For the past few weeks, millions of Fantasy Premier League managers have been quietly wishing ill fortune on their own teams - a kind of "self-schadenfreude", if you will.
"If only Mo Salah could pick up an injury", they'd muse in a stolen moment of solitude. "Nothing too painful, of course... just something that would definitely keep him out for three weeks that would make this decision for me".
So when vague news of an injury surfaced after Salah converted the kind of shot he will never score in the Premier League, all to defeat the mighty Swaziland, it sent them into as-yet-unknown depths of despair.
But now they've reached the promised land - Huddersfield, Cardiff and Fulham over the next four Gameweeks - and the chance of sweet redemption awaits.
Sell and you'll live -- at least a while. And dying in your beds many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that for one chance, just one chance to come back here and captain Mo Salah against Huddersfield! pic.twitter.com/Js2EMrRzpe— FPL Partridge (@FPL_Partridge) October 13, 2018
Fortunately, all indications are that Salah should be fit to start - although how much Klopp intends to utilise his Egyptian star remains in doubt.
Klopp on injuries: “I understand that you all want to know it but I never get any information on injuries from other teams! So why should we give it out there to the world?” 👀 pic.twitter.com/zctULvZv3y— Anfield Edition (@AnfieldEdition) October 18, 2018
While it's a case of "in for a penny, in for a pound" for the Salah faithful, another group of FPL managers are left wondering what to do next with their prize asset.
The 'new' Harry Kane?
Three goals in the previous two Gameweeks were enough to convince over FPL 380,000 managers to invest in Harry Kane (TOT, 12.5) last week - with disastrous results.
Without Alli or Eriksen to provide the ammunition, the Spurs marksman mustered a solitary point against Cardiff, leaving the 23% of active managers who captained him (not to mention those optimistic triple-captainers) crestfallen.
The once reliable goalscorer has become a real enigma this season. His average number of penalty box touches per match has actually increased so far this season compared to last, while his number of both touches and shots in the penalty box so far are second only to Aguero.
Despite that, it's clear he's taking up much deeper positions in recent games and is badly in need of a rest.
His two assists for England against Spain will have done little to calm the fears of his new owners - for £12.5m, we need the Kane of old with his all-consuming lust for goals, not a drifting number 10 intent on improving his all-around game.
This season, Harry Kane has played:
🏅 716 out of 720 Premier League minutes
🏆 180 out of 180 Champions League minutesOctober 15, 2018
The integration of Lucas Moura (TOT, 7.4) has produced an Asprilla Effect on Spurs this season. Despite his obvious talents, Poch's determination to play the Brazilian as part of a front two has clearly upset the team's balance, stifling Kane in the process.
Spurs now face Man City, Wolves, Chelsea and Arsenal in their next six, prompting much of Kane's near-31% ownership to look for an exit strategy.
Many of those who did last week's "hokey-cokey" with Sergio Agüero (MCI, 11.3) - whilst all the time secretly hoping that Kane would do enough to earn a permanent place in their squad - will now reluctantly have to burn a second transfer to get Kun back in.
Jesus away with Brazil, Aguero rcuperating at home. Pep said his minutes were being managed but indicated that won't be the case following the break. I'd take 60 mins of Aguero v Burnley over 90 mins of most other strikers anyday.— FFScout Joe (@FFScout_Joe) October 11, 2018
However, those looking to go a different direction now have a proven, in-form alternative in the premium striker bracket in the shape of Alexandre Lacazette (ARS, 9.7).
Lack of minutes in the opening two Gameweeks saw many owners quickly jump ship, but the Frenchman has produced attacking returns in every match since, helping Arsenal to quietly make their way into fourth place.
So it is time to invest in Arsenal? Well, that all depends on exactly where you spend your money.
Targeting your investment
When we scan that colour-coded guide to a player's upcoming opponents on the FPL fixture list, it's easy to disregard the massive gulf which often exists between each side's defensive and attacking prospects.
Arsenal may have outscored everyone bar Man City, but their defence has conceded more shots than Southampton, Huddersfield or Cardiff.
Similarly, Man United are listed as an "orange" fixture more on reputation than recent performances, having shipped more goals than Newcastle, Palace, Brighton or Watford.
Newly-promoted Wolves are only rated as a medium-difficulty fixture, despite conceding a miserly six goals so far this season.
The likes of Fulham and Bournemouth have conceded goals for fun, but their shot-happy forward line would make you think twice before starting all but the most premium of defenders against them.
Although Everton remain firmly in the 'basket case' category defensively, Marco Silva looks to have hit on a winning formula in attack.
Moving Richarlison (EVE, 6.8) to striker in place of the ineffective Cenk Tosun has now cleared the way for creative players like Bernard (EVE, 5.9) and Gylfi Sigurdsson (EVE, 7.4).
Most Chances Created This Season
🇮🇸 Gylfi Sigurdsson (23)
🇪🇸 David Silva (22)
🇧🇷 Willian (22)
🏴 Ryan Fraser (21)
🇧🇷 Felipe Anderson (20)
🇧🇪 Eden Hazard (19)
🇬🇷 Jose Holebas (17)
🇪🇬 Mohamed Salah (17) pic.twitter.com/ouzm7Jjhkf— Premier League Statman ⚽️ (@EPLStatman) October 13, 2018
Having a slice of the Everton midfield will become vitally important in the weeks ahead, and those three disparate price points should make the switch a relatively easy one.
