Expanding options in the Hull ranks, another sure-fire candidate at Swansea. Gameweek 25 provided evidence that the looming blanks can be navigated safely, although the dilemma surrounding missing heavy-hitters remains.
The Tigers may yet have some teeth…
For all the improvements under Marco Silva, Hull City’s performance at the Emirates Stadium came as a major surprise.
Few teams share possession with Arsenal in their own backyard, while Silva’s men also demonstrated a cutting edge rarely associated with the Tigers.
The performances of Kamil Grosicki, Lazar Markovic and Oumar Niasse caught the eye, suggesting that we are wrong to be blinkered and limit our assessment of their assets purely to defensive options.
With the choice so sparse up front, Niasse could yet emerge as a short-term candidate should he hold off the claims of Dieumerci Mbokani while Abel Hernandez remains sidelined.
Meanwhile, at the back, the likes of Jakupovic in goal and Harry Maguire and Andrew Robertson in defence continue to present viable investments.
We see these assets as part of our solution for the Gameweek 28 blanks, but their improving form and fixtures suggest that their appeal can extend well beyond that date.
It pains to part with Sanchez…
Despite Hull City’s best efforts, Alexis Sanchez killed off any hopes of them departing the Emirates with more than just a credible display.
The Chilean’s first goal was highly dubious, and yet, once again, Sanchez provided a threat that is difficult to deny.
His six efforts on goal were double that any other player in Saturday’s contest, with Sanchez now producing 31 goal attempts in his last four home matches – a staggering level of threat and consistency.
A stoppage time spot-kick provided his second goal, a repeat of a late penalty against Burnley in Gameweek 22.
Both were unexpected bonuses, and with Saturday’s and tonight’s penalties arriving with Mesut Ozil on the pitch, it’s clear that Sanchez is now Arsenal’s designated taker while Olivier Giroud frozen out of the starting XI.
Another string to the Sanchez bow which makes him all the difficult to sacrifice ahead of Gameweek 26.
However, more than 42,000 have already chosen to jettison him ahead of his missing fixture and Gameweek 28’s potential postponement.
A trip to Liverpool provides the rather chewy meat in the sandwich of blanks, and yet we have to be mindful that Sanchez is not only the most consistent FPL performer, he’s also been the most effective away from home. He could easily find a way to profit against a Reds defence with a single clean sheet in their last six.
Zlatan may prove to be an easier goodbye…
We face a very similar situation with Zlatan Ibrahimovic – an asset that has proved so reliable in a season where forwards have struggled to keep pace with a tide of midfield heavy-hitters.
Having squandered opportunities to maintain his consistency in the Gameweek 25 win over Watford, the Swede has now returned just a single goal in four, just as we consider his potential exit ahead of the potential blanks.
More than 77,000 have already hit the eject button: only the stricken Gabriel Jesus has suffered more losses ahead of Gameweek 26.
And yet two factors may persuade the rest of us to hold.
For one, we continue to be starved of viable replacements. Romelu Lukaku aside, there remains a motley crew of options to offer cover for Gameweek 28.
Secondly, the Old Trafford meeting with Bournemouth dangling in Gameweek 27 appears to be a prize carrot.
While Ibrahimovic has failed to punish either Hull City and Watford in back-to-back home matches, the meeting with the obliging Cherries defence looks worryingly tempting.
Seven efforts on goal against the Hornets underlines the persistent threat on offer, and likely guarantees an immediate return for the Bournemouth visit should we dare move him on.
We all need a Rose return…
Spurs have scored a single goal since Danny Rose hobbled from the Stadium of Light turf in Gameweek 23 – a Harry Kane spot-kick in a stuttering home display against Middlesbrough.
Clearly, Ben Davies is no replacement. Unable to offer anything like the same attacking menace, Mauricio Pochettino has been forced back to a four-man defence, a tactical switch that appears to have stalled Spurs as an attacking unit.
In a harsh and fickle season, Fantasy Premier League managers appear to have lost confidence in their Spurs assets as a result.
Kane, Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli all featured among the top sold once again, as squads are trimmed of Pochettino’s attackers having been such popular targets just a month ago.
Ironically, the decline arrives just as Spurs enter into a potential boom period.
Even around a possible Gameweek 28 blank, their schedule is among the very strongest on offer. Should a second-string line-up suffer to defeat to Fulham on Sunday, our attitude to Spurs’ would doubtless swing dramatically.
An imminent return for Rose would increase our confidence further.
Gabbiadini can be a solution…eventually…
When defining “hitting the ground running”, three goals in two starts effectively nails it.
Manolo Gabbiadini has already done enough to convince Southampton that their £15 million is well spent, while Fantasy managers have been quick to react. More than 83,000 have swooped for his services, despite the impending Gameweek 26 blank: no striker has enjoyed more transfer traffic since Saturday’s matches.
While we’re currently bereft of reliable options in his price bracket, now may not be the time to call on Gabbiadini, with a Gameweek 28 postponement looming should Manchester United navigate past Blackburn Rovers on Sunday.
Instead, Gameweek 30 looks to be the optimum window to move for the Italian: the start of three home games in four that ends with the likely double fixtures in Gameweek 34.
There’s more to the Swans than just Sigurdsson…
Few teams boast a figure so dominant as Gylfi Sigurdsson.
Having scored or assisted 53% of Swansea City’s goals this season, we can be forgiven for fixating on the Icelander as the key route to backing the revival under Paul Clement.
Sigurdsson has fired in 18 goal attempts since Clement’s arrival – 13 more than any other team-mate.
But Alfie Mawson’s volleyed opener against Leicester City, marking his third goal in six Gameweeks, ensures that the centre-back now blinks brightly on the radar.
While Sunday marked a first clean sheet under Clement, forthcoming home ties with Burnley and Middlesbrough promote Mawson’s stock further; away ties with Hull and Bournemouth in between also show promise.
With Sigurdsson’s delivery ensuring quality service, further attacking returns from Mawson even remain a strong possibility.
King can cover the Stanislas decline…
When news of Callum Wilson’s season-ending injury broke, we felt that Junior Stanislas, as next in line for spot-kicks, would enjoy a boom in stock. But despite being involved in 47% of Bournemouth’s goals, the winger suddenly seems to have been relegated down the Cherries pecking order.
An unused substitute in the past two Gameweeks outings, Stanislas now offers flimsy cover for the forthcoming blanks.
Fortunately, in Josh King, we now have a potentially more profitable alternative.
Deployed in the central striker role by Eddie Howe in Wilson’s absence, King now appears to carry the major goal threat for Bournemouth as we enter a crunch period in their season.
Home matches with West Ham and Swansea stand out among a mixed bag of fixtures, with that Hammers clash falling on Gameweek 28.
Sterling’s stock is raised by Jesus blow…
A telling blow to Manchester City’s hopes of making up ground on Chelsea, Monday night’s injury to Gabriel Jesus does at least clear our heads when it comes to assessing their attacking options.
Inevitably there will be talk of considering Sergio Aguero but, in truth, the Argentine is unlikely to truly enter our thoughts until the double Gameweek dates are confirmed.
Raheem Sterling presents a more realistic target. His goal at the Vitality Stadium sealed a fourth successive return, with goals or an assist in eight of his last ten Gameweeks.
Priced at 7.8, Sterling adds to a crowd of midfield options but, should the City revival continue, he will surely become a standout candidate once we’ve steered past the potential Gameweek 28 blank.