So the first thing in any fantasy football manager’s in-tray this week is what to do with your Aston Villa and Newcastle assets and, when I looked on Wednesday morning, that was quite a lot of you….
It’s quite conceivable you’ve got Emi Martinez, Jack Grealish and one of Ollie Watkins or Callum Wilson in your squad because of an enticing set of fixtures for both clubs before the Christmas schedule.
We’ll have to wait and see what the Covid-19 situation means for Newcastle’s next game at home to West Brom, but Aston Villa will be back in action away to Wolves in gameweek 12 so, depending on the make-up of your squad, you might just be able to leave a Villa player or two on the bench this week without it having to affect your transfer plans or forcing you to use the free hit chip. Try and keep the chips for when you really need them if you can.
Personally, I’ve decided to sell Martinez, partly because Villa’s number two Jed Steer is my back-up, which would then see me without a keeper for gameweek 11, and partly because Villa have conceded 11 goals in their past five games, with Martinez only saving four of the past 12 shots on target he has faced.
I didn’t quite have the budget to stretch to Edouard Mendy, who’s gone up to £5.2m this week, or Lukasz Fabianski at £5.1m, so I have plumped for Southampton’s Alex McCarthy, who costs £4.6m and has games against Brighton (a), Sheffield United (h) and Arsenal (a) to come in the next few weeks.
Grealish will sit on my bench and return in gameweek 12.
Time to bring in Bamford?
If you are thinking of removing Wilson then what about bringing in Leeds striker Patrick Bamford?
Some would still grumble that he misses too many opportunities, but at just £6.1m as a regular starter in the team that statistically has created the most chances in the league from open play, he seems like a very good option.
As Statman Dave pointed out in our Fantasy 606 podcast this week Bamford has had the most shots (40) in the Premier League this season and he has been on the end of 12 ‘big chances’ – more than any other striker in the competition.
Apparently he has missed nine of those but he has already scored seven goals this season and those chances are going to keep coming.
I also really like the look of Leeds’ Rafinha as a midfield option at £5.4m – he’s started their past two Premier League games, had four shots in each of them and scored the winner at Goodison Park in Gameweek 10.
Full-backs Luke Ayling and Stuart Dallas are also great value at just £4.5m each and offer plenty of potential for attacking returns in Marcelo Bielsa’s offensively minded set-up.
Mahrez to put Fulham to the sword?
The most tantalising fixture for fantasy managers this week will be Manchester City’s home game against Fulham – although fans of the visitors will quite rightly point to their superb win at Leicester last time out and City’s goals drying up again against a stubborn Porto defence on Tuesday.
It is a fool who tries to predict any Pep Guardiola line-up but the fact Riyad Mahrez got a complete rest in midweek must make him very tempting to fantasy managers at just £8.3m, having already started seven of the nine Premier League games this season and coming off the back of his hat-trick against Burnley.
He is City’s top points-scorer in FPL this season. However, 33 of those 45 points have come in just two games – so there is always the risk he might not fire against Fulham even if he does start the game.
Kevin de Bruyne is your best bet for City having also been able to put his feet up on Tuesday night, but if you’ve got Raheem Sterling as well – like my Fantasy 606 friend Chris Sutton – and you’ve been frustrated with just seven points in the past five gameweeks, then stick with him because there is nothing more annoying than selling a player and watching them make hay.
One player I’m very glad I’ve stuck with right from the start is Bruno Fernandes.
His price has gone up from £10.5m to £10.8m after 38 points in the past three gameweeks but it will be money well spent I assure you. He has scored a remarkable 121 points in 11 away games since joining Manchester United in January and now it is West Ham’s turn to try and stop him in gameweek 11.
Jose Mourinho has given us Harry Kane owners a little scare about potentially missing the north London derby on Sunday through injury, particularly considering a phenomenal record against Arsenal that has seen him score 10 goals in 11 Premier League games against them.
He may well be in lots of managers’ minds as