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07 Feb 2019 by Colm Hayes

FPL Gameweek 26 – The Fixtures: Liverpool form, Arsenal assets, Son rising, goal-hungry Wolves and blank planning

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With this weekend’s matches followed by a reduced slate of fixtures in Gameweek 27, we assess players from clubs with favourable schedules that avoid the imminent blank. Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester United, Spurs, Wolves and Newcastle all come under the radar, while we select potential transfer targets from other sides that have appealing runs of games.

GW26 FIXTURES [Deadline: Saturday, 11.30am]

Saturday 9th February

Fulham vs Man Utd (12:30)

Crystal Palace vs West Ham (15:00)

Huddersfield vs Arsenal (15:00)

Liverpool vs Bournemouth (15:00)

Southampton vs Cardiff (15:00)

Watford vs Everton (15:00)

Brighton vs Burnley (17:30)

Sunday 10th February

Spurs vs Leicester (13:30)

Man City vs Chelsea (16:00)

Monday 11th February

Wolves vs Newcastle (20:00)

KLOPP ON

Two lacklustre performances over GW24 and GW25 are shaking faith in Liverpool assets but the Reds have the schedule to prosper in the coming gameweeks. Jurgen Klopp’s men take on Bournemouth (H), Manchester United (a), Watford (H), Everton (a) and Burnley (H) to GW30. The Anfield club have the added bonus of having a fixture in upcoming blank gameweeks 31 and 33. The FA Cup fifth round will be completed before the GW27 deadline, so BGW31 will be covered in more detail in our fixture analysis before that gameweek.

For those already planning their transfers around the blanks, Sadio Mane (£9.5m) is coming into form at the right time. The midfielder was the goalscorer in each of Liverpool’s 1-1 draws in the past two gameweeks against Leicester and West Ham. Mane did benefit from the linesman at the London Stadium failing to spot that assister James Milner (£5.6m) was offside in the build-up to Liverpool’s GW25 goal.

Roberto Firmino(£9.3m) and Mohamed Salah (£13.6m) have both failed to return points in the last two gameweeks, though the latter remains a strong captaincy pick going into GW26 and beyond. Salah’s two blanks over GW24 and GW25 are the first time he has failed to return in successive fixtures since Gameweek 8. The midfielder has not blanked three times in a row so far this season.

Salah may be restored to the striker’s role for the visit of Bournemouth this weekend, having bagged a hat-trick against the Cherries from that position in Gameweek 16. Eddie Howe’s team are without a win or draw on the road since GW10. Liverpool’s form and recent lack of attacking fluency is a slight worry but the Egypt forward’s armband credentials remain convincing. Salah has averaged 8.7 points per match at home to teams outside the top six across the campaign.

Klopp said last Friday that he hopes Trent Alexander-Arnold (£5.2m) is back “in full training” this week and the right-back was pictured in Thursday's afternoon session at Melwood. Joe Gomez (£4.9m) has undergone successful leg surgery, with no timescale placed on the defender’s return.

On midfield pair Jordan Henderson (£5.3m) and Gini Wijnaldum (£5.5m), who missed GW25 through injury, the Liverpool boss told the club’s official website: “Gini and Hendo, both would’ve played and then they cannot play. That’s not too cool, I don’t know how long it will take. That’s the situation, that was always clear. It’s a long season and you have to deal with the situation. When players are in, all the players are there, then you maybe have a bit of a headache making the line-up, who wants to start, who you leave out. If you don’t have them that makes line-ups easier, but it leaves you short of options. We had a pretty young bench tonight and two strikers, a left-back - that doesn’t help in a game like this now. So it’s like it is. We have to deal with situations like that. We got a point and it’s a very positive sign, I would say, if you are disappointed about a point at West Ham. But it’s still a point, and let’s carry on.”

GUNNER SCORE?

Arsenal play Huddersfield (a), Southampton (H), Bournemouth (H), Spurs (a) and Man Utd (H) to GW30. While the last two fixtures in that run are not favourable, the first three games promote investment in attackers from the north London club. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s (£11.2m) armband audition in GW25 did not quite go to plan as Arsenal were dominated by Man City at the Etihad. The Gunners managed just four efforts on goal, one of which was an off-target Aubameyang shot.

