The Fantasy Football Scout Guide to Gameweek 23 begins with a heads-up about Gameweek 24 – the deadline is Tuesday 18:30 GMT – don’t forget to set your team for the first Double Gameweek of the season after this weekend.
However, we have another round of fixtures to consider before then. And plenty of team news, analyses and captaincy decisions to ponder. You’ll even discover why Joe’s transfer plans involve him going “Choudhury deep”. Yes, it does sound very wrong.
Given Lateriser’s headline success of Vardy to Aguero last week, the Scoutcast trio of Joe, Sam and Lee asked the question: is it time to sell Vardy?
Lee’s concern, as someone who has owned him since early in the season, would be the amount of value lost. Especially if you want to buy him back later on. Joe countered that for him it’s “points not pounds” that count – he doesn’t care about losing value but he does worry about losing points. Leicester face Burnley and West Ham next.
Sam cautioned that given Vardy is likely to be highly captained this week, not owning him could hurt. Indeed, the former England international is currently second in the captain poll.
Encouragement for handing Vardy the armband was to be found in David’s Captain Sensible article:
The expected data paints an even more damning picture for Burnley ahead of hosting Vardy, who may feel he has a point to prove after failing to shoot against Southampton. The Clarets’ expected goals conceded (xGC) score from their last four stands at 7.70, the third-worst in the league.– David
However it’s Kevin De Bruyne who leads the poll and was described as “the safe bet” in the Gameweek 23 Captaincy Video. He is a player who is overperforming – he hasn’t had a big chance since Gameweek 9 but has scored five goals in that time – but as Neale observed:
That doesn’t mean [De Bruyne’s] returns are unsustainable, of course. As we have pointed out before, the so-called ‘better’ players tend to … convert a higher proportion of their chances (or have teammates who more reliably convert their key passes).– Neale
And with so many of his teammates in fine form, assists are perhaps a more likely source of points. Pro Pundit Tom Freeman is leaning towards handing the Belgian the captain’s armband.
Tom was one of many to talk up Southampton assets this week. David labeled their defence as “FPL-investment-ready” following his in-depth examination of their credentials. Tom agreed, pointing out that their expected goals conceded over the last ten matches is second only to Liverpool. He highlighted goalkeeper Alex McCarthy and defender Jack Stephens as potential bargains.
McCarthy is Andy’s favoured option to replace the stricken Fabianski. The face of Let’s Talk FPL discussed goalkeeper replacements earlier this week.
And fellow Pro Pundit Zophar drafted in McCarthy as part of a mini-Wildcard (three transfers for the cost of four points). He’s one of two Saints players added to his squad, the other being Danny Ings. Assessing the in-form striker, Zophar enthused:
No forward has scored more goals (five), taken more SiB (19) or landed more shots on target (SoT) (11) than the Englishman over the last five Gameweeks.– Pro Pundit Zophar
Saints fan Differential (c) brought us his insights into the turnaround in Southampton’s fortunes this season, noting that a settled back four has been a key component of their upturn in form. Once again McCarthy, Stephens, and that man Ings were given special mention.
For the third transfer of his mini-Wildcard Zophar decided to play “Pep Roulette” in an effort to climb the ranks.
Riyad Mahrez put pen to paper for the six-time top 5,000 manager. A move Pro Pundit Sam – currently in the top 10,000 – considers fraught with peril. Adding that Man City don’t play Aston Villa every week and a look at this site’s fixture ticker reveals they are bottom over the next ten Gameweeks.
Nonetheless, Zophar feels the Algerian has done enough to become a regular starter and found comfort in the words of Guardiola:
You see his legs it is impossible to be injured because he has no muscles. The final third he has something special, always I have the feeling he can score a goal.– Pep Guardiola
Richarlison and Rashford updates
The surprising news from Friday’s press conferences came from Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti:
“We are without for this game Richarlison. He had a little problem yesterday in training and will not be available for the game. I hope he will be available on Tuesday. Little problem on his knee, he had a little twist but nothing special. Minor problem but unfortunately will not be available tomorrow. We are without Sigurdsson, he has minor groin issues.”– Carlo Ancelotti
How their absence will impact Everton’s creativity is anyone’s guess. Of particular interest to fantasy managers is Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who has taken 14 shots in his last four matches. David wrote of him in Captain Sensible:
Calvert-Lewin is a player who boasts considerably better individual underlying statistics since Gameweek 19 than De Bruyne and Vardy – and faces an opposition whose defence is arguable worse than Crystal Palace or Burnley’s.– David
Pep Pig backs the 22-year-old to find the back of the net at the London Stadium.
