It’s time to round up the key Fantasy Premier League (FPL) talking points from this midweek FA Cup fifth-round action.
Nine top-flight teams were involved, with only four successfully reaching the quarter-finals.
Whilst the top link above discusses how results affect Blank Gameweeks 28 and 32, plus the outstanding fixtures that will/may need to be rearranged, the below focuses on the matches themselves.
One of the three sides shocked by lower-league opposition was Spurs, losing 1-0 at Sheffield United. A strong starting line-up featured the likes of Son Heung-min (£11.6m), Ivan Perisic (£5.5m), Richarlison (£8.4m) and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (£5.5m) but England captain Harry Kane (£11.7m) was named as a substitute.
He was eventually called upon after 65 minutes and assistant head coach Cristian Stellini – still filling in while Antonio Conte recovers – admitted afterwards that Kane needed a rest after recently playing through illness.
“We need to look in the medium period, we have many games. Harry Kane played in the last six games, one time with fever, one time with a [throat] problem, we have to take care of our best player.
“He was ill one week ago and he didn’t train on some days because he was very ill. After he played a game with a fever he was very ill, so he didn’t. For that reason we decided to keep him on the bench and maybe play a part of the match. A player like this also needs to work not only to play.” – Cristian Stellini
It emphasises just how vital Kane is to Spurs because their squad depth means he couldn’t even get a full rest. With a top four spot still to secure, FPL managers planning to sacrifice Kane for Ivan Toney (£7.6m) or Ollie Watkins (£7.3m) may change their minds now that the north London side has avoided a Blank Gameweek 28.
FODEN’S FOOT PROBLEMS
When almost 800,000 managers bought in-form Phil Foden (£8.0m) for Gameweek 13, only to see him benched for the next three matches, it ruined him as an FPL prospect.
Since then, just five starts have arrived from 15 Manchester City league games but he’s now started the last two plus Tuesday’s 3-0 cup win at Bristol City. Furthermore, a goal and assist away to Bournemouth has been immediately followed by two strikes at Ashton Gate.
Post-match, he discussed the recent foot injury that put him in a bad place.
“I am feeling much better in my feet. It’s not easy sometimes when you play with discomfort in your feet. I feel 100% fit now and comfortable, so hopefully I can come back into the team and help them as much as possible.
“It has definitely [been frustrating], it has been one of the lowest parts of my career but everyone goes through them, it’s how you react.” – Phil Foden
MAN UNITED ROTATE BUT FERNANDES PLAYS 90
Parading their Carabao Cup trophy before kick-off, Manchester United made six changes to the side that played the final. Marcus Rashford (£7.2m), Casemiro (£4.9m) and Raphael Varane (£4.8m) moved to the bench, whilst Luke Shaw‘s (£5.3m) knock kept him out of the squad.
It was interesting to see Bruno Fernandes (£9.8m) once again play the whole match. Apart from a couple of stoppage-time substitutions and a one-match suspension, the Portuguese playmaker has played every league minute of Man United’s season.
He’s yet to miss a single United league game through injury since he joined three years ago.
Fernandes’ free-kick set up Casemiro’s disallowed goal, shortly before his corner forced Nayef Aguerd (£4.8m) to head past his own goalkeeper.
DE ZERBI ON FERGUSON
18-year-old Brighton and Hove Albion forward Evan Ferguson (£4.6m) scored the goal which eliminated Stoke City on Tuesday night.
Since coming on against Arsenal on New Year’s Eve, Ferguson has bagged four goals and two assists from nine appearances, earning praise from manager Roberto De Zerbi.
“He is unique for us in terms of quality, in terms of characteristics. He knows very well the way to score. I think he can and he has to improve, in the quality of play, in ball possession, to keep the ball better. But he is 18, he will improve for sure because I know the guy, I know his passion, his attitude. I have no doubt.” – Roberto De Zerbi
Having an in-form cheap enabler sounds perfect during this spell of popular Wildcard and Bench Boost usage, where the Seagulls have Double Gameweeks 27 and 29, but Ferguson isn’t a reliable starter and now has further competition from fit-again Danny Welbeck (£6.5m).
However, should Brighton overcome quarter-final opponents Grimsby Town, they will have even more Double Gameweeks to arrange, adding Man United (H), Man City (H) and Newcastle United (a) into proceedings.
No wonder Kaoru Mitoma (£5.3m), who assisted Ferguson’s midweek goal, is one of this week’s most-bought players.
SOLOMON SCORES AGAIN
Israel international Manor Solomon (£4.9m) joined Fulham on loan during the summer but a long knee injury had kept him out until recently. Yet what a reintroduction he’s had!
Four goals from four consecutive matches, with his only start being the Tuesday night win over Leeds United that ensured both they and Liverpool have a Blank Gameweek 28.
The most recent two goals were similar and brilliant, moving from the left flank to the corner of the box before curling beautiful right-footers into the net.
Although no future Double Gameweeks have yet been announced (Fulham will get at least one double), Solomon could become a late-season FPL differential, coming in at slightly more than Andreas Pereira (£4.4m) but with more of a goal-scoring eye. Up next is Brentford (a), with Solomon’s fitness improving by the week and his form surely set to see him start a league game soon.