Gameweek 23 threw up a few surprises that led to a large gap in fantasy points accumulated in mini leagues. Those with Santi Cazorla benefitted greatly as the Spaniard scored and set up two in a 5-0 rout of Aston Villa. Olivier Giroud and Mesut Ozil both contributed with a goal and assist apiece, and even Hector Bellerin scored for the Gunners. The week saw some surprise performers as well. Jon Walters netted a hattrick for Stoke City, Radamel Falcao finally scored after a recent drought, and Patrick Van Aanholt provided an assist, a clean sheet, and 3 bonus points. In this week’s edition of The Digest, we focus on promising prospects for the Gameweek ahead.
Breaking the Mould
When you’re hot, you’re hot. Just ask Santi Cazorla, Harry Kane, Olivier Giroud, and Jon Walters. Cazorla, in-particular, has not stopped racking up points and goes into GW24 on the back of 3 double-digit point hauls in the FPL. This consistency will inevitably trail off, though, and bandwagons form extremely quickly in the FPL these days. Don’t get me wrong, I still think Cazorla is a good option for this Gameweek and possibly beyond the North London Derby, but there are a few players who have not been a part of the conversation lately and deserve more attention.
Cesc Fabregas | Chelsea- His early-season form saw FPL ownership increase to the dizzying heights of 50% but it has trailed off recently. Many fantasy managers are concerned Fabregas will fail to find his form in the second half of the season as he did many times before at Arsenal, but the Guru feels differently. Much of it has to do with management. This is not to say Arsene Wenger is a poor manager, but his squads have a tendency to hit a rough patch in the spring and barely squeak into the top 4. Mourinho, on the other hand, is challenging for the title every season and has proven himself to be an incredible player-motivator. Mourinho has been cautious with Fabregas and isn’t afraid to rest him when necessary to ensure he finishes the season in style. Against a poor Aston Villa outfit that lost 5-0 to Arsenal last time out, Fabregas will be healthy, rested, and pulling the strings for the Blues. Look for the Spaniard to rack up quality points in his next 3 games against Villa, Everton, and Burnley.
Olivier Giroud | Arsenal– Giroud’s season has been quite the mixed bag so far. Injured in Gameweek 2, Giroud was on the treatment table until the end of November and has thus been somewhat overlooked by fantasy managers. Though he has been in fine form the past few gameweeks, Giroud’s ownership still sits just around 10%, which is very low for a player of his caliber. Teammates Alexis Sanchez and (recently) Santi Cazorla have received most of the attention from the fantasy community, but Giroud represents a terrific striker option. His hold-up play has continued to improve in the Premier League and he really has gelled well with his teammates, most notably Mesut Ozil, who also just returned from injury. After the North London Derby, which always seems to have loads of goals, Giroud faces Leicester City and Crystal Palace, two defenses he is well capable of breaching. At just £8.3 in the FPL, Giroud is cheap in relative terms, and should outscore his teammates over the next 3 GWs.
David Silva | Manchester City– No matter how well he performs, he never receives the fantasy love that teammate Sergio Aguero does. Silva has 5 goals and 2 assists in his 7 games back from injury and is £3.3 cheaper than Aguero. Despite his output and price point, Silva has only 18% ownership, compared to Aguero’s 25%. It seems everyone always has faith in the Argentine, despite his poor track record of injuries and sky-high FPL price, and neglects his Spanish teammate who boasts ridiculous consistency for a reasonable price. This weekend Man City take on Hull City at the Etihad and while Aguero is sure to rack up some points, Silva will be right there with him, and for a hell-of-a-lot cheaper. City face Stoke and Newcastle after this weekend and it will be interesting to see which player notches the most points over this span. I think it will be Silva.
Philippe Coutinho | Liverpool- I’m still not fully convinced by Philippe Coutinho but he makes his way into my list of “Punts” for GW24 coming off the heels of several quality displays for Liverpool. The Brazilian has had a slow start to life in England despite his obvious talent, but now finally seems to be finding his feet. I honestly think the physical nature took him by surprise, but after almost 2 years at the club, Coutinho has adapted his play for the Prem. Liverpool play cross-town rivals Everton this Saturday and the game will be a good litmus test for Coutinho, as the game typically features goals from both sides and will be very open and attacking. After Everton, the Reds face Tottenham and Southampton and will need Philippe to be on his best form to get a result.