As we move into our first international break of the season, I look back at the events of Gameweek 3 and discuss the major talking points.
Bournemouth 1-2 Man City
At the Vitality Stadium, Man City left it extremely late to win in a controversial manner. In the first half, Charlie Daniels (£5.0m) opened the scoring while Gabriel Jesus (£10.4m) equalized. Raheem Sterling (£7.9m) scored in the 100th minute but was then sent off for celebrating with the crowd. David Silva (£8.1m) and Danilo (£5.5m) were amongst the assists. Pep Guardiola, again, gave a timely reminder how he cannot be trusted. Before the season, it was common wisdom that Gabriel Jesus was a Pep player. Sergio Aguero would have to play second fiddle, most thought. In Gameweek 2 though, we observed something that suggested otherwise. Jesus was hooked off at half time, while Aguero stayed on. Was Guardiola finally moving towards favoring the mercurial Argentine? No, as it turned out. Guardiola benched Aguero, preferred Jesus up top alone, who scored en route a 9-pointer.
Man City’s next five fixtures are LIV (H), WAT (A), CRY (H), CHE (A) and STK (H). It might be worth ignoring their assets altogether, given this uncertainty between Aguero and Jesus. If you’re spending £10.0m+ on a player, the least you want to be certain about is their spot in the side. Kevin de Bruyne (£9.9m) looks like the only one secure from this rotation circus. He’s been playing too deep, hasn’t influenced games and has not done anything worthy of such a high price tag. Their defense has only kept one clean sheet in 3, that too against Brighton.
As for Bournemouth, they slumped to a third defeat in 3. Their next 5 fixtures are ARS (A), BHA (H), EVE (A), LEI (H), TOT (A). With 3 extremely tough away fixtures in the next 5, it may be prudent to avoid the Cherries completely, too.
Crystal Palace 0-2 Swansea
Swansea got their first win of the season, with a comfortable 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace. Tammy Abraham (£5.5m) and Jordan Ayew (£5.0m) scored, while Kyle Naughton (£4.5m) and Leroy Fer (£5.5m) assisted. Abraham and Ayew have strengthened their credentials as top-notch bargain forward picks. However, with the return of Fernando Llorente lurking, there is still uncertainty around their spots. If they can nail down a spot though, with Eden Hazard and possibly Alexis Sanchez back in the equations, they may be the enablers we’re looking for. Kyle Naughton grabbed a clean sheet, assist and max bonus points to amass 12 points for the week. This was Swansea’s second cleansheet in 3 games. With NEW (H), TOT (A), WAT (H), WHU (A) and HUD (H) in the next 5, a Swansea defender may be worth getting, with Naughton the prime pick.
Crystal Palace too slumped to their third defeat in three games. They are yet to score this season, and previous to this, conceded 3 to Huddersfield at home. With MCI (A), MUN (A) and CHE (H) in their next 5, don’t touch their players with a barge pole.
Huddersfield 0-0 Southampton
In a dour encounter, Huddersfield and Southampton oversaw a goalless stalemate. This was Huddersfield’s third clean sheet in a row, while for Southampton, it was 2 in 3. For both teams, it’s certainly the defense to focus at. Huddersfield’s next 5 fixtures are WHU (A), LEI (H), BUR (A), TOT (H) and SWA (A). At £4.5m, their defenders represent excellent value with those fixtures coming up ahead. On a wildcard, you should definitely look into investing in one, given that they’re yet to concede. Steve Mounie (£6.0m) had an opportunity to add to his 2 goals, too, as the Terriers dominated their more fancied opponents. He may also be worth a consideration for a cheap third striker.
For Southampton, the same goes for their defense. Their next 5 fixtures are WAT (H), CRY (A), MUN (H), STK (A), NEW (H), which looks ripe for many more clean sheets. At £5.0m, Cedric Soares looked like a snip pre-season, and he still looks like a snip. He’s also perhaps the safest in their defense, with Wesley Hoedt coming in and uncertainty around Virgil van Dijk. Their attackers haven’t looked very sharp, but if you own one of Manolo Gabbiadini, Dusan Tadic or Nathan Redmond, you might just want to keep them and sort out more pressing issues first.
