Welcome to Fantasy Premier League Tips Game-week 6. Writing this and having intensely assessed twitter and the very busy message boards of FF247 since about 2000 hours on Friday night, I would say that there are more than just a handful of you about to begin a week long tinker of the old first half-season wildcard.
If you don’t have it, don’t worry these tips may well still apply to you, most probably as you search for a makeweight to getting Sergio Aguero back in your squads ahead of his unleashing against Swansea City this coming Saturday. Do you sacrifice the other half of the big Manchester two in Zlatan Ibrahimovic of the Manchester United or are you upgrading your second (or third) striker with the almost inevitable downgrade of a premium midfielder?
Whichever your avenue, read on to find out whom you can bring in to ensure that you might make the transition as smooth as possible and if you do have the carte blanche of a wild card then you really can construct a squad to your exact taste. Well it’s hard to fit them all in as there are genuinely that many choices doing so well at present that you will have to narrow down your favourites simply. You WON’T get them all in, so let’s just make peace with it readers.
OK so the main man of the week is Aguero of Manchester City and assuming you aren’t smugly removing him from the cotton wool of your bench and dusting off the cobwebs, then you are using at least one transfer to bring him back in (unless you are on a wildcard). If you can do a straight swap from one of your existing to him, then do it.
We’ve seen the Ibrahimovic to Aguero move being mooted aplenty these past couple of days and being honest, it is not something we would advise as the Swede has produced even when his team hasn’t. Removing him just doesn’t seem to add up on the face of it and we would advise looking at your other two striking positions. If this means a downgrade of one then there are plenty of decent cheap striking options and also value elsewhere as ultimately you are probably going to have to cut corners elsewhere in your team to accommodate as many premium players as you can in this season which is ripe with big hitters already bringing in the fantasy points.
Steve Mandanda (Crystal Palace, 4.4m) The Eagles raised an eyebrow this summer when they picked up the French No. 2 goalkeeper from Marseille with some saying he’d be straight into their fantasy squads. Well a battle across the first few weeks to achieve full fitness ensued and then he had to fight with three other first team goalkeepers for the position. Since Alex McCarthy left for Southampton Mandanda has played in the last three matches ahead of both Wayne Hennessey and Julian Speroni. Although Palace haven’t kept a clean sheet in any of these, Mandanda has added a bonus save point in each of his last two and more importantly one would assume, made the position his to lose. He has also lost value in not playing the first two rounds and to our benefit, can now be picked up for a reasonable £4.4M.
Jordan Pickford (Sunderland, 4.0M) Speaking of goalkeepers without clean sheets but with save points banked, we now look at England Under-21 cap Jordan Pickford of Sunderland. Now the thought of Sunderland may have some of you running, but on closer inspection four save points in his last and only three games mean the youngster has 11 points in total on the board without a clean sheet to boost that. That isn’t bad at all for £4.0M and spending just £8.4M on two goalkeepers (if paired with Steve Mandanda) might appeal to many of you to keep the funds spared as much as possible for further up the pitch.
Eldin Jakupovic of Hull City saved a penalty against Arsenal and appears through saves alone to be holding on to the goalkeeper jersey at the KCOM despite the recent signing of David Marshall. Jaku is a nice alternative to Pickford for not much more.
Hugo Lloris of Tottenham and Heurelho Gomes are two other goalkeepers who are guaranteed to start for their clubs and who have favourable forthcoming fixtures with them. This is for those who like to spend a bit on keepers and Lloris seems to be the easiest and cheapest way to access Tottenham who have had three shut-outs. Watford are yet to record a clean sheet but the fixtures across the next five, despite three being away, make for tasty reading.
Kyle Walker – The flying full back has the most bonus points of any defender so far with 7 and it will only be a matter of time before he opens his goalscoring account for the season too we think. With two assists and back to back clean sheets it won’t be a surprise to hear he is the top-scoring defender so far with 33. This will only increase as will his price inevitably. He is towards the higher end of the financial scale for a defender but if you have actually seen him play, you will see that he likes to dribble, overlap and cross. There is room for improvement on his passing but I would simply refer you back to his points and bonus totals so far.
John Stones – The headline here would be ‘City Defender for £5.0M’ but there is of course more to it than that. Wait, is there? Perhaps not, seeing as he was rested/rotated for the last match against Bournemouth and he has only amassed seven points so far in roughly four games. So can we assume that normally he’ll play in the league? We think in all probability he will but we would back this up with the advice of having a playing reserve for those times that Pep reckons he needs a little rest. In summary we are being blinded a little by his club and his price, due to the fact he began the season at Everton, but maybe this is one risk worth riding out.
