Christmas Shopping

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get a column out last week but I’m back this week to take a brief look into events to come over the coming weeks, as well as preview the looming Festive fixtures.

AFCON Watch

The African Cup of Nations is almost upon us and FIFA rules state that players must be released by clubs no later than the 2nd January. In previous years PL clubs have been able to negotiate and delay release until after fixtures on the 2nd January. It remains to be seen if this is the case again this year. We risk losing players from out Sky teams for up to 5 PL games as a result of the AFCON, so you should now be planning an exit strategy if you have any of the below ‘popular’ players:

Sadio Mane, Idrissa Gueye, Riyad Mahrez, Islam Slimani, Daniel Amartey, Sofianne Boufal, Wilf Bony, Lamine Kone, Papy Djilobdji, Andre Ayew, Cheik Kouyate

This list is not exhaustive and squads are not announced yet so some may or may not feature. Sadio Mane and Idrissa Gueye are certain to be departing though and this will affect a lot of teams. My top picks budget price picks for replacing Gueye in particular are below.

Enablers

The beauty of the bonus point system in Sky means cheap midfielders will almost always offer better points returns than similarly priced defenders, even without the potential of clean sheets. Consider that the 3 midfielders below have all scored more points so far than similarly priced defenders: Baines (38 pts -7.3m), McCauley (46 pts – 6.7m), Pieters (50 pts – 6.8m), C Daniels (51 pts – 6.8m), Van Aanholt (46pts -7.3m) to name just a few.

Harry Arter 6.6m – Arter has scored a solid 70 points so far, offering great value at just 6.6m. He’s managed to pick up bonus points on 11 separate occasions, along with a couple of assists and 2 MoM awards. Arter is a nailed on 90 minute man and looks a prime candidate for the enabler role to allow us to squeeze 3 of the heavy-hitting forwards into our teams.

Oriel Romeu 7.4m – Priced at 7.4m Romeu comes in at 0.8 more expensive than Harry Arter, and has scored 5 points less overall (65). Romeu has managed to pick up 14 bonus point awards and a single MoM award. Romeu has proved to be a key player for Southampton and is a key part of their lean defensive shape. Romeu is another who is nailed on and offers consistent bonus returns along with the occasional chance at a MoM award.

Adam Forshaw 6.3m – Forshaw is another cheap and cheerful midfield option who guarantees you security of starts and bonus potential. Forshaw has so far returned bonus points on 10 occasions, and thrown in 2 assists and a MoM award too. 61 points at just 6.3m, Forshaw is clearly a value option.


My Team

Gameweek Points: 57
Overall Points: 1201
Overall Position: 480

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Those who follow this column will note my team looks slightly different than it did a couple of weeks ago, as does the transfer count! After a rocky couple of weeks where I’ve been forced into making a number of transfers I’m now sat on 18. This is probably 2 less than I’d like at this stage, but given the events of the past couple of months I’m not too upset with my transfer situation. I’ll be revising my January 1st target down from 20 (!) to 16. I’m going to be spending a transfer to replace Idrissa Gueye, as reliable as he’s been for me I can’t realistically carry him throughout AFCON.

I’m likely to bring in Harry Arter, and use the cash to bring in Diego Costa & Aguero. Once Costa has the ban out of the way he looks formidable, he’s producing that beautiful combination of goals, assists and MoM awards like nobody else at the moment. There seems to be a trend with the MoM awards at the moment going to single goal match winners (Rose v Burnley, Sterling v Arsenal, Mane v Everton) – how many Costa match-winners can we expect in the coming months, 4 or 5 at least.

