A return to Premier League action was much appreciated after a cumbersome international break. The goals flied in for Gameweek 4, though it was a low scoring affair for Fantasy managers. I revisit the major events of this week.
Manchester City 5-0 Liverpool
Saturday’s early kickoff saw the goals fly in in the big game, as Man City thumped Liverpool 5-0. Gabriel Jesus (£10.4m) scored a brace, Sergio Aguero (£11.5m) netted one, while Leroy Sane (£8.2m) came off the bench to score two. Kevin de Bruyne (£9.9m) finally delivered with two assists. City’s fullbacks Kyle Walker and Benjamin Mendy (both £6.5m) each picked up an assist too, while Aguero too notched up his first assist of the season.
Liverpool forwards frustrate owners
Mane was sent off for this kick to Ederson’s face
Perhaps the biggest talking point from the Etihad was Sadio Mane (£9.6m) being sent off. The winger, much to the frustration of his owners, picked up -2 points. As a result, Mane is now suspended for the next two Gameweeks. With Spurs having 4 excellent fixtures on the horizon, a move to similarly priced Dele Alli (£9.5m) or Christian Eriksen (£9.7m) is best advised. Mohamed Salah‘s ownership also endured a 1-pointer, with Jurgen Klopp opting to substitute him off at half time. Salah owners should still keep the Egyptian despite this, with Burnley at home the next fixture. He was perhaps being rested for the Champions League clash midweek, and should be starting next week, especially with Mane out. The Egyptian had a great chance early on in the first half, but his meek effort was saved by Ederson.
The Man City conundrum
5 goals on Saturday, WAT (A), CRY (H), CHE (A), STK (H), and BUR (H) in the next 5. Yet, as hard it is to avoid City attackers, it could be the best course of action. Pep Guardiola’s men haven’t exactly offered up a reliable option so far. Jesus has scored 3 in the last 2, but he was subbed off after 55 minutes on Saturday, and at half time against Everton. This could be a trend with City’s fixture congestion, and perhaps the Brazilian could be rotated with Aguero. With Harry Kane and Romelu Lukaku looking like permanent fixtures in our front lines, Jesus could be someone that could be hard to accommodate.
Aguero was benched last Gameweek, and continues to be at risk of rotation, something you do not want in a £11.5m asset. de Bruyne’s spot is perhaps more secure, but 2 assists in 4 Gameweeks is still a poor return for £9.9m. He did play more advanced than he had been in the opening 3 games, but City will likely shift back to 4 at the back for their ‘easier’ games and de Bruyne could find himself in a deeper role again. With the outlay they demand, perhaps it’s best avoiding City assets given the uncertainty around them.
Arsenal 3-0 Bournemouth
Arsenal finally ended their poor run of form with a 3-0 win against Bournemouth at home. Danny Welbeck (£7.5m) scored twice and assisted one, Alexandre Lacazette (£10.4m) netted his second for the season while Aaron Ramsey (£7.0m) and Sead Kolasinac (£6.0m) got into the assists.
Arsenal defensive options look more attractive
The Gunners returning to form is a welcome sight for Fantasy managers. This aligns well with their shift in fixture difficulty. After their GW5 clash against Chelsea, their fixtures read WBA (H), BHA (H), WAT (A), EVE (A) and SWA (H). Certainly, their assets could prove hard to ignore with 4 very attractive fixtures. In defense, Kolasinac could be a brilliant pick up. Finally deployed as a left wingback by Wenger, his attacking forays down the left earned him a second assist for the season, along with 2 bonus points. With clean sheet prospects looking better, he could contribute at both ends of the pitch. Nacho Monreal (£5.4m) grabbed a bonus point and could be an option kinder to the budget.
So do their attackers, but not immediately
Lacazette scored his second for the season with a sumptuous finish. He has now scored twice in three starts, and a goal in the third was incorrectly ruled out by the linesman. His impressive form gives us another premium striker to consider, especially with penalty duties in his locker. It could be hard to fit him in though, with the aforementioned Kane and Lukaku. Alexis Sanchez (£11.9m) was benched for this one, following international exertions for Chile. Surely he can’t be there for long. We all know very well what he is capable of. The Chilean scored a colossal 264 points last season, 39 more than the next highest scorer. If he shows any kind of form, with these fixtures, he could be the ultimate heavy hitting differential.
Welbeck got 16 points and might seem like an attractive third striker option, but I would avoid. Long term, I can’t see him start in front of any of the preferred Arsenal front 3 of Ozil, Lacazette and Sanchez. His spot will perhaps never be certain, unless for some injuries. Same goes for Ramsey, whose spot is also not assured in the bigger games. As for Bournemouth, I would avoid not touch any of their assets with a barge pole. Their fixtures are not getting easier, and with 4 defeats in 4, neither is their form.
Brighton 3-1 West Brom
Brighton earned their first victory in the Premier League, as they put West Brom to the sword 3-1. Pascal Gross (£5.4m) scored twice and assisted once en route to an 18 point haul. Tommy Hemed (£4.9m) scored once and assisted one, while Solly March (£5.0m) grabbed an assist. James Morrison (£5.0m) scored for West Brom, assisted by substitute Oliver Burke.
