With ten games of a 2017/2018 Premier League season now history, we are anxiously reviewing our fantasy squads, hoping for a moment of inspiration to predict the best performers. Let’s start with a quick Champions and Europa League review of English teams that can provide some food for your FPL thoughts:
It hurts me to admit, but Tottenham made fun of defending champion Real Madrid with a blistering display at Wembley. Spurs were faster, hungrier and simply wanted it all. Kieran Trippier would be nailed to start in my FPL squad should his position in the starting 11 be guaranteed. A trident of Eriksen, Dele Alli and Harry Kane were at their best, tearing that makeshift Mardid defense into pieces. Harry Kane deserves each and all of the credit and should be in your squad if healthy.
Chelsea were trashed in Rome, and it was not just the scoreline (0-3), but the way the team functioned that caught my eye. Alvaro Morata kept his head down and missed another sitter; Cesc Fabregas’ passing and lack of pace left much to be desired; Thibaut Courtois was as annoyed as I have ever seen him; and Marcos Alonso is completely out of form, with sloppy passing and lack of pace.
Last but not least was defense, an embarrassing act from Antonio Rudiger, David Luiz and Cesar Azpilicueta, who chased down speedster Edin Dzeko (j.k., of course) in overly compressed form, leaving 70% of the pitch exposed. They gave a U-10 team performance, so feel free to worry should you have any of Chelsea’s defensive assets.
Eden Hazard and Pedro were perhaps the only bright spots for Chelsea, but it obviously wasn’t enough. If they lose to Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United this weekend, we could see Antonio Conte returning back to Italy way sooner than he and all of us expected.
Manchester United kept yet another clean sheet (2-0), but I only saw one hero down there: David DeGea. Benfica had some quite clear-cut chances and should have scored on at least one of them. A play-off spot is now in United’s pocket, so we can expect even more rotation in the remaining two games. Romelu Lukaku though looks like he needs a week off and is desperately waiting for Paul Pogba’s return.
Liverpool were the comfortable winners against the CL minnows Maribor (3-0). Mohamed Salah was the star of the show again and bagged a goal. He missed a sitter in an another attack, and he deferred penalty duties to James Milner. Roberto Firmino was lively but struggled to finish his numerous efforts. Alberto Moreno and Trent Alexander-Arnold were the solid wing-backs and should be up for your consideration, especially when Liverpool is playing at Anfield. However, Joe Gomez is currently preferred in the League.
Manchester City outplayed Napoli (4-2) in a very entertaining game of football. When City’s forwards don’t fire, their defenders come to rescue. Both Nicolas Otamendi and John Stones were again a strong presence on City’s corners, each with a goal.
When Napoli suddenly managed to get back into the game, Sane led a tornado-like counter-attack that was finished by Aguero to fire them into the lead again. Raheem Sterling, who was outstanding throughout, finished the business on 90+, giving Guardiola even more good to puzzle over in his coming team selections.
Oh yes, David Silva and Jesus were both rested, run-out only in the 2nd half. Is it an indicator of a planned starting spot against Arsenal? My fingers are crossed as I currently own both.
Everton (in Europa League) were abysmal at Lyon, suffering a heavy defeat (0-3). Nothing to add in here, but Dominic Calvert-Lewin is a possible cheap 3rd striker. Next please.
Arsenal played with a 3rd or 4th string squad tonight, because I honestly couldn’t recognize even half the names on their roster. This resulted in a sleepy, goalless draw. Arsene Wenger is obviously trying to rest his key assets, but I still can’t see them getting far against the ManCity gang.
With the European review now behind us, let me ask you a few questions that must be occupying most of our minds before confirming your transfers and selecting a captain:
Is it Kane, Aguero or both a must-have now?
Harry Kane is a beast. He tortured Real Madrid defense throughout the whole encounter and looked fitter than most of the visitors. Keep in mind that this very Kane was sidelined against Manchester United just four days ago. Tottenham found their energetic style again and looked like a team, deserving to make it at least into the quarter-finals this year. Besides Arsenal, Spurs’ next seven games are a pure joy, so the question is simple -- is Kane now a must have again?
Sergio Aguero is a beast, too. The Argentinian predator made a miraculously quick return after his Amsterdam travails and looks as fit and hungry for goals as he ever has. He seems to be one of Pep Guardiola’s favorites, and he keeps repaying that faith with stellar form so far this season. With service from the wings (Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling, or possibly Gabriel Jesus), fullbacks (Kyle Walker and Fabian Delph), and attacking midfield (Kevin de Bruyne and David Silva), converting chances should be a pure joy for the in-form striker.
Is one bigger than the other? I don’t think so and will keep it straight -- once I find money, I will get both Kane and Aguero. Both create chances for themselves. Both enjoy top-drawer service. Both play for well-balanced teams. It might be bit early for a whole season-keeper statement, but this pair looks like a fair deal for their price.
Can anybody guess the Manchester City line-up?
City looks like a Premier League Champion team now. Will they carry their form throughout the whole season? Unlikely. Are they talented and balanced enough to still be more effective than the opponents? Oh yes.
Predicting City’s starting eleven is becoming ever more complex, but simultaneously more rewarding, especially if you can guess a captain.
I tried counting minutes, and it worked to some extent. I was able to guess a starting line-up, but then those starters remained silent, were subbed around the 60th minute, and the bench scored (yes, I’m talking about you, Raheem).
Applying that logic to this game week, it looks like Jesus and David Silva are guaranteed to start with Sane probably finding himself on the bench. Keep in mind that Otamendi is only one yellow card away from an accumulation suspension, so it might not be the correct moment to acquire him now. Kyle Walker will be right back into his right wing after being rested on Wednesday, and he will be a great fantasy asset.
Were Kante & Pogba so influential?
Is it just an unlucky coincidence that both Chelsea and Manchester United started playing unconvincingly? Well, at least United can defend, you say. True, but they lost their balance completely and are looking a pale shadow of their August selves. Both N’Golo Kante and Paul Pogba are tipped to be fit enough to make it to the bench in GW 11.
Do you think both teams will be transformed once these Frenchmen are back in? I personally see Lukaku and Pogba making it straight away into millions of fantasy teams, as United becomes an attractive fantasy investment in general again.
What about Chelsea? I’m not yet convinced that Conte can survive the storm. Kante’s return should patch the leaky defense, and a trident of Hazard + Morata + Pedro/Willian should have enough quality to carry the team. I see big fat zeroes all around the upcoming encounter at Stamford Bridge, so you should stay away and see who is standing after the final whistle.
Just to remind you the upcoming fixtures:
Saturday 04 November
Huddersfield v. West Brom
Swansea v. Brighton
Sunday 05 November
Manchester City v. Arsenal
Chelsea v. Manchester United
My current FPL team:
Moreno / Ward / Otamendi
David Silva / Richarlison / Eriksen / Gross / Salah
Jesus (V) / Kane (C)
Are you jumping back on the Harry Kane train? Is Aguero’s starting spot now a given, or will he be rotated? Is there any other value in this Manchester United squad beyond clean-sheet prospects? Are you picking Sane, Sterling, Jesus, or all of them? Will Chelsea be back to normal before or after Conte is axed? Let’s chat, and thanks for reading!