Our latest round-up of Ragabolly’s Fantasy management game reflects on back-to-back Gameweeks at the weekend and looks ahead to Tuesday’s matches.
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NO DOUBLES, MO CRY
It’s now eight games without a double-digit haul for Mohamed Salah (£12.7m).
Sadio Mane (£12.4m) has registered four such returns in the interim, with the Senegalese winger now top of the vFPL form table over the last five Gameweeks.
A bit of perspective is needed, though: Salah has only blanked once in his last eight showings, is joint-top of the goalscorers’ charts, is 43 points clear of Mane in the overall points table and is joint-third in the vFPL form table.
A home match against Southampton is up next; Salah’s last blank at virtual Anfield was in Gameweek 2 against Arsenal.
Liverpool are the only club in the top six who don’t have a ‘red’ fixture in Gameweek 24, too.
HOVE INTO VIEW
The most in-form team from a defensive perspective right now are, surprisingly, Brighton and Hove Albion.
The Seagulls have kept a remarkable five clean sheets in their last six matches, conceding just once over that time.
While the ultimate test of free-scoring Liverpool awaits in Gameweek 25, Albion still have some appealing matches against Burnley, Aston Villa, Newcastle United and Norwich City (albeit only one of which is at home) before their unfavourable fixture swing in Gameweek 30.
Adam Webster (£4.4m) is the biggest attacking threat in the Brighton backline and indeed picked up an assist in Gameweek 23 but has been benched in three of the last six matches, so carries a rotation risk.
Goalkeeper Mathew Ryan (£4.7m) and the ever-present Dan Burn (£4.5m) look the securest routes into the Brighton defence, although are seemingly less likely to pick up bonus points based on what we have seen so far this season.
KICK IN THE BALDOCKS
Sheffield United kept their seventh clean sheet of the season in a 1-0 win over Aston Villa on Sunday, which was also their sixth shut-out at home.
Missing out on the points however was George Baldock (£5.1m), the fifth-most-owned defender in Virtual FPL.
The wing-back was (presumably) benched for the first time this season, failing to even appear as a substitute as teammates Chris Basham (£4.6m), Jack O’Connell (£4.7m) and Enda Stevens (£5.1m) supplemented their clean sheets with bonus points.
Ragabolly has previously mentioned that he has developed the game so that players can miss the odd game through an undeclared illness or unspecified reason, so it may be that Baldock will return to the starting XI on Tuesday and beyond.
MAN OF TODD
Teemu Pukki‘s (£6.5m) credentials we bigged up on Friday ahead of Norwich City’s fixture swing in Gameweek 23.
Enjoying a similarly good run of form is teammate Todd Cantwell (£4.8m), who has scored three games running.
The budget midfielder has been involved in the same number of attacks (24) as Pukki over the last four Gameweeks and has started 16 of the Canaries’ last 17 fixtures.
A season-wide conversion rate of 6% (Pukki’s is 11%) suggests we can’t expect fireworks from Cantwell on a weekly basis but in West Ham and Bournemouth, Norwich’s next opponents, the cut-price asset is at least facing two defences who will give him ample chance to extend that scoring sequence.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£6.4m) blanked on Sunday but an excellent run of form had seen him plunder 11 attacking returns in the 10 Gameweeks before that point.
Everton are about to embark on a sequence of five fixtures against sides who are all in the top six, so a number of Calvert-Lewin’s owners may be considering moving him on ahead of Tuesday’s deadline – perhaps to someone like Pukki, who has an altogether more favourable run of games.
While fixture difficulty is relevant when it comes to goals scored, it should be said that Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur and Wolverhampton Wanderers, three of Everton’s next four opponents, sit in the bottom eight for clean sheets in this simulated season.
Wolves and Spurs indeed are in the bottom seven for goals conceded, too, with only Norwich having shipped more than the Lilywhites.
It’s now eight blanks in a row for Marcus Rashford (£8.8m) following another disappointing two games for the Manchester United striker at the weekend.
The forward has been involved in 49 attacks without success during that time, so, even though form is a huge part of Ragabolly’s game, it’s hard to believe that a return isn’t surely imminent.
Rashford had a conversion rate of 13% before this barren run, with that figure now levelling off at 9% – a similar figure that Raul Jimenez (£8.1m) and Jamie Vardy (£9.6m) boast in the same price bracket.
A home match against a porous Wolves side offers some hope but with so many cheaper options offering superior form and fixtures at present, his popularity is likely to dwindle further.
VIRTUAL FPL PREMIER LEAGUE TABLE
TopMarx’s spreadsheet that details team attacks (for and against, home and away) has been updated after Gameweek 23 and can be viewed here.
The interactive player stats spreadsheet has also been refreshed after the latest round of matches, meanwhile.
The stand-alone spreadsheet can be accessed via this link, with Fantasy managers able to make their own copy by selecting “File>Make a copy”.
INJURIES AND BANS
A cluster of players will be available again on Tuesday, although few will likely be of interest to Virtual FPL managers.
Bukayo Saka (£4.6m), Kenny McLean (£4.8m), Cuco Martina (£4.0m), Jan Vertonghen (£5.2m), James Tarkowski (£5.1m), Daniel Podence (£5.1m), Harry Maguire (£5.3m), Neil Taylor (£4.2m) and David Silva (£7.3m) all return from injury, while Harry Wilson (£5.8m) is back from a three-match ban and James Tomkins (£5.0m) will return after being dismissed for two yellow cards on Saturday.
Christoph Zimmermann (£4.4m), Morgan Schneiderlin (£4.4m), Lewis Cook (£5.0m), Lucas Torreira (£4.7m), Nicolas Pepe (£9.2m), Moritz Leitner (£4.3m), Jesse Lingard (£6.3m), Javier Manquillo (£4.3m) and Andriy Yarmolenko (£5.2m) all picked up fresh injuries over the weekend, with full details of their absences in the table above.
Mesut Ozil (£7.2m) was sent off for Arsenal on Sunday and will sit out Tuesday’s match, meanwhile.
Valentino Lazaro (£5.4m), Isaac Hayden (£4.3m) and Richarlison (£8.3m) all saw red in the same match on Saturday, with each having two matches of their three-game bans still to go.
Fábio Borges has extended his lead to 40 points in the overall standings and in our Fantasy Football Scout mini-league, with Joe Gunbie moving up to second on Saturday and staying there after Gameweek 23.
The Christians and Venker were new entries into the top ten in the table above.
You can join the Fantasy Football Scout mini-league by entering the code 9RV4A via the below link.