Investment should probably be restricted to one for the time being though - home fixtures against Palace, Brighton, Cardiff and Newcastle are interspersed with away trips to Man United, Chelsea and Liverpool.
It may involve staring intently at laptop and phone screen for longer than we should, but that doesn't mean that fantasy football can't be a social activity.
Last week saw the latest in an increasingly familiar spectacle of FPL meet-ups as the presenters of US podcast Always Cheating hosted a gathering in London.
Shared some photos from our UK trip on our Facebook page. https://t.co/ZM5qKvPrbX
4 matches in 4 days + a meet-up with longtime friends and listeners? Doesn’t get much better than that.October 13, 2018
There's even talk of a real-life Irish meet-up now - watch this space for more on that, should it come to pass.
For the foreseeable future, every tip in this section is made with the assumption that you're not being stubborn enough to resist bringing this man into your team.
Minutes per FPL point
🇧🇪 Hazard - 7.8
🇦🇷 Aguero - 11.2
🇫🇷 Lacazette - 11.2
🏴 Sterling - 11.8
🇪🇸 Alonso - 12
🇫🇷 Mendy - 12.2
🏴 Trippier - 13.4
🇬🇦 Aubameyang - 13.7
🏴 Wilson - 14.2https://t.co/LatvJfzZV3
(Minimum 360 mins played) pic.twitter.com/xfac60rFUB— Fantasy Football Fix (@FantasyFootyFix) October 14, 2018
So with that said - how would you like a defender who's notched five assists in five games, and has oodles of clean-sheet potential to boot?
After his blistering start to the season, Benjamin Mendy (MCI, 6.2) has become something of a forgotten man. His ownership is now at about a third of what it once was, making the player who will probably end up as the season's top-scoring defender something of a differential.
When Mendy was fit he was the most essential FPL pick IMO. He's back and he will haul at some point. I wouldn't want to miss it, especially if it's not for a hit.— FPL Gecko (@FPL_Gecko) October 18, 2018
His disciplined performance against Liverpool, alongside the injury to Danilo, makes him about as rotation-proof as an outfield Man City player can get.
With arguably more points potential at both ends of the pitch than the increasingly disappointing Marcus Alonso (CHE, 7.0), it's a switch that could even make you some cash.
We're all slaves to our biases in FPL, and when we saw that opening pricetag on Raheem Sterling (MCI, 11.1) we couldn't quite stomach the thought of buying the player who cost us as little as £7.9m the season before.
Unfortunately, that seems to be the going rate for the player whose points total was second only to Mo Salah's last season and who looks to carrying on right where he left off in this one.
I was surprised to discover that Sterling has outscored Aguero in every single gameweek they've both played in. That's 7 out of 8 gameweeks.
The game Sterling missed was the 6-1 vs HUD, but Sterling has outscored Aguero by 18 points in the games they both played in.— STAT (@StatOnScout) October 15, 2018
Facing tough fixtures and without a goal in his last three games, any justification for keeping Wilfried Zaha (CRY, 7.0) must surely have evaporated among his 21.1% ownership after he aggravated a recurring injury.
Wilfried Zaha will be assessed on his return to Selhurst Park after aggravating a niggling groin problem - which hampered him last month - during Fridays 4-0 win over the Central African Republic. #CPFCOctober 16, 2018
A straight swap to Marko Arnautovic (WHU, 7.0) could be a case of jumping from the frying pan into a frustratingly similar frying pan, unless having a striker whose knee "allows for him to play" is good enough for you.
Marko is okay. He returned from internationals where he played just one game [for Austria] and worked without any problems"
“We must be careful about his knee but it is ok but it allows for him to play games"- West Ham Coach Manuel Pellegrini pic.twitter.com/pvR5xVSyYz— Footytool (@Footytool9ja) October 18, 2018
Luckily for Wilf owners, you could make a decent case for any one of Callum Wilson (BOU, 6.4), Joshua King (BOU, 6.4), Aleksandar Mitrovic (FUL, 6.9), Glenn Murray (BRI, 6.6) or Raúl Jiménez (WOL, 5.6) to replace him.
Mitrovic dropping overnight makes no sense to me.
Yes he’s only scored 1/4, but he faced Arsenal, Man City & Everton in that run.
About to play 3 teams in the next 5 gameweeks who are in the top 4 for most conceded goals.
5 goals this season. What were his sellers thinking?! pic.twitter.com/E7ta83O5NH— FPL Vinnie 🇨🇽 (@FPLVinnie) October 11, 2018
Top of the league
Despite the Kane captaincy, a 68-point Gameweek was enough to keep Mary Walsh Kilkenny and her Molls Misfits top of the Official Irish Examiner League (join code: 19990-119302) for another week.
Her refreshingly non-template team which includes the likes of Begovic, Tomkins, Gudmundsson and Jiménez is riding high at 323 in the world rankings.
We have two new names in second and third. Paul Hanover's WAG Magnets and Evgeniy Bekker's C’mon baby side have jumped into contention with scores of 76 and 89 respectively.