FPL: Countdown to GW4 - Best captain picks and managing fixture congestion

For those who went big at the back, GW3 was one to forget.

There were clean-sheet wipe-outs for Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City as the three best defensive teams from last season shipped a whopping seven goals between them meaning popular assets like Trent Alexander-Arnold (7.5), Andrew Robertson (6.9), Reece James (6.1), Marc Cucurella (5.1) and Joao Cancelo (7.0) scored only three points between them. Three measly points – unbelievable!

Let’s not be hasty, though, as this was a freak result and these defenders still offer plenty of reasons why you should keep the faith in them. They’re arguably some of the best picks in terms of value for their teams and there’s a reason we are blinkered when selecting high-ceiling full-backs.

In midfield and attack, however, I am making a conscious decision to cast my net wide in search of players from a handful of other teams.

Talisman Theory

West Ham's Jarrod Bowen celebrates scoring against Manchester City
West Ham’s Jarrod Bowen celebrates scoring against Manchester City

Remember Jarrod Bowen last year? He was one of the best FPL assets in the game but we were slow transferring him in because he didn’t play for one of the ‘sexy’ clubs.

We all thought his goal-scoring run would be short-lived but he continued his form all season and eventually, we all owned West Ham’s talisman. So this season, we should be looking for the new Bowen; a lowly owned, mid-priced asset (usually from a mid-table team) who delivers with the consistency of a premium player at a top-four club.

Only Arsenal and Man City (both nine) have scored more Premier League goals than Brentford (eight) and Leeds (seven) this season. Teams like Palace are also creating lots of chances and these three teams all have something in common – they have an obvious talisman who hog the FPL points for their team.

Ivan Toney (7.1) and Rodrigo (6.3) are the game’s best scoring forward and midfielder to date, whilst Wilfried Zaha (7.1) looks dangerous at every Palace attack. Now, I’m not suggesting you rip up your team to accommodate all of these players, but I do think every squad should be considering at least one of them.

They’re all fairly lowly owned too – between 11-22% – and could make the difference when competing with your mini-league rivals that are perhaps a little more template.

I saw enough of Toney in the first two games to buy him last week and I’m expecting his returns to continue. Sure, he won’t keep his average of over eight points-per-game but with Everton, Crystal Palace, Leeds and Southampton in the next four, I’m expecting goals. I was concerned by Brentford picking up second-season syndrome but they have recruited well this summer and from what we have seen so far, look every bit a Premier League team.

Fixture Congestion

From next week, the teams involved in Europe are going to be playing every midweek before we break for the FIFA World Cup – we’ve never seen a heavier schedule this early in a season and because of it, we have to expect rotation, especially from those playing in the Champions League.

We know some FPL favourites are durable enough to always start when fit and I wouldn’t be concerned about the likes of Kevin De Bruyne (12.1), Harry Kane (11.4) and Mohamed Salah (13.0) but, players like Eerling Haaland (11.6), Jack Grealish (6.9) and Ivan Perišić may all suffer from rotation around European.

This doesn’t mean you have to sell these players, just don’t expect them to start every Premier League game and do expect a couple of one-pointers off the bench. When assets like Perišić start, we know they’re gold dust, so be prepared to take the rough with the smooth if you think the rewards are great enough when they do play.


GW4 Captain Pick

Last week, captaincy numbers across the game were split pretty equally between Haaland (11.6), Gabriel Jesus (8.1) and Salah (13.0), who all had between 1.9 and 2.4 million FPL managers give them the armband.

All have good fixtures this week, too, so I expect a similar spread. Jesus at home to Fulham will tempt many and rightly so, but I think I will stick with Salah against Bournemouth.

Sure, Arsenal have looked like the superior attack so far but Liverpool will surely click into gear soon and there is arguably no better fixture than Bournemouth at home.

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