Stag’s Take – Gameweek 3
After the goal rush of the opening gameweek of the season came a crashing return to reality in Gameweek 2 for FPL managers, as the average points total for the week plummeted from 58 to 44. The well-touted Kevin De Bruyne and Harry Kane resembled beached whales in squads, taking up gargantuan fractions of one’s overall budget for pithy returns. Aside from those big names failing to fire once again, Manchester United’s second consecutive 4-0 victory and Marcos Alonso’s single-handed defeat of Spurs were the FPL headlines – my take on United assets, Alonso, and more are to come in this week’s piece.
A United midfield
With 23 points off a pair of both goals and assists, Paul Pogba (8.2) is currently the joint-highest scorer in FPL, alongside an unlikely candidate, Ahmed Hegazi (4.7). However, he has arguably been outperformed with regard to potential FPL points by his teammate, Henrikh Mkhitaryan (8.2) even though the Armenian currently trails him by two points overall.
So, if you’re in the unfathomable position of having neither player, which should you get? The greatest pro for Pogba is his guaranteed game time. As a world-record signing and general powerhouse, he is less susceptible to the rotation antics of Mourinho. However for me, I am sticking with my previous endorsement of Mkhi. He has been playing as a central attacking midfielder, often drifting ahead of striker Romelu Lukaku when United fly forward on the counter while Pogba is more withdrawn, usually released by the late introduction of Herrera off the bench as we saw against Swansea in Gameweek 2. Thus, while Pogba has more shots inside the box at this moment in time with four compared to Mkhi’s meagre one, I believe this order will revert with time.
Furthermore Mkhi takes many of United’s free-kicks, some of which have contributed to his team-leading 6 key passes (Pogba has 4) and he has more assists than anybody else in the PL so far with 4. All in all, if you don’t want a United defender and thus could pick up the pair of midfielders to partner Lukaku in your team - do. However, I think Mkhi has the edge in the long run as United’s easy opening run of fixtures continues.
Hornets packed with sting
Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that Marco Silva has begun to work miracles at Vicarage Road having seen his exemplary work at doomed Hull City last season, but converting Walter Mazzarri’s miserable Watford into a side rich with pace, physicality, and technical ability in such a short period is still a shock. Banished to the dugout are slower players like Deeney and Capoue, in their place is Chalobah, Andre Gray and Brazilian starlet Richarlison. In all, Watford have scored the second most goals of all teams (5) and are ranked fifth for shots inside the box with 19 – both are good underlying indicators that their scoring won’t dry up.
Gray has already looked like a worthwhile addition to the side by getting in position for a few decent chances and making space by drawing defenders but it’s 4.5 midfielder Nathaniel Chalobah and Richarlison (6.0) who look like the real deal for FPL.
Chalobah has been very attacking, making a nuisance of himself in his first two PL matches and rifling off six attempts on goal plus the gilted-edged opportunity he hilariously didn’t take thanks to Harry Arter’s call last weekend. For those wildcarding, the former Chelsea man should outstrip Tom Carroll of struggling Swansea and at least match any returns from Ruben Loftus-Cheek, both of whom also come in at 4.5.
Richarlison’s stats from last weekend highlight that he is a different level on his day. In 79 minutes at the Vitality Stadium, he scored once from one of his six shots while creating opportunities for teammates with two crosses. He contributed to the overall side too, with 74% pass accuracy, 4 aerial duel wins, and three tackles. His eye-catching skillset which he used to terrorise Adam Smith time and time again will be sure to give the defender nightmares for the rest of the season. I’m strongly considering bringing the Brazilian in ahead of the home encounter with Brighton this weekend. Marco Silva said last weekend: “He’s a talent (sic) but he’s a player who comes every day to work hard and I’m happy. We have to be calm with him, he’s a young boy experiencing his first moments in Europe, and he doesn’t speak one word of English. But it’s not a surprise for me how he played.” Thankfully, Nathaniel Chalobah has assured us that Richarlison “speaks fluent football” already!!
A brace last weekend means that the 83.5% of us that still don’t have Marcos Alonso can’t continue to plough on with our blindfolds firmly in place. If you read this column last week then I forced to you to peek through the blinkers so you’ll know that Alonso averaged a touch in the box every 9 minutes in the first weekend of the season, equal to Romelu Lukaku against West Ham! If you didn’t read or just didn’t heed my warning (I didn’t either!), then you watched in horror as the Spaniard gave a vintage performance.
Already, Alonso leads the PL’s defenders for shots, shots in the box, and shots on target, as he did in 2016/17 after only earning a starting position post Conte’s GW7 shift to 343! With his attacking threat as (basically) an OOP left-winger, he’s a must have. Already, it seems that Alonso will better his 5 goals and 6 assists accrued last term, especially when he is permitted to unleash his sweet left foot on more free-kicks like we saw against Spurs. He has scored three times and hit the bar 5 times with his last ten frees. Nigh on 200,000 teams have transferred him in ahead of Gameweek 3 – do you fancy being left behind?
Harry Kane (Burnley H)
For the first time this season, Romelu Lukaku does not occupy the “captain obvious” berth in my armband tips! This time, I’m opting for consecutive golden boot winner Harry Kane instead. The fact that he has never scored a Premier League game in August or that Spurs have suffered a string of unfortunate results while using Wembley as a home ground doesn’t bother me, I believe those are good media talking points and pure coincidence as opposed to major factors which we should be taking into account.
Last weekend against champions Chelsea, Kane had 8 shots, hitting the woodwork for the second time this season with one and seeing three equalled by Courtois. It was his largest shot tally without scoring in the PL… ever. Kane has had 14 efforts over the first two gameweeks, 11 of which came from inside the box. Frankly, his goal drought can’t continue against Burnley, who were notably poor on the road last season and who failed to perform in Gameweek 2 against West Brom.
Romelu Lukaku (Leicester H)
Sure, he may not be my number one pick for the captaincy this week but he’s still likely to be the most popular option and he is very likely to score. Leicester looked good defensively last weekend against a toothless Brighton outfit, but they were exposed on a number of occasions at the Emirates by Arsenal in Gameweek 1, throwing away a win and then a draw in the process.
United are the top scoring side in the league this season with Rom, Pogba, Mkhi, Rashford, and Martial off the bench creating headaches which Harry Maguire and co won’t be able to handle. Safe pick, probably a goal and maybe more – if you’re feeling lucky then go for a United midfielder.
Sergio Aguero (Bournemouth A)
Mad how Sergio is not considered a safe option but such is the strength of the Top Six offences already that Pep’s much-fancied bookies favourites are already lagging behind.
Aguero has only had just four efforts this season, scoring once and missing a sitter. However, the early substitution of Gabriel Jesus in GW2 at least proves that the Argentine is still Pep’s first choice for the near future and thus he is more guaranteed game time than we thought.
As always with Aguero, his contributions to his teammates is a the cherry on top for his fantasy potential, as was illustrated in GW2 against Everton when he provided the pass for four compatriots to have shots on goal, the joint most for the weekend.
Bournemouth have had a tough start to the campaign, defeated in two games they would have hoped to win against West Brom and Watford, failing to look truly threatening in either encounter but looking very vulnerable, especially against the Hornets. The Cherries have had one of the most open defences of all this term, conceding the second most shots in their box, 24, of all teams. City could run riot on their travels.
Stag has been providing #FPL Tips since July 2015 and has been a contributor for Rotoworld.com since August 2016. He is a self-proclaimed wannabe fantasy football genius, a student, and die-hard tea enthusiast.