We’ve got a mini double-gameweek for Round 24, and it’s a bit of an odd one. The week begins tomorrow, just 48 hours after the previous round ended, and concludes eight days later on a Wednesday. Weird!
The two teams playing twice are West Ham and Liverpool, who will play the match postponed due to Liverpool’s Club World Cup final (which they won!). You’ll want to pay particular attention to players from those teams, then, as history teaches us that over-weighting your squads towards teams with DGWs usually pays off. For superb guidance on how to do that in both FPL and Fantrax, I offer you Chris’s excellent treatment of the subject provided here and here.
Note as well that the week opens with simultaneous kickoffs for all of tomorrow’s games except CHE vs ARS, so we should receive confirmed lineups for AVL, WAT, BOU, BRI, CPL, SOU, EVE, NEW, SHU and MCI ahead of the Fantrax transfer deadline. Be sure to be here when that info breaks if you are thinking about playing assets from any of those teams this week.
With the window between this game-week and the last so short, we better dive right in to the overview. Let’s get after it.
Tuesday 21 January
The reverse fixture was played less than a month ago, and Watford bullied Villa 3-0 with Troy Deeney registering a brace. The Hornets have enjoyed continued success since then, while the Villans have struggled to find traction. Indeed, Villa have drifted down into the drop zone while the Hornets have managed to climb out of it. Nevertheless, only one point separates these two teams, so both sides will view tomorrow’s three points as crucially-important.
Ismaila Sarr will miss out through injury for Watford, but Aston Villa have no new injury concerns.
The Cherries have lost ten of their last twelve, and have failed to score in seven of their last nine. Consequently they sit 19th in the table — just one game off the bottom — with Eddie Howe’s job increasingly under threat. But Brighton have also had a run of bad form, losing their last three straight, and they’re now positioned only one game above the drop. Like the AVL/WAT game, this one could have important relegation implications.
Neither club has any new injury concerns, but Bournemouth will be without Steve Cook after he was handed a one-match ban for trying to play goalie on Saturday.
If there were any who still doubted whether Palace deserve to be in the top half of the table, Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Manchester City at the Etihad should have changed their minds. But the tie game was Palace’s fourth in a row, the string starting with a 1-1 draw with the Saints just three weeks ago. Roy Hodgson will not want to share points for a fifth time straight, but Danny Ings and Raph Hassenhuttl will surely have something to say about that (and may say they want all three themselves).
Jan Bednarek uncharacteristically scored a goal for the Saints over the weekend but is now a doubt with an Achilles issue. Palace have no fresh injury worries, but Luka Milivojevic will serve the final game of a three-match ban.
Thanks to a smash-and-grab win over Chelsea in the 94th minute on Saturday, the Magpies have drawn level on points with the Toffees. Both these teams will now look to elbow into the top half of the table. But to do that, Newcastle will have to figure out how to muzzle Dominic Calvert-Lewin. Since Carlo Ancelotti took the helm at Goodison Park, only Sergio Aguero has scored more goals than DCL. And in the reverse fixture a few weeks ago, Calvert-Lewin bagged a brace.
Ancelotti seemed to rule out Richarlison due to a knee injury, but Michael Keane may be ready to return. There are no bright spots on Newcastle’s injury horizon though. None of their injured are nearing return, and Paul Dummet (hamstring) and Jetro Williams (knee) now ruled out for the season.
Sheffield United vs Manchester City
City’s draw with Crystal Palace over the weekend comes at a convenient time for the Blades. The tie with the Eagles means the Citizens are 16 points adrift of Liverpool, who still have a game in hand, so Pep Guardiola is now openly admitting that he has shifted his priorities away from the league. With City scheduled for FA Cup and Carabao Cup matches over the next 9 days, Pep’s change of focus could play right into the hands of Sheffield United, who currently sit just one point off fifth place. But fantasy managers who own City’s premier assets will now have to fret over whether Pep will use the Sheffield United game to rest some of his first-team stars ahead of those tournament competitions.
