It has been yet another long and not really exciting international break. The majority of top teams have already comfortably secured their plans for next summer’s World Cup (yet to be confirmed though for such monsters as Italy, Argentina and Croatia) and can already start booking tickets to Russia. We are just bit over 72 hours from the Premier League action so let’s look at what is coming:
GW 8 Fixture List
Saturday, October 14
Burnley v. West Ham
Manchester City v. Stoke
Swansea v. Huddersfield
Tottenham v. Bournemouth
Watford v. Arsenal
Sunday, October 15
Brighton v. Everton
Monday, October 16
Leicester v. West Brom
Which should just be watched (PASS) to enjoy the beautiful game? Which should be mined (or SHOOT) for FPL investment?
Liverpool v. Manchester United
One of the longest and fiercest, but usually low scoring rivalries in the history of the English game is approaching us as too unpredictable for FPL. But, I’m so looking forward to following this one as a fan of the game. Paul Pogba is a long-term absence. Marouane Fellaini is a fresh injury concern almost certain to miss this one. Romelu Lukaku missed national team games but is rumoured to have a chance of featuring as United need a strong, tall presence in that penalty box.
Liverpool will face one of the most pragmatic and simultaneously solid teams in the league, a side known for being able to snuff out any creative spark. Besides this aforementioned spark – I don’t fancy anything about this Liverpool side so far. Defense has been shambolic (hello from Joselu), Roberto Firmino is no longer firing, and Mohamed Salah, Philippe Coutinho & Sadio Mane will face one of the most solid defenses with centurion David De Gea in the goal. I propose fantasy managers stay off this unless Lukaku is confirmed by the early kick off line-up being available (and even so, he is far from an automatic captain choice). Otherwise I pass…
Watford v. Arsenal
Watford has been impressive so far, snatching a win and a draw after the 90th minute in the last two games. The team is strong and finally confident. They’re skillful enough, having Heurelho Gomes for crazy saves, and Brazilian magic in Richarlison.
Week in and week out, Arsenal raises questions about their Top 4 pursuit. Alexandre Lacazette is yet to score away from home, Alexis Sanchez will be just back from his international exploits, and I’m not overly impressed with what this team is capable of when the opponent is not only defending. Watford was the winner in the last three games between these two, and they are in general not a shy one to be afraid of this Arsenal team. With great options being available in Chelsea, City and Spurs games, I recommend you pass on this and make your judgment on the future potential of the teams once this is over.
Swansea City v. Huddersfield
Can’t call this a six-pointer just yet, but it’s very close to it. Huddersfield has been solid so far, collapsing drastically only against Spurs in GW7. They don’t offer much of a threat in attack, but the defense has been really well-organized and Jonas Lossl impressive. Can’t see them scoring here, but they will limit Swans to the minimum as well.
Swansea’s scenario is kind of similar to their opponents’, just that the calendar was tougher so far, and luck has been way-way harder. The team has shown great organization in the back, and Lucasz Fabianski is the league’s current saves leader (with almost twice as many as De Gea). Their front line is in fact really well-equipped, with Tammy Abraham (fresh from scoring and assisting for the England U-21), Wilfried Bony, Renato Sanches, Jordan Ayew and Tom Carroll all ready to pull the trigger. However this looks like the encounter where the result will mean more than the scored goals, so it looks like a dull and nervy 0-0 to me with a possible weird single goal. Pass unless you have any picks in defense to make.
Tottenham Hotspur v. Bournemouth
Ok, ok, tell me now about the Swansea game in GW5… Full of great memories? Did you triple-captain Harry Kane? It’s possible… no doubt about it, but I’m loving great stories, and Kane’s one this season has been nothing but romantic. Cursed by the August oblivion and typical English over-expectation, the magic knight Harry has made a 180 degree U-turn since then and bagged six in Premier League, five in Champions League, and two for England (one of which came at Wembley). He is breathing confidence, and I simply can’t see a blank week happening for him again. My only hope is that while I’m typing this, England boss Southgate gives him some well-deserved rest so Harry doesn’t pick up an unnecessary knock. Bang-bang will be happening at Wembley this weekend, remember this please.
It’s rude not to mention the opponents though, but I honestly can’t say much for them this season. Slow and predictable, Bournemouth haven’t displayed anything bright this year. Plus, their only spark for me, Joshua King, limped off injured in Norway’s qualifier, so he is a major doubt now. Spurs are my all-in this GW.
No Sergio Aguero – harsh, but no problem they said. Is it really so? Kun is a known predator, the one that Jesus isn’t just yet. City is on the league champions run these days, but can they dismantle a gutsy Stoke side in the same elegant manner as when Kun is on point? My answer is yes, they can. City have too much quality and speed in those fullbacks, too creative and young are the wings, Fernandinho has been rock solid in the midfield, and this all is orchestrated by the best of their age Silva and De Bruyne. Don’t expect a 7-0 beating up, but it does look like a two or three goal difference to me.
Stoke though deserves full praise for the way they have performed this year. How many of you had one of Xherdan Shaqiri, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting or Jese in your lineup so far? They will fight, no doubt about it as they only collapsed once (against Chelsea) this season, and they held City to a nil-nil draw at the Etihad last year. My verdict, a 2 (or 3) to zero win for the Citizens. With Kun out, the main question is whether to jump on the Jesus Gabriel train or focus investment elsewhere.
Crystal Palace v. Chelsea
While typing this, I read that N’Golo Kante pulled his hamstring playing for France, so it doesn’t look like he will feature during the weekend. That’s a huge blow. It made me almost re-group this article until I calmed down and realized hey, it’s Crystal Palace here… least lucky, bottom of the table, and yet to score. Themselves missing Wilfried Zaha, Palace played Mamadou Sakho and Jeffrey Schlupp in attack in their previous game. Though without Alvaro Morata or Kante, Chelsea will welcome back David Luiz from suspension, with the big question remaining as to whether Batsman (Michy Batshuayi) is ready to take his chance while Morata is sidelined.
I watched two full games of Crystal Palace after the appointment of Hodgson, and I wonder how he even signed up for the job. Palace might yet fight to stay up and give Chelsea a match, but even their best shouldn’t be enough to ward off the Blues. Chelsea it is, both defensively and in attack.
Burnley v. West Ham United (Bonus)
I tried hard to limit the options to three each for pass and shoot, but couldn’t resist writing some lines about the Burnley game. I usually dislike defensive teams, but Burnley fights with their hearts, and that appeals to my eye.
- Really impressed with the defense and goalkeeper
- West Ham struggle to be consistent and aren’t the attacking force so far
- Burnley are permanently hard to crack at home (reminding me of good old Stoke), keeping two clean sheets in three home games this season. Plus, they didn’t let the goals flow against Spurs, Everton and Liverpool.
My view is to invest in Burnley defense and maybe an odd goal by Chris Wood (scored again for New Zealand).
What about the remaining games?
I didn’t mention Sunday and Monday games. I expect those to be pretty sturdy, defensive-minded and low-scoring games that can go any way. Though it might be worth trying your luck with defensive picks, beware the risk.
My current line up:
Ward / Alonso / Davies / Otamendi / Walker
Silva / last chance Siggy / Eriksen
Kane (C) / Vardy
I have yet to click the “Save” button, waiting until later this week but not until Friday night when price changes usually occur.
What do you think about my assessment of the fixtures? Are there any others that you are heavily investing in or entirely avoiding? Share your thoughts in the comments below!