Welcome to Fantasy Premier League Tips Game-week 3. So, here we are then. You’re going to have to bear with me as this is my first article for the FF247 website. Being so early in the season and with a drop in overall rank already to my name, I’ll apologise in advance if your team follows mine into joining the red arrows – and I’m not talking about the air display team.
Well, it’s game-week three already – the Rio Olympics have finished and we’re celebrating the outstanding achievements of athletes from around the world. Though, of course, it’s been all about Team GB really, hasn’t it. Who can forget the talents of Mo, Andy, Jessica, Bradley, Laura and indeed everyone?! It’s made me clean down the bike, go out for a few miles, get saddle sore (and walk like John Wayne) and then let it collect another couple of inches of dust in the shed between now and the Tokyo Olympics.
The question that arises, therefore, will be… Is your team going to be like Usain Bolt – front of the field and a legend of your time? Or is it going to be like poor old French gymnast Samir Ait Said – so much hope, a leap of faith and then a whole load of pain? If you don’t know who that is, Google it, but perhaps don’t watch the video. Like lots of things on the internet, really.
Perhaps, like me, you’ve gone for a quality main keeper and a sub one that isn’t as highly rated but will still get gametime. There’s been a mixed bag of clean sheets – only two teams, Swansea and West Brom, achieved one in GW1, however seven squads (Manchester United, Burnley, Hull, Tottenham, Leicester, Arsenal and West Ham) didn’t have to pick the ball up from the back of the net in GW2.
This leads me on to my first pick (who also featured in the GW2 tips article) in the shape of Maarten Stekelenburg, who costs £5.0m and is in only 1.9% of teams. This may be a bit of a surprise as Everton haven’t gone a Premier League game without conceding yet. However, it is really difficult to look past the fixtures the Toffees have got coming up which have plenty of clean sheet potential. Between now and GW9, they play Stoke at home, Sunderland away, Middlesbrough at home, Bournemouth away, Crystal Palace at home, Man City away and Burnley away.
Another option is Kasper Schmeichel. The £5.0m Danish shot stopper was excellent in Leicester’s game against Arsenal and earned himself eight points. He still managed a number of saves in the Foxes’ shock loss against Hull on the opening day too. He’s going to be playing Swansea at home this game-week and home games against Burnley and Southampton also make him a great prospect. A word of caution, that leads back to trusty goalkeeper rotation, though – whilst Kasper does have excellent home fixtures, he does have to face Liverpool and Man United away soon.
Another ‘keeper that may tickle your fancy is Man United’s very own David de Gea. He may be priced highly at £5.5m (well, that’s a lot for a goalkeeper, at least), but you can’t help but feel that the clean sheet against Southampton won’t be the team’s last. What’s more, with a more organised defence thanks to the likes of Shaw, Blind, Valencia and Bailly, de Gea isn’t having to worry about too many shots on target. So far. The Red Devils play Hull, Watford and Stoke, with home fixtures against Man City and Leicester perhaps a bit on the tricky side.
Looking for a bargain basement goalkeeper? West Brom’s Ben Foster is a very respectable £4.6m – up from his initial £4.5m price tag thanks to people buying into his performance against Crystal Palace in GW1.
Following on from the recommendation of Stekelenburg, thanks to Everton’s wonderful fixtures coming up, it may be no surprise to read that my first defender tip is Bradley Wiggins’ bud Leighton Baines (Olympic link shoehorned in there). At £5.5m he’s cheaper than previous years, thanks to a disappointing time recently. I have a good feeling about this fella for this season, however – I think he could do well. And with the potential for great matches coming up, give him a go. Ironically, I’m considering selling ex-Toffee John Stones in favour of him.
His teammates, Ramiro Funes Mori and Phil Jagielka, slightly cheaper at £5.0m, are worth a look too, if you don’t want to splash the cash as much on a Toffees defender. They’re not in many teams and so could prove to be a great differential. Hard to ignore the boys in blue from Merseyside, though – there is more chance of them keeping a clean sheet under the leadership of the organised and methodical Ronald Koeman and more game time from Ashley Williams.
