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A Trip Around the League

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With (yet another) international break upon us, let’s take a look at who’s up and who’s down!

Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah - Liverpool - Premier League
And so Salah can wait, he knows it’s too late as Mane’s walking on by... and don’t look back in anger, I heard you say! It’s not too late...
Photo by Nick Potts/PA Images via Getty Images

A strong ligament of the knee that originates from the postero-medial portion of the lateral condyle of the femur, passes anteriorly and inferiorly between condyles, and attaches to the depression in front of…

…oh, there you are dear reader! Kindly bear with me while I place my trusty medical dictionary back on the bookshelf. Right. There.

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It’s time for my favorite activity to while away the hours during an international break: studying the medical dictionary to better understand the injuries that my beloved FPL stud is about to suffer from the spikes of a rugged and hulking central defender at a very rugged and corrupt faraway mountainous country.

It’s also time for your favorite international break down-time column!

Let us go then, you and I, on A Trip Around the League!

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ELITE SQUADS

Liverpool

Salah! No, Mane!

Which one? I still opt for Salah, but this, for the first time, has become a real question for me. Salah’s advanced stats look very promising because he has been shooting from inside the penalty area with a very high degree of frequency – and his number of touches in the box over his dry spell (GW 5-8) is roughly double that of Mane. But... It’s a question.

What isn’t a question, however, is that Trent Alexander-Arnold is a must own (and hold) during the upcoming period of rough fixtures.

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Manchester City

Pep Guardiola speaks to Kevin De Bruyne - Manchester City - Premier League
Hey, yo, Pep! C’mon man! Don’t bench KDB!
Photo by Simon Stacpoole/Offside/Offside via Getty Images

This is simple: When Kevin De Bruyne plays, they’re nigh unbeatable. When he doesn’t, they lose to Norwich and Wolves. Barring injury, Pep must never rotate KDB out of the XI unless he prefers to finish second to Liverpool.

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THE SECOND TIER SQUADS

Arsenal

The story of my FPL season so far: it has been a relative success, but no matter how hard I try, I can’t squeeze Spider-Man Aubameyang into my team. I really, really want Aubameyang, and you should too!

It might not be a bad time to scout some Arsenal defenders as the fullbacks get healthier: One of Kieran Tierney or Hector Bellerin could be very playable FPL assets!

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Leicester City

‘Jamie Vardy’s Having a Party’ - Leicester City Players Gather at Jamie Vardy’s House to Watch Title Rivals
The Vardy bus is comin’ and everybody’s jumpin / Leicester through GW11 / an interstate free disco
Photo by Plumb Images/Leicester City FC via Getty Images

Here’s hoping the Vardy family’s Insta feud with the Rooneys doesn’t spoil the Vardy Party that is about to hit FPL (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, you owe it to yourself to search for “Vardy Rooney feud”).

But back to the Vardy Party that’s about to roll in: That booming and invigorating music you hear is the sound of smart FPL managers loading up on Leicester assets ahead of the cakewalk schedule: Vardy! Maddison! Schmeichel! Soyuncu! Aaaand: Ricardo!

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Chelsea

Allow me a confession: Chelsea are my favorite watch this year. They’re so much fun on attack, and so poor at defending that they make most opponents look like prime Tiki-Taka Barcelona.

I am a very proud and satisfied FPL customer of the Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham duo. I’m even thinking about adding a third: N’Golo Kante or Callum Hudson-Odoi. We’ll see!

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Crystal Palace

Premiere Of Universal Pictures’ “Halloween” - Red Carpet
What did you do to our friend Wilf Zaha? Michael? Michael!
Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Like Michael Myers in a bad Halloween movie, this thing just won’t die! How are Palace still (somewhat) elite?

Actually on second thought: Where is Wilfred Zaha? Anybody seen Wilf? Zaha? Did Michael Myers disappear him?

Gosh, this whole analogy of Michael Myers and the missing Zaha kinda got away from me and just got plain morbid. My apologies for your nightmares.

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THE SOCIAL CLIMBING SQUADS

Burnley

Keep on keepin’ on Sean Dyche’s men. With Nick “The Young” Pope of Burnley in goal, the rest of this team looks fully settled and in control.

There is nothing to fear for Burnley fans except fear itself. And fear itself would be that goalkeeper injury bug that is going around the EPL this year. It would be a disaster if Pope were felled and had to be replaced by Argh, Joe Hart, Argh.

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West Ham

I had very high hopes for the Hammers until Lukasz Fabianski got hurt. Now they’re no better than the rest of the mid-table pack…unless Manuel Lanzini takes his game to the next level. The attacking pieces are mostly in place, and Sebastien Haller leads both their line, and mine on FPL.

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Bournemouth

Callum Wilson, Dominic Solanke, Joshua King and Jordan Ibe - AFC Bournemouth - Premier League
Give me three Bournemouth forwards for GW9 v Norwich please!
Photo by Robin Jones - AFC Bournemouth/AFC Bournemouth via Getty Images

I have soooo much to say about Bournemouth, but I am getting very, very distracted by their upcoming GW9 Norwich fixture. Is it overkill to pick a front three on my FPL team consisting of Callum Wilson, Joshua King and Dominic Solanke for GW9? Is this worth playing my Free Hit chip?

