Gameweek 23: Fixture Breakdown

Our PlayON Pro and 2014 Fantasy Premier League champion, Tom Fenley, previews three stand-out fixtures ahead of the Gameweek 23 Premier League matches and picks out some key players to consider for your FPL and PlayON line-ups.

Sat 23rd Jan 2016 -­ Premier League

Man Utd v Southampton 15:00

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 20: Wayne Rooney of Manchester United gets away from Oriol Romeu of Southampton during the Barclays Premier League match between Southampton and Manchester United at St Mary's Stadium on September 20, 2015 in Southampton, United Kingdom. (Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images)

Wayne Rooney of Manchester United gets away from Oriol Romeu of Southampton when the two sides last met. (Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images)

United’s narrow victory at Liverpool was only a second win in ten outings for the Champions League hopefuls, though five matches unbeaten indicates Louis Van Gaal’s side have found some consistency. Wayne Rooney has jolted into life in recent weeks, netting five goals in four appearances, including a brace and an assist in the 3-­3 thriller with Newcastle. A home match gives David De Gea and Chris Smalling an opportunity to extend an impressive defensive record at Old Trafford, having recorded seven clean sheets so far in ten matches.

Southampton’s 3­0th win over West Brom was a third straight victory at St Mary’s. However, four successive defeats on the road tells a different story for the Saints, who have scored just two goals and conceded seven in that time. Midfielder Dusan Tadic should earn a start after scoring in the last two after coming off the bench. Meanwhile, new signing Charlie Austin could make a first appearance since mid-December, having returned to training after a lay­off with a hamstring injury. The former Hungerford Town hitman is one to watch after netting 18 goals and serving up 8 assists for relegated QPR last term. With 9 goals in 16 appearances, the one-time bricklayer has also had a productive start to this Championship season and could be the answer to Ronald Koeman’s away trip woes.

Key Players

David De Gea – Goalkeeper – FPL £5.6, PlayON £8.0

Wayne Rooney – Forward – FPL £10.0, PlayON £13.4

Dusan Tadic – Midfielder – FPL £6.7, PlayON £9.7

Charlie Austin – Forward – FPL £7.0, PlayON £8.4
 

Sunderland v Bournemouth 15:00

BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 19: Lee Tomlin of A.F.C. Bournemouth is tackled by Jordi Gomez of Sunderland during the Barclays Premier League match between A.F.C. Bournemouth and Sunderland at the Vitality Stadium on September 19, 2015 in Bournemouth, United Kingdom. (Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images)

Lee Tomlin is tackled by Jordi Gomez on at Dean Court last September. (Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images)

The Black Cats took the lead through Patrick Van Aanholt at White Hart Lane before conceding four goals to a much superior Spurs team. It was the Dutch full­back’s third goal in three matches, having netted in the wins over relegation rivals Aston Villa and Swansea. This tie represents a potentially crucial three points ahead of a difficult set of fixtures for Sam Allardyce, so the manager is likely to set­up for the win. Jermaine Defoe scored a hat­trick agains the Swans and a brace against Villa to bring his goal tally to nine for the season. If Sunderland are to survive the drop, one suspects the veteran front­man will be largely responsible.

Bournemouth picked up a first win in five matches as they dispatched fellow newcomers Norwich 3-­0 at Dean Court. Eddie Howe’s men have had a reasonable run away from home, only losing to Arsenal over their last five while picking up a memorable win at Chelsea and holding Leicester City to a goalless draw at the King Power Stadium. Against the Canaries, Dan Gosling picked up a third goal of the season and is a good value budget midfield pick alongside Junior Stanislas. Charlie Daniels is the standout defensive pick having confirmed his status as the Cherries’ penalty kick taker with a goal from the spot whilst also providing an assist. New signing Benik Afobe is a doubt for the weekend but scored the third last time out. A goal in only the striker’s second appearance for his new club is a promising start.