However, a trip to take on Huddersfield should be just what the doctor ordered for the Gunners and Auba. The forward has scored 13 of 15 goals this season against non-top-six sides, while his PPM away to ‘lesser’ opposition stands at 7. Out of eight games on the road, Aubameyang has blanked twice – against Southampton in GW17 and at West Ham in GW22. In the five games where he found the net, the forward picked up at least two bonus points.

Auba’s last league benching came back in GW9, with his pitch-time potential and record against lower-table sides making the striker a standout captaincy pick in Gameweek 26. The striker is also set to be one of the most-captained players in BGW27, with both Manchester City and Chelsea out of the gameweek and Liverpool travelling to take on Man Utd.

UPDATE: Aubameyang was ill today [Thursday] but is expected to be "okay" for Saturday

Alexandre Lacazette (£9.3m) is a viable cheaper alternative to his team-mate. The Frenchman’s minutes have been more sporadic than Auba’s but he has started each of the last five gameweeks, scoring three times. Laca has 25 points to his name over that period, compared to his strike partner’s 27.

The Arsenal midfield continues to be a no-go for FPL investors as Unai Emery juggles his options, with the arrival of Denis Suarez (£6.5m) set to further cloud the situation. In defence, Sead Kolasinac (£5.0m) has two assists since Gameweek 21 and could enjoy further attacking returns considering Arsenal’s next three opponents. The absence of Sokratis (£5.1m) should keep Nacho Monreal (£5.4m) confined to a central defensive role, particularly when Emery uses a wing-back system.

GUNNAR SCORE

Man United face Fulham (a), Liverpool (H), Crystal Palace (a), Southampton (H) and Arsenal (a) in the next five gameweeks. Marcus Rashford (£7.7m) and Paul Pogba (£8.6m) are the go-to assets in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s attack-minded Red Devils side. The midfielder has notched 27 points over the last four gameweeks, with the forward just behind on 24. Apart from the visit of Liverpool, United’s fixtures appear ripe for further attacking returns.

Pogba provided a brilliant assist for Rashford as United beat Leicester 1-0 in GW25. That took the Frenchman to six goals and six assists in FPL since Solskjaer took the hotseat at Old Trafford for GW18 – the England forward has also netted six times, while creating two goals, over the same period.

Pogba had an otherwise quiet day at the office last weekend, supplying one more key pass and surprisingly failing to register a shot over the 90 minutes. Rashford, on the other hand, fired off five efforts (two on target, three inside the box) against the Foxes. While Pogba’s near-guaranteed pitch time and penalty-taking duties have promoted him in our GW26 captaincy considerations, Rashford is undoubtedly a worthy armband option this weekend and for the Red Devils’ other favourable fixtures.

Solskjaer’s side now boast three clean sheets since GW21, though one of those was away to Spurs when the home side spurned numerous opportunities. United have also conceded in both home games over that period – against Brighton and Burnley. David de Gea (£5.7m) and Victor Lindelof (£5.0m) have been ever-present under OGS, while Luke Shaw (£5.0m) only missed GW23 after falling ill in the warm-up.

SON SHINING

Tottenham take on Leicester (H), Burnley (a), Chelsea (a), Arsenal (H) and Southampton (a) to GW30. While reports suggest Harry Kane (£12.4m) could return to action sooner than expected, Heung-Min Son (£8.7m) will remain Spurs’ chief attacking threat for the near future at least. The South Korean attacker has made a seamless return to action, scoring twice in two games since his return from a tiring Asian Cup trip. Son has now returned attacking points in six of his last seven starts, including four double-figure hauls.

A move to a more central attacking role in the second half against Newcastle in GW25 paid dividends for Son and Mauricio Pochettino, as the attacker made excellent use of Fernando Llorente’s (£5.7m) knockdown for his goal. The strike came with a bit of fortune, as Martin Dubravka (£5.0m) let Son’s only shot on target of the game slip through his hands. However, the Spurs man did fire off four other efforts (two inside the box, three blocked) before eventually netting the match winner. Owners of the Tottenham midfielder will be hoping that Poch uses Son centrally in the upcoming gameweeks.