His name has already come up, but also consider Luke Shaw at £5.5m. He’s already rewarded the 20.9% of managers who have played him with 13 points, of which 11 were in the 2-0 win against Southampton. After his torrid season last year, in which he broke his leg in the game against PSV Eindhoven, it seems the player is trying to make up for the lost time. With a new era at Old Trafford, he’s sure to flourish.
After managing to concede four goals in GW1, Arsenal managed to keep a clean sheet away at Leicester and, with good fixtures coming up (Watford away, Southampton at home, Hull away, Chelsea at home and Burnley away), I think we could see a few more – especially with more players coming back to full fitness. So, without further ado, I’ll suggest the premium players Héctor Bellerín, Nacho Monreal and Laurent Koscielny, who cost £6.5m, £6.0m and £6.0m, respectively. Expensive for defenders, yes, but if you were to think of those price tags as midfielders and forwards, then they’re cheap. And you know they’ll score more than a good load of midfielders and forwards on their good days.
If you are put off by the Arsenal defenders’ price-tags, though, perhaps take a look at Gareth McAuley – at just £4.5m – and Joel Ward at £5.0m. I’m not even a Baggies fan, but I couldn’t help but chant “Ooohhhh, Gareth McAaauuullleeeyyy!” in the White Stripes Seven Nation Army styley when I heard the Northern Irish defender had scored against Everton. That goal means that he’s already equalled the amount of goals he scored last season. And we’re only on GW3! Do I think he’ll get hot goalscoring form? No. Do I believe he’s going to do well under the management of Tony Pulis in keeping clean sheets? Yes.
In the case of the Crystal Palace defender, home games against Bournemouth and Stoke await, with travel to Middlesbrough and Sunderland also on the cards. Joel appears in just 1.1% of teams, too. These are still too much money to pay out for a defender, when you’re trying to buy in either Aguero or Ibrahimovic? Amirite?! Well, if you want one that should get some game time at least, perhaps consider Swansea’s duo of Stephen Kingsley and Jordi Amat or Donald Love from Sunderland. Note the term “some game time”, however – whilst these players have played the full 90 minutes in both of their matches so far (with Jordi also registering a clean sheet away at Burnley), you only need a new signing, return to fitness or diva strop and they’re warming the bench.
Ah, the minefield of picking a decent relatively cheap midfielder when you’re flashing the cash on forwards, eh? Yep, I feel your pain – it was my midfield that caused me the most headaches when I was initially putting together my team. So, I’ll start with midfielders who are £7.0m or less to (hopefully) help with your selecting nightmares.
First on the list is Nathan Redmond, of Southampton. Costing £6.1m, thanks to a surge in popularity after his great work in GW1, the midfielder expectedly didn’t score much away at Man United. However, the Saints have Sunderland at home next. Do you remember that fixture? 8-0. Eight… Nil. It was my birthday in 2014 and having Pelle as captain in my team back then was a lovely present. Of course a lot has changed since that crazy day almost two years ago. I’m two years nearer to being an old fart, for example. I digress. Whilst I doubt it will finish 8-0 again, Redmond should do well in this fixture, even against a very different Sunderland team and manager. Just bear in mind the Saints have a bit of a difficult run of games after this, however.
Another midfielder costing less is Crystal Palace’s Andros Townsend at £6.5m (however people are selling him in their droves at the moment, so it may be worth waiting for his price to drop before making your purchase – it’s all about saving the money at the start of the season!). Again, I appreciate this is quite a surprise pick as he only has three points to his name so far. Well, as you probably read in my talk of Joel Ward, the Eagles have got some good fixtures coming up, with Bournemouth at home this weekend a particularly attractive proposition. Add to that the new signing of Christian Benteke (yes, it’s definitely Crystal Palace he’s signed for, not Burnley), Townsend and the Belgian striker could link up brilliantly and get you some decent FPL points returns.
How many of you predicted Etienne Capoue’s brilliant two games before the start of the season? Come on, be truthful now! The player is already £4.6m and has the highest amount of points (19) of any midfielder. Fixtures coming up aren’t great, but as a ‘fifth mid’, you could do a lot worse. Of course, there is the risk of him scoring big whilst warming that fantasy football bench of yours.
