The reaction from the weekend’s Fantasy Premier League (FPL) action continues with this round-up of talking points from three more of Saturday’s fixtures.
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.
MADDISON’S FORM – AND FITNESS
FPL managers who pay heed to the fixtures probably won’t be interested in Leicester players right now, with three big-six clubs, no doubles and a very possible Gameweek 28 blank to come before the March international break.
But a rejuvenated Foxes side are back in goalscoring mood, having found the net on 10 occasions in the last three Gameweeks.
Tete‘s (£5.5m) arrival was hailed by Brendan Rodgers as a catalyst for the thumping of Aston Villa last week, not just for his own contribution on the right wing but also for its knock-on effect in bringing the best out of James Maddison (£8.0m) and Kelechi Iheanacho (£6.1m).
Those two players certainly impressed again on Saturday, emerging from the 4-1 win over Spurs with double-digit hauls. Maddison, for example, might not have been in such a prominent position to convert Iheanacho’s 25th-minute lay-off had he been shunted out wide.
But Maddison’s returns in FPL have been genuinely excellent for a sustained period now, regardless of position. This is his starting record since Gameweek 13 of last season, when he recovered from a slow beginning to 2021/22 to consistently rack up the points:
|FPL points per start||6.9|
As usual with a Scout article, there’s a token ‘caveat’. This time, it’s the midfielder’s fitness.
Maddison missed the festive period with a knee problem picked up on England duty, returning in Gameweek 21 as a substitute. Both of his starts since then have ended in withdrawals, with Brendan Rodgers explaining that he only had two days of training before the Spurs game.
“It’s similar to what he had last week, he’s just managing his knee. He didn’t train up until Thursday. We just got him through Thursday and Friday to play today. There’s no need to take the risk so late on in the game.” – Brendan Rodgers on James Maddison’s substitution
Leicester are a weird old team, with winless runs after both the season start and restart but strong performances in between. Harvey Barnes (£6.7m), who scored his eighth league goal of the season on Saturday, epitomises the rollercoaster ride but what you would say is that the winger consistently gets opportunities regardless of the so-called form: he’s third among FPL midfielders for ‘big chances’ this season.
As for Iheanacho, this stat sums up his time at Leicester: in his only three Premier League starts this season, he has three goals, four assists and 33 FPL points. Game-time has for years now been mystifyingly short under Rodgers, who even as recently as two weeks ago was repeating well-worn comments about the Nigerian’s “hit and miss” ability as a starter. You’ll always have one eye on the Leicester boss as an Iheanacho owner, then, but his current output and the runs of Barnes, Tete and Maddison behind him do suggest the shirt is his to lose now.
INJURIES MOUNTING FOR SPURS
Spurs assistant boss Cristian Stellini was asked about “inconsistency” in his post-match presser but the Lilywhites have generally been quite predictable in 2022/23. Six of their seven defeats before Saturday had come at the hands of a big-six club or fourth-placed Newcastle, with 12 of the 14 games against the Premier League’s 13 other teams ending in Spurs wins.
Their bully-boots record makes the following upcoming run all the more appealing:
But Leicester came along to spoil the fun on Saturday, cutting through a side that had defeated Manchester City a week earlier with ease.
Injuries aren’t going to help Spurs’ prospects, with Hugo Lloris (£5.5m) and Ryan Sessegnon (£4.4m) out for six weeks (the latter should be good news for Ivan Perisic‘s (£5.5m) game-time prospects), Yves Bissouma (£4.7m) recovering from Friday’s ankle operation and now Rodrigo Bentancur (£5.4m) ruled out for the season with an ACL injury. While Fraser Forster’s (£3.9m) impression of a tree falling at the King Power Stadium made Lloris look like Gordon Banks, the shortage of available bodies in central midfield is a real worry at both ends of the pitch.
The suspended Cristian Romero‘s (£4.9m) absence was keenly felt on Saturday but Antonio Conte didn’t help himself by handing Pedro Porro (£5.0m) a debut in place of the in-form (yes, really) Emerson Royal (£4.9m), with the attack-minded wing-back torn to shreds.