Key Players

Patrick Van Aanholt – Defender – FPL £4.6, PlayON £6.6

Jermaine Defoe – Forward – FPL £5.2, PlayON £7.6

Charlie Daniels – Defender – FPL £4.6, PlayON £6.3

Benik Afobe – Forward – FPL £6.1, PlayON £6.8
 

Watford v Newcastle 15:00

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Giorginio Wijnaldum get’s a talking to by the referee at St James’ Park. (Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images)

The Hornets’ loss at Swansea was a fourth consecutive defeat for Quique Sanchez Flores’ men, though that run has included facing top­teams Manchester City, Spurs and a resurgent Southhampton. At Vicarage Road the defence has done well. With 6 clean sheets in 10, assets such as Huerelho Gomes and Nathen Ake could be worth considering against a Magpies side that have failed to score in their last two on the road. Meanwhile Odion Ighalo has gone three league games without scoring for the first time since August. If the Nigerian fails to net a 15th goal of the season here his viability as a budget forward option in our Fantasy line­ups may have been exhausted.

Steve McClaren has got Newcastle scoring, the 3-­3 draw with Manchester United having been followed up by a much needed 2­-1 win over West Ham. The two early goals against the Hammers both arrived from some creative play by new signing Jonjo Shelvey, who offered some much needed energy and vision for a side sitting one point from safety. Georginio Wijnaldum has scored in the last two, though all of the Dutchman’s nine goals this term have arrived at St James’ Park, which raises doubts about selecting the midfielder for away trips. After serving up a third assist of the campaign, Daryl Janmaat re­affirmed his status as the prime candidate in defence if you’re willing to invest in a back­line that have kept one clean sheet in ten.

Key Players

Huerelho Gomes – Goalkeeper – FPL £4.8, PlayON £6.5

Odion Ighalo – Forward – FPL £6.4, PlayON £8.3

Daryl Janmaat – Defender – FPL £4.8, PlayON £7.0

Jonjo Shelvey – Midfielder – FPL £5.3, PlayON £7.9
 

Sun 24 Jan 2016 ­ Premier League

Everton v Swansea 13:30

during the Barclays Premier League match between Swansea City and Everton at the Liberty Stadium on September 19, 2015 in Swansea, United Kingdom.

Jack Cork attempts to block Ross Barkley’s shot at the Liberty Stadium last September. (Alex Broadway/Getty Images)


 
The match at the Emirates may be the more compelling clash on Sunday but Toffees assets are likely to be far more popular in Fantasy line­ups than those of Arsenal or Chelsea. The Merseyside club are scoring plenty but nonethless are searching for a first win in five matches. Though they may have gone without a victory for so long, Everton’s goalscoring record at home, averaging over 2 goals a game, is second only to Manchester City – so Roberto Martinez’s side should really be winning more often. The defence may have struggled with concentration at times but a third clean sheet in six is on the cards. Leighton Baines is the pick of the defensive options having produced two assists in the 3­-3 draw at Stamford Bridge last time out. Romelu Lukaku has not scored in two outings but has an impressive record at Goodison, having had a hand in 10 of the Toffees last 17 goals over the last six league ties in front of their own fans.

Ashley William’s secured all three points for the Swans with a late header against Watford on Monday night. The centre­back’s leadership will be needed here if the Welsh side is to hold Everton back, though a single clean sheet away from the Liberty this term suggests goals are likely to be needed to secure a result. New manager Francesco Guidolin will need to figure out quickly where those goals will come from given that the Swans have blanked in three of their last five away trips.
 
Key Players

Leighton Baines – Defender – FPL £6.2, PlayON £8.7

Romelu Lukaku – Forward – FPL £9.2, PlayON £11.7

Ashley Williams – Defender – FPL £4.8, PlayON £7.8

Gylfi Sigurdsson – Midfielder – FPL £7.0, PlayON £10.2
 
Challenge me to a one-on-one this week with PlayON and follow me on twitter @tomfenley.

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