Fantasy Football tips: Time to think the unthinkable

by Steven Smith
4 minutes read

Move over Mo, there’s a new king in town.

Sixty-seven points for Erling Haaland so far in just six gameweeks after his now customary goal against Aston Villa – the question is not whether you should have Haaland or not, it’s whether you now decide to stick with Mohamed Salah if you own both of them.

Personally I wouldn’t advise selling him before a home game against Wolves, even though Liverpool sunk to new depths in Naples this week, and he still remains a good captaincy option in that one but after that I am thinking the unthinkable of taking him out of my squad.

The outlay of £13m just doesn’t justify the returns at the moment and after the Wolves game Liverpool have fixtures against Chelsea, Brighton, Arsenal and Manchester City.

That’s not to say Liverpool won’t rediscover their mojo at some point but you can still cater for that by having the likes of Trent Alexander-Arnold or Luis Diaz in your squad while using the Salah money to go looking for points elsewhere.

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There’s plenty of straight swaps for other premium midfielders available to you, which also give you a viable route to get straight back to Salah if feel you’ve made the wrong call.

Kevin de Bruyne, Son Heung-min, Raheem Sterling and Bruno Fernandes are four players which immediately spring to mind and, all of them, offer enticing potential points hauls although all have their downsides as well.

With De Bruyne it’s playing Pep Guardiola roulette, although you could argue that rotation is going to be a factor for all of them with European football now in full swing.

Son hasn’t converted his numerous opportunities into FPL points so far this season but I do feel it’s coming and he does now have the advantage of being owned by less than 10% of managers in the game.

Fernandes is a proper differential at 2.4% ownership and Manchester United are clearly improving under Erik ten Hag. But will he return to that consistent points machine he was in his first year in FPL particularly when Cristiano Ronaldo is on the pitch itching to take the penalties?

As for Sterling we’ll just have to see what the arrival of Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang and a new manager does for him at Chelsea, although their fixture run looks the easiest on paper with the four names in question here. I think it would be between Son and Sterling for me just to spread the risk rather than going for the Manchester City double-up of De Bruyne and Haaland when you are probably only going to captain Haaland out of the pair of them anyway.

The other option I am considering though is to use the Salah money to get to Harry Kane and going with the big-hitting strike partnership of Haaland and Kane for the coming weeks. That would mean switching Salah for the likes of Wilfried Zaha or James Maddison, who’ve both got tempting sets of fixtures on the way and then bringing Kane in for Gabriel Jesus as Arsenal’s games start to get a bit trickier from gameweek nine.

Those fixture swings are a big reason why a lot of managers are looking at playing their first wildcard in gameweek nine, which would then set your squad up to take you through to the end of gameweek 16 when the Premier League breaks off for the World Cup and we get another set of unlimited transfers.

A lot of us have three players each from Liverpool and Arsenal, so it seems sensible to reduce our coverage there while looking at bringing in the likes of Nick Pope, Kieran Trippier and Alexander Isak at Newcastle, Zaha and Maddison as mentioned above, plus Aleksandar Mitrovic and Ivan Toney.

The availability this season of those mid-priced strikers who are banging in the goals is one reason not to head down the Haaland/Kane pairing route and spend the money in midfield instead.

I would hang on to Alexander-Arnold and Gabriel Martinelli on the wildcard because Liverpool and Arsenal players aren’t suddenly going to stop scoring points altogether and Martinelli in particular remains great value particularly if you bought him for £6m at the start of the season.

I’d also keep Reece James if you’ve got him as long as Chelsea’s new manager continues to employ him as a wing-back with his explosive attacking potential. I’d also say the same for Joao Cancelo, who looked deadly again in that right-back role for Manchester City against Sevilla on Tuesday night with Kyle Walker out injured.

Finally we have to factor the postponement of Brighton’s game against Crystal Palace in gameweek eight due to the rail strikes into our planning. It may even tempt you to go with the wildcard a week earlier.

Alistair Bruce-Ball presents the Fantasy 606 podcast alongside former Premier League winner Chris Sutton and Statman Dave.

If you want to have a go then please e-mail us on [email protected].

The latest episode previewing gameweek 7 is available on the BBC Sounds app.

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