Stag’s Take – Gameweek 7
Promising performances by all non-Merseyside English clubs in Europe provide the backdrop to another exciting weekend of Premier League football.
Manchester United scored four yet again in Moscow and already look to be in command of their group. Romelu Lukaku scored another brace.This came as a consequence of his fantastic interplay with the electric Anthony Martial. The Frenchman again caught the eye when given his chance by José Mourinho, scoring from the spot and assisting twice. He has now been involved in six goals in his last three appearances for the club. Fantasy managers will have been happy to see Mkhitaryan hooked on the hour mark a goal to the good, preserving him for a forecasted demolition job on Saturday when Crystal Palace limp into Old Trafford. Marcus Rashford came off the bench late on, perhaps hinting that he will start at the weekend. The young Englishman and his teammate Martial can expect to prosper on the flanks against The Eagles at the weekend a la Sané and Sterling in Gameweek 6. Pace and intricate passing which they have in abundance seem to be among the many Achilles Heels of the flailing Palace octopus.
I had mused about the effect of Eden Hazard’s return on the reliance on Alvaro Morata at the summit of Chelsea’s attacking play previously but had yet to gather a decent sample from which to draw conclusions until Wednesday evening. The axis between the Belgian and Spaniard was impressive in the 2-1 win over Atletico in Madrid and it certainly bodes well for the striker's FPL output. Manchester City, now without Benjamin Mendy for a few months, will certainly have to think long and hard about how to prevent the pair creating a plethora of chances as they did against one of the world’s elite defences.
Arsenal had a good win on Thursday against BATE Borisov though they are currently in the midst of what Arsene Wenger described as a “cruel” schedule. They beat West Brom on Monday thanks to Alex Lacazette, travelled across Europe to Belarus successfully on Thursday and must host Brighton at The Emirates on Sunday. It’s going to be tough for the Gunners though it represents a huge opportunity for Brighton to earn a bonus point or even three that they could scarcely dream under normal circumstances. Tomer Hemed’s suspension appeal for his stamp on Yedlin has been rejected so Chris Hughton may be forced to hand Chelsea loanee Izzy Brown a start up front. The youngster usually plays in the hole behind the striker and has just returned to action after suffering an injury in Gameweek 1.
Pick Your Poison
I was a guest on the Fanfeud FPL Podcast during the week (you can listen to that here) and the wonderful host Donnacha challenged myself and the other guests to “pick our poison” amongst the four top-performing strikers in the Premier League. No points for guessing their identities.
I gave my two cents on the show that evening but feel that I should relay those thoughts here as the striker dilemma is the pertinent issue for most of us right now.
For me, Harry Kane remains the most important striker in Fantasy. He may trail the other three in terms of goals scored in the PL thus far but he has been desperately unlucky so far this season having hit the post on five occasions. For some reason, he is shooting much more this season on average compared to last term though the percentage of these efforts going off target has not increased by a huge margin, from 27% to 32.8%. Shots hitting the woodwork and many efforts being blocked account for his poor conversion rate thus far. This doesn't suggest that we should be worried about him whatsoever. His performances this season, especially in Europe, have done more than enough to remind us of his explosive nature. He has 34 goals in 30 appearances this calendar year. There are six hat-tricks included in that figure. Spurs’ home form will improve soon and they have been faultless on the road thus far – ignoring Sir Harold is not a good idea.
Romelu Lukaku is second in my list. The brace in Moscow brought his tally for 2017/18 to double figures already for this season in just nine appearances. What is perhaps the most shocking thing about this is the number of good chances he has already missed, especially in the league. If anything I expect his conversion rate to improve as opposed to regress as he gets himself in a flow. Mourinho has United back in the winning groove and the team create plenty of chances for their powerful front-man – he has proven pedigree and should only score more as he gels with his teammates.
Sergio Aguero, one of the two active Premier League players to have scored 20 goals in three PL seasons (Kane is the other) round out my top three. Aguero has started the current campaign on fire and continues to shine amongst his Manchester City teammates who supply him with chances from all angles. The full backs and wingers feed him from the flanks whilst Silva and De Bruyne are prone to fashion a goal on a plate out of nowhere for the Argentine.
By process of elimination, Morata is my poison. He has the least amount of shots, least amount of shots on target, least amount of shots in the box, least amount of involvement in the attacking third, and least amount of attempted assistsof the three. Furthermore, he has significantly overperformed versus his expected goals total thus far. I don’t not think Morata is a poor player, in fact I don’t think he’s worse than the other three. What’s different about Morata is that we have not had a chance to see Morata as much in the Premier League as the others who have performed well in England for years. Furthermore, we still don’t know for certain if he can continue to score prolifically as a starting player – this wasn’t the case for him at his past clubs. Maybe he benefitted from coming off the bench with fresh legs, stealing a yard on fatigued defenders and has just been a little fortunate in the PL thus far. I know some of those questions are perhaps harsh as there’s nothing to suggest Morata can’t outscore the others. However, he’s the only one who still has a few question marks.
Gameweek 7 will be the final gameweek before the next international break, meaning that you should ideally hold your free transfer this week so that you can adapt to any injuries to your squad while they play for their countries if you’re playing the Official FPL salary cap game. It’s worth noting that you shouldn’t panic if you have Phil Jones in your side. He will more than likely be fit by the time Gameweek 8 rolls around. Using a transfer to replace him for just one week may be a bit rash.
Romelu Lukaku (Crystal Palace H)
The Belgian has consistently found the net so far this season, only disappointing managers once so far. Palace’s defence have not covered themselves in glory so far this season, conceding on 13 occasions, just worst with West Ham. Just over half of those (7) were conceded on the road. Lukaku is the logical choice and the safe option ahead of Gameweek 7.
Harry Kane (Huddersfield A)
As I already noted, Spurs have counter-intuitively performed better away from home so far this season than they have in their temporary abode in Wembley. They’ve won all three of their opening league games. Up until the West Ham game last weekend, Kane hadn’t scored in any of Spurs’ first three early Saturday kick-offs this term but he ended that record with aplomb whilst the team around him clung on to the three points. Their previous early matches were more comfortable, each ending in a 4-0 win for the visitors. After a midweek hat-trick against APOEL Nicosia in the Champions League without the creative presences of Eriksen and Alli, Kane will be well fancied as he comes up against David Wagner’s newboys.
Oumar Niasse (Burnley H)
Everton were one of the PL’s biggest spenders in the summer though you wouldn’t think so if you’d watched them so far this term. Their Europa League draw with Cypriot opposition on Thursday did nothing to change my view on the Toffees’ overall situation but the gutsy win over Bournemouth last weekend did. Oumar Niasse, arriving on the field after being sprung into action from reserve team exile netted a glorious brace to ease the mounting pressure on Koeman. For all except the red-faced Dutchman, it was a good news story which warmed the hearts. Niasse was told he could leave the club last season after Koeman gave him just one half of a game of pre-season to prove himself. He was sent on-loan to Hull where he did well before coming back to a strikerless Everton where he was not welcomed back by his boss. He was sent playing in empty stadiums with the reserves and was stripped of his locker in the dressing room. He kept his head down and didn’t moan to the press though, he just kept trying. He grasped his chance last weekend and is likely to figure against the Clarets in Gameweek 7. He, unlike his teammates, has fresh legs as he was not involved in Europa League action. Why? Because he wasn’t named in their squad list for the tournament. The scene is set for another bit of magic at Goodison on Sunday!
Stag has been providing #FPL Tips since July 2015 and has been a contributor for Rotoworld.com since August 2016. He is a self-proclaimed wannabe fantasy football genius, a student, and die-hard tea enthusiast.