FPL GW9 tips: Best fixtures, who to captain, Hourihane has a 48-point hit

We’re at an FPL crossroads: Mo Salah is unavailable through illness and Son Heung-Min is embarking on a run of catastrophically shit fixtures.

This means Fantasy bosses may need to think of new tactics for the weeks ahead.

Should an in-form Jamie Vardy be trusted to slay another giant? Or is man of the moment Jack Grealish about to reach an even higher level?

Maybe you’ll risk a Manchester City player despite the threat of rotation?

Actually, you might not have much of a choice: with throngs of players getting muscle injuries and positive COVID results, it might be a struggle to get 11 of them on the (virtual) pitch.

If you have the luxury of choice, then players’ performances for their international teams might be informing your decisions.

Over at the Etihad, Phil Foden, Ferran Torres and Riyad Mahrez will be arguing about who had the best fortnight.

Foden wrote a lovely ending to his Iceland story, Torres scored his first-ever hat-trick in Spain’s 6-0 rout of Germany, and Mahrez completely took the piss with a wondergoal against Zimbabwe.

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READ: Ferran Torres’ career-defining hat-trick offers glimpse of scary City potential

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Pep being Pep, there’s still a chance that none of them will start against Tottenham.

Meanwhile Harry Kane couldn’t find the net against 10-man Iceland, which will have infuriated the England captain.

A sign that he’s a bit knackered? Or a warning that he’ll use his rage to score a hat-trick against City?

These are our FPL tips for GW9.

Best fixtures

Aston Villa – Brighton

Villa’s thrashing of Arsenal two weeks ago was supposed to be their last difficult match before the easy ones.

Ollie Watkins and the gang made short work of the Gunners, and from here on its ‘green’ fixtures aplenty, starting with Brighton at home.

Graham Potter’s men are experts at losing in a dignified and respectable way, so they’ll probably lose to Villa by a respectable scoreline of 2-1 or 3-1.

Jack Grealish (£7.5m) has had a massive surge in FPL ownership (35% and counting), while Ross Barkley (£6.0m) and the aforementioned Ollie Watkins (£6.1m) continue to look like bargains.

Get on the bandwagon.

READ: Jack Grealish & the spin of a man dancing around the cynics

Newcastle – Chelsea

Callum Wilson has scored six of Newcastle’s 10 PL goals this season. The other four were scored by Allan Saint-Maximin, Jacob Murphy, Jeff Hendrick and Man United’s Luke Shaw.

Wilson is struggling with a hamstring injury and Shaw, also injured, remains a Man United player, which doesn’t bode well for the Magpies.

Chelsea have a few fitness concerns of their own — Thiago Silva, Kai Havertz and Christian Pulisic will miss out — but Lampard has been positive on Ben Chilwell (£6.0m), now the most-owned defender in FPL, who could pick up defensive and offensive points.

Plenty of bosses are buying Hakim Ziyech (£8.2m), while Timo Werner (£9.4m) is rewarding those who stuck with him through those four games where he looked like Andriy Shevchenko 2.0.

Who to captain

Jamie Vardy

This one’s not controversial: the official FPL Scout has been bigging up the away-day potential of Jamie Vardy (£10.1m) in the lead-up to GW9.

22% of FPL bosses now own the notorious Red Bull guzzler, but how many of them will trust Vardy with their digital armband?

Doing so makes a lot of sense. Liverpool have almost no defenders at all, and the 33-year-old truly comes to life in the big games.

READ: The £211.5m seven-a-side team Liverpool currently have sidelined

Timo Werner

Anonymous against Sergio Ramos and co, but maybe he was saving his energy for Fabian Schar?

Newcastle will be on the back foot all game, and Timo Werner (£9.4m) is the obvious captaincy choice if you don’t fully trust Kurt Zouma (£5.4m) with it.

Anthony Martial

The Manchester United forward hasn’t had a shot on target in the PL this season, and he’s yet to score against West Brom after five meetings. (Darren Fletcher once kept him in check during a particularly beige 0-1 defeat under Louis van Gaal.)

We can’t properly justify why this any of this will change.

But Martial is owned by just 3.9% of bosses — less popular than Aleksandar Mitrovic — and his price has fallen significantly.

If not now, when?

Aston Villa players H2H league

Since the season began, we’ve looked at the FPL teams of real-life footballers like Trent Alexander-Arnold and Patrick Bamford.

This week it’s the turn of the Aston Villa squad, many of whom are competing in a head-to-head league called Tea League 4.

Top of the table is Scottish midfielder John McGinn, who absolutely bossed it in GW8 with a final score of 94. 10 of McGinn’s starting XI returned goals, assists or clean sheets. The only player to blank was, er, John McGinn.

Injured keeper Tom Heaton is also doing pretty well, while former FPL legend Matt Targett has gone with the oft-used, rarely loved team name of ‘She Was Only XI’.

Of greatest interest, however, is Irish midfielder Conor Hourihane.

Hourihane has been playing FPL since the 2011–12 season, but this season he has somehow made 18 transfers at a cost of -48 points.

Despite the madness, he’s still above Welsh full-back Neil Taylor, whose ‘dyche dyche baby’ sit dead last.

By Benedict O’Neill

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