Fantasy Football is back after a week off due to the FA Cup, but what a week it was! FPL managers will surely have selection headaches thanks to team selections and injuries in both the FA Cup and EFL Cup, but also due to the transfer window really getting into gear.
Virgil van Dijk should make his Premier League debut for Liverpool this weekend, but fantasy football managers now have to plan for a future without Philippe Coutinho, who had been one of the most in-form players in the latter months of 2017.
Van Dijk could be a good transfer in the coming weeks, but he kicks things off against Manchester City, so is unlikely to get big returns this weekend.
FANTASY FOOTBALL CAPTAIN CHOICES
The safe choices most weeks in fantasy football are to pick either Harry Kane or Mohamed Salah as your captain.
Kane takes on Everton at home, but the Toffees have improved since Sam Allardyce has taken over. However, the world's top scorer in 2018 is more than a flat-track bully, so is capable of scoring against absolutely everyone - even a resurgent Everton.
Salah is just back from injury and may have a point to prove following Coutinho's exit. He has been the most consistent player in the Premier League, and could even partner Roberto Firmino in attack as Jurgen Klopp tries to find his best shape for the remainder of the campaign. The big stumbling block for the Egyptian will be Liverpool's opponents, with Manchester City usually solid at the back, meaning a big score could be less likely.
Eden Hazard ended his Premier League goal drought last time out against Arsenal, and is potentially a better bet than Alvaro Morata, who has been less than impressive in front of goal despite having a number of excellent chances. Chelsea take on Leicester City, which is never an easy task, but they have the advantage of playing in front of their home fans.
Manchester United's Romelu Lukaku has also underperformed like Morata, but Jesse Lingard has shone for Jose Mourinho in his last few Premier League games. The £6.3m value midfielder has four goals and an assist in his last five outings for the Red Devils, and could be an under-the-radar captaincy choice against Stoke City.
Marcos Alonso has the best form over the last five games, averaging 9.4 points a game, but FPL bosses are usually cautious about playing their captain chip on a defender as conceding an early goal can quickly ruin their gameweek. Leicester City's Riyad Mahrez is also on a good run, but faces Chelsea away so is less appealing, while Raheem Sterling is never guaranteed to start for Manchester City and has a tricky fixture.
West Ham's Marko Arnautovic could be a popular left-field choice, but is carrying a knock going into the trip to Huddersfield, so might be an injury worry. Gabriel Jesus remains out for another two or three weeks, meaning Sergio Aguero should lead the line again for City.
|Marcos Alonso||CHE vs LEI||9.4||£7.3m|
|Raheem Sterling||LIV vs MCI||9.2||£8.9m|
|Mohamed Salah||LIV vs MCI||7.3||£10.1m|
|Kevin De Bruyne||LIV vs MCI||7.3||£10.2m|
|Riyad Mahrez||CHE vs LEI||7.0||£8.6m|
|Roberto Firmino||LIV vs MCI||6.8||£9.1m|
|Jesse Lingard||MUN vs STK||6.8||£6.3m|
|Harry Kane||TOT vs EVE||6.7||£12.9m|
|Marko Arnautovic||HUD vs WHU||6.5||£7.0m|
|Sergio Aguero||LIV vs MCI||5.3||£11.7m|
FANTASY FOOTBALL TRANSFERS IN
Due to his attractive pricepoint and excellent form, Lingard is the most transferred in player this week. However, fans should be wary of the 25-year-old completing the full game for Manchester United. Lingard has played the full 90 minutes just twice in the Premier League this season, and could be a rotation option with Jose Mourinho also having Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford at his disposal, as well as Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Over 200,000 FPL managers have added Kane ahead of Gameweek 23, making him the second most owned player in fantasy football - just behind Salah. However, if you do not have him in your team already, you may find it difficult to bring him in without taking a hit as he is the most expensive player in the game at £12.9m.
Despite Manchester City travelling to Anfield this week to take on Liverpool, their players are among the most popular arrivals, with Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero both being brought in by over 150,000 managers each. Sterling faces his former club, while Aguero has put his personal problems with Pep Guardiola behind him to continue his scoring streak for the league leaders.
