Oddly comforting is how I describe this 5-man defensive adventure I have set out on this season. As I’ve mentioned all week on the Pitch & Pint Podcast, as well in numerous articles on 6thGoal, this team is playing well. Honestly, can you ask anymore from a week to week than green arrows? Four of them! Count them, four with very little thought or effort, one would think this game was easy. Okay, I won’t go that far. While OR is the indicator FPL managers base their team success on, one could argue this team isn’t successful because of their 1.5M rank. Honestly, that’s one week of good football and remember we’ve been without Kevin De Bruyne, who missed GW5 and who’s two prior games were both no returns. This team isn’t that far off from where my expectations lie.
As I write this starting XI article, I’ve still not made my free transfer for the week but appears that Carlo Ancelotti has been posturing this week with the James Rodriguez injury. Unlike that out of control tackle from Pickford, this “phantom injury” could have been a way to deflect “The Pickford Incident.” Not the first time a Premier League manager talks out both sides of his mouth in a five day span from, player injury, not starting this week to, he just might start.” So to those 350k managers who transferred him out. Lesson learned.
Had I enough ITB, then a potential move to Heung-min Son might have been in the cards, but wanting to stay with a 5-man defense, the long term injury to van Dijk is more pressing. While I still have two replacement players in mind, I am going to take a bit more time before I make a decision. We know what Patrick van Aanholt bring to the league, FPL and Crystal Palace. The Eagles wing back has yet to play a game, but made the bench last week in the 1-1 draw against Brighton. Had Ben Chilwell been healthy to start this season after moving from Leicester CIty, he would have already been in my starting XI. Chilwell has started the last two games picking up a goal, two assists and a clean sheet. One of the factors I am taking into consideration, Edouard Mendy is back fit and will return to face Manchester United.
Up front I remain unchanged with Dominic Calvert-Lewin, currently on a 5-game scoring streak, picking up his league leading 7th goal in the Merseyside Derby. The news that James Rodriguez “could” play this week only strengthens the case that DCL could pick up some more attacking returns. The van Dijk injury means I hold Raul Jimenez for another week, as the Mexican returned the game winner on Monday, 1-0 over Leeds United. However, his performance was a cause for concern, as there was very little service for the forward. It’s something to watch, but looking at their upcoming fixtures I could see holding him through GW9 (NEW/CRY/lei/SOU) with three homes games in the next four weeks.
While there are two players flagged, I’ve got no intentions of moving off Mo Salah, my season long captain, Kevin De Bruyne or James Rodriguez. The door for moving KDB closed when I did not bring in Son last week, at this point, it would be a one week wasted transfer, so I will hold the Belgian and hope he started. The news was better for Rodriguez, nothing but lip service from Ancelotti. Tomas Soucek will be my first bench player, followed by Steven Alzate. This week’s result will hinge on what happens with my two flagged midfielders.
Defensively, its going to Emiliano Martinez in goal, consider him the Dean Henderson of last year and Villa is playing in a similar vein to how Sheffield United did, last season. I do back Villa this week for a clean sheet against Leeds United.
This week I’ve got confidence that Liverpool might actually pick up their second clean sheet, playing the Blades at Anfield. Now that isn’t without some concern missing van Dijk and Alisson. This is a Sheffield United team that has just two goals on the season, so there could be some inclination to buy Joe Gomez (5.4) for a one week punt. It will be Andrew Robertson, being the best Liverpool defender this season to anchor my premium defense. Nelson Semedo, on the back of a CS against Leeds retains his position, at home against Newcastle. Another game I like for a clean sheet. While Burnley hasn’t been good, Sergio Reguilon played very well last week, adding his first assist, but at Turf Moor, Spurs might be able to pick up that first clean sheet on the season. The biggest concern is Kyle Walker and City traveling to the London Stadium to face West Ham.
Last week I predicted 65-72 points and came in at 66 point. Not bad, all things considered. This week I need the defense to come up with some strong performances against some “weaker” opposition. This week I think it’s going to be a combination of four clean sheets and one attacking return. However, as I stated, its going to be the midfield that makes or breaks me this week. One thing I do have going for are some good match ups, so I can only hope and look for a bit of luck to score. 67-75 points are my expectation this week with a major haul coming from #AlwaysCaptainSalah (30+ points). Good luck!
*EDIT* It’s no surprise I get the article written and posted and I have made my decision. While I think Chilwell is the short term selection after United and van Aanholt for the longer term, it’s going to be Joe Gomez, even with Adrian in goal, for a one week punt.