With the 2018-2019 European football campaigns kicking off this week, a whole new dimension of unpredictability has been added to FPL. Man City, Man United, Spurs and last year’s Champions League finalists Liverpool, are all present in the group stages of the Champions League, while Arsenal and Chelsea will be competing later today in the Europa League. All the managers of the respective clubs will be looking to guide their teams through the groups as efficiently as possible, which means more rotation, more injury risks and more uncertainty every weekend for FPL managers. Following the previously mentioned clubs during their international duties could well give you the edge in your mini-league(s).
Some observations ahead of Gameweek 6
Few active FPL managers will have many Burnley assets left in their squads by this point. The Clarets have had an abysmal start to the new season, both in the Premier League and internationally. Their Europa League adventure has come to a very premature end and last weekend’s defeat away to Wolves was the fourth successive loss in the league. There’s no man overboard at Burnley yet, but FPL managers better stay away from the Clarets for now, although Tarkowski has provided a good return contributing at the other end of the pitch and with a reasonable run of fixtures coming up he’s a hold for now.
At the top end of the table, Bournemouth are keeping up their excellent start to the 18/19 campaign. With 10 points out of a possible 15 so far, the Cherries are performing way above expectations. Their outstanding form is somewhat overshadowed by Watford’s even more outstanding form (12 out of 15 points), but Bournemouth are just as impressive so far. With a decent series of fixtures coming up, there’s no reason to think they won’t keep it up for a while longer. Ryan Fraser has the 4th highest points so far this season (39) and he was one of our 3 team picks in our club season preview and the main strike force of Wilson and King (who is on penalties) both have at least 25 points so if you have 1 or more of these players you’ve made a smart decision and Bournemouth’s run of fixtures coming up look promising.
Speaking of Watford, the Hornets suffered their first defeat of the season last weekend, at home to Manchester United. After four successive victories, the home team suffered against the Red Devils, but a point was definitely on the cards, were it not for a brilliant De Gea save in the dying minutes of the game. With an away game at Fulham coming up, Watford could very well pick up where they left off before last weekend and Holebas is the 7th highest scorer overall with 34 points, closely followed by Pereyra (30 pts) who we picked out in our Watford season preview.
The two in-form teams of the moment are Chelsea and Liverpool, the top 2 respectively in the Premier League. Both teams play an exciting brand of attacking football and they’ll be meeting twice before the end of the month. Those are the games to look forward to. Assets from both outfits are hot in FPL at the moment, though it should be noted that the Blues have a much less complicated series of fixtures coming up in comparison to the heavy opposition the Reds will be facing the coming weeks. Hazard (47 pts) and Alonso (46 pts) occupy the top 2 positions in the overall FPL scorers, whilst Mane (41 pts) and Robertson (34 pts) are 3rd and 6th respectively – so we can see now that they were the 2 players to pick from each team! Many FPL managers are considering whether it is worth Salah taking up a lot of their budget given his indifferent start to the season and again in the Champions League victory against star-studded PSG he looked off-colour. Salah still is the 13th highest points scorer (with 29 points) and is listed as a midfielder even though playing in Liverpool’s 3 pronged attack. After Saturday’s home match against Southampton, ‘Pool are away to Chelsea and home to Man City so two matches as tough as they come.
When a quality player is in form, he should be very popular with FPL managers. Eden Hazard (£10.9m) is certainly in form under Maurizio Sarri and seems like an absolute must-have. We mentioned the Belgian forward last week as both a premium pick and a prime option for the captaincy, and did he deliver. A whopping three goals and three bonus points, resulting in 20 points, and that’s more than enough to recommend him again this week, especially away at West Ham. The Hammers have shipped 11 goals in 5 games, while the Blues have scored 14 in 5, the most in the league together with City. Sarri has kindly given him time off for good behaviour and omitted him from today’s squad in the Europa League away to PAOK, leaving him in London whilst the squad travelled to Greece. Hazard should thus be fresh for the London match on Sunday although his team mates won’t be so fresh-legged.
