After receiving positive feedback on an article we did in the run-up to Gameweek 22, the plan is to run this piece on a weekly basis.
Here, we look at five considerations for Fantasy Premier League (FPL) managers ahead of the upcoming Gameweek 24 deadline.
BLANK GAMEWEEK 29 FIXTURE TO BE CONFIRMED
We’ve already got two fixtures confirmed as being unaffected by the FA Cup clash in Gameweek 29: Fulham v Tottenham Hotspur and Burnley v Brentford.
A third match will be rubberstamped as ‘on’ after the FA Cup fourth-round replay at Villa Park this Wednesday.
If Chelsea beat Aston Villa in the cup this week, then West Ham United v Aston Villa goes ahead in Gameweek 29.
If the Villans prevail on home soil, it’ll be Arsenal v Chelsea confirmed as being on.
Any Fantasy manager not using a Free Hit or Wildcard in Gameweek 29 will want to bear this in mind, as they’ll no doubt be trying to cobble together an XI with as many as 14 other teams blanking.
Both Arsenal and Villa have very decent runs before we get to that point, so a guaranteed fixture in Gameweek 29 would make their players even easier ‘holds’:
We won’t know which of the other Gameweek 29 fixtures will go ahead until the midweek before Gameweek 27, when the FA Cup fifth round takes place.
With Liverpool now confirmed as having a Double Gameweek 25, thoughts turn to the best combination of players from the Reds for our Fantasy teams.
Mohamed Salah (£13.0m) would be an absolute shoo-in in normal circumstances, as well as being in the Triple Captain conversation.
But, at the time of writing, he remains sidelined with a hamstring injury picked up in mid-January while away with Egypt.
So, the question is: how fit will he be for the double, the first match of which is less than two weeks away?
He was doing some light jogging as of January 31, suggesting he wasn’t too far from a comeback.
Jurgen Klopp’s momentary pause in last Tuesday’s press conference may also have been a little hint that Salah may be nearing a return in Gameweek 24:
“Mo is not ready for this game [Gameweek 22], not ready for the next game [Gameweek 23]…. so, he’s injured. A muscle injury takes time. It could have been much worse but he’s not available at the moment, he’s just doing his rehab.” – Jurgen Klopp, speaking last Tuesday ahead of the Chelsea game
Pep Lijnders’ fitness update on January 23, in which he estimated a 3-4 week absence for the Egyptian, would suggest it’ll be a close run thing for the visit of Burnley this weekend.
Certainly, going off what Klopp has done in the past with returnees, he’s unlikely to countenance a start for Salah without several days of full training.
Trent Alexander–Arnold (£8.5m), for example, has had two substitute appearances and a start that was curtailed in the 56th minute since his own return from three weeks out.
We should get an update on the Egypt international in Klopp’s pre-match press conference on Friday but also keep your eyes peeled for the weekly training galleries on the Liverpool site, which may give us an early heads up.
SON + HWANG RETURN DATES
He’s unlikely to be a priority transfer considering that Spurs have a blank in Gameweek 26 and four other teams double before it.
But a return date for Son Heung–min (£9.6m) – as well as Wolves’ Hwang Hee–chan (£5.5m) – should be known by early Tuesday evening.
South Korea face Jordan in the semi-finals of the Asian Cup in a 15:00 GMT kick-off that day, with Son and co even bigger favourites to win this than they were in their previous two knock-out round ties.
Lose, and Son could be back in some capacity for Saturday’s Gameweek 24 meeting with Brighton and Hove Albion.
A win and the winger will return in plenty of time for the Gameweek 25 clash with Wolverhampton Wanderers.
None of the Premier League players involved in the AFCON semi–finals will be back before Gameweek 25, as even the losers will have to contest a third/fourth place play–off on Saturday.
STILL AT AFCON
|Premier League players
|Yoane Wissa (Brentford)
|Simon Adingra (Brighton), Willy Boly (Nottm Forest), Ibrahim Sangare (Nottm Forest)
|Frank Onyeka (Brentford), Calvin Bassey (Fulham), Alex Iwobi (Fulham), Ola Aina (Nottm Forest)
TV FIXTURE DATES FOR MARCH
The much-delayed announcement for the televised fixtures in March is expected this week.
We already have the adjusted times and dates for Gameweek 27 but Gameweeks 28-30 remain untouched at present.
Beyond travel plans for fans, there is another reason to pay attention to the announcement: the possibility of another small Double Gameweek being confirmed.
Bournemouth v Luton Town and Chelsea v Tottenham Hotspur are the only two previously postponed fixtures still without a new date, so there is chance that we could get news of a mini-Double Gameweek 28.
The Cherries’ meeting with the Hatters would be the likeliest candidate, given that it’s not a televised fixture anyway so wouldn’t be clashing with the Champions League fixtures going on that midweek.
CITY IN THE GAMEWEEK 24 EARLY KICK-OFF
Finally, something worth considering ahead of next Saturday’s deadline – or should that be, right before the deadline.
Like them or loathe them, team news leaks are part and parcel of Fantasy Premier League now.
Manchester City v Everton is the Gameweek 24 curtain raiser on Saturday lunchtime, so there is every chance that the City team is dribbled out on social media before the 11:00 GMT FPL deadline.
Starts or benchings for Erling Haaland (£14.2m), Kevin De Bruyne (£10.8m) and others could be hinted at, then, which would significantly affect the thinking for the Gameweek 24 captaincy and influence last-minute transfers.