Gameweek 25 of Fantasy Premier League feels like a rare ‘normal’ Gameweek right now. No double fixtures, no Winter break, and no FA Cup or EFL Cup matches to contend with.
Just a round of 10 normal fixtures with plenty of time to think before it. But on the back of key injuries in Gameweek 24 there is a lot for us to think about.
Last week, Lateriser12 wrote a fascinating article about decision making and not going ‘on tilt’ with future decisions to catch up or deal with disappointing developments.
Reading it, I was struck by how much importance Fantasy managers place on the Double Gameweeks and the like (such as Blank Gameweeks, chip season and Wildcards).
Double Gameweek 24 has been kind to me so far. I went without Sadio Mané (£12.4m), kept Dele Alli (£8.5m) for his 13-point haul, and transferred out Tammy Abraham (£7.7m) for Roberto Firmino (£9.6m), who I trusted with the Triple Captain chip. Hopefully, the West Ham game brings further returns.
My hope with Triple Captaining Firmino was that It would be enough of a differential to end the Gameweek inside the top 3,000 worldwide. So far so good, as I’m up to 3.3k overall rank.
But what does this mean for Gameweek 25? The reality is, for me, it’s been forgotten.
Planning for Double Gameweek 24 has been my absolute focus for some time and, as a result, when the most recent deadline passed and I went to set my bus team (see Always Cheating Podcast) it occurred to me that I was setting a team for a set of fixtures I had blanked from my thoughts.
The only thought I had had about this Gameweek coming was that I would roll transfer and therefore have two heading into the Winter break. But is that possible? There are a number of key issues ahead of the Gameweek 25 deadline. They apply whether you are, along with Lateriser12, trying to avoid rash decisions or whether your previous Gameweek went well and you are deciding whether to play the game with a sword or shield as your weapon of choice.
Gameweek 24 injuries
When Jamie Vardy (£9.9m) hobbled off before half time against West Ham, many managers saw this as the perfect opportunity to sell an out-of-form striker. The Leicester man is yet to score in 2020, with only a missed penalty and an assist to his name this calendar year.
The Foxes’ fixtures also look mixed over the next five Gameweeks too, with Chelsea and Manchester City on the horizon and the possibility of a ‘blank’ in Gameweek 28.
However, Brendan Rodgers has included Vardy in his squad for the EFL Cup semi-final second-leg, which should mean, barring any recurrence, he will be available for Gameweek 25 too.
Before this development, I was fully set to sell. However, I joined the Vardy party early which means I have a lot of value tied up in the player and have to be very confident that I won’t want him back soon.
Leicester host a Chelsea side next who have kept just two clean sheets in their last 12 matches, suggesting that there could be good opportunities for Vardy to get back to goal scoring ways on Saturday.
The handy thing for Fantasy managers is that we still have two more opportunities to hear from Rodgers ahead of Gameweek 25, in his post-match interview on Tuesday and his pre-match press conference later this week. I’ll be making this decision as close to the deadline as possible.
Even as a non-Mané owner, and a Firmino Triple Captainer, I felt devastated to watch this. The form was there, the fixtures were there, everything seemed perfect for a Mané haul, but as Lateriser12 said, this was a ‘bad beat’ and completely unforeseeable.
The question now is what do we do with the midfielder, now that he has been ruled out of the West Ham match and will “probably” not be involved against Southampton, according to Jurgen Klopp.
I think, if you have very little money invested in Mané, perhaps because you signed him for the Double Gameweek, it is probably worth looking to move him on.
For many, like myself, Abraham was the make-way for a Liverpool triple-up for Double Gameweek 24. However, for the 29.1% of managers that still own him, his collision with the advertising boards last Tuesday made for a painful watch.
Abraham has returned in four of the last five Gameweeks and, therefore, his form was solid, if not setting the world on fire, and as such he looked a good player to hold on to ahead of the fixture against Leicester who have conceded in every game bar one of the last nine Gameweeks.
Frank Lampard said in his post-match interview during the FA Cup weekend that Abraham’s ankle isn’t fractured, but there is still a lot of swelling and not a lot known about the injury – not exactly promising.
In Abraham’s case, given the consistency of players such as Raúl Jiménez (£7.5m), or my man Firmino, a swollen ankle and a lack of training makes Abraham a difficult hold this week.
Fixture shifts – Who has the best run for the long term?
Sheffield United, Liverpool, Newcastle and Crystal Palace sit proudly at the top of the Season Ticker right now.
Palace and Newcastle, in particular, are two clubs who could provide us with some interesting differentials, that many others may overlook. The fixtures are definitely there for both of them, although the form is a little inconsistent.
Steve Bruce’s Newcastle have been leaving it late, their goals against both Chelsea and Everton coming in the final minutes and have largely been an inconsistent side with four losses, three draws and two wins in their last nine league matches. Miguel Almirón (£5.8m) and Allan Saint-Maximin (£5.4m) are probably the ones to keep an eye on although neither has proved particularly clinical yet.
Palace have drawn four of their last five matches and haven’t kept a clean sheet since Gameweek 16 so it’s probably the attacking options like Cenk Tosun (£5.7m), Jordan Ayew (£5.0m) or the returning Luka Milivojevic (£6.7m) who we should have on our radar.
What about the Bottom of the ticker?
I find that teams sitting near the bottom of the Season Ticker often means you may have to sell one of their players.
However, the five clubs in this position over the next five Gameweeks are really interesting. Manchester City sit at the very foot yet their form has improved dramatically of late, Sergio Aguero (£12.0m) and Kevin De Bruyne (£10.6m) are regularly scoring points and Aymeric Laporte (£6.3m) is back to bolster their defensive prospects.
Everton assets may be on the chopping block for some too, unless we’re talking about the arguably undroppable Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£6.1m). I currently only have Mason Holgate (£4.5m) and so he will stay as a result of his price as well as his attacking returns potential as seen in Gameweek 23. However the like of Richarlison (£8.0m) and Gylfi Sigurdsson (£7.3m) I would be looking to move on, especially considering recent absences.