Fantasy Football Tips Gameweek 24
There are so many mottos you can say in football: “It’s a marathon, not a sprint” can be applied all season-long, “All good things have to come to an end” would be how Man City must be feeling as their unbeaten run did just that and then there’s “All good things come to those who wait”. Well, the last gameweek particularly showed how true the latter phrase was as a number of the players we had brought in for the double gameweek suddenly sprung to life. Kane, Lanzini and Arnautovic rewarded owners who had stuck with them after initial disappointment, whilst the likes of Alli and Son carried on being the gift that kept giving.
As we hopefully put the chaos of Christmas player rotation behind us, we fantasy football managers can start to enjoy ourselves before the bedlam of blank and double gameweeks no doubt put a sudden stop to that! With that in mind, here are some players you should consider including in your gameweek plans, as we look ahead to the games that are the reverse fixtures of Boxing Day and the two days afterwards last year. Back then, Spurs and Liverpool scored five in their respective matches, Bournemouth and West Ham drew 3-3, Lingard’s double rescued a point for Man United as Burnley held them to 2-2 and Arsenal won 3-2 at Crystal Palace.
My first selection is the goalkeeper whose clean sheet at Old Trafford on Monday was his 13th of the season and third in succession. I, of course, mean David de Gea. Comfortably leading the way in the points stakes with 121 from 23 games – an average of 5.26 per match – this guy has kept United in fixtures where some of the defenders may have switched off. At £5.9m after a price rise of £0.4m since day one, he is the most expensive of the goalkeeper options, but you do get what you pay for! Whilst there may be a load of speculation over whether Alexis Sanchez will join United, you have to say that a key thing for the Red Devils will be to prevent De Gea from leaving as he is out of contract next season.
Looking ahead to his fixtures, the Spanish shot stopper is away to Burnley on Saturday, with a trip to Wembley on the cards afterwards to play against Spurs. The game at Turf Moor carries with it clean sheet potential, as the Clarets have only found the back of the net 19 times this season – giving an average of 0.8 goals per match – only three more than United have conceded over the same period. After, perhaps, benching him to your other goalkeeper when they play Spurs, your reward is then the visit of Huddersfield.
The next suggestion is Chelsea’s Thibaut Courtois at £5.5m, owned by just 13.6 per cent of teams, making him a great differential when you think that more than four in 10 managers have De Gea in their squad. Following the 0-0 draw with Leicester, the Belgian now has 12 clean sheets and 99 points to his name, with only 16 goals conceded and, when compared to a number of other teams in the league, a fair few great fixtures coming up. First up is a trip to Brighton who have the second worst tally of goals scored at 17, followed by Bournemouth at home, Watford away and, looking even further, West Brom at the Hawthorns, which each carry with them excellent clean sheet potential. He may be of the premium variety when compared to other options, however you have in him someone who will benefit from Chelsea’s clean sheets who is pretty much guaranteed a start – something that couldn’t be said for the likes of Christensen, Cahill or Luiz.
Another goalkeeper to consider, who is slightly cheaper, is the very man who was stood at the opposite end of the pitch to Courtois. Leicester’s Kasper Schmeichel, priced at £5.0m, was one of the key players in keeping the Foxes in the game at Stamford Bridge – especially when they were reduced to 10 men. The Danish international has started all of Leicester’s games in the Premier League, with 88 points from 23 rounds, giving a nice average of 3.82 per game. I think there’s a good chance of a clean sheet at home against Watford, as much as it’s the case he gifted the Hornets a win in the Boxing Day meeting. Next up is a trip to Everton who have had trouble finding the back of the net of late, having only scored once in their last five league games, followed by Swansea at home who have the lowest amount of goals to their name. The Swans have found the back of the net a measly 14 times so far in this campaign, though four of those have been in the past five games, partly due to Jordan Ayew finding a bit of form.
