FPL Season 2020-21 – Gameweek 9 Preview

“A seriously depleted Liverpool side are visiting the King Power on Saturday evening” (CC by 4.0). Image by Pottercomuneo.

A combination of a more jam-packed schedule than ever and a new wave of COVID-19 all over Europe on top of an intense international break might well result in one of the more chaotic, unpredictable FPL weekends in recent memory. Popular and potentially interesting fantasy assets such as Mo Salah, Andy Robertson, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Danny Ings, Callum Wilson, Marcus Rashford, Raheem Sterling and Ben Chilwell are all currently flagged in the official game, just to name 8. Whether this third international break was really the best idea considering the circumstances is something for people more knowledgeable for us to judge, but one thing is certain: no one is getting out of it unscathed.

Having said that, gameweek 9 does offer a very interesting set of fixtures from a fantasy point of view. Many of the popular teams up until now, such as Liverpool, Spurs and Leicester are facing strong competition, whilst the likes of Chelsea (away at Newcastle), Man United (home vs West Bromwich Albion) and Everton (at Craven Cottage) will be expecting nothing less than three points this weekend. It’s going to be an interesting one, that’s for sure, so here are our fantasy picks for gameweek 9. Oh and by the way, be patient with Mo Salah. He might miss this one (and is currently the most sold player this GW with over 400,000 transfers out, but he’s still the best FPL performer out there over the last three seasons and he should continue to be once he tests negative again.

Do check out the Predicted Line-Ups for the Premier League clubs as well as the latest injury news (click on ‘Team’ to sort per club rather than the default ‘date’) before finalising your transfer(s). Don’t forget: the deadline for gameweek 9 is set for 11h00 (UK time) on Saturday, November 21st.

Most transferred in/transferred out players (as per November 18th, 2020)

GKNyland (AST), Martinez (AST), Schmeichel (LEI)Martinez (AST), McCarthy (SOU), Fabianski (WHU) 
DEFAlexander-Arnold (LIV), Mitchell (CRY), Saiss (WOL)Chilwell (CHE), Vestergaard (SOU), Zouma (CHE)Injuries + Saiss no longer nailed-on for Wolves, Chelsea improving defensive form.
MIDSalah (LIV), Son (TOT), Rodriguez (EVE)Ziyech (CHE), Fernandes (UTD), Grealish (AST)Salah corona doubts, Son and Rodriguez replaced with midfielders with more favourable fixtures.
FORIngs (SOU), Wilson (NEW), Jimenez (WOL)Watkins (AST), Bamford (LEE), Vardy (LEI)Ings and Wilson injuries, Wolves difficult upcoming fixtures

Premium pick

Considering the fact that Leicester are hosting the reigning the champions on Saturday evening, our premium fantasy pick of the week was definitely not based on fixture. When your name is Jamie Vardy (£10.1m) though, fixtures seem to matter less. When quality is undeniable and practically fixture-proof, form is essential and the Leicester man has it at the moment. The English forward, who did not have to be on international duty these past two weeks, has recorded 25 FPL points in the past three gameweeks, courtesy of 3 goals and 2 assists. Bare in mind that this total also includes a missed penalty in GW8. The Foxes are rather quietly having a great start to the season once again and their opponents will be missing Van Dijk, Alexander-Arnold, Gomez and possibly Robertson, which is basically their entire starting backline. They won’t be looking forward to facing Vardy in a few days time.

Non-premium picks

Since his return to fitness, Chelsea summer signing Hakim Ziyech (£8.2m) has kind of been setting the Premier League on fire. He started in the last two gameweeks and repaid that trust handsomely, not only with a couple of fantastic displays, but also with a goal, 3 assists and a total of 25 FPL points. Up next are Newcastle at Saint James Park, who conceded 6 goals in their last three home games. As a matter of fact, the Magpies have not kept a clean sheet at home this season. The former Ajax Amsterdam star also shone for his national team as he got 3 goals and 2 assists from two games against the Central African Republic in the qualification phase for the Africa Cup of Nations. As a result, his minutes might be managed by Chelsea coach Frank Lampard, but it’s hard to see the living Blues legend not starting his ‘man of the moment’ on Saturday.

