The week in Fantasy Premier League: Paying the penalty - How to recover from a disastrous Gameweek 8

Missed penalties, few clean sheets and that Man United V Liverpool bore draw - Fantasy Premier League Gameweek 8 did not live up to the hype...
The week in Fantasy Premier League: Paying the penalty - How to recover from a disastrous Gameweek 8

From five Aguero goals to Southampton's 8-0 thrashing of Sunderland, GW 8 has become something of a turning point recent seasons. That mini-tradition of big scores came crashing down in spectacular style this season, courtesy of some high-profile penalty misses.

Well, the good news is that even if you’ve had a terrible gameweek, most of your rivals had too!

So where do you do from here? Is it time to dump those former favourites who let you down last week, and before that? Let’s take a look...

Sergio Aguero

After being given the armband by 24% of unfortunate managers, the Man City marksman was public enemy number 1 this week.

Pep Guardiola can deny it all he wants, but you don’t bench your go-to goalscorer in a Champions League tie without good reason.

All is not right with the Argentine, and it looks like he’s playing through a minor calf injury. A 90% fit Aguero is still better than most, but suddenly he doesn’t seem his usual all-conquering self.

Verdict: It would take a brave manager to sell him at this early stage, but I would keep the captain’s armband off him until we know more.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Zlatan, Zlatan - where did it all gone wrong?

Fantasy managers are shipping the Swede out in their droves and after just five points in the last three gameweeks, and who could blame them?

This is one case where the underlying stats (goal attempts especially) can be misleading - you can see his trademark swagger is on the wane.

Verdict: Get rid. He may yet recapture his ‘essential’ status, but it doesn’t look like happening any time soon. And that £11.4m could almost buy you two Charlie Austins!

Michail Antonio

After urging fantasy managers to keep the faith last week, I must admit that three blanks in a row means time is running out for the West Ham striker/winger/wing-back/defender.

With Bilic shunting him around the pitch on every tactical whim, is it any wonder the England prospect is struggling to find his rhythm?

He’s still returning decent stats, even hitting the post against Palace, but that £7.1m pricetag isn’t looking as appealing as it once did.

Verdict: If you can cash him in for Theo Walcott (ARS 7.9m) - do it. Otherwise, see how he gets on against a woeful Sunderland side this week.

Raheem Sterling

Blanks against Spurs and Everton have seen over 150,000 fantasy managers give the pacy winger his marching orders, no doubt to make room for the cheaper, in-form Walcott.

That’s understandable, but I can see a lot of needless scrambling to get him back as soon as his next double-digit points return comes around, which you’d presume will happen by GW11 at the latest when Man City host welcome lowly Middlesbrough to the Etihad.

Verdict: Save yourself a transfer and keep him in your team.

Heung-Min Son

A massive 43-point in four matches saw an army of fantasy managers snap up the South Korean last week, only for him to repay that faith with a blank.

He could yet reward the 545,569 who brought him in for GW8, but there was always an element of “chasing points” with this move.

Verdict: With Harry Kane pencilled in for a GW11 return, there’s some uncertainty around the Spurs line-up. Chalk this one up to experience and move on.

Christian Benteke

That ugly -1 return doesn’t look pretty, but the big Belgian remains the singular focus of Crystal Palace’s cross-happy attacking strategy and is joint-top with Charlie Austin (SOU, 6.5) for shots inside the box in the last four gameweeks (14).

His awkward £7.7m pricetag means he has no natural replacement - any change will mean a fairly radical shake-up of your team.

Verdict: If he’s your third striker, it’s hard to argue against switching to Austin and banking the cash. If he’s your second striker, you could upgrade to Costa (CHE, 10.2) or Lukaku (EVE, 9.5) if you have the funds, but you probably have bigger fish to fry. Hold for a while.

The Differentials

It’s still too early in the season to get too jittery, but if you’re the nervous type, there are some good differential prospects emerging - if you’re brave enough to gamble on them.

Dele Alli (TOT, 8.2): It’s been a stop-start season for the Spurs attacker so far, but he’s back on the scoresheet and that’s a tempting pricetag for a player of his potential.

Ryan Shawcross (STO, 4.9): Stoke are on the comeback trail and have great fixtures to boot. With five shots inside the box since GW5, he offers decent attacking threat, too.

Kevin De Bruyne (MCI, 10.6): Currently just 9.4% owned, if you want to hop off Sanchez or Aguero, look no further than the man (penalty miss and all).

José Holebas (WAT, 4.6): Not exactly a secret anymore, but still only owned by just 3.2% and his prodigious attacking stats will only see that figure rise.

Is Joe Allen the new Etienne Capoue?

After blanking in the last three gameweeks, Etienne Capoue(WAT, 5.3) has finally started looking like the 4.5m enabler he began the season as. Is Joe Allen (STO, 4.9) now leading us down a similar garden path?

The true FPL stattos out there were warning for some time that Capoue’s points returns were unsustainable, and they were right. Joe Allen’s numbers and average pitch position offer more encouragement.

But can either really be considered as long-term options for your all-important fourth midfielder spot? Probably not. So what should you do?

Well, you could replace Capoue with Allen and probably pick up a few more points over the season, if you really have nothing better to do with that free transfer.

You could cash in, bank that Capoue profit and revert to a traditional, ever-present, boring-as-hell cheap enabler like Fletcher (WBA, 4.4m) or Marney (BUR, 4.5m).

Or you could just hold on to the Watford man, who you hopefully bought for around £4.5m anyway. He’s still a decent attacking threat and will be an able deputy when the dreaded Christmas squad rotation kicks in.

BUY

Theo Walcott is the obvious must-buy this week, he’s a £9m+ player that actually only costs £7.9m, if you look at it that way.

Less obvious, perhaps, is the urgent need for Liverpool coverage. There’s not many certainties in FPL, but falling behind if you don’t have a good Liverpool attacking midfielder in your team over the next few weeks is as close as you’ll get to one.

TRY

Gylfi Sigurdsson (SWA 7.2)

Usually operating as either a number 10 or a ‘false 9’, the Icelander can be a reliable source of points when he gets going, and the new-manager factor seems to be spurring him on.

GOODBYE

Man United attackers: Zlatan, Mata, Rashford, Rooney … take your pick. None of them look like doing much at the moment if they can get on the pitch in the first place.

QUICK TIP

This says it better than I can, really.

Top of the League

A respectable GW 8 score of 49 keeps Declan Crowdy’s ‘Elegantly wasted’ side top of the Official Irish Examiner League (join code: 251768-521616) - just! An unlikely 71-point haul from Izul Chaniago has him just three points behind.

If you’re not in contention yet, don’t despair. It’s a marathon, not a sprint (at least that’s what I keep telling myself!).

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