Newcastle 3-0 West Ham
Newcastle announced their return to the Premier League, with a 3-0 victory over struggling West Ham. Ciaran Clark (£4.5m), Aleksandr Mitrovic (£5.0m) and new signing Joselu (£5.5m) scored, assisted by Matt Ritchie (£5.9m), Christian Atsu (£5.0m) and Ayoze Perez (£5.5m).
Newcastle have attractive fixtures in the next 5, with SWA (A), STK (H), BHA (A), LIV (H) and SOT (H). Keep following Newcastle’s transfer business. If they end up not signing another goalkeeper, Rob Elliot (£4.0m) will be their first choice till January. With those fixtures and a basement price, he’s definitely one to get to free up funds. Chancel Mbemba (£4.0m) got a clean sheet and maximum bonus points, amassing 9 points. Until Newcastle’s defensive injury crisis resolves itself, he could also be a good short term pick. Matt Ritchie may have endured a price fall, but for those who didn’t have him, it only makes him better. At £5.9m, he’s a good money saving option, who followed up his good performance against Huddersfield with a 6-pointer here.
West Ham suffered their third defeat in as many games, and they have conceded 11 goals in those games. Despite HUD (H), WBA (A), TOT (H), SWA (H) and BUR (A) in the next 5, it would be foolish to invest in their defense. Only Chicharito (£7.1m), who looked sharp on Saturday, is worthy of consideration. He has scored 2 goals thus far.
Watford 0-0 Brighton
In Saturday’s second goalless encounter, Brighton failed to break down 10-man Watford. After an early red card to Miguel Britos, Watford were chasing the game. It was their second clean sheet in a row, and it may be also worth factoring them into our £4.5m defender options. Kiko Femenia (£4.5m) grabbed 2 bonus points for the second successive game, and until Daryl Janmaat is out, he could be a quality pick up. Richarlison (£6.0m) disappointed this week, but he still remains a good budget differential. He has already scored and assisted in the first two weeks.
For Brighton, Anthony Knockaert (£5.9m) played a starring role. He hit the post, and could have won a penalty for his team had the referee not ruled Abdoulaye Doucoure’s high boot worthy of only an indirect free-kick inside the box. The Frenchman was a nuisance all game and at 1.3% ownership, could also be a good cheap differential. With WBA (H), BOU (A), NEW (H) their next 3 fixtures, Brighton’s defenders may also not be the worst investment.
Man Utd 2-0 Leicester
In Saturday’s late kickoff, Manchester United continued their perfect start to the season as they made it 9 points from a possible 9. Substitutes Marouane Fellaini and Marcus Rashford scored, while Henrikh Mkhitaryan (£8.3m) and another substitute in Jesse Lingard assisted. Romelu Lukaku was in 58.3% teams and captained by over 1.7 million people. When he walked up to the penalty spot, the 1.7 million must have been salivating. It didn’t quite follow the script though, as Lukaku’s effort was saved by Kasper Schmeichel and he earned 0 points for the day. Despite no points on Saturday, no one should be tempted to take the Belgian out. United still have excellent fixtures up until GW8 and he will punish you for considering transferring him out.
It was the 5th assist in 3 games for Mkhitaryan, who has solidified his spot as the prime mid-priced pick. His set-pieces came to the fore despite an off-day, with Rashford turning his corner into the goal. At £8.3m now, he still represents good value if you don’t own him. Paul Pogba (£8.2m) was a constant fixture in United’s forays forward, and constantly tested the keeper with his efforts from distance. While Mkhitaryan is still my preference between these two, he may not be the worst alternative with the price difference. Phil Jones (£5.1m) grabbed a bonus point to go with his clean sheet. It looks as if his spot in United’s defense is more or less certain now, and he represents the best value for money defender in the game right now. Get him in.
For Leicester, Harry Maguire (£5.1m) again had a very good showing, as Leicester frustrated the early pace-setters till the 70th minute. After the Foxes’ clash with Chelsea next gameweek, he could also be a good choice for your defense. Riyad Mahrez (£8.5m) again looked sharp, and if he stays at the King Power, he could also be an enticing differential for your teams.