Flying high? Or just one more bad week away from throwing in the towel for another season?
With another international break just around the corner, it’s perhaps time to keep cool and avoid any rash decisions before two weeks of inevitable fantasy football contemplation and re-evaluation.
So, is Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang the man? Who should you back for Brendan Rodgers’ Anfield return? And what to do about Kevin de Bruyne?
Here, BBC Sport tries to help you pick your team for gameweek eight.
Aubameyang to pick off the Cherries
Pep Guardiola’s infamous rotation tendencies caused more chaos for fantasy managers last weekend, as the Premier League’s top scorer Sergio Aguero took his turn on the bench.
It’s an issue that is set to repeatedly sting us throughout the season – so where else might we turn to if the unpredictability all gets too much?
Step forward, Aubameyang.
Arsenal have a 100% home record against Sunday’s opponents Bournemouth – while Eddie Howe’s visitors have been hit for five in each of their past three visits to London by Crystal Palace, Arsenal and Tottenham.
Even more ominous for a Cherries side yet to keep a Premier League clean sheet in 2019-20 is that Aubameyang loves playing on Sundays.
Like, he seriously loves Sundays.
While his record of eight goals in his last six Premier League games played on a Sunday is impressive enough, incredibly, 26 of his 39 Premier League goals to date have come on that day. That’s the highest ratio of goals scored on that day in the competition’s history (among players with at least 20 goals).
Five goals in his last four in the league, paired with Arsenal’s rather favourable upcoming fixtures, make Aubameyang – on paper, of course – an excellent alternative for the armband.
Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live’s Fantasy 606 podcast, Statman Dave said: “This season Kevin de Bruyne is getting the points but he isn’t guaranteed to start every week. Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero have scored 38% of City’s Premier League goals under Pep Guardiola, so you need to have one of them or both – but they play fewer minutes compared to Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Aubameyang and Harry Kane. To win the Golden Boot you need those minutes.
Chris Sutton added: “The Man City thing is frustrating. It will be interesting to see if De Bruyne is available for the weekend but it appears that one of Sterling, De Bruyne or Aguero gets rested. My dilemma is Kane or Aubameyang, a Virgil van Dijk hat-trick or John McGinn, who is on fire.”
Back Vardy for Rodgers’ Anfield return?
Brendan Rodgers’ Leicester City were mightily impressive in their thumping win over Newcastle last time out. But can they continue that form as Rodgers visits Anfield for the first time since his sacking in October 2015?
Jamie Vardy is among the Foxes’ assets in high demand following that display – despite immediately coming up against the league leaders – and there appears to be at least a sprinkle of method in that madness.
In addition to his prolific 14 goals in 17 appearances under Rodgers, a meeting with Liverpool certainly draws the best from Vardy. His seven top-flight goals against the Reds is a record bettered only by Andrew Cole (11) and Thierry Henry (8) in the competition.
In fact, the challenge posed by the ‘top six’ sides more generally is one he relishes. Only Aguero (118) has a better minutes per goal ratio against the ‘big six’ in the league than Vardy (150) since the start of 2010-11.
That might have something to do with Vardy’s expected goals (xG) data – which suggests he, along with Aubameyang, only needs to be handed half a chance to convert.
Admittedly, it’s a bold call to invest in a striker facing a side still boasting a 100% record this term, unbeaten in their last 43 home league games, and on the second longest unbeaten run in top-flight history.
But risk equals reward, right? Besides, it was Leicester who ended Liverpool’s previous best unbeaten run of 63 in 1980, which is totally relevant.
What to do about de Bruyne?
Not Kevin. Anybody but Kevin.
Just when you think it’s safe to relax in this game, you are quickly reminded otherwise.
The current highest points scorer in the Premier League’s official version, Manchester City’s Belgian playmaker has only failed to deliver attacking returns once this season – and that came when he was benched in City’s shock 3-2 defeat by Norwich. Coincidence?
But a groin injury sustained in his side’s victory over Everton last weekend kept De Bruyne out of City’s midweek 2-0 Champions League win against Dinamo Zagreb – and Guardiola admitted he’s unsure when he might return.
“We will see for Sunday. Right now, I don’t know. Maybe he can get fit. We will see. After the international break he will be ready,” said Guardiola.
So, in a worst-case scenario, who should you select to replace him if you choose to do so?
No other midfielder can compete with De Bruyne’s nine assists – indeed his team-mates David Silva and Riyad Mahrez are his closest midfield competitors with five each.
In terms of chances created from midfield, Everton’s Gylfi Sigurdsson leads the chase – although he has made just one assist so far.
Perhaps the greatest prospect of a short-term De Bruyne fix is Norwich’s Emiliano Buendia, who sits tied third for chances created but crucially has registered four assists compared to the two of Jack Grealish and Manuel Lanzini – and just one for Pascal Gross.
Other notable midfield creators include Burnley’s Dwight McNeil, Tottenham’s Heung-min Son and West Ham’s Felipe Anderson – all of whom have three assists in their seven games so far.
Back West Ham?
Searching desperately for a differential to make up ground in your mini-leagues?
Selected by less than 4% in the Premier League’s version of the game and a cut-price option, it might be time to bring in Andriy Yarmolenko.
Following their opening defeat by Manchester City, West Ham are unbeaten in six league games and Yarmolenko has been prominent with three goals in his last four.
With a promising run of fixtures up until the end of November too, expect a rush to buy the Ukrainian if he adds his fourth of the campaign against Crystal Palace.
Meanwhile, at the other end of the pitch, three clean sheets in four games also calls for a look at the likes of Aaron Cresswell – who has complimented his shut-outs with two strikes in successive games to scoop plenty of bonus points. A true fantasy football dream.
Need further persuading to add West Ham assets?
Manuel Pellegrini has won all four of his previous home Premier League games against Palace, by an aggregate score of 11-2.
Other things to consider…
- Burnley’s Chris Wood could score in three consecutive Premier League games for the first time since March 2018. None of the 10 Premier League matches between Burnley and Everton have ended as draws, while Everton have conceded a league-high 44 goals from set-pieces.
- Norwich have only lost one of their 13 home league games in 2019 and have scored at least twice in 17 of their last 18 league games at Carrow Road. Meanwhile, Aston Villa’s Conor Hourihane has been involved in five goals in his last four league matches against Norwich City.
- Watford have conceded at least once in each of their last 19 Premier League games before their match against Sheffield United, the longest current run without a clean sheet in the competition.
- Manchester City have only failed to score in one of their past 44 home Premier League games.
- Chelsea have scored at least once in each of their last 15 away games against Southampton in all competitions, while five of Southampton striker Danny Ings’ last six Premier League goals have come against ‘big six’ opposition.
- Manchester United have failed to score more than once in any of their last seven Premier League away games. If you exclude penalties, Marcus Rashford has scored with just one of his last 36 shots in the league.
All information is correct at 22:00 BST on Thursday night