Five-time top 1k finisher Tom Freeman reveals his latest thoughts and plans for upcoming Gameweeks…
So as I write this, we’re four games into Gameweek 20 and I sit at 244,571 overall in the Fantasy Premier League (FPL).
The last couple of weeks have been a bit of a slog having decided to not play any chips, but after picking up 53 points last night, it at least feels like we’re moving in the right direction again.
The plan had always been to Free Hit in Gameweek 18 and Bench Boost the week after, but with Burnley and Manchester United’s fixture getting added to the Blank Gameweek, and then Leeds and Southampton losing their doubles, I shelved that idea, and will now use them in 26 (BB) and 29 (FH).
I’ll talk about that in more detail in future columns, but for now, I thought I’d use this article to discuss a few players and teams on my radar, and then highlight why I’m considering them.
I’ve always been a bit sceptical of Wilfried Zaha (£7.2m) as a fantasy asset. In fact, I don’t recall ever owning him before. Crystal Palace have always been a bit uninspiring going forward, but having spent a bit of time over the weekend looking at their upcoming opponents and respective weaknesses, I decided to make a move.
Their schedule really is about as good as it gets for an attacking player, with Wolverhampton Wanderers, Newcastle and Leeds in the next three.
Crystal Palace’s Gameweek 21 to 28 schedule
Now, prior to making the switch ahead of deadline, Zaha wasn’t in form. He’d scored just one goal since Gameweek 12. However, I’m a firm believer that fixtures can dictate form (just ask Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£11.3m)), which is why I think he has the potential to do well in the coming weeks.
Following last night’s opener, he now has nine goals and three assists in 17 league appearances. Eight of those attacking returns have arrived against teams ranked 10th or below in the table too, which is encouraging.
Despite playing in a free role as a second striker, you can see from last night’s touch heatmap (see below) that he naturally moves into areas on the left, which can hurt Wolves and in particular Nélson Semedo (£5.3m), who has often been criticised for his defensive performances this season.
There is a lot of competition for places in our midfields right now, but if you can find a spot for Zaha, I think he’ll do well.
Everton are a different proposition when they can get Lucas Digne (£6.0m), James Rodríguez (£7.7m), Richarlison (£7.8m) and Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£7.6m) all on the pitch at the same time.
In fact, in the six league games they’ve started together this season, the Toffees have scored a massive 17 goals.
Rodríguez is key to unlocking that potential. Against Sheffield Wednesday in the FA Cup he was so, so good, and ended the match with eight key passes, two assists and the man of the match award. That takes his total to seven assists in nine appearances at Goodison Park in all competitions.
With games against Newcastle and Leeds up next, I’m confident Everton will score goals, and I’m looking at upgrading Chris Wood (£6.2m) to Calvert-Lewin later this week.
You might have noticed that this week’s transfer (Zaha), and probably next week’s too (Calvert-Lewin), both take on Newcastle in the next seven days.
The Magpies are without a win in 11 games in all competitions and have only scored two goals in nine matches.
Towards the end of Steve Bruce’s reign at Aston Villa, they were lacking any kind of structure with the same approach in every game, and there are a lot of similarities at Newcastle now.
There were protests outside St James’ Park at the weekend, and you get the feeling a new manager will be in place sooner rather than later. Surely that instability is worth tapping into and targeting then?
WHO ELSE IS ON THE RADAR?
Ilkay Gündogan (£5.7m) is getting hard to ignore. I talked him up in my last column ahead of Gameweek 18, and he’s since gone on to score four in four.
I’m considering him as an Emile Smith Rowe (£4.5m) replacement this week, as the no. 10 looks like he might be injured, and will now face increased competition from Martin Ødegaard (£6.0m) for a spot in the starting XI.
I’ll also be closely watching Chelsea under Thomas Tuchel later on, and looking ahead, it’s imperative I have at least one of Son Heung-min (£9.7m) or Harry Kane (£11.2m) in my team for Gameweek 23, with captaincy in mind.
Finally, having watched a fair bit of Leeds this season, something I’ve picked up on is how vulnerable they look when opponents dribble at them. I don’t have any data to back it up, but it makes me think that players like Harvey Barnes (£6.8m), Richarlison and hopefully Zaha can get some joy against them in the coming weeks.
So, thanks for reading all, and best of luck in tonight’s games!