Premier League: GW9 Starting XI

Been sitting in front of the computer, here at work for 90 minutes now, finishing up Academica Vertex and The Art of the Dive and I am not much closer to a decision on the direction I want to go with my two free transfers. Based on Wednesday’s Premier League: GW9 Transfers, this decision seemed straight forward on the strategy I was looking to play. Now doubt and hesitation have started creeping him, much like that impending decision on who to captain. Mo Salah, away to Huddersfield or Kun Aguero, home to Burnley and the return of Joe Hart to the Eithad.
Two free transfers, so I thought were supposed to make decision making easier, but that doesn’t seem to be the case, as Friday pressers are in full swing. Question marks continue to surround my 15-man squad, as I have been a very patient FPL manager over the second international break, waiting to see how players returned to their clubs.

Ahead of this game week I have I have four players; Mo Salah, James Milner, Ryan Fraser and Wilfried Zaha carrying a yellow flag ahead of Saturday’s kickoffs. Marko Arnautovic, while not flagged is also a concern, as Manuel Pellegrini’s comments weren’t too positive surrounding the knock to him knee, “Marko is okay. He has worked with our squad without any problems. We must be careful with his knee, but it allows for him to play in games,” said the West Ham boss. That’s five players who are a concern in my starting XI.

Up front, I have decided to move Zaha, as it was going to happen next week. Comments out of Selhurst Park don’t look reassuring. In his place, Callum Wilson will get the start for the next two weeks. There are no intentions on holding him past that point, but we will show it works out. Arnautovic and Aguero both start up top with Wilson. Arnie is a minor concern, I do think he will start and play for 60-70 minutes, which is more then enough time to get it done, even against Spurs. Aguero has been touted as the captain selection this weekend, but since I own Salah, the Man City forward won’t wear the armband this weekend.

If Milner’s injury wasn’t enough, there’s a chance he set for a price drop tonight. While he’s featured in practice this week, there is some question if he is ready to return to first team action. While I want to hold the Liverpool man, I might be forced to drop him to a £5.0 option and bank the rest. Fraser will get the start in my 3-4-3 formation, but if he doesn’t start, then Ryan Bennett will be the first player off the bench. The last word I saw didn’t look to positive for Fraser, as Bournemouth host So’ton.

Lucas Moura against West Ham, who’s on his last hoorah on my squad, probably won’t get a reprieve next week. Hammers have been much improved the last few weeks and with Harry Kane playing a bit deeper, hopefully Moura can taste some success up front. Two of his attacking returns have come on the road. Next to Moura and it pains me to say this, Theo Walcott. You would have thought by now I would have moved him on, unfortunately, this is a practice in patience I continue to speak of. Walcott isn’t hurt or in danger of missing games because of yellow cards. He’s modestly priced on an Everton team that has scored 14 goals. He’s got assist and scoring potential, at home to Palace, could be a good lead in for Walcott. Would make managers think against about the former Gunner.

This week it’s STILL all about Salah. I haven’t lost faith in the Egyptian, as we continue to promote his “underlying stats” (one of those new buzzwords we love to hate in FPL) as being excellent, but his actual returns don’t match those stats, yet he’s not far off where he was this time last season. Huddersfield couldn’t come at a better time. Liverpool is banged up, Salah nicked on international duty, but the match up is just too tasty to give the armband to Aguero. This is a game week Salah needs to hit for a hat trick to make managers look in his direction again and make the midfield even more muddled then it already is.

Defensively, I continue to post excellent returns. The only decision I have to make, do I retain the services of Kyle Walker or bring back Ben Mendy, for a £0.3 savings. This was the reason Walker was brought in, knowing he wouldn’t drop in price and would allow me the funds to get the attack-minded Mendy back into the mix. If we base the decision purely off defensive returns, then clean sheet possibility is the same for both players, while they are separated by just one bonus points. Walker has the lone gone, but Mendy posted five assists in his first four games before being lost to injury. IF he can return to that form, then is makes good sense to get back on the Frenchman. Just very hard to make the lateral to bring him back in, which was part of my original plan.

Since I continue to stress patience and playing boring, this move seems logical, as Mendy’s numbers were good last week with Raheem Sterling playing ahead of him on the left side. This also gives me more ITB for the next round of moves in the come 3-4 weeks, which would feature a move to Eden Hazard and/or Kevin De Bruyne.

Regardless of which City defender I go with, Marcos Alonso and Andrew Robertson will both start this weekend in my back three. While I wanted to start Ryan Bennett, at home against a struggling Watford, he finds himself in the number one bench position. There is a good possibility Fraser won’t start or play, which could open up the door for Bennett’s inclusion as an automatic substitute at the end of the game week. There is a good chance Wolves return a clean sheet.

It’s been a good break, very little stress over decisions and my strategy moving forward. Looking to keep it consistent and finish above 60 points this week to make back the 15 points I am short of my 60 PPG average. Good luck to all FPL managers, it’s good to football back.

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