In an exciting game-week 9, Liverpool managed only one goal, but that was enough to reward those who kept the faith in Mo Salah as well as fantasy managers with defensive interest in the Reds. Manchester City romped with five scores and a clean sheet against Burnley, as Sergio Aguero and Bernardo Silva were among the goals, while fellow fantasy favorites David Silva and Benjamin Mendy chipped in with an assist each. Arsenal took care of Leicester at the Emirates, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Mesut Ozil starring on offense.
On balance, though, unpredictability ruled the week in a negative fashion. AFC Bournemouth came in with the fourth best offense in the league, at home against 16th place Southampton. But what happened? A shocking nil-nil draw, burning managers who had invested in Joshua King, Callum Wilson and/or Ryan Fraser, while the comparatively few who had backed the Cherries’ defense could celebrate (and if anyone invested in the Saints’ defense, let’s hear about it!). Tottenham eked out a 1-0 triumph at West Ham’s London Stadium, but it was Erik Lamela — not Harry Kane or Lucas Moura — who notched the winner. Chelsea netted two goals, but the normally prolific Eden Hazard surprisingly was not involved in either. Similarly, Everton nicked a pair of scores, but they both came late from subs, leaving Richarlison, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Theo Walcott out of the fun. Cardiff destroyed Fulham to the tune of four goals, but a paucity of fantasy teams were in on the action; after all, the Bluebirds had only managed four scores total across the first eight contests, leaving Cardiff investment low. In a complete reversal of momentum, Watford won 2-0 at Wolverhampton, killing hopes for another Wolves’ clean sheet for those who had jumped on the Rui Patricio and Matt Doherty bandwagon, instead rewarding the few who had not sold off their Hornets’ interests.
Where did that leave us? Well, in Official FPL, points were considerably tougher than usual to come by; of the top 50 overall scorers for the season in the NMA league, only two sides cracked 60 points, while 36 squads were in the 40s or lower. Unfortunately, I was part of that latter group, scoring only 38 points in Week 9, by far my fewest tally of the season, a nearly 50% drop-off from a much more prosperous return of 75 in Week 8. Captaining Eden Hazard (and his 1 measly point) was an source of extreme gut-ache.
However, in the NMA Fantrax standard league, 33 teams netted 100 points, not too shabby! Thankfully, I was among that group with a 108 point return, although that was a slight fade from 118 the prior week. Clearly, having peripheral ways to grab points — not just goals, assists and clean sheets — can reduce the impact of unpredictability.
Looking at the 18 players selected by at least 20% of FPL managers, it was pretty gosh darn brutal. Not a single one of them scored in double digits in FPL, and the average score (including the two who did not play) was a paltry 3.28 points. In Fantrax, with four in double digits and an average of 6.17, things were better, but certainly not a bonanza. (The averages excluding the two who did not play were 3.69 and 6.94 ppg, respectively.)
GW9 Scores of Highly-Owned Players
|FPL POS.||PLAYER||TEAM||FPL % SELECTED BY||FPL PTS.||FANTRAX PTS.|
|FPL POS.||PLAYER||TEAM||FPL % SELECTED BY||FPL PTS.||FANTRAX PTS.|
|FW||S. Aguero||Man. City||52%||6||17|
|DEF||A. Wan-Bissaka||Cry. Palace||30%||1||8|
|ALL POS.||ALL PLAYERS||AVERAGE||30%||3.28||6.17|
Week 9 was just your usual painful reminder that sometimes things go largely to form, while other times they are extremely unpredictable. Of course, there is always a mix of both across the wide spate of games in any given Premier League weekend. So, what’s in store for Week 10? Here’s hoping for the balance shifting more toward predictable and away from unpredictable so we can wash the sour taste from last week out of our mouths!
Brighton v. Wolverhampton
You may be surprised, but Brighton actually comes into this in fine form with two straight wins (1-0 against West Ham, then at Newcastle). Wolves are theoretically better competition than those two sides, but sure didn’t show it at home to Watford last week, losing limply 2-0. Unpredictable? You betcha!
