All hail Mo Salah. The Liverpool frontman was the difference between a poor and an average or an above-average week for Fantasy Premier League managers yet again. Thanks to a goal and an assist against Watford last weekend, Salah gave his owners that comprise 65% of the total FPL managers, a big boost.

The average score in GW8 (48) was better than the previous two gameweeks and a lot of the credit for it goes to the Egyptian who has scored in every gameweek barring one and has emerged as the ultimate premium asset in a season that has had many.

He continued that run in midweek too where he scored a brace in Liverpool’s 3-2 win over Atletico Madrid in the Champions League. But his ultimate test comes next on the territory of Liverpool’s bitter rivals Manchester United, who although shaky defensively, notched up a morale-boosting win in midweek.

That is the standout fixture in the Premier League this weekend but for FPL managers, it carries lesser significance due to the possibility of two top sides cancelling each other out.

There are plenty of other fixtures with big FPL potential this week that offer a chance for FPL managers to down the differential route.

Fixture Difficulty

Chelsea, Arsenal, Everton, Leeds, Southampton and Brentford are the teams that FPL managers must look at if they want to plan their team for the next three gameweeks.

Liverpool, Manchester United and Tottenham are set to enter a difficult period of fixtures and so are West Ham. These are teams that FPL managers have invested heavily in and thus for those who still have their wildcard chips intact may think of using it to make the most of the change in fixture trends. Waiting for a week may also be smart as it would provide them with better information on Manchester City assets as players return for Pep Guardiola.

Fixture Difficulty Index

Team Combined Difficulty rating for GW 9-11 GW9 opponents GW10 opponents GW11 opponents
Arsenal 8 (3, 3, 2) AVL(H) LEI(A) WAT(H)
Aston Villa 10 (4, 4, 2) ARS(A) WHU(H) SOU(A)
Brentford 7 (3, 2, 2) LEI(H) BUR(A) NOR(H)
Brighton 11 (4, 5, 2) MCI(H) LIV(A) NEW(H)
Burnley 9 (2, 2, 5) SOU(A) BRE(H) CHE(A)
Chelsea 6 (2, 2, 2) NOR(H) NEW(A) BUR(H)
Crystal Palace 9 (2, 5, 2) NEW(H) MCI(A) WOL(H)
Everton 7 (2, 2, 3) WAT(H) WOL(A) TOT(H)
Leeds 7 (2, 2. 3) WOL(H) NOR(A) LEI(H)
Leicester 8 (2, 3, 3) BRE(A) ARS(H) LEE(A)
Liverpool 11 (4, 3, 4) MUN(A) BHA(H) WHU(A)
Man City 9 (3, 2, 4) BHA(A) CRY(H) MUN(A)
Man Utd 11 (4, 3, 4) LIV(H) TOT(A) MCI(H)
Newcastle 9 (2, 4, 3) CRY(A) CHE(H) BHA(A)
Norwich City 9 (5, 2, 2) CHE(A) LEE(H) BRE(A)
Southampton 7 (2, 2, 3) BUR(H) WAT(A) AVL(H)
Spurs 12 (4, 4, 4) WHU(A) MUN(H) EVE(A)
Watford 10 (4, 2, 4) EVE(A) SOU(H) ARS(A)
West Ham 10 (3, 3, 4) TOT(H) AVL(A) LIV(H)
Wolves 8 (3, 3, 2) LEE(A) EVE(H) CRY(A)
As per official FPL website

The big ins and outs

Jamie Vardy’s incredible performance this season has finally caught the eye of the FPL managers and the Leicester man is the favourite candidate to replace Chelsea’s Romelu Lukaku who’s out injured.

Everton’s Andros Townsend who’s been in fine form under Rafa Benitez is the next most purchased player. Chelsea defenders Cesar Azpilicueta and Ben Chilwell are also in demand.

Most transferred (in) players ahead of GW9

Pos Player Club
MID Townsend EVE
DEF Chilwell CHE
DEF Azpilicueta CHE
As per official FPL website on Friday afternoon

Cristiano Ronaldo and Lukaku, two of the most sought-after players in the last few weeks lead the exits from FPL teams ahead of GW9. The Belgian is injured while Ronaldo who scored in midweek is a victim of United’s fixture list and indifferent form. His teammate Pogba who gained in ownership at the start of the season continued to head out of teams.

Liverpool’s Diogo Jota and Chelsea’s Marcos Alonso complete the top five in exit list, as they fall to rotation.

