Fantasy Football Tips Gameweek 5
Welcome to Fantasy Football Tips Gameweek 5. Kop quite expertly used last week’s Tips article to promote the qualities of the most popular FPL options. Now, following a Tips article by Kop is a bit like being asked to enter the bullring just as the bull is fully charged up. Hence management approached me, preferring not to ask one of their better writers to put himself in the line of fire! I am not used to writing Tips, my usual job is of course writing up press conference news on a Friday. So bear with me, join me along what may be a fun ride and will hopefully prove of some use to someone. Somewhere. To complement Kop’s article, I have decided to focus on those players who have flown under the radar for whatever reason so far this season – it may be they are new to the league following the closure of the transfer window, or maybe they are returning from injury, or they were possibly angling for a transfer that didn’t happen or it may just be that their fixtures have been tricky thus far and there is a change about to happen for the better.
With many a wildcard still to be played, I have tried to uncover some names that have a good chance of proving useful in FPL terms over the next few weeks. And some of them may just be game-changers. Here goes.
The Prodigal Sons
The summer proved stressful for many a club chairman or director of football, potentially lucrative for the large pocketed football agent, while for some players it was a time to demand a move, throw the toys out of the pram, stamp their feet and ultimately get sent to their room after the naughty step proved ineffective. With the window shutting firmly in their faces the following players must face the wrath of the fans they have betrayed and try and integrate themselves back in the dressing rooms they were so keen to leave. From a FPL point of view, each of the following could prove to be a potential game-changer if they can find the form we know they are all capable of.
Alexis Sanchez was said to be devastated when his move to Manchester City failed to materialise. Now the poor chap has to suffer a few more months with Godfather Arsene, fighting for a top six place, competing in the Europa League – oh the shame. Now we all know what Alexis is capable of and we have all benefited from owning him – with a current ownership of just 2.6%, he’ll never be owned by less teams and is the ultimate big time differential. Sadly Arsenal face their annual mauling at Chelsea this weekend but after that they face West Brom, Brighton, Watford and Swansea in four of the next five weeks. He isn’t cheap at 11.9mln, but nor is he mass owned right now – and if those points materialise you’ll be paying 12mln+ before you know it.
If Alexis got a bit moody then Virgil van Dijk went proper stroppy. This is one robbery Liverpool didn’t get away with. There is a God. Van Dijk is now back training with the first team with a return to the starting XI imminent. Named by some, well Liverpool fans, as the best defender in the Premier League, young Virgil has already dropped in price and can now be purchased at 5.4mln. With the Saints languishing in the bottom half despite having the best opening fixtures, the pressure will be on Mauricio Pellegrino to turn things around quickly and he will no doubt be looking upon van Dijk to lead from the front. Or maybe even up front
Mystery illness and injury were the reasons we were given for Philippe Coutinho failing to appear for Liverpool in the first four game-weeks of the season. Of course, the truth is well known, Barca wanted Coutinho, Coutinho wanted Barca, Liverpool didn’t want to sell – the big stand-off continued, three or four bids were rejected with Liverpool determined to hold onto their man. Miraculously, Coutinho’s injury disappeared whilst on international duty, must be the warm weather, and with Sadio Mane suspended the return to the Liverpool first team is open for Coutinho. The Brazilian is now the cheapest of Liverpool’s big gun midfielders, cheaper also than Alli and Eriksen and priced at 8.8mln he could prove a bargain if he can carry on where he left off last season and indeed in preseason, when he was in good form. Liverpool’s fixtures are generally very good, we know they will usually score bundles – is this the value we have been looking for?
Finally, two players who didn’t appear to be particularly moody, but who were still on the verge of a move. Shkodran Mustafi has only been at Arsenal for a year yet the club were apparently trying to offload their defender – prices weren’t agreed and Mustafi stayed at the club and having missed the debacle at Anfield, Mustafi returned to the side as they kept a clean sheet vs Bournemouth. Mustafi is cheaper than Bellerin, Koscielny and Kolasinac and at 5.4mln offers decent value into the Arsenal defence.
