FPL Season 2018/19 – Gameweek 9 Preview

“Back to Premier League action for Raheem Sterling after a successful international break” (Source: Wikimedia) by Brad Tutterow

As if the Premier League wasn’t hard enough to predict for FPL managers, this campaign’s second international break has thrown some more uncertainty in the mix. What to think of Raheem Sterling’s outstanding first-half display against Spain in the Nations League? Is he continuing in this vein against Burnley? And what about FPL big shots Sadio Mané and Mo Salah, who both came back from international duty with (slight) injuries? Are Romelu Lukaku’s two goals versus Switzerland what he needed to start carrying a struggling Manchester United? With some managers likely to use their first Wildcard around this period, Gameweek 9 is promising to be an eventful one.

Some observations ahead of Gameweek 9

After this we’ll be focusing on the Premier League, but it feels fitting to start with the Three Lions. England’s national team had a relatively successful two Nations League games against top-class opposition, namely Croatia (0-0 draw) and Spain (2-3 victory). While Raheem Sterling and Marcus Rashford shone in Sevilla, Harry Maguire and especially Ben Chilwell stood out a few days earlier against Croatia. It looks like most of England’s players are coming back to their clubs this week after a well-deserved boost of confidence.

Newly-promoted Wolverhampton are having a more than smooth return to the Premier League and several of their players have been growing consistently in terms of FPL potential. The likes of wing-back Matt Doherty, who scored 15 FPL points in gameweek 8, striker Raul Jimenez and midfielder Joao Moutinho are proving to offer outstanding value for money so far this season along with full-back Jonny who made his debut for Spain against England. What makes Wolves assets even more attractive, is the fact that the new boys have started all of this season’s 8 league matches with the same eleven players. If you value security of playing minutes and are looking for decent budget-enabling players, Wolves is where you should look.

Jonny Evans has been a Premier League mainstay for years, but since leaving relegated West Brom for Leicester City last summer, the Northern-Ireland international has only played 186 minutes so far this campaign. Better times might be ahead for him though, after Leicester centre-back Wes Morgan was booked for his second red card of this early 2018-19 season last gameweek. The captain of the Foxes seems to have passed his peak and it would be no surprise to see Evans cement a spot in the starting eleven over the coming weeks.

Speaking of getting into the starting line-up, Chelsea’s Ross Barkley seems to be returning to his former best under both club coach Maurizio Sarri and national team boss Gareth Southgate. The offensive midfielder is not a starter for Sarri, but he has accumulated 277 minutes already this season, which is more than twice as much as last season’s measly 129 minutes in total. For England, Barkley has started in both games this international break, displaying some improved confidence and overall satisfying performances. Keep an eye on the developments surrounding his playing time at Chelsea.

Premium picks

With Salah and Mané surrounded by injury uncertainty, it’s time for good old Kun Aguero (£11.3m) to make a return to this column. The Argentinian striker wasn’t called up by his national team during the break, which saved him from travelling back and forth to the Middle-East to face Iraq and arch-rivals Brazil and should have allowed his slight heel problem to fully recover. This coming Saturday, City are facing Burnley, which could mean goals for Aguero. The game is far from being a certain walk-over as Sean Dyche’s men seem to have gotten back some of their (defensive) form after a horrible season opening, but a betting man would go for City to win comfortably at the Etihad. If City get 1 or 2 goals in the 1st half, Burnley’s defensive frailties may be exposed in the 2nd half particularly if injury doubt central defender, Tarkowski, is missing. With rival striker Gabriel Jesus having played most of the match against Argentina, Kun will likely be starting this weekend and when he does, he’s always likely to score. Kevin de Bruyne may also be making his first appearance of the season and his eye for a pass may help Aguero.

With fixtures against Huddersfield (home), Cardiff (away), and Fulham (home) coming up over the next four gameweeks, making a considerable investment in Liverpool’s raiding left-back Andy Robertson (£6.3m) doesn’t seem like such a crazy idea. The Scotsman has kept five clean sheets, provided two assists, and accumulated a total of 49 FPL points in just 8 gameweeks, making him the second-highest scoring defender in the official game, behind Marcos Alonso. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Liverpool bringing home a few more clean sheets over the coming weeks particularly if Van Dyke fully recovers from his rib injury, which, in combination with Robertson’s tendency to go forward and support the attack, makes the defender an interesting premium transfer target. The alternative that is playing on many managers minds, is to bring back Man City’s attacking full-back Ben Mendy (£6.2m) into their team now that he’s recovered from injury.

On Sunday, Everton welcome Crystal Palace to Goodison Park. Though the Eagles are performing on par away from home this season, with two victories and six points from four games, they remain an outfit that finds it difficult to find the net and they may be missing their star player, Zaha, due to injury. Everton will probably dominate large parts of the game and create more chances, and when they do, attacking midfielder and playmaker Gylfi Sigurdsson (£7.4m) is likely to be in the thick of it. The Icelandic international has scored four goals in his last four Premier League games, including a double strike against Leicester last gameweek, bringing home 33 FPL points over that period. Marco Silva’s men are finding their stride, and with Richarlison and new man Bernard around him, Sigurdsson’s hot streak might not be ending just yet.

A differential or two

James Maddison (£6.9m), Leicester’s creator-in-chief after the departure of Riyad Mahrez, will be coming into gameweek rested and ready to go. The young offensive midfielder (and dead-ball specialist) didn’t have any international duties to fulfil over the past week, so the hope is that he will simply continue where he left off about 10 days ago. Maddison is facing West Ham (home), Cardiff (away), and Burnley (home) after this coming weekend’s match against Arsenal with new purchase Leno in goal, which could mean big points. Even the Arsenal game coming Monday evening has potential for the Englishman, as the Gunners have conceded no less than 11 big chances over the past four gameweeks. Only Cardiff and Watford have conceded more (both 14) big chances over that same period.

One of gameweek 8’s top performers was Bournemouth forward Joshua King (£6.4m), after scoring a brace away at Watford, thus making a considerable contribution to Bournemouth’s impressive 0-4 victory over the Hornets. King has three goals and an assist to his name from the last four league games, taking home 28 FPL points in the process. This Saturday’s opponents Southampton have so far taken just three points from four away games this season, while conceding very close to two goals per game in those four games. King, who is also the penalty specialist for the Cherries, is rumoured to have injured his ankle over the international break, but the damage seems limited. Keep an eye on his situation in the coming days in any case.

