Now we’re talking.
After a ropey start to the new season, things are starting to look up – and this goes for both my Fantasy Football prospects – 72 points is not too shabby for Gameweek Six – and the situations for clubs right across the Premier League.
Aston Villa‘s 100 per cent start was emphatically ended on Friday night, Liverpool had Diogo Jota to thank for a bail-out against Sheffield United and Jamie Vardy came early for Halloween as he once again emerged to haunt Arsenal at the Emirates.
Patrick Bamford (middle) hit a stunning hat-trick to end Aston Villa’s 100 per cent league start
Leicester had Jamie Vardy to thank as they left it late at the Emirates to go and beat Arsenal
Last week was all about the catastrophic injury to Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk but this time round it was all about upsets.
High-flying Everton fell on their face at Southampton, Manchester City failed to conjure up enough to beat an in-form West Ham, eventually scraping a draw, and Manchester United played out a dreadfully dismal 0-0 stalemate against Chelsea in what neutrals had assumed would be the game of the weekend.
Oh, how wrong that proved to be.
As always, in this column I’ll be breaking down what we learned from the latest round of games, how best to utilise the free transfer for our squads and the differentials that can make the biggest difference week-to-week.
Biggest takeaways from GW6
Manchester City still don’t look right. That was one of the big takeaways from the week.
Sergio Aguero is injured – again – and it took a Phil Foden strike off the bench to salvage a draw at West Ham.
City’s assets are expensive and so right now they seem off-putting given their up-and-down points returns,
Diogo Jota (left) secured a win for Liverpool as he struck late to beat Sheffield United at Anfield
Goals have been the order of the day in recent weeks but GW6 was a much tighter affair.
There were four draws – clean sheets still exist – and four games were settled by a single goal.
One of those games was Liverpool as Diogo Jota salvaged victory against Sheffield United and while Jurgen Klopp’s side don’t look as explosive as they did in winning the title last year, right now results count for more than performances.
At the other end it is panic stations for Fulham as they go into a must-win game at home to West Brom.
It seems hyperbolic to say ‘must-win’ in October but this really is mammoth for Scott Parker and his players.
They were played off the park by Crystal Palace, even if the score suggested a close encounter, and without a win from the opening six games, it is now or never to salvage the early part of this season.
Jairo Riedewald (front) was all smiles as he found the net in a win against struggling Fulham
Best use of the free transfer this week
Marcus Rashford (Manchester United) – £9.5m
The man of the moment.
On and off the pitch, Marcus Rashford can seemingly do no wrong right now.
His first hat-trick for Manchester United in the Champions League arrived on Wednesday against RB Leipzig and it could have been four had he not unselfishly handed Anthony Martial the penalty when he was still hovering on two for the night.
Marcus Rashford’s hat-trick against RB Leipzig on Wednesday caught the eye of FPL bosses
But the hat-trick, and the public wave of support spurring Rashford on right now, feels so significant it could be time to reshuffle the side for the United wideman.
Comparisons to Ruud van Nistelroooy are not made lightly by former United greats but after his demolition job off the bench against Leipzig, he more than earned them.
Just the one double-digit points return so far – earning 15 points in the 4-1 win away at Newcastle – is a fair point but RB Leipzig felt like a season-starting game for Rashford and with Arsenal up next, there is something intriguing about a player owned by just 7.8 per cent of FPL managers.
His matchwinning contribution in Paris against Paris Saint-Germain was another high leverage moment where he delivered big for United and he feels something of a sleeper pick ahead of a home game against Arsenal.
His treble was brilliantly taken and he can seemingly do no wrong on and off the pitch now
United have lost all three of their home games in the league so far this season but the recent turnaround, which began in Paris, feels like a temporary tide-tuner for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
With Martial flattering to deceive, Mason Greenwood in and out for a myriad of reasons, and Bruno Fernandes struggling to carry the team alone as he did on arrival in January, it feels like a game which is set-up for Rashford to thrive.
It is Rashford’s birthday on Saturday and so there would be no greater gift (to Fantasy managers) than a big points haul against an Arsenal side looking to deepen United’s misery on home soil.
Friday October 30
Wolves v Crystal Palace
Saturday October 31
Sheffield United v Man City
Burnley v Chelsea
Liverpool v West Ham
Sunday November 1
Aston Villa v Southampton
Newcastle v Everton
Manchester United v Arsenal
Tottenham v Brighton
Monday November 2
Fulham v West Brom
Leeds v Leicester
Three differentials that caught my eye
Patrick Bamford (Leeds) – £5.9m [Selected by 29.9%]
Having had him in my own team as the third striker, receiving a text that he had hit a hat-trick at Aston Villa was differential music to my ears.
Bamford’s form is no secret, not with 29.9 per cent of managers pulling him out from the list of available strikers.
