The highest scoring matches this week both ended up being shutouts, and GW 3 ended with 9 teams acquring clean sheets, almost 10 until Burnley’s late equalizer to tie Spurs. Certainly, all of those defensive clean sheets must have given some FPL managers a huge boost if their attacking returns over the weekend were less than imagined. If you didn’t manage to pick up any clean sheets, then you defensive options may not be the best moving forward, but I wouldn’t burn your wild card trying to sort them out. Why? Clean sheets are litterally a crap shoot to predict, so wild carding just because your defense let you down doesn’t make any sense – save it for the higher priced forwards and midfielders you’d like to bring in over the next few weeks.
Here are some notes on players I like/dislike from Game Week 3:
Away: Burnley (1) – Home: Spurs (1)
Harry Kane is doing the Premier League/Wembley equivalent of the Madden curse…but just for August. If you’ve already played Kane for the past three game weeks, then I’m sorry you had to watch him blank again with your money. However, the two-time defending golden boot winner will score in droves at some point soon this season, and his price dropping now from managers losing interest will undoubtedly make him an even easier selection. Their next stretch of fixtures is quite tantalizing – Everton (A), Swansea (H), West Ham (A), Huddersfield (A), Bournemouth (H) – and I firmly elieve that their away fixtures should be just a good of a shout as the Spurs playing at home, at least until they have sorted out whatever issues exist from playing games at Wembley. I say you keep running the Spurs players out there based on their opponent and leave home/away out of the decision making process.
Despite all the talk about Mr. Goalless in August, Dele Alli was the Spurs player to score, banging home a goal after a fortuitous reflection found its way back to his feet after his own shot was blocked. Alli is primed to score many more goals this season, especially when Tottenham get their offense firing on all cyilinders. However, he is still a young enough player that often disappers for long stretches, so just remember that he may be one of those high-priced MF that constantly flirts with being traded out from your team, only to bag 15 points over a weekend and forcing you to keep him more.
The Spurs attack once again flowed through the great Dane, Christian Eriksen, who was unlucky to find net himself and had opportunities to shine throughout the match. He is currently the safest option if you want to have a Spurs attacking player, and will hopefully have him featured on my squad throughout the rest of the season.
More concerning, however, was the Spurs’ inability to cleap a cleansheet at home to a potential regulation-bound opponent. They had the game all but sown up, and then fantasy darling Kieran Trippier proceeded to let a garbage time goal have them lose out on a full 3 points. While this is very disappointing for all of you managers with Spurs defenders, hopefully it remains a minor blip in the radar for a side that should be able to produce quite a few clean sheets moving forward. For me, it is performances like this one that convince me to hold off on using the wild card, so I can see how defenses and their potential rotations are functioning before deciding to throw out a new fantasy alignment.
Ultimately, I believe the Spurs’ attack will be fine, and my recommendation would be to wait another gameweek to see if Kane has turned the corner. If his price suddenly surges, at least now he is low enough and you hopefully have a few extra .1 or .2 saved to help bring him back into the fold.
Away: Arsenal (0) – Home: Liverpool (4)
This match goes to show everyone that being patient in FPL – and just in life in general – usually will reward you handsomely. After getting transferred out very heavily due to his rotation and consequential lack of gametime in the previous week, Mohmaed Salah netted a goal, assist and a cleansheet for 11 points. His ability to start and sustain an will certainly be necessary for Liverpool to keep pace with its main Premier League competitotrs this season, and if Coutinho does indeed leave for Bacelona in the next few days, he is about as sure as it comes to being an attacking midfielder on a high scoring squad.
That being said, I still prefer the Senegales playmaker Mané, who has scored in all three Premier League games this season, mainly because of his familiarity with Klopp’s system and his ability to acquire bonus points. Salah takes too many poor shots to sustain bonus points in the FPL system, as everyone one taken that falls off target counts against his total. One of these two MFs will most likely be on your team soon enough, with my recommendatoin being to pair Mané with forward Roberto Firmino.
Arsenal’s entire backline is a horrid mess right now, so any thought of investing in them must be completely put on hold. Likewise, I wouldn’t plan to purchase a single Arsenal player until after international duty is over with and buried out of sight. Alexis Sanchez, who looked bored and ineffective in his first match back of the year in the Premier League, may or may not turn everything on once the circus around his transfer treatment disappears. He is clearly one to continue to monitor, and cannot be simply forgotten about in the upcoming weeks, especially with saavy FPL managers that will certainly be able to reap the benefits of his falling price point.
Away: West Ham (0) – Home: Newcastle (3)
This match was by far the least anticipated result of the day. Newcastle, promoted this season from the EFL championship, scored their first goals of the season, finishing with three for the day and reminding their fans that they are indeed capable of putting goals at the back of the net. Joselu scored the first goal from a great pass by Christian Atsu, who recognized his fast-paced counter attack had gotten him cornered into a very tough shot and deftly passed the ball to his teammate. Without having seen a ton of Newcastle games over the past few years, it would seem that Atsu might find himself leading the fastbreak counterattack several more times this season as he helps spark the Newcastle offense.
One player to keep an eye on from Newcastle is 4.0m Defender Chancel Mbemba, who now has 11 points in 3 games with 1 cleansheet. Anything 2 points or more for a 4.0mdefendre is gravy, so consider those stats and future fixtures to be a reason this budget midfielder could be a staple in your early season fantasy team.
More pressing from this game is the current West Ham situation. After three straight losses to start the season, the Hammers desperately need to return home and pick up points versus an unbeaten (and yet to have been scored on) Huddersfield side that is playing great football. The problem is, home for the Hammers is the London Stadium, which they moved into last year and played rather poorly in at times. A few good things happened for the Hammers this match: Lanzini came into the game at half-time, and seemed to play fine with the team, and Antonio is now back and playing as well. Both MF are great value, especially if you need to downgrade and save cash moving on from KDB. Together, those two should make up one of best attacking MF pairings this season, but it might take the firing of their manager for them to truly take off and soar.