The captaincy

Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino (£9.3m) could be the only member of the club’s lethal front three to start against Huddersfield on Saturday, which would make him even more of a reference point up top. Both Mané and Salah are said to have suffered light injuries while away with their respective national teams, and Klopp might well decide to take this opportunity to grant the two attacking stars a well-deserved rest after a killer schedule for the Reds. Firmino looks set to start against a Huddersfield team that has taken just two points from four away games so far this season, scoring 4 goals and conceding a worrying 11. Liverpool, on the other hand, have scored 8 in four home games, while conceding exactly zero goals. It looks like goals are on the menu for the home team this weekend and captaining Firmino wouldn’t be a bad idea given Liverpool do have other creative players to provide the assists for him.

After mentioning his team mate as a premium pick earlier on, we’re going for Man City’s Raheem Sterling (£11.1m). The English dribbler had an excellent week and a half with the national team and now seems ready to fire in the Premier League. Next up for City are Burnley, who have conceded the most shots per game (20.1) since the start of the 2018-19 season, including 20 against Cardiff and 19 versus Huddersfield in gameweeks 7 and 8, respectively. Combine City’s league-high 174 goal attempts with Burnley’s underwhelming defensive stats and it suddenly becomes clear why Sterling (4 goals, 2 assists, 50 FPL points) is a stand-out candidate for the captaincy coming weekend, especially if you don’t have Aguero in your team.

FPL 2018-19 Second international break (8 to 19 October)

“Dutch defender Van Dijk, here duelling with Austria’s Marko Arnautovic, had a solid game versus Germany this international break” (Own work) by Ailura

After another exciting Premier League weekend last week, the 2018-19 campaign’s second international break has seen Premier League players flying all over the world to join their respective national sides. With the Nations League offering a new and very welcome alternative to the usually rather boring international friendlies that used to take place over the international breaks, there were plenty of attractive fixtures on the calendar this week. What to think of Holland versus Germany, Spain against England, or Brazil hosting Argentina, for example? In this article we’ll take a closer look at the performances so far of some of the most interesting FPL assets ahead of gameweek 9.

Netherlands vs Germany (13 October 18)

With both national teams going through a phase of transitioning, the Nations League meeting between Holland and their German arch-rivals was one of this international break’s most interesting fixtures. The Dutch booked an impressive 3-0 victory, though the scoreline could be considered somewhat flattered considering the Germans were the better team for many parts of the game. The first and third goal were scored by Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk (£5.9m) and Gini Wijnaldum (£5.5m), respectively.

The two starters under Jurgen Klopp gave an excellent performance against Die Manschafft, and something that’ll please about 15% of FPL managers in particular is Van Dijk’s involvement. The imposing central defender is marked as an injury doubt in the official game, but he completed the 90 minutes as captain against Germany. As far as Wijnaldum goes, he was one of the best players on the pitch, going box-to-box and demonstrating the kind of threat he can bring in attack as well. Holland are still facing Belgium tomorrow, but both Liverpool players should be returning to England healthy and full of confidence.

Croatia vs England (12 October 18)

Last Friday, the Nations League presented us with a replay of the World Cup 2018 semi-final between Croatia and the Three Lions, though the empty stadium in Rijeka turned it into a bit of a strange spectacle. Gareth Southgate started with several FPL hard-hitters, including Harry Kane (£12.5m), Raheem Sterling (£11.1m) and Harry Maguire (£5.5m). The match ended in a 0-0 draw, but England probably deserved a victory. Both Harry Kane and Eric Dier hit the woodwork, while big chances were wasted by Sterling and especially Marcus Rashford. Particular stand-outs in the England squad were Leicester’s Ben Chilwell (£5.0m), who had an outstanding full debut and created a big chance for Rashford, John Stones (£5.3), and Jordan Pickford (£4.9m), though the match wasn’t very exciting overall.

In terms of FPL, the most promising performances were probably those of the previously mentioned Chilwell and Pickford. The Leicester left-back was a candidate for the Man of the Match award after displaying some fine defending and incisive attacking moves, while the Everton goalie helped England keep a clean sheet with some expected but nonetheless decent saves against the last World Cup’s runner-up. With an attractive run of Premier League fixtures coming up after this international break and the absence of European football for both squads, these two players could be increasing in FPL popularity and value over the coming weeks.

England had a much better performance in front of goal last night against Spain scoring 3 goals in the first half against Spain thanks to Sterling (twice) and Rashford with Harry Kane instrumental in setting up chances. Spain did reply in the 2nd half with their second goal literally the last kick of the match in te 8th minute of injury time to make the overall score 3-2 to England. Wolves’ Jonny made his debut at full back for Spain.

Belgium vs Switzerland (12 October 18)

In this match, no less than six Premier League players appeared in the starting line-ups. The most interesting of these, from an FPL point of view, played on the side of the Red Devils, with Toby Alderweireld, Vincent Kompany, Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard all starting from the kick-off. Belgium didn’t completely manage to dominate the game and the Swiss eleven couldn’t place enough consistent pressure on the Belgian backline to truly become dangerous themselves, so it ended up being Romelu Lukaku’s individual qualities that brought home the three points for the Red Devils. The Man United striker (£10.9m), who is a sure starter under José Mourinho, netted twice, including once just minutes from the end after missing a sitter a few minutes earlier, to make it 2-1 for Belgium. Despite United’s struggles so far this season, Lukaku looked energised and keen on scoring, which could be interesting news for the more daring FPL managers among us.

Eden Hazard (£11.3m), currently the Premier League’s best player, didn’t really manage to put his stamp on the game against the Swiss. It was clear from the first moment that the little forward is full of confidence at the moment, but his dribbles missed a bit of that magic that he’d been displaying in the EPL over the past weeks. It should also be said though, that the Swiss kept spaces very small at the back and usually gave Hazard a double cover, so FPL managers shouldn’t be worried about the Chelsea star man. With league games against Burnley, Everton, and Palace coming up in the next four gameweeks, Hazard should be adding to his FPL points total soon.

Saudi Arabia –vsBrazil (12 October 18)

Brazil visited Saudi Arabia for their first game of this international break last Friday. With Ederson in goal, Gabriel Jesus as striker, and Fabinho and Fred in the midfield, the Brazilians started off with four Premier League players. Later on, Spurs winger Lucas Moura and Everton star Richarlison came on as well, in minutes 46 and 72 respectively.

Man City’s Gabriel Jesus (£10.2m) opened the scoreline in the 44th minute, his eleventh goal for his country in just 23 games. He was taken off in the 72nd minute, but he’ll be pleased with his performance and his goal, especially now that Kun Aguero seems to be the starting striker of choice for his club manager Pep Guardiola. The two of them will likely be competing against each other tomorrow, when the sides meet for a friendly game in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. It’ll be interesting to see if another good performance by the Brazilian increases his chances of becoming City’s number one striker, especially for FPL managers, as a starting striker in the current Man City squad at a price of £10.2 can be considered a bargain.

