This week in Talking Points we look at what to look out for in game week 7 to be prepared for the early game week 8 transfer. We look at the teams with a good run of games and the teams with a tough run of games, and we consider the implications of last weekend’s formation changes and if these will be repeated this weekend. All the while we chat about this weekend’s action in our comments section.
Good Runs from game week 8 onwards
Arsenal picked up their fourth consecutive win after an impressive performance against Chelsea. In the next four games the Gunners will look to cement their third spot in third, with games against Burnley (A), Swansea (H), Middlesbrough (H) and Sunderland (A).
The Gunners’ display was reminiscent of their best days under Wenger as they were brilliant in every aspect of the pitch. Hector Bellerin has provided more assists than any other Premier League defender since the start of last season with 6, and he’s a great addition if you can afford him at £6.5. Otherwise, Cech remains a cheap option into defence.
In the midfield, Theo Walcott scored in consecutive Premier League games for the first time since May 2013, but Sanchez took the plaudits and looks like a “must-have” player at the moment. Alexis was played as a striker but also appeared all over the pitch with his high work rates, as you can see on the heat map below. He tends to drop back in midfield to pick up the ball and run directly towards the defence with the ball, being the primary source of many attacks.
Liverpool looked impressive against Hull City and currently sit fourth in the league. After the international break they will host Manchester United at home sandwiched between a game against Swansea (A) and West Brom (H), Palace (A) and Watford (H).
The Reds dominated Hull City even before the Tigers went down to 10 men. The front five impressed, continuously interchanged positions between themselves and dazzled opponents with their quick feet, accurate passing and crisp finishing. This is clearly illustrated on the heat maps of time spent in Liverpool’s half compared to Hull.
The versatility of Liverpool midfielders means that they will split the points over the season, so it’s difficult to single out individuals. In general, we would advise to get at least one between: Mane, Firmino, Coutinho and Lallana, potentially considering to double up as team chemistry is extremely high. Lallana is slightly more advised over the others because of his cheaper price tag and consistency of performing well.
Manchester City are setting the pace early and after travelling to White Hart Lane in their next fixture, they could be expected to win all of their fixtures against Everton (H), Southampton (H), West Brom (A) and Middlesbrough (H).
Pep Guardiola maintained his perfect start to the season, leading his team to six wins in a row. The score line is slightly unfair on Swansea, because despite Man City’s cutting edge, Swansea did put up a reasonable display. Even though they played at home, Guidolin set up a deep defensive line and specific tactics to keep Aguero and Sterling quiet. This worked well until the penalty, after which Swansea attempted to salvage something from the game and started to push up forward which led to them conceded the third.
In Fantasy Football, we rarely recommend any “essential” players, however in the case of Sergio Aguero, he is at the top of his game as an individual, and with Man City being rampant as a squad, Aguero will get plenty of chances and goals. Therefore, purchase him at all costs and consider doubling up with Sterling or De Bruyne in midfield, although at the moment De Bruyne is out for a few weeks.
Bad Runs from game week 8 onwards
Burnley are facing a difficult run against Arsenal (H), Southampton (A), Everton (H), Manchester United (A) and Palace (H).
Burnley grabbed their second win of the season against a lacklustre Watford side after scoring twice from crosses. Steven Defour proved his worth with two assists, as he has now been involved in four of Burnley’s last five games (scored one and assisted three). He’ll have to keep up this form in the absence of star striker Andre Gray, who served the first of his four-match ban for comments on social media.
We would not advise picking up any Burnley players given their tough schedule, however if you already own them then you can hold on and bench them for a couple of games. There is some value in defence, especially at Turf Moor, where Burnley only conceded five goals in their past 17 league games.
Chelsea are going back to old ways under Mourinho as they continue to slip down the table after a second defeat in a row against their London rivals Arsenal. The next game sees them travel to Hull, but after that they have a difficult run against Leicester (H), Manchester United (H), Southampton (A) and Everton (H).
Another mistake from Gary Cahill got the ball rolling for Arsenal’s emphatic and completely deserved win. Since Terry’s injury, the defence is all over the place. They lack composure and leadership whereas up front the team look completely out of creativity and individual brilliance which we have seen from Hazard who was completely invisible and was incomparable to the magician we saw for most of the later stages of last season, while Costa was comfortably contained by Koscielny. To summarise, dump all your Chelsea players as they are not getting anywhere near as many points as the likes of Sanchez or De Bruyne or even Capoue.
— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) September 30, 2016
West Brom face bottom-of-the-table Sunderland at The Stadium of Light, but afterwards they face a frightening run of games against Spurs (H), Liverpool (A), Manchester City (H) and Leicester (A).
Salomon Rondon’s injury time equaliser saw the Baggies rescue a point against Stoke. It was a typical Tony Pulis performance from West Brom, focussed on defending and defended solidly, attacking wise they converted one of the few chances that fell their way. This emphasis on defence means that West Brom could potentially get a clean sheet anytime, so if you own any goalkeepers or defenders you can hold on to them, despite the upcoming difficult spell of games. Rondon and Chadli seem to be forming a good partnership so we should keep monitoring their performances.
Other Talking Points
- Mourinho benched Fellaini and Rooney and opted for a midfield three of Herrera, Mata and Pogba. With a deep-lying playmaker like Herrera, Pogba got more freedom to roam and play higher up the pitch. He totalled four key passes against Leicester, doubling his total for the season. Pogba saw more of the ball and dictated play. Helped by the runs of Mata out wide as opposed to Rooney’s central play and the positioning and passing of Herrera who had an 88% pass success rate. Keep monitoring the performances of the Man United midfield before jumping on the Pogba bandwagon again.
- Rashford’s story keeps providing new chapters and now at the heart of the Man United frontline, he has scored in three consecutive games. Ibra was also involved and unlucky not to score any points. Hold Ibra for a good looking fixture against Stoke, or buy Rashford now if you don’t own or can’t afford Ibra and want to have some United options.
- In the “budget” category, Kingsley was not included in the Swansea selection, making Jordi Amat the only playing 4.1 defender in the entire game. Jakupovic was dropped in favour of Marshall, so Pickford becomes the preferred second choice keeper. He is joined by Lee Grant from Stoke as he replaced Shay Given following a string of questionable, negative performances.
- Jermain Defoe scored twice to give us a reminder of his FPL value for money. He is currently tied with Ibra as the second highest scoring striker in Fantasy Football behind Aguëro and on paper Sunderland have a decent run of games coming up against West Brom (H), Stoke (A) and West Ham (A). He could be considered for the third striker role.
- Crystal Palace is on the up after three consecutive wins and Benteke made another impact with an injury time winner. Monitor him for your third striker spot.
- Son continues to impress in Spurs’ midfield and has now scored six in his last six Premier League appearances. Given the wealth of talent and busy schedule that Spurs currently have, there is bound to be some rotation in the Spurs’ midfield, but Son is definitely one for the watchlist.
- Everton disappointed at Bournemouth and Ronald Koeman was absolutely fuming with his team’s performance. This appears to be a slight bump on a smooth road so don’t panic and monitor the Toffees performance in the next game. Then, we can analyse further.
- Southampton exposed West Ham with their slick passing and movement and the final 3-0 score line didn’t entirely reflect how well they played as they could’ve potentially won 5 or 6-0. The defence has now kept four clean sheets in the last four games in all competitions while Charlie Austin scored his fifth goal in four games in all competitions. Austin presents himself as yet another candidate for the third striker spot, showing the form he has previously shown during his time at QPR. Unfortunately, Southampton have a mixed bag of fixtures coming up facing Leicester (A), Burnley (H) and Man City (A), therefore put Southampton on the watch list for now, but don’t write them off as they have the capability of beating the likes of Leicester.
- West Ham suffered their fourth successive defeat and contrary to last week, Payet and Antonio were not able to provide any spark at all. Hold onto them for the home game against Middlesbrough because one would have thought that Middlesbrough would be no match for the talents of East London, therefore keep West Ham stars such as Payet and Antonio for now and re-assess during the international break. West Ham have now conceded 16 goals in their opening six games so run away in fear from their defenders.
- Watford were bullied by Burnley, which may have come as a surprise following Watford’s 4-2 win over West Ham and especially their 3-1 victory of Manchester United. Now, they have now conceded a league-high five headed goals this season. In the eyes of some, this may be a sign of the fantasy assets fading away. However, hold onto them for the upcoming run of winnable fixtures against Bournemouth (H), Middlesbrough (A), Swansea (A) and Hull City (H).
Good luck this weekend.