Fantasy Premier League gameweeks after international breaks are always tricky. Injuries and fitness concerns of returning players give FPL managers plenty of headaches.
With the Covid-19 pandemic, the complexities have increased with players testing positive and having to undergo quarantine. The GW8 falls right after a host of Fifa World Cup qualifiers and the participation of plenty of high-profile players is already in doubt.
The gameweeks following international breaks are thus often considered best to wildcard and a lot of managers have taken the plunge already. However, a wildcard at this stage of the current season has thrown up plenty of dilemmas
Wildcard in GW8?
Accommodating the likes of Mohamed Salah, Cristiano Ronaldo, Romelu Lukaku and Kevin de Bruyne is proving to be impossible and plenty of FPL managers are trying to find a perfect balance and are planning to rotate these top premium assets as per their fixture list.
Among these assets, Salah’s consistency has been truly remarkable and he features in the must-have list. Ronaldo’s goalscoring exploits over the years and also recently during the international break make it very risky to go without him. As for Lukaku and De Bruyne, they have the fixtures on their side.
At this point, a combination of Salah and Lukaku seems the best one for wildcarders as it combines the consistency of Salah and the excellent fixtures of Chelsea who are top of xG (Expected Goals) in the Premier League over the last three weeks.
De Bruyne is maybe subject to rotation and that hurts his prospects compared to the rest. As far as Ronaldo is concerned, Manchester United’s indifferent form may put off FPL managers. Trying to accommodate three of these assets is also possible but then it requires some smart bargain buys to go with it.
So the decision to wildcard in GW8 is subjective and depends on the state of your team. But if possible it would still be wise to hold your wildcard and wait for more data on the premium as well as budget assets.
Chelsea, Leeds United, Manchester City and Southampton have the easiest fixtures in the coming weeks. Everton and Arsenal too have games that they’d be favourites to win. Leicester and Wolves are also two teams FPL managers can bet on in the coming weeks, looking at their fixtures.
Brighton and Crystal Palace have some tough games coming up on the horizon and so do Spurs, West Ham, Manchester United and Watford.
|Team||Combined Difficulty rating for GW 8-10||GW8 opponents||GW9 opponents||GW10 opponents|
|Arsenal||8 (2, 3, 3)||CRY(H)||AVL(H)||LEI(A)|
|Aston Villa||10 (2, 4, 4)||WOL(H)||ARS(A)||WHU(H)|
|Brentford||9 (4, 3, 2)||CHE(H)||LEI(H)||BUR(A)|
|Brighton||11 (2, 4, 5)||NOR(A)||MCI(H)||LIV(A)|
|Burnley||9 (5, 2, 2)||MCI(A)||SOU(A)||BRE(H)|
|Chelsea||6 (2, 2, 2)||BRE(A)||NOR(H)||NEW(A)|
|Crystal Palace||11 (4, 2, 5)||ARS(A)||NEW(H)||MCI(A)|
|Everton||8 (4, 2, 2)||WHU(H)||WAT(H)||WOL(A)|
|Leeds||6 (2, 2. 2)||SOU(A)||WOL(H)||NOR(A)|
|Leicester||9 (4, 2, 3)||MUN(H)||BRE(A)||ARS(H)|
|Liverpool||9 (2, 4, 3)||WAT(A)||MUN(A)||BHA(H)|
|Man City||7 (2, 3, 2)||BUR(H)||BHA(A)||CRY(H)|
|Man Utd||10 (3, 4, 3)||LEI(A)||LIV(H)||TOT(A)|
|Newcastle||9 (3, 2, 4)||TOT(H)||CRY(A)||CHE(H)|
|Norwich City||10 (3, 5, 2)||BHA(H)||CHE(A)||LEE(H)|
|Southampton||6 (2, 2, 2)||LEE(H)||BUR(H)||WAT(A)|
|Spurs||10 (2, 4, 4)||NEW(A)||WHU(A)||MUN(H)|
|Watford||10 (4, 4, 2)||LIV(H)||EVE(A)||SOU(H)|
|West Ham||10 (4, 3, 3)||EVE(A)||TOT(H)||AVL(A)|
|Wolves||9 (3, 3, 3)||AVL(A)||LEE(A)||EVE(H)|
The big ins and outs
Everton’s budget midfielder Andros Townsend who has excelled under Rafa Benitez is the most purchased player this week as FPL managers look at effective and cheap options in midfield to accommodate the premium assets. Wolves’ Hwang is another such player who is the third most bought player this week. Manchester City’s Cancelo is also in demand along with Leicester’s star forward Jamie Vardy. Salah’s ownership continues to swell and is now owned by 62% of FPL teams.
