Our team of Hall of Famers and guest writers are writing about all things Fantasy Premier League (FPL) in 2023/24. Next up, seven-time top 10k finisher Zophar takes his usual weekly FPL Q&A.
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Q: Who goes for Erling Haaland (£14.0m) – either Ollie Watkins (£8.8m), Darwin Nunez (£7.5m) or Dominic Solanke (£7.1m)? And is it better to wait another week or make the move for Gameweek 23?
Q: Worth waiting for team news or is Haaland for Solanke a no-brainer?
(via @yala_leopard and @aurom1986)
A: Haaland finally made an appearance off the bench against Burnley and it’s very difficult to take anything from that, knowing that Manchester City were already comfortable in the game and taking their foot off the pedal. It’s worth mentioning that Haaland had five penalty box touches during his cameo while Julian Alvarez (£6.9m) had just two from 85 minutes. Only Jeremy Doku (£6.5m) had more, with six. Haaland also had as many shots in the box as Alvarez (two).
With a Monday night match, it’s highly unlikely that we get any sort of leaks about Haaland before the Gameweek 23 deadline but Gameweek 24’s clash with Everton is the early kick-off, meaning it’s very likely that we get some sort of team news.
Pep Guardiola has already shown with Kevin De Bruyne (£10.7m) that he’s willing to be cautious when key players return. As they’ve previously discovered, Brentford are a difficult nut to crack and I think De Bruyne’s creativity will be needed against their deep block. Not only that, it’d be harsh to drop Alvarez after a brace.
However, Haaland would be useful in occupying Brentford’s three centre-backs, allowing more space for the other attackers. So you could make an argument for both him starting and not but, either way, even if he does start it seems a stretch to assume he will play more than 60 or 70 minutes. Perhaps that’s not a deterrent, as you would take an hour of Haaland over most assets’ 90 minutes bar Mohamed Salah (£13.1m).
It’s also about who you’re selling. For most, it’s one of Watkins, Solanke or Alvarez, with the first two being legitimate captaincy options due to their excellent match-ups. For Alvarez owners it perhaps makes a bit more sense but, again, the Argentinian may outscore Haaland.
Most of us who buy Haaland will look to captain him and it could be one of the few times where he’s a ‘differential’ so I can totally see the appeal. There are no standout, banker captaincy options for Gameweek 23 but I can’t shake the feeling that it could only be a cameo from the bench. I don’t want to risk that, personally.
As it stands, the tricky fixture and minutes risk combination is offputting enough for me. I’d say it’s worth waiting a week but I wouldn’t put anyone off going for him.
Q: What’s the ideal Manchester City triple-up?
Q: With Haaland and De Bruyne back, Phil Foden (£8.0m) played on the right against Burnley. Is he still a good pick for the Double?
(via @FPLCanuck and Dunas_dog)
A: I think Haaland and De Bruyne are the clear top two – their virtues do not need extolling. The third one is up for debate, as we saw in midweek that even the ever-present Kyle Walker (£5.5m) can be rotated and Foden’s versatility can sometimes work against him, with it being complete guesswork where he’ll play in any given week.
I wouldn’t bother with their defence. Nobody has much attacking upside and the champions have the habit of always conceding that one goal. My ideal third would still be Foden over Alvarez, to be honest.
The De Bruyne-Haaland partnership blossomed last season and it would be reasonable for Pep to get that up and running immediately. That being said, I don’t think you ‘need’ a third Man City asset. There are plenty of good players elsewhere that are worth considering, regardless of Double Gameweeks. Haaland and De Bruyne are clear of the rest.
Q: Which Spurs players, if you don’t have any at the moment? Are they worth getting before their blank? And in what order, now that James Maddison (£7.9m) is back?
(via FP ELEPHANT)
A: I remember telling podcast co-host Lateriser during the COVID Double Gameweek pandemonium that, with a tunnel vision for doublers, we managers often ignore good players from good teams. And I think this might be the case with Spurs.
Ange Postecoglou’s side looks like scoring at least twice per game and will likely have to, given how porous their defence is. The problem is that, as we edge closer to Blank Gameweek 26, it becomes more of a factor. Then again, given they have a confirmed Gameweek 29 fixture, I think it makes sense to buy one and bench during the blank.
I personally sold Anthony Gordon (£6.1m) for Richarlison (£7.0m) in Gameweek 22 with the thought that I expect the Brazilian to score more points between now and Gameweek 25 and, when Spurs blank, Gordon has a tough fixture away at Arsenal. Richarlison gets so many chances that he’s capable of a hat-trick on any given day. That’s too good to pass up while ownership is still relatively low.
I would opt for Richarlison over Maddison but am waiting to see what effect Son Heung-min (£9.7m) will have on the line-up, as Timo Werner (£6.5m) was excellent against Brentford. At that point, perhaps Maddison becomes the better one due to a higher certainty of minutes. Both are excellent picks, mind.
Q: When both are fully fit do you prefer King Kev or the Egyptian Prince?
(via AC/DC AFC)
A: At the time of writing, Liverpool’s potential Double Gameweek 25 is yet to be confirmed. Personally, I think there’s a chance that it doesn’t happen, as Liverpool would have the Carabao Cup that weekend and opponents Chelsea will have the midweek off.
Coming back to Salah, I think there’s every chance that he’ll be benched in one of them. The trio of Darwin, Diogo Jota (£8.0m) and Luis Diaz (£7.4m) have shown they can dismantle any team without the Egyptian and a hamstring injury has one of the highest risks of recurrence. There’s simply no need for Klopp to risk him three times in a week when he has such brilliant alternatives.
So, given this assumption, I think De Bruyne is a better short-term asset to own. Man City’s double will be against Chelsea and Brentford – two sides that have troubled Guardiola in the past. He will likely bank on the Belgian in these games.
Of course, it’s different when both are fully fit, once Salah has a few weeks of full training and complete recovery. He’s the second-best asset in the game after Haaland, there is no doubt in my mind about that. Little chance he’s “fully fit” by Gameweek 25 though.
Q: Do I have (an expensive) Trent Alexander-Arnold (£8.5m) problem?
Q: Trent replacements if Liverpool don’t get Double Gameweek 25?
(via @seagulllass and Crunchie)
A: Jurgen Klopp talked about Trent’s need for rhythm during his post-match press conference and the fact that deputies like Conor Bradley (£4.0m) have racked up significant minutes. This indicates to me that the premium defender will start against Arsenal but only Liverpool’s medical department truly knows how ready he is.
I am more confident of a start versus Arsenal and Burnley than I am for both games in the possible double, similar to the Salah reasons above. There’s just no need to risk him so close to the final, especially with Bradley performing so well. Clinching a trophy for Klopp in his final season is the priority.