Most transferred (out) players ahead of GW9

Pos Player Club
FWD Lukaku CHE
FWD Ronaldo MUN
DEF Alonso CHE
As per official FPL website on Friday afternoon

Top picks for Gameweek 9

Whether you bring them in through transfers or (luckily enough) have them in your squad already, these are the five hottest selections for GW9:

Kai Havertz (Chelsea): The German has been on the fringes of the Chelsea squad this season but is set to get game time with Lukaku and Timo Werner out injured. Havertz is set to lead the line in their absence and it’s a position in which he’s produced his best performances at Chelsea including the Champions League final in May where he scored the winner. The German impressed in that role against Malmo and also got on the scoresheet. With Norwich, Burnley and Newcastle coming up, it’s time to get in Havertz in your team.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal): Still Arsenal’s best player, the Gabonese striker has scored in each of Arsenal’s last three home games. The Gunners are up against an Aston Villa side who are the third-worst team on the xGA (Expected Goals Allowed) charts for the last four gameweeks. Aubameyang is a proven goalscorer and has reached double figures in each of the last four seasons.

Ben Chilwell (Chelsea): The Blues have conceded just three goals in the Premier League all season and will be expected to keep another clean sheet when Norwich City visit Stamford Bridge on Saturday. Chilwell has also been outstanding going forward and has scored in Chelsea’s last two matches while also being on target for England during the international break. He now seems to be ahead of Marcos Alonso in the pecking order and was withdrawn early in midweek and hence will be the favourite to start.

Andros Townsend (Everton): The former Crystal Palace winger has been the Toffees’ standout player in the last few weeks and has scored three goals and provided two assists this season. He is also on penalty duties with Richarlison out and with leaky Watford visiting, Townsend is a good bargain buy for GW9. Watford’s xGA is only better than Newcastle United and are yet to keep a clean sheet this season.

Michail Antonio (West Ham): The Hammers forward has gone off the boil and would probably not be in many FPL managers’ shopping list but facing a Tottenham side that have struggled to keep clean sheets in recent weeks, Antonio could be among the points again. He is still second in the league for shots on target and West Ham continue to look threatening going forward. A midweek rest means he will be fresh and raring to go.

Top differential picks for GW8:

Armando Broja (Southampton): The Chelsea loanee scored on his first Premier League start last time out and is expected to keep his place in the Saints XI this week. Southampton face struggling Burnley at the weekend and Broja who’s owned by just 1% of FPL managers could be a great differential for GW9 and beyond given Southampton’s fixtures.

Odsonne Edouard (Crystal Palace): Edouard had a dream start to his Palace career as he scored twice on his debut for the club in the 3-0 win over Tottenham. He then went through a lean patch before returning to the scoresheet against Arsenal last week. Up against a Newcastle side who have the worst defensive record in the league, he’ll fancy his chances to add to his tally of three goals. With just 3% ownership, he is a top differential pick.

Phil Foden (Manchester City): Since returning from injury, Foden has returned in each of Manchester City’s last three matches. He didn’t play full ninety in the Champions League in midweek and it thus enhances his chance of starting against Brighton. City have picked up form and look like scoring a bagful of goals in every game and Foden has been one of the best players in recent matches. Owned by just 5.2% of FPL managers, Foden can be of great value with potential of returning like a premium asset.

Captaincy Conundrum

In the current form, it’s hard to look beyond Salah but a fixture away at Old Trafford might put off many FPL owners. The same can be said of Ronaldo while Lukaku, who would otherwise have been the top captaincy candidate in GW9, is out with injury.

That makes it an open race for the armband with a few differential options coming into the equation. Salah still looks a good prospect given how fragile United have been at the back but giving him the armband involves more risk than usual given the feisty nature of the rivalry.

Chelsea’s Havertz although inconsistent might be a good differential captaincy pick this weekend but it would also not be a bad idea to take a punt on Chilwell or some of the other Chelsea defenders. The chances of earning bonus points increase with a clean sheet and with Chilwell, an attacking return against Norwich is also very much a possibility. A Chelsea defender might actually be a safer bet for captaincy than some of the other top forwards who have slightly harder games this week. Tottenham’s Son Heung Min is a viable option too.

Aubameyang, Townsend and obviously Jamie Vardy are all good candidates too for the armband. But it’s a week where one can experiment with the captaincy and giving it to a Chelsea defender may not be the worst idea.

The Field’s FPL team

Gameweek 8 points: 59

It was a fairly good week for our team in GW8, thanks largely to Mohamed Salah who returned 26 points. Our defence also contributed 23 points while the rest of the team disappointed. Injury to Bukayo Saka meant we could only field ten players in GW9.

Like most FPL managers, we have been forced into swapping Lukaku for Vardy. There was a temptation to bring in Aubameyang over the more popular Vardy but with Saka already in our team, we decided against doubling up on the rather unpredictable (aka blunt) Arsenal attack.

For the captaincy, we have stuck with Salah. There was a thought to hand it to Rudiger and get the safe clean sheet points but with Rudiger’s limited threat in attack, we decided to go with the Liverpool star.

FPL GW9 deadline: 11 PM IST, Friday, October 22, 2021

(Stats Courtesy: Premier League website, and