Adam Smith – As with Kyle Walker, Adam Smith of Bournemouth makes consecutive appearances in Tips but this is one guy who at least this week has Manchester City out of the way and is one step closer to a decent run of fixtures. As mentioned by Kop last week, this guy has a goal and assist and three bonus points to his name and faces off against Watford, Hull City, Middlesbrough, Sunderland and Stoke City in five of their next seven. Even Everton and Tottenham who make up the seven are home games for the Cherries and Smith has found the net in Boscombe this season already – against Manchester United.
Jose Holebas – Alright the eagle-eyed, photographical memory types or downright obsessed amongst you will also spot that Holebas was mentioned last week. I am researching, honest! It’s just that I am naming a wildcard squad and well, Kop is obviously a very good tipster. But it should be clear to see why Holebas is in here. £4.5M as a left winger who can take advantage of clean sheets and has already scored this season. The German-born Greek is on three yellow cards so buyers beware (borrowed from Guy Sanchez, that one. Love it!) if you pick him up. He is preferred to Darryl Janmaat simply on price alone.
Jordi Amat – This guy plays every minute for the Swans and can still be picked up for £4.1M. With each passing week, Swansea are working their way through their difficult fixtures so he could be stowed on your bench until City, Liverpool, Arsenal and United are negotiated but he is an enabler who is actually a playing option and for a wildcard, what’s not to love about that?
Christian Fuchs is the big Austrian left back who announced after the Euros that he was quitting the national team to better himself at club level – it’s working. A clean sheet and an assist against Burnley will have caught your attention but it is his joint-best 124 points in the BPS (with Kyle Walker) that is catching our eye. The fixtures are a mixed bag but the next four home games all have clean sheet potential (Southampton, Crystal Palace, West Bromwich Albion and Middlesbrough).
Jonny Evans is £4.5m and plays every minute for West Bromwich Albion who you know will keep their fair share of clean sheets. Unspectacular but he is sure steady in the ‘go-to’ team for your bog standard 6 points from a defender
Martin Kelly is the ex-Liverpool man who has been given his chance through what can only be described as a nasty turn of fate but with best wishes to the recovering car crash victim, Pape Souare, we in the FPL world also must take our chance. Kelly is taking the place of the Senegalese and we can have him for 4.4. Nice little alternative if you don’t want to follow the Steve Mandanda pick.
Leighton Baines or Seamus Coleman is the eternal question. Has been for as long as FPL has existed, well at least since Coleman signed for Everton. Anyway, that Ronald Koeman has turned Everton sexy overnight makes us sit up and take notice and they are nearly keeping clean sheets (the Middlesbrough goal on Saturday was assault and should not have stood) adds to the appeal. Now Coleman scored on Saturday and Baines is/could be on penalties so you need to make our own mind up on this one but we would lean on Baines for the spot kick duty.
Hector Bellerin as Kop described last week is the best buy if money is no object for a defender. His statistics are very impressive even if they are not transferring in to big points just yet.
Raheem Sterling – Sterling continues to be a favourite for Pep it seems. Three goals, three assists and five bonus points so far points to him being absolutely fantastic value for the £8.4M and the £2.3 million of difference in price with Kevin De Bruyne is reflected in just one point (KDB has 39 to Sterling’s 38) and the England man has played 11 minutes less.
Philippe Coutinho – For this position you could take any of the Liverpool midfield as has been well documented in the past few weeks. Coutinho has looked very sharp and comes in cheaper than compatriot Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane so it is the budget friendliness of Cout’ that gets him the nod here. He has scored more fantasy points than the rest of the Liverpool team and has the most bonus points too. From first hand observation of him on Friday night, he looks to be in very good shape for future assist and goalscoring points.
Michail Antonio – The England international has been spitting in the wind recently as it doesn’t matter how many he scores, West Ham lose four goals. He’s going to need to up his game and get five next week we suspect. The purchase of the midfielder-cum-right-back is an inadvertent way to cream points off Dmitri Payet’s stream of creativity without forking out the extra £2M. Payet appears to be feeding Antonio, with three assists in two matches for him, so having him is a nice way of covering the Hammers attack. You can rest easy knowing that if you have Antonio and West Ham get a set-play, you’re in with a chance of some points.
Robert Snodgrass – The Scotland captain-in-waiting (come on Strachan, surely?) has set the Premier League on fire so far with his array of point scoring from open play (Leicester), free kicks (Burnley) and the penalty spot (Arsenal). Yeah and he takes corners too and is probably the fittest man in the Premier League as he runs constantly for ninety minutes and it’s great testament to him having been out of the game for 16 months with a cruciate knee injury. He is just £5.7M and has a fixture list reading from Game-week 8 of Bournemouth (A), Stoke City (H), Watford (A), Southampton (H), Sunderland (A), West Bromwich Albion (H), Middlesbrough (A) and Crystal Palace (H).
