea, Arsenal and City inside the next seven games.
Chelsea’s defence can be a good place to rummage around with Christensen looking primed for even more game time as Luiz looks to have suffered an injury in midweek. Coupled with Chelsea’s good run and paucity for options Christensen can prove a steal – I say “can” because Chelsea have looked leaky at the back lately to say the least.
Arsena’s horror show against Watford and a tricky schedule might well put you off. For the brave there good cut-price options though – Monreal the main candidate, Mertesacker scoring 9 points despite 2 conceded goals, and if Koscielny’s ongoing Achilles problem continues to affect his availability, Holding is bound to get minutes.
Generally though, unless you are prepared to sacrifice a City player further up (like I did by acquiring Otamendi), top teams’ options look dodgy for now. I’d advise you to monitor Christensen and Trippier, while for the time being shopping at Burnley (Ward and Mee can prove good value) and Newcastle (Lascelles, Clark). Both teams are tight at the back and have defenders who can supply you with goals too. I’d ditch Southampton defenders and Forster – the Saints haven’t kept a clean sheet in three games and their schedule gets horrific in another three.
Key man: John Stones (5.6 mil, Burnley at home)
Ace up your sleeve: Andreas Christensen (5.5 mil. Watford at home)
My team: Forster – Bertrand – Otamendi – Naughton – Atsu – Mkhitaryan – Fabregas – Silva – Erisken – Jesus © – Vardy (v)
Russian Gooner. No, it’s not always cold in my home country 🙂
A staunch Arsenal supporter since 2004. Started writing about the Gunners in 2013.
Currently in London to get a degree in journalism.