Our team of Hall of Famers and guest writers are writing about all things Fantasy Premier League (FPL) in 2023/24. Next up, seven-time top 10k finisher Zophar takes his usual weekly FPL Q&A.
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Q: Is Trent Alexander-Arnold (£8.0m) a buy now? Worth his price?
Q: Is now time to go back to TAA and more left-field picks, as Bryan Mbeumo (£7.1m) is injured, breaking away from the template? Given that everyone has the same midfield.
(via @TheSportsBox1 and @WasimFPL)
A: Trent has racked up a whopping 47 points over the last six Gameweeks and has looked like one of the top picks in the game but at this point I am wondering if we’ve missed the boat? Liverpool’s run over the last six Gameweeks included Nottingham Forest, Luton Town, Brentford, Fulham and Sheffield United – an obliging run.
After Crystal Palace is out of the way, they play Manchester United, Arsenal twice, Newcastle United and Chelsea between Gameweeks 17 and 23. That’s a tough run and, while Liverpool are very capable of winning all of these with Trent delivering attacking returns, the clean sheet prospects still look a bit slim.
So I would say that if you can get to him in two moves, he’s still a great pick but it comes at the cost of some sacrifices elsewhere. Personally, I would still put the money in attack.
Q: Worth investing in Everton’s resurgence or should we wait?
A: Everton have now played three games since their points deduction and won two of them to nil. They were arguably a bit unlucky against Man United as well. Underlying numbers have improved, as over the last four Gameweeks they rank third for non-penalty expected goals (NPxG, 8.03) and fifth for non-penalty expected goals conceded (NPxGC, 5.10).
Their upcoming run looks quite difficult on paper. They face Chelsea, Spurs, Manchester City and Aston Villa in four of the next six, alongside Burnley and Wolverhampton Wanderers. It would be a case of form over fixtures, which does work sometimes.
Vitalii Mykolenko (£4.5m) and Jarrad Branthwaite (£4.1m) would be the picks in defence while, in attack, Abdoulaye Doucoure (£5.5m) and Dwight McNeil (£5.4m) are worth considering as Mbeumo replacements. Yet it still feels like a punt when there are more solid picks out there delivering in attack. I’d still avoid.
Q: Best Mbeumo replacement?
Q: Who is the best differential midfielder for £7.0m and under to replace Mbeumo that isn’t Hwang Hee-chan (£5.7m), Cole Palmer (£5.4m) or Anthony Gordon (£6.1m)?
(via @OttoMannen_ and ELS365)
A: This is the week’s big topic, with Mbeumo being a very popular pick. The most obvious replacements are Palmer and Gordon, who are both making a mockery of their price. There is a slight concern for both, as their teams have shown their Jekyll and Hyde nature in these midweek matches but their price means that an occasional blank is much more tolerable. If you can stretch the funds a bit, Jarrod Bowen (£7.6m) is absolutely the top pick.
Hwang has gone under the radar a bit in the community, having already scored eight goals. Perhaps there is still the mindset of Wolves being a low-scoring defensive team, which is really not the case this season. However, being on four yellow cards is definitely off-putting.
Douglas Luiz (£5.6m) is an option. Aston Villa’s short-term fixtures against Arsenal and Brentford are unappealing but the run improves from Gameweek 18. But he’s another with four bookings and I feel he relies on set pieces too much for his returns.
I prefer Doucoure to McNeil if you fancy a punt on Everton, while I still can’t recommend investing in Jeremy Doku (£6.7m) due to December rotation. It’s similar for Brighton and Hove Albion’s Kaoru Mitoma (£6.5m) and Simon Adingra (£5.0m). Their team-mate Pascal Gross (£6.3m) is another unfashionable pick that’s under the radar.
Elsewhere, Alejandro Garnacho (£4.7m) is definitely an option. He now seems to be a regular in the Man United line-up and his price allows upgrades elsewhere.
Spurs have options as well. Brennan Johnson (£5.8m) and Dejan Kulusevski (£7.0m) are likely to be regulars on the team sheet but it is also worth mentioning that Richarlison (£6.6m) is back. He could eat into some of their game time.
