So I saw It over the weekend, and while I didn’t even come close to crapping my pants in fear (thanks hangover!), I’m about 99% sure that Harry Kane’s fear of August shares a creepy amount of commonalities with that homicidal crazed clown creature; both of them enjoy floating through open space (Kane on the pitch; the clown in a mind-altering expanse of sewer pipe only Mario would be jealous of), speaking in weird accents (seriously, listen to Harry Kane give an interview sometime), have an affinity for the color white (duh), and lastly, they both enjoy making red balloons go POP! (metaphorically speaking, that would be the hopes/dreams of all Gunner fans everywhere; FFS that’s not a spoiler! he’s a clown, he owns balloons!) Whether or not the fear of August (Augustamphobia?) has an actual effect on Kane’s past performances (it doesn’t), it’s good to see him conquering his “fears” and getting on the board with a brace, a very important and necessary step as he looks to become only the third player in Premier League history to win three consecutive Golden Boots. The other two are Prem Legends Alan Shearer and Thierry Henry, who were 24 and 26, respectively, when they won the first of their three Botas Doradas. Kane just turned 24 this past July and has two under the belt. To paraphrase another mildy entertaining movie, you’re [once again] a wizard, Harryyyy!
Away: Spurs (3) – Home: Everton (0)
Kane is back, and if you ever really doubted him then GTFO. His first goal was a complete joke, but when you’re that good, sometimes it takes an errant cross to get buried in the back of the net for your to break out of whatever weird voodoo hex has been placed upon him. Eriksen also buried a goal, albeit an easy ball bouncing around the penalty area, but also much deserved given how much work he puts in on both sides of the ball for Tottenham. Moving forward, tough decisions will have to be made about how to best fit in Eriksen/Kane/Alli/Spurs Defenders with your team, since 3 from each squad is the limit and resources are still tight, it will probably be best to go with two attacking options and one defensive player.
You want the defensive player (Ben Davies looked great this match) because their next 4 matches are juicy like a Capri Sun: Swansea (H), West Ham (A), Huddersfield (A) and Bournemouth (H). Spurs looked in vintage form and very comfortable all game on the road, so while we may be confident that they will most likely smash Hammers and Hudders away from home, we’ll only have a good feel about their form once we take into account how they start and finish this next stretch versus Swansea and Bournemouth, and if there is any truth to the matter of them playing poorly in Wembley.
Remember that Champions League matches start this week, so there will be rotation (or at the very least players getting subbed out earlier in matches). Alli is nailed on for Prem matches because he has to serve a 3-match ban from last season’s UCL season, but besides that you should probably expect Llorente to play a bit in Kane’s stead, most likely to be featured as a starter over the weekend versus either Swansea and/or West Ham. For me, that is all the more reason to figure out how to have a Spurs defender, and not go crazy spending all your petty cash to bring in Kane quite yet. Wait, because the season is long and full of goals.
From the Everton side, I only really thought that Leighton Baines looked fine attacking as their left wing back. Sigurdsson is too expensive to bring in over other similarily priced MFs. After they play ManU next week, they get to face the triple Bs: Bournemouth (H), Burnely (H) and Brighton (A). Either Baines, Keane or Pickford would be great selections for your team for that three week stretch if you are looking to bring in a fresh defender with great odds at short-term cleansheet points. Oh, and if you want to believe the narrative, then go ahead and transfer in Wayne Rooney for his return to Ol’ Trafford when he returns to vintage Ol’ Wazza and bags a hat trick.
Away: Watford (2) – Home: Southampton (0)
Two takeaways from this game for me: 1) Watford is finding ways to get results, having taken points in all four matches and 2) So’ton cannot attack.
Watford played a much better first half than Southampton, as the Saints didn’t register their first shot until the 53 minute marker. Richarlison was having his way with defenders again on the left wing, and was getting into the penalty area with realtive ease. He also lead Watford with 8 tackles (out of 19 total), tracking back on defense throughout the game. Both of Watford’s goals were severely curved shots moving away from So’ton’s goalkeeper Fraser Forster, who looked very very slow to react on both shots. Certainly a number of bodies were between him and Doucouré‘s screamer, but he absolutely should have gotten a save or at least a touch on Daryl Janmaat’s goal scored just moments after being brought in for Kiko Femenía.
As far as Watford assets go, I currently have Richarlison on my side, but he hasn’t returned results in a few weeks and might be on his way out if I need to move to a cheaper 4th MF. I was impressed with Doucouré’s involvement all match (he had a 90% pass success rate, with 54/60 passes!!!), but both of his goals this year have been relatively lucky, especially his first goal that was casually bouncing around in the box versus Liverpool in GW1. After next week’s home fixture to Man City, they do play away to Swansea and West Brom in GWs 6/7, followed by a brutal stretch of City, Arsenal, Chelsea, Stoke and Everton. Yikes!