Poor old Riyad Mahrez suffered a heartbreaking deadline day – having left the Algerian training camp to secure his move, it soon became apparent that no-one really knew where he was moving to. Barca, Roma and Man United were all allegedly in the frame, but the move didn’t transpire and Mahrez remains a Fox for now. Leicester’s fixtures take a turn for the better now, in the next seven game-weeks their toughest looking challenge seems to be Liverpool at home and you’d back them to score in that one. The Algerian has bucked the trend of most of our other reprobates and remained professional, playing 90mins in every match thus far and picking up 3 assists in a run which has seen Leicester face Arsenal, Man United and Chelsea. Some Fox coverage looks a cunning plan right now and Mahrez could prove an inspired choice at 8.5mln.
Timing is Everything
Timing is indeed everything – whether it is delivering the punchline to a joke, driving a golf ball or just being in the right place at the right time. In FPL terms, it is about selecting the right players at the right time – being proactive rather than reactive. Fixture analysis plays a large part in making these decisions and the following players all see their fixtures turn for the better either this week or in the near future.
Leicester’s fixtures I have touched on above when talking about Mahrez, but of course the Algerian may not be your preferred play into the Leicester contingent. Your midfield may be packed with the likes of Mikhi or Pogba, Eriksen or Alli, Salah or KdB. Maybe Jamie Vardy is the answer to your FPL prayers – the dentally challenged striker is available at 8.5mln, has already scored a brace at Arsenal and a goal vs Chelsea. Fixtures are great, Mahrez his chief creator is staying for now, he has penalty duty and he is way cheaper than Kane, Lukaku, Aguero, Jesus, Lacazette and Morata. There are no rotation issues, nor does he have any weekly European football – come the weekend he will be well rested while the owners of the aforementioned list of expensive strikers will have the weekly worry of their main man getting a midweek injury. If I were wildcarding now, he’d be part of my squad.
Having covered Leicester in attack and midfield, let’s have a quick look at two defensive options. Harry Maguire has been well spoken of in recent Tips articles – and rightly so. He has forced his way into the Leicester starting XI and made the spot his own, has already notched a goal, assist and clean sheet, plus 3bps in a horrible opening run of fixtures. Maguire remains very good value at 5.1mln and like Vardy, he would be part of my wildcard this week, if I were playing it. If it’s value you are after then Danny Simpson is your man, for he is cheaper at 4.5mln. Simmo has played 90mins in all four matches, but hasn’t produced the goal, assist or bps that Maguire has. He is solid, budget-friendly Leicester defensive coverage – but you get what you pay for.
Just as Leicester faced a tricky start, so have Everton. And as a quick word of warning, they still have to play Man United this weekend! However, after GW5, they face ten game-weeks when the hardest match on paper is Arsenal’s trip to Goodison in GW9. So you should really be contemplating some Toffees for your squad, despite Saturday’s disastrous 3-0 home loss to Spurs. Prior to that loss, Everton had looked pretty solid at the back, with new man Michael Keane arguably the stand out FPL prospect. He isn’t cheap at 5.5mln but he offers a solid option with a good run of fixtures and can be a threat from set pieces.
Wayne Rooney has of course had his issues over the last few weeks but would also be a good option going forward, but his high ownership means he hasn’t really ‘flown under the radar’. Instead, we’ll focus on Wazza’s new team mate Gylfi Sigurdsson. As we know, Rooney loves to play with a GILF, but this Gylf may be even more beneficial for Wazza’s scoring prospects. Siggy arrived from Swansea and is of course well known to us. He has scored over 150pts in FPL over each of the last three seasons, with last season being his most productive yet delivering 181pts, 9 goals, 13 assists and 18bps in a struggling Swansea side, who were fighting relegation. Placed in a better team alongside better players one would expect him to continue his impressive record. He is a great assister, good on free kicks and weighs in with his share of goals. He will create and he will deliver – the question is, can you spare 8.4mln to have him in your squad. History and fixtures suggests you should.
To complete both teams, a word on each keeper. Jordan Pickford is England’s bright hope between the sticks and has settled in well at Goodison following his summer move from Sunderland. Pickford is the cheapest guaranteed way into the Toffees defence and as we know from last season, he is adept to add save points alongside clean sheet points. Meanwhile Lukasz Fabianksi is 0.5mln cheaper than Pickford, albeit in a worse side. Swansea’s fixtures are good however and Paul Clement has them set up to play tight and to give little away – Fabianksi has already collected save points in three out of four matches and has two clean sheets registered also – in this regard Fabianski certainly merits his place in the list of keepers available at 4.5mln.
