The last time Fantasy Premier League Gameweek deadline was approaching, Manchester United were busy making the future gameweeks very interesting. The signing of Cristiano Ronaldo has affected every FPL manager’s plans for the season. The man who holds almost every goalscoring record in football can be an FPL monster.
Those playing Champions League fantasy would know and so would those old folks who were playing FPL the last time Ronaldo was around in the Premier League.
He is not the same player he once was. No more stepovers, no darting runs on the wings, not much trickery, but he’s substituted all that with a ruthlessness in front of goal that very few in modern football can claim to have.
Without even kicking a ball, Ronaldo is owned by 19% of FPL managers (and counting) making him top five based on ownership among forwards.
The Portuguese returned early from the international break to train with Manchester United but it remains to be seen if he will be handed a start this week by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. With a lot of the top players away on international duty, Ronaldo might not have got enough time with his new teammates. But there is no doubt that he will be involved against Newcastle on Saturday. And for Ronaldo even a few minutes can be enough.
Ronaldo, Wildcard and Bruno Fernandes
The 36-year-old is likely to be a must-have in the future, but FPL managers may do well to wait before pouncing on the Portuguese and get precious insights on his new role at Old Trafford.
Ronaldo’s arrival has meant a dip in Bruno Fernandes’ ownership. The midfielder may no longer be on penalties and most FPL managers would have to downgrade Fernandes to accommodate Ronaldo. Given Fernandes’ exploits since he joined the Premier League, this move may be a bit too premature.
There are, however, plenty of other aspects to look at from an FPL perspective. With Romelu Lukaku and Harry Kane, players that not many owned at the start of the season, now very much settled at their respective clubs, there are many top players that FPL managers may want to get their hands on.
A wildcard is obviously the answer, but with Chelsea’s fixtures not getting any easier and Kane yet to hit his stride, it may be best to hold it for at least a couple of weeks to understand how these big guns are faring.
There’s a bit of fixture turn happening and a lot of teams who had tough matches at the start of GW1 would find the fixture list quite kind in the coming weeks. It’s the exact opposite for those who had an easy ride so far. Aston Villa, for example, have terrible fixtures in the next three GWs.
Wolves and Watford have the easiest games on paper, followed by Arsenal, Everton and Liverpool. Players from the two Merseyside clubs thus would be the players FPL managers can have a close look at. It may take FPL managers some courage to bet on players from the other three given how their season has started.
Apart from Villa, Chelsea and Southampton have tough matches across the next three gameweeks.
Fixture Difficulty index
|Team||Combined Difficulty rating for GW 4-6||GW4 opponent||GW5 opponents||GW6 opponents|
|Arsenal||7 (2, 2, 3)||NOR(H)||BUR(A)||TOT(H)|
|Aston Villa||12 (4, 4, 4)||CHE(A)||EVE(H)||MUN(A)|
|Brentford||9 (2, 3, 4)||BHA(H)||WOL(A)||LIV(H)|
|Brighton||8 (2, 4, 2)||BRE(A)||LEI(H)||CRY(A)|
|Burnley||9 (3, 3, 3)||EVE (A)||ARS(H)||LEI(A)|
|Chelsea||10 (2, 4, 4)||AVL(H)||TOT(A)||MCI(H)|
|Crystal Palace||9 (3, 4, 2)||TOT(H)||LIV(A)||BHA(H)|
|Everton||7 (2, 3, 2)||BUR(H)||AVL(A)||NOR(H)|
|Leeds||9 (4, 2, 3)||LIV(H)||NEW(A)||WHU(H)|
|Leicester||9 (4, 3, 2)||MCI(H)||BHA(A)||BUR(H)|
|Liverpool||7 (3, 2, 2)||LEE(A)||CRY(H)||BRE(A)|
|Man City||9 (3, 2, 4)||LEI(A)||SOU(H)||CHE(A)|
|Man Utd||8 (2, 4, 2)||NEW(H)||WHU(A)||AVL(H)|
|Newcastle||9 (4, 3, 2)||MUN(A)||LEE(H)||WAT(A)|
|Norwich City||8 (3, 2, 3)||ARS(A)||WAT(H)||EVE(A)|
|Southampton||10 (3, 5, 2)||WHU(H)||MCI(A)||WOL(H)|
|Spurs||9 (2, 4, 3)||CRY(A)||CHE(H)||ARS(A)|
|Watford||6 (2, 2, 2)||WOL(H)||NOR(A)||NEW(H)|
|West Ham||9 (2, 4, 3)||SOU(A)||MUN(H)||LEE(A)|
|Wolves||6 (2, 2, 2)||WAT(A)||BRE(H)||SOU(A)|
The big ins and outs
Ronaldo is being brought in by more than a million FPL managers already, twice more than the next most transferred-in player in Manchester City’s Ferran Torres. The West Ham duo of Antonio and Said Benrahma continue to attract new owners with Everton’s Demarai Gray finding suitors as well.
