I hope game-week 6 was good to you. I came away with a very mediocre 53 points in FPL, for an overall total of 334. That places me in roughly 1.4Mth place out of roughly 6.8M players. I’ve clearly got some work to do there.
I did better in Fantrax, where my NMA-11 team earned 103. That dropped me from first place overall to third, but I’m still delighted — I never expected to find myself at the top of that heap in the first place! Surprisingly I actually scored lower in the NMA-17 league, despite having six additional players working for me. My 100 points left me in 19th place in that league’s campaign. And finally, in the NMA-Sub league, my 123 points positioned me in second overall, six points shy of Ken’s mighty KMFC.
But it’s time to take a look ahead now. Below are my “pass” and “shoot” recommendations for Game Week 7: where to invest and where to divest. You’ll notice that both the red and the blue halves of the city of Manchester are mentioned, but in opposite categories. The two sides may share a common geographic location, but the gulf between them right now is huge.
- Sheffield United vs Liverpool
- Aston Villa vs Burnley
- Bournemouth vs West Ham
- Chelsea vs Brighton
- Crystal Palace vs Norwich
- Tottenham vs Southampton
- Wolves vs Watford
- Everton vs Manchester City
Count to ten before you see Red
Liverpool notched their 15th consecutive league victory on Sunday, but they hardly did it in style. Up 2-0 at the intermission, Jurgen Klopp shifted gears and spent the second half trying to kill the game; Trent Alexander-Arnold was actually shown yellow for time-wasting... in the 57th minute. Doesn’t sound like the swashbuckling Liverpool team we so enjoyed watching last season, does it?
Well, in some ways it’s not. Although the two fullbacks continue to bomb down the wings, Alisson has been absent through injury, and Virgil van Dijk has not been the infallible, invincible superhuman that he was in the last campaign. As a result, last season’s best defense has kept only one clean sheet in the eight games they’ve played across all competitions since the EPL season kicked off this year. Sure, you say, but there’s no way Sheffield United is going to score on them, right? Well maybe, maybe not: The Reds have already conceded to offenses as lowly as Newcastle and Southampton.
With Sadio Mané an early injury doubt, Mo Salah still goalless away from Anfield, and next week’s important Champions League match raising rest/rotation concerns, I would not be looking to add Liverpool players this week, not even with the ostensibly favorable opposition.
Trouble at Old Trafford
I’m not sure if I remember a Manchester United performance that was as pedestrian as the one we saw on Sunday. Toothless in attack, spiritless in defense, this side looked not just casual but... aimless. Their passive play allowed West Ham to grow into the game and score in the 44th minute. But Ole Gunnar Solskjaer formulated no tactical substitutions at the intermission, and the Red Devils who emerged from the tunnel to start the second half seemed to have little interest in avenging West Ham’s first blood.
The misery was only compounded when Marcus Rashford suffered a groin injury on the hour mark, to be replaced by Jesse Lingard since OGS had no proper strikers available to replace him. Aaron Cresswell then sent a spectacular free kick past David De Gea 24 minutes later, and you could see the life drain out of United’s squad. Sadly absent was any of the belief or urgency we would have seen from an Alex Ferguson side at that point.
Sometimes a team rebounds from a horror-show performance to run riot on its next opponent; take the Manchester City games against Norwich and then Watford for example. I don’t see that happening with United. This team’s manager lacks ideas for players who lack heart. Sunday’s loss was their ninth in a row on the road, and this weekend I’m staying away from them even though they play at Old Trafford.
Don’t let the Blues bring you down
Chelsea lost to Liverpool on Sunday, but it’s hard to argue that the kings of the Champions League were better than Frank Lampard’s transfer-banned group of youngsters. Chelsea showed courage and desire despite their youth and relative inexperience, ending the game with more shots, more corners, more passes, and more possession than ‘Pool. If not for a VAR-reversed goal, a blown chance by Tammy Abraham, and some set-piece brilliance from Trent Alexander-Arnold, the Blues might even have won this game.
Significantly, although Chelsea’s stable of healthy defenders was reduced even further after Andreas Christensen and Emerson were both forced off through injury, Chelsea still managed to limit one of the world’s most potent attacking units to just three shots on target. Kepa Arrizabalaga was mostly outstanding, and Marcos Alonso looked excellent going forward, a yellow card the only reason he didn’t reach double-figures in Fantrax. With Chelsea about to enjoy the best upcoming fixtures of any EPL club, I’m backing investment in both of these men, as well as in attackers such as Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham.
Become a Citizen
Yes, Watford are a sorry side. Heading into the weekend, the league’s basement-dwellers were winless and had scored only four goals while conceding ten. Coming out of the weekend, only one of those stats had changed — they have now given up a staggering 18 goals in their first six league matches. What team had carpet-bombed their defense for eight goals (five in the first 18 minutes) while simultaneously handcuffing their offense? The league’s defending champs, of course — one of perhaps only two teams in the EPL capable of pulling off such a comprehensive dismantling.
City’s eight goals were scored by no fewer than six players, with four players registering direct (not fantasy) assists. The Sky Blues were rampant, imperious, unstoppable. If City assets aren’t already a part of your fantasy portfolio, this could be a good week to fix that. Everton have slipped down to 14th place, having taken only seven points from six games. And although injuries have rendered City’s defense a bit threadbare, the Toffee offense has generated only five goals so far — joint second-worst in the league. So while owning one or more of City’s premier attackers (Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling, and Sergio Aguero) seems essential, even their defense could reward investors this week.
Bonus: Leicester vs Newcastle
The Foxes sport the league’s joint-best defense. The Geordies sport the league’s joint-worst offense. Figuring out the fantasy implications isn’t rocket science — get a piece of Leicester’s D, and avoid Newcastle’s attack.
What fixtures appeal to you this week? Which will you avoid? Will you be investing funds in the “Battle at the Bottom,” ie, Wolves vs Watford? Please share your thoughts on GW 7 in the comments below.