It’s safe to say gameweek 9 didn’t exactly go according to plan. Strikers disappointed, Pep rotated and you had to be very astute for your midfield to compensate for that. Let’s get our teeth into the latest trends, shall we?
The situation is such it might be wise to go with two up front. Even then you might struggle to a degree. I don’t see an obvious solution. Until Pep settles on either Aguero or Jesus we’ll be left chasing shadows; Lukaku’s United faces a tough run; meanwhile, Alvaro Morata and Jamie Vardy are bang out of form (and Firmino is even worse). And just as you thought Kane is your only safe option, Pochettino says he’ll need to assess the striker’s availability ahead of the United clash. Bum.
The only safe option appears to be Alexandre Lacazette. The French striker got his first goal on the road last weekend; but what’s more important is that Arsene Wenger played his best front three for the first time to a devastating effect. The trio of Lacazette, Ozil and Sanchez was also rested completely for the midweek Carabao Cup game, so odds are all three will start again this week.
As for you second striker … unless you want to take a gamble on Harry Kane (which I probably wouldn’t, especially given it’s Jose’s team Spurs will be playing) or Gabriel Jesus (which I would – Aguero played all 120 minutes in midweek), I’d put my trust in Jamie Vardy once more. I know he drew four consecutive blanks – but Leicester are playing Everton this weekend. If Vardy can’t deliver against this hapless bunch of (now) Puel’s picking, you can drop him afterwards and sleep soundly. Meanwhile, just invest the extra cash in midfield.
Key man: Alexandre Lacazette (Swansea at home, 10.3 mil)
Ace up your sleeve: Jamie Vardy (Everton at home, 8.6 mil)
This is where you can get in on Pep’s riches. Silva and KdB are your safe bets. Both started every league game up to date and have only been subbed off 5 times combined – Silva twice and KdB three times. Sterling and Sane, for all their goalscoring returns, are simply not guaranteed starters.
Your main supplier of midfield solutions this week should be sponsored by Arsenal Football Club. Sanchez, who you would be wise to consider as basically your third forward, was absolutely the best last weekend, netting a goal and an assist. Albeit he overperformed his expected goal involvement (xGI) of 1,6 by a considerable margin, his closest competitors (Richarlison and Choupo-Moting) barely scraped over 1 in this metric.
Ozil and Ramsey are yet another options from Arsenal. Both delivered two-digit returns and both were outstanding on the day. The pair will be up against a defense more capable than Everton’s (though that’s a low bar to clear), but still average if we look at the number of conceded goals. And barring United and Spurs, Paul Clement’s side weren’t exactly up against it in the opening weeks!
As far as cheaper options go, I’m obliged to recommend you Richarlison, whose schedule improves dramatically, but my personal hate against this divey bastard clouds my own decision-making. As such, I myself will going for Wilfried Zaha soon – a midfielder I can thoroughly recommend by the way. In Benteke’s absence he will likely continue to play up front – and Zaha’s schedule after gameweek 11 can hardly be ignored. Only two teams score 2+ in the 8 gameweeks after that.
Key man: Alexis Sanchez (Swansea at home, 11.8 mil)
Ace up your sleeve: Wilfried Zaha (West Ham at home, 6.7 mil)
This area has been bothering me for some time. To the extent I’ve left upgrading my back line to the last possible minute and now I’ll likely have to play Free Hit to bail me out. However even the prospect of swapping out several defenders at once, if only for a game, doesn’t bring me much joy.
See, beyond City’s central pairing of Stones and Otamendi (and I can’t emphasize enough how you should have one of them in your squad), the situation is not at all clear. Unless you are able to afford 6+ million defenders, you are in for something of a scrap.
The main reason here for me is that in just two short games I’ll have to stop relying on the Southampton’s defence. There are no immediate subs. The look across top clubs throws up only one good option in the under 6 million bracket: Nacho Monreal. After his two goals and a bunch of clean sheets, the Spaniard is behind only Otamendi and Valencia in points scored. That’s who I will be getting as my long-term Bertrand replacement.
Other top clubs though? Chelsea are struggling for clean sheets and their defenders are premium-priced anyway; City and Arsenal I’ve already stopped on; United struggle with injuries (you can try Smalling at your own risk though). Spurs, meanwhile, have too many defenders to juggle. Trippier and Davies have been great, but neither are guaranteed minutes with Serge Aurier, Davison Sanchez and Danny Rose all in the frame. In fact, Davies sat out a game just last weekend, and I fear Trippier is the next facing the chop.
The only solution I see is looking to defenders in the lower parts of the table with favourable schedules. Stoke, Bournemouth and Crystal Palace are the three best-placed clubs in the near future to deliver clean sheets, so I would look there. Defenders like Charlie Daniels, Scott Dann and Kurt Zouma are your best options points-wise. Same goes for the goalkeepers, although I have to say I’m mightily uncomfortable with bringing in any of Asmir Begovic, Wayne Hennessey or Jack Butland. I might actually go with Elliot as my number one for a while! Otherwise you can consider Nick Pope or maybe Kasper Schmeichel for now.
Key man: Nacho Monreal (Swansea at home, 5.6 mil)
Ace up your sleeve: Cedric Soares (Brighton away, 5.0 mil)
My team: Forster – Bertrand – Davies – Otamendi – Silva – Choupo-Moting – Fabregas – Eriksen – Lacazette © – Jesus – Vardy (v)