With just two days until Saturday’s kickoff of EPL game-week 9, it appears that we will not see the season’s first manager sacking during this international break. As I mentioned in an earlier article, international breaks provide clubs with a natural window to transition to a different coach. But so far every manager who began the season in charge of an EPL team is still in place.
But as it so often does, the international break has knocked some EPL players out of action. Like, a LOT of players. Here’s a hit list:
- Matt Doherty: COVID
- Mo Salah: COVID
- Sead Kolasinac: COVID
- Callum Robinson: COVID
- Mohamed Elneny: COVID
- Andriy Yarmolenko: COVID
- Conor Coady: in isolation for contact with COVID
- Rhian Brewster: knock
- Raheem Sterling: calf
- Jordan Henderson: “muscle tightness”
- James Ward-Prowse: “muscle tightness”
- Kasper Schmeichel: head injury
- John Egan: head injury
- Victor Lindelf: back
- Anthony Martial: back
- Ben Chilwell: back
- Aaron Connolly: hamstring
- Nathan Aké: hamstring
- Seamus Coleman: hamstring
- Marcus Rashford: shoulder
- Joe Gomez : knee tendon (season)
- Rhys Williams: hip injury
- Enda Stevens: knee
- Leander Dendoncker: knee
- Richarlison: ankle
- Jordan Henderson: unspecified
- Steven Bergwijn: unspecified
- Allan: unspecified
- Thiago Silva: travel fatigue
Some knocks are “minor” and some COVID tests might be reversed, so we await further clarification on the status of these (29!!) players, but ultimately these casualties could force many fantasy managers into performing major surgery on their squads (in FPL, many managers are triggering their Wildcard chips). If you fall into this camp, or if your team just needs some freshening up, the names you should be looking at are listed below for your shopping pleasure.
As always, remember that we will have confirmed lineups ahead of the Fantrax deadline for the game-week’s first match, Newcastle vs Chelsea. Log in to the Pre-Deadline Chat during the golden hour before the buzzer sounds to get the skinny on those S11s, as well as all the other late team news you need to know.
Edouard Mendy ($9.41, NEW vs CHE): The addition of Thiago Silva to the center of Chelsea’s defense has rendered Chelsea’s goal nearly impregnable. In fact, Mendy has conceded just one goal in his last six games across all competitions. And with opposition attacker Calum Wilson a huge doubt with a hamstring injury, Mendy’s chances of another clean sheet look good this week.
David De Gea ($2.72, MUN vs WBA): Manchester United is frustratingly inconsistent, and so is DDG. But West Brom has scored only one goal in the last five games, so the Spaniard’s prospects for a win and clean sheet seem pretty good. He’s your value play at GK this week.
Lukasz Fabianski ($12.59, WHU vs SHU): Sheffield United has scored only four goals this season, while the Hammers have allowed only ten. Fabs is expensive, but he kept a clean sheet against similarly-weak Fulham last game-week and returned 26 points. I’d pay $12.59 for a repeat, wouldn’t you?
Vincent Guiata ($7.92, BUR vs CPL): Palace’s defense is solid, and Burnley’s offense is the league’s worst. If you don’t trust DDG but don’t have the funds for Mendy or Fabs, Guiata could be just the ticket.
Thiago Silva ($9.19, NEW vs CHE): He has put up double-digits in every game he’s gone 90 minutes, including last time when he didn’t even get clean sheet points. But another shutout could be in store when the Blues travel to St. James Park to visit the Magpies this weekend. There’s a catch though: Silva is not expected to arrive back in England until today, and after the October international break, he was left out of the lineup under similar circumstances. Follow team news; if it appears he’ll be rested, Kurt Zouma is a reasonable alternative.
Patrick van Aanholt ($3.33, BUR vs CPL): The Dutchman seems to be returning to his best after a long injury layoff, accumulating eleven points without a clean sheet in his last match. And facing the league’s worst offense, he could add clean sheet points to his total this week.
Jonjoe Kenny ($2.60, FUL vs EVE): First-choice right-back and club-captain Seamus Coleman suffered a recurrence of his hamstring injury while on international duty, so min-priced Kenny could be set to deputize — and what better time than against the woeful Cottagers. In fact, even the higher-priced Lucas Digne ($10.63) should be worth the spend this week.
