FANTASY FOOTBALL EXPERT: Double gameweek makes Patrick Bamford the No 1 captaincy candidate… and the time is now to restore faith back in a rejuvenated Timo Werner
- Leeds’ double gameweek is very enticing and merits a shuffling of the pack
- Patrick Bamford continues to answer his critics and is a smart captaincy option
- Timo Werner’s revival under Thomas Tuchel is clear and he should come back in
- Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s injury plus trip to Anfield makes him disposable for now
Twitter was awash this week with screenshots of FPL managers brimming with pride at breaking the 100-point barrier without using triple captain, bench boost or free hit.
Each were impressive and the volume of big-scoring managers spoke of how successful this week proved.
But not for all, not for me. No. This was a wounding week that requires Gameweek 25 to go some way to repairing the damage.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was the star of Gameweek 23 as he hit a hat-trick against Leeds
Ilkay Gundogan’s (left) fine season continued with his man-of-the-match against Tottenham
Failing to go for Ilkay Gundogan, who produced 38 for those who gave him the armband, proved costly. The highest-scoring manager of the week, a Saudi Arabian user, finished with a staggering 164 points with City’s German midfielder leading the way.
Once again Jack Grealish let me down. Once again Eberechi Eze let me down. Falling below the average is always damaging but now dusted down and refocused, this promises to be a prosperous week with Leeds the only side offering a double gameweek.
As always, in this column I’ll be breaking down what we learned from the latest round of games, how best to utilise the free transfer for our squads and the differentials that can make the biggest difference week-to-week.
Biggest takeaways from GW24
Two words: stunning strikes.
February’s Goal of the Month award could prove a real head scratcher with GW24 boasting a number of legitimate contenders.
Riyad Mahrez produced a classic Mahrez-style strike, bending the ball beyond Jordan Pickford to ice victory for Manchester City away at Everton.
‘Holy smokes,’ said co-commentator Ally McCoist. He wasn’t wrong.
Then there was Burnley’s Matt Lowton, on target in the Clarets’ big win at Crystal Palace. Another belter which made him the second-highest scoring defender in FPL for GW24.
Riyad Mahrez (far right) produced a vintage Mahrez-style goal in victory away at Everton
Burnley’s Matt Lowton (right) got a rare goal in spectacular fashion against Crystal Palace
An honourable mention also to Wolves’ Pedro Neto after he netted a sublime goal away against Southampton.
It was another week where City confirmed their credentials as champions-in-waiting to go 10 points clear, first beating Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham and then dispatching Everton to maximise their game in hand.
Pep Guardiola’s side are on a tear and Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal will rightly head to the Emirates this weekend with a degree of trepidation.
One of the biggest games of the weekend is a Merseyside derby at Anfield.
Defeat to Leicester saw Jurgen Klopp concede Liverpool’s title bid was over and now the focus was firmly on making it into the top four. For Everton, their top four bid is stuttering just when it matters most.
A derby is the perfect game to hit the reset button on recent form and the victor can use it as a way to galvanise a flailing season.
Pedro Neto (right) deserves an honourable mention in GW24 for his goal at Southampton
Bruno Fernandes and Manchester United were left frustrated by a 1-1 draw at West Brom but they righted many of those wrongs in the Europa League on Thursday.
Fernandes netted twice in a 4-0 demolition of Real Sociedad in Turin and that bodes well heading into a home game for United in GW25.
It is increasingly apparent that their title bid is hanging by a thread and further dropped points in games they expect to win opens the door to be sucked into a fight just to make the top four.
Chelsea and West Ham are the form teams in that race but as always with these things, it is a marathon and not a sprint.
Another big week is ahead with the pendulum of momentum almost certain to take a significant swing by the time this column returns for GW26.
Best use of free transfer this week
Timo Werner (Chelsea) – £9.2m
Many expected Timo Werner to hit the ground running after his £53million switch from RB Leipzig but it just didn’t pan out.
Frank Lampard was unable to coax that same form he showed in Germany out of him but what a difference a new boss can make, hey?
Playing off a central striker in an attacking trio, stationed just off to the left, Werner looks to be growing in comfort and confidence and it can all come to a head against a Southampton side he scored twice against back in October.
Ralph Hasenhuttl’s Southampton have lost six successive league matches and Werner is in, by his standards at Chelsea, good form having produced one goal, three assists and 21 points in the last three gameweeks.
Timo Werner seems to be improving all the time under the guidance of Tuchel at Chelsea
Having not made a move last week I made two switches this week taking out Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Jack Grealish for Werner and Leeds’ tricky winger Raphinha.
Raphinha is the second most-bought midfielder for GW25, amassing more than 203,000 new owners.
His two goals, four assists and 38 points in his last five matches is particularly enticing ahead of Leeds’ double gameweek.
But Werner feels like a smart investment ahead of a Saints side that could be run ragged by Tuchel’s in-form Chelsea side.