My other big move will be to bring Sergio Aguero back in. Aguero has somehow managed to miss 7 matches this season through suspension, and yet has managed 10 goals in 11 starts, comparatively Diego Costa has 13 in 17, and Ibrahimovic has 11 in 16. Aguero will be back for City’s visit to Liverpool on 31st December but it’s the home fixture against Burnley (2/1/17) that looks the optimal moment to draft Aguero back in, security of starts should be assure since he’s going to have had almost 4 weeks of rest. Going forward Aguero offers a number of captaincy opportunities, particularly Swansea on 5th Feb, and Bournemouth away on the 13th Feb – the only fixture that day. Other than these moves I’ll be trying desperately to conserve transfers, because come March thru May, it will be essential to have flexibility, especially when the multiple DGWs hit.

Captain Plan

On Monday I’ll look to Alexis Sanchez to deliver some late Christmas presents, he’s in pretty sensational form, delivering returns in each of the last 5. The other obvious option for Saturday is Eden Hazard but he’s been disappointing of late and will be without his partner in crime Diego Costa so doesn’t really appeal. Those of you with Zlatan Ibrahimovic will surely throw him the armband given his recent scoring form, looks the smart bet of the week.

Tuesday is simple, I’ll captain Roberto Firmino since he’s my only player involved. There’s likely to be a slight doubt on his start given the busy festive period but no more than usual. Firmino has failed to deliver a goal or assist in the last 6 – incredibly frustrating considering the attacking positions he finds himself in. The goals will surely come though, he was incredibly unlucky against Everton on Monday, having forced a great save out of Robles and then having a late chance blocked on the line. Sadio Mane meanwhile pounced for a tap-in and somehow walked away with the MoM despite offering very little throughout – those are the margins that we can so easily find ourselves on the wrong side of!

Wednesday I’ll be moving the armband to Harry Kane, more through obligation than anything else. Southampton are excellent at the back and Kane has been desperately poor in the last two. He’s certainly on the way out for me, with Costa and Aguero looming. Last chance saloon!

It’s unlikely I’ll have a chance to put out another column between fixtures next week so for the rest of the week my plan will be as follows:

Friday – Snodgrass (EVE)
Saturday – Hazard (or potentially Costa) (STO)
Sunday – Sanchez (CPL)
Monday – Aguero (likely to come in for Kane) BUR
Tues – Sanchez (bou)
Wed – Hazard (tot)

Fixtures will come thick and fast for the next 2 weeks so it’s the time to be as on-the-ball as possible, you can never account for rotation but keeping on top of starting lineups and getting captains right is essential.

Good luck over the festive period! Have a great holiday, see you on the other side!

Transfers Transfers Transfers

Thank goodness for that. It was looking like been yet another plummet in the rankings after the 3pm Saturday matches, but along came Alexis Sanchez to save mine & I imagine many other’s gameweeks. Sanchez’s haul of 3 goals, SOT bonus, an assist & MoM returned a ridiculous 27 points for 54 as captain – the PL performance of the season so far from any individual player, surely. Elsewhere on Saturday I decided to bring in Dele Alli (for Coutinho) for Spurs’ excellent run of fixtures and he duly returned a couple of assists in a high-scoring Spurs game. Alli grabbed another assist and a goal on Wednesday night in the Champions League so hopefully he can keep the run going in the next few weeks – he’ll be a huge differential for me.

After Aguero’s red card on Saturday I went into Sunday with a bit of a dilemma, my options were:

A. Play safe and wait to get Kane or Costa
B. Take a risk and get Ibrahimovic and (c)
C. Take a big gamble on an out of form player (Lukaku), captain him, spend an extra transfer over option A, on the rationale that Lukaku would play 3 games versus Kane’s 1 vs United.

As you may probably have guessed I went with option C, in hindsight probably a bit of a reckless gamble in a limited transfers game, but the lure of 2 extra games for Lukaku over Kane was too strong! Cue a goal for Ibrahimovic and a completely anonymous performance from Lukaku, aside from the brief prospect of him taking the penalty there was nothing else to get excited about. I’m now lumbered with him for Everton’s trip to Watford on Saturday and their home game versus Arsenal next Tuesday before I can ship him out for Harry Kane for Spurs’ home fixture versus Hull.

