Some key injury news dominates discussion in our latest round-up of Ragabolly’s Fantasy management game, the next deadline for which is at 19:00 BST on Thursday.
READ MORE: How to sign up and play Virtual FPL
Mohamed Salah‘s (£12.7m) ever-present Virtual FPL record will come to an end on Thursday night, with the Egyptian having picked up an injury in Gameweek 24.
The leading points-scorer won’t be out for long – returning on Sunday – but the lack of price changes in Ragabolly’s game means he can easily be ditched and then, if needs be, reacquired in Gameweek 27.
Salah signed off in style, at least, returning his first double-digit haul since Gameweek 15 as Liverpool beat Southampton 3-0.
Sadio Mane (£12.4m) would be the obvious sideways move for those offloading Salah and wanting to keep Liverpool representation but Brighton and Hove Albion are up next for the Reds, with the Seagulls the most in-form defensive side at present having conceded just twice in seven Gameweeks.
Albion haven’t had one ‘red’ match on the season ticker during that excellent run, however, and shipped five goals at Anfield in the reverse fixture.
Those selling Salah may be looking east to Manchester, of course.
Pep Guardiola’s simulated side enjoy an appealing-looking home fixture with West Ham United in Gameweek 25, a team they beat 3-1 back in April.
Owners of Sergio Aguero (£11.9m) and the now-injured Riyad Mahrez (£8.4m) will have bad memories of that reverse fixture, with the algorithmic Pep Guardiola opting to bench both players for the Gameweek 6 clash.
Deciding on which City combination to plump for is the difficult bit.
Aguero scored a brace on Tuesday as Guardiola’s troops beat Everton 3-0 but has thrice been benched after finding the back of the net in this virtual season, so is by no means guaranteed to feature again.
Kevin De Bruyne (£10.6m) and Leroy Sane (£9.3m) have gone 16 and 15 matches respectively without dropping out of the starting XI, at least, while Raheem Sterling (£11.7m) has only been a substitute once this season.
Sane is the form player, having only blanked in one of his last 15 appearances, but Sterling has also been quietly delivering, with nine attacking returns and four double-digit hauls in his last eight run-outs.
FEEL THE FEROCIOUS HEAT
While one premium asset gets set for a short period on the sidelines, another returns following a lengthy absence.
Harry Kane (£10.8m) has been missing for Spurs’ last ten matches due to injury but will now make his comeback in Gameweek 25.
Interest might be modest at first, with Spurs away at a Crystal Palace side that has kept seven clean sheets in their 12 home games so far and then making the trip to Old Trafford on Saturday.
The Lilywhites’ assets may very well be back on the radar from Gameweek 27 onwards, however, with their run-in among the best in the division.
BACK OF THE NETO
On the subject of excellent fixture runs, Wolves enjoy a favourable swing on Thursday.
Nuno Espirito Santo’s simulated side have a whopping nine ‘green’ matches remaining on the season ticker in 2019/20, which is three more than any team bar Manchester City (seven).
TopMarx’s research has shown that fixture difficulty does make a difference when it comes to actual goals scored if not attacks mounted, with Wolves scoring twice as many goals per match in the easiest (green) games compared to the trickier (red) tests.
The only blanks registered by the ever-present Raul Jimenez (£8.1m) in the last 14 Gameweeks came away at Chelsea and Liverpool, and the Mexican will surely be the first port of call for those without Wolves representation.
Elsewhere, the budget Pedro Neto (£5.0m) was back to scoring form in Gameweek 24 on his 17th successive start and could be a cut-price route into an attacking double-up with Jimenez.
Adama Traore (£5.7m) hasn’t delivered a goal or assist since Gameweek 12, however, while Diogo Jota (£6.4m) has strung together five straight blanks – although Wolves’ fixtures during the Portuguese forward’s barren run were tough.
The attacking involvement figures posted by Traore (56) and Jota (31) since their last returns suggest a goal or assist is surely imminent, but the slight rotation risk status of both remains a little off-putting.
The division’s joint-second-best defence play host to the worst attack on Thursday night.
Only Liverpool have conceded fewer goals than Sheffield United in this virtual campaign, while Newcastle United have scored on fewer occasions than any other side.
The Magpies have belatedly started finding the back of the net, however, scoring nine goals in their last seven outings – that’s over half of their season total of 17.
Joelinton (£5.5m) has scored four goals in that time, having not found the back of net once in Gameweeks 1-17.
What looked like a gimme of a clean sheet for the Blades, then, might prove to be a trickier test than first anticipated.
VIRTUAL FPL PREMIER LEAGUE TABLE
TopMarx’s spreadsheet that details a broad range of team data has been updated after Gameweek 24 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 dozen players will be available again on Thursday after returning from injury or suspension, with the aforementioned Kane among them.
Mesut Ozil (£7.2m) and Willy Boly (£4.8m) are among the other stand-out returnees, although there’ll be a collective shrug of the shoulders at the news that Yoshinori Muto (£5.1m), Michael Verrips (£4.4m), Miguel Almiron (£5.8m), Ben Godfrey (£4.4m), Panagiotis Retsos (£4.5m), Will Hughes (£5.3m), Ben Johnson (£3.9m), Morgan Schneiderlin (£4.4m) and Jesse Lingard (£6.3m) are free to play.
As well as Salah, there were four other players who were injured on Tuesday evening.
Johann Berg Gudmundsson (£5.9m), Erik Lamela (£5.7m), Jamal Lewis (£4.4m) and Moussa Djenepo (£5.2m) all picked up fitness issues in Gameweek 24 or just after it, with full details of their length of absences listed above.
Six of the ten highest-ranked managers above, including new entry FPLRichard, are also involved in our Fantasy Football Scout league.
You can join the Fantasy Football Scout mini-league by entering the code 9RV4A via the below link.