Fantasy Premier League (FPL) returns with a bang after a two-week hiatus, with derbies aplenty and a full complement of 10 fixtures – barring any late drama on the rail networks or elsewhere…
Our Scout Squad panel of Sam, Neale, Tom and Az are also back to select their best players for Gameweek 9 in this article.
If you’re after a longer-term view on the pick of the FPL assets, our Watchlist – which takes a four-to-six-Gameweek lookahead – has been refreshed in the last few days.
ABOUT THE SCOUT SQUAD
Our four resident writers each propose an 18-man squad of Fantasy players with the focus solely on the upcoming Gameweek.
Their selections serve as a long list for the Scout Picks, as the players nominated will then be narrowed down to a squad of 15 (with the starting XI not exceeding a total cost of £83.0m) for our final weekly selection ahead of Saturday’s deadline.
Each writer must meet the following requirements:
- At least one sub-£5.0m goalkeeper
- At least one sub-£5.0m defender
- At least one sub-£6.0m midfielder
- At least one sub-£7.0m forward
- No more than three players from the same club
SCOUT SQUAD’S PICK OF THE BEST FPL PLAYERS FOR GAMEWEEK 9
|GK||Nick Pope||Lukasz Fabianski||Lukasz Fabianski||Asmir Begovic|
|Danny Ward||David Raya||Illan Meslier||Bernd Leno|
|David Raya||Danny Ward||Nick Pope||David Raya|
|DEF||Kieran Trippier||Reece James||Reece James||Reece James|
|Trent Alexander-Arnold||Trent Alexander-Arnold||Trent Alexander-Arnold||Trent Alexander-Arnold|
|James Tarkowski||Joao Cancelo||Joao Cancelo||Joao Cancelo|
|Reece James||Kieran Trippier||Vladimir Coufal||Vladimir Coufal|
|Aaron Cresswell||Seamus Coleman||Aaron Hickey||Armel Bella-Kotchap|
|MID||James Maddison||Mohamed Salah||Mohamed Salah||James Maddison|
|Mohamed Salah||James Maddison||Kevin De Bruyne||Mohamed Salah|
|Luis Diaz||Luis Sinisterra||James Maddison||Luis Sinisterra|
|Brenden Aaronson||Son Heung-min||Raheem Sterling||Raheem Sterling|
|Son Heung-min||Philip Billing||Brenden Aaronson||Marcus Tavernier|
|FWD||Erling Haaland||Erling Haaland||Erling Haaland||Erling Haaland|
|Ivan Toney||Harry Kane||Harry Kane||Ivan Toney|
|Dominic Solanke||Ivan Toney||Darwin Nunez||Harry Kane|
|Harry Kane||Aleksandar Mitrovic||Ivan Toney||Aleksandar Mitrovic|
|Aleksandar Mitrovic||Brennan Johnson||Aleksandar Mitrovic||Taiwo Awoniyi|
Most popular picks: Trent Alexander-Arnold, Reece James, Mohamed Salah, James Maddison, Erling Haaland, Ivan Toney, Harry Kane, Aleksandar Mitrovic (four), David Raya, Joao Cancelo (three)
Gameweek 9 has the potential to be a difficult one to call, with two huge derbies in north London and Manchester. I also don’t see a huge number of clean sheets this weekend, hence going for Nick Pope and two more budget-friendly goalkeepers. Fulham create plenty of chances on home soil so there is a lot of potential for save and bonus points for Pope, even if he doesn’t manage to keep out Aleksandar Mitrovic. And why Danny Ward? Well, whilst Leicester have been poor so far this season, especially defensively, they face a Nottingham Forest side who have scored just once on the road and who have the second lowest expected goals (xG) tally in away matches.
Even though Fulham have the potential to wipe out the Newcastle clean sheet, Kieran Trippier’s attacking threat still makes him one of the first players I would want to own for Gameweek 9. Fulham have conceded 25 goal attempts from set pieces so far this campaign, giving Trippier a good platform from which to deliver attacking returns at the weekend.
Liverpool have not been the solid defensive unit that we are used to seeing in recent Gameweeks but fresh from an early return from international duty and with a point to prove to his national team boss in particular, Trent Alexander-Arnold makes a return to my Scout Squad selection. Thiago Alcantara returned from injury in the Champions League a fortnight ago and Liverpool looked more defensively secure as a result, so we could seen an upturn in the Reds’ form at the back. Moreover, with Brighton’s new manager Roberto De Zerbi more known for his attacking football in Italy and elsewhere, the Seagulls could be more open than the Graham Potter incarnation – and Alexander-Arnold’s appeal is as much to do with his attacking threat as his clean sheet potential.
I also like James Tarkowski as a pick for this week and beyond. Most Wildcarding managers will have been looking to invest in Nathan Patterson until his injury on international duty for Scotland but for just £0.3m more, Tarkowski offers greater attacking threat. The former Burnley stopper has registered five shots in the box to Patterson’s three, as well as matching the injured right-back for penalty area touches.
