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A Manager’s Preview – Gameweek 10

stoosher Gameweek Previews

Can it be Gameweek 10 (GW10) already ?  Despite the fact that I have never spent so much time thinking about my FPL team (and had such poor results) – hours and hours each week, the season seems to have flown by.

Last week’s green arrow has buoyed some of the management team, but we continue to struggle with our insatiable desire to make transfers.  Last week we returned Alvaro Morata to the lineup and added Raheem Sterling, -4.  That went well (he says ruefully), although I cannot say that I believe we will miss Jamie Vardy and Henrikh Mhkitaryan. The lads are upbeat, we like the look of the squad and we can only hope that this is the one really big week we need to make up some lost ground on our mini-league leader.  We’ve 120 points to make up and 20 teams to climb, a long journey indeed.

Are We Tired of Talking About Manchester City Yet ?

Last week should have been a nice haul with a nice 3-0 win and two City assets in the side, Sterling and David Silva.  But Pep Guardiola keeps confusing us.  Sterling had started four straight league games prior to GW9.  But Pep once again went off reservation, “resting” (?) Sterling and Gabriel Jesus for Bernardo Silva and the newly fit Sergio Aguero respectively.  Meanwhile Leroy Sane had a monster week for his 13% ownership.  As did Nicolas Otamendi who is fast becoming an FPL favourite.

With the addition of Ederson, City have a pretty solid defensive unit, and given the fact they have a slew of clean sheet opportunities ahead (wba, ARS, lei, hud, SOU, WHU) perhaps the best tactic is one or two attacking asset(s) and one defensive asset from this side.  As I wrote a few weeks ago, the only truly safe (from rotation in league) attacking options appear to be David Silva and Kevin de Bruyne.  Did I mention Sergio Aguero and Raheem Sterling played 120 minutes Tuesday in the league cup win over Wolves ?  Let’s just say we are not counting on a lot of minutes from those two at the Hawthorns this weekend.  If you have any of Sterling, Aguero, Jesus, or Sane in your squad, be prepared for some unexpected pain, because while there will be goals, your guy may not be part of them.

The Everton and Leicester City Enigmas.

Both of these teams have let go of their managers, Leicester last week and Everton this week and play each other on Sunday.   It will be an interesting one to watch.

We tend to view Leicester, I think, through the goggles of the championship winning season and perhaps tend to overrate the players.  It is well to remember, that arguably the team’s most important player, N’Golo Kante, left for Chelsea ahead of last season . . . and Chelsea won the title.  Two clean sheets all season, and neither Christian Fuchs nor Danny Simpson have added attacking points; the wing back bus has left them behind.  If you are keen to risk 5.1 mil on a Leicester defender, Harry Maguire has a goal and two assists to go with 4 bonus points.  In attack, we can round up the two usual suspects, Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez.  Since recommending Mahrez as a differential in GW5, he has a goal and two assists to go with his three assists from GW1-2.  He sits on the cusp of the top 10 midfielders for points, but frankly from an ‘eyeball’ perspective we need to see more.  He’s looked more lively in the past two matches and perhaps a new manager will demand more; more creativity, more effort.

Jamie Vardy has been in my squad for one week as a placeholder for Alvaro Morata.  Prior to and now after his 2015/16 breakout 24-goal season, Vardy has been a mid-level forward option.   A five goal, 12 assist season preceded his big year and a 13-goal, 8 assist season followed.  I tend to think last year was really Vardy’s level.  And that 8.6 mil price tag is a bridge too far.  Vardy has five goals in nine games so he could prove me wrong, but I don’t think there will be a return to the halcyon days of 2015/16.  Is he overpriced ?  That’s a judgment call given the dearth of options at that price point, but absent a real run of form, I won’t be going back to the Jamie Vardy Party.