My ranking for the top five sub-£7.0m replacements would be Gordon, Palmer, Garnacho, Johnson and Douglas Luiz. If your bench can handle the absence, then Hwang is definitely in there as well.
Q: Best Chelsea defender to bring in for their kind fixture run?
Q: Reece James (£5.4m) or Levi Colwill (£4.5m)?
Q: Recce James! That’s the question!!!!
Q: Chelsea have a great fixture coming up. Is Reece James an option?
(via LILMESSIPRAN, @AnikMajumder25, @Siaf1313 and Scalper)
A: There’s a lot of interest in the Chelsea defence lately and, as a supporter, I just cannot understand why. Chelsea gave up over four expected goals conceded (xGC) to Man United and the defence is ranked 19th for NPxGC (8.96) over the last four Gameweeks. Only Luton (9.59) have fared worse.
I guess it’s a fixture play, with the Blues’ run improving from Gameweek 17. Let’s talk about Reece James first. The right-back was on the bench against Man United in midweek due to knee pain. It is worth mentioning that James missed the last league fixture entirely due to suspension so – even after a longer rest period – he was deemed not fit enough to start.
Chelsea are clearly being super cautious with his fitness and December is not the period to invest in that, in my opinion. I also don’t think he has the same upside as he did in previous seasons. There is a bit of nostalgia, given what he delivered playing at right wing-back under Thomas Tuchel but it isn’t the same ceiling a couple of years ago.
The rest of the back four is a bit difficult to predict. Colwill, Marc Cucurella (£4.8m), Benoit Badiashile (£4.4m) and Axel Disasi (£4.9m) have all seen game time, with Thiago Silva (£5.0m) the mainstay. With a packed schedule, even the experienced Brazilian will miss the odd game. Of the lot, I think Colwill is the most appealing given his price and quality. He also comes with a bit of goal threat from set-pieces.
Q: Who are the best forwards to target for the next four to five Gameweeks? Under £7.0m.
A: The pool of investible forwards is quite slim in that bracket but Dominic Solanke (£6.5m) would be right at the top. Bournemouth have finally got their act going and the numbers are very impressive of late. He is nailed for 90 minutes, on penalties and should have had many more points over the last few weeks.
I wouldn’t go to Nicolas Jackson (£6.9m) with Christopher Nkunku (£7.3m) now knocking about. I can’t recommend Rasmus Hojlund (£6.9m), Chris Wood (£4.9m) or Matheus Cunha (£5.6m) either.
Meanwhile, Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£5.8m) isn’t fully fit and Evan Ferguson (£6.1m) is a rotation risk. The only other one who could act as an enabler is the old favourite, Raul Jimenez (£5.2m). I still wouldn’t trust him as a seventh attacker but he is a decent eighth one.
Q: What would be your ideal five defenders at this point of the season?
Q: Kieran Trippier (£7.0m) or Pedro Porro (£5.3m)?
(via @FPL_Swede_ and @FPLShoreham)
A: Clean sheets are rare this season and very difficult to predict, as Aston Villa and Everton’s midweek ones proved. I think you just have to go with attacking defenders to get some upside when they inevitably lose their clean sheets.
That being said, I still like having one Arsenal defender in the long-term as theirs is statistically the league’s best. I don’t think there’s much between Gabriel Magalhaes (£4.9m) and William Saliba (£5.5m), so will side with the Brazilian here.
The premium defender is a battle between Alexander-Arnold and Trippier. I prefer the latter with his significant £1m price difference.
I think Porro has been very unlucky not to pick up more attacking returns recently. He’s taken on a much more active role in James Maddison’s (£7.8m) absence and is capable of an 18-pointer on any day. Especially if Spurs can finally keep a clean sheet.
Man City’s defence is a no-go and Liverpool’s fixtures toughen up. The fourth would probably be cheap Colwill, given Chelsea’s fixtures.
Finally, Branthwaite with his budget price as Jamaal Lascelles (£4.2m) could soon be out of the team and Burnley won’t face Sheffield United every week.