When a player scores 3 goals in his last two games and he’s then facing Wolves (home), West Ham (away) and Newcastle (home), he deserves a mention. Enter Romelu Lukaku (£11.0m). Despite United’s disappointing start to the season, the big Belgian striker already has 4 goals to his name, as well as 9 shots on target. Only Newcastle’s Aleksandar Mitrovic statistically shoots with more accuracy. Somehow, Lukaku is still passing somewhat under the radar so far, perhaps due to his high price, but it would be no surprise to see him on the score sheet again coming weekend at home to Wolves. We said this last week and he came through with a goal and 6 FPL points. His main rival for the striker position, Rashford is currently banned which also helps Lukaku’s value.
In defence, the stand-out option and the most obvious recommendation is Chelsea’s Marcos Alonso (£6.8m). The Spanish left-back was unlucky not to bring home a clean sheet last weekend against Cardiff, while none of his four shots inside the area resulted in attacking returns for his backers in FPL. This was actually the first time this season that Alonso blanked, but with an away game at West Ham on the cards he might just compensate for that this weekend. He is, after all, still the second-highest point scorer behind team mate Hazard in the official game, thanks to 1 goal, 5 assists, and 9 bonus points in the season’s first five games. Whilst he played in the 1-0 win against PAOK in Greece tonight he was subbed after 66 minutes with Azpilicueta coming on in his place so as not to over-tire Alonso.
A differential pick or two
Last week we took a punt on a couple of defenders and came up trumps with Doherty who was the joint 4th highest scorer of the week with 12 points. This week we’re putting the focus back on attacking players.
Due to a red card and a subsequent three-match ban, Everton’s Richarlison (£6.6m) quickly went from one of FPL’s hottest assets to one of the most transferred out players over the past few weeks. The Brazilian forward scored 3 goals and brought home 5 bonus points in the first two games of the season, while he lit up his debut for the Brazilian national team with 2 goals over the international break. Expect him to start at the Emirates this weekend and it’s possible that he’ll simply pick up where he left off a few weeks ago. The Arsenal defence is still shaky under Emery, having conceded 9 goals in just 5 games, and Richarlison will be looking to take an advantage of this.
Joining his team mates in our recommendations this week is Chelsea’s Olivier Giroud (£7.8m). While Alvaro Morata is so far failing to convince Maurizio Sarri, Giroud stepped up last weekend against a resilient Cardiff defence with two very good assists. The Frenchman is in only 2.6% of the teams in FPL, so he could quickly develop into a huge differential points scorer, if Sarri continues to confide in him as his starting number nine. Keep an eye out on developments and news from the Chelsea camp, because a starting striker at a price of just £7.8m at the Premier League’s current leading club is practically unheard of. Giroud has only played 10 minutes tonight in Greece, coming on for Morata near the end which indicates he’ll start ahead of Morata on Sunday.
The “problem” with Momo Salah (£13.0m) at the moment is that many of us are comparing his current performances to last season’s performances. Despite not blowing away every defence that comes in his way this season, the Egyptian winger is still having a great start to the 18-19 campaign. Over the first five weeks of this season, Salah scored 2 goals and provided 2 assists, which is more than decent. Of course, his price tag weighs heavy and only encourages FPL managers to expect crazy magic from him every game, but his underlying statistics warrant more optimism. Besides his goals and assists, Salah has also created six big chances and made 23 attempts on goal in five weeks. He also had a tap in goal ruled out against PSG due to a very late referee decision. At home against Southampton this weekend looks like an excellent fixture for him to improve his FPL points, so if you’re deciding to keep him (for at least 1 more week) then consider giving him the armband. All his team mates (and Manager) will be willing him to get back on the goal trail.
Despite mentioning him as premium pick and captaincy option, and this week as premium pick again, we feel we simply can’t ignore Eden Hazard‘s (£10.9m) captaincy potential this week. The Belgian attacker is in excellent shape, something he underlined last weekend by scoring a hat trick and taking home 3 bonus points, and there’s absolutely no reason to assume that he won’t continue his streak against West Ham. We don’t want to say that another hat trick is on the way, but a goal or two from the little dribbler would surprise very few people.