Etienne Capoue – Well this guy needs no explanation, surely? It isn’t too late and at £4.9M is still brilliant value. The question being, do you play him as fourth midfielder or is he your first substitute? If it is the latter, then there can be no more assured than the Frenchman who is exceeding everyone’s, including his own expectations.
Alexis Sanchez still features in fewer teams than the likes of Hazard, Coutinho and Sterling to name but three with just 13.8% ownership. Now we know that those on a wildcard will have him and Kevin De Bruyne as must haves and we understand that. With the flexibility of unlimited transfers now is definitely the time to have them in. This limits the rest of your team somewhat unless you plan to ditch Ibrahimovic or Aguero. That is for your personal choice but the ‘big two’ in midfield, (sorry Eden) need to be mentioned.
Nacer Chadli had a decent start to his career in the Black Country with a couple of goals and a couple of assists – to score an eye-watering 21 points – on his home debut. You won’t be surprised to hear he is now West Brom’s joint top point scorer after playing JUST TWO of their games. This could continue and next up are basement-dwellers Stoke and Sunderland. A two week punt isn’t the craziest thing I’ve ever heard.
Yannick Bolasie is the perfect antidote for those who can’t fit Romelu Lukaku in to their strikeforce but still fancy some Everton attacking coverage. This guy is heading to becoming a brilliant bit of transfer business by the Blues and the link up with the Belgian could be a fruitful and mutualluy beneficial partnership which could reap both points for us fantasy managers and European football at Goodison. The DR Congo international who is just £6.0M and has picked up two assists in his last two, the last of which saw him complete his first ninety minutes, is simmering nicely.
Romelu Lukaku – If you haven’t had him for the last two weeks then it’s hardly worth buying him now is it? You will probably be one of the 1,287,456 of fantasy managers who claim that they can never ‘get him’ at the right time. We jest of course, but it seriously does looks like Lukaku is going to be worth getting in to your wildcard teams owing to current form, which shows no sign of letting up, his relatively fair price, his history of being able to do it at this level – his goal record is phenomenal really, and the fact that Everton themselves have made their best start to a season in recent history. A very well connected contributor to this site has described Everton’s tactic of simply getting the ball to Lukaku at all costs as so simple but so obvious. That it appears to be happening is great news for us managers. Take heed!
Sergio Aguero – We’ve covered Aguero in depth in the opening paragraphs but as he has just been mooching about waiting for his suspension to be completed he has only been able to compete in one competitive game and that was in the Champions League against Borussia Monchengladbach. He scored a hat-trick. Take heed!
Zlatan Ibrahimovic – The guy is going to be a makeweight for Aguero, Sanchez, De Bruyne or a combination of two of those or if you play your cards correctly, all three. Aguero seems undroppable so it has to be Zlats who takes one for your teams. A word of warning though. United’s new signing has blanked in just one game in – the away game at Hull – and has six bonus points, four goals and one assist so far. He hasn’t done anything to deserve the chop I’m sure you will at least agree? At least consider this when making your final decisions. His next two matches are at home and one of which is Stoke. Take (some) heed!
To see the Manchester United youngster Marcus Rashford make the starting line-up against Watford in what Mourinho described on Thursday after the Feyenoord defeat as would be “the normal team” made us sit up and take notice. Could Rashford see some league game time? There is no doubt his direct play and trickery is applauded at Old Trafford and lots of United supporters would rather see him play than a few others. You might be lucky and be able to retain Red Devils coverage here if you decide to ditch Zlatan. It’s risky though but he who dares Rodney . . .
Diego Costa would seem to be the favoured weapon of choice for many of you who need to lighten your attack to accommodate some premium midfielders. Hardly a bad choice when you consider he hasn’t blanked in any game this season and even when Chelsea looked all at sea against Liverpool this past week, the Spanish international still found the net for his fifth league goal of the season. The result against Liverpool wasn’t undeserved but it wasn’t Chelsea at their most lethal and they were played off the park by a sharp team so all talk of ditching Chelsea entirely is a little premature we think.
Finally one of our favourite Tips this week is Troy Deeney of Watford. Two goals in two games against West Ham (a brilliant arcing lob) and a penalty in the 3-1 win over Manchester United ahead of a beautiful run of games just makes senses. At 6.9M and with the captain’s armband and penalty duty, the Brummie just seems to make more sense than his strike partner Odion Ighalo who was one of the early-season sensations last time out but is yet to get going this. To answer the big question; no. No, we don’t think having Deeney and Etienne Capoue is too much Watford coverage. They have Burnley, Bournemouth, Middlesbrough, Swansea and Hull in their next five all of which are winnable for a team who have scored seven in their last two. Their confidence is sky high at the moment and both are integral to their attacking play.