In midfield, James Maddison is the stand-out pick; if Leicester City were in better form, he would even be a good captaincy option this time around. Maddison has three goals and an assist so far this season, carrying on from where he left off at the end of 2022/23, when he delivered attacking returns in each of the last four Gameweeks. Maddison averages 4.71 points per match against newly promoted teams historically and he has Nottingham Forest up next. With his set-piece responsibilities as well as Forest’s defensive weaknesses, I expect the best opportunities that Leicester create will come through him.
Mohamed Salah comes back into not just my thinking but also the captaincy conversation for Gameweek 9. The Egyptian has a good record against opponents Brighton, averaging 7.8 points per match against the Seagulls, and his 18 points against them in the 2019/20 season was one of his biggest FPL hauls. Liverpool are slowly starting to show signs of their former selves and with Salah scoring twice for Egypt against Niger on international duty before getting a well-earned breather, I think he and Luis Diaz look like sound picks for Gameweek 9.
It’s once again Erling Haaland and four others for the forward spots, with the omnipresent Scout Squad selection the only player to return in every Gameweek so far.
Ivan Toney, the third-highest-scoring player in the game currently, has a great fixture this weekend: Bournemouth have conceded 19 goals so far this season – only Leicester have conceded more with 22. Even with a trip to Arsenal in the north London derby, Harry Kane is still a great option. In fact, the derby might just make him more appealing this weekend: Kane has scored more goals in London derbies than any other player in the Premier League. Thirteen of those strikes have arrived from 15 outings against Arsenal, who he bagged 13 FPL points against in his last north London derby.
A huge weekend of FPL action is upon us and I can’t wait to sink my teeth into some of the tasty-looking games, including three local derbies. With Wildcards abounding, it looks like the landscape is changing, and there are plenty of differentials to consider alongside the “big guns” to help propel us up the rankings.
I can’t see there being too many clean sheets this weekend. In terms of minutes per chance conceded, Manchester City (16.2), Arsenal (12.6) and Liverpool (10.7) are the top three sides in the division but have difficult opponents in the form of Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur and high-flying Brighton and Hove Albion respectively. With this in mind, I’ve really tried to focus on attacking defenders this week, with Reece James my top pick, as I think he’s the most likely to return at both ends of the pitch. Crystal Palace are struggling defensively, conceding a chance every 5.8 minutes (the second-worst record in the league), and only two teams, Bournemouth and Everton, have conceded more chances down their left flank than the Eagles so far this season.
In midfield, sellers of Mohamed Salah will be sweating ahead of the game at Anfield, with new manager Robert De Zerbi already promising an attacking brand of football, building on the solid foundations that Graham Potter has laid at the south-coast side. I expect goals in this game, and a brace in his first international fixture followed by a rest means that Salah will be raring to go.
Elsewhere, James Maddison has had a couple of weeks’ rest and will be desperate to show Gareth Southgate that he should be considered for the World Cup. A home game against a team that has conceded 17 goals gives him the perfect platform to showcase his ability. Will we see the manager who loses this match handed their P45? It seems possible to me, with both teams struggling at the foot of the table.
For those looking for a punt, Luis Sinisterra had a great game for Colombia last night, coming off the bench to score twice against Mexico. He is becoming an important cog for Leeds under Jesse Marsch with the departure of Raphinha: from all midfielders, only Salah (132) and Kevin De Bruyne (111.2) sit higher than Sinisterra (134.8) for minutes per non-penalty expected goal involvement (xGI).
Up front, we’re still blessed with an abundance of forwards to consider. Erling Haaland is a no-brainer for obvious reasons and no player in Premier League history has scored more goals against Arsenal than Harry Kane (12). Similar to Maddison, Ivan Toney will be out to convince Southgate to include him in his plans for the World Cup. Aleksandar Mitrovic has failed to score against Newcastle so far in his three appearances against them but undoubtedly will feel like he has something to prove against the Magpies, who let him go back in 2018. The Serbian has 58 goals in 65 run-outs since the start of last season.
Goalkeepers are quite hard to choose this week but I’ve opted for Lukasz Fabianski as my top pick ahead of West Ham United’s home meeting with Wolverhampton Wanderers, considering that the visitors have managed just three goals all season. Illan Meslier, meanwhile, faces an Aston Villa side that also struggle to create, with their 2.2 xG figure over the last four matches the lowest in the division. Nick Pope will, in all likelihood, be relying on save points at Craven Cottage, but I do wonder if this Newcastle United side are better equipped to shut teams out on the road, when the onus isn’t so much on them to push forward and dictate.
Reece James is one of the best defenders to own in FPL right now, due to his attacking threat. In Graham Potter’s first match in charge, the England international was deployed at right wing-back – at least until Cesar Azpilicueta was withdrawn after 81 minutes – and produced seven crosses plus two created chances. His opponents in Gameweek 9, Crystal Palace, rank third-worst for chances conceded from their left flank, despite playing a game fewer than most.
I was torn between Kurt Zouma and Vladimir Coufal but went with the latter as I like his prospects if he’s attacking Rayan Ait-Nouri. As for West Ham, despite their struggles this season, they haven’t been terrible on the defensive side of things, ranking sixth for xGC. I also found spots at the back for premiums Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joao Cancelo, plus Aaron Hickey as my differential pick.
