The first international break of the season is always the hardest. After three long months without domestic football, you're given a brief, tantalising taste of the Premier League, before being cast head-first into the abyss yet again, doomed to suffer the inanity of international friendlies for a fortnight. Whether it's England thrashing a random central-European country you can only vaguely point out on a map, or France and Germany playing out yet another pointless draw, none of the action on display comes close to the nail-biting, nerve-wracking pageantry of the Prem, which returns from its hiatus on Saturday, when league-leaders Liverpool play host to Newcastle (17.00 IST). After two weeks of patiently holding on to your transfers, it's finally time to make some changes and whip your Fantasy Premier League team back into shape.
Shaky Spurs host high-flying Palace
So far, this season has not been what Mauricio Pochettino would have hoped. A promising 2018/19 season, a couple of excellent transfers and a positive pre-season were some of the factors that pointed to a genuine push in the title race, but just four games into the campaign, Spurs are already trailing. To be fair to them though, they have already taken points off defending champions Manchester City and bitter rivals Arsenal in away draws on either side of a 1-0 loss to Newcastle, and things look to be on the up and up.
Starting with a home fixture against Crystal Palace, Spurs are set to embark on a string of games against traditionally mid-table sides like Leicester, Southampton and Brighton, a run that could see them get some points on the board. Harry Kane (£11.0m) looks like the best bet if you're in the market for an attacker, despite his somewhat indifferent form of late. Speaking of indifferent form, Son Heung-min has also had a slow start, getting just the one assist in four matches, but at a modest asking price of £9.5m, it could be a gamble worth taking. The South Korean also enjoys an excellent record against Palace, having scored in each of his last three home matches against them.
Norwich feel De Bruyne
The Canaries' defence has been decimated by injuries, and they couldn't have chosen a worse time for it, with Manchester City visiting on Saturday. Defenders Timm Klose, Maximillian Aarons, Christoph Zimmermann, Ben Godfrey and Grant Hanley are all either ruled out or doubtful for gameweek 5, and Pep Guardiola's City have already scored 14 goals in just four games, so this one's shaping out to be an all-out pummeling.
My thoughts are with all Norwich City fans right now...
Norwich face Manchester City tomorrow 😲 pic.twitter.com/zmTwypdS61
— Chris Davison (@cdavison_afc) September 13, 2019
Pretty much any City attacker will be an asset going into the match, but Raheem Sterling (£12.3m) and Kevin de Bruyne (£9.8m) manage to stand out, having done very well for themselves in the international break. In defence, Aymeric Laporte's absence due to a long-term injury has given John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi the opportunity to get regular game time, and with both players priced at a measly (£5.4m), FPL bosses would do well to snap them up before an inevitable rise in their going rates. Suffice it to say, you should probably bench your Norwich players, especially if they aren't named Teemu Pukki, and ride out this storm. Don't dump them just yet though, Norwich have a couple of promising fixtures on the horizon.
Should you play your Wild Card?
Patience, young grasshopper.
International breaks can wreak havoc on people with itchy trigger fingers. A fortnight can be a very long time, especially when the last gameweek didn't go too well, and often, it can lead to people wasting a great resource, i.e. the Wild Card. Case in point, at the time of writing, the Wild Card had been used 429,973 times in Gameweek 5, despite the fact that there are still several weeks left, and many an injury yet to happen.
Instead of rushing into this decision, a sensible approach to making changes to your team is to see how many transfers it would take for your squad to reach a passable level. If it can be achieved in two or three well-thought-out moves, stay your hand and let the -4s rain down, but if not, then do what you must.
Top picks for GW 5:
Raheem Sterling (£12.3m): Raheem Sterling is simply unstoppable at the moment. The England international has lit up this season of the Premier League with his performances, having already scored five goals, including an opening day hat-trick. He was also similarly impressive on international duty during the break, scoring a couple of goals and bagging a few assists, and there's nothing to suggest that he's slowing down any time soon.
Roberto Firmino (£9.5m): Could this be the season where Robert Firmino finally breaks out from under the shadow of Messrs Sadio Mane and Mo Salah? A criminally underrated striker, the Brazilian is a masterful manipulator of space, having created scores of opportunities for his more prolific teammates with his movement over the past couple of years. This time around though, things seem a little different. Firmino has the league's highest number of shots, and with his ability, you can bank on him to put some of those away. He's also a veritable bargain compared to the aforementioned duo of Salah and Mane, and could help free up a little cash.
Harry Kane (£11.0m): Harry Kane scores goals, and that's a fact. Even when he's not at his best, he keeps banging them in, and with Tottenham's upcoming run of fixtures looking like smooth sailing, not having him isn't a risk worth taking.
Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.1m): Andrew Robertson had the upper edge on Trent Alexander-Arnold for much of last year, but so far this season, his English counterpart has outperformed him. Alexander-Arnold is an excellent crosser of the ball, and against a Newcastle side likely to be encamped around their penalty area, he could be the difference for Liverpool.
Erik Lamela (£6.0m): Erik Lamela has taken to his newfound status as first-team regular like a duck to water, and with Dele Alli still being eased back into the team, the Argentine could be a cheap short-term option.
Erik Pieters (£4.6): Erik Pieters is hardly an unknown quantity for FPL bosses, many of whom remember him from his days at Stoke. With an assist or two in him, Pieters is an excellent low-budget option that can pay dividends if luck is on your side.
Ashley Barnes (£6.7): Loathe as I was to break the streak of Eriks we had going, Ashley Barnes has just been too good to not make it into this list. He has scored four times in four games, and upcoming matches against Brighton, Norwich, Aston Villa, Everton and Leicester could see him add to that tally.
O Captain, my Captain!
With none of the big-six sides playing each other this week, a lot of options have opened up for the captaincy. While Harry Kane and the Liverpool attacking trio are good options, Norwich's defensive fragility really give Manchester City players the edge. Though Sergio Aguero and Kevin de Bruyne are more than likely to get points, Sterling seems like the most reliable choice.
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Updated Date: Sep 14, 2019 12:26:24 IST