Like many Fantasy Premier League managers, I am heading into Gameweek 9 hoping to end a run of frustrating misfortune.
With the international break over for another month, I’ve had enough time to reflect over Gameweek 8 in order to refocus for this weekend.
I was hoping to carry over my free transfer but, like a large number of managers, decided to act on impulse when news of Kevin de Bruyne’s (£10.0m) injury broke out.
This gave me an opportunity to redistribute funds and my last transfers involved me selling the Belgian and Jordan Ayew (£5.1m) for Andriy Yarmolenko (£6.0m) and Tammy Abraham (£7.7m) with a -4 hit for good measure.
Unfortunately, Ayew unexpectedly ended his run of booking-inspired one-point hauls by somehow scoring and getting three bonus points, whereas Yarmolenko failed to deliver and in turn adopted yellow card duties.
Abraham’s goal provided damage limitation by softening my red arrow but essentially my hit failed.
I now oversee a team without de Bruyne who could be back sooner to Manchester City’s first team than initially anticipated – but I have a number of other issues to consider.
Firstly, I have been keeping a close eye on the much-anticipated return of Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson (£5.8m) who looks to be very close to starting for Jurgen Klopp’s men again.
With Adrian (£4.6m) and the non-starting David Button (£4.0m) currently in my team, this position has automatically become the main area that I need to address for Gameweek 9.
I’ve got £1.3m in the bank so I can sign any replacement up to the value of £5.9m which, thankfully, is most goalkeepers in the game.
Leicester have a great run of upcoming games and Kasper Schmeichel (£5.1m) could be an option. Usually, I’d rather buy a super cheap goalkeeper and upgrade one of my defenders to buy Ricardo Pereira (£6.2m) – after all he has scored two goals in his last three games.
Similarly, I considered Kepa Arrizabalaga (£5.5m) due to Chelsea’s generous fixtures, but if I wanted their defensive coverage, Fikayo Tomori (£4.7m) or Marcos Alonso (£6.2m) would make more sense.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much on offer for goalkeepers in the budget range at the moment. With Hugo Lloris’ (£5.5m) unfortunate long-term injury, Paulo Gazzaniga (£4.4m) became an overnight option.
He’s almost like the go-to Adrian replacement. But with confirmation that Michel Vorm (£4.5m) has re-signed for Tottenham on a free transfer, his place could also be at risk with a few inconsistent performances.
After all, Spurs have hardly been playing their best football during this campaign and have been mercurial at best. If anything, I want to avoid their players but might be almost forced into buying Gazzaniga.
The fact of the matter is that there’s no goalkeeper priced in or around £4.5m with a long run of decent games. Mat Ryan (£4.6m) could be an exception between Gameweek 9 and 18 but Gameweeks 12 to 15 are difficult on paper for him.
In the end, I went for Schmeichel as I wanted a long-term, relatively cheap goalkeeper that I would not need to see until the end of the year. Out of all the options above, he seemed the best to me.
Many seasoned FPL managers will tell you that if you can nail your armband selection more often than not then your overall rank will almost take care of itself.
Unfortunately, in a season characterised by captain blanks for most of us, I am yet to make the highest FPL points’ scorer in my team my skipper for any given Gameweek in 2019/20.
For this weekend, Abraham (at home to Newcastle United) would have been an almost automatic pick but a shock win against Manchester United for Steve Bruce’s men last time out has put a question mark over that way of thinking.
Raheem Sterling (£12.1m) looked crisp during the international break and could be a good shout too. I can’t overlook Sergio Aguero (£12.2m) either, even if the spectre of Gabriel Jesus (£9.5m) makes him a rotation risk waiting to happen.
However, fitness permitting, Mohamed Salah (£12.5m) could be an interesting captain option. David de Gea (£5.6m) picked up an injury on international duty and is poised to miss the match this weekend.
Liverpool have won every Premier League game since August with Manchester United having their worst start in decades. The only thing missing for Liverpool is Salah at his goalscoring best and this could be the match in which he comes back with a bang as Liverpool try to widen the gap between them and Manchester City.
Ash is a member of our Pro Pundits initiative, a team of Fantasy managers here to bring you regular advice and updates on their teams. Ash, known by many as the Chief, recorded his best-ever FPL finish in 2011/12 placing 110th in the world and has become a massive community influencer ever since.
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