The following Fantasy Premier League advice is tailored toward players of Togga's Perfect XI. It's a weekly game in which every Premier League player is eligible to be selected into a 4-4-2 formation. There is no salary cap, no squad restrictions and you pick a fresh XI every week.
Whether you're playing season-long, daily or weekly fantasy Premier League, you already know there's a fine art to juggling the hot-hand, trusting in class (it's permanent, after all) and keying in on this weekend's match-ups. Below we've provide our selections to help you in naming your perfect side, as well as a bit of statistical insight to help calm your nerves over selection dilemmas.
Selecting the Perfect XI each week isn't an easy task and even the best-laid plans can use a Plan B, so we've provided alternatives for each position. Those designated (d) are differentials–players we expect will be owned by fewer than 5% of FPL managers this weekend.
Kasper Schmeichel (vs. Crystal Palace)
Key Stats: The case for Schmeichel is short and simple–16 saves in his past three matches, two clean sheets (home to Arsenal and Southampton), and just one goal allowed in his three home fixtures. He's facing a Palace squad that shoots in bunches (116 total shots for the squad), but rarely on frame (32 shots on target). Plenty of points to be had even if he allows one goal.
Plan B: Maarten Stekelenburg (at Burnley); Loris Karius (vs. West Brom); Lukasz Fabianski (d; vs. Everton)
Everton's Stekelenburg made two penalty saves in the Toffees' draw with Manchester City and narrowly missed being selected as our first choice this weekend. While Burnley has averaged a goal per game at home, Everton has allowed less than a goal per game in four away matches and he'd make a fine choice.
Nicolas Otamendi (d; vs. Southampton); Laurent Koscielny (vs. Middlesbrough); Shkodran Mustafi (d; vs. Middlesbrough); Seamus Coleman (at Burnley)
Key Stats: Nicolas Otamendi's FPL status suffers from a combination of high-expectation and infrequent clean sheets. While his ownership should rise as the weekend nears, he's on pace for less than 5% selection in fantasy Premier League this weekend, despite amassing a top-10 score by total points at his position. City has kept just one clean sheet this season and Southampton may well score at Etihad Stadium, but that shouldn't stop you from reaping the rewards. The Argentina international has recorded double-digit fantasy points in three on the spin and five of his last seven. He'll do it again against the Saints.
Plan B: Winston Reid (d; vs. Sunderland); Christian Fuchs (vs. Crystal Palace); Phil Jagielka (at Burnley); Kyle Naughton (d; vs. Watford)
There will be some people who take a punt on Hull City defenders citing their need to bounce back from the 6-1 thrashing they took at the hands of Bournemouth. But you shouldn't be one of them. It's true Hull City has been better at home than on the road, but only because an atrocious road defense (three goals allowed per match) is marginally better at home (two goals allowed per match). Concentrate on the criminally underrated Reid and Jagielka. Both have great match-ups and average around 10 points per match in Togga's draft scoring format.
Kevin De Bruyne (vs. Southampton); Sadio Mane (vs. West Brom); Joe Allen (at Hull City); Christian Eriksen (d; at Bournemouth)
Key Stats: West Brom is playing some dire football home and away. Just 17 total goals have been scored in their eight League matches, with six of those coming in The Albion's 4-2 trouncing of West Ham. Three 1-1 draws on the bounce–Tony Pulis' squad is without a clean sheet since August–and a clash at Anfield with Liverpool's high-power offense sets the stage for big FPL returns for the home side. It's anyone's guess which of Klopp's team will fire in a given weekend, but we've put our faith in Mane for Gameweek 9 (though we wouldn't fault you for selecting Philippe Coutinho or even Adam Lallana instead).
Allen has scored four goals in his last three EPL games, as well as netting in international play for Wales over the break. It's form. It's class. It's the Welsh Xavi. And he's playing the side that just let in six against Bournemouth.
Plan B: Riyad Mahrez (vs. Crystal Palace); Paul Pogba (at Chelsea); Cheikhou Kouyate (d; vs. Sunderland); Gylfi Sigurdsson (vs. Watford)
It's come to this. The reigning Player of the Year has been relegated to 'Plan B' status. Unfortunately for his FPL owners, Mahrez hasn't scored since the curtain-raiser in league play (he did in the Champions League on Tuesday) and has just one goal and one assist to his credit this EPL season. More dire is that he's failed to create a chance since Gameweek 5 against Burnley and has just nine chances created this season. This is the weekend to right the ship.
Jamie Vardy (d; vs. Crystal Palace); Wilfried Bony (d; at Hull City)
Key Stats: Both Leicester City's Vardy (one goal) and Stoke City's Bony (none) have failed to impress this season. A year ago, Vardy scored 24 goals with eight assists while Bony scored four goals with four assists in just 1,226 minutes for Manchester City. Their lack of goals hasn't gone unnoticed by FPL managers, and both have seen declining selection week over week. What is key is that Vardy (13) and Bony (10) are recording shots, even if they're not finding the back of the net. Expect both to shoot–and score–in Gameweek 9.
Plan B: Roberto Firmino (vs. West Brom); Theo Walcott (vs. Middlesbrough), Romelu Lukaku (at Burnley); Sergio Aguero (vs. Southampton)
Popping up in the right place, at the right time is a hallmark of our Plan B forwards this week. Any of this quartet could easily nick a goal, an assist or both against opposition that, frankly, is outclassed. We went with a couple of gut calls in Vardy and Bony, above. If you're a 'play it safe' type, pick two from this list and know your squad is in good hands.