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28 Jan 2019 by Colm Hayes

FPL Gameweek 24 & 25 – The Fixtures: Double gameweek for City and Everton, Son returns, Higuain arrives and incoming blanks

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A double gameweek 25 for Manchester City and Everton has the FPL community on high alert, though an incoming blank in GW27 will make transfer planning difficult. Heung-Min Son has returned to ease Spurs’ injury issues, while Gonzalo Higuain is the biggest name to arrive in the Premier League over the January transfer window. We assess all of this and more in a bumper fixtures preview ahead of two gameweek deadlines in the space of four days.

GW24 FIXTURES [Deadline: Tuesday, 6.45pm]

Tuesday 29th January

Arsenal vs Cardiff (19:45)

Fulham vs Brighton (19:45)

Huddersfield vs Everton (19:45)

Wolves vs West Ham (19:45)

Man Utd vs Burnley (20:00)

Newcastle vs Man City (20:00)

Wednesday 30th January

Bournemouth vs Chelsea (19:45)

Southampton vs Crystal Palace (19:45)

Liverpool vs Leicester (20:00)

Spurs vs Watford (20:00)

DOUBLE TROUBLE

Both Manchester City and Everton will have a double Gameweek 25 after the clubs’ GW27 fixture was rearranged due to City’s participation in the EFL Cup final.

Chelsea will not have a double gameweek 25 after Brighton drew 0-0 at home to West Brom in the FA Cup fourth round. The Seagulls’ replay is scheduled for February 5, the midweek between GW25 and GW26. The Blues’ home fixture against Brighton, originally set to take place in GW27, still requires a new date after Maurizio Sarri’s outfit reached the EFL Cup final. FA Cup fourth round ties confirmed more definite GW31 fixtures – a blank gameweek which we will examine closer to its deadline.

GW25 FIXTURES [Deadline: Saturday, 11.30am]

Saturday 2nd February

Spurs vs Newcastle (12:30)

Brighton vs Watford (15:00)

Burnley vs Southampton (15:00)

Chelsea vs Huddersfield (15:00)

Crystal Palace vs Fulham (15:00)

Everton vs Wolves (15:00)

Cardiff vs Bournemouth (17:30)

Sunday 3rd February

Leicester vs Man Utd (14:05)

Man City vs Arsenal (16:30)

Monday 4th February

West Ham vs Liverpool (20:00)

Wednesday 6th February

Everton v Manchester City (19:45)

CITY SLICKERS

With DGW25 closely followed by BGW27, planning for managers will come down to the availability of free transfers and current squad set-up. Owning two Man City assets for the double seems sensible, though attempting to decipher which attackers will play both games is not something sensible people would waste time trying to figure out. The Sky Blues’ schedule to GW26 now reads Newcastle (a) [Jan 29], Arsenal (H) [Feb 3], Everton (a) [Feb 6] and Chelsea (H) [Feb 10].

Leroy Sane (£9.7m) and Raheem Sterling (£11.3m) are the chief midfield targets. Sane may now have Benjamin Mendy (£6.1m) to contend with, though the Frenchman is bound to be lacking in match fitness and the German's form is very convincing. Speaking about the left-back's minor setback which kept him out of FA Cup action, the Citizens boss said on Saturday evening: “He has a little bit of swelling in the knee, and that’s all. It’s a danger you can have sometimes when you come back. He needs time. It is a problem, but it’s OK. We move forward and hopefully he can come back soon.” Guardiola added on Mendy today: “Benjamin is much better.”

Both wingers were unused substitutes on Saturday as Kevin De Bruyne (£9.7m) starred in City’s 5-0 hammering of Burnley in the FA Cup, scoring and playing 90 minutes in his third start since January 20. David Silva (£8.5m) and Bernardo Silva (£7.5m) also have points potential over the next three gameweeks, though Ilkay Gundogan (£5.4m) and even Phil Foden (£4.5m) could earn minutes. Fernandinho (£5.3m) represents the safe option, though the Brazilian’s FPL appeal is limited and even he may not start four games in such a short space of time.

Up front, Sergio Aguero (£11.2m) started both GW23 and City’s EFL Cup semi-final against Burton Albion last Wednesday. Gabriel Jesus (£10.1m) replaced the Argentine after 63 minutes of that cup tie and scored against the Clarets in the FA Cup before Aguero converted a penalty on his introduction. Jesus’ form – the Brazil forward has netted ten times in his last six starts [all competitions] – means the two strikers are likely to share pitch time in Guardiola’s 4-3-3 set-up.

Ederson (£5.6m) is the one player you would expect to begin all four of City’s fixtures before their blank in gameweek 27. The champions have kept two league clean sheets in a row, following a run of no shut-outs between GW14 and GW21. Aymeric Laporte (£5.9m) is the safest defender option – the Frenchman has started 22 of 23 league ties this season.

