Last updated on October 19th, 2023
Who should be your priority players for the next Gameweek, position by position
Written by Keiran Trotter (@fpl_del)
It’s been nice to recharge and refresh over the International break. England successfully qualified for the next summer’s Euros in Germany and whilst I wasn’t there for the 3-1 win over Italy I did get to the Australia game last Friday night. It was a bit of a damp squib (both on and off the pitch) but I’m trying to build my loyalty points up as part of the England Supporters Travel Club to get myself as high as possible up the pecking order when it comes to ticket allocation for next summer. People always quiz me when I manage to get tickets for the big games, and much like being a season ticket holder, it’s turning up for the games others aren’t bothered about that gets you access to those Cup Final tickets. Anyways, back into FPL mode now and before we look ahead to gameweek 9, let’s just have a quick check-in on how my picks did in gameweek 8.
Week 8 Review
Chelsea conceding at Burnley was not the best start for me. I opted for Sanchez over Vicario and Johnstone and they picked up 7 and 9 points respectively. There were also clean sheets for Raya, Pickford and Turner so we definitely missed the boat with the goalkeeping selection.
Pedro Porro managed a clean sheet and 6 points for Spurs and I was grateful for that with Spurs going down to 10 men. That effectively nullified Spurs’ threat from full-back as they had to play cautiously and on the break whilst a man down against Luton. Micky Van Der Ven got Spurs’ goal, a clean sheet and 3 bonus points for a 15-point haul and Pau Torres was the only other defender to log double digits as he scored in Villa’s 1-1 draw at Wolves.
Bissouma’s Red Card in the Spurs v Luton hamstrung my midfield pick of Heung-Min Son too. Spurs had 5 or 6 great chances in the first 20 minutes where Son should have scored or would have been the assister, which likely would have resulted in a haul, but the writing was on the wall with Bissouma’s Red Card and he was eventually replaced in the second half for a 3 pointer. Elsewhere, those who backed Mo Salah were the big winners as he logged a brace and bagged the bonus points for a 15-pointer. Even he was outshone by the mercurial Raheem Sterling with 2 goals and an Assist in Chelsea’s 4-1 win over Burnley. Jack Harrison, Scott McTominay and Cole Palmer all also had 2 attacking returns for double-digit hauls.
Pickings were slimmer in the forwards category with only Alexander Isak managing a 13-point haul with his 2 goals against West Ham. Only he and Nicolas Jackson with 6 points outscored my pick of Darwin Nunez who logged a solitary assist for 5 points against Brighton. So all in all, 16 points is not ideal but in all honesty, it’s not too bad given I went Son over Salah!.
So, we go again, refreshed for gameweek 9 and looking forward to some mega-hauls!!!
Starting as always, we look at the clean sheet odds from the bookmakers this week as our benchmark for our goalkeeping selection. The most likely clean sheets according to those in the know are Newcastle (46%), Forest (44%), Liverpool (39%), Man United (39%) and Brentford (36%).
I have no trust in Manchester United at the minute and despite playing the least potent team in the League (Sheffield United) I just don’t know if I can consider them for a clean sheet. The second least potent team is a toss-up between Burnley and Bournemouth depending on which stats you look at. I take into consideration expected goals conceded, actual goals conceded and big chances conceded and both of those teams score almost equally as badly on those parameters. Burnley are away to Brentford who haven’t been great lately but are ranked 5th for expected goals conceded. Bournemouth are home to Wolves who are one of the poorer defensive teams (ranked around 15th on all of my key metrics) so I would favour Brentford for the clean sheet.
Newcastle are defensively sound, ranking in the top 7 for all 3 of my key metrics including being ranked 1st for big chances conceded. They face a Palace side who are ranked 16th for goals scored and big chances created so look a solid option.
The choice for me is really down to a safe bet on Newcastle or risking the better fixture and backing Manchester United. Both Sheffield United and Crystal Palace’s stats don’t really improve based on being at home or away but Manchester United’s defensive stats do drop off a little away from home so I am going to go with the safe bet and back Nick Pope (£5.5m) to be my gameweek 9 goalkeeping pick of the week.
Matty Cash (£5.1) currently tops the chart for expected goal involvement from a defender. He’s got 2 goals and an assist this season and has a home fixture this gameweek against West Ham. Cash is a solid option for me this week.
Spurs are at home to Fulham on Monday night this week and so have a little extra time than most to prepare. Fulham are ranked 17th for expected goals so there is definitely clean sheet potential there so that brings full-backs Destiny Udogie (£4.9m) and Pedro Porro (£5.1m) into the reckoning. Porro has the better xGI (1.53 vs 0.86) and has definitely been the more threatening of the 2 in their recent matches, so he would get my nod from the Spurs backline.