Monday was another disappointing gameday with my captain Robert Snodgrass (who I brought in specifically for this fixture a few weeks ago), delivering just a tackle bonus. In truth Hull never looked like scoring. Overall though, a positive move up the rankings from me, 553rd up to 377th. Hopefully I can smash a few more captains over the coming double gameweek to get back up near where I was earlier in the season.

Gameweek Points: 100
Season Points: 1036
Position: 377 (Up from 553)
Transfers remaining: 21

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My Team

I think every week in this post I state that I’m happy with my team and will be trying to restrict transfers but then each gameweek something seems to throw a spanner in the works. This week it was Sergio Aguero who decided to lunge into a ridiculous tackle and get himself a nice 4 match ban. Aguero’s ban has certainly opened the game up again – those who have reserved transfers are rewarded as moves can be made to cover & spend the cash elsewhere. As I mentioned I took a punt on Lukaku for 3 games but am using the Aguero ban as an opportunity to get Harry Kane into my team. Those two fixtures at home to Hull and Burnley are just too good to miss, and both Kane and Spurs have hit goal-scoring form. My team will hopefully stay settled heading into Christmas once Kane is on board. You’ll note that I have no plans to get Diego Costa in – it’s going to cost me points but I would always captain Eden Hazard ahead of Costa if I had both, due to much higher MoM potential, so feel I can ‘cover’ Costa in this way. Having Alonso at the back means I simply can’t afford a Sanchez – Costa – Kane front line.

Whilst the injuries and suspensions to big guns like Coutinho and Aguero have been frustrating over the past few weeks, anybody with 20+ transfers and a decent enough rank should be in good shape, considering those who’ve burned through their transfers early will now be scraping around to replace Aguero et al, or even contemplating keeping them in and riding out the storm.

How are you going to be replacing Sergio Aguero in your team?


Captain Plan

Saturday the obvious choice for the armband is Alexis Sanchez and he will be my captain. Sanchez was given a half an hour rest on Tuesday night with Arsenal winning comfortably in Basel so he should be raring to go on Saturday afternoon, if he can get anywhere near matching the performance he put in last week there will be some more satisfied captainers this week!

On Sunday I’ll move the armband to Eden Hazard for their home fixture against West Brom. I’ll be watching this from behind the sofa though, expecting thousands to have handed Costa the armband.

All being well the armband will move back to Sanchez for Arsenal’s trip to Everton on Tuesday night. Everton are in awful form at the moment so imagine most will back Sanchez again here.

On Wednesday I’ll kiss goodbye to Lukaku (hopefully he’ll do something in the mean time), and bring in Harry Kane as captain against Hull. Otherwise I would’ve backed Hazard at Sunderland in what is a decent looking fixture for Chelsea.

A double gameweek which most of us will find pretty easy to navigate I think, as long as you have some cover from Arsenal & Chelsea you’re laughing.

Let me know your plans in the comments below, and good luck for the week!

Disaster

Another week, another Saturday captain fail – this one was harder to see coming though. Many of us will have suffered the same despair as me on Saturday afternoon, hearing that Coutinho had been stretchered off in the first half of what looked a plum fixture. The pain of a 1 point captain was worsened by a couple of things,  A. I’d just transferred in Coutinho for Theo Walcott. B. I’d sat and watched Sergio Aguero run riot in what looked on paper to be a tough fixture away at a solid (at home) Burnley, knowing that many would still have handed him the captaincy! 

My other two new signings, Alonso & Snodgrass didn’t return anything but I’m still happy to have them on board. So a very modest 30 points on Saturday saw me plummet down the rankings.

Sunday was brighter though, mainly thanks to a 2 goal & MoM display from my captain, Alexis Sanchez. Sanchez is the main man for Arsenal at the moment and performances like this make it difficult to think about selling him for Harry Kane. 

