The Premier League is (finally!) back after the second international break of the new season, and we’re busy plotting our FPL strategy as Gameweek 8 rolls into view.
Brighton visit Norwich before in-form Brentford host Chelsea in the pick of Saturday’s matches, with Newcastle welcoming Tottenham on Sunday. Crystal Palace’s trip to Arsenal rounds off the action on Monday night as Patrick Vieira returns to the club where he made his name.
But where does this leave your FPL plans?
We’ve used our two free transfers to ditch Leeds pair Raphinha (doubtful) and Patrick Bamford (injured), with Phil Foden and Neal Maupay coming into our XI.
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Team news and injury updates
Liverpool will be without Alisson and Fabinho for Saturday’s match against Watford after both featured in the Brazil side that beat Uruguay 4-1 in their World Cup qualifier on Thursday.
In better news for the Reds, both Trent Alexander-Arnold and Diogo Jota are available.
Leeds are still without injurd trio Patrick Bamford, Robin Koch and Luke Ayling, while Raphinha is unlikely to start given his involvement in Brazil’s win over Uruguay on Thursday.
Jack Harrison is available and Kalvin Phillips will undergo a late fitness test ahead of the trip to St. Mary’s.
Southampton must do without James Ward-Prowse (suspended), Che Adams (muscle) and Jack Stephens (knee).
Manchester City will be without Ferran Torres for the visit of Burnley after he suffered a foot injury while on international duty with Spain. Meanwhile, the Clarets will again be without captain Ben Mee, who is unwell.
Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel will hope to name Romelu Lukaku in his XI to face the Bees, despite the striker withdrawing from Belgium duty citing fatigue. Lukaku and Reece James came through a training session at Cobham ahead of the weekend meeting with Brentford, but Antonio Rüdiger, Christian Pulisic, Hakim Ziyech and Thiago Silva are all out of the west London derby.
Brentford will be boosted by the return of Kristoffer Ajer (hamstring) and Vitaly Janelt (thigh), who both missed the win over West Ham in Gameweek 7.
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Squawka’s FPL squad for Gameweek 8:
Robert Sánchez, 4.6: Only Ederson and Mendy kept more clean sheets than Sanchez’s 10 after he’d wrestled the gloves from Mat Ryan last season. Despite rocking a makeshift back line, Brighton have conceded just five goals in seven matches so far. Sanchez has three clean sheets and 13 saves to his name, and Brighton have some decent fixtures on the horizon.
Vicente Guaita, 4.5: You need two first-choice goalkeepers or risk missing out on points when the other is unavailable. Palace have a nice run from Gameweek 11, when his centre-back pairing Joachim Andersen and Marc Guehi will have had more time to settle in. Keep Guaita up your sleeve.
Trent Alexander-Arnold, 7.5: Only Bruno Fernandes has created more chances than Alexander-Arnold (21) so far this season. The Liverpool man is bound to pick up clean sheet points this term, but even when the Reds concede he’s capable of decent hauls. The England international has had 11 shots and provided two assists in five matches already.
Aymeric Laporte, 5.5: Manchester City have the lowest xGC (expected goals conceded) in the Premier League at 4.01, despite facing Tottenham, Arsenal, Leicester, Chelsea and Liverpool already this season. A favourable run of fixtures awaits Pep Guardiola’s men, starting with Burnley in Gameweek 8. Laporte is forming a solid partnership with Ruben Dias this term and represents excellent value at 5.5M.
Nelson Semedo, 4.9: The Wolves fixture list reads like this: Villa, Leeds, Everton, Palace With that run you can bank on some clean sheet points — only three teams have a smaller xGC than Wolves so far this term. At the other end, no Wolves defender has had more shots (7) or created more chances (3) than Semedo despite the fact he missed the opener. If you’re running out of budget, Conor Coady represents a cheaper option but promises less going forward.
Tino Livramento, 4.2: A rotational option at a decent price. At Saints, only James Ward-Prowse and Che Adams created more chances than Livramento’s six this season. His FPL haul of 21 stacks up well against his Southampton team-mates, too (3rd best).
Brandon Williams, 4.0: Another budget pick, with a view to playing 3-4-3 and only leaning on him if necessary. Squeezes in ahead of Daniel Amartey purely because we expect Williams to play more.
Ismaila Sarr, 6.3: Only Mohamed Salah has had more shots on target than Sarr’s 11 so far this season and the Watford man will be high on confidence following three goals in his last three. Remember, Liverpool will be without first-choice goalkeeper Alisson in Gameweek 8.
Phil Foden, 7.9: Owned by less than 3 per cent of FPL managers, Foden represents a great opportunity to get one over your fantasy rivals. Manchester City have beaten Burnley a combined 20-0 over their last four meetings in all competitions.
Mohamed Salah, 12.7: A premium option you can’t look past. Salah has 230+ FPL points in all four seasons since joining Liverpool, and he already has six goals and three assists in 2021/22. Salah has had more shots (28) than any other player in the league. A no-brainer.
Demarai Gray, 5.8: The budget pick continues to deliver. Gray averages more than five FPL points per 90 this season, with three goals and an assist in seven appearances. The 25-year-old is playing an advanced role under Rafael Benitez and the fixture list certainly favours Everton after a tricky test against West Ham this week.
Josh Brownhill, 4.4: It’s a toss-up between Brownhill and Billy Gilmour when it comes to a reliable cheap option for your bench. This selection is key to freeing funds for more premium picks in your XV, but it’s important you select someone who will get regular game time. Despite playing fewer minutes, Brownhill poses a bigger threat than Gilmour at the top of the field and is likely to return goal involvements at some point this season. The Burnley man has had six shots and created eight chances so far this term.
Cristiano Ronaldo, 12.6: No Premier League player had a higher npxG (non-penalty expected goals) than Ronaldo’s 21.77 last season. The Portugal international also had more shots (168) than any Premier League player managed last term, averaging more than five shots per 90. For context, Golden Boot winner Harry Kane had 31 fewer attempts during the 2020/21 campaign. Ronaldo has maintained that rate with 5.35 shots per 90 in four Premier League outings this season, scoring three.
Michail Antonio, 8.0: No FPL forward has had more shots on target (11) this season than Antonio. The West Ham man is second in the scoring charts with five goals in six matches, plus he’s picked up three assists from 15 chances created. His 49 FPL points so far this season put him second overall, with only Salah (70) ahead of him.
Neal Maupay, 6.6: The Brighton man has scored four goals in seven games and faces bottom side Norwich in Gameweek 8. The Canaries have shipped a league-high 16 goals in seven matches so far and Maupay averages 1.69 shots in the box per 90 this season. Matches against Liverpool and Manchester City follow, but Maupay is a decent option to have up your sleeve from Gameweek 11, when Brighton’s fixture list looks more inviting.