2019/20 Premier League: GW8 Starting XI

Key injury headed into GW7 comes in the form of Kevin De Bruyne, who was confirmed out by Pep and expected back by October 19, in time for GW9. That news in hand, I see no reason to waste a transfer on the Belgian, as we wait for further information out of the international break. The other player who’s flagged headed into the game week, Todd Cantwell, nowhere near as important as KDB, but has found way into 27.2% of FPL teams. Regardless of his inclusion this weekend, my starting XI is set without having to use a FT.

Having already used my first wild card ahead of GW3, I’ve been making “smart” transfers, attempting to give players I bring in more than a week or two, while avoiding the propensity to “chase points.” Those two factors alone have seen my team value (TV) shoot to £103.1! That’s a million more than where I was this time, last season. This is also the third time I’ve rolled my FT. Much like the last international break, I feel it will be more worthwhile, if it’s need ahead of GW9 when Premier League action returns.

For the fourth consecutive week I will run out a 3-4-3 formation, with Cantwell listed at “75% chance of playing.” The Canaries midfielder has been my fifth midfielder much of the season,  participating in just two games for an underwhelming 4 points. This is a team that can’t seem to score away from Carrow Road, but it works out this weekend at home against a rather poor Villa side, so his inclusion is important, but only when compared to who’s coming off the bench.

Martin Kelly returned to Palace’s starting XI in place of Mamadou Sakho, who’s injured…again and returned a clean sheet. He gets the nod over Çaglar Söyüncü, as Leicester City travel to Anfield and I don’t see the Foxes keeping a clean sheet. The last eight times these teams have met, there has been just one in which one of these teams didn’t score. That was a 2-0 Leicester win in the 2017 League Cup. While Kelly is away at the London Stadium, I am not overly impressed with how West Ham is playing, while Palace has kept clean sheets against Everton, Villa and Norwich, all at home.

Oleksandr ZInchenko remains a concern in my book, not sold on the defender being a Pep regular in the starting XI, as he’s already been dropped once this season. However, I feel confident with Mendy playing quite a bit over the last week. Confidence isn’t high as City host Wolves, who are always dangerous on the attack, but will be without Diogo Jota, which could bode well for City and their CS potential. John Lundstram has also been drafted into the starting XI solely because Sheffield United are playing the league’s worst team, Watford.

If Cantwell plays, he lines up next to Mo Salah, Raheem Sterling and Mason Mount for GW8. Sterling and Salah are among the league leaders in total points and both feature at home this weekend. Sterling picked up a goal last week and Wolves aren’t the strongest defensively, feel he is a good play this weekend for a return. Salah continues to lose ownership, I can only compare this to Sterling losing ownership after the Watford game. Some 389k managers came off him because of his benching. Salah and the Reds still have some favorable fixtures, but he’s dropped approximately 20k managers ahead of home fixture against Leicester City. Mount returned an assist last week an Chelsea are in the middle of some excellent fixtures as they travel to St. Mary’s this weekend. Saints are conceding an average of two goals per game, at home, this could be the weekend Tammy Abraham gets back on track!

Up front I roll with the same starting forwards I’ve had since GW5; Teemu Pukki, Sébastien Haller and Tammy Abraham, as this threesome has combined for just one assist the last two weeks. Pukki and Haller at home as West Ham, I feel, have the toughest fixture facing a pesky Crystal Palace defense. I’m high on Pukki at Carrow Road, as Villa have conceded seven goals on the road this season, while Pukki’s scored five of his own at home. Abraham is still the target in the middle for Chelsea, as he’s posted seven goals on the season. He and Mount continue to see their ownership numbers climb, as they’ve gained nearly 400k new owners this week.

Expectations, as they are each week are running high. Fixtures appear good on paper, but that really hasn’t equated to big points the last few weeks, as I continue to wallow in the red.  At the bank, I am backing on 20 points and hoping to pick up three clean sheets. The midfield has continued to perform but feel I’ve been setting their expectation a bit high. This week I am hoping for 35-40 points (2G/2A) from the midfielder four, if Cantwell plays. Up front expecting 4 goals, as Haller could be playing in his final game for my starting XI.

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