Gameweek Points: 66
Overall Points: 936
Overall Rank: 553
Transfers Remaining: 23

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My Team

Once again, I had a sense of calm around my team heading into Saturday. After bringing in Alonso, Snodgrass and Coutinho I thought things were looking up, and the only thing really missing was a Spurs asset. That was obviously blown out of the water 30 minutes into the 3pm games when Coutinho was stretchered off. There’ve been a variety of reports coming out, but best case on his return looks like 4-6 weeks, another transfer required then!

I took the decision to bring in Alonso based on watching 2/3 of Chelsea’s recent matches, as mentioned last week he just looks like a forward when they are in possession, he missed another couple of good chances on Saturday. So I’m happy to have him on board, especially for Chelsea’s favourable run over Xmas. I wouldn’t normally have a defender at 7.5m+ but at 7.9 I think Alonso is a genuine bargain, especially if you compare him with similarly price midfielders.

So on to Coutinho then. The obvious replacements for me are listed in the poll below, of those I’m leaning towards Dele Alli. Alli has picked up 3 goals and 4 bonus in 10 starts this season, not exactly amazing figures but given Spurs were without Harry Kane for much of that period they’re not too bad. Last season Alli came alive in December thru January, and the fixtures in December – SWA, mun, HULL, BURNLEY, sot, could hardly be any better. Alli isn’t someone I would trust with the captaincy, but he does give me an option on 28th December with Sot v Spurs being the only fixture. The rest of Spurs fixtures can be covered well throughout December with the use of Aguero, Firmino & Sanchez as captains.

I’d love to be able to get Harry Kane into my XI, and as I said on this blog last week he’s certainly in my thoughts, but aside from selling Aguero or Sanchez I can’t see any other way of getting him in. A frontline of Aguero, Sanchez, Kane would set you back 38.2m, add in the (pretty much essential) Hazard and you’re looking at 49.4m, almost half of your whole budget on just 4 players. If you’ve found a way to fit those 4 into your side, please let me know how in the comments below! As things stand then, I won’t be able to squeeze Kane into my team – there are going to be a few games watched from behind the sofa throughout December.

How will you replace Coutinho in your team?

 

Captain Plan

Saturday looks like a straight flip between Aguero & Sanchez for me, both coming off the back of a brace and MoM performance. At the moment I’m leaning towards Sanchez, I expect City v Chelsea to be pretty tight and Chelsea’s defensive record in recent weeks is insane, West Ham meanwhile aren’t exactly known for their solidity. Sanchez is carrying Arsenal at the moment and if they win he will be heavily involved. This one could go either way, and for those of us who don’t own Harry Kane, it’s sure to be a decision that goes to the wire.

Sunday is a bit more clear cut, my options are Gueye at home to Man Utd or Firmino away at Bournemouth. Firmino will get the armband, assuming he’s starting – we will know before the deadline.

Monday rolls round and Robert Snodgrass has his moment to shine! This fixture is basically the reason I got him in, and it would ideal if he could reward those of us who’ve picked a player from the league’s worst team.

Treading Water

Another week, another drop down the rankings. Whilst it wasn’t as disastrous as the week prior, it was still another week of frustration for myself & many others. 

Saturday was pretty much a non-event, it got off to a bad start with both Sanchez & Walcott blanking in the early fixture -never good. A Charlie Daniels clean sheet was pretty much the highlight, with captain Aguero offering nothing. I decided to hold off on bringing Coutinho in last week, with the uncertainty about him starting. Luckily enough he blanked for the first time in a while, he’ll be coming in this week for the plum fixture against Sunderland. 

Sunday was another disappointment and another captain fail. Eden Hazard played well & registered his most key passes of the season but returned the minimum of 4 as captain. It was tough viewing watching Costa score again, my reluctantce to bring him in whilst on 4 yellows has cost me more goals than I care to think about. Elsewhere in that game Alonso looked incredible, he’s basically playing as a LW/Left forward, and Chelsea are solid as a rock. I won’t shift from my ultra cheap defence but I wouldn’t put anyone off getting him in, goals are surely on the way. 