Brighton end their scoring duck
Brighton finally scored after 3 goalless games. They have Gross to thank for that, who had a dream day. He might seem like an attractive budget option for a 4th midfielder at that attractive price tag, this may just be a flash in the pan. The German midfielder has only scored 5 and 1 goals in his past two seasons respectively, and expecting regular goals could lead to disappointment. Hemed also seems like a kindly priced option, but his spot could be in danger with Glenn Murray lurking. Perhaps our investment in the Seagulls should only be limited to their defense.
West Brom defenders disappoint
The much vaunted West Brom defense came up a cropper again. However, with WHU (H), ARS (A), WAT (H), LEI (A) and SOT (A) in the next 5, their clean sheets prospects still look decent. It may be a worry for Ahmed Hegazi’s owners, though. The Egyptian was subbed off before the 60th minute mark, and his spot in the side looks far from secure now. Nyom, Dawson, Evans, Gibbs is perhaps the first choice defense, and Gareth McAuley lurking too. Perhaps a like for like swap for Jonny Evans (£4.9m) could be on the cards, or Harry Maguire/Phil Jones (£5.1m) and Kevin Wimmer (£4.4m) options with improving fixtures if you want to move a price bracket up or down. Their attack is still best avoided.
Everton 0-3 Spurs
Spurs finally showed glimpses of their scintillating best, with an effortless 3-0 win at Goodison Park. Harry Kane (£12.4m) shrugged off his August blues with a brace while Christian Eriksen (£9.7m) netted one from close range. Ben Davies (£5.7m) bagged a pair of assists, while fellow fullback Kieran Trippier (£5.4m) also got an assist.
Can Kane be avoided now?
Kane broke his duck with a wonderful curling effort from a crossing position, then a well taken tap-in from a Davies cross. One thing about Kane is, when he starts scoring, he continues scoring. In 2015/16 it took him 7 games to start scoring at the start of the season, but he followed that up with 8 goals in the next 7 games. In 16/17, he endured a similar 3 game drought at the start like this season, but followed that up with 7 goals in his next 6. With SWA (H), WHU (A), HUD (A) and BOU (H) in his next 4, the most expensive player in the game seems irresistible. Only the gutsiest of managers would choose not to captain him in GW5, let alone go without him. We all know what the two-time Golden Boot winner can do, and his ownership will be swelling by the minute. You might have to get him at any cost.
Davies too throws up an enticing option, plus two of the best Mane replacements
Ben Davies added two assists to his clean sheet en route a 14-point haul. He is now the top scoring player in FPL, and has created 14 chances, more than any other defender. Even though his spot is in risk with Danny Rose returns from injury, it may be hard to avoid his value till then, with the attractive fixtures up ahead. Eriksen scored his first of the season, and you can expect him to add many more with that run of fixtures. Despite threat of early substitution because of Champions League, he should still be one of the top Mane replacements, perhaps better than teammate Dele Alli (£9.5m). Alli, too, is another good option still, at £0.2m cheaper, having scored twice in the first four games. As for Everton, I would wait for after GW5, when their horror run of fixtures ends, before assessing their options.
Southampton 0-2 Watford
Daryl Janmaat (£4.9m) and Abdoulaye Doucoure (£5.1m) were the unlikely scorers as Watford won away at Southampton, with Kiko Femenia (£4.5m) and Tom Cleverley (£5.0m) the unlikely assisters.
Southampton a let down
It was a disappointing day for owners of Southampton defenders, who got 1 point in a plum home fixture. However, with fixtures as good as CRY (A), MUN (H), STK (A), NEW (H), WBA (H), BHA (A), BUR (H) all the way up to GW12, it would be foolhardy to get rid of their defenders. It was unlucky as well, with both the goals being weak long shots from distance which Fraser Forster was at fault at. The only cause of concern is for owners of Jack Stephens and Maya Yoshida. Yoshida was dropped for new signing Wesley Hoedt, and could be dropped for good. Virgil van Dijk is playing for Southampton reserves tonight, in order to get his fitness back, which could mean Stephens drops out too. A like for like swap for Cedric Soares (£5.0m) is perhaps a wise move, or to the aforementioned Maguire, Evans or Wimmer. The Portuguese right-back tested Heurelho Gomes with a long-range effort late on.
Their attackers, too, are best avoided. Southampton have failed to score in 8 of their last 10 league games. It is about time for owners of Manolo Gabbiadini, Nathan Redmond and Dusan Tadic to look for alternatives.
Watford have the form, but not the fixtures
Watford continued their brilliant start to the season with their 2nd win to add to their 2 draws in the first four game. But they face Arsenal, Man City and Chelsea in their next 5, along with two away encounters. This is a huge deterrent to investing in any assets. Doucoure might seem like an enticing 4th midfielder option, but his past history suggests he may just be another Etienne Capoue, a flash in the pan.