Chris Wilder hopes to welcome David McGoldrick back from a foot injury. But Benjamin Mendy and John Stones both picked up issues in the match against the Eagles and are now doubts for tomorrow.
Chelsea vs Arsenal
This clash of perennial titans features two new EPL managers who once faced each other as players for their respective teams. The Blues were gut-punched at the death by Newcastle on Saturday, while Arsenal had to settle for a 1-1 draw with Sheffield. Chelsea have now won at home only once in their last five, and Arsenal are winless since New Year’s Day. Those motivations will add an extra urgency to this classic “Big Six” rivalry.
Reece James suffered a knee injury against Newcastle and is now a doubt for tomorrow. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will serve the second game of a three-match ban, but Mikel Arteta will hope Sokratis recovers from illness in time to be available.
Wednesday 22 January
Leicester vs West Ham
This is a meeting of teams whose fortunes have been headed in opposite directions recently. The Foxes have lost two in a row and four of their last six. On the other hand, the Hammers under David Moyes have managed four points from their last three games after having lost 9 of their previous 13. Coincidentally, the reverse fixture, a 2-1 Leicester victory, was Manuel Pellegrini’s final match in charge of West Ham.
Neither Brendan Rodgers nor David Moyes has any fresh injury concerns.
Spurs have not been able to manage a league win since Harry Kane suffered his hamstring injury on New Year’s Day, but Wednesday’s match with the Canaries will present them with a perfect chance to change that. Norwich are nailed to the bottom of the table, their defense is the league’s worst, and their win over a 10-man Cherries side on Saturday was their first victory in their last ten games. Spurs’ new-boy Gedson Fernandes featured from the bench last time out, and could now be set for his full debut. He’ll be one to watch.
Jose Mourinho has no new injuries worries, and Hugo Lloris’s return to training should relegate Paulo Gazzaniga back to the bench very soon. Daniel Farke has no new injury concerns either, but he will be without Ben Godfrey as the center back was shown red in the late stages of the Bournemouth match after VAR review. Wednesday is his first game of a three-match ban.
Man United suffered a 2-0 defeat at the hands of the Liverpool juggernaut over the weekend, despite keeping it close for most of the match. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will emphasize the positives from that match as he prepares his side for the visit of the Clarets, who will travel to Old Trafford full of confidence after snapping a four-game losing streak with a comeback win over Leicester yesterday.
OGS has no fresh injury worries, but Marcus Rashford’s status was updated today: He is facing a minimum of six weeks on the sidelines with a double stress fracture in his back. Sean Dyche will be without Ashley Barnes, who underwent groin surgery on Friday, but Johan Berg Gudmundsson has returned to light training as he recovers from a hamstring injury.
Wolves vs Liverpool
This match brings us the first of Liverpool’s two games in this round. While Wolves have certainly turned their season around, having now risen from the relegation zone into sixth place, is anyone betting against the Reds in this one?
Xherdan Shaqiri is a doubt with a calf injury. But Dejan Lovren has a chance to feature after recovering from a muscle injury sustained almost a month ago, which could threaten Joseph Gomez (although the FA Cup tie on Sunday could be an even better opportunity to reintroduce Lovren). Nuno Espirito Santo has no new injury concerns.
Wednesday 29 January
West Ham vs Liverpool
This is the match that makes the mini-double, with the Reds and the Hammers both playing their second match of the round. You won’t expect much from your West Ham assets in this one, but it’ll be the opposite for your Liverpool investments. Many fantasy managers will have their fingers crossed for their Reds players to (play and) explode against a Hammers side that is dangling just one point above the relegation zone.
The current injury situations of these two teams have been addressed above. While neither manager has any significant concerns right now, they’ll both pray that injuries from the first game of the double (and FA Cup action over the intervening weekend) don’t preclude any key players from playing the second — and so will we!
Are you dropping anyone at discount so you can max out on double-gamers? Which West Ham players, if any, interest you? Which Liverpool players do you believe are must-haves? Which single-gamers do you think will do well this week? Please tell us in the Comments below!
Who will be Game Week 24’s top fantasy performer?
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Virgil van Dijk
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