Fantasy Football Fixture Analysis and Player Tips Gameweek 9
Welcome to Fantasy Football Fixture Analysis Gameweek 9. This is a bit of a strange week we have in store; not only do we have to navigate around the CL schedule, we also have to plan ahead for a Friday kick-off between West Ham and Brighton (only the best matches for Fridays, eh?). And due to this double dose of awesomeness, we here at HQ have decided to combine a couple of our feature articles this week to make sure that we have enough time for you all to properly plot your teams accordingly. So with that in mind, this article will feature Fixtures (by me) and Tips (by Cookie) side by side. Or maybe ‘side by side’ isn’t the best way to put it, it’s more of a top/bottom kind of effect. So I’ll give my picks on the Fixtures, and then right below each of those points, Cookie will gently prop up my points with his Tips. Undercarriage support is important, and there’s nobody else I’d rather have supporting me below than Cookie.
So now that you know what you’re in for with this article, let’s get to it. Oh, I should also mention that we’ll not be doing ‘Teams to Avoid’ this week. Now you’ll never know if I planned on putting Everton on the naughty list or not.
The Fixture Tracker…
Gameweek Tracker GW9-14
Top 4 Best Buys
#1) Manchester City – BUR (H), WBA (A), ARS (H)
Guy: No surprise to anybody here, but this article would just be disingenuous if we didn’t have the kings of the table on top of our rankings as well. It’s now almost a foregone conclusion that City will be able to score in bunches like they do (they’re now on 3.6 goals per game average) – and even without Aguero in the match, they had no trouble taking their chances. It may be a bit surprising that they finally conceded a pair of goals last round though, but with this team still only conceding a half a goal per game on average, it’s forgivable.
Top to bottom, there’s nothing not to like about this club right now. At the beginning of the year, they may have been a bit more conservative in their approach to scoring more than necessary to win the match – they’ve since rectified that policy. They take their defence as seriously as their offensive prowess, and they’re now ranked second in the league in that category. Maybe most importantly right now, the entire team has seemingly ‘bought in’ to whatever philosophy Pep has sold them; and those who play only 20 minutes play just as hard as those who are fortunate enough to play 90.
When you look at their upcoming schedule, it’s hard not to get overly excited about the potential points that will be coming to the owners of these players. Burnley haven’t allowed more than a single goal against them since the first week of the year – but they also haven’t scored more than a single goal in any match since the first week of the year. Burnley’s ‘bend don’t break’ attitude will be severely tested this round; and if City can score two, they stand a good chance of killing Burnley’s resolve, and that could open the door for them to score a couple more. West Brom haven’t been anything for anybody to worry about – they went winless in the entire month of September, and a tilt against City isn’t going to help their month of October get any better. As for Arsenal, somebody should probably clue them into who their best XI players are, and then have those same players start the match for them (novel concept I know, but Arsenal haven’t figured it out yet). Either way, given Arsenal’s recent form, even if they do play all of their best talent, City are still better by a mile.
Cookie: Now I think we all agree that City coverage is fundamental, with many a FPL manager maxing out with three of Pep’s flock in their team. Even the most ardent United fan would agree with that if they are being honest and want to do well in the game. The evidence is undeniable for City are now clear at the top having won 7 and drawn the other of their first 8 league matches and the goals are flying in – Aguero, Jesus and Sterling have all scored 6 already and Sané 4, while the assists are also coming from all angles – Silva (6), KdB (5), Sané, Kun and Walker 3 each and Sterling 2.
An improved defence has seen City keep five clean sheets thus far leaving the likes of Walker, Otamendi, Stones and Ederson as decent prospects also.
So who do we select?
One of Jesus or Kun looks a must as does at least one midfielder. Obviously Kun has only just returned from his rib injury, not that they missed him that much. However, if affordable I would plump with the Argentinian – he is still five points clear of Jesus despite missing the demolition of Stoke and will be playing central whereas Jesus may drift slightly, though one could argue that hasn’t stopped the Brazilian’s returns!
