Fantasy Football Shambles GW24 preview: Favourable fixtures for all

Welcome! It has been so long (fine, just over a week) since we last spoke. The FA Cup is behind us for the time being and it’s time to focus on the Premier League again. That means FPL is back on the table and all the fun and confusion it brings. It’s a midweek round which means there’s a double dose of FPL this week. But first, let’s review week 23.

I played my wildcard, so my score of 75 feels cheap. It beat the average of 53 and saw some lovely green arrows. We now sit 23,474th in the overall rankings. More on my team later but first, let’s see what lies ahead.

The dilemma

It might be a midweek round of games but there are no gimmicks. All 20 teams are in action and there’s no all-top 6 clashes. The games are at least split across Tuesday and Wednesday.

Man City are away to Newcastle, a game they traditionally do very well in. I can’t see much argument for goal-shy Newcastle winning this. Man City, however, just keep scoring, helping themselves to five in the FA Cup win over Burnley. Three games in a week means the Pep wheel of rotation is in overdrive. Jesus started against Burnley so I’d expect Aguero to get the nod here, whilst Leroy Sane hasn’t kicked a ball during the cup ties. That should secure his starting position alongside FPL favourite Raheem Sterling.

There should be a lot of FPL love for Arsenal. A home game with Cardiff points to a heavy Arsenal win. The stuffing seems to have fallen out of Cardiff recently after a good run and I imagine Aubameyang will be high on the hit list this week. One negative is that they’ve lost most of their back 4 this week but whether that inhibits them from an attacking point of view remains to be seen.

Speaking of FPL love, Man Utd are a natural aphrodisiac these days. The Solskjaer effect has been remarkable and turned an FPL ugly duckling into a beautiful swan. Yes, he can even change species of bird. They are at home to Burnley who are slightly better now Joe Hart isn’t in goal. Rashford and Pogba will still be expecting to run wild and they probably will. Rashford was even allowed a break in the FA Cup win at Arsenal so he should be raring to go here.

Onto Wednesday and it’s Chelsea facing the tricky trip to Bournemouth. Gonzalo Higuain (£9.5m) has been added to FPL and I imagine he will start up front. That should allow Eden Hazard to play in his more natural position just off the striker. Chelsea have been dull and not much use in FPL terms in recent weeks so this change will surely only help. Bournemouth only play one way and whilst I think they’ll be good for a goal I’m not as positive about them keeping Chelsea out.

League leaders Liverpool will be confident of retaining their lead as they welcome Leicester to Anfield. Leicester recorded wins over Chelsea and Man City in December and have generally been better away from home. They have been infuriatingly inconsistent though and going with form, you’d expect Liverpool to win here. Salah has been in tremendous form with the usual support from Firmino and Mane. Liverpool at home is usually a safe FPL bet. Usually.

Finally, it’s the walking wounded against Watford. I do, of course, mean Tottenham Hotspur, who can at least welcome back Son. Kane and Alli remain out though and after two cup exits this week, they’ll be desperate to get back to winning ways. Watford are having a great season but Spurs are almost full strength at the back. Son will be the main man for Spurs and will probably play up front either with or instead of Llorente. I wouldn’t go mad with Tottenham players but it’s worth having some coverage for their next few games, which look fairly straight forward on paper.

Housekeeping

There are some new players in the game. We already mentioned Higuain but there’s also Ryan Babel (£5.5m) for Fulham. He’s classified as a midfielder but played practically up front on debut last week. Chris Mepham has joined Bournemouth for £12m so his FPL price of £4.5m might prove to be a bargain. It remains to be seen if he or teammate Dominic Solanke (£4.7m) will command a regular start.

Something else of note is that the next game week, which begins at the weekend, contains teams playing twice. Man City and Everton will play their game, originally scheduled for Carabao Cup final weekend, meaning both teams play twice. It’s a bit of a double edged sword as if you fill your team up with players from these teams, you’ll have to shift them before GW27 when they won’t play at all. The games aren’t great to be fair. Man City will play Arsenal at home and Everton away, whilst Everton’s other game is at home to Wolves. I’m planning to roll one of my free transfers to give me some thinking room but we’ll see.

Captain

With Liverpool, Arsenal and Man Utd all playing winnable home games, there are many captain choices this week. Salah, Aubameyang, Rashford and Pogba will be the main choices. Personally, I’m going Salah. I’m lucky enough to own all four so hopefully, they all do well. Diplomatic.

My team

As mentioned, I played my wildcard and I’m making no transfers this week unless there’s any late-breaking injury news.

Fabianski, Shaw, Robertson, Doherty, Digne, Pogba, Salah, Sane, Richarlison, Rashford, Aubameyang. Subs: Foster, Llorente, Wan-Bissaka, Camarasa.

I’ll most likely do Aguero for Auba next week and swap them straight back if necessary for GW26 or 27. Planning and such.

The deadline is 6.45pm on Tuesday 29th January. Don’t get caught out by the midweek round. All that is left to do is for me to wish you luck and may all your arrows be green. See you on Friday for more!