This weekend sees the final set of Premier League fixtures before yet another International break. The Manchester derby is taking the headlines but we need to find five players to give you the FPL bragging rights for a few weeks.
The last International break of the year is really a checkpoint for everyone from fans to managers as it signifies the last break before the heavy winter schedule really kicks in. We’ll see 8 rounds of matches between the conclusion of the International break and the end of the year, which is incredible considering that cycle will commence from November 24th.
Time to focus on the here and now though and whilst the Manchester derby will be the biggest spectacle, the FPL credentials for Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal look stronger.
1) Mo Salah (Liverpool, Midfield, £13m)
Liverpool were poor in midweek against Red Star but I’m hoping that surprise defeat will be a wake up call for an FPL perspective at least. The Reds welcome leaky, leaky Fulham to Anfield and no matter which way you look at this, it’s hard to not look at Liverpool as anything other than heavy favourites. Salah is perhaps the obvious choice but I could really have just written “Liverpool attackers” as the heading here.
Salah’s value is back up to his starting price of £13m after the faith that was lost in him was quickly refound in some cases. Salah’s ownership sits at 35% whilst Mane, at just £9.8m, is at 34%, so I’d say make sure you own at least one of them. Mane actually has 6 Premier League goals to his name compared to Salah’s 5, but Salah has 4 assists to Mane’s 0. There’s always a temptation to make changes after a loss but with an International break coming it would be an odd time to rest anybody.
2) Eden Hazard (Chelsea, Midfield, £11.3m)
I know, I know. Really pushing the boat out with the predictions so far this week. Hazard is expected to continue building his fitness on Thursday night but you would assume he is close to being able to start after a niggling back injury. Without him, Chelsea struggled to break down Crystal Palace and his arrival sparked his side back to life, so with Everton the visitors this weekend I doubt Sarri will want to take a similar risk.Embed from Getty Images
With 7 goals and 4 assists to his name he more than justifies his price tag. Even if Hazard only appears from the bench, there is still cause for optimism. On the three occasions this season Hazard has come on as a substitute he has registered an assist, so whilst it might be a risk to captain him (barring some very positive fitness news) I still think he’s a safe bet.
3) Jamie Vardy (Leicester, Forward, £9m)
Jamie Vardy hasn’t really got going yet this season but I’m backing him to turn that around this weekend. Burnley are the visitors to the King Power and they just can’t stop conceding goals at the moment. To add to their problems, Ben Gibson has already been ruled out and James Tarkowski is a doubt so with a struggling backline potentially depleted further, this should play into Vardy’s hands. With just three goals to his name so far this season he will be keen to put that right and add to his solitary home goal so far. There might not be much form to persuade you on this occasion but we all know Vardy is quality and the goals will come back sooner or later, so why not this weekend?Embed from Getty Images
4) Lacazette/Aubameyang (Arsenal, Forward, £9.7m/£10.9m)
I’m sitting on the fence here because I just can’t split these two. The problem is I feel like I tip one or the other every week and the one I don’t tip gets the goals. Aubameyang leads 7-5 in the goals race but Lacazette has 4 assists to Auba’s 2 so there’s really not an awful lot between them. Wolves are the visitors to the Emirates this weekend and dare I say it, the honeymoon period is over. Three defeats on the spin for Nuno’s men would suggest reality has began to bite and it would be a brave man to predict they would end that run away at Arsenal who have been in excellent form even with two draws from their last two league games. Wolves were picked apart by Tottenham last weekend despite a late rally I can see it being similarly profitable for Arsenal’s attacking players this Sunday.
5) David Silva (Man City, Midfield, £8.5m)
In the “punt” slot this week is David Silva. De Bruyne’s injury means that Silva is even less likely to be rotated over the next few weeks but frankly why would you ever rotate him. He’s scored twice this week already (against Southampton and Shakhtar) and it might take his ingenuity to unlock Man Utd on Sunday. Derby games are sometimes difficult to predict but City must be desperate to win after what happened last April. Mourinho’s men have enjoyed an upturn in form after coming back from the brink against Newcastle and Wednesday’s win in Turin will mean they come into this full of confidence so I think there will be goals.
There was no change at the top of the Offside Rule Pod league table. Derek took my advice and captained Raheem Sterling which accounted for 42 of his 92 points along with contributions of 15 from Richarlison and 12 from Arnautovic. A 32 point cushion has opened up as a result but there’s still plenty of time yet.
That’s all for this week and it’ll be two weeks until I am back in the hot seat. Good luck with your teams this weekend and there’ll be more after the International break.
You can follow Dave on Twitter @CM9798