Monday’s fixture brought a bit more cheer to proceedings, with Craig Dawson showing Aguero & Hazard how it’s done bringing home a nice clean sheet & 14 points as captain. Unfortunately I seem to have cursed Tom Heaton since bringing him in last week, and he’s now on an ugly -2 for the 2 games I’ve owned him. 

Overall Points: 870 

Position: 491

Transfers: 26



My Team

A no show from Dusan Tadic last week confirmed his fate for me, he’s out this week. Similarly another blank from Walcott has put him over the edge. Arsenal simply aren’t playing well enough, creating enough or scoring enough goals to warrant having Walcott & Sanchez. I’ll keep Sanchez for now, at home to Bournemouth but given Harry Kane’s fixtures throughout December, Sanchez’s days are numbered. 

I’ll be bringing in Coutinho (finally) for Walcott, and at the moment I’m likely to bring in Snodgrass for Tadic. I’m not exactly excited to be bringing in a Hull player at the moment but Snodgrass is the main man up there & offers a couple of captaincy options in the coming weeks. Aside from that my team is pretty settled, I’m going to be rocking a midfield of Hazard, Firmino, Coutinho, Snoddy & Gueye. Aguero is safe for now & as above I’ll likely use one more transfer in next week or two to bring in Kane for Sanchez. 

Captain Plan

My new recruit Coutinho will be my captain on Saturday, if nothing else his ownership makes him a ‘safe’ pick. He’s also good at picking up cheap assists from corners & SOT bonus. 

Sunday I’ll be on Sanchez at home to Bournemouth, whilst Bournemouth are generally defending well at the moment I can’t see a better option than the Chilean. 

Hamstrings

The International break if finally over, and we can happily kiss goodbye to similar interruptions until March next year. This break couldn’t have come at a worse time for me after a pretty disastrous gameweek, where my indecision over a certain diminutive Brazillian cost me dearly.

Saturday 3pm KOs were something of a non-event with the much-captained Sergio Aguero returning a disappointing 1 point. Elsewhere clean sheets were nowhere to be seen and even Tom Heaton returned a big fat zero pointer. The 5.30pm game proved to be more fruitful though, and an incredible display by Chelsea brought a boatload of points for many. Eden Hazard again delivering, with 2 goals, an assist and another MoM most welcome. Well done to anybody who dared to captain him over Aguero!

Spirits were high heading into Sunday and I was faced with a dilemma before the Arsenal v Spurs match. Having seen the lineups I decided to stick with Theo Walcott rather than bring in Phillip Coutinho, and thus captained Alexis Sanchez (would have been Coutinho otherwise!). It was probably about 30 minutes into the early game that I realised I’d probably made a terrible mistake. Both Arsenal and Spurs were concentrating on spoiling each others games and neither were prepared to attack their opponents – not a good time to have 2 Arsenal forwards inc captain! To be fair to Sanchez he had a couple of good chances himself and laid on at least 3 great chances but still failed to bring in any attacking points.

Having decided against bringing in Coutinho I decided to watch the Liverpool v Watford match from behind the sofa, with an eye mask on. In a performance to rival Chelsea’s from Saturday, Liverpool absolutely ripped through Watford. Coutinho got his goal in early and then added an assist – not the end of the world, especially as I had Firmino chip in with a goal and 2 x assists. Though he was brought off early Coutinho was a little fortunate to bag the MoM in my opinion, Firmino & Mane could’ve easily been awarded it but it’s hard to argue against Coutinho winning it every week at the moment. So 16 points for Coutinho, 32 as captain……woops! My indecision cost me a net of 28 points and a 100+ place drop in rank.

I think it’s fairly obvious now that 2 x Liverpool mids are the way to go, which 2 to have will vary by week but at the moment it looks like Coutinho + Mane or Firmino, with Henderson & Lallana (though now an injury doubt), both delivering consistently too.