There are a couple of potential left-field picks for me this week with Willy Boly (£4.5m) currently ranked 9th for xGI so far this season facing Luton at home. He’s only managed 1 goal but could add to that on Saturday. Kristoffer Ajer (£4.5m) at Brentford is ranked 6th for xGI and faces Burnley at home. He has a goal and an assist to his name, so could be a good option for points at both ends.
But for me, the choice for defensive pick of the week comes down to a battle of the ‘big guns’. In one corner you have Kieran Trippier (£6.9m). 5 Assists in his last 4 gameweeks and absolutely flying at present for a Newcastle team facing a not particularly potent Palace Team at home. In the other coroner, you have Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.9m). Hasn’t been at his best this year but is back from injury having featured for England over the break playing 90 mins vs Australia. Liverpool are home to Everton and a Merseyside Derby should provide a great opportunity for Trent to reignite his Liverpool season. This is very much a head versus heart decision for me as the head says Tripper is the solid bet with the best form. But I’m going to go with my heart on this one and select Trent Alexander Arnold as my defensive pick of the week.
The shortlist for Midfielder of the week pretty much wrote itself this week. 6 of the top 8 ranked midfielders for expected goal involvement have favourable fixtures this gameweek. Bryan Mbeumo (£6.7m) currently sits 3rd for xGI and he is ranked T5 for goals from midfield this season and with a fixture at home to Burnley, this might be the week he turns his recent dip around and returns to haul pen.
With Spurs at home to Fulham on Monday night we have to consider James Maddison (£8.1m) and Heung-Min Son (£9.5m). Son seems to be a little hit-and-miss at the minute with either feast or famine, blank or haul. His last 5 games have been 20, 2, 14, 7 and 3-pointers. Meanwhile, Maddison has been much more consistent, only blanking 3 times out of 8 so far. That said, you have to go with the goal threat and Son is well clear both in expected and actual goal rankings.
With Manchester United taking on current whipping boys Sheffield United, our thoughts immediately turn to Bruno Fernandes (£8.4m) and Marcus Rashford (£8.8m). Bruno has been the most consistent for United so far with xGI of 5.83 versus Rashford’s 4.12 but Rashford got on the scoresheet for England on Tuesday night and maybe that will be the catalyst for his and United’s season. As per the Son / Maddison debate, I’ll always opt for goal threat and Rashford just edges this for United this season with 2.79 versus 2.73 but there is very little in it. There are going to be serious questions asked if United don’t get a result and a big performance against Sheffield United but I still don’t know if I’m ready to put a United player on a pedestal above any other player this or any gameweek.
The main reason for me still not being able to do that is the incredible consistency of Mohammed Salah (£12.6m) so far this season. We shouldn’t really be surprised, it’s what he does, but it’s been a little more subtle and less explosive so far this season. He’s logged 5 goals, 4 assists and is top for both expected goals and expected goal involvements. He’s blanked once so far this season, the game against Spurs where he had the assist for Diaz’s ghost goal and played most of the game at least 1 man down. He has 5 goals already in Merseyside Derbies and I’m backing him to add to that this week so Mo Salah will be my midfield pick of the week.
Forwards (minus Haaland)
After another blank in gameweek 8 it may well be time to start including Haaland in the section, however, for me, the league’s leading scorer at home to Brighton, is still an absolute no-brainer for me this week and he really should be most people’s captain again. It will be tight between Salah and Haaland for me, but I think he still gets the nod, given how open Brighton are.
For the above reasons, we have to consider Haaland’s partner in crime this week also, Julian Alvarez (£7.0m). He’s 7 for expected goal involvements, with 3 goals and 5 assists so far, if City are scoring against Brighton, and that’s pretty likely, it’s also pretty likely he’s going to be involved.
The other 2 standout options for me this week are Ollie Watkins (£8.2m), fresh off a goal for England and lining up at home to West Ham and Alexander Isak (£7.5m), who faces Palace at home. Isak came off with a knock last time out and withdrew from Sweden’s squad over the last 2 weeks. He is expected back for the Palace game, especially given Callum Wilson was only used as an ‘emergency’ as he returns from his own injury. The Swede added 2 more against West Ham to make it 6 for the season and looks to be their current first choice.
Watkins, like Salah, only has 1 blank this season and now has 4 goals and 7 assists to top the forward rankings ahead of Haaland. West Ham at home isn’t quite as attractive as Palace at home so if Isak is fit I think I prefer him.
This week’s forward pick of the week really comes down to whether Isak is fit. If we get news that he is ready, he will be my pick. If not, I think I would pick Watkins over Alvarez as I think this is the week Haaland reminds us what he is about and picks up the big points against Brighton.
Picks of the Week
Nick Pope (Newcastle GK £5.5m)
Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool DF £7.9m)
Mohamed Salah (Liverpool MF £12.6m)
Alexander Isak (Newcastle FW £7.5m)
Best of luck for the week ahead and I’ll see you next week for another review and set of Picks of the Week.