Welcome to my latest installment of the FPL Fixture Analysis here on FPL Updates. This is a look at the best upcoming games of teams and players – from a fantasy perspective – from all four corners of the Premier League table. There haven’t been any Premier League games this weekend, thanks to the FA Cup, but there is a glorious and crucial midweek bunch of fixtures coming up on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Current Top Five:
I read somewhere the other day that we’re in the midst of at least two of the top six playing each other on a weekly basis for something like 10 weeks. My memory can barely work back past City v Spurs last week and United v Liverpool the week before that. Anyway, I believe that to be the case, which means this section of the article is a little more testing to write, seeing as nobody is playing against bottom half sides every week of their next five. My choice here therefore is Manchester City, who play West Ham, Bournemouth and Sunderland away and Swansea City and Manchester United at home as we move from February into March. This is a kind set of games for Pep Guardiola’s side I think, despite West Ham hitting a bit of form recently. That said, it wasn’t long ago that City battered them 5-0 in the cup at the London Stadium. United at the Etihad obviously also sticks out, and that will be a really intriguing battle – if it goes ahead as scheduled due to United’s EFL Cup Final commitments. Players wise, I’m going to leap right on the bandwagon and say Gabriel Jesus (£9.0m) really excites me – based on the 10 minute cameo we all saw against Tottenham last Saturday. With Sergio Aguero (£12.8m) struggling for goals of late, the Brazilian could be on hand to help his South American pal. Priced at less than a misfiring Jamie Vardy (£9.6m) and even more misfiring Daniel Sturridge (£9.7m), you could do worse than to see how Jesus is used over the next couple of games to see if he’s worth backing going forward.
Did you know that West Bromwich Albion’s clean sheet last weekend against Sunderland was their first in the league for 10 gameweeks? Crazy isn’t it, considering we all associate Tony Pulis with ‘defence first’ football. The Baggies look good though generally, with their form at home mostly very good, and they deservedly sit seventh in the table at this point. Following Tuesday’s trip to Middlesbrough, they play Pulis’ old side Stoke City at home. They then travel to West Ham before back to back games at The Hawthorns against Bournemouth and Crystal Palace. This is a nice stretch for the Midlands club and Ben Foster (£4.7m) will hope to pick up another clean sheet or two here for sure. In terms of the squad, there are very few surprises at all, though somehow Matt Phillips (£5.9m) remains a sub-£6m midfielder and that to me seems quite odd; 11 players from that position with over 100 points so far this season and Phillips is the cheapest by a distance.
When Southampton lost four consecutive games in the league after Christmas, I was having doubts as to whether Claude Puel had the ability to repeat the great work that both Mauricio Pochettino and Ronald Koeman had done before him. However, by reaching the EFL Cup final, this is arguably their most successful season since they were promoted back to the top flight. Even with their cup date with United coming up, it’s nearly impossible for Puel to rotate his squad because he’s so short on numbers. Fortunately for him, their upcoming run isn’t as tough as it could be. Trips to Swansea City, Sunderland and Watford should produce at least five points, whilst home matches against West Ham and Arsenal are also winnable; the Gunners haven’t won a league game at St Mary’s since 2003. The injury sustained to Virgil Van Dijk (£5.6m) is a real blow, especially as club captain Jose Fonte recently departed for the Hammers. Unless they bring someone of their own in, Maya Yoshida (£4.2m) and Jack Stephens (£4.0m) are two cheap options for your backline. Neither man will be your highest scorer every week but they will play and, to be fair, they kept Liverpool out at Anfield midweek. Nathan Redmond (£5.8m) continues to look far better value to me than Dusan Tadic (£7.0m), whilst Josh Sims (£4.2m) may become an option for your midfield if he can take advantage of knocks to a number of other Saints players and work his way into the team.
Make no mistake, these next five games are huge for Crystal Palace. After this stretch, they play a top six side every other week from the middle of March until their final game of the campaign at Old Trafford. Sam Allardyce needs to really start earning his money in these games coming up, otherwise he could be staring down the barrel of a first career relegation. Bournemouth away in midweek is followed up by the hosting of Allardyce’s old club Sunderland. Palace then go to Stoke before a home game with Middlesbrough and then a final trip on the road to West Brom. Wilfried Zaha’s (£5.5m) early return from the AFCON is a timely boost for FPL bosses, and I’ll be surprised if his 4% ownership doesn’t increase now he’s back in the country. With the signing of Patrick van Aanholt (5.0m at present, at Sunderland) appearing ever closer, Jeffrey Schlupp (£4.8m) should be considered here. If PVA signs, my guess is that Schlupp will play further forward as a left midfielder. Listed as a defender, he’d offer both the chance of defensive points as well as potential of attacking return. Schlupp is no world beater, but that’s a nice situation to own a part of. I cannot see Palace spending money on both players and not incorporating both into the side. It may mean that Andros Townsend (well overpriced at £5.9) returns to Newcastle, if Twitter rumour is to be believed. Up top, Loic Remy (£6.3m) has started to play, but I’d like to see him deliver some attacking return before I go and chuck him in my team.
Written by Joe (@JPMc99)