Don’t you just love the International break? A chance to free ourselves from the stress of FPL and just enjoy our football. Don’t worry about those players pulling sickies, I’m sure they’re all fine. Don’t worry about your assets playing 180 minutes, I’m sure they’ll be raring to go come GW5. Don’t worry about player drops while you hold onto your FT just in case one of those injuries are actually real and you are totally freaking out. It’s the perfect opportunity for a nice, chilled out, FPL free weekend. Pfft…
While we’re all just chilling out, we may as well have a wee look into the next block of games. There’s been a few articles and threads on the upcoming GW9ish fixture swing, so I thought it might be a good idea to have a look at the teams with great fixtures between GW5-8 to see who we should be punting on. Some short to mid-term options for those with fires to put out.
Let’s get to it!
TEAMS TO LOOK INTO
Burnley have performed really well in the first few games of the season, especially considering the opponents they’ve faced. Having played Wolves, Liverpool and Arsenal, their xGA (Expected Goals Against) is just 4.8, which puts them 7th in the league! Our fixture tracker tells us they have the best run of fixtures for GW5-8, so the likes of Nick Pope (4.6m), Erik Pieters (4.6m) and Matthew Lowton (4.5m) are all great budget picks for managers looking to get a piece of the potential cleansheets on the cheap. We can’t count out their star striker either, as Ashley Barnes (6.7m) continues to outshine the rest of the Clarents’ goal threats. Barnes is 4th in the league for shots per 90 and 3rd for shots on target per 90. These stats are all the more impressive when we look at the defences he’s came up against. With 4 Goals in 4 games and an xG of 2.21 (6th highest!), we should expect these numbers to continue. Unfortunately, there is a bit of a question mark surrounding some of the more creative midfielders that Burnley have, so there’s not many options in that department.
Right so first things first; Aymeric Laporte (6.5m) is going to be out for quite a while. So the question that I’m seeing a lot of is ‘Are City still a good option at the back?’ The question that we should be asking, as owners of City’s defensive assets, is ‘Should we use a transfer to get rid of who we currently have?’ The answer is obviously no, unless you’ve got Laporte. Oleksandr Zinchenko (5.6m) still has the same ticking Mendy timer issues he did before, Kyle Walker’s (6.0m) place is still as uncertain as it was, and Nicolás Otamendi (5.4m) is going to continue to be 3rd choice CB until both Laporte and John Stones (5.4m) are back in action. Nothing has changed for any of these players. We all know that City don’t keep clean sheets solely on how good Laporte is, but how well they dominate and keep possession in the final 3rd. Their next 4 games are against Norwich, Watford, Everton and Wolves, so it wouldn’t be a total loss if you didn’t own a defender, but the likelihood of them conceding every game is very small. If you are part of the small % of owners who own Laporte, then jumping down to another City defender is fine.
Now let’s look at their attack. Sergio Agüero (12.1m) has been causing a storm within the community due to how good he’s been in the opening games. Let’s be honest, we didn’t really expect anything less from the 20+ goals a season Argentine, did we? But to get to him for non-owners it’s going to be at least 2 transfers and a loss of a premium player to bring him in. We’ve heard countless times from the elite players that we shouldn’t swap our premium players around, and this exact scenario is what they’re talking about. It may seem like you’re missing out if you don’t bring Kun in, but his ownership is 24.7%, nearly 20% less than Raheem Sterling (12.3m). If Aguero blanks and Sterling scores, it’ll hurt a lot more and you’re right back to square one. Not to mention the rotation we might see now that Gabriel Jesus (9.5m) and Champions League football are soon back. So, unless you’re on your Wildcard, or you absolutely hate owning Harry Kane, don’t worry about it! Oh, and get Kevin De Bruyne (9.8m). He’s arms and legs above the rest of the “budget” city midfielder options, including David Silva (7.5m), who we’ll start to see rotated soon anyway.
The Gunners are an interesting team to research. On one hand they look like a team that could outscore most teams in the league: they’ve done well in the transfer market, their attacking assets pass the eye-test and they played entertaining, attacking football in the North London Derby. On the other hand, they’re 10th for xG (Expected Goals) and 5th worst for xGA. We can agree that the fixtures will be skewing the data somewhat, but it’s hard to say how Arsenal will fair against easier opponents.
What’s easy to say, is that we’ve got more rotation from Emery to look forward to this year! Hurray! Alexandre Lacazette (9.4m) started on the bench in GW3 and played 66 minutes against Spurs in GW4. Ceballos (5.7m) has had his fair share of bench flings as well, despite his decent start to the season, and Arsenal possibly have the longest defensive injury list in Europe. Just 6 DEF players have a full bill of health, which means at some point Maitland-Niles (5.1m) and Kolasinac (5.4m) will be giving owners a rotation headache once their counterparts Héctor Bellerín (5.4m) and Kieran Tierney (5.4) get fully fit.
