It’s finally here. Chelsea’s feted fixture swing starts this weekend with the visit of Southampton to Stamford Bridge. Expect a lot of experienced managers to sell off Liverpool and Manchester United players for those in Thomas Tuchel’s squad.
There’s a theory that you can hold off for a little longer, as Southampton and next week’s opponents Brentford have shown some solidity of late, but Lukaku will still be a popular pick this week and it’s essential to own him at some point during this favourable run.
Many have pencilled in a straight swap for Cristiano Ronaldo. Whether they have the stomach for it is another question but Ronaldo’s blank in the defeat against Aston Villa might help some push the button.
Others are looking to fit Lukaku, Ronaldo and Mohamed Salah in the same squad. It’s possible, particularly with the number of mid-price midfield options available at the moment, but requires some heavy surgery. Expect a lot of wildcards to be played this week and next.
Before everyone rushes to bring in Chelsea assets though, it is worth remembering that there are not many reliable attacking options outside of Lukaku. The defence is a far better bet but picking the right player is important.
Marcos Alonso is the most enticing asset from an attacking perspective but may be on borrowed time at left-back. Andreas Christensen is intriguing at 5.0m but Rudiger is the most nailed-on member of Tuchel’s backline and is the best hope of regular points.
The bandwagon of the moment, Sarr was the subject of plenty of transfers last week before scoring from a set-piece against Newcastle. It was his only real chance of the afternoon but that has not put off another 265,000 managers from bringing him in this week so far.
Sarr is not a long-term pick but could be good for immediate returns at Elland Road on Saturday. Leeds’ defensive crisis is only just starting to ease. And even with everyone available, Marcelo Bielsa’s side are vulnerable at the back.
If Sarr is this week’s bandwagon then Mbeumo could be one in the near future. West Ham away may not seem easy on paper – and it isn’t – but David Moyes’ men are not as impressive at the back as they are going forward.
Beyond that and next week’s meeting with Chelsea, Brentford have a flagging Leicester, Burnley, Norwich and Newcastle. Mbeumo is still playing slightly more advanced than Ivan Toney and is currently beating Sarr on non-penalty xG per 90.
For those planning to wildcard next week, you could do worse than a one-week punt targeting bottom-of-the-table Norwich. Daniel Farke’s side have made a horrendous start. The problem? Their opponents Burnley are only one place above them.
Still, for one week only, Wood could provide an easy route to cheap points. The New Zealand international leads Sean Dyche’s squad in shots and xG by a distance and could profit against a defence that has shipped more than 2.5 goals per game.
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