With the 2018/19 Premier League season slowly starting to take shape, Premier League and FPL managers alike will be desperate to head into the barren wasteland of the 2 week international break with their tails up. The parallels between managers run further, as those who’ve started strongly look to continue their early season form, while those for whom things haven’t quite gone to plan plot a route onto the comeback trail. With the GW average still yet to drop below 50 3 Gameweeks into the FPL season, the standard is clearly as high as it’s ever been and going into an international break, this GW could be make or break for many managers in terms of hitting the Wildcard button. With that in mind, here are 5 key Premier League clashes in which to invest in GW5.
Chelsea vs Bournemouth (Sat. 15:00 GMT)
Kicking things off this week in terms of fixtures of interest we have Chelsea hosting Bournemouth at Stamford Bridge, where the Blues will be simultaneously looking to maintain their perfect start to the season as well as exact revenge on a Bournemouth side that ran out 3-0 winners last time the West Londoners hosted them back in January. Last weekend saw a Chelsea side now looking much more well-drilled under new manager Maurizio Sarri than they were 7 months ago run out 2-1 winners away to Newcastle, in a score-line which ultimately flattered the Magpies, with Chelsea enjoying over 80% possession overall, managing 15 shots to Newcastle’s 6. A third of those Blues shots fell to one man, in the shape of this upcoming fixture’s one to buy: Eden Hazard (10.6). The Belgian attacker was by far and away the most threatening player on the pitch, and will consider himself unlucky not to add to his penalty goal. He was at least rewarded by way of 2 bonus points for his performance, with double-assist defender Marcos Alonso (6.7) being awarded maximum BPS, making it 3 double-digit hauls in 3 games for the Spaniard. With Alonso already one of the most sought-after defenders in FPL, Hazard could soon make himself equally as coveted with a home fixture against Cardiff and a trip to West Ham to follow this weekend’s tie. With 2 assists and a goal already to his name despite only playing 133 minutes so far this season, the Belgian looks to be in top form, as well as back in the first-team after last weekend’s start.
Chelsea’s opponents this weekend, unlike the Blues, were unable to maintain their 100% record in GW3, managing to peg back 10-man Everton from 2-0 down to earn a draw last time out. Their current top-scorer Callum Wilson (6.2), who’s managed 2 in his first 3 games, turned from goal-scorer to creator-in-chief on Saturday as he managed to assist both of Bournemouth’s goals – the first coming after he flicked a near post corner onto the post from which Nathan Ake scored the rebound, and the second after he was brought down in the box. One would expect Wilson to revert to his role of goalscorer in the coming weeks, however. Currently top of the xG table at 2.79 ahead of the likes of Mo Salah and Sergio Aguero, Wilson is making a mockery of his 6.2 price tag, averaging 4.3 shots per game so far. With 6 games with an FDR rating of 3 or less to follow this weekend’s trip to Chelsea, Wilson has (nearly) all the makings of the perfect 3rd striker right now. Just a shame he can’t take penalties.
Further Notes: Pedro 2 big chances, subbed off for Willian on 69’. 4 key passes and 2 shots for Ryan Fraser v. Everton. 4 shots for Josh King.
Leicester City vs Liverpool (Sat. 12:30 GMT)
This weekend’s early kickoff sees Jurgen Klopp’s attacking juggernaut come up against arguably their toughest test on paper yet as they travel to face Claude Puel’s highly functional Leicester side whom, since their opening-day defeat at Old Trafford, have managed 2 league wins out of 2, including a last-minute victory away to Southampton last time out.
Past encounters between these two sides have certainly produced goals, with Liverpool running out 3-2 winners last time they visited the King Power thanks to goals from Mo Salah, Philippe Coutinho and Jordan Henderson. It was also a day of mixed fortunes for Leicester forward Jamie Vardy, who scored Leicester’s second but missed the chance to make it 3-3 from the spot. This time, Leicester’s leading forward is out of the picture, as he serves the second game of his 2 match suspension which he sustained against Wolves in GW2. This perhaps bodes well for fellow striker Kelechi Iheanacho (6.0) to stake his claim for a regular first-team spot, who managed to assist 5.5 winger Demarai Gray’s goal in his second start of the campaign as Leicester set about turning last weekend’s game against Southampton on its head. Gray, who has started all 3 of Leicester’s games so far this season, looked dangerous as he slotted past Saints ‘keeper Alex McCarthy to equalise. That goal was one of 2 shots Gray managed in the game, a figure he’s been maintaining on average per game this season. New Portuguese right-back Ricardo Pereira (5.1) also managed to test McCarthy as he sought a goal to add to his impressive tally of 2 assists in his first 3 games. With Leicester’s fixtures taking an extremely kind turn after the Liverpool game, Gray and Pereira could certainly be ones to watch.