Most transferred (in) players ahead of GW8
Surprisingly Ronaldo and Lukaku top the exit list this week but it shows that FPL managers are looking to rotate their premium assets and keep the ones with the best fixtures in the team. Manchester United stars Paul Pogba and Mason Greenwood whose form has dipped in the last few weeks are heading out of teams.
Trent Alexander-Arnold is also on his way out of team, partly because he was listed as an injury doubt. But the Liverpool full-back is back in training and expected to start against Watford.
The late addition to the list is Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger who has been ruled out with a back injury.
Most transferred (out) players ahead of GW8
Top picks for Gameweek 8
Whether you bring them in through transfers or (luckily enough) have them in your squad already, these are the five hottest selections for GW8:
Mohamed Salah (Liverpool): His massive ownership figures suggest that Salah is probably already in your team but we want to reiterate his importance once again. He faces a Watford side who have the fourth-worst xGA (Expected Goals against) in the Premier League in the last three gameweeks. Liverpool are top for shots inside the box in the Premier League and Salah leads the same metric in the players’ charts. An absolute no-brainer.
Jamie Vardy (Leicester City): After playing second fiddle to Kelechi Iheanacho for some part of last season, Vardy is Leicester’s top dog again and has quietly helped himself to six goals this season. He is also top of xG charts for the last three weeks and faces a fragile Manchester United side who is set to be without first-choice centre-back pairing Raphael Varane and Harry Maguire.
Cancelo (Manchester City): Pep Guardiola’s team have the joint best defensive record in the league and take on a Burnley side with the joint-worst scoring record in the league. Cancelo though is more than just clean sheet points. He has goal contribution potential and also has most bonus points among City defenders.
Romelu Lukaku (Chelsea): The Blues created loads of chances against Southampton and even though Lukaku was more involved in creating those openings, the goals will come for the Belgian especially if Reece James returns in the wing-back role. Brentford have the fifth-worst xGA in the Premier League over the last three games and have looked more vulnerable defensively of late. The Blues, who have topped the xG charts during this period, will look to exploit that.
Kevin de Bruyne (Manchester City): City have a great run of fixtures and De Bruyne is someone FPL managers target. He still has relatively low ownership and has the potential to be a consistent source of points especially in the coming weeks. Man City have come into their own in recent weeks and could really put Burnley to the sword at the weekend. Time to get in the Belgian before he becomes a part of every other team.
Top differential picks for GW8:
Timo Werner (Chelsea): The German has really struggled in his time in England but delivered top performances for club and country in the last fortnight. Werner is fifth in the xG charts over the last three GWs and seems to be benefitting from Lukaku’s presence. His performance for Germany suggests he could be getting back to his best and could be an amazing differential in coming weeks. Owned by just 2% of FPL managers, Werner seems like a punt worth taking.
Phil Foden (Manchester City): A City midfielder that did really well last season is coming into his own this season. Having scored at Anfield in the 2-2 draw, he followed it up with really good performances for England. Owned by 2.8% of FPL managers, he is a good differential to have against Burnley.
Neal Maupay (Brighton): With four goals, Maupay has been Brighton’s best striker so far this season. Owned by just 4.1% of FPL managers, the Frenchman could be a good differential player to own in GW8 as Graham Potter’s men face struggling Norwich who have the poorest defensive records in the division.
The captaincy call is getting tough every week with so many premium assets. Some of the mid-range and budget players have also shown consistency making the decision even tougher. The leading candidates for the armband are Salah, Lukaku, De Bruyne and Ronaldo. The potential for Ronaldo to return with a massive haul seems the lowest considering the opponent he’s facing.
As far as the other three are concerned, it’s pretty close. Lukaku probably has the toughest fixture among the other three and De Bruyne is still just hitting his full stride. Thus Salah who has been so consistent this season seems the best bet for captaincy in GW8. In the current form and the way Liverpool play with the Egyptian at the heart of their football, it’s hard to look beyond him.
The Field’s FPL team
Gameweek 7 points: 43
The Field’s FPL team had an above-average score in GW7. We got our captaincy call wrong but were saved the blushes by our defence and Salah. Despite a few injury doubts, we are only making one transfer this week. Bringing in Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka for West Ham’s Pablo Fornals. Saka seems to be the best bet among the Gunners’ attackers as they head into a good run of games.
Injury to Antonio Rudiger is a bit of a blow to us but we are resisting shipping out the Chelsea defender as there is little merit in taking a hit for a defensive change. The German will be an asset in the coming weeks as Chelsea’s games remain quite good.
Salah has the armband this week, with Lukaku being the vice-captain.
Here’s our team for GW8.
FPL Deadline for GW8: Saturday Sat Oct 16 15:30
(Stats Courtesy: FPL website, Understat.com and WhoScored.com. Ownership % figures as of Friday evening)