Alex Telles ($2.60, MUN vs WBA): Luke Shaw is out with a hamstring, but if Telles hadn’t contracted COVID he might already have displaced Shaw anyway. Trouble is, Telles can’t seem to shake the virus — he has missed five games despite returning to training two weeks ago, but he again tested positive on Saturday. If he can register a couple negative results before the weekend, he could be a screaming value against the 18th place Baggies.
Aaron Cresswell ($14.16, SHU vs WHU): He’s a points machine; he’s not cheap, but a clean sheet will virtually guarantee that he returns his price. And this week his opposition is the league’s worst team and second-worst offense.
Jack Grealish ($21.25, AVL vs BHA): His price makes him a bit of a risk, but he has put up 17 points or better in four of his seven games, and the Seagulls aren’t exactly tight at the back. Grealish is a high-risk, high-reward option that you may be able to squeeze in by using some of the cheap defenders I listed above in order to create room in your budget.
Ross Barkley ($8.91, AVL vs BHA): Think of Barkley as “Grealish Light.” He doesn’t have the same sky-high ceiling as Grealish, but Barkley is averaging nearly 12 ppg over his last five games and costs less than half as much.
Hakim Ziyech ($7.62, NEW vs CHE): Ziyech has started both of Chelsea’s last two games and has hit double digits both times. Wise managers picked him up on the barn door, but at $7.62 he’s still a value.
Richarlison ($8.33, FUL vs EVE): He’s back from suspension just in time to face one of the league’s worst teams. Even better, his price has dropped to an amazing $8.33. And don’t worry that his enforced absence has dented his match fitness; he scored the second goal in Brazil’s 2-0 defeat of Uruguay on Tuesday. He was substituted after suffering a harsh tackle from Edinson Cavani, but has subsequently downplayed rumors that he sustained any kind of injury. Follow team news to be sure.
Bruno Fernandes ($19.78, MUN vs WBA): Bruno is averaging nearly 17 ppg and welcomes the lowly Baggies to Old Trafford this weekend. He’s expensive but could be worth his high price tag.
Ollie Watkins ($12.74, AVL vs BHA): He has six goals in seven games, averaging more than 12 ppg. Raise your hand if in August you thought Aston Villa would contribute three players to a Player Picks article at ANY point this season. (If your hand is up, you’re a liar.)
Timo Werner ($14.19, NEW vs CHE): With four goals and 53 points over his last four games, Werner is finally beginning to live up to pre-season expectations [Thank editor Jeff for dropping him from all his teams four weeks ago!]. There’s every reason to expect that to continue against the Magpies this weekend [...unless Jeff buys him back, in which case all bets are off!].
Tammy Abraham ($8.95, NEW vs CHE): He has started each of Chelsea’s last two games and made goal contributions in each. With Christian Pulisic and Kai Havertz both looking doubtful for the weekend, Tammy could make the S11 again. If so, he makes a nice budget-friendly alternative to his German counterpart.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin ($17.71, FUL vs EVE): He’s expensive, but DCL has failed to score in only two of his eight league games this season. With a track record like that, do you think a team like Fulham will be able to keep him out?
Gabriel Jesus ($5.94, TOT vs MCI): He has played two league games this season and scored in both, including against Liverpool last time out. Tottenham can be tough to breach (but not always!), but at under $6 Jesus is a great low-risk enabler, and after this week Manchester City’s fixtures soften significantly.
Raul Jimenez ($11.95, WOL vs SOU): Jimenez scored in his first two matches, then blanked in two, then scored in two, then blanked in two. If the pattern holds, then he’s due to get back on the scoreboard this week and next. And it’s not unreasonable to expect that to happen: Although the Saints currently sit fourth, they’ve shipped 12 goals this season.
Has your squad been wrecked by international break casualties? Does your team need an overhaul, or just a tune-up? Will you consider carrying discounted players who have been ruled out for one week? Have I overlooked someone you have your eye on? Please join us in the comments to let us know, and post your squad for feedback!