With all of Liverpool’s attacking prowess, the fact that they’ve yet to concede a league goal this season may have slipped under the radar. As such, defensive options such as left-back Andrew Robertson (6.1) and big-money new goalkeeper Alisson (5.5) have proved bargains so far this season. So too has right back Trent Alexander-Arnold (5.0), although frustratingly for his owners, the young Englishman has yet to complete a game without going into the referee’s book this campaign, which has been highly detrimental to his BPS cause. This is no issue for Robertson who, along with his assist on the opening day against West Ham, has managed to accrue 6 bonus points in the opening 3 fixtures, making him the second highest-scoring defender in FPL so far. The Scot was unlucky not to add further assists in Liverpool’s 1-0 win against Brighton last time out, as he completed 4 key passes in the game. However with difficult fixtures on the horizon for the Reds, one might fancy their watertight defence to finally be broken soon, as they face trips to Spurs and Chelsea and a home tie against Man City in 3 of their next 5. One man who managed goals against each of these teams last season, however, is talisman Mohamed Salah (13.0), who truly needs no introduction. With 2 goals and an assist in the opening 3 games, as well as an average of 5.3 shots and 4 key passes per game, Mo is surely the man who can do it against these teams, even if no one else can.
Further notes: 5 shots on goal for Firmino v. Brighton.
Manchester City vs Newcastle United (Sat. 17:30 GMT)
The big talking point as Newcastle visit Pep’s reigning champions during Saturday’s late kick-off concerns one man: City’s all-time leading goal-scorer and, if you don’t own him already then an absolute one to buy, Sergio Aguero (11.3). While the Argentinean hitman is capable of scoring against any team on the planet, there’s something about the Magpies coming to town that really gets him going. Aguero has a terrifying record in this fixture: in City’s last 3 home games against Newcastle, Aguero has managed an astonishing 9 goals, including a hat-trick last season and a 5-goal haul back in 2015. Such figures have got the fingers of some FPL managers hovering over the Triple Captain button at this early stage of the season, and perhaps with good reason, as there’s no real sign of things looking any different this time around. Despite being held by a resolute Wolves side last time out, City have managed 9 goals in their opening 3 Premier League games, with Aguero having scored a third of them as he helped himself to a hat-trick in City’s last home game against Huddersfield as City ran out 6-1 winners. By contrast, Newcastle are yet to win this season, conceding 4 goals in their opening 3 matches in a difficult start to the 2018/19 campaign. They were also dumped out of the League Cup by Championship side Nottingham Forest in the week, as 2 stoppage time goals from Forest saw them run out 3-1 winners. Newcastle have not beaten Man City since 2005 in the league, with the Citizens winning 18 of the 21 games played between the two sides since then.
Further compounding things for Newcastle, their sharpness in front of goal is a certainly a cause for concern for manager Rafa Benitez, with the Toon managing just 2 goals from their opening 3 games. Considering that alongside City’s potency in front of goal, one man set to benefit at both ends is marauding left back Benjamin Mendy (6.4). currently the third-highest scoring defender in FPL, with a hugely impressive 4 assists in 3 games, Mendy has been averaging 2 shots and 2 key passes per game – beating out the likes of Eden Hazard, Sadio Mane, and Willian in the latter category – and even managed to pick up 2 bonus points despite 0 attacking retuns and no clean sheet last time out.
Further up the pitch, leading the supply line to Aguero is likely to be fellow City legend David Silva (8.5). the Spanish magician thankfully appears to have put his family issues from last term behind him, and in his first start of the season against Huddersfield in GW2 he scored a peach of a free kick and picked up 2 bonus points during an all-round vintage Silva performance. The former Valencia man seems to get better with age, and it’s a wonder he doesn’t yet have an assist to his name – after 2 appearances, the 32-year-old is averaging 4.5 key passes per game, more than any other player in the division. With fixtures against Fulham, Cardiff and Brighton to follow, expect goals for Silva and his teammates, with the little playmaker likely to be pulling the strings. Unless Newcastle goalkeeper Martin Dubravka (5.0) can pull off a miracle, Newcastle are best avoided for now.
Other notes: Gundogan (5.5) on some indirect set pieces for City. Assisted last game.
Cardiff City vs Arsenal (Sun. 13:30 GMT)
Despite Arsenal’s indifferent form so far this season, which has seen them win just 1 game in their first 3 – a 3-1 victory at home to West Ham last weekend – it’s almost impossible to ignore them from an FPL perspective. Aside from the fact that their team contained a number of popular FPL assets going into the season, the Gunners are set to embark upon a remarkably kind fixture run which sees them without a game against a team rated higher than 3 on the FDR scale until a home match against Liverpool in GW 11. In that stretch, only 3 fixtures out of 7 rate above 2. Up net, they face newly promoted Cardiff City. In their first season back in the top flight since 2014, Cardiff have yet to score a single goal in their first 3 outings, with manager Neil Warnock prioritising defence over attack, earning 2 clean sheets in the process. Despite struggling to find any level of defensive resoluteness of their own, conceding 6 goals in their first 3 games, Arsenal will certainly fancy their chances of breaking through Warnock’s stubborn rearguard. Against West Ham, Arsenal managed 17 shots on goal, contributing to their average of 13.7 shots per game this season. Chief amongst those shooters are former Borussia Dortmund teammates Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (10.9) and Henrikh Mkhitrayan (7.1), who are both averaging 2.7 shots per game, matching the likes of Harry Kane and Eden Hazard. Aubameyang is yet to record a league goal this season, but given his attacking statistics – the forward is also managing an average of 2 key passes per game and has an xG of 1.2 – and his reputation as a top-class goalscorer, you’d have to feel that that first goal is just around the corner. Joining Arsenal in January last season, Aubameyang managed an astonishing 10 goals and 4 assists in 12 starts for the Gunners. During that run, he was averaging 2.4 shots per game, averaging 1.8 penalty area actions. He hasn’t managed to get involved in the box quite as much so far this year, averaging 1.3 penalty area actions, but considering how few and far between chances were against Man City on the opening weekend, that perhaps comes as no surprise. The Gabon international has missed a number of gilt-edged chances so far this season, but once his confidence returns, those attempts will surely start to hit the back of the net rather than unfortunately places spectators.