However! These rotation issues may be due to the bigger teams they’ve been facing, and Emery could still be settling on his preferred starting XI. Playing WAT (A), AVL (H), MUN (A) and BOU (H) next, Arsenal are sat in 3rd place for best fixtures between GW5-8. So if you’re tempted to go for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (11.0m), who’s played every minute of game time so far, Nicolas Pépé (9.4m), who decided to stay home and work on his fitness this IB, or Ceballos, who is potentially nailed on for starts after reports of injury to his competition, then I’d say go do it! They’re all worth a punt for the upcoming games. Just don’t go ripping up your team to get them!
Now here’s a team I love looking into. Budget players, great fixtures and under the radar. A differential hunter’s heaven! Villa play West Ham, Arsenal, Burnley and Norwich in the next 4 games, which is particularly interesting because these teams make up the 4 WORST teams in regard to xGA (not including Aston Villa themselves)! So, with that in mind, let’s look at two assets I’ve picked from the team who could be real value for GW5-8.
John McGinn (5.6m) continues to impress, with impressive performances in the league and a goal for Scotland on Friday. His Whoscored rating is yet to drop below 7 this season, his heatmaps look great every week, and he more than passes the eye test. With easier defences to come, it’s hard not to see McGinn’s involvement in the upcoming goals.
Wesley (6.0m) is a cheap striker who we could see do some damage in the next few gameweeks. Out of all the Villa players he has the most touches in the box (4.3), the second highest shots on target per 90 (1.1), and every shot he’s taken has been inside the box too. That’s promising for a 6m striker. I wouldn’t expect a crazy amount of points, and there are definitely better options up top, but he might be worth a 4 week punt.
There’s a few other players I looked into, like Frederic Guilbert (4.4m), who’s looked good as an attacking fullback. He’s showing some potential for returns, but he’s a bit of a rotation risk and I just can’t see Aston Villa keeping many clean sheets. I’ll be keeping an eye on him in the upcoming fixtures for sure.
TEAMS TO BE WARY OF
Leicester play MUN (A), TOT (H) and LIV (A) between GW5-8. Jamie Vardy (8.9m) is a player that can always turn it on without notice, but the Foxes on a whole have been quite underwhelming from an FPL point of view. Despite being 3rd in the league, they’re 5th worst in xG, and that’s concerning for their assets. Potentially the worst template pick ever, Ayoze Pérez (6.2) has been benched after 3 games and dropped by more than 400,000 managers as of GW4. Youri Tielemans (6.4) waited until GW4 to do anything, which was great for owners, but not very convincing for the rest of us who are considering their upcoming opponents. Despite the fixtures, a fair few managers are looking into Çaglar Söyüncü (4.5m). He’s cheap, he’s got a decent attacking threat from set pieces, and Leicester’s swing in fixtures is worth preparing for even now. Just make sure you’ve got someone to rotate him with, like John Lundstram (4.2m) or Todd Cantwell (4.8m)
I’ve been quite impressed with just how average Wolves have been this season. We knew that they had Europa league to contend with and a difficult fixture run to start the season, but there were still bucket-loads of managers starting with their assets. It’s been pretty bleak for Diogo Jota (6.3m) owners, who’ve seen a double price drop and 4 blanks in a row. Based on the fixtures, it’s going to be much of the same until at least GW9, when the fixtures finally start to improve. With better options in every position, it’s probably time to say goodbye to last year’s bias and get with the times. Don’t worry though! We’ll reassess in the coming weeks.
Farewell Javi Gracia! If I wasn’t keen on their players last week, I’m sure as hell not keen on them now. Arsenal, Tottenham and Liverpool coming up for their GW5-8 fixtures is a rotten run, so if you’re still holding onto Gerard Deulofeu (6.3m) in the hopes that he comes good, then you deserve it when he blanks. Ditch ditch ditch ditch ditch, and don’t look back.
AND THAT’S A WRAP!
As usual, we can’t talk about every team. Hopefully there’s enough here to get you thinking! I’ll be writing about the fixture swings next week to go over what teams we should be planning, but for now the above options are great for at least the next 4 GWs. If you’re worried about long term player options, and can’t wait until next week, just let me know! Twitter is the easiest way to get me, but I’ll be watching the comments too. Good luck in GW5! See you next Monday.
(All fixture difficulties are assessed using this fixture tracker. The difficulty rating of each team fluctuates per match depending on performance.)