With back-to-back north London derbies from GW28 and a potential blank in GW31, Spurs’ defence may not attract too many investors at present. Danny Rose (£5.8m) was rested for Newcastle’s visit so may be expected to start most upcoming fixtures with Ben Davies (£5.6m) sidelined. Kieran Tripper (£6.1m) has started five of the last six gameweeks, while Serge Aurier (£5.8m) was left out of Spurs’ GW25 matchday squad. Hugo Lloris (£5.4m) is a set-and-forget option in goal for those planning to invest in the Tottenham backline.

JIMMY’S WINNING MATCHES

Wolves come up against Newcastle (H), Bouremouth (a), Huddersfield (a), Cardiff (H) and Chelsea (a) to GW30. Nuno’s team have scored ten times in the last three gameweeks, with Raul Jimenez (£6.7m) netting three of those and also providing an assist. The Mexican currently ranks as the fourth highest-scoring forward in the game and has the fixture list to continue providing excellent value for money.

Joao Moutinho (£5.3m) rose in price this week after creating half of those Wolves goals since GW23. A move into the No. 10 role behind Jimenez and Diogo Jota (£6.0m) has further enhanced the assist potential of set-piece specialist Moutinho. Jota missed Wolves’ 3-2 win against Shrewsbury in an FA Cup fourth-round replay on Tuesday due to injury but represents an out-of-position route into Nuno’s attack if ruled fit for GW26.

Matt Doherty (£5.3m) scored twice and logged an assist in that cup outing. The Irishman and fellow wing-back Jonny (£4.3m) remain great investments with Wolves’ upcoming fixtures. A clean sheet at home to West Ham in GW24 was the promoted side’s first shut-out since GW17 but the defenders’ license to get forward is enough reason to consider them for your squad.

RAFALUTION

Newcastle have fixtures against Wolves (a), Huddersfield (H), Burnley (H), West Ham (a) and Everton (H) in the next five gameweeks. Rafa Benitez’s outfit kept a first clean sheet since GW18 in a 3-0 home win against Cardiff in GW23, while also restricting Man City and Spurs to just one goal apiece in the past two gameweeks. Right wing-back DeAndre Yedlin (£4.5m) is without an attacking return since Gameweek 4 but offers a security of starts and the potential to get forward for a budget outlay. The Magpies also have the benefit of definitely playing in BGW31.

Salomon Rondon (£5.7m) is worth monitoring in the budget striker bracket considering Newcastle’s upcoming games. The Venezuelan has scored twice and assisted once in the last six gameweeks and could be aided by the arrival of fellow South American Miguel Almiron (£6.0m). The Paraguayan attacking midfielder is set to make his debut in GW26 after being granted a work permit and is one for the FPL watchlist.

BEST OF THE REST

CARDIFFF

Next five gameweeks: Southampton (a), Watford (H), Everton (H), Wolves (a), West Ham (H)

Potential transfer targets Neil Etheridge (£4.7m), Lee Peltier (£3.9m), Oumar Niasse (£5.0m)

CRYSTAL PALACE

Next five gameweeks: West Ham (H), Leicester (a), Man Utd (H), Burnley (a), Brighton (H)

Potential transfer targets Vicente Guaita (£4.2m), James Tomkins (£4.3m), Aaron-Wan Bissaka (£4.6m), Luka Milivojevic (£6.2m), Michy Batshuayi (£6.5m)

Roy Hodgson on Batshuayi: “We think we’ve signed a player who will be of enormous value to us in our attempts to stay in this league, which won’t be easy as we face a lot of competition and it’ll be hard to see it through.”

WEST HAM

Next five gameweeks: Crystal Palace (a), Fulham (H), Man City (a), Newcastle (H), Cardiff (a)

Potential transfer targets Lukasz Fabianski (£4.7m), Declan Rice (£4.4m), Felipe Anderson (£7.1m)

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