As far as Lucas Moura (£7.4m) and Richarlison (£6.7m) are concerned, they played 45 and 18 minutes respectively. Moura wasted a considerable chance when shooting straight at Saudi Arabia’s goalie in a promising position, while Everton’s winger/striker caused the Saudi goalkeeper to be sent off with a red card after handling his vicious shot outside the box. FPL managers will also find it interesting to know that Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino (£9.3m) didn’t come off the bench on Friday, which can be good news considering his club’s exhausting schedule over the past month.

Liverpool and the African Cup of Nations qualifiers

Liverpool’s players, who are generally known for their high-intensity approach to games in the Premier League, have been appearing somewhat less energetic since a week or three, four. The club’s congested playing schedule, which contained encounters with teams like Chelsea, City, and PSG, was blamed for it. Seeing as the Reds look to be a serious challenger for the Premier League title this year, we figured it would be interesting to take a quick look at the performances of their attacking front three. Where Firmino spent a match on the bench against Saudi Arabia, his partners-in-crime Momo Salah and Sadio Mané completed the 90 minutes for respectively Egypt and Senegal.

Egypt played a home qualifier against tiny Eswatini and won 4-1, a victory that included a goal from Salah (£12.8m). Those who were wondering if maybe the Egyptian was suffering from less confidence as a result of him being less decisive so far than last season, should really check out his goal against eSwatini last Friday. He was left with a slight groin injury after the game, but he could be fit for when Liverpool face off against Huddersfield coming Saturday.

Sadio Mané (£9.9m) had an equally successful outing with his national team as Senegal beat Sudan 3-0. The Liverpool winger was a threat throughout the game and provided the assist for the decisive 2nd goal. Like his colleague Salah, Mané didn’t come out of his international game unscathed, as he is rumoured to have picked up a hand injury. It doesn’t seem to be too serious though, and if it will give him a short period of well-earned rest before returning to Premier League action coming weekend, FPL managers who own him won’t be too unhappy, and neither will Jurgen Klopp.

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Leading from the front: The most compelling options for your FPL captain in Week 9

Making the right choice as to who will wear the captain’s armband in your FPL team can make the difference between a middling performance and one that will propel you up the rankings. Over recent years, the FPL Champion has typically gathered around a quarter of the total points tally just from the captain – in 2016/17, champion Ben Crabtree’s captain picks brought him an incredible 755 points – almost 30 percent of his total haul.

As we look forward to Gameweek 9 of the FPL, here are some names that need to be on your radar to lead your team from the front. And don’t forget you will have much better odds than in a casino when playing fantasy leagues.

Mo Salah

There is a long running discussion in the US about whether fantasy sport is simply a disguised type of gambling. It makes for an interesting debate, and sometimes, searching the options to pick your captain can indeed feel similar to scouring www.casinopedia.org to find the best online casino site on which to spin the reels. To push the analogy a little further, however, having Mo Salah at the helm should be like having a marked deck of blackjack cards or loaded dice. This is the man who earned more than 300 points last season. Last week, his team met its toughest challenge yet in holding City to a draw, and there is every reason to believe Salah will be back to his usual goal-scoring ways against Huddersfield.

Harry Kane

England skipper, legendary goal scorer and all-round good egg though he is, Kane has nevertheless had a low-profile start to the season and has failed to live up to his own high standards. However, Week 9 will give him the perfect opportunity to make up for lost time. The Tottenham vs West Ham rivalry is the stuff of legends and he will want to play his part in one of football’s most enduring stories. It’s been a real gambling rollercoaster with him.

Marko Arnautovic

The Hammers, on the other hand, might have started out as Premier League whipping boys, but that performance against United a couple of weeks ago shows they are capable of putting up a fight against anyone. Those opening four losses must feel like a distant memory, and the return of Marko Arnautovic from injury is a big part of that. He’s punching with the big boys as one of the leading goal scorers so far this season, and would love to add to that tally against Spurs.

Eden Hazard

He’s been on top goal scoring form so far this season, despite missing out in two of the early fixtures, and it will be a surprise if he doesn’t add to the tally in the match up with the struggling Manchester United. At £11.3 million he’s a relative bargain compared with Salah and Kane, and it would be a mistake to overlook him.

Romelu Lukaku

United might have their demons to deal with, but Lukaku’s goal scoring prowess is one thing they can rely on this season. The 25 year old is a solid option any time, and United will be desperate to continue the bounce back from their defeat at the hands of West Ham which they started with a rousing come-back against Newcastle. A strong performance against Chelsea would do more than anything to silence the dissenting voices, so Lukaku certainly has all the incentive he needs.

FPL Season 2018-19 – Fixture Difficulty Ratings (gameweeks 8-12) – bottom 10 clubs

 

With this season’s second international break coming up after gameweek 8, this weekend, we’re taking a look at the list of fixtures coming up. By now you probably have a good idea of what the 2018-19 Premier League is going to look like, which teams will be competing for the title, and which players have hit the ground running this season. As the ‘wildcard season’ may be considered by FPL Managers around the international break, we’ll be taking a look at the coming run of fixtures for each Premier League outfit in order to determine their difficulty and help you with planning gameweeks 8 to 12.

Yesterday we looked at the fixtures for the top 10 clubs and now it’s time for the bottom 10 in the EPL where we’ll try and identify which clubs you should avoid given their run of harder fixtures and those clubs where you should be considering bringing in players due to their bonus run of fixtures.

 

 

Everton
Week 8 Week 9 Week 10 Week 11 Week 12
Leicester (A) Crystal Palace (H) Man United (A) Brighton (H) Chelsea (A)

Everton are one of two teams that played in the League Cup on October 2nd, losing on penalties against Southampton which at least makes it easier for them in the EPL. Everton have been a bit up and down so far this season, with an 11th current position as a result (9 points out of 7 games). Three of the upcoming five games are against rivals that are currently higher up the table (Leicester, United, and Chelsea) and all three of those games are away games. The home games offer more potential for points though, with Palace and Brighton visiting Goodison Park. The away games versus Chelsea and United seem out of reach, but the other games could yield some positive results, on condition that the Toffees keep improving, and players such as Richarlison, Sigurdsson and Gueye stay fit.

