The week in Fantasy Premier League: Palace potential, Spurs rethink and Hazard’s return

First, Romelu Lukaku’s blank against Liverpool set the tone for his three million owners (and with just a single shot in each of his last two games of Mourinhoball, they’re starting to look elsewhere).

The glee this inspired in Harry Kane captainers didn’t last long, as what seemed like such an obvious move suddenly became a familiar “what-was-I-thinking” moment.

The surprises didn’t end there, as over a million stunned Ben Davies (TOT, 5.9) owners found themselves nervously eying their bench. Some were fortunate enough to have the likes of Phil Jones and Tom Carroll waiting in the wings. Others were... not as fortunate.

The narrow win may have technically ended Tottenham’s ‘Wembley Curse’, but their players were by now firmly in FPL managers' crosshairs.

 

Reassessing Spurs stars

It’s hardly surprising anymore that Harry Kane (TOT, 12.8) should become public enemy number one, having been granted FPL sainthood a mere week previously.

Captained by almost a third of managers, he has yet to score a league goal at Wembley (and it’s not even August!) - and against lowly Swansea and Bournemouth too. But perhaps therein lies the problem.

We’re all familiar with the theory is that playing at Wembley has inspired visiting teams to raise their game - but could the opposite also be true for Kane and his Spurs teammates?

Does the incongruity of playing ‘lesser’ sides in a stadium more accustomed to the prestige of cup finals knock Spurs off their stride when it comes to league ties?

Time will tell, but for now, FPL managers are openly questioning whether a player they can't trust with the armband for half of his games can really be worth the expense.

However, the kind of transfer exodus you would expect after such a public outcry has failed to materialise - the fear factor has put paid to that, for now at least.

The same cannot be said for another recent FPL darling in the Spurs side, however.

Ben Davies (TOT, 5.9) owners came crashing down to Earth last week after an unexpected illness saw him drop out of the Spurs squad - and the prospect of him keeping his place is now starting to look a little peaky, too.

For those desperate to keep that killer combination of attacking potential and Spurs defensive coverage, there may be a solution.

After Davies became the new Kieran Trippier (TOT, 5.5), could Trippier to become the new Davies?

He’ll have to fight off the challenge of Serge Aurier (TOT, 5.9) of course, but he won’t have done his prospects any harm against Bournemouth, having enjoyed a league-topping 77 touches in the opponent’s half, creating four chances in the process.

Sunday’s match should go some way to answering both of these conundrums, but the most intriguing game of GW9 (at least from an FPL perspective) will not be Tottenham V Liverpool, but rather a far less glamourous occasion.

 

Hidden gems at Crystal Palace?

Scoff if you must, but the club that for so long was the laughing stock of the league now holds the promise of that most coveted of FPL assets - the explosive differential.

Of course we shouldn’t get over-excited about a solitary victory against a Kante-less Chelsea, but the blistering display by pre-season favourite Wilfried Zaha (CRY, 6.7) cannot be ignored.

In what will surely turn out to be a blessing in disguise, an injury to the ponderous Christian Benteke saw Hodgson deploy the pacey winger up front last week. Finally free of the last vestiges of anything resembling defensive shackles, he thrived in his new role, scoring the winner and enjoying 15 penalty-box touches along the way.

A note of caution here, though. In an FPL season where managers seem to demand week-in-week-out consistency from their charges, allow me to spare you the suspense - you will be disappointed by Zaha sometimes.

But should he retain his place up front and continue to enjoy around two big chances a game (as he did against Chelsea), you’ll get more than your money’s worth for that £6.7m in the long term.

Anyone trying to be clever by opting for an even cheaper out-of-position prospect in the form of Andros Townsend (CRY, 5.7) (his unlikely strike partner against The Blues) should hold fire though - GW9 will also see the return of another potential season-keeper in the form of Ruben Loftus-Cheek (CRY, 4.5).

Prematurely priced in FPL as a Chelsea fringe player before his move, he was also heavily backed in pre-season before injury halted his momentum. Ineligible last week, the position he adopts in this new-look Palace attack is well worth monitoring.

His produced everything but the points against Southampton in GW5, and is surely a more viable candidate for a central attacking role than Townsend.


Finally, there is an outside chance that Palace could join Newcastle in providing us with a viable £4.0m goalkeeper.

Having stepped in for their first league win last week, Julian Speroni (CRY, 4.0) could keep his place in front of the fit-again Wayne Hennessey (CRY, 4.5), who has borne the brunt of fans’ frustration all season.

QUICK TIP

After weeks of tinkering, it’s time to pick a preferred formation and stick to it.

With expensive defenders and wing-backs failing to live up to their promise, managers are moving their cash further upfield. For those opting for four in midfield, names like Richarlison (WAT, 6.2), Wilfried Zaha (CRY, 6.7), Pascal Groß (BRI, 5.7) and Christian Atsu (NEW, 5.1) offer terrific long-term value.

Up front, Tammy Abraham (SWA, 5.7) has safely emerged as the standout choice for those seeking a cheap third striker.

 

BUY

A Man City attacking player. Any of them. Just pick one you like and stick with him.

Yes, he will get rested or substituted early sometimes, especially if his name isn’t David Silva (MCI, 8.6) or Kevin De Bruyne (MCI, 10.0) - but that’s just not a good enough reason anymore to avoid having a piece of the most rampant attack the Premier League has ever seen.

 

TRY

The 50,000+ FPL managers who took Álvaro Morata’s short-term injury as their cue to hastily recruit Michy Batshuayi endured a chastening lesson in midweek when not only did the Spaniard complete his comeback, but was paired alongside Eden Hazard (CHE, 10.6) in attack.

After almost single-handedly dragging Chelsea from the jaws of defeat, the Belgian could be a season-shifting differential for those willing to buy another ticket to this well-worn FPL rollercoaster ride.

 

GOODBYE

Four clean sheets in their opening four fixtures saw everyone clamouring for their defenders, but the Huddersfield honeymoon was never going to last.


 

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