So, that’s the first international break of the 2023-24 season out of the way and it looks like we’ve gotten through it relatively unscathed. Perhaps the biggest news in that regard is the hamstring injury suffered by Trent Alexander-Arnold, who is owned by just over 12% of fantasy managers, followed by the calf injury of one of the game’s current most popular £4.0m enablers, George Baldock, and Destiny Udogie’s sickness at the start of the break. In any case, when looking at your FPL squad and planning your next transfers, we recommend you have a look at how your targets have fared over the international break, not just in terms of injuries, but also in terms of travelling and playing time, as rotation might be a bigger factor than usual come gameweek 5.
As for gameweek 5 itself, we are immediately presented with a few very interesting fixtures from a fantasy point of view. A seemingly reborn Spurs side facing Sheffield United at home probably stands out, though Liverpool’s visit to Molineux to kickstart the weekend and Arsenal’s visit to Goodison Park on Sunday could bring us some big scores as well. It will also be interesting to see how Manchester City will fare away against a tough West Ham and to what extent Chelsea can give their season start some colour away at Bournemouth. From a neutral point of view, the one to look out for is probably Manchester United versus Brighton at Old Trafford, on Saturday afternoon.
Check out FISO’s FPL Forum for the latest discussion and don’t forget, the deadline for gameweek 5 is set at 11h00 (UK time) on Saturday, September 16th, 2023.
Most transferred in/transferred out players (as per September 14th, 2023)
|TRANSFERS OUT||TRANSFERS IN||POSSIBLE REASONS|
|GK||Onana (MUN), Pickford (EVE), Ederson (MCI)||Areola (WHU), Leno (FUL), Vicario (TOT)|
|DEF||Botman (NEW), Shaw (MUN), Trippier (NEW)||Romero (TOT), Udogie (TOT), Cash (AST)||Botman and Shaw injuries, Spurs form|
|MID||Rashford (MUN), Sterling (CHE), Mitoma (BRI)||Son (TOT), Maddison (TOT), Mbeumo (BRE)||Spurs form, Mbeumo form|
|FOR||Jackson (CHE), Isak (NEW), Pedro (BRI)||Alvarez (MCI), Ferguson (BRI), Darwin (LIV)||Pedro benchings|
For the sake of variation, we decided to look past Erling Haaland (£14.1m) as our premium fantasy pick of the week in the past few weeks, but with a triple of relatively to very favourable fixtures coming up for City, we feel it’s time to include the big Norwegian once again. Of course, he is currently owned by an unprecedented 92% of all managers in the official Fantasy Premier League game, so this one is really for the 8% of absolute rebels. After his hattrick plus 1 assist at home against Fulham right before the international break, Haaland now has 6 goals and 1 assist from the first four league games of the season and no player in the entire league has a higher Expected Goals ratio than he does, either. West Ham away on Saturday afternoon is not an easy fixture by any stretch of the imagination, but he can still drop a double-digit performance. After that, it’s Nottingham Forest at home (expect 92% of managers to captain him) and Wolves away. In other words, as exaggerated as it sounds, we can quite easily see Haaland rack up another 30 to 40 FPL points over the next three gameweeks.
James Maddison (£7.8m) is an interesting non-premium fantasy pick for gameweek 5, in terms of his upcoming fixtures at least. With 29 FPL points after four games, courtesy of 2 goals and 2 assists, he is the highest-scoring player on the Spurs roster as of this moment, and he’s got Sheffield United at home up next. From gameweek 8 he’s then got a run of pretty easy fixtures on paper for which many more than the current 27% of fantasy managers will be bringing him in, resulting in a decent price increase. In between gameweek 5 and gameweek 8 though, Spurs are facing Arsenal away and Liverpool at home. So the question is, bring Maddison in now for the Sheffield United home game and the likely price increase on the medium term, or wait until gameweek 8 to avoid the previously mentioned tough fixtures, thus missing out on the upcoming home game and the potential price increase? Considering his current form, we’re opting for the first scenario, especially if you have a good squad to cover. On top of that, Maddison might just get a return or two against Arsenal and Liverpool. He is the key man at Spurs at the moment, after all, topping the team charts for key passes, shots and shots on target.
The budget enabler
Despite a very difficult set of fixtures to kick off the season, Nottingham Forest have managed go into the first international break with 6 points and ninth place. Away games against Arsenal and Manchester United were lost by a single goal, while the home game against Sheffield United (2-1) and the visit to Stamford Bridge (0-1) brought them three points each. The schedule is clearing up a bit now for the Tricky Trees, with home games against Burnley and Luton, and a visit to Crystal Palace, in the next five. First up this Monday are Burnley at home, a perfect opportunity for Forest to record a second clean sheet in a row in our opinion, which is why Matt Turner (£4.0m) has made it into our budget category of the week. He looks like a perfect budget enabler for any squad as a playing second goalkeeper and he might even be first choice in gameweek 5. Opponents Burnley are currently bottom of the table with zero points, in part due to their lack of goals. In three games (they blanked once), they have netted just three times so far, though it should be noted that the opponents were Man City, Aston Villa and Spurs.
The other team that has already blanked this season are Luton Town and much like Burnley, the three matches they did play were very much unfavourable for them. They lost away to Brighton and Chelsea and then at home to West Ham in gameweek 4, conceding 9 goals in the process. Not the best start to the season, but one player who did manage to stand out so far is striker Carlton Morris (£5.5m). He scored on his Premier League debut against Brighton back in GW1 and then provided the assist for Luton’s only goal versus West Ham in GW3, resulting in a total of 15 FPL points so far. As far as fixtures go on paper, Luton have now got one of the kindest runs coming up, starting with a visit to Fulham on Saturday. In the five after that, the Hatters host Wolves and Burnley, while visiting Everton and Nottingham Forest. Also, don’t forget that they have got a double gameweek coming up in gameweek 7, featuring the previously mentioned visit to Goodison Park and home encounter with Burnley. Luton, of course, are prime candidates to be relegated this season and in reality, no game is easy for them, but if they want to have any hopes of staying in the Prem this season, they will have to get points from this upcoming run. With that mission and the above in mind, Morris at his current 1.6% ownership could prove to be a shrewd differential fantasy pick.
West Ham have had a great start of the season so far and their tough defence definitely plays a big part in that. Having said that, Erling Haaland is still our favourite to wear the captaincy armband for his visit to the London Stadium in gameweek 5. He played 90 minutes of football of the international break and will be captained by about 90% of fantasy managers as well.
If you want to go against the grain with your captaincy, Spurs looks like the way to go with Son Heung-Min playing as a striker and James Maddison. Of course, Mo Salah, who played just 90 minutes over the international break, away at Wolves is in the conversation as well. More “out there” picks for the armband include Marcus Rashford at home to Brighton, Nicholas Jackson away at Bournemouth and Bukayo Saka for his visit to Goodison Park.