Fulham v. Bournemouth
Fulham’s defense has been absolutely wretched this season, particularly lately, having allowed 12(!) goals in the past three games. As mentioned above, that includes 4 last weekend by a Cardiff squad that had scored only 4 total in the first eight games of the season. Meanwhile, Bournemouth boasts the fourth-best offense in the league (tied with Liverpool and Tottenham), but the Cherries were just blanked... at home... by 16th place Southampton. Does the Bournemouth offense kick things back into gear as we think they should, or is another letdown in store?
Liverpool v. Cardiff
2nd place at home against 17th place. Easy peasy, quick and easy, right? You would think so, but don’t forget that Cardiff is coming off a win (over Fulham), and that Liverpool has had some trouble against lesser foes, winning 1-0 last week over Huddersfield and also eking out a 1-0 victory earlier in the season hosting Brighton at Anfield. It would be an absolute shock if Cardiff emerged the victor, but would you be terribly surprised if Liverpool did not win convincingly?
Southampton v. Newcastle United
Featuring two teams in the bottom five, here’s an early six-pointer! A loss would certainly pile an awful lot more pressure on either Mark Hughes or Rafa Benitez. Each team has scored only 6 goals while also allowing 14, so what gives?
Watford v. Huddersfield
The Hornets earned 12 points from the first four games, followed by only one from the next quartet. With a victory in Week 9 at Wolves, do we have a return to form for Watford? Does Huddersfield, the team with the fewest goals scored (4) in the league even have a shot? Or does Watford’s 1-1 draw at Fulham in Week 6 give the visitors real hope of getting something out of this?
Leicester v. West Ham (Late Game)
The Foxes have absolutely feasted on the minnows this season, with victories at Southampton, v. Huddersfield, and at Newcastle (the other win came v. Wolverhampton). Now 14th place West Ham visits King Power. Is that minnow-y enough?
[Scheduling note: The UK switches from “summer time” to standard time in the wee hours of Sunday morning, “falling back” an hour closer to the US for one week. Don’t let that mess up your fantasy management or match-viewing this Sunday/Monday or next weekend’s deadline and Saturday!]
Burnley v. Chelsea
The Clarets were absolutely crushed 5-0 at Manchester City last weekend. Now they face another of the EPL’s elite teams in Chelsea. However, they can look to last season’s tight contests against the Blues (a 3-2 win at Stamford Bridge, then a 2-1 loss at Turf Moor) for inspiration. Are we in for another real battle along those lines, or a second straight blowout?
Crystal Palace v. Arsenal
This one seems unfair on paper, even with Crystal Palace home at Selhurst Park. The Eagles have lost three straight league matches — and have only one win in the past eight, while the Gunners have won ten straight across all competitions, seven of those coming in the league. The big question may be who stars for the visitors among Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Mesut Ozil.
Manchester United v. Everton (Late Game)
How strange is this season so far? Manchester United enters this game in 10th place, while Everton is actually ahead in 8th. Evidence of the Red Devils’ schizophrenic season came with a solid 2-2 draw at Chelsea last weekend followed by a lackluster 1-0 home loss to Juventus in the mid-week Champions League affair. How many lives does Jose Mourinho have left? Tune in and find out!
Tottenham v. Manchester City
Sometimes the Monday game is a brilliant long-weekend capper that everybody is excited to tune in for. In other cases, it can be quite the opposite. I think we all know which one this is. The teams are coming off wildly different mid-week momentum: Gaffe-laden Tottenham continued to sputter in the Champions League group stage by drawing a must-win game 2-2 at PSV Eindhoven. The classy Citizens won comfortably 3-0 visiting Shakhtar Donetsk.
Spurs are still dealing with injuries to key players (Deli Alli and Jan Vertonghen, notably), but at least Christian Eriksen will be ready to go after playing the full 90 in Holland. City have Kevin De Bruyne back to fitness (he played 69’) for the visitors. It will be fascinating as always to see the teams’ two playmakers face off. Of course, there’s also Harry Kane v. Sergio Aguero if you’re comparing goal scoring star forwards. And Mauricio Pochettino head-to-head with Pep Guardiola if you prefer the manager match-up. So much to love!
Which games are you watching? What teams and players do you predict will enjoy success? Who’s on your barn-door watchlist? Did you remember the UK time change on Sunday morning? Let us know in the comments and join in the chatter as the action unfolds live!