Marcelo Bielsa is getting a tune out of Bamford and with a price-tag of sub-£6m, he represents the best value for money as the third option.
Only 226,666 FPL bosses went for Bamford before GW1 but with 49 points so far, they have more than reaped the rewards.
Reece James (Chelsea) – £5m [Selected by 11.2%]
For a while, I would have said avoid Chelsea defenders at all cost.
Defending seemed to be the Achilles heel of boss Frank Lampard.
But a draw to Sevilla, a shutout at Manchester United and another clean sheet in Krasnodar suggests things may well have clicked.
Kurt Zouma was an option here having finished in the Team of the Week but I like the look of Reece James as a differential option, more so because full backs offer a better investment with the potential for attacking returns.
With Liverpool’s defence looking far from secure and big price-tags on the head of Trent Alexander-Arnold, Andy Robertson and the injured Van Dijk, shipping those out for cheaper top six options provides greater ammunition in attacking areas.
Almost certain of a starting berth, expect James’ price to rise if Chelsea continue this clean sheet phenomenon they have going on.
Reece James (left) represents an affordable way into a Chelsea defence that is improving
Ollie Watkins (Aston Villa) – £6m [Selected by 4.8%]
I could have gone with Ross Barkley once again here ahead of a home game against Southampton – but to mix it up, what about Ollie Watkins?
Watkins’ pace is a huge asset leading the line for Dean Smith’s side and while Southampton look a much-improved side on the back of beating Everton, there is a lot to like about Watkins heading into this game.
He has scored in just the one game so far – then again, that was a hat-trick against Liverpool – but at £6m he is, like Bamford, a cost-effective third option and with Aston Villa’s fixtures to come, going for Villa players really is an intriguing prospect I myself am juggling with.
Southampton, Brighton, West Ham, Newcastle, Wolves, Burnley, West Brom and Crystal Palace represent eight of their next nine games and while their unbeaten start was ended by Bamford and Co, Villa look much improved on last season and Watkins will be confident he can explode once more with the fixtures to follow.
Ollie Watkins represents a differential option with Villa offering up favourable fixtures to come
Son Heung-min (Tottenham) – £9.2m
The facts don’t lie, Son Heung-min is THE guy in the Premier League right now and it is no surprise Spurs are desperate to extend his contract.
Eight goals and two assists in the first six Gameweeks speak for themselves. For Fantasy managers, Son has proven a goldmine thus far and if, like me, he’ll have the captain’s armband this week, long may that continue.
He has totalled 69 points so far, producing four double-figure hauls in the last five rounds of matches.
Son Heung-min is hard to look beyond when it comes to a reliable Fantasy captain right now
His match-winning contribution in the 1-0 win away at Burnley last time out summed up his ‘right place, right time’ schtick right now.
And, of course, Harry Kane was on hand to tee him up.
His last three points returns read 18, 13 and 11 and so heading into a home game against a Brighton defence that has looked far from watertight this season, Son will expect to be at the heart of all things good for Tottenham on Sunday.
Brighton have kept just one clean sheet this season and so there is an expectation that No 2 won’t arrive in north London come Sunday tea-time.
Part of my motivation for handing Son the armband once again this week, aside from the fact he has not let me down in the last two weeks, is that Tottenham need a redemption performance.
Son managed to connect with a diving header onto Kane’s flick on to score the decisive goal
Having been humbled by Royal Antwerp in the Europa League on Thursday night in a ‘bad’ performance that angered Jose Mourinho, Spurs will need little motivation to fly out of the blocks against Brighton.
That works in Son’s favour and while Kane is another option for the armband with 41.7 per cent of managers owning the England captain, Son has the bigger upside with clean sheet points as well as more points for goals and assists.
Brighton and then West Brom makes Son a promising captaincy option for the next two weeks and while Antwerp was a blip that caused concern, it could prove the perfect tonic for FPL bosses reliant on a Son explosion against the Seagulls.
Team of the Week (3-5-2)
A week in which not a single Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool or Arsenal player made the cut.
Forming in a 3-5-2 formation, this was all about some big individual performances with representatives from Crystal Palace, Leeds, Southampton, Newcastle and Leicester all earning spots impressively.
Chelsea pair Kurt Zouma and Reece James – who combined for 17 points – won their places after playing a key role in the Blues’ stalemate against Manchester United at Old Trafford.
Robin Koch, a summer arrival at Leeds from the Bundesliga, completes the defence.
Crystal Palace saw two players make the TOTW midfield in Wilfried Zaha and Jairo Riedewald after their dominant display at Fulham, while star of the show Son once again stood out with his matchwinning performance at Burnley.
Bamford and Ings, two English strikers in stupendous form at this moment, lead the attack, putting some big-money peers to shame.