If money is no object, then take a look at Anthony Martial, who costs £9.5m and features in 9% of teams. Blasting his way on to the scene in GW1 in the away game at Bournemouth that earned him 11 points, he then scored three points at home against Southampton, thanks to 90 minutes and a clean sheet. Well, if it’s away matches he only wants to score well in, Man United are away at Hull and then the next match on the road is at Watford. Both games have excellent scoring potential and, with the talent of Paul Pogba playing with him, his prospects look good.
He may be in 22.6% of teams but, if you don’t have him already, do consider bringing in Eden Hazard. Yes, he’s £10m, but you get what you pay for and, with Jose Mourinho no longer his boss, I think the Belgian brat is going to return to his quality ways again this season. He’s already got a goal and assist to his name and, with Burnley at home coming up next, you can’t ignore him. Next up is Swansea away where he’s reunited with his favourite ball boy but then the fixtures get troublesome – but skill like his will be what Chelsea will rely on to get the crucial results in those matches.
Finally, another midfielder to keep an eye on is Ross Barkley (£7.6m). The Everton player is already on 15 points after an assist and a goal and has excellent fixtures starting with Stoke this weekend that could see him keeping up the good work.
Well, is there really any point in writing any more than simply giving you two names? Zlatan Ibrahimovic (£11.6m; in 50.4% of teams) and Sergio Aguero (£13.1m; in 49.5% of teams). These guys have not disappointed. They have both hit the ground running – each have three goals and six bonus points already and we’re only two games in. It’s fair to say that the duo saved my GW2 as the other nine players didn’t do much to write home about. I guess that, being almost a quarter of your entire budget, you do want them to do well!
Zlatan, when not getting in on the ‘passing banter’ with Pogba, will be against Hull followed by the hot prospect that is the Manchester derby where he’ll be up against Aguero, hopefully. Sergio himself is against West Ham at home next – a fixture in January this year that saw him score twice and, on the form he’s on at the moment with Man City typically starting the season all guns blazing, I wouldn’t be surprised if he did the same again. Seriously, if you don’t already, put at least one of these guys in your team if you can afford it.
Looking away from Zlatan and Sergio, another player to consider is Harry Kane at £11.0m. Playing vs Liverpool would usually be a tricky fixture but their defensive frailties at the moment have led to The Reds conceding five goals. I’m sure Harry will be able to follow on from his assist against Crystal Palace and open his goal scoring account this game-week. Spurs are then away at Stoke, before favourable games against Sunderland and Middlesbrough. Like his ex-Tottenham teammate Andros Townsend, Kane is being largely sold and so will probably go down in price. It may be worth biding your time before you buy him, therefore, so you don’t make the purchase and then lose money straight away.
Like him or loathe him, another player who could do very well this weekend is Diego Costa. Costing less than previous years at £9.5m, he is also in just 9.3% of teams. If you’re after a differential, you could do worse than stick him in your squad when he’s at home against Burnley. The only words of caution are that the spotlight is now on him and his antics and some might say that he was lucky to last the whole 90 minutes, both against West Ham and Watford.
Those of you who have the big two in your forwards are probably after a cheap striker. So, here are some players who cost £7.0m or less who may be worth looking at. First up is Salomón Rondón (£6.5m). The Venezuelan is in just 3.6% of teams and has a goal to his name already and faces Boro this weekend. As much as I think Middlesbrough are going to be a surprise package this season, they’re yet to register a clean sheet yet and I don’t think they will in this fixture either.
Southampton’s home fixture against Sunderland also makes it tempting to stick Shane Long in your team, at the reduced price of £6.4m. With Graziano Pelle gone, it’s down to him and Charlie Austin to stand up front and lead the line. However, I wouldn’t recommend Austin at the moment as he hasn’t even played 90 minutes yet this season. Shane hasn’t scored any goals for his team yet, but the fact he scored ten in the Premier League last year shows that he’s certainly capable to find the back of the net.
Sunderland have lost 2-1 in both of their games so far this season and I wouldn’t be surprised if it finished that way at St Mary’s. Álvaro Negredo has scored the most points of a striker whose name isn’t Zlatan or Sergio, with 19 on the board already – he’s excellent value for money at £6.6m, with West Brom, Crystal Palace and Everton the next three games.
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