Another goalkeeper to consider is West Ham’s Adrian, who is just £4.4m. Whilst The Hammers may have conceded in their double gameweek matches – and then one more in their 4-1 demolition of Huddersfield – Adrian can safely be credited as keeping the team in their games, with his saves in the 1-1 draw against Spurs particularly pivotal. Following their FA Cup replay against Shrewsbury on Tuesday night, West Ham have Bournemouth and then Crystal Palace visiting them, followed by a trip to Brighton. At such a bargain basement price, the man who has said he wants to end his career at West Ham would be a great goalkeeper to rotate with your first choice. Ironically, of course, it’s safe to say he’s currently the first choice over Hart, having played all the league games since Gameweek 15.
My first choice is a player who has suddenly found his attacking boots, having scored a goal in each of his last fixtures – something he’s not been afraid of in previous seasons. Hector Bellerin also has nine clean sheets to his name and has played the whole 90 minutes in all of Arsenal’s games so far this season, meaning he is guaranteed a start unlike a number of other colleagues in the Gunners’ defence. The player – who has been snapped in extravagant outfits including one that resembled pyjamas, a dressing gown and slippers at London Fashion Week, drawing comments from the likes of Rio Ferdinand – faces Crystal Palace at home, followed by Swansea away and Everton at home. Those are three games that will be key when it comes to Arsenal’s attempts at keeping up with the teams above them.
What a match Liverpool v Man City was last weekend. Liverpool fans cheered on their great result, Man United supporters must have raised a smile as their nearest neighbours were beaten to cut down the gap and Arsenal followers must have breathed a sigh of relief that it is still now only the Gunners who have the record of going unbeaten in a season. The reason I mention this is because my pick is Nicolas Otamendi and, usually, it would be a surprise for a player who had just shipped in four goals and scored -1 in fantasy football points to be included in this article. However, the Argentine – and indeed the rest of the Man City team – will be looking to massively bounce back to their original ways, that before Sunday’s match, saw only 13 goals conceded. To rub salt into the wound of the Cityzens, it’s now the case Man United and Chelsea have the joint honour of conceding the least goals so far this season, with 16. First up in their attempts to make things right again, the boys in blue have two home games as they face Newcastle, followed by West Brom once the League Cup and FA Cup matches are out the way. These games carry with them clean sheet potential and, in the case of Otamendi, goalscoring capability, as he has found the back of the net four times so far this season – only Chelsea’s Alonso has recorded more when it comes to defenders.
Harry Maguire is my third selection and it appears a number of fantasy managers are in agreement as they buy him in. A hearty 32,000 of them, in fact, making the Sheffield lad the most transferred-in defender so far this gameweek. However, scratch under the surface and you’ll see there are plenty of rumours he will be off to Man City by the end of January, meaning you could possibly be getting yourself a Cityzen for £5.4m. That’s the same price as John Stones, as far as the fantasy football world is concerned at least. Would he get a start for the champions elect, or would he join the countless others who have travelled to Manchester to sit on the bench? Only time will tell. Well, on the basis Leicester manage to fend off transfer interest, there’s a game at home to Watford for Maguire to look forward to, followed by a trip to Goodison Park and then a visit from the Swans. With two goals and four assists to his name this campaign, this defender can certainly offer something going forward as well.
Next up is the West Ham pairing of Angelo Ogbonna and Arthur Masuaku, the latter of whom produced a bit of skill against Spurs that rightly deserved Soccer AM’s “That’s obscene, that is”. Both players are just £4.5m and now get the regular amount of minutes, though they haven’t admittedly kept a clean sheet since the 3-0 win away at Stoke in Gameweek 18 which was the third in a row at the time. Whilst I may not specifically suggest buying them if you don’t have them already, I would definitely say to keep the players under the Hammers’ Moyes-inspired resurgence. As previously mentioned in my write-up of Adrian, the fixtures of Bournemouth, Crystal Palace, Brighton and Watford bring with them good points-scoring potential. Ogbonna has a goal to his name, whilst Masuaku has two assists so far this season.
