The start to this Premier League season has not been kind to the mood of fantasy football managers.
Last weekend only continued the trend for unexpected results – West Brom 3-3 Chelsea? Manchester City 2-5 Leicester? West Ham 4-0 Wolves?! I mean, come on, give us a fighting chance!
If you haven’t already, you may be sorely tempted to play that wildcard. But we are here to preach the merits of holding fire, taking a moment of calm reflection and opting not to throw the baby out with the bath water.
Some of you may be already too far gone to reel back, but for those wavering, here is our gameweek-four guide to the non-nuclear options that may get your season back on track.
Stick with PEA for at least one more week
Having initially taken advantage of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s surprise listing as a midfielder (albeit an expensive one), you may have decided his so far meagre return and upcoming gameweek-three trip to Liverpool was enough to bin him off.
However, if you stayed true to the Arsenal skipper, this is definitely not the week to be getting rid.
The Gunners host a Sheffield United side, who have lost all three matches so far without scoring, and while they’ve hardly been shipping goals, you wouldn’t put it past Aubameyang hitting the net.
Plus, anyone who has dispensed with either Son Heung-min or Jamie Vardy before the past two weeks knows, nothing cuts quite as deep as letting a forward go just that one week too early.
Feel free to swap him out for someone else after this weekend, though, with Arsenal’s next three fixtures being Manchester City (a), Leicester (h) and Manchester United (a).
Ditch the centre-backs
In this chaotic start to the top-flight season, we’ve had just 13 cleansheets from a possible 56 available so far.
So while the likes of Virgil van Dijk, Aymeric Laporte, Thiago Silva and David Luiz may look fine on your team screen in their shiny big-club kit, you have to ask yourself what value they are bringing.
If the Premier League is going to be a goal-fest then give yourself the best chance of attacking points from your defenders too, in the form of marauding full-backs.
Brighton’s Tariq Lamptey and Leicester’s Timothy Castagne have already caught the eye, but they are not the only ones to consider.
Stuart Dallas is a nice option at Leeds, especially as Marcelo Bielsa likes to push him up into a midfield role when facing an opponent with two central strikers, as was the case against Sheffield United on Sunday.
While Ricardo Pereira remains out, James Justin at Leicester is also one to think about, as are West Ham pair Ryan Fredericks and Arthur Masuaku, who both showed attacking instinct in the win over Wolves.
And then there’s Ryan Bertrand and Kyle Walker-Peters at Southampton, who may fancy their chances of goals against West Brom this weekend.
Switch to 3-4-3
With the sheer amount of goals on offer and a larger pool of forwards bringing points to the the table than many foresaw before the season began, it is time to maximise your formation.
If you don’t already, you should think seriously about ditching that cheap bench-filler forward and instead have a three-man forward line of guaranteed starters.
Everton’s Dominic Calvert-Lewin remains a bargain at £7.4m, as does Patrick Bamford, with Leeds’ next two fixtures, at home to Manchester City and Wolves possibly not as daunting as they looked a week ago.
Aleksandar Mitrovic was profligate against Aston Villa at the weekend, but he has had 10 shots in the box and eight headers so far in his three matches. He has shown enough to suggest he will convert chances eventually.
Neal Maupay won’t bust the bank, nor will Callum Wilson, both of whom have the added bonus of taking penalties.
A bit more of a punt, but Aaron Connolly and Che Adams, both of whom are busy, are also ones to watch.
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