The best I can say is to look at some of their lower end MFs, as Chalobah (£4.5), Doucouré (£5.2) and Cleverley (£5.0) have all gone the complete 90 minutes for all 4 matches and are all options at the end of your bench if you’re sick of Tom Carroll. Andre Carrillo (£5.5) – brought in from Benfica at the end of the transfer window – played all 90 minutes in his 2nd match with the club, and his 3rd match in 8 days after playing in two South American WC qualifiers with the Peruvian national side. He was very good on the right side, replacing Amrabat with relative ease and actually earning the highest player rating at 8.1/10 according to advance metrics at whoscored.com. Keep your eye on him as the season progresses and he continues to see regular minutes in the Watford attack that has looked very good with Marco Da Silva pulling the strings.
Southampton are not a team I am looking to buy, and Virgil van Dijk is nowhere near returning soon – reports from his U-23 match versus Aston Villa sound like he was partially to blame for 3 of their 4 goals scored against them. More importantly, their biggest problems are up top in the attack. They have yet to look composed or played in any attacking fashion, and I will not bring in a single forward or midfield player of theirs until they do something about it during the January transfer window. On the defensive end, as I mentioned early, keeper Fraser Forster looked really slow, which is unfortunate for me as I started both him and Ryan Bertrand for this match. However, I will most likely be hanging onto both of them, as they are away to Crystal Palace next week, then home to ManU, followed by a ridicuilous string of carefree and fun fixtures that will all end in nil-nil draws: Stoke (A), Newcastle (H), West Brom (H), Brighton (A), Burnley (H). I want at least one player from their defense for those matches, but keep clear of the rest.
Away: Liverpool (0) – Home: Man City (5)
This game changed when Sadio Mané’s foot karate chopped the living (inanimate?) bone structure out of Ederson’s face. Prior to the card, Aguero had scored the opening goal of the match, something he’s done six out of six times versus Liverpool at home. All and all, it remained a tightly contested, 1-nil match. Then came the red card which was well-deserved because yes, even unintentionally kicking someone in the face when going for a 50/50 long ball on the break should be illegal, and it completely led to Man City having their way with Liverpool.
Kevin de Bruyne had his footprint all over the first two goals, and looked much more explosive and in attacking form in this match. Kun Aguero and Jesus played very well together up top, and Leroy Sane‘s two goals were absolute stunners. The passing combinations between him and Benjamin Mendy were extremely crisp and with amazing pace, and they tore up the 10-man Liverpool defense.
Five of Man City’s next six fixtures are good – Watford (A), Crystal Palace (H), Chelsea (A), Stoke (H), Burnley (H), West Brom (A) – but I’m still not sold they are a side to bring in for clean sheets. Attackers, however, are definitely in vogue, it just remains a difficult and nearly impossible decision on who to bring in, given what we know about Pep’s love of rotating players and Champions League starting up this week. If you trust that their attack is back – and there is no reason not to – go with Aguero or Jesus and don’t look back. Jesus makes more sense to me since he is a full million cheaper, but either way don’t compalin one bit when they are benched a few times in the next several gameweeks because now you know better than to assume they are a lock for 90 every week.
Likewise, if you want a MF from this team, I would probably go with the cheaper options of David Silva (£8.1) or Leroy Sane (£8.2) over de Bruyne just so you don’t tie up any money in a player that might get benched. I know KDB has played every match so far, but Champions League rotations will change everything. If I had my pick, I would probably bring in one of their wing backs, as Benjamin Mendy or Kyle Walker look like constant threats for assists and should contribute at a rate similar to what you hope to get from Alonso, albeit with less odds for a cleansheet. Danilo has looked good when he’s played, but he most likely loses his spot once Kompany is fit again.
With Mané suspended, I whole heartedly believe Phillipe Coutinho will return to playing in the Premier League this upcoming weekend. He scored an amazing goal for Brazil during the international break, and Liverpool need to rebound in a bad way, and will only do so with their best player from last season leading the way. Now that his price tag has dropped to £8.8, I think we will see a lot of managers bringing him in if he sits out in Liverpool’s match versus Sevilla later today. He could end up being a steal and the obvious choice over Salah or Mané if they put up more performances with a fullsided team like they did versus Arsenal.
Bobby Digital blanked. Sorry about it, but don’t sell, because he’s still the best priced forward in the £7.5-£9.0. Don’t sell him.