Welcome to FPL Fixtures Analysis Game-week 4 2016-17.
Welcome, welcome, welcome to our fixture analysis for the week! The first three weeks of the season are in the books and the transfer window has slammed shut until January. All was right in the world, and then… the first of many annoying international breaks. Surely planned for no purpose other than to simply to frustrate us.
The footballers themselves seem to enjoy it but to the clubs, their fans and, most importantly, the fantasy football managers, these matches are nothing but a chance for their players to get injured and suffer jet-lag ahead of week 4.
Did your players survive? Did you survive? For many of us this international lull has been a time of fantasy introspection. ‘To wildcard or not to wildcard’ as the Bard once famously put it. Some of us planned our teams for the first three weeks and hit the wildcard button just as planned and full of confidence, while others have tossed and turned through the night debating the choice.
Everton – Sunderland (a), Middlesbrough (h), Bournemouth (a)
Transfer deadline day came and went and Everton managed to ward off interest in Romelu Lukaku.
They also addressed their most pressing need: a viable backup for the streaky Lukaku. The arrival of Enner Valencia will not set the league on fire but it will give Ronald Koeman options when the Belgium international enters one of his inevitable goal droughts.
The league bestowed on Everton a kind set of opening fixtures and they have certainly taken advantage. The Toffees look poised to continue their hot start with three very winnable fixtures on the horizon. A trip to Sunderland (one point from three) could well be their most difficult test over the next month. Last season was a rollercoaster affair, with the teams combining to net 11 goals the two times they met.
Their next foe, newly promoted Middlesbrough, will likely park the bus and play for a point at Goodison Park as they attempt to survive their first season back in the big time. Relegation fodder Bournemouth are likely to employ the same strategy, but we fancy Everton have enough class to overcome both teams. Adding Lukaku, Ross Barkley or Leighton Baines could pay dividends over the next several weeks.
Arsenal – Southampton (h), Hull (a), Chelsea (h)
Stop the press! Arsenal finally bought the striker and central defender they have needed for the last three seasons. You can debate whether the players are a perfect fit for Arsene Wenger’s system, or whether they are a notable upgrade from the players already on the roster, but they finally have the depth that would have seen them mount a legitimate challenge for the title last season. Better late than never, we guess.
The arrival of Lucas Perez will push Olivier Giroud and means Alexis Sanchez can return out wide where his game is better, and the signing of defender Shkodran Mustafi means Arsenal now have a player whose name will never be spelled correctly. One can only hope Arsenal fans will serenade him with The Circle of Life when he opens his Arsenal account.
Looking at their upcoming fixtures the Chelsea game looms on the horizon, but facing Burnley and Swansea in the following weeks make Arsenal a team you should invest in over the next five weeks. Alexis Sanchez is the obvious attacking choice, but a punt on Mesut Ozil, Santi Cazorla or even Theo Walcott could see you climb in the rankings.
Tottenham – Stoke (a), Sunderland (h), Middlesbrough (a)
Tottenham have negotiated a tricky opening trio of games and have five points to show for it. Fans should be satisfied with draws against Everton and Liverpool, and a hard fought victory over Crystal Palace. Most importantly, they sit one point ahead of Arsenal. For now.
The deadline day acquisitions of midfielders Moussa Sissoko and Georges-Kevin N’Koudou beef up Spurs strength in depth, while an early season goal from Erik Lamela has reminded people that he plays for Spurs. With the defence fit, boss Samwise Gamgee’s most pressing issue now is figuring out why his striker seems to have lost his nose for scoring. Speaking of slow starts, Pochewotsit’s have failed to find the back of the net in the first-half this season.
Their next three matches should see that change though. A trip to Orc Arena could prove challenging as Stoke attempt to avoid relegation but Spurs are talented enough to overcome such thuggery. Sunderland and Middlesbrough are likely to pose much less of a threat. The problem with exploiting their fixtures is figuring out who will score their goals.
Worth a look…
Crystal Palace – Middlesbrough (a), Stoke (h), Sunderland (a)
Continuing the trend of picking teams that play Middlesbrough, Stoke and/or Sunderland, we present to you Crystal Palace for your consideration. The arrival of Christian Benteke finally gave the Eagles a legitimate scoring option, and keeping hold of Wilfried Zaha has shown that the owners are keen to improve on last season’s 15th place finish.
Despite a rough start that has seen them drop two of their opening three fixtures, Alan Pardew’s men will fancy their prospects for points in the next month. The Middlesbrough-Stoke-Sunderland axis has surrendered a total of 13 goals thus far. Just what the doctor ordered. It may take him a bit to acclimatise himself but we think Palace’s next three opponents make Benteke one to watch in the coming weeks.
Be wary of…
Swansea – Chelsea (h), Southampton (a), Manchester City (h)
We realise you likely do not have any Swansea coverage in your team, but our job is to make sure of that. It isn’t that Swansea are that bad, they just have a brutal schedule over the next month. And they are just bad. A quick check of their squad confirms Gylfi Sigurdsson does still play for the team. Unfortunately, no one else of note does. Poor Siggy. Where is Michu when you need him?
If the prospects of Chelsea and City are not enough to scare you off, they face Liverpool and Arsenal after that. It realistically could be the end of October before Swansea win another match. Stay far away until then.
Well that is it for me this week lads and lasses. As always, I enjoyed out time together and appreciate your reading this article. Best of luck to you all in the coming weeks. Cheers!
Make sure you check out Fantasy Football 24/7‘s website if you want more excellent hints and tips.
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