Welcome to the Fantasy Football Scout Guide to Gameweek 9, and for once a standard Saturday deadline of 11:00 GMT.
To say it’s been a rollercoaster of an international break would be an understatement. Injuries coupled with coronavirus (COVID-19) is not a pleasant cocktail for Fantasy managers. Whatsmore, we are approaching a crossroads in the season with fixture swings encouraging many to play their Wildcards.
To help you with your crucial transfer and armband decisions, this Gameweek Guide will summarise the latest news from a turbulent couple of weeks.
The all-important Team News: Neale brought us the latest in his two round-up articles; one from Friday’s press conferences and one from Thursday’s. Further details can be found in his notes on each club along with his Predicted Line-ups.
Neale has also put together a comprehensive list of minutes played over the international break, along with the journeys undertaken by those playing abroad. Brazilian Thiago Silva (£5.5m) looks set to miss Gameweek 9 as a result of his late return.
The most expensive player in FPL contracted COVID-19 during the international break, leaving owners in quandary. For Career Hall of Fame No 1, Fábio Borges, the decision to sell or keep will partly depend on how long Mohamed Salah (£12.3m) is ruled out for:
I seriously doubt It’s worth to sell Salah for a hit if he is ruled out for just one Gameweek (which seems the most likely scenario).– Fábio
The latest from manager Jurgen Klopp suggests everything is in place for Salah to resume training as soon as he tests negative for COVID-19:
Although whether he’ll be ready to face Brighton in Gameweek 10 – Liverpool play at 12:30 GMT on Saturday – is anyone’s guess. And any indication of a longer absence will spark further sales: the Egyptian is already the most-sold player ahead of the deadline.
Sadio Mané (£12.1m) could temp managers as a replacement, Pro Pundit Holly pointed out that the Senegalse has underperformed in recent matches:
Sadio Mané has just one goal in the last four Gameweeks, coming from four big chances. It is unusual for Liverpool’s winger to be so poor in his conversions and you would expect a big improvement going forward.– Holly
However Holly does mention that Salah is superior for shots, shots on target and shots inside the box – almost doubling Mané’s tallies across the board. So when fit, the Egyptian would appear the better option.
Moving to Manchester
Some managers may consider moving early on Kevin De Bruyne (£11.5m) while Bruno Fernandes (£10.6m) currently tops this week’s captain poll.
Both Manchester clubs feature in the ‘strong’ section of teams with the best upcoming fixtures.
Getting De Bruyne is perhaps a week too soon given that City travel to Tottenham Hotspur, although many on Wildcards are including the Belgian in their XV’s. But following their trip to London, Pep’s troops enjoy an excellent run starting with home matches against Burnley in Gameweek 10 and Fulham in Gameweek 11.
In the four games he played against the last season’s doomed teams, De Bruyne produced three goals and four assists. A great return. City won all of these encounters convincingly, with the 8-0 rout at home to Watford probably their highlight of the campaign.– Az
As our Tom Selleck look alike then pointed out, Fulham and West Brom (City’s opponents in Gameweek 13) are yet to keep a shut-out on the road, displaying some mid-table defensive statistics. They appear ripe for Manchester City to rediscover their attacking mojo – and chief creator De Bruyne will doubtless be involved.
But facing West Brom this Gameweek has made Bruno Fernandes the most-bought player, with just under 700,000 acquiring the Portuguese at the time of writing.
Over the course of the season, Fernandes is joint second with De Bruyne for chances created (20). And form is on his side, as moustachioed Az revealed:
What is interesting here is that despite creating the same number of chances as De Bruyne, Fernandes has fashioned the majority of chances for players in the last two games (12), putting up just eight opportunities in the six games prior to this weekend.
This suggests that Fernandes is growing in importance in the United attack and we could see him becoming even more instrumental in all the good things that the Red Devils do in the coming weeks.– Az
But there are other options to consider from Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s team, Marcus Rashford (£9.6m) has caught the attention of both Holly and Lateriser:
Marcus Rashford has had 14 shots between Gameweeks 5 and 8, despite delivering just one goal from two big chances. He also ranks highly for shots on target (six) and shots in the box (eight): he should present an intriguing option as Manchester United finally find some form.– Holly
While Lateriser looked to a tactical shift that could benefit the FPL midfielder.
With Luke Shaw (£4.9m) out with a hamstring injury, Alex Telles (£5.5m) is set to return to the left-back slot following a bout of illness. This could dampen the prospects for Bruno, as he likely won’t be on all set pieces, and Telles is a lot more attacking which will allow Rashford to make more runs inside.