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Season Points: 833
Position: 393 (down)
Transfers Remaining: 26

My Team

Where to start!? Every time I think I’m settled on my midfield something or somebody throws a gigantic spanner into the works. As discussed above, my decision to trust Theo Walcott in lieu of getting Coutinho in proved disastrous. I’ve now got the same dilemma again this week. At present there is a doubt over Coutinho’s fitness, with widespread reports that he has had to have a scan on his hamstring. He’s rated as a ‘doubt’ – the worst possible situation for a fantasy manager! Those who have him will keep him, but I’m now in a position where I have to consider selling Theo Walcott, who will almost certainly start on Saturday for Coutinho who may well be given more time to recover. At least I will get to see the Arsenal team news..if Walcott doesn’t start I’ll make the move, if/when he does who knows! I know I want Coutinho going forward, he’s the in-form player in the league and is hoovering up Man of the Match awards but it’s whether I wait a week or not.

Jose Holebas is definitely out but I have no plans to shift him, I’m hoping my ultra-cheap backline will stay as is right through to the new year. After another blank I’ve certainly got designs on getting rid of Tadic, he’s simply not delivering on his promise, add a broken nose into the equation and his days are numbered.  One of the options I’m considering is:

Tadic —> Coutinho
Gueye —-> Romeu or Arter

This would allow me to squeeze in Hazard, Walcott, Coutinho, Firmino, Aguero & Sanchez, certainly enticing.

For those of you who haven’t seen it already, Disable posted an excellent article (http://www.fantasyfootballscout.co.uk/2016/11/14/sky-sports-stock-check/) which suggests that anyone with 20+ transfers and a half decent rank should be sitting comfortably, with the average number of transfers remaining in the top 1k at just 13.7. Plenty of room for improvement for those of us who’ve been a bit more conservative. I’m still looking at having 20 left on January 1st.

Captain Plan

Sergio Aguero’s trip to Crystal Palace on Saturday makes him a prime choice for captaincy, he had a nice rest over the international period, only featuring for 45 of a possible 180 minutes. He should be fit & raring to go then and looks the standout option to me.
Sunday is a no-brainer for me, Eden Hazard gets the captaincy given he’s my only player in the 1 fixture on Sunday. At this stage we’re awaiting confirmation of his fitness but the general consensus seems to be that he will be fine to play at 4pm on Sunday.
Monday night football brings us the exhilarating fixture of WBA v Burnley. I can’t imagine many people will have an attacking asset from either side, so we’ll be looking for a drab 0-0 to deliver some captain returns. I have Craig Dawson & Tom Heaton and will captain Dawson hoping he can pick up a clean sheet against a Burnley side who struggle to create anything away from home.  It looks like a fixture to duck a captaincy if you haven’t got a player in already – not worth spending a precious transfer.

How’s your team looking this week? Are you looking at spending transfers after a tough international break?

Century

That’s more like it. After a few frustrating weeks, and blanking 5 captaincies in a row it was nice to hit a century this week, with a couple of captaincy successes. The week couldn’t have gotten off to a better start, with a vintage Alexis Sanchez performance delivering 2 goals and a man of the match as captain. The 3pm games weren’t quite as kind to me as they were to some, Tom Heaton’s incredible performance at Old Trafford certainly game a lot of managers a bonus they wouldn’t have been expecting. I had to settle for a clean sheet Jose Holebas, but frustratingly the rest of my defenders & goalkeeper delivered nothing.

Remember when we were thinking about ditching Sergio Aguero!? Having been the talk of the town last week, (and this blog!), Aguero delivered 2 goals & a MoM performance to remind everyone that he’s still the best player in the game and punish anyone who went for an early sale. I was bemused that he wasn’t also awarded an assist for Gundogan’s goal, but replays emerged later on showing a slight deflection off the WBA defender – not enough surely to deny Aguero the assist – but Sky weren’t going to budge. I think those that captained him can consider themselves unlucky.