Rating for FPL: MEDIUM/DIFFICULT

Burnley
Week 8 Week 9 Week 10 Week 11 Week 12
Huddersfield (H) Man City (A) Chelsea (H) West Ham (A) Leicester (A)

Thanks to a horrible opening of the season, Burnley have only the Premier League to focus on by now. Their Europa League adventure was cut short by Olympiakos, while Burton knocked them out of the League Cup. That’s not bad news for FPL managers though, because the Clarets do offer some FPL pedigree, with players such as Gudmundsson, Tarkowski and Barnes. The club are facing top six rivals in weeks 9 and 10, while an away game at the King Power in week 12 can be considered difficult as well. This weekend’s home game versus Huddersfield and the week 11 away game against West Ham show most potential for Burnley, though the Hammers look like they’re starting to improve after a tough beginning to the 18-19 campaign.

Rating for FPL: DIFFICULT

Crystal Palace
Week 8 Week 9 Week 10 Week 11 Week 12
Wolves (H) Everton (A) Arsenal (H) Chelsea (A) Spurs (H)
Middlesbrough (A) EFL Cup

With two victories and a draw from the first seven games, Palace’s start to the season has been nothing special. The Eagles are a mid-table team on paper (partly thanks to star-player, Zaha), but they’ll be hoping to find themselves a few spots up the table at the end of the season. The coming two gameweeks especially offer opportunities for Palace to add to their current 7 points (and 5 goals scored), with Wolves visiting Selhurst Park before Palace visits Everton, who have conceded 5 goals in 4 home games so far, in gameweek 9. After that, the going gets tough for the Eagles, as they consecutively face Arsenal, Chelsea and Spurs in the Premier League. On top of that, in the Carabao League Cup they’re going to Boro in gameweek 11, a game Palace will want to win.

Rating for FPL: VERY DIFFICULT

West Ham United
Week 8 Week 9 Week 10 Week 11 Week 12
Brighton (A) Spurs (H) Leicester (A) Burnley (H) Huddersfield (A)
Spurs (H) EFL Cup

It looks like Manuel Pellegrini and his West Ham side have finally found their feet and are ready to start performing more like a club that spent £100 million just last summer. An away victory over Everton in mid-September was followed by a home draw versus Chelsea, an 8-0 thrashing of Macclesfield in the League Cup, and an impressive 3-1 victory over an uninspired Man United last weekend. The Hammers will hope to continue this good form this coming weekend at the AmEx in Brighton. The Spurs and Leicester games in weeks 9 and 10 seem like a bit too much for West Ham, but they’ll be gunning for six points against Burnley at home and Huddersfield away after that. With players like Arnautovic, Fabianski and Tomkins, the Hammers could and should do better than their current 14th place.

Rating for FPL: REASONABLE

Brighton & Hove Albion
Week 8 Week 9 Week 10 Week 11 Week 12
West Ham (H) Newcastle (A) Wolves (H) Everton (A) Cardiff (A)

Purely in terms of upcoming fixtures, Brighton has one of the most favourable schedules. The Seagulls are out of the League Cup after losing to Southampton at home in the second round, so manager Chris Hughton can put all his efforts into keeping the Albion in the Premier League for another season. On paper, the away game at Everton is the most difficult encounter, but the Toffees haven’t made a special impression at home so far this season (4 games, 2 wins, 2 draw, and 5 goals conceded). Against all of the other teams, Brighton fans and players alike will be disappointed if they don’t take home at least a point. Especially the games against West Ham, Newcastle, and Cardiff are crucial in the early season’s battle to avoid the relegation spots, and Brighton can go into those games with confidence.

Rating for FPL: GOOD

Southampton
Week 8 Week 9 Week 10 Week 11 Week 12
Chelsea (H) Bournemouth (A) Newcastle (H) Man City (A) Watford (H)
Leicester (A) EFL Cup

Southampton edged out Everton on 2nd October on penalties in the Carabao League Cup and they will return to play in the tournament sometime during gameweek 11 away to Leicester. After narrowly avoiding relegation last season, it looks like Southampton will be facing a tough campaign again this year. The only win so far this season came at the expense of Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park, the only other two points were the results of home draws against Burnley and Brighton. Apart from Newcastle in gameweek 10, the Saints are facing only rivals from the top half of the table. These include two title candidates (Chelsea and City) and two of this season’s surprise performers (Bournemouth and Watford), so the coming weeks might well get quite tough for Southampton.

Rating for FPL: VERY DIFFICULT

Fulham
Week 8 Week 9 Week 10 Week 11 Week 12
Arsenal (H) Cardiff (A) Bournemouth (H) Huddersfield (A) Liverpool (A)
Man City (A) EFL Cup

As a recently promoted side, Fulham won’t be overjoyed by the current 17th spot in the Premier League, but they’ll still be happy to be above the relegation spots. The team managed by Slavisa Jokanovic is determined to play its own style of attacking football, which explains the 8 goals they’ve scored and the 16 goals they’ve conceded in this season’s first 7 games. With just 1 point and 11 goals conceded so far, it’s their away form that should worry fans and management alike the most. In theory, the games against Cardiff, Huddersfield (both away), and Bournemouth (home) have potential for goals, points, and FPL points. Still, Bournemouth are playing exceptionally well at the moment, while Fulham’s away form was mentioned just a moment ago. Add to that the League Cup encounter at the Etihad in gameweek 11 and the Cottagers are looking at a difficult run of fixtures.

Rating for FPL: VERY DIFFICULT

Newcastle United
Week 8 Week 9 Week 10 Week 11 Week 12
Man United (A) Brighton (H) Southampton (A) Watford (H) Bournemouth (H)

With Newcastle, we’ve come to the first of the Premier League’s three relegation spots. The Magpies made little investments last summer and have been considered a candidate for relegation by many experts before the 18-19 campaign even got under way. They were eliminated from the League Cup by Nottingham Forest, which didn’t do their confidence any good, and they took just 1 point from their last 4 games in the league (2 goals scored). To be fair, those four games did include an away game at the Etihad, a home game versus Arsenal, and a home game against Leicester. As to what’s about to come, manager Rafa Benitez will especially be eyeing gameweeks 9 and 10, and hope for good performances in the home matches in weeks 11 and 12. The upcoming game at Old Trafford isn’t counted on by Newcastle to yield any points, but considering the atmosphere there, you never know what a defensive masterclass by Benitez might bring.

Rating for FPL: DIFFICULT

Cardiff City
Week 8 Week 9 Week 10 Week 11 Week 12
Spurs (A) Fulham (H) Liverpool (A) Leicester (H) Brighton (H)

Newcomers Cardiff City were knocked out of the League Cup by Norwich City (3-1 at home) in the second round, but considering their situation in the Premier League, they might not be too unhappy about this. The Bluebirds have scored just 4 goals in 7 games so far, but they’ve conceded 16 already, five of which were scored by Man City. Out of the next five gameweeks, the home games versus Fulham and Brighton are must-wins for Cardiff, while the other three games offer little hope on points, both in the Premier League and in FPL. Scoring seems to be a fundamental issue for the Welshmen though, so unless manager Neil Warnock finds his team a way to the opposition goal while tightening up at the back at the same time, hard times could be ahead for Cardiff.

