FPL Season 2021/22: Gameweek 8 preview

It’s chaos in the Fantasy Premier League universe. Once again. At the moment of writing, Premier League stars from all over the world have started returning to England after the end of the second international break of this 2021/22 season. Besides the complicating covid measures, which are especially relevant for South American Premier League players, fantasy managers have a wave of injury, fitness, and general availability issues to deal with. As we speak, the popular likes of Romelu Lukaku, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Raphinha, Antonio Rüdiger and Diogo Jota along with Goalies, Ederson and Martinez, are all carrying a yellow flag in the official game, just to give you an idea of the situation.

As a result, we’re likely to see a lot of Wildcard activity in the build-up to GW8 as well. The fixture calendar seems to be taking a turn these weeks, with teams like Manchester United and West Ham preparing themselves for a run of harder fixtures, and teams like Chelsea, Manchester City and Southampton embarking on kinder runs after a difficult start to the season. These swings will have caused problems for more than a few managers and inside that probably large group, plenty will choose to play their Wildcard. Whether that’s smart, or not, considering all of the international break-related uncertainty remains to be seen but it’s sure to give us another exciting, all-over-the-place round of fantasy Premier League football.

Don’t forget, the deadline for gameweek 8 is set at 11h00 (UK time) on Saturday, October 16th.

Most transferred in/transferred out players (as per October 14th, 2021)

GKSchmeichel (LEI), Sanchez (BRI), Mendy (CHE)Ramsdale (ARS), Foster (WAT), Ederson (MCI)
DEFAlexander-Arnold (LIV), Alonso (CHE), Shaw (MUN)Cancelo (MCI), Azpilicueta (CHE), Dias (MCI)City and Chelsea defences best in the league + good fixtures, TAA yellow flag
MIDPogba (MUN), Greenwood (MUN), Sarr (WAT)Townsend (EVE), Salah (LIV), Raphinha (LEE)Salah and Townsend form, United difficult run of fixtures,
FORRonaldo (MUN), Lukaku (CHE), Dennis (WAT)Hwang (WOL), Vardy (LEI), Lukaku (CHE)Lukaku yellow flag, Hwang and Vardy form

Premium pick

Before Manchester City faced Liverpool this season, the Cityzens had conceded just a single goal in six league games, boasting the league’s most solid defence as a result. Then Mo Salah (£12.7m) and co appeared and now Pep Guardiola’s men have the shared best defence, together with Chelsea, having conceded three goals. While one of those goals came from a brilliant Salah assist on Mané, the other came from the man himself and well… we’re going to see that one in many goal compilations for years to come. With a 13-point haul, the Egyptian continued his excellent form, and brought his league totals to 6 goals and 4 assists. Salah is currently the highest-scoring player in the official game with 70 FPL points and up next are Watford as the Hornets kick off the new era under manager Claudio Ranieri. It remains to be seen how the living Leicester legend will have his men line up on Saturday, but we feel that one way or the other, Liverpool’s star man will get chances to build on his current red-hot form.

Non-premium pick

Rotation. That’s the big risk when it comes to picking Phil Foden (£7.9m) or indeed any Man City asset. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s continue with the upsides, because there are some serious upsides here. First of all, Man City are facing Burnley at home this weekend, followed by Brighton away and Crystal Palace at home. There is, of course, the small matter of European football to take into account here, but League-wise, that looks like a tasty run. Second of all, Foden has been in great form of late. He was electric at Anfield in gameweek 7, and he played the full 90 minutes in both of England’s international games against Andorra (1 assist) and Hungary, on last Saturday and last Tuesday, respectively. Third of all, Foden’s chances of starting against Burnley are considerable, especially now that Ferran Torres has been ruled out with a foot injury and Gündögan is still suffering from a knock as well. Adding all those factors together and looking at his current price tag, we doubt that there are many better alternatives in the non-premium category than Phil Foden.

The budget enabler

We mentioned the expected Wildcard activity for this week earlier and one of the players that we’re expecting to see in many new squads is Tino Livramento (£4.2m). The Chelsea Academy graduate is starting to show more and more signs of being this season’s stand-out budget pick since he rather unexpectedly made Southampton’s right-back spot his since gameweek 1. In the seven league games he played since then, Livramento collected a more than decent 21 FPL points, courtesy of 2 clean sheets and 1 assist. He gets plenty of freedom to bomb forward during games, which only fits his speed and dribbling style, and the Saints have looked pretty good defensively of late. They have conceded 4 goals in the last four games and three of those goals came against Chelsea in GW7. The other was conceded against Wolves, while the home game against on-fire West Ham in GW4 and the away encounter with Manchester City in GW5 both ended in goalless draws. Up next is a much kinder run of fixtures for Livramento and the rest of the Saints, starting with a home game against Leeds this weekend. In the four games after that, Soton are facing Burnley and Villa at home, and Watford and Norwich on the road. Livramento looks like the ultimate defensive enabler for at least the medium-term.

The differential

After a good 2020/21 Premier League campaign and a summer in which the final of the European Championship was reached, Mason Mount (£7.4m) has not really gotten off the mark yet this season. The Chelsea midfielder started well with 2 assists in the first two league games, but he then started suffering from injury troubles. As a result, his assist back in gameweek 2 was his last attacking return of the season so far. The most positive part of all this is that Mount has featured twice during the international break, as a 73rd-minute substitute against Andorra last Saturday and then for 90 minutes against Hungary on Tuesday. In other words, the 22-year old looks to fully back in action and despite the abundance of choices available to Chelsea coach Thomas Tuchel, we feel he will play a big role in the Blues’ upcoming run of mostly favourable fixtures. The fact that Mount carries a share of the team’s set-piece duties only adds to that picture. The team seemed to miss his vision, creativity and incisive passing during his absence, and with an ownership of just 8.8% right now, the England international has all the makings of an excellent differential pick.

The captaincy

Our FPL captain for gameweek 8 is Mo Salah and we’re expecting a majority of the FPL community to make the same choice. The Egyptian talisman looks simply unstoppable at times and with an away game against Watford coming up, it takes a very brave man to bet against him. He featured once over the international break, during 90 minutes against Libya as part of the African World Cup qualifiers, so he should be fit and ready to kick off gameweek 8 this coming Saturday noon.

If you’re not convinced by Salah so far or if you’re one of the 38% of fantasy managers who don’t own him yet, then you’re probably looking at the Etihad for your captaincy. Barring the known rotation risk, the likes of Phil Foden, Jack Grealish, KDB and even Riyad Mahrez could all deliver big this weekend against Burnley. Then again, if you’re one of the 5% of managers who own Harry Kane, you’re probably inclined to captain him for the away game against Newcastle. His teammate Heung-Min Son also has the makings of becoming one of the weekend’s stars. For riskier captaincy picks, the likes of Neal Maupay (away against Norwich), Adam Armstrong (versus Leeds at home) and Michail Antonio at Goodison Park could see your squad soaring up the ranks this weekend.

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