According to our upside-chasing Pro Pundit, the double pivot used by Manchester United in recent matches makes them better defensively, which in turn means Telles can hold the width on the left. Therefore Rashford is going to be playing further forward than Fernandes and making more central runs.
Both players featured in the Captain Sensible article for Gameweek 9.
But given top billing by Jan Sienkiewicz were Chelsea duo Timo Werner (£9.4m) and Hakim Ziyech (£8.2m).
Werner is included for his goal threat while Ziyech offers assist potential:
Over the last four Gameweeks, only Patrick Bamford (4.22) and Jamie Vardy (2.12) have recorded a superior figure for expected goals (xG) non penalty than Werner (2.08), remembering, of course, that he now takes the spot-kicks too; Since his debut in Gameweek 7 no player has created more big chances than Ziyech, helping him lead the Premier League for expected assists (xA), with a score of 1.10.– Jan
Our double-points maestro noticed weaknesses in the Newcastle defence that could suit both Chelsea players – they have given up more chances down their right flank than any other side (22), while only Crystal Palace (37) and Sheffield United (33) have conceded more attempts from set plays in 2020/21 than Newcastle (32).
But, as ever in FPL, we are rarely free of all doubt. Describing Newcastle as a “head-scratcher”, Holly pointed out:
They’ve conceded the most goal attempts (74) in the whole Premier League, but are second-lowest for big chances conceded with three. They are frustrating attacks who are then producing low quality attempts.– Holly
However, there are a number of other armband candidates to consider. One player given just a brief mention in Jan’s article was Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£7.8m).
David, no stranger to captain success himself, highlighted the potential for Everton’s number 9 against a suspect Fulham defence in the Captaincy Video:
In the last four matches Fulham’s expected goals conceded is 6.01, which is the fourth worst in the league – they’ve only actually conceded four goals which means they’re over performing against their xGC: they should have conceded two more goals than they did.
And then if we go into the specifics of where these chances are getting conceded for Fulham, in that period they conceded 14 headed attempts which is actually the joint most in the league. So when you consider what Calvert-Lewin is best at – which is his aerial presence – it does seem like quite a nice matchup.– David
Quite a nice matchup indeed. Pro Pundit Az went as far as calling Calvert-Lewin the “outstanding captaincy choice this week”.
Top of the season ticker for the next six Gameweeks, Aston Villa not only supply an armband option of their own in the shape of Jack Grealish (£7.5m), but also offer excellent value across their attack.
Picked out by Seb as his differential on the Scoutcast, Ross Barkley (£6.0m) could be an excellent complement to Grealish. The former Evertonian has been posting impressive underlying numbers. Writing in the Scout Notes for the Villa’s win over Arsenal David noted:
Barkley is putting that advanced presence to good use too. In the last four matches, no Premier League player has played more key passes than him.– David
Pro Pundit Fábio Borges is even considering an attacking triple up, having added Ollie Watkins (£6.1m) over the international break to join Grealish in his squad.
Zophar debated Watkins v Patrick Bamford (£6.1m) on his Wildcard, favouring the Villa player given the fixtures.
However, speaking on the FPL Wire, Lateriser questioned whether fixtures mattered for Bamford given that his impressive stats were put together despite playing against Manchester City and Liverpool. He suggested Bamford could be the better long term option.
Comparing Bamford to Watkins and Che Adams (£5.9m), Holly explained what all the fuss is about:
Delving into the underlying statistics, Bamford is top among all players for big chances (seven) [over the last four Gameweeks] … He’s also the most impressive of the trio in terms of shots (18), shots on target (eight) and shots inside the box (16), posting the leading tallies of any player once again.– Holly
With so many good players pushing for a place in our teams, sacrifices will have to be made. As Sam Bonfield concluded in her latest piece:
It is impossible to own everyone – but it is possible to set your team to return as many potential FPL points as possible by carefully distributing our FPL budget across the field.– Sam
For those interested in the Head-to-Head Leagues, the main page can be linked to here. The fixtures for Gameweek 9 can be found below:
Use the drop-down menus to show your league and division. To find out which league and division you are in, follow the instructions on the main Head-to-Head page.
Once the Gameweek starts, if you click on your opponent’s name you will be linked to their team on the FPL website.
Finally, a quick heads up that the Gameweek 10 deadline is on Friday next week.
And may your arrows be green!