Ilkay Gundogan’s role, Olivier Giroud’s minutes, Joe Allen’s partnership with a revived Wilfried Bony and Chris Brunt’s crafty left foot. These are just some of the essential scenarios and events we will be monitoring over Gameweek 11.
Gundogan as the new Yaya Toure…
There is already huge expectancy surrounding Ilkay Gundogan.
As we mentioned in “This Much We Know” on Monday, the FPL masses have been quick to snaffle up any sign of value in midfield, perhaps fuelled by last season’s triumphs with Riyad Mahrez and Dele Alli.
Gundogan has attracted almost 250,000 new owners having fired a brace in each of his last two outings at West Brom and against Barcelona on Tuesday.
Now we’re primed to monitor his progress when Middlesbrough drop in on the Etihad.
In truth, we can’t even be certain of a starting spot, let alone what kind be assured of the role he’ll be given in Pep Guardiola’s line-up.
It’s expected that, eventually, he’ll be stationed in a deeper midfield role with his forays forward somewhat tempered. It remains to be seen if that curtails his output in a fluid and potent City attack.
We can only hope that Saturday’s events will offer more clues.
The time and place for Giroud…
Introduced with devastating effect at the Stadium of Light, Olivier Giroud followed up his brace of goals from the bench with a midweek strike in Europe.
Despite the run of form, we’re expecting to see Giroud relegated to bench duty once again for Sunday’s north London derby, adopting a role of Arsene Wenger’s “plan B” should Spurs weather the storm or even turn the tide their way at the Emirates.
The future output of both Alexis Sanchez and Theo Walcott could depend on Wenger’s plans for Giroud. We will be watching for the Frenchman’s introduction with keen interest.
Hazard’s bid for four in a row…
With three goals in as many Gameweeks, Eden Hazard has returned to prominence and forced our midfield thinking back to the drawing board.
The only top bracket option assured of spot-kicks, Hazard is supplementing this potential with a renewed threat from open play, unshackled by Antonio Conte’s 3-4-3 system.
Gameweek 11 and the clash with the organised Everton defence will provide the next test and we will be watching keenly.
Another impressive performance and further returns, and the Belgian will surely be destined for big transfer traffic over the break, with his price likely to climb back above its 10.0 starting point.
Lukaku vs Costa…
Sunday’s Stamford Bridge clash is also notable for a fitting head-to-head between the season’s most consistent strikers.
Romelu Lukaku currently sits just above Diego Costa in the FPL standings, with the pair ably filling the gap provided by the failings of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Jamie Vardy, plus the absence of Harry Kane.
The Everton man will face his former club once again boasting a stronger points per million return, while Costa still sits just one booking away from a ban.
A re-invigorated Hazard also dents Costa’s appeal, although overshadow his team-mate and Lukaku on Sunday, and it will be far more difficult to maintain any doubts on the Spaniard.
Allen and Bony part two…
Having linked so effectively to see off former club Swansea City, Joe Allen and Wilfried Bony will head to West Ham United as the key men for Stoke City.
Mark Hughes’s side will certainly be without Marko Arnautovic at the London Stadium through suspension, with Xherdan Shaqiri an injury doubt. That will surely see Hughes turn to Allen and Bony to help steer his side to a fourth successive victory.
Allen’s FPL stock is still soaring following Monday night’s brace of assists and, like Gundogan, the expectations have been raised for a player who is perhaps far exceeding initial expectations.
Saturday’s events will give us further indication of how the Welshman will handle such a burden and whether his surge in ownership can be justified.
Bony’s performance will play its part in Allen’s progress. Should the Ivorian extend Monday night’s form and suggest that he can pep up Stoke’s attacking threat, then Allen’s stock will benefit.
Boufal edged into action…
Southampton’s club-record signing signalled his goal-getting ability by firing an EFL cup winner in a first start last week.
Claude Puel continues to ration his minutes, though, and has afforded the Moroccan international time off the bench in each of the last two Gameweeks.
A start against Inter tonight may well diminish Boufal’s chances of retaining a spot in the first XI as the Saints make their way to whipping boys Hull on Sunday.
With the schedule turning kind from Gameweek 14, we need to be clear on Puel’s intentions for the new boy and how this may effect the pitch time of Dusan Tadic, Nathan Redmond and Charlie Austin before we can consider splashing out on the St Mary’s attack.
Ranieri’s defence without Schmeichel…
A home clash against West Brom kick starts a run that hands the champions six favourable fixtures in the next seven Gameweeks.
With Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez misfiring, our focus is very much on the Foxes defence for that stretch, though with Kasper Schmeichel sidelined for around a month earlier today, suddenly our confidence has taken a hit.
Ron-Robert Zieler now has the chance to impress between the posts as Claudio Ranieri’s men look to build upon a run of four clean sheets in seven. If the new boy can step up and prove an able deputy, Christian Fuchs and company could still be destined for our five-man defences.
Brunt’s set-piece promise…
After a couple of second-half substitutions, the Irishman was handed his first start of 2016/17 in last week’s loss to Man City.
Tony Pulis’ penchant for dead-ball situations is legendary, and the fit-again Brunt’s delivery could be vital for West Brom’s chances of goals.
The Baggies have netted six times from set-pieces already, with five coming directly from corners – more than any other side.
Bearing in mind they have only scored on 10 occasions, Brunt’s return to the fold may well prove beneficial, boosting the prospects of Gareth McAuley and Craig Dawson in and around the opposition box.
Most significantly of all, Brunt is classified as a defender following his stint at left-back last season – offering assist potential with the promise of clean sheets over the coming spell.
Andre Gray’s audition as a third striker…
As FPL managers abandon the concept of a three-man forward line, Andre Gray has a timely opportunity to re-acquaint himself with our squads.
A hot property heading into the campaign, Gray had fired nine pre-season goals to raise his profile and promote himself as a 6.5 option.
With just a single strike in his opening five Gameweeks, followed by a four-match suspension, Gray quickly slipped from view and in price – he’s now available for just 6.2.
Having returned to the Burnley line-up, he’ll now square up to a Crystal Palace side that is yet to keep a clean sheet, granting him the opportunity to edge his way back into our thinking.