Another gameweek has passed and another Man City player has been rotated, this time in the shape of Sergio Aguero. Meanwhile the grass is green, the sky is blue, blah blah blah…you get our point.
The Liverpool machine continued to churn out another win with a helping hand (quite literally) from Sheffield United’s Henderson. Man City kept pace with the Reds with a 3-1 victory over Everton, while Man United and Arsenal played out a forgettable Monday night match. What was the result again?
As usual, an eventful week of football has provided plenty of topics to discuss, which we have picked out the most popular…
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In this GW8 FPL Guest Q&A article, we are joined by regular LetsTalkSoccer who will be sharing their thoughts on the most popular questions ahead of gameweek 8. This week we will discuss the best differentials to boost ranks, whether it’s time to sell double Liverpool defence, Temmu Pukki and captaincy options.
“Best differentials to boost rank?”
We posted some of the names below on our Instagram page. With the possibility of KDB being out – and now Cantwell rumoured to have an injury (hamstring) at the time of writing this – it could force some managers to look for replacements. A well-placed differential can boost points and help separate from the pack.
- Roberto (TSB = 0.3%): Fabianski’s temporary replacement faces a Palace squad that’s scored 6 goals this PL season, with only 2 of them occurring outside the friendly confines of Selhurst Park. On the other hand, West Ham have not conceded a goal at home since the GW1 thrashing at the hands of Man City.
- Mahrez (TSB = 4.2%): The seemingly most-popular replacement choice for KDB (at lease within the social media bubble), he’s on white-hot form. In his last 2 PL games, he scored 2 and assisted 2 more. In the 4 PL games he’s started this season, he’s scored 2 goals and assisted 5. In terms of like-for-like KDB replacement options, Mahrez is due some serious consideration.
- Hudson-Odoi (TSB = 0.5%): Despite making his first Premier League appearance for Chelsea last weekend, he announced that he’s back and ready to rumble with an assist delivered within his short, 27-minute time on the pitch against Brighton. As part of an exciting, young Chelsea attack, CHO could haul early and often. Chelsea have scored more goals on the road (8) than at home (6). And, of Southampton’s 11 goals conceded, 6 of them happened during their 3 homes games.
For those managers hovering at an overall rank they aren’t happy with, differentials can sometimes be the key to those elusive green arrows. Squads can differ regarding structure and strategy, however a differential is always an exciting aspect of playing FPL, especially when it rewards those managers.
Differentials can take many forms, like the obvious lowly owned player or those players that are falling from grace after a poor run of form. Our first pick is the former, in the shape of Riyad Mahrez (£8.5m), currently owned by 4% of managers.
The Algerian has only played four, 90-minute league matches this season but has recorded 3 double-digit hauls in these. Mahrez has the third highest xG+xA of any player over the past 2 gameweeks – behind only Aguero and De Bruyne – scoring 2 and assisting 2 over this period.
With the recent injury to Kevin De Bruyne and potential ban of Bernardo Silva, Mahrez could be expected to play a key figure in the City side of the coming weeks. Of course, rotation is always a factor in a Pep side, but this season has shown that any of the attacking assets can be at risk of this.
Our other pick is an old FPL faithful, Marcus Alonso (£6.2m/2.6%). This pick is totally dependent on the return date of Emerson, and likely only appeals to those managers still invested in the ‘big at the back’ strategy.
Alonso reminded us of his FPL potential over the past 3 gameweeks, registering an assist, 3 shots and 6 key passes. Chelsea have a brilliant run of fixtures coming up and their defensive stats look to be improving. Over the last two gameweeks, Chelsea have the second best expected goals against (1.65), keeping their first clean sheet last weekend.
“Time to sell double Liverpool defence?”
Until Alisson is back, it probably makes the most sense to cull it down to 1 Liverpool defender. We’re usually of the mindset that it’s best to diversify the teams represented within our FPL team. If a team has a poor performance, the damage to your FPL team is limited. This is especially important for defenders. One cheap goal…and the chance of a clean sheet vanishes. Multiply that by 2 defenders and your GW total could suffer greatly.