STICKY SELECTION

Everton’s fixture list to BGW27 is now Huddersfield (a) [Jan 29], Wolves (H) [Feb 2], Man City (H) [Feb 6] and Watford (a) [Feb 9]. Richarlison (£6.8m) and Lucas Digne’s (£5.3m) hoard of owners may keep faith considering the double, though the Toffees’ league form (one win in four games) and a sticky fixture list is unlikely to encourage much investment.

For those seeking a different option in blue, Gylfi Sigurdsson (£7.3m) has three goals and an assist in the last six gameweeks. The Iceland international has been close to ever-present for Marco Silva this season.

HIGUA-IN?

Gonzalo Higuain has arrived in FPL at a price of £9.5m. The Argentine looks set to put a quick end to Eden Hazard (£11.0m) being used in the ‘false nine’ role. On the striker’s loan signature, Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia said: “Gonzalo was our number one target in this transfer window and arrives with a proven record at the highest level. He has previously worked with Maurizio to great effect and is familiar with how the coach likes to play.”

Chelsea went through to the EFL Cup final last Thursday at Spurs’ expense, as Hazard scored from a left-wing role with Olivier Giroud (£7.7m) stationed up front. On Higuain’s arrival, the Belgian said: “I like to play with top, top players. At Chelsea I was able to play with one of the best in [Diego] Costa for three years. I think Higuain is one of the best at the moment. He has scored a lot of goals. When you see his career he has done it everywhere, Real Madrid, Napoli and Juventus. I think he can do the same here. This season we have been playing good but we missed the guy to score just one goal. We have had a few games where we have played well and in the end we finished with zero goals, even though we created chances. It was like that against Spurs. If we had a striker that could score three goals, the game would have finished 5-1. But that hasn’t been the case.

“Higuain can do that. He is a top scorer, he can score anywhere. Have we missed a striker like Costa since he left? Yes of course. I like playing with Giroud and Morata, but when Olivier is playing he is doing his best for the side, he is more of a team player than a striker that just scores goals. Diego was sometimes not the kind of player to play a one-two with, but in the box he was amazing. He just scores one goal, we won and you have the three points. That’s what we need. I think Higuaín is this kind of player, he can also link with the winger with the midfield, and he can also be the proper striker.”

Higuain logged 82 minutes on his debut in Chelsea’s FA Cup fourth round win against Sheffield Wednesday. The forward scored eight goals and provided two assists for AC Milan this season over 20 appearances in the Serie A and the Europa League. The Blues fixture list to GW28 reads Bournemouth (a), Huddersfield (H), Man City (a), BLANK and Spurs (H). With a double gameweek now off the cards before Chelsea’s blank, potential Higuain investors have plenty of time to assess the new man’s impact before taking the plunge.

Hazard owners are left with a tough decision between holding the midfielder for Huddersfield’s visit to Stamford Bridge or moving out the Belgium star for a Man City asset. Marcos Alonso (£6.6m) is under threat from Emerson Palmieri (£5.2m) after the Italian started the EFL Cup semi-final last week. The Spaniard was then named in Sarri’s XI for the weekend’s cup clash, causing further concern over league pitch time for his owners.

DEVILISHLY GOOD FORM

Manchester United face Burnley (H), Leicester (a), Fulham (a), Liverpool (H) and Crystal Palace (a) to GW28. Marcus Rashford (£7.7m) and Paul Pogba (£8.7m) are the go-to assets in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s attack-minded Red Devils side. The forward has notched 38 points over the last four gameweeks, with the midfielder just behind on 34. Apart from the visit of Liverpool, United’s fixtures appear ripe for further attacking returns.

Pogba played all 90 minutes in United’s 3-1 FA Cup win away to Arsenal last Friday, while Rashford made a 20-minute cameo. The club’s current ‘fringe’ attackers – in the form of Alexis Sanchez (£10.0m) and Romelu Lukaku (£10.7m) – impressed as the Chilean scored and the Belgian provided two assists. Jesse Lingard (£6.8m) and Anthony Martial (£7.3m) also netted, with the Frenchman a distant third behind Rashford and Pogba in the United transfers-in column this gameweek.

On United’s spot-kick pecking order and Pogba’s technique, OGS said: “Paul is the penalty taker but we have got players who want to take penalties and that is the key. If they want to take it, they can argue among themselves but Paul is the nominated one. He scores them, which is what matters. I wouldn’t have done it that way. I would have run to the ball and smashed it, but he kept his calm. It took two minutes before he was allowed to take it so that shows how composed he is.”

Luke Shaw (£5.0m) was taken ill in the GW23 warm-up but returned to action against Arsenal. Victor Lindelof (£4.9m) is an even cheaper option in United’s backline, though defenders from the other Manchester club are set to be more in demand with DGW25 imminent.