Phil Jones has risen in price to £5.7m this week thanks to an influx of new owners. The Manchester United defender has a nice schedule, with a trip to Spurs the most difficult encounter in their next five gameweeks.
|Jesse Lingard||MUN vs STK||400k+||£6.3m|
|Harry Kane||TOT vs EVE||200k+||£12.9m|
|Riyad Mahrez||CHE vs LEI||200k+||£8.6m|
|Raheem Sterling||LIV vs MCI||175k+||£8.9m|
|Sergio Aguero||LIV vs MCI||155k+||£11.7m|
|Phil Jones||MUN vs STK||140k+||£5.7m|
|Marcos Alonso||CHE vs LEI||135k+||£7.3m|
|Roberto Firmino||LIV vs MCI||135k+||£9.1m|
FANTASY FOOTBALL TRANSFERS OUT
Firmino is one of the most transferred in players this week, with over 135,000 managers bringing him in. But he is also one of the most transferred out players too, as 145,000 more have lost faith in his despite his attractive price compared to other marquee forwards.
Coutinho's departure from the Premier League means he is clearly the most dumped player ahead of Gameweek 23, as almost half a million FPL players look to find alternatives in midfield. Despite returning from injury, Salah completes the top three of dropped players, with Liverpool's tricky home tie perhaps part of the reason people have decided to move on.
Jamie Vardy and Alvaro Morata are not providing the expected returns for their outlay and thus have also been transferred out in big numbers, with Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Romelu Lukaku also not as well regarded in attack.
|Philippe Coutinho||LIV vs MCI||450k+||£9.1m|
|Mohamed Salah||LIV vs MCI||165k+||£10.1m|
|Roberto Firmino||LIV vs MCI||145k+||£9.1m|
|Jamie Vardy||CHE vs LEI||145k+||£8.6m|
|Alvaro Morata||CHE vs LEI||120k+||£10.5m|
|Sead Kolasinac||BOU vs ARS||110k+||£6.0m|
|Dominic Calvert-Lewin||TOT vs EVE||100k+||£5.5m|
|Romelu Lukaku||MUN vs STK||100k+||£11.3m|
FANTASY FOOTBALL DIFFERENTIALS
In the second-half of the season, finding players who your rivals do not have becomes a key fantasy football tactic. These players known as differentials can help you close the gap on the league leaders or else keep you at the top of your FPL mini-league table.
At this stage, almost everyone has Salah, Kane and David De Gea in their teams. As a result, players with less than 20 per cent ownership that can give good returns are hugely sought-after to help earn more points than your rivals.
Spurs midfielder Heung-Min Son has two goals and two assists in his last three games and is owned by just over 13 per cent of all managers at the moment. At £8.1m, he is also very affordable and can be an easy move for people who have gotten rid of Coutinho or Salah.
Lingard still has less than 20 per cent ownership, but another good gameweek will surely see that increase again as his price continues to soar. Paul Pogba's recent injury means that many people have not gotten him back in their squads since his return, and he is still valued at £7.9m, less than his initial price ahead of Gameweek 1.
Van Dijk's absence for Southampton as he prepared for his move to Liverpool also sees him owned by less than five per cent of all players, and at £5.4m offers a cheap and guaranteed entry into the Reds defence.
If Hazard can get into a run of form, he will surely reward the less than 10 per cent of managers who own him. He faces Leicester this weekend, but does not have a really tricky game until Gameweek 28 when Chelsea travel to Old Trafford.
|Wayne Rooney||TOT vs EVE||16.1||£7.5m|
|Phil Jones||MUN vs STK||15.4||£5.7m|
|Kyle Walker||LIV vs MCI||13.1||£6.6m|
|Heung-Min Son||TOT vs EVE||13.1||£8.1m|
|Riyad Mahrez||CHE vs LEI||11.7||£8.6m|
|Jordan Pickford||TOT vs EVE||9.1||£4.9m|
|Eden Hazard||CHE vs LEI||8.1||£10.7m|
|Marko Arnautovic||HUD vs WHU||7.8||£7.0m|
|Ederson||LIV vs MCI||6.5||£5.5m|
|Jordan Ayew||NEW vs SWA||5.4||£5.0m|
|Virgil van Dijk||LIV vs MCI||4.1||£5.4m|
|Callum Wilson||BOU vs ARS||2.2||£5.7m|