Rating for FPL: DIFFICULT

Huddersfield Town
Week 8 Week 9 Week 10 Week 11 Week 12
Burnley (A) Liverpool (H) Watford (A) Fulham (H) West Ham (H)

Huddersfield Town are, at this moment, the Premier League team with the least goals scored (3), the most goals conceded (16, like Newcastle), and the least points accumulated (2, like Newcastle and Cardiff) after the first 7 games of the season. As a result, the Terriers are currently last in the league and the upcoming games don’t offer too many glimmers of hope for better times. Away games against a rapidly improving Burnley and an in-form Watford side don’t seem like the type of matches from which Huddersfield will take a lot of points, while the home game against Liverpool is likely going to be more about avoiding a complete massacre in front of their own fans. The home games in weeks 11 and 12 show some more promise, with Fulham and West Ham having conceded 11 and 8 goals in away games respectively so far. Nevertheless, manager David Wagner is going to come up with something special if he wants to keep the Terriers in the Premier League for another season.

Rating for FPL: DIFFICULT

FPL Season 2018-19 – The first wildcard

Now that we’ve taken a break from playing new slot sites and seeing as the official game’s first wildcard of the season in Fantasy Premier League is available once until the 29th of December 2018 (14h00), we are now almost at the middle of the season’s first half. With the second international break coming up after gameweek 8, it’s likely that some of the FPL managers will be putting their first wildcard to work during the coming weeks. A well-planned wildcard can be of enormous value. In order to provide some insight and support in these crucial times, we’ll use this article to make a wildcard suggestion of our own, naturally within the set £100m budget. Do remember that a 2nd wildcard chip becomes available after 29 December to help you completely restructure your team during January to May 2019 which can be productive for those double game weeks later in the season.

GOALKEEPERS

As far as goalkeepers are concerned in FPL, our recommended strategy would be to choose two that, in theory, won’t need replacement before you use the next wildcard. By choosing Leicester’s Kasper Schmeichel (£5.0m) and Wolverhampton’s Rui Patricio (£4.5m), we’re getting two goalkeepers of international quality, who both play at decent teams and provide excellent rotation opportunities for FPL managers, and without having to break the bank. Rotating this pair with a total value of £9.5m would give the following run of fixtures:

GW8 GW9 GW10 GW11 GW12 GW13 GW14 GW15 GW16
Schmeichel EVE ars WHU car BUR bri WAT TOT cry
Patricio cry WAT bri TOT ars HUD car new BOU

When a team name abbreviation is written in bold/capitals, it means the goalkeeper in question is playing a home game against that team. By rotating Schmeichel and Patricio, we’ll have at least one of our goalkeepers facing low-ranking and/or low-scoring opposition every week until at least gameweek 16. Both goalies are dead-on starters for their clubs and though neither Leicester or Wolves are known as extremely solid in defence, both teams are likely to end up comfortably somewhere around the middle of the table and get clean sheets from time to time.

DEFENDERS

In the current top 10 of highest points scorers in FPL, there are two defenders, namely Chelsea’s Marcos Alonso (the second-highest scorer overall) and Liverpool’s Andy Robertson. Had it not been for Benjamin Mendy’s injury a few weeks ago, then this top 10 would’ve probably included three defenders. In other words, investments in premium defenders have paid off so far this season, so for the wildcard we would suggest two premium defenders, two medium-priced defenders, and a fifth budget enabler who starts for his club.

We start with Marcos Alonso (£6.9m). Yes, he is the most expensive defender in the official game by far, but he’s also the starting left-back for title candidates Chelsea under a manager who allows his full-backs to operate very far up the pitch and rarely tinkers with his starting formation. In seven games so far, the Spaniard has booked three clean sheets, provided 5 assists, and scored 1 goal. He’s also the defender with most shots in direction of the goal in the Premier League (14) and the defender who has most often hit the woodwork (2). Until gameweek 18, Chelsea are playing three more top six candidates (United, Spurs, and City), but all of them will be faced at Stamford Bridge.

The second premium defender in our wildcard squad is Tottenham’s Kieran Trippier (£6.2m). The English international seems to have cemented his place in Pocchetino’s starting eleven at right-back, especially now that his principal rival for the spot, Serge Aurier, is injured for the coming few games at least. On top of that, Trippier is one of Spurs’ set-piece takers, for both corners and attacking free-kicks, which only adds to his appeal. With Cardiff, Wolves, West Ham, and Palace coming up in the next week gameweeks, Tottenham’s fixture calender further justifies Trippier’s inclusion in our wildcard team who has picked up 7 bonus points already this season.

From Liverpool we’re taking another right-back who is also an English (youth) international, namely Trent Alexander-Arnold (£5.1m). We could’ve also included Liverpool’s Robertson in this list, instead of Alonso or Trippier, but selecting a Liverpool player comes with a higher risk of rotation. Alexander-Arnold has nevertheless played at least 88 minutes in each of Liverpool’s league games so far this season, in which he booked five clean sheets and provided a single assist. In addition, he’s taken six shots at goal and hit the woodwork twice, so more attacking returns seem to be on the cards. With Huddersfield, Cardiff, and Fulham coming up over the coming five gameweeks, the Liverpool defender seems to be offering excellent value for money.

Despite our aversion to doubling up on defensive assets from the same team, Wolverhampton Wanderers are offering outstanding value that’s hard to ignore at the moment. Wolves have conceded just 6 goals in the first seven games of the season, which actually makes their defence the fourth-best in the league, after City, Liverpool (both 3 goals), and Chelsea (5). Out of their backline, we have gone with right-back Matt Doherty (£4.5m), who has brought his FPL owners 3 clean sheets and 2 assists already (and 6 bonus points). He gets the freedom to boom forward almost at will, and with games against Palace, Watford, and Brighton coming up next, the Irish international could be raking in the points.

Our fifth defender is, perhaps unsurprisingly, Crystal Palace right-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka (£4.3m). The young defender started the season off with a price of £4.0, so when it became clear that he’s Roy Hodgon’s right-back of choice, he suddenly became one of FPL’s most interesting defensive assets. Palace are having a kind of up-and-down start to the season, with their home form being of special concern, but the Eagles are currently 13th in the table and their form seems to be improving. More importantly, there are only five teams with a better defence than Crystal Palace, who have conceded 8 goals in this season’s first seven games. As a fifth defender for your FPL team, Wan-Bissaka is probably your best choice and has already picked up the joint highest bonus points for a defender (9 the same as Alonso).