On to midfield and I think the 7-2 win over Stoke perfectly highlights what to expect from City right now. The striker delivered, Sterling was explosive, Sané returned a third double digit score of the season, there were another 2 assists for KDB, Silva plodded on with a goal. So it’s really a choice between the plodders (KDB and Silva) who are almost guaranteed to reward managers most weeks vs the explosive S&S (Sterling & Sané). Budget probably rules out KDB while the other 3 are producing so consistently and in that regard I would recommend selecting one of Kun or Jesus, Silva (for consistency) and one of Sterling and Sané to ride their explosive form while they are on fire. If they start to tail off then Sterling and Sané can be sold to a Liverpool or United midfielder or whoever is in form at the time.
#2) Chelsea – WAT (H), BOU (A), MUN (H)
Guy: Every time you want to lean on Chelsea to bolster your fantasy team, they do something inexplicable to make you doubt them. They started the year by losing to Burnley 2-3. They then followed up that blunder with straight wins against Spurs, Everton and Leicester. Now this past round saw them drop points to Crystal Palace of all teams. Crystal Palace, the last team in the league without a win and without a goal, somehow managed to beat Chelsea 2-1. Nobody knows more than the Chelsea players themselves how big of a goof that is. I’m keen for them to rattle off a few convincing wins again just like they did after the Burnley game.
Watford, interestingly enough, are currently occupying the CL spot in the table that Chelsea will rightfully be trying to reclaim. Watford aren’t a bad team by any stretch of the imagination, but tit for tat, they’re not as good as Chelsea when they’re both playing their best. Bournemouth only score an average of a half a goal per game, and that’s not going to be enough to knock off a motivated Chelsea side. And with United, Chelsea will have their hands full. We’ve all seen now that United value the clean sheet as much as the opening goal, so they could go conservative on the road. My best guess is a 1-0 game, but I couldn’t pick the winner.
Cookie: Guy’s first sentence sums up the conundrum that is Chelsea right now. There have been very few highlights this season that offer solid guidance as to which Chelsea players (if any) we should own. The stand out is clearly Alvaro Morata who has notched six goals and two assists in six matches before he limped off vs City. That form alone tells us everything we need to know right now – when fit he is a great asset both home and away (here’s looking at you Harry Kane) and should be seriously considered. The problem with Morata is that he is not used to playing so much having been the proverbial bench warmer in Madrid and the fact he has already picked up a hamstring injury may be a concern.
Aside from Morata, Eden Hazard was all the rage last week after his good form for Belgium led many to select him for the inevitable goal fest at Palace. Ouch! In disgust I refused to watch the highlights (I was one of the Hazard owners plus Chelsea ruined my accumulator) but I understand the Belgian, just like his team mates, were average at best. Let’s see how Hazard plays when he gets to play alongside Morata – they have hardly shared any meaningful pitch time in the league yet but impressed in the Champions League win at Atletico.
Aside from these two, there are no other midfielders or strikers you should be considering right now – Batshuayi is not rated by Conte but was given a chance vs Palace – that went well. And the fact that N’Golo Kanté is Chelsea’s highest scoring midfielder speaks volumes. In defence Cesar Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso look decent choices on paper but should probably be avoided until Kanté the enforcer returns from injury.
#3) Newcastle – CRY (H), BUR (A), BOU (H)
Guy: I’m not including Newcastle here simply to be a fantasy hipster, so let’s just get that cleared up right away. I know that Newcastle are in 9th place in the table. And I also know that they’ve not won in their last three matches. But talent and recent results aside, this team really does have the best schedule of any team on the board going into the next three rounds. Their two home games just happen to be against the 20th and 19th placed teams in the standings. Folks, it doesn’t get any better than that.
We’ve already poked fun at Palace, Burnley and Bournemouth a bit in this article, so there’s no need to retread the talking points. Instead, look at Newcastle’s last two results and you’ll see that they’re not the huge gamble you might think they are. They scored twice on the road this past round against Southampton, and they managed to play to a 1-1 draw the round prior against Liverpool. These results might not point to a huge hidden secret about Newcastle being some sleeping giant – but it does tend to make you think that they should have enough to dispatch the bottom two teams in the league without much worry.
