FPL Gameweek 9 – The Fixtures: Liverpool injury doubts, slim Newcastle pickings and impatient Mitrovic owners

This Saturday’s 11.30am deadline is hotly anticipated after another long international break which saw Liverpool pick up several injury worries, but the Reds’ fixture list demands investment, while an overlooked Newcastle outfit could potentially provide some FPL value.

GW9 FIXTURES

Saturday 20th October

Chelsea vs Man Utd (12:30)

Bournemouth vs Southampton (15:00)

Cardiff vs Fulham (15:00)

Man City vs Burnley (15:00)

Newcastle vs Brighton (15:00)

West Ham vs Spurs (15:00)

Wolves vs Watford (15:00)

Huddersfield vs Liverpool (17:30)

Sunday 21st October

Everton vs Crystal Palace (16:00)

Monday 22nd October

Arsenal vs Leicester (20:00)

REDS FLAGGED

Ahead of an excellent run of fixtures from GW9, Liverpool have fitness doubts over key players. Sadio Mane (£9.9m) reportedly broke his left thumb while on international duty; though this may not necessarily rule him out of this weekend’s tie away to Huddersfield.

Mohamed Salah (£12.8m), meanwhile, was taken off late in Egypt’s 4-1 win against Swaziland last Friday with a muscle complaint. Both players are now back on Merseyside, with all FPL eyes on Jurgen Klopp’s press conference this Friday. Naby Keita (£7.2m) added to the list of injury doubts on Tuesday, having been subbed off during Guinea’s game against Rwanda with a hamstring injury.

The Reds take on Cardiff (H), Arsenal (a) and Fulham (H) after the trip to the John Smith’s Stadium. After another international break following GW12, Liverpool’s favourable fixture run continues at least until a GW17 clash at home to Manchester United and a GW18 away tie at Wolves.

At least one Liverpool attacking asset looks sensible for the club’s current schedule. However, injury doubts, Champions League fixtures and quality back-up in Xherdan Shaqiri (£7.0m) and Daniel Sturridge (£5.8m) are causing transfer headaches for FPL managers.

In defence, Alisson (£5.6m) represents an excellent set-and-forget goalkeeper pick while Andy Robertson (£6.3m) looks the safest defender choice. Trent Alexander-Arnold (£5.2m) was rotated in GW9 as Joe Gomez (£5.1m) moved to right-back and Dejan Lovren (£4.9m) partnered Virgil van Dijk (£5.9m). The latter, who scored in Holland’s 3-0 win against Germany on Saturday, continues to manage a rib injury though is expected to be fit this weekend.

Liverpool’s first-choice penalty taker James Milner (£5.7m) could also be in contention for GW9 despite suffering a hamstring injury during the 0-0 draw at home to Manchester City in GW8.

While Klopp’s attack has faltered somewhat in the last four gameweeks (six goals scored), the Reds’ defence is unquestionably worthy of investment. The Anfield outfit have conceded just three times in the Premier League this season, though that could easily have been four if Riyad Mahrez (£8.6m) punished them from the penalty spot in GW8. For managers tripling up on Liverpool assets though, a defensive double could reap real rewards as Klopp’s men take on the league’s two lowest-scoring sides over GWs 9&10.

NEW OUTLOOK

After a fairly brutal run of fixtures over the first eight gameweeks, Newcastle’s schedule is finally softening. Rafa Benitez’s men take on Brighton (H), Southampton (a), Watford (H) and Bournemouth (H) over the next four GWs.

The Seagulls, discussed ahead of GW8, have lost three times and drawn once on the road so far this season. That draw was against the Saints, when Chris Hughton’s men scored twice. One of those was put away from the penalty spot by Brighton’s top scorer Glenn Murray (£6.6m), whose four other goals have come at the Amex.

Watford have cooled off massively after a blistering start to the season, managing just two goals in their previous four fixtures. While high-flying Bournemouth will seriously test Newcastle’s defensive resolve, investment in a Magpies defender could prove a decent medium-term outlay.

DeAndre Yedlin (£4.5m) appears the safest route into Benitez’s backline, whether the manager opts for his usual four-man defence or switches to five at the back. The American already has a goal and an assist to his name this season.

Further forward, it is slim pickings for fantasy managers. Kenedy (£4.9m) has started Newcastle’s last three ties, though played at left-back against Leicester in GW7. The Brazilian scored at Old Trafford in GW8 but is currently struggling with a knock picked up in that game.

However, Newcastle’s fixture list continues to look profitable up until GW19, suggesting Magpies assets are at least worth monitoring over the coming gameweeks.

FUL OF IT?

While Slavisa Jokanovic’s Fulham have looked slightly abject in defeats to Everton (GW7) and Arsenal (GW8), the Lilywhites have the short-term fixture list to turn that form around. They play Cardiff (a), Bournemouth (H) and Huddersfield (a) in the next three gameweeks before a trip to Liverpool.

Aleksandar Mitrovic (£6.9m) followed up a run of five goals in the opening six gameweeks with two blanks, causing owners to lose patience. Over 90,000 managers have transferred out the Serbian over the international break, causing the striker’s price to fall by £0.1m.

The forward played 90 minutes in both of his country’s games, scoring a brace (one penalty) against Montenegro last Thursday. Serbia drew 0-0 with Romania on Sunday as Dusan Tadic missed from the spot. Mitrovic has not missed a minute for Fulham so far this season, cementing his talismanic presence in Jokanovic’s team.

Apart from Fulham themselves (21), no teams have conceded more goals than Cardiff and Huddersfield (both 17). Despite successive blanks as Fulham struggled to provide him with quality service, Mitrovic managed to fire six attempts at goal (four inside the box, one on target) over the last two gameweeks.

Bournemouth have been breached 12 times so far, while all three of Fulham’s upcoming opponents are conceding an average of 13-14 shots per game. If the Cottagers can provide Mitrovic with decent opportunities, the Serbian could potentially punish those impatient sellers.

BOURN AGAIN

Bournemouth assets are hot FPL property right now as bosses move for Callum Wilson (£6.4m), Josh King (£6.4m), Ryan Fraser (£6.0m) and to a lesser extent David Brooks (£5.0m).

Fraser was again absent from international duty after failing a fitness test with Scotland last Sunday week, though wary owners will remember his 18-point haul at home to Leicester in GW5 following the previous round of international fixtures.

While the Cherries’ GW8 attacking display in a 4-0 win at Watford was impressive, it was undoubtedly aided by the dismissal of Christian Kabasele (£4.5m). With the Belgian sent off, Etienne Capoue (£5.0m) was used at centre-half for a spell; a situation which the Bournemouth attackers took full advantage of.

Eddie Howe’s men play Southampton at home this weekend before games against Fulham (a), Man Utd (H) and Newcastle (a). Following the international break, clashes against Arsenal (H), Man City (a) and Liverpool (H) will test the Cherries’ mettle though a GW15 (the first midweek round of fixtures this season) visit from Huddersfield should provide further points-scoring possibilities.

Teams discussed ahead of GW8: Brighton, Man City, Man United, Spurs, Watford, West Ham

Gameweek 9 Captain Picks: Hazard, Aguero, Firmino, Lacazette & David Silva

Gameweek 9 Projections: optimum squad, goalkeeper saves