MIDFIELDERS

At the moment, there is great FPL value to be found among midfield players. Of the ten highest-scoring players so far, half are listed as midfielders. Of the top five point scorers, three are midfielders (Hazard, Sterling, and Mané). For our wildcard selection, we’re going with two high-priced midfielders, two mid-priced ones, and a fifth starting differential player.

Our first premium midfielder is Chelsea’s Eden Hazard (£11.1m), simply because he’s too good to ignore now that he’s in what could be the best shape of his life. He’s the star man in Maurizio Sarri’s completely overhauled Chelsea, and in that role the quick Belgian has already scored 6 goals and assisted 2 more in just 7 games. As a result, Hazard is currently the highest scoring player in FPL with 60 points (incl. 10 bonus points). With fixtures against Southampton, Burnley, Palace, and Everton coming up in the next five gameweeks, as well as a home game against troubled Man United, The Chelsea forward could keep scoring big for the foreseeable future.

The next midfielder in our wildcard team is Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling (£11.0), who at the moment is the second-highest scoring midfielder in FPL (47 points incl. 6 bonus points). The English dribbler has scored 4 goals and provided 2 assists in just six games this season, as gameweek 2 was the only week in which Sterling didn’t play any minutes. Obviously, with the Champions League and League Cup in full swing, rotation risk for players in Pep Guardiola’s squad is higher than ever, but Sterling seems to be one of Pep’s most assured starters in the Premier League. In this week’s Champions League game against Hoffenheim, he was replaced by Riyad Mahrez after 75 minutes, so he’s likely to be starting against Liverpool. With games versus Burnley (home), Southampton (home), and West Ham (away) in the next five after that, Sterling could be a top performer over the next gameweeks.

Our first medium-priced midfielder is Tottenham’s Lucas Moura (£7.4m), who could be providing exceptional value for money over the coming months. The Brazilian forward has played at least 67 minutes in each Premier League game this season so far, in which he has scored 3 goals and gave 1 assist, resulting in a total of 37 FPL points. On top of that, both starting midfielders Alli and Eriksen are currently injured and not expected back until after the international break, at the earliest. This situation is likely to only increase Moura’s role in Pocchetino’s squad, which will hopefully result in more returns for his FPL owners as well.

The fourth midfield pick for our wildcard is Everton star man Richarlison (£6.7m). The Brazilian forward started off the season in blistering form, scoring three goals in his first two games for his new club, accumulating 23 FPL points in the process (incl 5 bonus points). His early red card in gameweek 3, which meant a 2-game suspension, put a halt to his great start, but he happily continued during the first international break. In his first game for Brazil, he scored two goals and gave an overall high-level performance, and he was back in Everton’s starting eleven as soon as his suspension was over. Over the last two gameweeks, Richarlison returned an unimpressive 5 FPL points, and his blank at home to Fulham was especially disappointing. The powerful dribbler nevertheless took four shots at goal that game as he was deployed as a central striker for about 70 minutes. The kind of willingness Richarlison shows every game to create danger for the opposition, in combination with his price tag and the fact that he’s part of a team that has been underperforming until now, he’s a must-have midfield asset for FPL managers.

The fifth and final midfielder in our wildcard is Watford’s Roberto Pereyra (£6.3m). Like Richarlison, the Argentinian winger got off to a flying start for Watford this season, scoring 3 goals in the first three games and rewarding his FPL owners with 26 points. He hasn’t come up with attacking returns since then, but Watford’s fixture schedule for the past four weeks might have had something to do with that: Spurs and United at home, followed by Fulham and Arsenal away. With Watford seemingly holding on to their early-season shape for the moment, and with games versus Bournemouth, Wolves, Huddersfield, Newcastle, and Southampton coming up over the next five weeks, Pereyra might soon be back to his scoring and/or assisting ways.

FORWARDS

The two highest-scoring forwards in the official game right now are two of the usual suspects, namely City’s Kun Aguero and Tottenham’s Harry Kane. These two FPL favourites are followed by a somewhat surprising, but nonetheless extraordinary performer so far this season, Fulham’s Aleksandar Mitrovic. Seeing as an assured or practically assured starting position in the first eleven is a primary condition for the players we select for this wildcard, we’ve gone with one semi-premium striker, one mid-to-lower priced forward, and one budget asset.

The main man up front in this wildcard team would be Leicester’s Jamie Vardy (£8.9m). The English striker, who is no longer available for the Three Lions and can thus rest during the international breaks, is back to his old best with two goals and an assist in his last two games, earning his FPL owners 19 points in the process. Vardy is certain to start under manager Claude Puel, and rightly so, because he can cause problems to any defence. He’s always on the move and always looking for a way to goal, which are some of the reasons why he has become something of an FPL favourite. Over the coming five gameweeks, the Foxes are hosting Everton, West Ham, and Burnley, and visiting Arsenal and Cardiff. In other words, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Vardy turn up on the score sheets with some frequency over the coming weeks.

The appeal of our second striker pick seems to be missed by most managers at the moment which only makes him more interesting. Brighton’s Glenn Murray (£6.5m) isn’t the fastest or the most elegant striker in the Premier League, not by a long shot, but he scores goals. He ended last season with an impressive 12 goals and 111 FPL points, and this season he stands at 4 goals (and 30 FPL points) from 7 games. The English veteran played 90 minutes in every game bar last weekend against City, though the reason was more tactical than anything else. Brighton have an extremely kind run of fixtures coming up until gameweek 16, with no games against any of the top six until then. The Seagulls do face West Ham at home, plus Wolves and Palace, while they’ll be visiting the likes of Newcastle, Cardiff, and Huddersfield. Brighton is obviously not a team that will dominate the Premier League for weeks on end, but Glenn Murray might be a good pick and a great differential for the foreseeable future.

Finally, our third striker and final wildcard pick is Wolverhampton’s Raul Jiménez (£5.6m). It’s rare to see a starting striker at a mid-table club carrying around a price tag as low as £5.6m. Very rare indeed, especially when taking into account that Jiménez already has 2 goals and 2 assists to his name, meaning he’s had a key role in half of all of his team’s goals in the Premier League so far. On top of that, the Mexican forward has taken 22 shots at goal already this season, a total only bettered by Aguero, Mitrovic, and Salah. Of course, Wolves aren’t a free-scoring team, and they have just been promoted and might encounter a period of lower results, but Jiménez looks like an excellent option for the third striker spot in any FPL squad. With games against Palace, Watford, Brighton, Huddersfield, and Cardiff on the cards over the coming seven gameweeks, he looks likely to be adding to his goal and assist totals soon.