Elsewhere on Saturday a goal for Bobby Firmino was most welcome, but again it was Phillip Coutinho who was the star of the show at Anfield, rewarding his owners & captainers with a haul to match Sanchez & Aguero. Coutinho is now not as much ‘on my radar’ as he is knocking on my front door, ringing the door bell, desperate to be let in. He looks in formidable form and I can see him racking up 10-12 MoMs this season.

Sunday rolled around and I did something I wasn’t expecting to do going into the week. The lure of Eden Hazard was too much to avoid, and after Sterling’s poor performance on Saturday I decided to take the plunge and bring Hazard in as (c). It was a move that certainly paid off, Dusan Tadic who would’ve been my captain again frustrated, and Hazard again proved he is the man to own with a goal, assist & MoM. Petr Cech made way for Tom Heaton to fund the move and I’m happy now to have both Hazard and Heaton on board heading into the festive period, even if I am lighter on transfers than I would like.

Gameweek Points: 101
Overall Points: 774
Overall Position: 218

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My Team

I’m relatively happy with my team now, I’m a bit worried by Tadic’s recent performances whilst I’m a big fan of his and have sung his praises on this blog, his recent scores have been very disappointing. I will hold on for now, he has a great fixture away at Hull this week so he will stay and I can reassess during the international break. Similarly, after a great start to the season, Idrissa Gueye’s points have dried up, and he’s not hoovering up bonus like he was a few weeks ago. He was very unlucky not to either score or win a penalty on Sunday, but that’s how it goes and he’s now going to miss the Chelsea game having picked up his 5th yellow. My instincts are to hold him; I think he will come good in time, and I can’t afford the transfer at this stage.
Having spent 2 more transfers than I was expecting last week I am shorter on transfers than I’d have hoped at this stage, so I won’t be making any this week. I have set aside funds to do Walcott to Coutinho at some point, but I’m likely to hold it for now, given Walcott is expected back this Sunday.

Another thought that has crossed my mind is downgrading Gueye to a super-cheap enabler in order to try and squeeze in another big hitter in place of Tadic. There are just so many players performing at the moment, it is proving hard to be patient. But the nature of limited transfers games like the Sky one means you can’t have everyone. Whilst it’s important to jump on players who are in/entering form, I really don’t want to end being short on transfers the other side of Christmas, where the fixtures come thick and fast and transfers are usually that little bit more valuable. So whilst we’d all probably like to squeeze all of Coutinho, Firmino, Hazard, Walcott, Sanchez, Lukaku, Aguero into our teams, it’s not really viable. There are bound to be frustrating days, as Ibrahimovic captainers on Saturday will attest to, but sometimes you just have to ride it out.

I made the Hazard move on Sunday because Raheem Sterling seems to be out of form, and Hazard in his new freer role is coming into form, added to the fact he’s going to be a useful captaincy option in the coming weeks. I do think there is a need to balance short term gains against longer term prospects though, and with only 26 transfers left I will be trying my best to keep my itchy fingers away from the transfer button in November.

Captain Plan

It’s another relatively straight forward week for my team. I’ll have Aguero at home to Boro on Saturday, now firmly back in favour after his performance last weekend. On Sunday I’ll again trust in Alexis Sanchez for his home tie with Spurs. If I had Coutinho in at this stage I would probably throw him the armband but I don’t quite have enough faith in Bobby Firmino to hand it to him. I’d expect Watford to try and shut down Liverpool, Watford have been very good defensively recently but as we’ve seen this Liverpool side can rip through teams on their day. A Liverpool captaincy option will certainly be a great option for many on Sunday I think.

What’s your plan for the week, will you trust a Liverpool asset over Alexis Sanchez on Sunday?

Sergio Aguer-no?

How do you solve a problem like Sergio Aguero?

