Fantasy Premier League managers have been handed another potentially template-breaking opportunity after the Asian Cup quarter-finals.
South Korea, one of the pre-tournament favourites, were surprisingly knocked out by Qatar, which means that Son Heung-min (£8.6m) could be back in FPL action as early as Gameweek 24.
With Australia also dumped out of the competition by hosts United Arab Emirates, Mat Ryan (£4.4m) will also be eyeing up an FPL return in the coming days.
South Korea 0-1 Qatar
Mauricio Pochettino might be quietly delighted that South Korea were stunned by minnows Qatar in the United Arab Emirates.
Son should be back with Tottenham by Sunday thanks to a FIFA rule, which means the FPL midfielder will officially available in Gameweek 24.
It stipulates that players who received international call-ups during their domestic season have to return to their club within 48 hours if the competition took place in a different confederation to which they play in regularly.
That obviously applies to Son in this example as the Asian Cup took place in the AFC, whereas the Premier League falls under UEFA.
“Players complying with a call-up from their association under the terms of this article shall resume duty with their clubs no later than 24 hours after the end of the period for which they had to be released. This period shall be extended to 48 hours if the representative teams’ activities concerned took place in a different confederation to the one in which the player’s club is registered. Clubs shall be informed in writing of a player’s outbound and return schedule ten days before the start of the release period. Associations shall ensure that players are able to return to their clubs on time after the match.” – FIFA Rulebook
That means that Son could be in contention to start against Watford in Gameweek 24, Spurs’ match taking place on Wednesday night.
While he will officially available for the meeting, whether Pochettino decides to start him is another matter.
The FIFA rule means Son will be back by Sunday, which does give him some time to overcome any jet-lag by Wednesday, and his chances of starting look decent, with Harry Kane (£12.5m) and Dele Alli (£8.9m) out injured.
However, we will have to wait and see what Pochettino says in his pre-Gameweek 24 press conference on either Monday or Tuesday before being completely sure. Son’s exploits with his country and the travelling involved might put the Spurs boss off rushing him back in straight away. After all, he reportedly looked fatigue in South Korea’s final group stage match and last 16
“I wasn’t fully prepared. I felt physically empty. I feel so sorry to have let down my team-mates, coaches and the fans. I would rather not speak about it really but I haven’t felt right physically. I was losing sleep – I should have looked after my condition better.” – Son Heung-min
Either way, Son will have a point to prove upon his Premier League return after being on the wrong end of a highly unexpected result in the quarter-finals of the Asian Cup.
Owners of Christian Eriksen (£9.4m) can also take some encouragement as Son’s return would boost the Dane’s assist potential.
“I know many people expected big things of us. I’m so upset that I haven’t been able to produce my best. It’s a reminder to us that there are not teams in Asia we can take lightly.” – Son Heung-min
South Korea XI (4-2-3-1): Kim S-G; Kim J-S, Kim Y-G, Kim M-J, Lee Y; Ju (Ji 82′), Jung; Lee C-Y (Lee S-W 84′), Hwang I-B (Koo 74′), Son H-M; Hwang U-J.
United Arab Emirates 1-0 Australia
Brighton goalkeeper Ryan could also be back in Premier League action in Gameweek 24, as a result of that aforementioned FIFA rule.
He will be back at the Amex Stadium by Monday at the latest, ahead of a trip to Fulham on Tuesday.
As a goalkeeper, he is less likely to miss the meeting, although Chris Hughton will still have to assess his mental state of mind as a result of travelling and jet-lag.
Brighton’s local newspaper the Argus appear confident that Ryan will play against Fulham, although David Button (£4.0m) will still be hoping to keep his place one last time.
“We will get them back as quickly as possible but then you have to assess. Travelling distance is not too bad. Maty’s position is a little bit different to Alireza but the moment we can get them back, we will do.” – Chris Hughton
The fact Ryan has dropped in price to £4.4m while away with Australia will be of interest to anyone making wholesale changes to their squad. Despite a Blank in Gameweek 27, Brighton rank fourth-best for defensive potential between now and Gameweek 29 on the Season Ticker.
The Seagulls, and probably Ryan, will have a corresponding Double Gameweek at some point too.
The goalkeeper was involved in the incident that cost Australia a place in the semi-finals, although was not particularly at fault.
Centre-back Milos Degenek under-hit a back-pass in the 68th-minute, allowing Ali Ahmed Mabkhout to go round Ryan and slot the only goal of the game into an empty net.
Australia XI (4-4-2): Ryan; Behich, Degenek, Sainsbury, Grant; Kruse (Mabil 73′), Milligan, Irvine, Ikonomidis; MacLaren (Leckie 60′), Giannou (Nabbout 80′).
Vietnam 0-1 Japan
Maya Yoshida (£4.1m) was a key man for Japan as they booked their place in the semi-finals of the Asian Cup.
Their win over Vietnam, and progression to the last four, which begins on Monday, confirms that the centre-back will be unavailable for Southampton in Gameweek 24. Even if the Samurai Blue are eliminated at that stage it will have taken place too late for Yoshida to return in time for the midweek FPL action.
That should ensure further starts for Jan Bednarek (£3.9m), Jannik Vestergaard (£4.6m) and Jack Stephens (£4.2m) when the Saints host Crystal Palace on Wednesday night.
Yoshida, captaining Japan once again, impressed as the leader of their defence against a spirited Vietnam side.
He even had the ball in the net from a 24-minute corner, but the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) confirmed he had done so with the use of his hand, so the goal was ruled out.
This quarter-final victory was the second knockout match in a row where Japan went through on just a one-goal margin following a performance lacking in attacking prowess.
This time they had to rely on a penalty awarded by VAR, which has been seen by some as a contentious decision.
They may have to up their game to book a place in next week’s final, although Yoshida’s work at the back means they have still only conceded three times in five matches.
Japan XI (4-4-2): Gonda; Nagatomo, Yoshida, Tomiyasu, H Sakai; Haraguchi (Inui 79′), Endo, Shibasaki, Doan; Kitagawa (Ōsako 72′), Minamino (Shiotani 89′).
China 0-3 Iran
Alireza Jahanbakhsh‘s (£6.7m) absence from Gameweek 24 was confirmed on Thursday as Iran beat China in the quarter-finals of the Asian Cup.
Team Melli will now play Japan in the first semi-final of the competition on Monday.
Even if Iran were to lose in the last four, that match is just one day before Brighton’s trip to Fulham on Tuesday night, which would not leave enough time for Jahanbakhsh to be involved.
The winger started for the third time in a row but was replaced by Saman Ghoddos in the 68th minute.
Deployed on the right of a 4-2-3-1, Jahanbakhsh was unable to add to his goal tally.
Thankfully for Fantasy managers, the fact he will now definitely miss Gameweek 24 has little impact.
It does, however, ensure less competition for Solly March (£5.0m), Jurgen Locadia (£5.3m), Pascal Groß (£6.7m) and Anthony Knockaert (£5.2m), all of whom will be vying for places on the wing or as the number 10 behind Glenn Murray (£6.3m).
Iran XI (4-2-3-1): Beiranvand; Mohammadi, Kanani, Pouraliganji, Rezaeian; Hajsafi, Ebrahimi; Taremi, Dejagah (Cheshmi 76′), Jahanbakhsh (Ghoddos 68′); Azmoun (Ansarifard 86′).