FPL Season 2018/19 – Gameweek 8 Preview

Anfield

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Gameweek 7 saw Liverpool dropping points in the Premier League for the first time this season, allowing Man City to get next to them on points and hop over them on goal difference. Earlier that day, West Ham caused what probably was the upset of the weekend by defeating Man United 1-3 at the London Stadium. It’ll be interesting to see if the Hammers can continue on their way up this weekend away at Brighton. Gameweek 8 also offers plenty of other interesting encounters for FPL managers, including the one between outstanding performers Watford and Bournemouth, the clash of giants between Liverpool and Manchester City, and the potentially goal-laden match between Leicester and Everton.

Some observations ahead of Gameweek 8

We’re starting with Wolves, because at times it seems that their performances so far this season have potential but can be a bit laboured. The newly-promoted side is quickly and smoothly adapting to life in the Premier League, with 9th position after seven games as a result. Nuno Espirito Santo’s men are not the statistically most flamboyant bunch, with 8 goals scored and 6 conceded so far, but they’re organised, mature and a seemingly perfect fit for football in the top flight. Some of their players, particularly in defence, have been very good value – doubly so after Doherty assisted Jonny for his first goal of the season at the weekend and both players scored 12 points each.

When Leverkusen’s Bernd Leno transferred to Arsenal for €22 million about three months ago, he surely hoped to get more playing minutes from the get-go. Instead, a hamstring injury for his rival and PL veteran Petr Cech last weekend meant that the German goalkeeper could finally make his Premier League minutes. Leno is a very able Goalie and it will be interesting to see if he can make the starting spot his own, especially for FPL managers considering his £5.0m price tag. We think the starting position is now his to lose so all down to performance over the next few weeks.

Elsewhere in London, it feels like manager Manuel Pellegrini has put the worst of his West Ham‘s start to the season behind him. Their excellent win over United last weekend came after a 3-1 victory over Everton, a 0-0 draw against Chelsea, and an 8-0 drubbing of Macclesfield in the League Cup. Felipe Anderson (£6.8m) had some moments of excellence against United, but key man for the Hammers is Austrian winger-slash-striker Marko Arnautovic. Despite some injury worries, he played last weekend and put one past De Gea to finish off the game, his fourth of the season.

At the very bottom of the table, Huddersfield are having a horrid start to the 2018-19 campaign and what’s probably most worrying is that there doesn’t seem to be a big improvement on the way anytime soon. The Terriers have scored the least goals (5 in 7 games), conceded the most goals (16) and they haven’t recorded a victory yet this season. With away games against Burnley and Watford coming up in the next three gameweeks, as well as a home game against Liverpool, times could be getting even tougher for Huddersfield.

Premium picks

Two of our Premier Picks last week, Sterling (14 points) and Trippier (11 points) were in the top 8 of gameweek points scorers for gameweek 7. This week, after his two goals and 13-point haul against Cardiff last weekend, the first premium pick on the list is Tottenham’s Harry Kane (£12.5m). He’s the most expensive striker in the official game, he costs over a million more than Kun Aguero, but if previous seasons are any indication, Kane goes through (long) scoring sprees. After scoring three goals in his last two games and with Cardiff at home coming up this weekend, the chance of the English forward hitting the back of the net again in a couple of days time is quite high. In the next four games after that, he faces West Ham, Wolves, and Palace, which should further increase his FPL appeal.

Another very premium pick this week is Chelsea’s Eden Hazard (£11.1m). With some fans and followers already predicting Hazard to become this year’s Momo Salah, the Chelsea wizard is having a blast of a season so far. He now has more owners (40.9%) than Mo Salah in the official game and he will hopefully be rested for Chelsea’s Europa League home encounter with Vidi FC, like he was for the club’s first mid-week game against PAOK two weeks ago. The Blues are the third-most scoring outfit in the Premier League at the moment (15 goals), while this weekend’s opponent Southampton have conceded seven goals in the last three games and allowed a worrying average of 13.6 shots per game so far this season. Eden could easily be in the points this weekend.

Our final premium pick this week is Leicester’s Jamie Vardy (£8.9m), who has rewarded his FPL owners with 19 points since returning from a red-card ban in gameweek 6. The energetic Englishman, who’s no longer available for the Three Lions and can therefore rest during the upcoming international break, has scored two goals and provided one assist in his last two games. He’s facing an Everton side this weekend that has already conceded 11 goals this season, while West Ham (home), Cardiff (away), and Burnley (home) are up in the four-week period after that, so we could be running straight into a Vardy party sometime soon.

A differential pick or two

Hopefully our differential pick for Gameweek 7, Gudmunsson, was followed by some as he came good with an assist and his first goal of the season giving him 13 points for the match and the 5th highest scorer of the week. Our first differential pick this week is a real one, seeing as he’s currently part of only 1% of FPL squads. Brighton’s Anthony Knockaert (£5.5m) blanked away against City last weekend, but in the three gameweeks before that, the young Frenchman scored 1 goal, provided 2 assists, and brought home 18 points for his FPL owners. On top of that, Knockaert made another ten attempts at an assist over the last four games, equal to Chelsea’s Hazard and just one less than City’s David Silva. With Brighton not facing a team from the top six in the coming nine gameweeks, now could be a great moment to bring in Anthony Knockaert.

Another differential attacking asset who’s been flying pretty much under the radar so far is Wolverhampton’s Raúl Jiménez (£5.6m). The Mexican striker is actually a steal at his current price, especially considering that he’s his club’s starting central attacker. He scored a goal and provided two assists in the last three games, rewarding his FPL owners with 18 points in the process. As a matter of fact, Jiménez ranks second in the Premier League when it comes to shots on target over the last four gameweeks, just behind Spurs striker Harry Kane (7 shots vs 8). With Palace, Watford, and Brighton facing Wolves over the next three gameweeks, there will be opportunities for Jiménez to add to goal and assist tallies.

The captaincy

If you have Harry Kane (£12.5m) in your team already, he should probably wear the armband this weekend when he’s up against Cardiff at home. If you don’t have him in your team, but you have the money available to bring him in or are using a wildcard, you should probably go for Kane as well, and hand him the captaincy while you’re at it. If you don’t have Kane in your squad and there is no reasonable possibility to change that reality, then you’ll just have to hope that he won’t reward the undoubtedly very high number of FPL managers who will be captaining him this weekend. After a somewhat sluggish start to the season, the English striker seems to have found a bit of a purple patch, scoring three goals in his last two outings. Against opposition that has conceded six goals in three away games so far this season, more attacking returns are on the cards for Harry Kane.