Everton are even more of an enigma.  A good side, taking a place in Europe this year with a manager who has succeeded both as a player and manager at the highest levels of the game.  And who made a serious splash in the summer transfer market.  It is hard to understand how you could add Jordan Pickford, Michael Keane, Wayne Rooney and Gylfi Sigurdsson and go backward.  So did Everton ownership and Ronald Koeman is gone, never mind the early season schedule and the loss of 25 goals in the person of Romelu Lukaku.  There is a ton of talent in the side (remember when Leighton Baines was a “must have”?), including the wonderful Idrissa Gueye, but Everton have looked remarkably disjointed going forward and seem to lack any real fight back spirit when going behind aside from perhaps Wayne Rooney.  There are some real assets here to exploit if a new manager can come in and provide some clear organisation principles in attack and shore up a porous back 3 (or sometimes a porous back 4).  For example, it’s worth remembering that Baines has not been below 134 points aside from his injury season of 2015/16 since 2009/10; 135 points last year and 139 points in 2014/15.  In the FPL’s “creativity” sorting category he is seventh among defenders.  It’s also worth noting that while everyone derides Wayne Rooney for not being the player he once was, he’s on 4 goals in 9 games,  over a schedule which has included trips to Manchester City, Manchester United, and Chelsea and home games v. Tottenham and Arsenal.  Let’s just say the schedule has not been optimal for Everton fantasy points.

The Everton schedule clears considerably now: lei, WAT, cry, sou, WHU, HUD, liv, new, SWA before Chelsea come to Goodison December 23.   If they can bring in a manager who can organise the talent and raise the spirit, Everton should have no trouble exiting the relegation zone.  And caretaker manager David Unsworth did seem to rally the side to a good – albeit losing – effort Wednesday v. Chelsea in the league cup.  Which brings us to this week’s differential . . .

The Differential.

We are going out on a limb here because the player’s stats register no goals and no assists so far this season.  But, as Tommy says, ‘he’s too good a player’ for that to continue.  Our man this week is Gylfi Sigurdsson.  He has sustained a series of price drops to 8.1 mil which really brings him unto the radar.  Sigurdsson was a late transfer window acquisition and without question his preseason was not optimal as it appeared increasingly likely he would leave Swansea City.  But he is undoubtedly up to full fitness this deep into the campaign and registered a goal (the gamewinner as it turned out) in the game v. Kosovo that sealed Iceland’s place in Russia.  Sigurdsson is on 16 key passes and 15 goal attempts in a season a bit shortened by his late arrival at Everton.  His points history over the last 3 seasons puts him in the upper echelons of  fantasy mids: 154, 158 points, and 181 points last season with a goal shy Swansea.  We look for the Icelandic talisman to kick on with Everton’s schedule improving.  And if Sigurdsson fails and Everton’s woes continue ?  Consider him a nice placeholder for the 8.0 mil Paul Pogba who is likely to return just around the time you’ve given Siggi a good hard  look.

From the Engine Room.

As is our wont, we’ve drifted down to the training ground, a short walk from the BoulStadWest, home to Stoosher FC.   The manager has given our returning talisman Sergio Aguero a couple of days off after his 120 minute exertions Tuesday night.  We had not expected our managerial colleague Pep Guardiola to treat us like that; giving our new man a start and a full 120 minutes in a league cup match.  I know how an international manager feels now, his superstars knackered after the club manager puts his star through every match leading to an international break.  An early transfer you say ?  Yes, we never learn but a 0.2 mil price flop seemed important to catch.  And, we didn’t expect Pep to . . . ah well.

We’ve thanked Romelu Lukaku for his service.  He has been a steady influence; even his penalty miss was a nice touch a few weeks back – we’d laid the armband on Harry Kane.  Lukaku may be back; it may be a case of musical chairs with Aguero, Morata and Lukaku this season.  It’s hard to say now.

The lads look in good form and there is a bit of a buzz among the group.  Only our second green arrow of the season has lifted everyone’s spirits a bit.  Marco Alonso is stepping into some tackles and getting down the wing in our 5 v. 5 sessions; he will feel relieved it was Lukaku let go and not him this week.  The Spaniard knows we are looking for more and the next week or two are crucial to his place in the side.

We’ve not sorted the armband and have been looking for a few clues in the training session.  None of us really fancy Harry Kane against a resolute Manchester United defense and we have no Liverpool assets to exploit in their fine fixture.  Despite an overall rank that places us with an entire fleet of ghost ships, last week we played it “safe” and went with Lukaku v. Harry Kane.  No guts, no glory, as I often say.  We may take a chance then on Sergio Aguero; Tuesday night may have simply been Pep’s effort to get his talisman some minutes to raise his fitness.  And surely, after last week’s Sterling debacle, Pep owes us one.

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Mr. Hindsight stood up and adjusted his coat. Then he said, more in pity than anger: "The 'Minus Eight Saloon' is no place for you, kid", and then he quietly walked out of the bar.