Looking for some bargain basement goodness? Feeling that you can’t really afford any the suggestions above as you look to bolster your midfield and forwards? Well, Crystal Palace’s James Tomkins may not have the best fixture this week as he’s away at Arsenal, but fear not – the Eagles then face West Ham and Newcastle. What’s more, at £4.3m, the fact the lad from Basildon has played all but one of the last 11 games – which you wouldn’t usually get at that price – means he can be ready to come off your bench if necessary. Tomkins’ teammate Martin Kelly is £0.1m less, too, though bear in mind he has only played more than 60 minutes in seven games so far this season, six of which have been the most recent matches. Finally, there’s Cuco Martina who is just £4.4m and has played all 10 of Everton’s most recent games thanks to injuries to the likes of Baines, Keane, Coleman and Funes Mori. He’s got Pardew’s West Brom, followed by Leicester at home as The Toffees lick their wounds from the Wembley trip – with a tricky trip back to London to play Arsenal on the cards afterwards.
My first midfielder pick is probably no surprise whatsoever. I try not to be predictable, but you just can’t look past Mo Salah. I’m afraid I can gloat as I’m one of those managers who have not only had him since day one but also didn’t get rid of the player in the recent injury scare. To date, the Egyptian leads the way when it comes to total score, goals scored, threat and form – and yet he’s only the third most expensive midfielder at £10.2m, with the pricier Hazard and Sanchez not coming close in any of the above.
Anyway, looking ahead to this gameweek, he’s up against Swansea on Monday night, which ended 2-1 to Liverpool the last time the two teams met at the Liberty Stadium and 5-0 in the Reds’ favour on Boxing Day last year, where Salah recorded two assists. After the trip to Wales and the FA Cup game, Klopp’s trip to Huddersfield to see his mate Wagner is on the cards. The guests may outstay their welcome very quickly, however, when you consider the fact The Terriers have suddenly started shipping the goals, with four conceded against West Ham and three versus Leicester.
Looking away from Liverpool, my next suggestion is coincidentally a player who may be moving to the Merseyside team if the rumours are to be believed. Riyad Mahrez has hit some fantastic form at just the right time as far as prospective buyers are concerned, as only two games in the last 10 have seen him score less than five points. In that same time-frame, the £8.6m player has recorded five of the season’s seven goals, along with four assists. On the basis he does stay at Leicester, it’ll be Watford up next who have conceded 21 in their last 10 games, which is the exact same amount of time since the Hornets’ last clean sheet. If he does end up going to Liverpool then just replace these fixtures with the ones above for new team mate Salah!
Next up is one of the players many people would have brought in for the double gameweek, who were then disappointed, but then the weekend just gone, massively rewarded. Marko Arnautovic has been reinvigorated since David Moyes became the West Ham manager, much to the surprise of many, including myself. The former Stoke player is alongside Manuel Lanzini in carrying the supporters’ hopes on his shoulders as The Hammers look to stay away from the relegation zone to enjoy the comfort of mid-table obscurity. Now £7.0m, the Austrian has scored all six of his goals this season in the last eight games, with two in the 3-3 draw with Bournemouth last Boxing Day a particular highlight – especially when you consider this weekend’s match is the return fixture. In addition, Arnautovic has three assists to his name, which have also been scored in the same period. Quite the difference in his performance since Moyes came along. As previously mentioned, West Ham have some great fixtures even after The Cherries come to town and so you could do a lot worse than have Arnie in your squad.
The first of two Spurs players to make it into this article is Heung-Min Son who, similarly to Arnautovic, has burst onto the scene over the last nine games, with six goals and five assists – along with gaining a concrete place in the starting line-up. Quite a difference to the first nine games of the season for the player, which saw him play 346 out of a possible 810 minutes and score just once. This week, Spurs will look to pick up on the 5-2 win they enjoyed against Southampton last time round, which saw Son score once and assist twice. After St. Mary’s, however, there’s then a run of games against Man United, Liverpool and Arsenal afterwards. Not the easiest fixtures and it’s also worth noting that Son definitely performs best at home, with the Gameweek 15 match at Watford the only time he has gained more than three points on an away day all season. We shall see.