Cookie: Jeez, when I was told I had to Tip players from the teams Guy wrote about, I thought, ‘Fair enough, shouldn’t be a problem. Not ideal, but I’ll give it a go.’ And then he mentioned Newcastle. Thanks for that hospital pass! One man who should be owned by 100% of active teams is keeper Rob Elliot – 4.1mln for a playing keeper in a team put together by Rafa is a no brainer, especially when cash is so tight this season. If he does not appear in your WC team and you moan about lack of cash, talk to someone else – you have been warned! Aside from Elliot, I’m struggling if I’m honest. If you’re playing with a cheap 3rd striker then I guess if you’re ever going to need a Toon striker it’s now – sadly your choice is Ayoze Pérez or Joselu – 3 goals between them this season probably paints them in a good light and likely means they have peaked already. Would I buy either? Nope, not even me. Would I hold them for now if they are (somehow) already in my team? Yeah, possibly but for these 3 fixtures only and then dump asap.
As for the midfield, there are two realistic options – Matt Ritchie and Christian Atsu. Ritchie has done his fans proud and created four assists this season, however the return to the line up of Shelvey has seen Ritchie share set piece duty to lessen his appeal. Atsu is priced at 5.1 and has scored once and assisted two this season, but in all honesty, I’d rather have Swansea’s Tom Carroll and the extra bit of cash. However like the striker situation, if I had Atsu or Ritchie then you may as well keep them for the next three.
#4) Manchester United – HUD (A), TOT (H), CHE (A)
Guy: Outside of the Huddersfield game, I’m not in love with the schedule that United are set up with. But since this is a combo article, I can’t leave this team out in the cold simply because of a couple of tough games on their horizon. But really, who knows how tough the games against Spurs and Chelsea will even be? The truth of the matter is that United have the best defence in the league, hands down. As we’ve seen, United might spin the wheels a bit when trying to find their own scoring chances against better teams, but they are so stingy in the back that it almost doesn’t matter. What’s that famous line? “Offence wins games, but defence wins championships”. At the rate United are going, they might prove the adage to be true once again.
As impressive as City’s offensive output has been this year, their defence finally cracked a bit this past round. United still have yet to give up the ghost in the back, and they haven’t been scored on since September 9th when Stoke nabbed a pair against them.
Side note: Good on Stoke for getting a pair of goals against both City and United this season when nobody else has even come close.
We’ve gone eight games into this season and United have kept seven clean sheets. Those are typically only numbers you seen when you play career mode in FIFA on amateur difficulty. United have four separate wins this season that had a 4-0 scoreline. That’s just mental. Maybe they haven’t had to face the biggest of clubs quite yet, but they’ve definitely got a roadmap that will allow them to navigate through any challengers.
Cookie: The weekend bore draw at Anfield highlighted what a bargain Phil Jones is. Seven clean sheets in 8 is testament that Jose wants to keep things tight as well as smash the smaller teams and when United come up against a rival they will batten down the hatches even more. So Jonesy should be in your team, just leave him there for the season, you won’t get better value for a defender in a top team. Forget attacking prowess, he has none, if he had you’d be paying 6mln+ – he’s still available for 5.2mln, don’t mug yourself off, just go buy the pretty boy.
David de Gea also presents great value if you want to double up on United defence and are happy to pay for a premium keeper. I would argue that Eric Bailly is overpriced while Antonio Valencia isn’t cheap for someone who can’t cross the ball.
You have heard enough about Mikhitaryan and Pobga already this season and while one is having a quite spell and the other is injured we’ll forget about them. Instead, look at Marcus Rashford. As you agonise over selling Lukaku to fit in Kane, your City striker or Morata, fear not for United attacking coverage is available for just 7.6mln. United play Newcastle, Brighton, Watford and Arsenal in a 4-game stretch from GW12 – and then after the derby in GW16 they then have a lovely looking run of games. With Rashford in great form both for club and country expect him to add to his attacking returns. Game time may be a small issue but he has scored both as a starter and as a substitute and that will continue throughout the season.
Thanks for reading Fantasy Football Fixture Analysis and Player Tips Gameweek 9. This article was written by Guy and Cookie
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