Welcome to the AM's Players To Watch for Gameweek 9. As long-time readers of my columns will know, my advice in seasons gone by had revolved around games that would allow you to make unlimited transfers each gameweek, selecting an entirely new 11 players if you so wished. Unfortunately Yahoo Fantasy Premier League is a glorious but distant memory, while Togga, sadly, was not able to return for this campaign which put an end to the Perfect XI column I'd been penning for the past two years.
This season I'll be a bit more general in my advice. Whether you're playing Official FPL, FPL or Fantrax Draft, Fantrax Salary Cap, Sky Sports, The Sun, The Telegraph or any number of other the fantasy games available to fans each season, I'll be offering my top five picks for the week ahead, mixing "must-haves" with hunch picks and players flying under the radar. Hopefully this will offer something for everyone, whether you're considering captain options, looking to make a transfers or pick up a free agent in draft.
Before we move on to Gameweek 9 I'd like to thank the awesome Chuck (@ChuckBoothSport) for covering this column over the past two cycles of matches while I was on vacation, and then on my sick bed. He did an excellent job and I hope you all followed his advice.
Here are your fixtures ...
Saturday 20 October
Chelsea v Man Utd
Bournemouth v Southampton
Cardiff v Fulham
Man City v Burnley
Newcastle v Brighton
West Ham v Spurs
Wolves v Watford
Huddersfield v Liverpool
Sunday 21 October
Everton v Crystal Palace
Monday 22 October
Arsenal v Leicester
Liverpool away at Huddersfield and Manchester City hosting Burnley leap off the page. I also like Bournemouth at home to Southampton, Wolves at home to Watford, Everton hosting Palace and Arsenal at home to Leicester. With that in mind, here are the players ....
Richarlison (MF - Everton v Crystal Palace) - With Cenk Tosun misfiring Marco Silva has decided to solve his striking problems by moving Richarlison in to the number 9 role, and boy is it paying off. The £50 million summer signing has four Premier League goals to his name already despite missing the best part of three matches through suspension and his link up play with the likes of Gylfi Sigurdsson, Theo Walcott and the masterful Bernard has been a joy to behold. Crystal Palace are the visitors to Goodison Park this weekend and Roy Hodgson's men are likely to be without Wilfried Zaha, so the Toffees should dominate proceedings with Richarlison causing the bulk of the problems for the Eagles' defence.
Matt Doherty (DF - Wolves v Watford) - This is not points-chasing; Matt Doherty has been consistently excellent for Wolves since they took the leap in to the Premier League. Defensive solidity is only one part of the Irishman's game, with his storming runs up the right flank catching the eye and helping his side to a truly impressive start to the season. A goal, two assists and four clean sheets in the opening eight games tells the story and a home game against Watford provides Doherty the opportunity to enhance those stats further.
James Milner (MF - Liverpool @ Huddersfield) - When Liverpool spent a massive wedge of cash on a host of new midfielders over the summer it was safe to assume that James Milner's game time would be limited this season. Milner had other ideas. Reports suggest the ex-England man came back for pre-season already fitter than most players are when the season kicks-off and impressed Jurgen Klopp so much that he was pencilled in as a starter and given the vice-captaincy. Milner's performances have justified this decision and he's wrestled penalty duty away from some star names along the way. With doubts remaining over the fitness of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane I'd lean towards Milner as a differential for the Reds' extremely winnable game at Huddersfield.
EDIT: There are now injury doubts over many of Liverpool's usual starting XI; Salah, Mane, Keita, Van Dijk and Milner are all struggling for this weekend. Perhaps this opens the door to someone like Xherdan Shaqiri? We'll know more after Friday's press conference.
Josh King (FW - Bournemouth v Southampton) - Wilson or King? King or Wilson? It's a question that's been running through my head all week with high-flying Bournemouth hosting struggling Southampton. You really need one of them. Callum Wilson has been the more dangerous of the two strikers from open play, but King seems to have secured penalty duty and bagged his first non-penalty of the season in the 0-4 thrashing of Watford before the international break. Eddie Howe's men are creating so many chances that neither is a bad bet given the fixture, but King takes it on the line due to his low ownership (5% in FPL) vs his strike partner's (20%). Now watch Wilson bag a hattrick.
Aaron Ramsey (MF - Arsenal v Leicester) - Both Unai Emery and Aaron Ramsey have decided to put the latter's contract wrangle behind them for the sake of the team, and it's working. Ramsey has been showing glimpses of his phenomenal form of the 2015/16 season and came off the bench in Gameweek 8 to inspire Arsenal to a rout over Fulham, bagging a goal and assist in less than 30 minutes on the pitch. Confidence is high at the Emirates after nine straight victories in all competitions and I expect them to overcome Leicester comfortably, with the Welshman pulling the strings in an attacking midfield role behind Alexandre Lacazette.
Captain Choice: Sergio Aguero (Man City v Burnley) - Had Salah been confirmed 100% fit before this column was written then he may have challenged for the captain spot, but alas, there is too much doubt at this time. It therefore falls to Mr Aguero to take the captain's armband for the fourth time this season, at home to Burnley, where anything less than a brace will be a disappointment.
That's it for Gameweek 9. Check out the Rotoworld Features page to access a host of fantastic content to get you ready for the new season. If you have any questions about a specific player or your own fantasy team then feel free to post them in the comments below or hit me on Twitter (@nikarg) and I will get back to you.
Thanks for reading - good luck to all managers this weekend.