We assess the key Fantasy Premier League (FPL) talking points from two more Gameweek 23 matches, West Ham United v Chelsea and Southampton v Wolverhampton Wanderers.
The numbers you see in this article are taken from our Premium Members Area, where you can access Opta player and team data for every single Premier League fixture.
FELIX THE CATCH
Joao Felix (£7.5m) is the most-bought player of Gameweek 24 at this very early stage of the week, with his goal against West Ham United in the early kick-off and an upcoming home fixture against bottom-of-the-table Southampton a heady mix for the kneejerk brigade.
It often pays to take a deep breath and pause with this here FPL lark; Mykhailo Mudryk (£7.0m) looked like the second coming of Stanley Matthews in his Gameweek 21 debut before delivering two more muted performances.
Chelsea have also got a midweek UEFA Champions League tie against AC Milan to come before we get to the visit of the sorry Saints.
But there’s no denying that Felix has impressed in his very limited pitch-time so far, with a positive Gameweek 19 debut only spoiled by a red card and his latest showing as good as it got from a Chelsea perspective.
FELIX: THE NUMBERS SO FAR
A cutely taken goal from an excellent Enzo Fernandez (£5.0m) pass opened Felix’s Chelsea account and he looked dangerous whenever he got the ball from his number 10 slot, only being denied another strike by an offside flag.
A prominent role at dead-ball situations (both corners and direct free-kicks) supplemented his open-play threat, and you can understand the attention with the following, blank-free run of games upon us:
There were early positive signs that good things are coming from this new-look Chelsea side, although the feelgood bubble was burst by West Ham’s against-the-run-of-play equaliser and the Blues boinged back to their ponderous default mode thereafter.
“You could see in the first half the potential of the team and the possibility of the team and the quality of the team at times. The thing that disappoints is, in the Premier League you can’t control everything all of the time, it’s impossible. When you don’t, you just have to make sure you don’t concede and build again. That’s the bit from a regret from us, the first goal gets West Ham back into the game too cheaply from my perspective. So that’s something for us to learn and the second half is probably more of a reflection of where we’re at in terms of the work we need to do.” – Graham Potter
Reece James (£5.7m) looks (understandably, given his recent lay-off) short of his elite-level, marauding best based on the evidence of the last two Gameweeks. There were glimpses of the old James, with his through-ball for Felix’s offside goal one highlight. And a role as an orthodox full-back, rather than a wing-back, didn’t stop him registering more final-third touches than anyone else on show.
Also at the back, Benoit Badiashile (£5.0m) – omitted from Chelsea’s Champions League squad, to boost his domestic game-time prospects – started yet again and continues to hover on the FPL radar.
All of the above comes with a Potter-sized asterisk; with six first-team squad members due back from injury in the next few weeks and the likes of Mason Mount (£7.3m) warming the bench on Saturday, there’s always the threat of rotation from week to week.
WEST HAM’S CHEAP WING-BACKS
West Ham are unbeaten in three league games, a run that coincided with David Moyes moving to a 3-4-2-1.
The wing-backs in that set-up are dirt-cheap options in FPL, namely Vladimir Coufal (£4.1m) and Emerson Palmieri (£4.0m).
Emerson in fact got on the scoresheet against his former club on Saturday, ghosting in behind a rusty James to bobble home a shot from Jarrod Bowen‘s (£8.0m) flick-on.
“Emerson has greatly improved. I think we’ve been beginning to see a bit more like him. Taken him a bit of time to settle in, a bit like a lot of the players. I think the system we’re playing suits him better as well, but I thought he played better today. The goal, for him to score against his old club is always good for him. I was pleased for him because he’s been steady Eddie, he’s been keeping at it and he’s been getting a chance in recent weeks.” – David Moyes
Both players seem like great options on paper in a defence with the fourth-meanest expected goals conceded (xGC) total this season (Coufal was generally much more forward than Emerson on Saturday, despite the latter’s goal) but be warned, as Emerson could particularly be vulnerable if his manager reverts to a 4-3-3/4-2-3-1.
“Chelsea were much better in the first half and we struggled too, the big thing was we didn’t go further behind because Chelsea threatened us. They had a couple of decisions that went for us, the offsides might have been tight or they might have been clear, I’ve not seen them either, but I was pleased. I thought we improved, for 20 minutes of that we found it very difficult against Chelsea. They were good and we weren’t as good, we didn’t defend well in the opening 20/30 minutes, but we grew into the game a little bit, got ourselves back into it, stayed in it and earned probably a good point from it in the end.” – David Moyes
SORRY SAINTS – JONES ON THE BRINK
If you’re an owner of Kepa Arrizabalaga (£4.6m) or any other Chelsea asset, you’re probably wanting Nathan Jones to still be at the helm come Gameweek 24.
That looks unlikely, however, after Southampton contrived to throw away a 1-0 lead against 10-man Wolverhampton Wanderers and fall to their ninth defeat in ten league matches. Reports suggest Jones is on the brink of the sack.
Budget midfielder Kamaldeen Sulemana (£5.0m) caught the eye, registering six shots in an ‘out of position’ run-out up top, but the reality is that Saints are way off the Fantasy radar at present, particularly at the back where only one clean sheet has arrived in the last 28 Premier League fixtures.
“I have no idea [if I’ll still be in charge next weekend].
“It was a tough afternoon, I thought for 60 minutes we were excellent and we created enough opportunities, knowing we had to go after the second goal. If we got that, we would have probably gone on to win the game.
“It’s a different mentality, atmosphere and everything. As we didn’t do that, we were always susceptible to counterattack and lost control of the game in the second half. They showed that quality.” – Nathan Jones
BUENO BENCHED AGAIN – BUT COMES ON AS A SUB
Wolves, by contrast, are doing well under new management, with four wins and a draw arriving from Julen Lopetegui’s first seven matches in charge.
A comical Jan Bednarek (£4.2m) own-goal drew Wolves level at St Mary’s before midfielder Joao Gomes (£4.5m), not renowned for his goalscoring exploits, emerged from the bench to grab the winner.
Fellow midfield anchor Mario Lemina (£4.5m) had earlier been sent off for two bookings, so it’s difficult to gauge a performance in which the visitors played for over an hour with ten men, except to praise their resolve.
Hugo Bueno (£3.9m) was named among the substitutes for the second match running but replaced a booked Rayan Ait-Nouri (£4.2m) at the interval, delivering an encouraging display that would have stirred up hope among his owners of more starts somewhere down the line – especially in Double Gameweek 25.