The Stag surveyed the expanse of colours laid out before him. The jerseyed knights jostled for positions, snarling as they sought the upper ground and over enthusiastically celebrated their triumphs. However, The Stag required a differential. Only a knight less than 20% of the herd would do. Only one knight could help him vault the others over the next 3 gameweeks. Only one knight could bring him the fabled Green Arrows. A knight to brighten his day.
So here we are. Over 10% of the season is complete and normal service still hasn't quite resumed. Man U and Chelsea continue to stutter and Arsenal have just enough to overcome 10 man Newcastle. The vacuum at the top of the table has brought Palace right up to the top. Had they not been playing a high-flying and seemingly impenetrable City team this weekend, you would certainly have seen one of their players donning Stag's Knight's armour.
But alas, we must look beyond the London outfit to pastures new. Bournemouth's fixtures make investing in their attackers very tempting. It goes without saying that Callum Wilson has had a staggering start to the season, finding himself as the league's joint top scorer along with Mahrez and Gomis. Granted 3 of those goals came in the 7 goal thriller versus West Ham, but the stat cannot be scoffed at. His ownership has surpassed the 20% limits that Stag's Knight encompasses so I've been forced to look to the Cherries' midfield.
However, the shape of that midfield will be changing drastically from what we saw in the opening 4 games. Eddie Howe's men have been dealt a hammer blow with the news that winger and assist supplier Max Gradel will be sidelined for 6 months after he was injured in the draw with Leicester.
Cue the music. Bournemouth need a new hero. A hero of yesteryear who has a point to prove. A player who will be desperate to display his massive ability following a disappointing to the season. That man is last season's maestro Matt Ritchie. The English born Scotsman will want to show that last season's 15 goals and 17 assists in the Championship weren't a mere fluke. He's shown his class previously so Howe will be forced to deploy him further forward from now on to get offensive returns. I genuinely can't see a better option for Howe. Putting on another striker would be too risky for a team whose defence hasn't been solid.
Bournemouth's next three gameweeks see them travel to Norwich, host Sunderland and then go away to La Masia reject retirement home Stoke (Don't lose your mittens, that's a joke friends). These are all games where Bournemouth would be hoping to pick up points. They can't keep clean sheets so scoring is their only option.
Now, I'd love to say that I have fantastic stats to back up my case for Ritchie like I usually do. I do have the stats, they're just not fantastic ones unfortunately; Ritchie has been taking 2.3 shots per game and supplying just 1 key pass per game. However this isn't too different to his more successful and mortally injured teammate Gradel who has 1.5 shots per game and 1.3 key passes. If anything, that stat highlights Gradel's luck in comparison to Ritchie so far.
Lets not fret though. I've put my neck out on the line again to try and give you guys what I'm now terming "an educated yet not too different differential." Last time I did it with Jeremain Lens, the returns were respectable. So there you have, your Stag's Knight for Gameweek 5 is AFC Bournemouth's attacking midfielder Matt Ritchie.
Follow me over @FPLStag if you want to pester me for FPL advice or have random questions about the meaning of life. Judging by my overall rank so far this season, I'm more of an expert in the latter!!!
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