Everton striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£7.8m) is a frequently returning fantasy pick in our gameweek previews, but that’s what happens when a player returns points week after week. Only gameweek 6 against Southampton saw the young Englishman blank, but the rest of the gameweeks saw him return a minimum of 5 FPL point every time for a total of 57 points over the season until now. DCL currently sits on 8 goals and a single assist and the Toffees are visiting Fulham on Sunday afternoon. The Cottagers have already conceded 15 goals in 8 games, and they are facing an Everton offensive line bolstered by the return of Richarlison and James Rodriguez. Calvert-Lewin played a total of 84 minutes for England over the international break spread over two games and scored a penalty goal against Ireland. This should only add to his form and confidence, and therefore his FPL appeal.

The budget enabler

Over the past weeks, there has been a lot of talk about the West Ham defence as an interesting destination for your precious FPL funds as their fixtures are slowly clearing up. Aaron Cresswell is the name that is mentioned most and with good reason considering his underlying numbers, but he does cost £5.1m. New right-back Vladimir Coufal has been talked about a lot as well, but the one we feel has been left out of the discussion a bit is left-back Arthur Masuaku (£4.5m). The 27-year old is a nailed-on piece of coach David Moyes’ defensive setup and carries a very attractive price tag. On top of that, he often pops up in the attacking third, especially now that the Hammers are playing with five in the back. The situation regarding his off-the-radar FPL status probably would have been a lot different had he slotted home the huge chance he got early on against Fulham in gameweek 8. With an attractive set up fixtures coming up over the next months, Masuaku represents very good budget-enabling value.

A differential pick or two

A little earlier, we already briefly discussed Liverpool’s injury issues, which are not just limited to their defence. Fabinho, Henderson and Thiago will be absent for this weekend’s clash with Leicester at Anfield, as will be Mo Salah. The “good” thing about all of this misery, from a fantasy point of view at least, is that it will give other players the opportunity to shine and we think that one of those players could well be Diogo Jota (£6.5m). Mainly as a substitute, the summer signing already managed to score 3 goals and record 28 FPL points this season. With an ownership of 9.5%, the Portuguese international can still be considered a differential, which is always interesting when the Reds play at home, no matter the opposition. Actually, Jota has scored all of his goals at home so far and even though Leicester will make it a serious contest, we feel he could be a match-winning pick for GW9.

With Pulisic and Havertz sidelined, Time Werner will probably start out wide again for Chelsea when the Blues face Newcastle this weekend. This means that Tammy Abraham (£7.2m) will be handed his third straight start and in all fairness, why not? The English striker delivered a goal and an assist over those two games, and sits on 2 goals and 2 assists for the season already. He will be rolling up to Saint James Park as the lone striker for the Premier League’s most prolific side, against a team that conceded 8 goals in their last four outings. Apart from his low current ownership of just 2.3%, his price is more than reasonable as well.

The captaincy

In a gameweek ravaged by absentees and injuries, the GW9 captaincy might have a huge impact on the rankings all over. We feel there could be more than a few differential picks set for hauls this weekend, while most of the available usual suspects are either just coming off a set of games with their national team, facing fierce opposition, or both. Our pick of the week is Everton striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin as he faces Fulham at Craven Cottage, but there is something to be said for plenty of other picks as well.

What about this season’s top performers Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son at home to Man City, for example? Or Jamie Vardy playing a seriously debilitated Liverpool defence at Anfield? Aston Villa play Brighton at home, which brings the ever-present Jack Grealish into the picture, while Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial are playing against strugglers West Brom at home. At the same time, the previously mentioned Tammy Abraham and Hakim Ziyech could put down big performances at Saint James Park. Whoever you end up picking in the end, our advice is to go with a fantasy asset that is at least fit and sure to start.