ON TRENTERHOOKS

Jurgen Klopp’s league leaders have ties against Leicester (H), West Ham (a), Bournemouth (H), Man United (a) and Watford (H) to GW28. On injured right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold (£5.2m), Klopp said last week: “He is better, much better, but we have to see. It needs to be stable – and in the moment it is stable and it’s about the pain. Everyone knows how desperate Trent is to play; he can ignore pretty much everything. That he played that game at Brighton was sensational, to be honest. It’s unbelievable. The same for Gini Wijnaldum (£5.5m), who got a little injury early and it was very painful. Adrenaline is obviously really hard stuff and gives you the opportunity to grow a bit in the game, so they did. It will not be long [for Trent], but is he ready for Leicester? I don’t know, we will find out. Then it’s West Ham and then Bournemouth. After that he will be 100 per cent [back] but until then, we have to see.”

The German added on Joe Gomez: “We have to wait. Obviously it was really unlucky in that situation. The injury is not like Trent or Gini where you know ‘that’s the only thing’. It could have been like that, but then more and more we found out it’s a more serious thing. We have to wait, for sure, a couple of weeks. We will see, it is difficult to judge in the moment. We thought three weeks ago he would be closer and then we had to make another diagnosis in which we saw that it didn’t work out so far as we wanted, that’s why he is still not in training or running on the pitch.”

Virgil van Dijk (£6.5m) missed Liverpool training at Melwood last Friday due to illness but is expected to be fit for GW24. The Dutchman, Andy Robertson (£6.7m) and Alisson (£6.0m) remain the players to currently target in the Reds’ defence.

With no FA Cup duties, the Liverpool squad were able to travel to Dubai for a winter training camp early last week. That rest is just another string in the captaincy bow of Mohamed Salah (£13.6m). The attacker delivered a fifth double-figure score in six gameweeks with a brace at home to Crystal Palace in GW23. Salah’s two strikes were his first from open play since a GW16 hat-trick. James Milner (£5.6m), the Reds’ recognised first-choice penalty taker, received two yellow cards against the Eagles and will serve a ban in GW24. Salah is now averaging 9.6 points per match at home to non-top-six sides, while 10.6 is his average score over the past six gameweeks.

Sadio Mane (£9.5m) and Roberto Firmino (£9.3m) offer attractive options for Salah owners who want to double up on the Reds’ attack. Both attackers have registered more shots on goal than the Egypt star over the last four gameweeks. Firmino has five goals (including a hat-trick) in Liverpool’s previous four league games, while Mane has scored twice in that period.

SON RISE

Heung-Min Son (£8.6m) is available for Tottenham after South Korea went out of the Asian Cup at the quarter-final stage. The midfielder may need time to build up his fitness, however. Last Friday, he said: “I wasn’t fully prepared. I felt physically empty. I feel so sorry to have let down my team-mates, coaches and the fans. I would rather not speak about it really but I haven’t felt right physically. I was losing sleep – I should have looked after my condition better.”

Asked if he plans to use the midfielder at home to Watford in GW24, Mauricio Pochettino said: “Yes, yes. Today [Sunday] we were with him on the training ground in the morning. He's so tired, he played three games. Very tough games. Of course not too much energy today, but we hope he'll be available and ready on Wednesday to help the team.”

With Harry Kane (£12.5m) and Dele Alli (£8.9m) both sidelined until March, Christian Eriksen’s (£9.4m) attacking output will be vital to Spurs in GW24 and beyond. The Dane recorded an assist in GW23 as Spurs left it late to beat Fulham 2-1. Eriksen – who was rested for the club’s FA Cup fourth round defeat to Crystal Palace – also picked up a bonus point from the league clash at Craven Cottage. In seven starts from GW17, the midfielder has recorded six attacking FPL returns (4G, 2A) while earning five bonus points. That equates to a PPM figure of 6.3 ahead of Watford’s visit to Wembley.

After that tie, the north London outfit take on Newcastle (H), Leicester (H), Burnley (a) and Chelsea (H). Kieran Trippier (£6.1m) – who missed a penalty in the FA Cup tie at Selhurst Park – has started each of the last four gameweeks. Spurs only managed one shut-out over that period, though the club’s next four gamees promote the prospects of the defender and Hugo Lloris (£5.4m).

BEST OF THE REST

ARSENAL

Next five gameweeks: Cardiff (H), Man City (a), Huddersfield (a), Southampton (H), Bournemouth (H)

Potential transfer targets – Sead Kolasinac (£4.9m), Alexandre Lacazette (£9.3m), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£11.3m)

WOLVES

Next five gameweeks: West Ham (H), Everton (a), Newcastle (H), Bouremouth (a), Huddersfield (a)

Potential transfer targets – Jonny (£4.3m), Diogo Jota (£6.0m), Raul Jimenez (£6.4m)

CRYSTAL PALACE

Next five gameweeks: Southampton (a), Fulham (H), West Ham (H), Leicester (a), Man Utd (H)

Potential transfer targets James Tomkins (£4.3m), Aaron-Wan Bissaka (£4.5m)

SOUTHAMPTON

Next five gameweeks: Palace (H), Burnley (a), Cardiff (H), Arsenal (a), Fulham (H)

Potential transfer targets – Jan Bednarek (£3.9m), Nathan Redmond (£5.2m), James Ward-Prowse (£5.0m), Danny Ings (£5.5m)

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