Crunch Champions League ties add a new dynamic for FPL managers to ponder
Fantasy Premier League managers have plenty to think about ahead of Gameweek 8. The October international break has meant that FPL big-hitters such as Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino, Alexis Sanchez and Sergio Aguero have all had to make the gruelling trip to South America, while the in-form Son Heung-min headed off to Asia with South Korea.
Ryan Bertrand and Georginio Wijnaldum have already picked up significant injuries, after playing in European qualifying ties and there is still plenty of time for more injuries to be reported once this round of World Cup qualifiers is concluded.
However, perhaps just as big a concern for fantasy football managers is the proximity of MatchDay 3 in the 2016/17 UEFA Champions League campaign. This is that moment in the qualification process, in which teams will be looking to stamp their authority on group proceedings, so slip-ups needs to be avoided.
Pep Guardiola returns to old his old club, with Manchester City taking on Barcelona, Spurs travel to Germany for a crunch clash with Bayer Leverkusen, Leicester City entertain FC Copenhagen and Arsenal host Ludogerets Razgrad.
The sensible thing for FPL managers is to not take any chances, by steering clear of players who may be rested as a direct result of the condition they arrive back in or because they may be preserved for Champions League action, with their managers prioritising the latter competition in this particular game round.
With so much uncertainty ahead of GW8, we’re going to keep transfer activity to the minimum. However, Mauricio Pochettino certainly caught us out in GW7 and he presents us with another headache, with domestic duties set to resume. His decision to deploy the aforementioned Son, in the number 9 role against Manchester City, in preference to Vincent Janssen, paid off and seeing one of your selected strikers sitting on the bench certainly leaves a bad taste in the mouth!
It’s possible that the Dutch striker will get the nod on Sunday, with Son rested ahead of that Champions League date in Leverkusen but we’re not prepared to take that chance.
Charlie Austin will replace Janssen in our squad and we’re going to give the in-form Saints’ striker the captain’s arm-band as well, with a home game against Burnley looking like a very favourable fixture.
Have you factored the UEFA Champions League permutations into your GW8 thinking? If not, perhaps you should do!