Viable Cheap Alternatives
They say cheap is nasty, but if we’re all honest, we all love a bargain and nowhere more so than in FPL. That saving of 0.5mln here and there can go a long way when reinvested elsewhere in one’s squad. So let’s have a look at some cheap options who may not be on top of your watchlist yet, but may come into the reckoning in the weeks ahead.
First up is man of the moment Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting. Hardly a household name. In fact I hadn’t paid too much attention to him before he scored a brace on Saturday to destroy Man United’s 100% start to the season. So under the radar had he flown that I had to check that Man City had not signed Eric Maxim Choupo the week before. Not only is Choupo-Moting in form, he is just what we like in FPL – an out-of-position (OOP) player as he is listed as a midfielder but plays up front for the Potters. Priced at 5.5mln he could just be that cheapish midfielder that many have been looking for. Now a word of caution is warranted here for Choupo’s history does not suggest we are looking at the next Golden Boot winner here – he only scored 3 goals for Schalke last season and six goals the season before that, yet Mark Hughes is known to have trailed Choupo for a number of seasons. He has never scored more than 10 goals in a season. Schalke have released him twice. Sounds like the girlfriend you just can’t get rid of and you keep going back to, but don’t know why. Anyway I digress. Schalke’s sporting director says ‘there is almost nothing Maxim cannot do’, while Hughes says, ‘he’s big, he’s powerful and technically he’s excellent. He can take the ball and create in one-on-one situations.’ I’m going to recommend him, but he is a punt, but the clinical way he scored on Saturday suggests he knows where the goal is and is physical enough to handle the Premier League. Stoke’s fixtures are ok, but I’d want to find someone he can rotate with in GWs 6 & 8 when Stoke play Chelsea and Man City. Tom Carroll for instance plays Watford and Huddersfield in 6 & 8 so he could do that job. Not that Carroll is doing much but that’s for another article. Don’t let the truth get in the way of a good idea!
One of Choupo’s new buddies at Stoke is defender Kevin Wimmer. Now I’m not a huge lover of Stoke defensively, but FPL managers have been crying out for a playing defender priced under 4.5mln and Wimmer may be the best option. The Austrian made his debut in the weekend draw with Man Utd as Ryan Shawcross was injured and Hughes preferred Wimmer to Bruno Martins-Indi. So it appears he has the confidence of the manager, the fixtures are ok as we have highlighted above and he will cost you just 4.4mln. Worth a punt? Yeah probably, more for budgetary reasons than FPL ambitions but if it allows you your dream striker or midfielder then he should prove a useful member of your FPL squad.
Talk of cheap defenders leads us onto the confusion surrounding Newcastle. Now if you can nail the backline then you are sorted – the problem is even our resident Geordies seem to be unable to predict who will play in each given week. The popular view was that Florian Lejeune (4.4mln) would replace the injured Chancel Mbemba (4.0mln). However it was Jesús Gámez Duarte (4.0mln) who made his Premier League debut at Swansea, earning himself not only a clean sheet but also 2bps. So there is value there, if you can uncover it. It doesn’t help that there seems to be new injuries by the week but for now it’s Gámez who looks to be flavour of the month. With keeper Rob Elliot also priced at 4.0mln, Newcastle is certainly the place to go for the budget deals.
While we are on keepers Nick Pope deserves a quick mention. Pope is the back up to Tom Heaton, the keeper darling of many an FPL manager last season. Heaton sadly dislocated a shoulder on Sunday and will be missing for a few months, leaving 4.5mln priced Pope as the starting keeper. Burnley’s fixtures are mixed but, if one rotated Pope and cheapo Elliot then the list of games reads: Stoke (h), Huddersfield (h), Everton (a), West Ham (h), Palace (h), Newcastle (h), Bournemouth (h), Swansea (h), Watford (h), West Brom (a), Watford (h), Stoke (h), Brighton (a), West Ham (a) – not bad eh? And that takes you to GW19 by which team Heaton may be back.
The Burnley theme continues with striker Chris Wood. The striker joined in the summer from Leeds, for whom he scored 27 goals in the Championship last season. Wood is a finisher, a poacher who knows where the goal is and has scored in both of his appearances for Burnley so far. Priced at 6.5mln he joins the list of budget strikers and while it takes a brave pundit to recommend a Burnley striker, if you can find a cheap midfielder to rotate well with him then Wood could work out great for you.