At Craven Cottage this weekend, there is a real London derby on the menu with Fulham hosting Arsenal for gameweek 8. The Cottagers have played attractive, attacking football so far this season, with lots of goals as a result, both in favour and against them (8 and 16 goals, respectively). Therefore, many eyes will be on Arsenal’s Alexandre Lacazette (£9.5m) on Sunday, as the French striker will be looking to provide attacking returns for a sixth consecutive time. In his last five games, Lacazette scored 2 goals and provided 4 assists, scoring 34 FPL points in the process. It wouldn’t be a surprise to the Frenchman to add to his totals this season.

Can anybody stop Manchester City winning the 2018/19 Premier League?

With Manchester City’s recent 2-0 win against Brighton putting them on top of the Premier League table for the first time this season, it seems as though the champions are once again favourites to claim the title. Whilst there have only been seven games played so far in the season, Pep Guardiola’s side have managed to find the form that makes them such a devastating team to play against. And so the question remains of who could possibly catch up to Manchester City?

Last season saw Manchester United being the side coming closest to causing headaches for Manchester City. But with last weekend’s embarrassing 3-1 away defeat to West Ham, it seems that Jose Mourinho is having big problems in controlling his team. As a result Manchester United have slumped to tenth place in the table and hold the unenviable record of having their worst start to the season in 29 years.

So with Manchester City’s rivals suffering a massive lapse in form, who could be in with a chance of claiming the league title? Liverpool are looking especially strong at the moment and are neck-and-neck with Manchester City at the top of the table. Jurgen Klopp’s team not only have the formidable skills of Mo Salah in their ranks, but with Daniel Sturridge, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino all on hand to score goals, it’s easy to see why Liverpool are in with their best chance of picking up a Premier League title.

Chelsea are also looking much stronger after a relatively disappointing season last year. Eden Hazard once again proved what a quality player he is by scoring against Liverpool last weekend, and Maurizio Sarri’s team are starting to work well together. Whilst the odds for Chelsea winning the league title aren’t too generous, if you went to https://openodds.com to see how you could use a decent betting bonus, then you could get a much greater profit on backing Maurizio Sarri’s side to get the title.

But what about Tottenham and Arsenal? Once again Tottenham seem to be struggling with inconsistent form that was shown by their defeat against Watford, and Mauricio Pochettino’s team seem to lack the killer touch when it counts. Whilst Arsenal lost their opening two games of the season, they have managed to win the last seven in a row and we are expecting Unai Emery’s side to continue their strong form in the upcoming months. But whatever happens, it’s expected to be yet another thrilling Premier League season.

Top candidates for relegation in the Premier League

Whilst it’s business as usual at the top of the Premier League table, things are starting to get really interesting in the relegation zone. It will be little surprise to see Premier League newcomers like Fulham and Cardiff struggling at the bottom, but with heavy-hitters like Newcastle also in trouble, it could be interesting to place a bet on who will get relegated this season.

Cardiff City are currently many bookmakers’ favourites to go down and Neil Warnock’s team are still without a win this season. With four defeats in their last five games, it’s clear that big things need to change if Cardiff want to play top-flight football next season. Despite the disappointing results, there’s still room for hope as Josh Murphy and Victor Camarasa have played some great football. But until Warnock finds a solution for the surprisingly blunt Cardiff attack, it’s hard to see how they could fight their way out of this situation.

Much has been made of how Huddersfield Town have managed to make something out of nothing, but it looks like the low spending club could be up for the chop as they are currently at the bottom of the Premier League table. With just three goals and two points in seven games, David Wagner’s team are looking especially feeble at the moment, and it could be wise to head over to betting.org to see what some recommended bookmakers are offering for a Huddersfield relegation.

Whilst Wolves are one of the surprise teams of the current 2017/18 season, their fellow Premier League newcomers, Fulham, aren’t having such an easy time. The Cottagers are placed fourth from bottom after their 3-0 thrashing by Everton, and the pressure will be on Slavisa Jokanovic to change things around quickly. Although Fulham’s 4-2 win against Burnley will have given the Craven Cottage faithful some room for hope, it’s clear that their new striker, Aleksandar Mitrovic, will be increasingly called upon to help resolve an increasingly tricky situation.

It’s also been a frustrating season for Newcastle United. The Magpies managed to get a mid-table position despite difficulties in the boardroom last season, but it looks like they are having an even trickier time this year. Rafael Benitez’s team are still without a win in their 2018/19 campaign, and whilst they remain one of the most vigorously supported sides in the league, it’s easy to see why the lack of money for signings has ruined their chances this season.

And with other teams like Southampton, Brighton and West Ham also facing relegation, it’s clear that it could be at the bottom of the Premier League where we’ll see the most unpredictable action this year.

Which football stars are fans of the horse racing world?

We all know how our favourite footballers like to splash out on luxury cars, but it seems that a few sporting stars have also been spending some time at the racetrack too. And it’s not just legendary managers like Sir Alex Ferguson who own racehorses, as even some of the best players in the world have put their time and money into horse racing.

Take the Real Madrid star, Sergio Ramos, who has become such a big horse racing fan that he even opened up his own stud farm near Seville. What’s notable is the fact that his Real Madrid teammate, Keylor Navas, is also a big fan of racing and can regularly be spotted taking out his own horses for a run.

Claudio Pizarro is another footballing star with the eye for the horses. Whilst you might have seen him playing in the Bundesliga for Werder Bremen, the Peruvian star actually owns over 50 racehorses and likes to bet small stakes on the horses. So although most of us would be happy to head to horsebetting.com to win on horse racing, it seems that Pizarro likes to take things one step further. Also in the Bundesliga, the Bayern Munich star, Thomas Muller reportedly owns many horses at home, although these are used for dressage competitions.

But what about horse racing fans in the UK footballing scene? Most of us will know how the England legend, Michael Owen, owns, breeds and even races horses, but there are a few more footballers who also like a touch of racetrack action. Whilst Wayne Rooney has made the jump for Major League Soccer, he is still a horse racing fan and has owned three racehorses, whilst the current Liverpool manager, Jurgen Klopp accidentally provided his own betting tips for a recent Grand National race that didn’t exactly have a winning result.

Whilst Joey Barton has struggled with the wrong kind of press, he still managed to find the time to get involved in the horse racing world and reportedly has named some of his racehorses after his favourite pop songs. And then think about the ex-Newcastle star Tino Asprilla who not only owns his own racehorses, but even posted a picture of himself riding a horse whilst wearing a tyrannosaurus rex costume. So whilst a footballer’s career can be notoriously short-lived, it seems as though the horse racing world can keep them entertained in many other ways.