I’m going to start this week by pondering the future of Aguero in my team, and hope to see your opinions in the comments at the bottom. Another scoreless week for Aguero as captain, and to add insult to injury he picked up a silly booking, making his score for the last 2 matches a net of -1. Aguero has now failed to score in his last 3 in the League, not exactly the returns we’re used to, or likely to expect at 13m. The more worrying thing for me though, isn’t necessarily the lack of points – all players go through rough spells, but the manner of the last 3 performances, or 4 if you include the CL tie against Barcelona. It seems fairly clear that Guardiola doesn’t hold him in as high regard as previous City managers. Guardiola isn’t a manager that takes prisoners, players like Thierry Henry will attest to that – you work for the Guardiola system, the system doesn’t work for you. And whilst Aguero is unquestionably the best number 9 in the league, that won’t necessarily guarantee him the role that he wants in the team. Aguero also looked worryingly off the pace against Southampton, something that simply won’t fly under Pep.

For what it’s worth I still think Aguero will be one of the first names on the team sheet at City in most games, but it wouldn’t exactly be surprising to see him benched in favour of a false 9 or for Iheanacho at times. There is also the issue of captaincy, in the past he’d be almost a cert for most people, but I think with doubt creeping in many may look elsewhere.For example this week, Alexis Sanchez is surely a more appealing option away at Sunderland, than Aguero at West Brom?

Depending on how this weekend goes surely everybody will be on Aguero next Saturday at home to Middlesbrough – I won’t be selling……for now.

Gameweek Review

Gameweek points: 47
Season points: 673
Overall rank: down to 253

It was another disappointing gameweek on the captaincy front, Alexis Sanchez had his chances on Saturday against Boro but ultimately returned nothing, and as above, fortunes didn’t improve with Aguero on Sunday. I’m now 0/5 captains since I started writing this blog…

I opted against selling Petr Cech and that proved fruitful with him getting a clean sheet. In order to fund Capoue –> Walcott I brought in Daniels for Fuchs, so a clean sheet for Daniels was very welcome. Jose Holebas made it 3/4 clean sheets for my defence, so Saturday wasn’t a total disasater.

As of Sunday morning I was very happy with my front 7, they look primed for points going forward. My head was turned somewhat by Hazard on Sunday though, he’s clearly enjoying being allowed some freedom in Conte’s 5-3-2 and given he’s such a MoM magnet I’m now pondering bringing him back in. City’s lack of goals is now a serious concern, in an ideal world I would bring Hazard in for Sterling but unfortunately I’m just short on funds for that move. I’ll leave it for this week I think, despite my magnificent 7 only delivering 1 measly assist between them. I think it could get messy if I keep chopping & changing the midfield, so many players are performing at the moment, we can’t have them all – and I don’t want to dip below 25 transfers before Xmas unless I absolutely have to.

Captain Plan

Alexis Sanchez will again be my Saturday captain, there are a few other strong options on Saturday, but I think Sanchez away at a dire Sunderland side is primed for points, Sunderland will be under pressure from their fans to perform so I don’t think they’ll be sat back looking for a 0-0. They’ve also had 24 hours less rest than Arsenal – who had the chance to rest 7/8 key players in midweek so I can only see this game going one way…

Sunday is a bit less clear. My two options at the moment are Gueye at home to West Ham and Dusan Tadic at home to Chelsea. Both are solid options who have flirted with big scores. Gueye is probably the safer option, I’d expect him to pick up at least passing bonus & probably tackling. Tadic would need to get a goal to better that, if he does I’m sure the MoM award won’t be far away, Southampton are in very good form. One for me to make a judgment call on Sunday morning, however if Sanchez fails to deliver again on Saturday I’m sure my finger will be itching over a switch to either Lukaku or Hazard (c) – I’d rather I wasn’t left in this position! I’ll be ignoring Monday nights game, whilst I aim to have a captain every match day there will be rare exceptions – this being one of them. 

What moves have you got lined up? Is Hazard now a must-have as we was at the start of the season?