Don’t let us down, Timo…
He was on hand (right) to convert against Newcastle and will be confident vs Southampton
Friday February 19
Wolves v Leeds
Saturday February 20
Southampton v Chelsea
Burnley v West Brom
Liverpool v Everton
Fulham v Sheffield United
Sunday February 21
West Ham v Tottenham
Aston Villa v Leicester
Arsenal v Man City
Man United v Newcastle
Monday February 22
Brighton v Crystal Palace
Tuesday February 23
Leeds v Southampton
Three differentials that caught my eye
Matheus Pereira (West Brom) – £5.5m [Selected by 1.5%]
With Burnley, Brighton and Newcastle in the next three, this really is crunch time for West Brom if they are going to pull off a great escape.
Currently 19th, 12 points adrift of safety, Sam Allardyce and his players need some big performances now and that makes Matheus Pereira an interesting option.
He is comfortably the Baggies’ best player this season, winning 77 points in FPL, a team high.
Four of Pereira’s five goals this season have come on the road and given Burnley have kept just one clean sheet in their last eight home games, there is good reason to believe he will be at the heart of it for West Brom at Turf Moor on Saturday.
Josh Maja (Fulham) – £5.5m [Selected by 0.6%]
Perhaps blinded by the lights of his dazzling display at Everton but one of the trickiest things in FPL is finding value in a third striking option to keep funds available for the stars.
Fulham have struggled for goals for much of the season and know they have a real opportunity on Saturday at home to Sheffield United to close the, at present, six points they need to level Newcastle, directly above them.
Maja, a January arrival, is likely to continue leading the line to face a Sheffield United side who have shipped 40 goals this season, 22 of which have come away from home.
Matheus Pereira (left) and Josh Maja (right) are set to have big says in the relegation race
‘I’m really conscious, I don’t want to put a lot on someone so young’s shoulders but I’ve been very impressed in the short space of time I’ve been working with Josh and hopefully that can continue really,’ Fulham boss Scott Parker said of Maja.
‘He’s fitted in very, very well. I think he’s come into a young group, a real energetic upbeat group of players and he’s fitted in to that bracket very, very well.’
FPL bosses are likely to need more convincing than one showing at Everton but the Blades is a favourable match-up for an in-form striker to further add to his tally.
Antonio Rudiger (Chelsea) – £4.6m [Selected by 3.4%]
Finding a way into Thomas Tuchel’s defence looks to be more and more of a priority for many FPL bosses and there is no cheaper option to do that than Antonio Rudiger.
Since Tuchel took the reins at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea have kept four consecutive clean sheets in the league.
In fact, in Tuchel’s six games so far, his defence has only been breached one, in the 2-1 win away at Sheffield United.
Aside from being rested for the FA Cup trip to Barnsley, Rudiger has completed 90 minutes in all of the other five games with Tuchel restoring a back three with Rudiger to the left of Thiago Silva, who is anchoring the defence.
Antonio Rudiger (left) is a favourite under Thomas Tuchel and is benefitting from lots of games
Much of Rudiger’s appeal lies in the price point he is currently at and in the fact this Tuchel defence has proven so mean.
Tougher tests are on the horizon but much like Werner, the Germany international appears inspired and given his threat from set-pieces, a sneaking feeling has him getting on the scoresheet on Saturday lunch-time at St Mary’s.
One to consider if Chelsea continue to keep shut-outs as regularly as they have been doing.
Patrick Bamford (Leeds) – £6.9m
This feels like a no brainer.
With the double gameweek, Bamford will get twice as many chances to repay the faith of his backers and while Danny Ings, also playing twice, is an alternative for Southampton, Bamford has the kinder schedule.
It came back to bite me last week by not captaining a player with a double gameweek and given Bamford’s mammoth 56.4 per cent ownership, it is important not to lose further ground.
Bamford, who is the most selected striker on FPL this season, has 12 goals and has provided eight assists this season, amassing 132 points.
Patrick Bamford (right) is the clear stand-out candidate to be given the armband this week
It is also promising that the 27-year-old’s 70 shots in the box and 35 shots on target this season are both league-leading totals.
Bamford appears the obvious candidate for captaincy given he is coming up against two sides who have looked vulnerable defensively of late.
Wolves, who Leeds face at Molineux on Friday, have managed just one clean sheet in their last eight games at home, while Southampton, who travel to Leeds on Tuesday, have lost six consecutive games and are the worst-performing team in the Premier League right now.
Bamford has attacking returns in three of his last four gameweeks and with eight of his 12 league goals coming on the road, a Friday night trip to Wolves represents a really enticing fixture.
Bamford’s 35 shots on target is a league-leading total and he boasts two favourable fixtures
Raphinha, one of the two free transfers I made this week, is another doubled-up Leeds option for the armband.
If neither player is owned and, as I was last week, you look at a player with just one game, Tottenham’s Son Heung-min and Manchester United’s Bruno Fernandes are in-form options.
Both found the net on Thursday night in the Europa League and they both possess enticing fixtures with United at home to Newcastle and Spurs taking on West Ham, a team Son has had great success against since arriving in England.
Team of the Week (4-4-2)
Share this article
Source: Read Full Article