One player, however, who has performed well at home and away over the season is Raheem Sterling who is now owned by a whopping 37.7 per cent of fantasy football managers. Like Otamendi, he didn’t exactly have the best game on his return to Liverpool with a yellow card for his efforts. Indeed, the 0-0 draw away at Crystal Palace also saw him come away from Selhurst Park with just one point after only playing 33 minutes as part of Pep’s infamous rotation policy. Those two games, however, are the only fixtures since Gameweek 17 that have seen the midfielder score less than nine points, with five goals and three assists in that time. This week, Newcastle have the unenviable task of trying to keep Man City out, something that doesn’t have history on their side, having gone down 6-1 the last time the sides met at the Etihad in 2015 and been defeated 5-0 eight months before that. Add to that Man City’s determination to come back from the loss at Liverpool and you have a potential goal fest on your hands that is bound to have Sterling at the heart of the action.
Finally, a punt which may or may not work. Aaron Ramsey came back from his hamstring injury to play 16 minutes in Arsenal’s 2-1 loss to Bournemouth and I imagine Arsene Wenger will be keen to return him to the starting line-up. With Crystal Palace, Swansea and Everton on the horizon, there is some great scoring potential for the £6.9m player who is owned by just 2.6 per cent of fantasy football managers, as he looks to expand on the three goals and eight assists he accrued before his injury.
It’s fair to say Sergio Aguero has had a bit of a mixed bag when it has come to actually being on the pitch this season, having played 1,421 out of a possible 2,070 minutes. In that time, though, he has still managed to score 13 goals and grab five assists, with the highlights being Watford away – where the Argentine scored a hat trick – and Bournemouth at home where he scored 16 points. Returning back to the catchphrases at the start of the article and the motto “Follow your gut” very much applies with the fixture he has coming up. Much as Suarez liked to play against Norwich, Aguero has a love of facing Newcastle, having bagged 11 goals in 11 matches against the Magpies – of which five were in the 6-1 demolition in October 2015 – and my gut tells me it’ll be another rout in the Blues’ favour with this player at the centre of it. Following the Newcastle match, West Brom come to town, a fixture that has seen the Baggies concede 11 goals in the last four meetings at the Etihad.
Having scored 20 goals this season, of which eight have been in the last five games, it comes as no surprise that Harry Kane is in my selection; however you really should have him in your team if you don’t already! Hence the short section about him! Owned by a whopping 47.6 per cent of managers, Harry is worth every penny of his £13.0m price tag and so should stay in your team until either the end of the season or when he gets injured. Whichever comes first. As mentioned in my Son suggestion, Kane is away to Southampton this gameweek, with the following three games set to be more of a challenge compared to recent fixtures.
Roberto Firmino is the most transferred-in player this gameweek, as 106,000 fantasy football managers have brought him in at the time of writing. The Brazilian has 10 goals to his name so far this season, of which seven have come in the last nine games – with rotation seeing him play less than 70 minutes in three of those fixtures. That same period has also seen the player also assist three. Looking ahead, Liverpool make the journey to Swansea. Whilst the Swans have a great keeper in the form of Fabianski – and so the amount of goals against them has been kept quite limited considering the fact they are 20th in the table – you do have to look at the Reds being the favourites with their Fab Four. Sorry if I’ve just reminded you of that awful song. After that, Huddersfield, Spurs and Southampton will be given the task of keeping Fimino and co out.
If, thanks to the selection of midfielders on such great form, you want to run a 3-5-2 formation, meaning you require a cheap forward who can come off the bench if necessary, take a look at Callum Wilson or Jordan Ayew, who cost £5.7m and £5.1m respectively. Both have hit some form of late, with the Cherries striker finding the back of the net three times in his last four and the man up front for Swansea registering three in the last five games. Wilson faces West Ham away, whilst Ayew takes aim against Mignolet.
Thanks for reading Fantasy Football Tips Gameweek 24
This article was written by Swirly
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Gameweek Tracker GW24-29