“Pedro, we think he was ready to play. For sure he’s ready to play in this league because he’s a great player with experience. We know also it’s not easy. Changing league, the type of football you have to play maybe he needs time. He can react with all the team. The team has to help a player like Pedro who arrives now and needs time to play in this type of league.” – Cristian Stellini
On a rare blank, Harry Kane (£11.8m) had to wait until the 90th minute for his first shot of the game; this was the first Premier League match this season in which he’s had fewer than two attempts.
MAC ALLISTER MORE ADVANCED
There’s a reason why Solly March (£5.1m) and Kaoru Mitoma (£5.3m) are both on our Watchlist, despite the Japan international being very much the Fantasy flavour of the month.
The electric Mitoma has generally been getting better opportunities since the two players started playing together, registering more shots in the box and big chances since the restart.
But March has more ‘jack of all trades’ appeal, with his role at set plays partly the reason why he’s created more than four times as many chances as his fellow winger since Gameweek 17.
It was March who grabbed Brighton and Hove Albion’s only goal in the M23 derby, with Mitoma unable to extend his blank-less run.
But might another Brighton midfielder now come onto the radar?
Alexis Mac Allister (£5.4m) was used in a more advanced no.10 role against Palace at the weekend, going on to register seven shots and three ‘big chances’ – totals not beaten by any other player in Gameweek 23 so far.
We’ll have to see if it’s a tactic Roberto De Zerbi repeats going forward but it’s worth monitoring, with Mac Allister also having the advantage of being Albion’s first-choice penalty taker.
FIVE ASSISTS FOR ESTUPINAN
It was a rollercoaster afternoon for owners of Pervis Estupinan (£4.6m), who saw a goal incorrectly disallowed by VAR, Mac Allister spurn a good chance that the Albion left-back created and a comfortable-looking clean sheet go up in smoke when Robert Sanchez (£4.6m) made a horrendous rick to allow James Tomkins (£3.9m) to score.
But in between he set up March’s opener to claim his fifth assist of the season, with another two bonus points added to his collection.
Estupinan is now seventh among defenders for chances created this season and joint-top for assists, and he looks like an excellent target for Double Gameweek 27 and/or the run-in when Brighton have a lot more doubles to come.
“Yes very important in the build-up but he’s becoming a complete player now. And our target is to help them, to help the players to become complete. They have to be able to play in every part of the pitch. They are able to understand the play. They are able to understand before to receive the ball, what is the next line pass open. And for this I’m very happy.” – Roberto De Zerbi on Pervis Estupinan
Danny Welbeck (£6.5m) will be out for “a couple of weeks”, meanwhile, but Evan Ferguson (£4.6m) again had to start from the bench as Deniz Undav (£5.1m) got the nod up top.
As for Palace, there’ll probably be limited interest in their players despite an upcoming ‘double’ – the Eagles get an off-putting pairing of Manchester City and Brighton again in Gameweek 27.
They were comprehensively outplayed by their rivals on Saturday and, worryingly, have now failed to score from open play in their last nine Premier League fixtures.
ANY CASE FOR THE FULHAM DEFENCE?
Aleksandar Mitrovic‘s (£6.9m) goal drought now drags on to four games, although even when he doesn’t quite look himself he still racks up the shots: no-one has had more efforts from inside the area in Gameweek 23 so far, with his best chance being blocked from close range by Keylor Navas (£4.5m).
Andreas Pereira (£4.4m) meanwhile now sits third in the FPL assist table with eight, having set up substitute Manor Solomon‘s (£4.9m) late clincher on Saturday.
Fulham’s clean sheet count (four) and goals conceded tally (three) are excellent since the restart, something that might concern Mitoma owners ahead of Brighton’s clash with the Cottagers in Gameweek 24.
A look at the expected goals conceded (xGC) table suggests they’ve been fortunate, however.
Forest’s good run of games that saw the likes of Morgan Gibbs-White (£5.5m) and Brennan Johnson (£5.7m) briefly flicker on the FPL radar is mostly over, with five top-six clubs and Liverpool to come between now and Gameweek 33. They at least have guaranteed fixtures in Gameweeks 28 and 32 when many others blank, however.
Forest themselves have looked defensively solid of late but they somehow lost both starting centre-halves to hamstring injuries in the same incident early on Saturday, which didn’t help matters.