Our resident fantasy football pro and former FPL champion Tom Fenley breaks down some of the key fixtures in Gameweek 24.
Tues 2 Feb 2016
Arsenal v Southampton 19:45
The 1-0 loss to Chelsea was Arsenal’s first defeat at the Emirates since the opening Gameweek. While it can be partly blamed on Per Mertesacker’s early red card, it was also a third match without a win for the Gunners following draws at Stoke and Liverpool. Arsene Wenger’s side will also have their worst result of the season – the 4-0 thrashing at St Mary’s on Boxing Day – fresh in the memory for this encounter.
Having Alexis Sanchez back in contention should help. After making a cameo appearance against the Blues – his first appearance since late November – the Chilean assisted Callum Chamber’s opener against Burnley in the FA cup, before providing the winner. On the other side, Mesut Ozil’s dip in form has been alarming. The German has blanked in five of his last six league appearances after an incredible first half of the season. Any title challenge may well rest on these two midfielders re-discovering some rhythm.
The rejuvenated Saints make the trip to North London on the back of three successive wins, their best run of the campaign. Goalkeeper Fraser Forster’s return and a change to a 3-5-2 system has instilled some solidity, with three clean sheets in a row the basis of that bright run of form. They will certainly not roll over at the Emirates.
New recruit Charlie Austin scored on his debut to secure a victory at Old Trafford, a promising start for the ex-QPR striker. That was only the second goal in four away matches for Ronald Koeman’s team and the first points they’ve picked up in five on the road.
Mesut Ozil, Midfielder, FPL 10 Playon 12.1
Alexis Sanchez, Midfielder, FPL 10.9 Playon 14.2
Fraser Forster, Goalkeeper, FPL 4.8 Playon 7.1
Charlie Austin, Forward, FPL 7 Playon 8.5
Norwich v Tottenham 19:45
Alex Neil was left bewildered after watching his side lose 5-4 despite building a 3-1 lead against Liverpool. After three consecutive defeats, the Canaries are slipping closer to the relegation zone and having conceded 11 goals in those losses, one suspects they will find it tough to keep out Spurs.
At the other end, in Steven Naismith they may have made a signing who could provide the energy and goals needed to stay up. The forward scored and assisted against the Reds on his debut. Midfielder Wes Hoolahan is also clearly comfortable at this level having also served up a goal and an assist in that thrilling but ultimately disappointing clash. However, even with the fixture at Carrow Road it’s difficult to have much interest in Norwich assets this week.
Spurs on the other hand have recorded back-to-back wins, producing seven goals in victories over Sunderland and Crystal Palace. There’s also much to admire in how Mauricio Pochettino is employing a well-rounded squad. The 4-1 win over Colchester in the FA Cup saw plenty of rotation so there should be refreshed legs available for this match.
Christian Eriksen is the man in form; picking up an assist at Selhurst Park after scoring a brace against the Black Cats. The midfielder has been out-shone by youngster Dele Alli’s exploits this season, but the Danish playmaker should be seriously considered as an option after showing signs of consistency.
Up front, Harry Kane’s mini-slump appears to be over. The striker has scored in his last two outings. At the back, Jan Vertoghen’s injury is a loss to one of the league’s better defensive units.
Wes Hoolahan, Midfielder, FPL 4.7 Playon 7.5
Steven Naismith, Forward, FPL 5 Playon 8
Christian Eriksen, Midfielder, FPL 8.4 Playon 10.9
Harry Kane, Forward, FPL 10 Playon 11.7
Crystal Palace v Bournemouth 20:00
This is an important match for Alan Pardew, who is currently in the midst of the toughest stretch as Palace manager. Four defeats in a row – six games without a win – have tarnished what looked to be a prosperous season for the Eagles. Another failure here against Premier League newcomers would not be viewed favourably by the fans, particularly after the manner of recent defeats. Palace have conceded eleven times and scored just once in those four losses.
Maybe an FA Cup win against Stoke can help the side recover some form and confidence, but they will be lacking some of their key contributors in attack. Striker Conor Wickham is suspended, Yannick Bolasie is unlikely to be ready for a return and Yohan Cabaye’s fitness is also a major doubt.
Bournemouth will certainly turn up believing they can get a result. They are only four points off the relegation zone so a victory would be welcome to extend the gap. Eddie Howe made 10 changes against Portsmouth in the FA Cup, so his side should be well rested and will also be full of confidence after a run of only two defeats in eleven league matches and only one in their last six away from home.
January signing Benik Afobe has made an instant impression, scoring in his last two league outings. His form continues a season-long trend of Bournemouth’s striker being a consistent goal scorer, no matter who it has been. If you’re looking for a defender, Charlie Daniels is the go-to pick. The full-back served up an assist and scored a penalty in their recent 3-0 win against Norwich, and has been present for all three clean sheets they have kept in their last six.
Scott Dann, Defender, FPL 5.8 Playon 7.2
Wilfried Zaha, Midfielder, FPL 5.3 Playon 7.8
Charlie Daniels, Defender, FPL 4.6 Playon 6.3
Benik Afobe, Forward, FPL 6.1 Playon 6.9