There are many good mid-price midfielders to consider in Gameweek 9, but a rested James Maddison is at the top of my list. The playmaker has produced three goals and an assist across his six starts this season, averaging 3.3 shots per 90 minutes. In Nottingham Forest, they face a side who have conceded a minimum of three goals in each of their last three games, while they have also had issues defending set-piece situations. Maddison, of course, takes most free-kicks and corners for Leicester City.
Despite Liverpool’s slow start to the season, I still like Mohamed Salah and Darwin Nunez in Gameweek 9, as the Reds host Brighton and Hove Albion, who could look markedly different following the appointment of Roberto De Zerbi. As for Salah, he has managed two goals, three assists and 38 FPL points so far this season, while his last appearance saw him find the net in his side’s UEFA Champions League group stage victory over Ajax. However, Nunez shouldn’t be overlooked, having racked up 15 goal attempts in just three league outings.
Harry Kane has been in great form recently, while Aleksandar Mitrovic has scored four goals in three appearances at home, but neither can dislodge Erling Haaland as my top forward pick. The Norwegian has served up a whopping 11 goals and one assist in seven league matches, and I do feel the Manchester derby is the perfect stage for him to shine. Although Manchester United look a far stronger side defensively than they were back at the beginning of the campaign, I still see Pep Guardiola’s side putting two or three past them.
Southampton v Everton and West Ham United v Wolverhampton Wanderers look like ‘last game on Match of the Day’ candidates this weekend and it’s from those two fixtures where I see the likeliest clean sheet opportunities. West Ham and Wolves are joint-bottom for goals scored this season, while Southampton have the fourth-best xGC and the fifth-worst xG in the division since they changed to a more conservative 4-2-3-1 in Gameweek 3. From these games I’ve opted for xG-defier Jose Sa, whichever of Jordan Pickford and Asmir Begovic is between the posts for Everton, and two defenders, Armel Bella-Kotchap and Vladimir Coufal; the Toffees have allowed more headed chances than any other team in 2022/23, while Wolves are ranked 19th for crosses conceded from their left flank.
Elsewhere at the back, the usual premium trio of defenders are reunited in my Scout Squad selection and, despite writing about how underwhelming Brentford’s backline has been for much of the international break, surely David Raya can’t make a mess out of a clash with a Bournemouth side who have mustered just 3.27 xG this season (by far the worst in the division). That’s what we thought about Newcastle United in Gameweek 8, of course, but at least Raya can’t be beaten for saves among FPL goalkeepers this season, so he has something to fall back on if the worst happens.
James Maddison, who has averaged an absurdly good 6.3 points per match in his last 29 Premier League appearances, takes top midfield billing against a Nottingham Forest side still searching for the right combination of fresh acquisitions at the back. On the subject of 6.3 points-per-match averages, that’s exactly what Mohamed Salah is delivering in 2022/23 – and this is meant to be a nadir for the Egyptian. We can’t just rely on past glories, and a healthy dose of scepticism/pessimism is important when assessing FPL assets, but on a weekend when other premium picks are involved in tough-to-call derbies, I’m keeping the faith.
Crystal Palace aren’t as bad as their underlying defensive numbers suggest (there’s more on that in another article I wrote over the last fortnight), nor can we make bold judgements on a new-look Chelsea after just one game in charge for Graham Potter. Nevertheless, Raheem Sterling was fourth among FPL midfielders for non-penalty xGI even before Thomas Tuchel was dismissed, so the promising individual performance against RB Salzburg only underscored his undoubted potential for points and his uncontested status as the likeliest source of goals in an otherwise listless Chelsea attack.
Seven attacking returns in as many games for club and country for Luis Sinisterra has caught my eye, particularly with Sunday’s opponents Aston Villa without their first-choice left-back and other key members of their backline. Leeds boast the sixth-best minutes-per-xG in the division, although a word of caution on Sinisterra’s own ‘expected’ figure: a goalline chance against Brighton is hugely distorting his numbers.
Searching for the token sub-£6.0m midfielder this week was a bit of an uninspiring affair, with no-one leaping out if you’re after something other than bench fodder (and occasional starter) Andreas Pereira. The fact that Willian is Rate My Team’s highest projected points scorer from this group in Gameweek 9 says it all. Marcus Tavernier is my Hail Mary punt from this underwhelming group of players ahead of Bournemouth’s favourable run of fixtures: he’s on every form of set piece for the Cherries and has created a squad-high 10 opportunities this season without reward, while weekend opponents Brentford have allowed the same number of ‘big chances’ as the Cherries despite having a much more favourable schedule in Gameweeks 1-8.
In attack, the usual foursome (minus Gabriel Jesus) are joined by Taiwo Awoniyi. Arguably the division’s two worst defences on current form meet in the Monday night kick-off, so we could witness a goal-fest at the King Power Stadium. Awoniyi is ahead of his team-mates for both shots in the box and big chances this season despite starting only three league matches, while his Gameweek 8 goal against Fulham should stand him in good stead for another start against a porous Leicester outfit.