Liverpool, who host a surging Leicester City and an in-form Jamie Vardy, have not kept a clean sheet at home in their 3 games. And, they just conceded 3 goals at home to Salzburg in Wednesday’s UCL game.
An argument can be made that players like Robertson and Alexander-Arnold are also good assets for attacking returns. And among defenders, they’re a couple of the best. But that’s a lot to expect from a defender. It’s great when it happens, but it doesn’t happen all that often. But arming yourself with the defenders most likely to bring home attacking points is a good strategy. Of the Liverpool back 4, we like TAA most because of his duties, corners, his 5 big chances created and his 68 crosses.
Liverpool kept only their second clean sheet of the season against Sheffield United, rewarding owners especially with the double-up. Speaking as one of these owners, it was a long time coming!
The reason for this particular question is due to the upcoming fixtures that Liverpool face:
A mix of ‘top 6’ sides and in-form Leicester this weekend spells a challenging period for Liverpool. We think that there certainly is an argument to ditch double Liverpool defence, however we think there are some variables to consider.
Firstly, after gameweek 12 Liverpool have brilliant long term fixtures that likely will attract managers to reinvest in double defence, If managers plan on selling ahead of this tricky run, they have to either plan in advance on how to reinvest or go without.
While the fixtures on paper are tough, we think they may appear harder than they actually are. Both Man United and Tottenham are going through a tough period and are arguably significantly behind the level that Liverpool are at. Man City will always be the toughest fixture of any season, but wedged in between is a nice away fixture against Aston Villa, so there is certainly some potential for the double Liverpool defence.
Secondly, managers have to consider which Liverpool assets they own. We own Robertson and Van Dijk, a combination that we think has a good argument to be sold. While Van Dijk has attacking potential, he doesn’t offer the same level of Robertson or Alexander-Arnold. We think either of the full backs are worth holding over this period due to their attacking potential, both returning 2&3 assists respectively.
Van Dijk at £6.5m would provide the funds to go into any other alternative at another side, ones that have much better fixtures. With a wildcard available to those managers, going away from double Liverpool defence shouldn’t be a worry, with the luxury of being able to jump back on easily after gameweek 12.
We think that if there is ever a time to get off the double-up, it’s now. This is the toughest run of fixtures Liverpool face all season, so those managers that don’t have belief can look at investing the premium budget into alternatives.
“Pukki party over?”
It’s not over yet, but most guests have already left, the lights have been turned on and the bartender is wiping down the bar for the evening. But despite a couple blanks in a row, a home game is an encouraging prospect for Pukki. He clearly loves to play at home: 5 of his 6 goals have come at home.
To further support the hypothesis that Pukki is likely to score this weekend, we can highlight the fact that Villa have conceded 7 of their 11 goals on the road.
Being just above the relegation zone, Norwich need to take advantage of these home matches to get points – 3 points at that. We expect that they’ll really open up their attack and try to outgun the opposition. Pukki should be the benefactor of many a cross or through ball. Even if Cantwell is sidelined (see above in question number 1) Buendia is a great candidate to serve up big chances.
Pukki is currently the highest owned forward on the game however is the most sold player ahead of GW8 due to a back-to-back blank. Now priced at £7.2m, Pukki has been a great FPL asset so far this season, even through his inconsistency on the road.
The main worry regarding being an owner is this inconsistency, with little signs to show Norwich are on the right track to improve results away from home. Effectively, right now managers are paying £7.2m for a double-digit home forward. Is that enough?
We don’t think so, but there are many reasons to hold onto Pukki for now.
Firstly, his fixture this weekend is a peach, and it would be very dangerous to sell him ahead of Aston Villa at home. As mentioned, he has performed well at home, while Villa have conceded 7 goals in 3 away league matches. It looks a great opportunity for Pukki to add to his 7 goal tally, so for us he is definitely a hold until at least the international break.
