The Digest articles make a welcome return to Fantasy Football Scout in 2023/24.
In these pieces, a player, team and talking point that have attracted interest in the weekend’s matches 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: DARWIN NUNEZ
Darwin Nunez (£7.4m) is shaping up to be a powerful differential, with his match-winning brace at Newcastle United in Gameweek 3 a turning point.
The Uruguayan now has three goals and two assists in just 219 minutes, with his latest strike a wonderful volley in Sunday’s 3-1 win over West Ham United. He was also heavily involved in the move which led to Mohamed Salah’s (£12.5m) penalty.
Jurgen Klopp has often talked about how “counter-pressing is your ticket into this team” and Darwin has seemingly taken note, with his recent defensive work praised by the German and assistant manager Pep Lijnders:
“I think it’s a compliment to Darwin. The fans love him, no? He has this extreme mentality to run, to fight, to arrive in positions where nobody thinks he can arrive. For us, it’s really important that he stepped up, not just offensively but especially defensively as well. It’s nice to see him in a good moment, it is nice to see him positive, it is nice to see him starting games back-to-back, two times in a row. You see immediately what that does to a player. He is a pure intuition player, who smells and he goes and he sees and he does.
Away at Newcastle would change any player’s life, to be honest, if you can change like how he changed it. Compliments to how we defended there with 10 men for such a long period, but how he could make two goals from nothing. That gives him confidence and an intuition player like Darwin needs this kind of confidence.
He speaks better English already, he invests a lot in himself, and how [it is for] every person in this room or everywhere, you need success – a player with confidence and a player without confidence is just a different player. A guy with confidence or without confidence is a different guy. It is important that he is confident. He is training really, really hard since pre-season – really, really hard. That’s good.” – Pep Lijnders
The recruitment of Alexis Mac Allister (£5.9m) and Dominik Szoboszlai (£7.0m) in midfield is also helping to get the best out of Darwin. Both players are capable of seeing and executing the perfect pass for the striker, with the latter’s 12 chances created beaten by only seven other midfielders in 2023/24 so far.
Darwin isn’t perfect and there have been missed opportunities, yet it finally feels like he has settled at Liverpool.
His fine form has coincided with the Reds winning five games in a row and they now sit second having seen off West Ham on Sunday, a match in which they created seven Opta-defined ‘big chances’ and racked up 3.03 expected goals (xG).
The next two fixtures against Tottenham Hotspur and Brighton and Hove Albion won’t hold any fear for Liverpool’s attackers, but it’s after the next international break in Gameweek 9 that Darwin could truly become one of the most appealing Fantasy options.
THE TEAM: EVERTON
Newcastle United probably should have been the focus of this analysis off the back of their 8-0 win at Bramall Lane, but given that we covered them recently, we have instead turned our attention to Everton.
The Toffees were unable to take advantage of a favourable fixture run at the start of the season but finally claimed their first win in Gameweek 6, deservedly beating Brentford 3-1 in west London.
It’s undoubtedly been a difficult period for Sean Dyche’s side but the underlying numbers had always offered hope, having had the better chances against Fulham, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Sheffield United.
In fact, from Gameweeks 1 to 5, they underperformed their xG by a whopping 5.63, more than any other top-flight side, including Chelsea.
“We looked at the stats of games and saw we were expected to score three in one game and two in another. We knew the performances were there. We just needed to stick it in the back of the net. That’s a big part of the game.” – James Tarkowski
Luton Town and Bournemouth – both of whom are winless – now head to Goodison Park, handing Everton an opportunity to kick on.
Admittedly, the Toffees don’t currently spring to mind as a source of Fantasy talent, even with Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£5.8m) and Dwight McNeil (£5.4m) back from injury, but James Tarkowski (£4.4m) carries a bit of appeal.
He recorded a goal and assist at Brentford and racked up two shots and created four chances, generating 0.65 expected goal involvement (xGI), the most of any Everton player.
Given that Bournemouth sit among the bottom three sides for headed chances allowed and efforts from set plays conceded this term, now might be a good time to invest in the £4.4m defender, utilising him as a rotation option.
THE TALKING POINT: DOUBLE GAMEWEEK 7
It’s fair to say neither Luton Town or Burnley approach their Double Gameweek 7 in any kind of form.
Both sides have drawn one and lost four of their first five matches, with just seven goals scored between them all season. They’ve also failed to keep a single clean sheet so far.
With that in mind, just how much interest should we pay them?
With Luton, the situation seems fairly straightforward. Rob Edwards’ side have Tottenham Hotspur, Aston Villa, Liverpool and Manchester United in four of the five matches that follow Double Gameweek 7, so they look no more than short-term punts.
Planning an early exit route for someone like Carlton Morris (£5.5m) is probably a good idea, then.
Burnley, meanwhile, aren’t quite as bad as often depicted and performances have picked up of late. In fact, they won the xG battle against Manchester United on Saturday and haven’t conceded a single big chance in each of their last two matches.
Still, it’d be a tough ask to convince anyone to punt on a Clarets attacker, with a trip to Newcastle United up first and such competition elsewhere.
For those wanting to invest, in the absence of the suspended Lyle Foster (£5.0m), Zeki Amdouni (£5.4m) has carried the most goal threat, while winger Luca Koleosho (£5.0m) could get a bit of joy in behind Luton’s attacking wing-backs.
However, it’s both sides’ cheap options at the back that arguably carry the most appeal, given that they can sit on the bench in the following weeks without eating up too much budget.
We’ll explore both sides’ best assets in much greater detail in a forthcoming Double Gameweek 7 special.