The January transfer window’s over, AFCON has been concluded (congrats Senegal!), the FA Cup 4th round has finished, so it’s back to FPL! After what felt like the longest gameweek in the history of the world, more than a few managers can look back at a bitterly disappointing gameweek 23. The fact that the 16 most likely players to score a goal in GW23, according to the bookies, all blanked underlines that reality. Where many managers saw Watford as the team to target for their double, it was actually Burnley who provided the best returns, including a week-high 19 FPL points for goalkeeper Nick Pope. The less said about the 40%-owned Emmanuel Dennis and his red card, the better, we’re guessing.
Gameweek 24 could end up being a whole different story, as Man City (v Leeds), Liverpool (v Leicester), Spurs (v Southampton) and West Ham (v Watford) all have favourable fixtures at home this week. Besides that, Man United are visiting Turf Moor and Aston Villa welcome Leeds to Villa Park, adding further interesting fantasy options to our consideration. Mo Salah could be back on Thursday already, though a rest would be more than understandable for the Egyptian marathon man, which forces open the captaincy debate for this week.
Don’t forget, the deadline for gameweek 24 is set at 18h15 (UK time) tomorrowTuesday, February 8th, 2022.
Most transferred in/transferred out players (as per February 7th, 2022)
|TRANSFERS OUT||TRANSFERS IN||POSSIBLE REASONS|
|GK||Mendy (CHE), Sanchez (BRI), McCracken (NOR)||De Gea (MUN), Ramsdale (ARS), McCracken (NOR)|
|DEF||Rüdiger (CHE), James (CHE), Alonso (CHE)||Digne (AST), Laporte (MCI), Robertson (LIV)||Chelsea Club World Cup participation, Digne fixtures, Robertson form|
|MID||Mount (CHE), Salah (LIV), Bernardo (MCI)||Bowen (WHU), Coutinho (AST), Salah (LIV)||Uncertainty surrounding Salah availability, Bowen form|
|FOR||Dennis (WAT), Ronaldo (MUN), Antonio (WHU)||Edouard (CRY), Saint-Maximin (NEW), Antonio (WHU)||Palace fixtures|
With Salah back from Cameroon soon after losing the AFCON final on penalties (against his teammate Sadio Mané’s Senegal), this season’s almost-set-and-forget captain will be back into the FPL fold soon. He could, in theory, be an option for Thursday’s encounter with Leicester. Realistically speaking though, considering he played an entire tournament including four consecutive knock-out stages with extra time and penalties, we wouldn’t be surprised to him being given at least a few days off to rest. With that in mind, we’ve gone with Cristiano Ronaldo (£12.5m), who has Burnley away this week followed by a double of home games against Southampton and Brighton in gameweek 25. Neither Cristiano nor Manchester United as a whole have impressed of late, but their short to medium-term fixtures look juicy enough to keep or even bring in the Portuguese superstar. He has blanked in his last four league games, but sits on a total of 8 goals and 3 assists for the season so far. His Expected Goal ratio since gameweek 13 is only bettered by Harry Kane and with favourable fixtures coming up, we feel goals should be coming Ronaldo’s way again rather sooner than later.
Even though they don’t have a double gameweek yet over the next few rounds, Manchester City assets will firmly be in the crosshairs of FPL managers. The Cityzens are welcoming Brentford to the Etihad on Wednesday, followed by a visit to Carrow Road on Saturday. Phil Foden‘s (£8.0m) last fantasy return actually came away against Brentford back in GW20, when the 21-year-old scored a goal and bagged 11 FPL points. He has scored 5 goals and provided 4 assists already from 12 starts this season, and he looks like an excellent option going forward. Naturally, rotation remains an extreme risk when it comes to Man City, especially with the Champions League getting underway again soon, so keep that in mind when considering Foden. Having said that, he has the highest goal involvement of any player on the City roster and even if he misses out on the odd game, the upside of his kind £8.0m price tag makes it worth it.
The budget enabler
A real budget enabler in the build-up to the gameweek 24 deadline. As more than a few managers will be looking to activate their second Wildcard over the coming weeks, the value of a dependable budget defender cannot be overestimated. In that sense, Brandon Williams (£3.9m) has come back on our radar after a more than decent few weeks. The Manchester United loanee has fought his way back in the Canaries’ starting eleven and with success. An assist in gameweek 22 against Everton and a clean sheet against Watford in gameweek 23 saw Williams record 13 FPL points, which is simply fantastic for an FPL asset of his kind. He won’t be posting returns like that every week, but with a decent run of upcoming fixtures (bar City at home and Liverpool away in gameweeks 25 and 26, respectively) stretching all the way to GW29, you could do worse than having Williams as your fifth defender. On top of that, Norwich have a game in hand that might just be added to the calendar in the upcoming weeks.
We’re sticking with the defensive picks for our differential fantasy pick of the week, as Lucas Digne (£5.1m) did not need long to show what he’s capable of as Aston Villa’s new starting left-back. The former Toffee has slotted into Steven Gerrard’s starting eleven right away and while his zero-pointer against Man United was a bit of a slow start fantasy-wise, the 12-point follow-up away at Everton in GW23 made up for it. The Frenchman got the assist for the only goal and bagged 3 bonus points in the process against his old team. Up next are Leeds at home, Newcastle away, Watford at home, Brighton away and Southampton at home for the Villans, a run that makes us think that returns at both sides of the pitch are a very real possibility for Digne over the long term. What definitely furthers his appeal is that he is on more than a few set-pieces at his new club, so we wouldn’t be surprised to see him add a few clean sheets and assists over the coming five gameweeks or so.
With Manchester City playing against Leeds at home, we feel that a skyblue captain is probably the right call this week for the GW24 FPL captaincy. The question then remains, who to pick? Premium-priced Kevin de Bruyne is a relatively safe pick as he has shown glimpses of his best form over the past weeks and seems to be assured of a starting spot in Pep Guardiola’s eleven. Phil Foden looks like the best City alternative in case you can’t or don’t want to afford KDB.
If you prefer to avoid Pep Roulette altogether, fortunately there are plenty of good options available. Jota against Leicester at home could pay off, while Michail Antonio and Jarrod Bowen could have a field day against Watford. Harry Kane is getting back into some form and could haul at home against the Saints, while Cristiano Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes will be looking to get something out of their away game versus Burnley. Finally, the Villa – Leeds game on Wednesday offers a few attractive punts, including Ollie Watkins, Philippe Coutinho and Raphinha.