The Digest articles are making a return to Fantasy Football Scout in 2023/24.
In these pieces, a player, team and talking point that have attracted interest are discussed.
Five-time top 1k finisher Tom Freeman will be taking the reins this season, producing regular Digest articles, with only Premium Members able to access every single one.
THE PLAYER: JULIAN ALVAREZ
Julian Alvarez (£6.8m) can’t do much more to play his way into our plans.
The Argentine claimed two more assists in the 3-1 win over West Ham United on Saturday and is now behind only team-mate Erling Haaland (£14.1m) for FPL points, having averaged 7.4 per match so far.
His playing time was limited last season as he made just 13 starts in the Premier League, yet Kyle Walker (£5.2m) is the only outfield Manchester City player to have racked up more minutes in the first five Gameweeks, highlighting just how much of a prominent figure Alvarez has become.
The World Cup winner then scored twice in the midweek win over Red Star Belgrade.
Flourishing in Kevin De Bruyne’s (£10.2m) absence, Pep Guardiola even suggested he is “almost undroppable” after Saturday’s victory:
“He’s learning a lot how to move in the pockets, he’s a threat with goals and assists, the work ethic. We are delighted that the club brought him last year. Gundo [gan] left and unfortunately with the injury to Kevin [De Bruyne] he has his chance and he is using it. Now he is almost undroppable.” – Pep Guardiola on Julian Alvarez
Positioned behind Haaland, Alvarez’s role is to support the no. 9 as a second striker, but he’s much more than just a goalscorer, with his influence growing as a creator.
In the first five Gameweeks, he’s averaging 3.21 chances created per 90 minutes. For context, that’s just shy of De Bruyne’s figure (3.59) at the same stage last year.
After Saturday’s nine-point haul, Alvarez has subsequently been snapped up over 385,000 managers this week and the signs are good, with Nottingham Forest and Wolverhampton Wanderers up next.
It’s worth noting Man City’s UEFA Champions League campaign has just begun, slightly elevating the risk of rotation/managed minutes, yet Alvarez is surely still worth bringing in, given that Guardiola might be without De Bruyne for a while yet.
THE TEAM: BRIGHTON
Over at Old Trafford, Brighton and Hove Albion made a statement.
The 3-1 victory helped them climb up to fifth and exposed some questionable Manchester United defending, despite Roberto De Zerbi making six changes to the XI that had beaten Newcastle United so comfortably prior to the international break.
Fantasy managers may have to get used to rotation from the Italian as Brighton compete at home and abroad this season, yet regardless of who plays, they continue to impress.
- GW5 (mun): Steele; Veltman, van Hecke, Dunk, Lamptey; Gross, Dahoud; Adingra, Lallana, Mitoma; Welbeck
- GW4 (NEW): Verbruggen; Veltman, van Hecke, Dunk, Estupinan; Gross, Gilmour; March, Pedro, Mitoma; Ferguson
- GW3 (WHU): Verbruggen; Milner, Webster, Dunk, Estupinan; Gross, Gilmour, March, Welbeck, Mitoma; Ferguson
- GW2 (wol): Steele; Milner, Webster, Dunk, Estupinan; Gross, Gilmour; March, Enciso, Mitoma; Welbeck
- GW1 (LUT): Steele; Milner, van Hecke, Dunk, Estupinan; Gross, Dahoud; March, Pedro, Mitoma; Welbeck
Above: On average De Zerbi has made 3.75 changes to his team per game so far in 2023/24
Since De Zerbi took over, Albion rank third for goals scored (76), top for shots (624) and second for expected goals (xG, 74.7) and possession (62%), so they clearly have plenty to offer us.
Pervis Estupinan (£5.3m) and Kaoru Mitoma (£6.5m) continue to be the headline acts. Found in 63.2% and 39.9% of FPL squads respectively, they are the class acts on show, with many routes to points.
However, Pascal Gross (£6.3m) is averaging 5.2 points per match following Saturday’s goal and yet has been claimed by just 2.7% of managers.
While uncertainty surrounds De Zerbi’s plans up top, the German has cemented a regular role in central midfield, something that wasn’t always the case last year, with regular run-outs at right-back. At £6.3m, he can provide good value.
However, with Aston Villa, Liverpool and Man City in the next four, this is arguably not the time to seize on the Seagulls’ potential.
The most opportune window may arrive in Gameweek 10, when they face a much easier run of fixtures, offering points potential at both ends of the pitch:
THE TALKING POINT: EUROPEAN FOOTBALL RETURNS
European football returns this week, with eight top-flight clubs in action in the Champions League, Europa League and Europa Conference League.
It means Man City, Arsenal, Man Utd, Newcastle, Liverpool, Brighton, Aston Villa and West Ham are about to embark on a period of playing two matches a week, increasing the likelihood of rest and rotation.
Above image from Legomane
However, having failed to qualify for Europe, two of the traditional ‘big six’ teams – Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea – will be at home this week, and we’ve seen just how helpful this can be in past seasons.
The advantage is often in the details and with more time for Ange Postecoglou and Mauricio Pochettino to work with their chosen players on the training pitch, plus less rotation required through fatigue, we could start to see the benefits in the coming weeks.
For example, by the time Aston Villa roll up at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, Chelsea will have had six full days of preparation mixed with rest, whilst Unai Emery’s troops will be flying back from Poland in the early hours of Friday morning.
It’s maybe worth considering these factors before offloading their players this week.