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Wolves

Despite the similarities with last year’s Burnley, mainly the Europa League commitments having a very negative effect on their EPL performance, Wolves were never going to suffer as much.

The main reason is that, unlike Burnley last year, Wolves aren’t playing Argh, Joe Hart, Argh in goal. The Werewolves of (not) London also boast one of the most efficient EPL and FPL forwards around in Raul Jimenez, plus a wealth of talented players such as Willy Bolly, Matt Doherty, Adama Traore and the entire national team of Portugal.

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THE “WE INTERRUPT THIS PROGRAM TO SHARE NEWS OF A MASSIVE DISASTER” SQUADS

Tottenham and Manchester United

RMS Titanic passenger liner of the White Star Line
Coming soon to a theater near you: James Cameron’s Titanic 2 starring Paul Pogba and Christian Eriksen!
Photo by: Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Break the glass! It’s an emergency. Call in the National Guard!

James Cameron has already secured the movie rights to this year’s Tottenham and Man United campaigns. He has already started shooting the movie, in fact. The title is “Titanic 2”, and Leo’s famous “I’m the king of the world!” line will now be rendered by Christian Eriksen and Paul Pogba: “We were kings of the world!”

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THE ABOVE THE FRAY SQUADS

Sheffield United

The Lundstram Affair continues. At his FPL price, the story goes on and on and on and…

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Brighton

Neal Maupay - Brighton & Hove Albion - Premier League
Brighton’s Neal Maupay could be a very cheap enabler (and that’s no insult!)
Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

This one’s really easy as an FPL manager, you either have Lewis Dunk or Matty Ryan. This team has never given us much of a headache as FPL managers… enter Neal Maupay. He’s about as much fun to own as watching paint dry, but he could be a dream differential. Just sayin’!

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Aston Villa

Like Chelsea, Villa offer a ton of attacking choices at very affordable prices. John McGinn has been an excellent poorman’s Mason Mount, and Anwar El Ghazi is well and truly emerging as another budget enabler nonpareil. The Villans are most definitely worth scouting, and I believe that if you don’t own at least one or two Aston Villa assets, you are missing out on great points-per-pound value.

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THE RELEGATION CANDIDATE SQUADS

Newcastle

Yes, I know we beat Manchester United in GW8, and no, I am not impressed. I’m a die-hard Newcastle supporter and I’ve lost hope.

If we were any good, we would have beaten Man U by at least four goals. Then again, if we were any good the club would have found a new owner by now.

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Southampton

I am becoming increasingly convinced that one of Newcastle or Southampton are going under. From an FPL perspective I can’t get excited about any of the Saints. Maybe Danny Ings? Though I remember last year’s nightmare with injuries and the constant “drop or not drop” quandary. It wasn’t any fun to manage him!

For that reason, I’m out.

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Everton

Gylfi Sigurdsson - Everton FC - Premier League
It is time to get Siggy wit’ it!
Photo by James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

I’m all in on Everton assets. I feel the exact opposite about the Toffees as I do about the Saints. I am loading up on Lucas Digne and Gylfi Sigurdsson or Richarlison. They’re about to explode, and you’ll wish you owned them; particulary Gylfi with his significant price drop. Load up and don’t look back!

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ALREADY RELEGATED SQUADS

Norwich

Teemu Pukki and Todd Cantwell - Norwich City - Premier League - Carrow Road
It’s something unpredictable, but in the end it’s right / I hope you had the time of your life
Photo by Steven Paston/EMPICS/PA Images via Getty Images

Earlier in my article I shared news of the incoming Vardy Party. Vacating the venue to make room for the Leicester party animals is the Pukki Party. It was so much fun while it lasted. Cue the Pukki + Buendia + Cantwell video montage to the tune of Greenday’s “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)”.

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Watford FC

They’re not the worst squad we’ve ever seen on EPL, and in fact, they may be even better than some of the squads listed above them in my article. However, they’ve dug themselves such a deep hole, it’s really hard to imagine them climbing out of it. Surely there will be an attractive FPL asset to be found here as The Hornets regress to the mean and start picking up some wins, but it’s really hard to guess who the beneficiary will be at this point. Worth monitoring, though, because when the wave hits, the player will almost surely be bought with a decent price drop built in.

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And there you have it, another edition of A Trip Around the League. I really do hope your favorite FPL asset survives the dreaded international break unscathed. Now please leave me be so I can get back to my medical dictionary and learn all about mid-portion Achilles tendinopathy and associated devastating injury recovery time (to help me determine whether to keep/bench the FPL price riser, or drop him).

Whom have you seen injured in international play? Who has an impossible flight creating starting-XI doubt coming back? And do any of these international matches mean anything to anyone? Please share your thoughts about those questions plus all of your FPL experiences through GW8 and how you’re preparing for GW9 and onwards!

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