Most transferred (in) players ahead of GW4
Fernandes’ exit is down to Ronaldo’s arrival but those FPL managers might be made to rue the change if the midfielder scores big against Newcastle. He scored a hat-trick in the last game at Old Trafford. Villa’s tough fixtures mean Danny Ings and injured Emiliano Martinez have had to make way.
Most transferred (out) players ahead of GW4
Top picks for Gameweek 4
Whether you bring them in through transfers or (luckily enough) have them in your squad already, these are the five hottest selections for GW4:
Romelu Lukaku (Chelsea): The Belgian is shown as an injury doubt as it stands, but reports suggest he is expected to be fit for the game against Aston Villa. Dean Smith’s side have struggled defensively while the Blues have been impressive going forward barring the second half against Liverpool when they played with ten men. The Belgian is fourth in the xG (Expected Goals) charts in the Premier League and has eight shots from inside the box in just two matches. He can also be a good long-term asset.
Mason Greenwood (Manchester United): Ronaldo’s arrival at Old Trafford mustn’t overshadow how good Greenwood has been for the Red Devils. He is a natural finisher and he’s shown that by scoring in every game so far. With the spirits high, expect United to be in the mood against Newcastle and Greenwood could further add to his tally.
Michail Antonio (West Ham): The top scorer in FPL this season, Antonio has been simply superb. He tops the xG, shots inside the box charts and has four goals and as many assists to his name. Southampton are the fourth-worst team in the FPL in terms of xGA (Expected Goals Against) and it would be a huge risk to go without the West Ham striker in GW4.
Mohamed Salah (Liverpool): Just like Antonio at the moment, Salah is a FPL must-have. He’s been one for a few seasons now and is showing no signs of slowing down. The Reds have had a strong start to the season and have the most shots from inside the penalty area. Salah is only behind Antonio in the shots-from-inside-the-box chart and has two goals to his name already.
Marcos Alonso (Chelsea): A Chelsea defender who loves an attacking return especially at Stamford Bridge. The Spaniard has started ahead of Ben Chilwell so far this season and scored the Blues’ campaign opening goal. Chelsea have been very solid under Thomas Tuchel and a clean sheet looks likely against struggling Aston Villa who are set to be without a few key players. With Alonso, bonus points, goals and assists are always around the corner.
Top differential picks for GW4:
Demarai Gray (Everton): The Everton midfielder has scored in each of the last two games for Everton. With doubts over Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s fitness, Gray will have to shoulder the scoring responsibility. Up against Burnley at Goodison Park, Gray would be favourite to keep his good form going. With around 7% ownership, Gray is a great differential option in the coming weeks.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal): Arsenal have had a forgettable start to the season losing all three games without scoring. But up against fellow strugglers Norwich at home, the Gunners have a chance to get their season back on track. They will take inspiration from a big win over West Brom in the League Cup and hope to get their season underway. Aubameyang, who scored a hat-trick in that game, can be a good differential option to have for GW4 given an ownership of just 1.7%.
Trincao (Wolves): Wolves have had a similarly poor start to the season but the results don’t reflect how good they have been in those games. Wolves are second in the table for shots inside the box and only behind Liverpool. Trincao has had five shots on target in the season so far. Only Antonio, Salah and Calvert-Lewin have had more. He has also missed two big chances. Only Antonio has missed more. The former Barcelona man is getting into positions and if Wolves continue to do so, he will get on the scoresheet sooner rather than later. Owned by less than 1% of FPL managers, Trincao has massive differential potential especially considering their fixtures are very kind in the coming weeks.
The captaincy call this week is tough given the number of good options available. Greenwood, Fernandes, Salah and Antonio are the usual favourites but the addition of Lukaku and Ronaldo to the mix has made it very interesting. Captaining Ronaldo is risky given there is no guarantee of him starting this week. Either of his teammates could return with a better haul.
Salah is an evergreen option and Antonio is the form man. Lukaku in his time in the Premier League has a great record against Aston Villa, scoring six times in eight appearances against the midlands side and could be a top shout for captaincy.
But given the mood around Old Trafford, it would be best advised to hand one of the Manchester United players the captaincy for GW4. Fernandes has the pedigree, Greenwood has the form, the choice is yours. If I still had to choose one, I’d pick Greenwood.
The Field’s FPL team
Gameweek 3 points: 55
Injuries, international absentees and some out-of-favour players mean we were forced into changes. We were tempted to wildcard as our team isn’t in the best shape but decided to keep faith in our picks for now. Expect that to change shortly.
With Martinez out of the weekend’s clash and Villa facing a really tough run of games, we swapped him for the season’s top-scoring goalkeeper Raya of Brentford who has kept two clean sheets so far. His save points also caught our eye. Elsewhere, with money in the bank, we decided to upgrade Bissouma to Gray who we feel has a good chance of scoring in the next few gameweeks.
As for the captain’s armband, we are trusting Fernandes to return among the points after two barren weeks.
Here’s our team for Gameweek 4:
FPL Deadline for GW4: Saturday Sat 11 Sep 15:30
(Stats Courtesy: FPL website, Understat.com and WhoScored.com. Ownership % figures as of Thursday evening)
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