I’ll finish this section with another cheap striker, Wilfried Bony. They say you should never go back to an ex, but that’s exactly what Bony has done. Will it work out as well as before? I have my doubts having watched Swansea hardly create a chance vs a very average Newcastle side at the weekend. Swansea are a team put together to keep things tight under Paul Clement. There is no Siggy anymore, while Renato Sanches is not thought to be the Siggy replacement in teams of creativity. Yet with Swansea’s fixtures being pretty good on paper, I’d put Bony on the watchlist for now – maybe the Swans will play more to his strengths now that they have an experienced striker to aim for.
The transfer window turned out to be a tad boring, at least deadline day did anyway. The sensible clubs made their moves early and completed their deals before the Neymar deal pushed everyone’s prices up considerably. The penultimate section (yes, it’s nearly over don’t worry) looks at three players who moved in the summer window, two from abroad and one who snubbed West London for Liverpool.
Chelsea were linked with a huge list of names over the summer, a list far too big to mention here. Most of the deals didn’t happen but the deadline day deal which may yet prove inspirational was the purchase of Davide Zappacosta from Torino. Zappa is a defender who can play right back or right wing back and it’s the latter position that he will likely claim to be his own sooner rather than later. The Italian came on for the last 15mins at the weekend win at Leicester as the Blues looked to secure the victory and started the midweek Champions League game. Zappacosta is good going forward and his crossing and shooting is understood to be far better than that of Victor Moses, who we expect him to replace. It was on Tuesday anyway, seemingly all at the same time! Priced at 6mln, Zappa is cheaper than Alonso, Moses, Cahill and Azpilicueta and while it would be wrong to expect him to match Alonso’s attacking returns, we would expect him to produce more than the others. Only Courtois and Rudiger are cheaper and Rudiger will lose out to Cahill now. Wait for Zappa to start ahead of Moses and then invest – he is very much a Conte signing and with the manager seemingly frustrated with the club’s lack of activity in the market, you can be sure the manager will be backing his man.
City smashed the world record fee for a defender when they paid Monaco £52mln for Benjamin Mendy. It has taken Mendy a few weeks to get ready for Premier League action but if you witnessed City’s destruction of Liverpool on Saturday, you will have realised why City were so desperate to get their man. Mendy is a powerhouse of a defender, at his best roaming down the flanks and he backed up the speculation with an assist vs Liverpool as well as many dangerous runs into the area and crosses into the box. Once he really settles in you can see him creating havoc especially with the goal hungry Aguero and Jesus ready to pounce at every opportunity. Mendy isn’t cheap, he’ll set you back 6.5mln but if you are one of those in the camp who treat an effective attacking wing back as a theoretical midfielder then the price tag shouldn’t scare you off.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain apparently put his relationship at risk by choosing Liverpool over Chelsea. These women eh?! Quite why Ox made this choice only he knows, there is paper chat that he didn’t want to play wing back at Chelsea, while Klopp has already come out and said he can see the Ox playing in four different positions at Liverpool. Hopefully two of those weren’t at full back or wing back! Klopp also says that he wants to see his new recruit on the pitch at every opportunity and he made his debut coming on at half time for Salah at City. We’ll have to wait and see what Klopp has planned for the Ox, for one cannot imagine him being first choice above Salah, Mane or Coutinho, but if he can find a starting spot then 6.0mln for a midfielder in one of the league’s more attacking teams could yet prove brilliant value.
Olden but Golden
My last tip this week is a League winner who has scored 190pts or above in four of the last five season, yet he appears in less than 2.5% of teams. I’m talking about Eden Hazard and the reason he is owned by so few is that he is just returning from his bad injury. The attacking midfielder returned to the Chelsea team as a second half substitute at Leicester having impressed previously for Belgium in their two qualifiers in the recent international break. With Diego Costa out of the way, Chelsea have a happy and un-stroppy striker in Álvaro Morata, who has very much hit the ground running and one feels that the two will strike up a fantastic, exciting and productive partnership in the weeks ahead. Chelsea’s fixtures are mixed – they have some easy games sandwiched between some tougher ones, but nothing that would put you off owning Hazard or indeed Morata for that matter! At 10.5mln Hazard isn’t cheap, but he is quality and will reward those who find space for him in their squads. Arsenal at home this weekend seems an appropriate start!
Thanks for reading Fantasy Football Tips Gameweek 5
The League Codes for FF247 for the 2017/18 season are as follows:
Gameweek Tracker GW5-11