The week in Fantasy Premier League: Salah redemption, Kane collapse and looking beyond colour-coded fixtures

For the past few weeks, millions of Fantasy Premier League managers have been quietly wishing ill fortune on their own teams - a kind of "self-schadenfreude", if you will.

"If only Mo Salah could pick up an injury", they'd muse in a stolen moment of solitude. "Nothing too painful, of course... just something that would definitely keep him out for three weeks that would make this decision for me".

So when vague news of an injury surfaced after Salah converted the kind of shot he will never score in the Premier League, all to defeat the mighty Swaziland, it sent them into as-yet-unknown depths of despair.

But now they've reached the promised land - Huddersfield, Cardiff and Fulham over the next four Gameweeks  - and the chance of sweet redemption awaits.


Fortunately, all indications are that Salah should be fit to start - although how much Klopp intends to utilise his Egyptian star remains in doubt.


While it's a case of "in for a penny, in for a pound" for the Salah faithful, another group of FPL managers are left wondering what to do next with their prize asset.

The 'new' Harry Kane?

Three goals in the previous two Gameweeks were enough to convince over FPL 380,000 managers to invest in Harry Kane (TOT, 12.5) last week - with disastrous results. 

Without Alli or Eriksen to provide the ammunition, the Spurs marksman mustered a solitary point against Cardiff, leaving the 23% of active managers who captained him (not to mention those optimistic triple-captainers) crestfallen.

The once reliable goalscorer has become a real enigma this season. His average number of penalty box touches per match has actually increased so far this season compared to last, while his number of both touches and shots in the penalty box so far are second only to Aguero.

Despite that, it's clear he's taking up much deeper positions in recent games and is badly in need of a rest. 

Touch heatmap courtesy of FantasyFootballScout.co.uk

His two assists for England against Spain will have done little to calm the fears of his new owners - for £12.5m, we need the Kane of old with his all-consuming lust for goals, not a drifting number 10 intent on improving his all-around game.


The integration of Lucas Moura (TOT, 7.4) has produced an Asprilla Effect on Spurs this season. Despite his obvious talents, Poch's determination to play the Brazilian as part of a front two has clearly upset the team's balance, stifling Kane in the process. 

Spurs now face Man City, Wolves, Chelsea and Arsenal in their next six, prompting much of Kane's near-31% ownership to look for an exit strategy.

Many of those who did last week's "hokey-cokey" with Sergio Agüero (MCI, 11.3) - whilst all the time secretly hoping that Kane would do enough to earn a permanent place in their squad - will now reluctantly have to burn a second transfer to get Kun back in. 


However, those looking to go a different direction now have a proven, in-form alternative in the premium striker bracket in the shape of Alexandre Lacazette (ARS, 9.7)


Lack of minutes in the opening two Gameweeks saw many owners quickly jump ship, but the Frenchman has produced attacking returns in every match since, helping Arsenal to quietly make their way into fourth place.

So it is time to invest in Arsenal? Well, that all depends on exactly where you spend your money.

Targeting your investment

When we scan that colour-coded guide to a player's upcoming opponents on the FPL fixture list, it's easy to disregard the massive gulf which often exists between each side's defensive and attacking prospects.

Arsenal may have outscored everyone bar Man City, but their defence has conceded more shots than Southampton, Huddersfield or Cardiff.

Similarly, Man United are listed as an "orange" fixture more on reputation than recent performances, having shipped more goals than Newcastle, Palace, Brighton or Watford. 

Newly-promoted Wolves are only rated as a medium-difficulty fixture, despite conceding a miserly six goals so far this season.

The likes of Fulham and Bournemouth have conceded goals for fun, but their shot-happy forward line would make you think twice before starting all but the most premium of defenders against them.

Although Everton remain firmly in the 'basket case' category defensively, Marco Silva looks to have hit on a winning formula in attack.

Moving Richarlison (EVE, 6.8) to striker in place of the ineffective Cenk Tosun has now cleared the way for creative players like Bernard (EVE, 5.9) and Gylfi Sigurdsson (EVE, 7.4).


Having a slice of the Everton midfield will become vitally important in the weeks ahead, and those three disparate price points should make the switch a relatively easy one. 

Investment should probably be restricted to one for the time being though - home fixtures against Palace, Brighton, Cardiff and Newcastle are interspersed with away trips to Man United, Chelsea and Liverpool.


QUICK TIP

It may involve staring intently at laptop and phone screen for longer than we should, but that doesn't mean that fantasy football can't be a social activity.

Last week saw the latest in an increasingly familiar spectacle of FPL meet-ups as the presenters of US podcast Always Cheating hosted a gathering in London.


There's even talk of a real-life Irish meet-up now - watch this space for more on that, should it come to pass.

BUY

For the foreseeable future, every tip in this section is made with the assumption that you're not being stubborn enough to resist bringing this man into your team. 


So with that said - how would you like a defender who's notched five assists in five games, and has oodles of clean-sheet potential to boot?

After his blistering start to the season, Benjamin Mendy (MCI, 6.2) has become something of a forgotten man. His ownership is now at about a third of what it once was, making the player who will probably end up as the season's top-scoring defender something of a differential.

His disciplined performance against Liverpool, alongside the injury to Danilo, makes him about as rotation-proof as an outfield Man City player can get.

With arguably more points potential at both ends of the pitch than the increasingly disappointing Marcus Alonso (CHE, 7.0), it's a switch that could even make you some cash.


TRY

We're all slaves to our biases in FPL, and when we saw that opening pricetag on Raheem Sterling (MCI, 11.1) we couldn't quite stomach the thought of buying the player who cost us as little as £7.9m the season before.

Unfortunately, that seems to be the going rate for the player whose points total was second only to Mo Salah's last season and who looks to carrying on right where he left off in this one.


GOODBYE

Facing tough fixtures and without a goal in his last three games, any justification for keeping Wilfried Zaha (CRY, 7.0) must surely have evaporated among his 21.1% ownership after he aggravated a recurring injury.


A straight swap to Marko Arnautovic (WHU, 7.0) could be a case of jumping from the frying pan into a frustratingly similar frying pan, unless having a striker whose knee "allows for him to play" is good enough for you.


Luckily for Wilf owners, you could make a decent case for any one of Callum Wilson (BOU, 6.4), Joshua King (BOU, 6.4), Aleksandar Mitrovic (FUL, 6.9), Glenn Murray (BRI, 6.6) or Raúl Jiménez (WOL, 5.6) to replace him. 


Top of the league

Despite the Kane captaincy, a 68-point Gameweek was enough to keep Mary Walsh Kilkenny and her Molls Misfits top of the Official Irish Examiner League (join code: 19990-119302) for another week.

Her refreshingly non-template team which includes the likes of Begovic, Tomkins, Gudmundsson and Jiménez is riding high at 323 in the world rankings.

We have two new names in second and third. Paul Hanover's WAG Magnets and Evgeniy Bekker's C’mon baby side have jumped into contention with scores of 76 and 89 respectively.

By Ken Rooney

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