Mkhitaryan, at least, does have some tangible FPL returns to his name, orchestrating everything Arsenal did offensively against Chelsea in GW2 and coming away with a goal and an assist. In that game, Mkhitaryan led the way in terms of key passes with 5, and was 3rd overall for shots on goal, behind Pedro (6) and Aubameyang (4). Those numbers dwindled slightly against The Hammers, as the Armenia international failed to register a single key pass, though he was joint-2nd for shots on goal with 3, behind only West Ham’s Marko Arnautovic (5).
Despite Arsenal’s defensive frailties so far, interest in full backs Hector Bellerin and Nacho Monreal (5.5) is perhaps not without merit. In Emery’s system, both are clearly under instruction to push on at every attacking opportunity and square balls into the box from the byline, with Bellerin in particular registering 5 crosses during the game and managing an assist for Arsenal’s 3rd goal. For Arsenal’s first, Spanish defender Monreal found himself in the box and slotted past Cardiff ‘keeper Neil Etheridge (4.6). The Cardiff stopper currently sits at the top of the goalkeeping charts in FPL, having managed 2 penalty saves in his opening 2 games, followed by a clean sheet against Huddersfield last weekend. Whether this is sustainable seems unlikely, but given Warnock’s defensive priorities, Cardiff’s Filipino ‘keeper might just find himself in the points more often than expected.
Further notes: 2 shots, 2 key passes for Aaron Ramsey.
Crystal Palace vs Southampton (Sat. 15:00 GMT)
Rounding things off this week we have Southampton travelling to a Crystal Palace side who, under Roy Hodgson, look like having the foundations in place to push onto the next level, having stayed up last season following an awful starts which saw 0 goals and 0 points until mid-October. Palace’s ability to score, and indeed win, seems directly proportional to whether or not star man Wilfried Zaha, one to buy at 7.1, is fit. Without their record Premier League goal-scorer last campaign, Palace lost 10 in 10, scoring only 4 goals. In the 28 games Zaha did start, however, Palace lost only 6 times in 28 outings, winning 11 of them. Despite their increased proficiency when their talisman is on the pitch, though, Palace have endured a fairly difficult start to their campaign. After a 2-0 win at Fulham on the opening weekend of the season, the Eagles have suffered 2 defeats on the bounce, going down 2-1 away to Watford last weekend, following the withdrawal of first-choice centre-back James Tomkins (4.5) during the warm-up due to a calf problem. At the time of writing, the severity of Tomkins’ injury remains unclear, but it has to be said that whenever he or defensive partner Mamadou Sakho (5.0) goes down injured, Palace tend to struggle defensively – potential bad news, then, for the likes of flying left back Patrick van Aanholt (5.5) and budget youngster Aaron Wan-Bissaka (4.1), though at the latter’s price-point, it’s hard to really go wrong with the right back, who returns from a 1-match suspension in time for this game. At that price, he should be in your squad.
Returning to Zaha, he’ll be looking to turn Palace’s fortunes around by adding to his tally of 2 goals in the opening 3 games of the season, as he looks to continue his transition to a more central striker position, in which he’ll hope to beat his tally of 9 goals and 3 assists last campaign. His best form last season came when Hodgson moved him into the role in the absence of Christian Benteke against Bournemouth on the 7th April. Zaha scored in that game, and has since gone on to register 7 goals and an assist in 9 matches. Averaging 2 shots per game so far this season, and with games against the likes of Huddersfield, Newcastle, Bournemouth, Wolves and Everton to follow this weekend’s match against Southampton, Zaha and Palace will fancy their chances of registering their fair share of goals.
Southampton will be looking to capitalize on Palace’s defensive fitness issues by scoring goals themselves and that responsibility, it would appear, lies mainly with new forward signing Danny Ings (5.6). After a goal in his first start for the Saints, the former Burnley man has been pulling out all the stops to add to his tally. In Saints’ 2-1 defeat to Leicester last time out, Ings led the way for shots on 3, registering 2 key passes along the way. This contributed to his overall average of 4 shots per game, which places him 5th overall in the league in that category. Elsewhere, Ryan Bertrand (5.0) will be looking to add to his thunderbolt against Leicester last weekend with further attacking returns, as Southampton face fixtures against Brighton and Wolves in their next 4.
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