Marcus Rashford was subbed off shortly after coming on in Man United’s FA Cup replay against Wolverhampton Wanderers, giving owners cause for concern. At yesterday’s press conference manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer failed to reassure, stating only that Rashford was receiving “checks and treatment”.
Perhaps the bigger worry for FPL bosses is not the match against leaders Liverpool but rather the midweek game at home to Burnley.
Sam urged us not to ignore teams with only one match in Double Gameweek 24:
Double Gameweeks are a gift for us FPL managers but my experience of dealing with them is to not let them blindside you into forgetting about the single Gameweek players.– Sam
In addition to the Clarets trip to Old Trafford, Watford’s fixture against Aston Villa also appeals:
Watford play Aston Villa, who have only won twice in their last nine games. In the reverse fixture, Watford won 3-0.– Sam
Neale’s Big Numbers article showed us just how good the Hornets have been of late:
21 chances created by Gerard Deulofeu (£6.1m) and Troy Deeney (£6.2m) combined since Nigel Pearson first took charge of Watford in Gameweek 17. The pair are first and joint-second respectively for key passes among FPL forwards over the last six Gameweeks.– Neale
Liverpool and Enablers
Liverpool assets continue to dominate our thoughts ahead of their two fixtures next Gameweek. Reds-fan Lee feels that ignoring the 40%-owned Mané could ruin his season given that many are likely to captain him.
While Joe has devised a plan, which involves switching to a 4-3-3 formation and acquiring the £4.3m-rated Hamza Choudhury, in order to get Mané and play his Triple Captain chip on him.
We’ve had a couple of articles attempt to map out the Blank and Double Gameweeks later in the season, and devise a chip strategy. Both Neale and Lord – Blaming it on Rio feel that Gameweek 24 could be a good time to use the Triple Captain chip, although it’s difficult to say if a better opportunity won’t present itself further down the line.
Meanwhile, considering her Liverpool trio, Sam feels a more balanced approach is the way to go. For her, the cheaper Firmino and Martial – with his home fixture against Burnley – is a good combination. Against Tottenham last weekend, the Brazillian scored his seventh away league goal of the season (more than Mane and Salah combined) and drew praise from Klopp:
When I went to him and wanted to give him a hug after the game, he wanted to stop and talk first. He said, ‘I know I should have scored more goals’. It was absolutely not what I wanted to say! Yes, a super player, super. I don’t say this for the first time and will hopefully not say it for the last time. Pretty impressive.– Jurgen Klopp
David added to the growing confidence in Liverpool’s number nine in his members-only assessment:
Both over the last four matches and his last four away trips especially, the Brazilian has produced some incredibly encouraging underlying statistics.– David
For those favouring double Liverpool attack, cheap enablers are needed.
Picked out as differential by Joe on the Scoutcast, Tom Freeman in his differentials article, and Andy in the Community Q&A video – Leandro Trossard is tipped to fit the bill. Brighton face Aston Villa next – no team has conceded more goals away than Villa and with Trossard’s next four games all against teams near the bottom of the table, he has the potential to do well.
Not everyone is set on double attack as Greyhead discovered in his latest look at The Great and The Good – Career Hall of Fame number one, Sean Tobin, has opted for a defensive double-up in the shape of Robertson and Alexander-Arnold.
Chelsea’s Big Chance
Two Chelsea players are included in this week’s Scout Picks – Tammy Abraham and Reece James make the cut.
Part of the reason for their inclusion is the strength of the team they are facing:
Newcastle defence that has conceded the second-highest number of big chances over the last four Gameweeks.– Scout Picks
The importance of looking at Big Chances was highlighted by AK this week, who found them to be the best indicator of goals alongside expected goals.
Good news then for owners of Abraham. Pep Pig felt he was unlucky not to score more than once against Burnley.
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