After this, Norwich have a mixed run of fixtures playing both Man United and Arsenal at home. Having already beaten Man City, scored two past Chelsea and caused problems for Liverpool, it isn’t too farfetched to see Norwich get something from these games.
For us, he is a hold for now but if fortunes don’t change for Norwich over this period, we think it would be worth considering other alternatives.
As always, we’ve updated our player comparison table below to reflect current stats and form, as well as each player’s history vs. their GW8 opponents. We’ve also added some data on the opponents’ defences, in the form of goals allowed and expected goals allowed (xGA).
Based on the data, we find that:
- Mahrez, Aubameyang and Wilson are on good form.
- Vardy, Auba, Rashford and Wilson have the strongest performances (goal involvement) against their GW8 opponents.
- Auba’s and Wilson’s GW8 opposition (Bournemouth and Arsenal, respectively) have the highest xGA.
Our conclusion is that, based on the data, Aubameyang and Vardy are compelling options. Looking at it from a non-analytical perspective, Aguero, Sterling and Kane at home cannot be overlooked.
Most likely, our GW8 captain will be Sterling. He could’ve scored at least 2 additional goals last week at Everton, where he was all alone in front of goal with Pickford standing there helpless. Raz “pulled a Sterling” and somehow placed one opportunity wide of the posts, and the other one caught him so off-guard that he didn’t realize he was onside, and the chance was lost.
So he’s finding himself in the right places at the right times, but just couldn’t convert them in GW7. We expect that he’ll pull it all together for this coming weekend and bang in at least a brace…if not a hat trick.
After 5 captaincy blanks for ourselves this season, we hope this advice will come to fruition and finally get some valuable points. It seems like there are a number of options available this gameweek, with the usual candidates contributing to the headaches.
Man City face Wolves this weekend off the back of their 2-0 Champions League victory. Sterling started on the bench for the Blues, which can only be good news for those planning on captaining this weekend, especially after coming on to score. De Bruyne’s recent injury is a blow for Man City and they will rely even more on their big guns in his absence, making Sterling a great captaincy option in our eyes. Sterling is still posting the best xG of any midfielder (4.65), meanwhile Man City have been in imperious form at home, scoring 14 goals in 3 league matches.
Wolves won’t be push overs, having only conceded 4 goals in their 3 away league matches. However, they face a tough Europa League test away at Besiktas, where expectations are for them to field a strong side. This clearly won’t help their cause in the buildup to the Man City fixture, and therefore we expect Man City and Sterling to continue their form.
Aubameyang has been in the FPL headlines over recent months for his hot start to the season, scoring 7 league goals. Arsenal face Bournemouth at home this weekend, the Cherries themselves in some decent form picking up 7 points from their last 3 league matches. However, while their attack has looked dangerous they haven’t impressed defensively – a common trend over the years with this Bournemouth side.
Still yet to keep a clean sheet, they have conceded 12 goals in the 7 league games with an expected goal against (xGA) of 13.60. An underlying stat like this shows that Bournemouth haven’t been unlucky conceding 12 goals, and in fact should have conceded more – happy reading for Aubameyang owners.
Our differential pick for this weekend is unusually a highly owned asset in the shape of Teemu Pukki. Although owned by 44%, his back-to-back blanks has seen him be sold by over 80,000 managers. Most notable about both Norwich and Pukki is the contrast in performances home and away.
Yet to pick up a point away from home, Norwich have struggled on their travels only scoring 1 goal – Pukki against Liverpool. However, at home they have scored 8 goals in 3 matches, including impressively against Chelsea and Manchester City. While he could be a risk when managers own the likes of Sterling, he could be a tasty differential if you are sat in the millions rank and need to take chances.
Big thanks to LetsTalkSoccer for contributing to this weeks Q&A article, be sure to give their accounts a follow for top tips throughout the season.
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