We’re back in FPL action this week after a well earned break following the mammoth week 22, and we have a lot to talk about. On the plus side, there is only one set of matches to look at for the first time in what feels like forever. In week 22, I scored 60 points which was comfortably above the average of 45. I did however play my 2nd wildcard. More on that later. It means my overall rank is up to 179,049th but the very fact that I am up to that rank tells you all you need to know about my recent form. But what has week 23 got in store for us?
The big game of the weekend comes on Sunday afternoon, as Liverpool host Manchester City. Mo Salah is back in training but of course the big change at Liverpool is that Coutinho has left, so er, you should probably transfer him out if you have him. Man City meanwhile lost Gabriel Jesus to injury over the Festive period, which means Aguero is back on the table! Not the treatment table, rather then “might not get rotated” table. Liverpool away is hardly an easy fixture but with Newcastle and West Brom to come in consecutive fixtures after this weekend, you’d be mad not to. There is the looming figure of Alexis Sanchez, who as of yet has not signed for Man City, but it is gathering pace and it’s going to happen one day.
Back to Saturday though and champions Chelsea are at home to Leicester, the latest in yet another decent looking fixture for Conte’s men. I’ve been tipping Hazard and Morata for weeks and they have rarely delivered, so I ditched both in the wildcard. There’s your motivation to get them in straight away. Leicester have injury problems at the back too, so read into that what you will. The Saturday tea time encounter between Tottenham and Everton has been a big game in recent years but Everton’s slide down the table means you can expect Sam Allardyce to field a flat back 9. It’s a tactic that worked well for West Ham last week and with Spurs still not brilliant at Wembley, I think any win will be a narrow one.
The starter on Sunday before the main course at Anfield will see Bournemouth host Arsenal. As mentioned earlier it looks like Sanchez is on his way out of Arsenal, and any Arsenal player remains a bit of a risk at present, though you’d expect a reaction following their defeat at Nottingham Forest. Even defensively Arsenal have no guaranteed pick with the exception of maybe Bellerin, with injuries and lack of ability accounting for a few. Monday night sees Man Utd welcome Stoke to Old Trafford, Stoke don’t have a manager so you’d think easy home win. Jesse Lingard is incredible value at £6.3m, as he is practically playing up front at the moment, though Lukaku’s return might see an adjustment.
Along with Chelsea, West Ham have the most appetizing of the upcoming fixture lists. They are away to West Ham this weekend but follow that up with consecutive home games against Bournemouth and Crystal Palace. If a certain Andy Carroll can stay fit, he could be the answer to our budget striker needs. Stoke are away to Man Utd this game week but if you believe in new manager bounce (assuming they will appoint someone shortly) their next 4 games include three at home to average opposition. It’ll be interesting to see what a new manager will do with a squad that is actually very decent, though lacking in some positions.
As I mentioned in my intro, wildcard 2 is now active. You have the rest of the season so don’t be a doofus like me and use it straight away. Also, keep an eye on the teams still in the FA Cup, as the further they go the more likely they are to have a blank game week but also a double game week further down the line.
The candidates for captaincy are not as obvious this week. Chelsea at home to Leicester is cause for optimism but Hazard was withdrawn early yet again against Arsenal on Wednesday and Morata continues to struggle in front of goal. It will turn around soon though, they are both world class players. I’m getting less and less keen to give Harry Kane the armband, he has let me down more than enough times this season and with Everton bound to park the bus, it unnerves me a little bit. Sadly though I have nothing better to offer you.
My team now looks vastly different. As soon as Gabriel Jesus went down injured against Palace I felt the need to get Aguero in and to do it I had to make wholesale changes. Salah’s injury was also a factor, though it does look like he will be fine to face Man City on Sunday. With it also being a double game week last week, I saw it as a chance to maximise that but it didn’t really pay off, though Alli and Vertonghen did quite well. Here’s where I currently am, with my transfer this week being used to bring in Lingard for Arnautovic:
De Gea, Mee, Vertonghen, Dummett, Ogbonna, Alli, Lingard, Sterling, Aguero, Kane, Vardy. Subs: Atsu, Wimmer, T Carroll, Elliot
Not the best by any means, but I have £1.2m in the bank (Arnie to Lingard contributed £0.7m of that) which will allow me to do Alli to Salah next week assuming Salah shows no sign of his injury. I’ll also be lining up Vardy to Andy Carroll, Vertonghen to Christensen and Atsu to Lanzini over the next few weeks, again depending on team selections and injuries. It’s good to have plans…
That’s it for this week though, I hope whatever you decide to do brings you luck and may all your arrows be green. Goodbye!