FPL Gameweek 23 Preview: Off the beaten track

By Azmin Mohd Khalib 31 January 2017 259
FPL Gameweek 23 Preview: Off the beaten track

Tonight, we kick off Gameweek 23 of the Fantasy Premier League game. This week is potentially one of those weeks where expectations are for scores to hit 80+. First, a list of the obvious matches that could generate huge returns.

Manchester United v Hull City
Arsenal v Watford
Sunderland v Tottenham

With that out of the way, I’m not going to go through the Ibrahimovics, Sanchezes, and Kanes of this world, but rather, I’d like to take a look this week at a few less popular picks that people may have missed.

Salomon Rondon

Salomon Rondon has not scored since his hat-trick against Swansea on December 15th, leading to his disappearance from the first page of players most selected in teams, but the signs are there that he will break his duck at Middlesbrough, which will have to fix up their defense for the match.

Middlesbrough will have an unsettled defense, having lost Callum Chambers and George Friend (most likely Ayala and Barragan will replace them). They fell to West Ham at home in their last Premier League match, and although the FA Cup offered them a reprieve where they won, it was against Accrington Stanley, a team in the fourth tier of English football. And they only won 1-0 anyway.

Middlesbrough desperately need to improve, and Aitor Karanga’s bizarre interview after the West Ham match where he blamed the home support for the negative atmosphere did not help. He has also hit out at his own board from the lack of signings. Riverside is not looking like the fortress it was in 2016, and confidence appears very shaky indeed.

With Rondon having support from the likes of Chris Brunt, Nacer Chadli and Matt Phillips, West Brom could really hurt Middlesbrough here. I just think that this week will be Rondon’s turn.

Eden Hazard

Hazard may currently be owned by 30.9% of managers but that statistic is flattering to deceive. As of the writing of this article, he is the second most transferred out player of this round (after Lallana), with over 102,000 managers letting go of him.

Let’s face it, the man has been disappointing of late. Although he is still the bane of many opponents, this has not translated into solid fantasy returns, with his last goal more than a month ago on Boxing Day. On the other hand, Diego Costa has been Mr Consistent, and other players have scored recently as well: Pedro, Alonso, Willian and even Cahill.

The Liverpool defense may just be the tonic he needs. He may have problems facing teams that set out to defend, but Liverpool are not one of those teams (although to be honest, maybe they should start doing that). A penalty goal could happen as well.

Andre Gray

Burnley do not score a lot of goals, but when they do, more often than not Andre Gray is involved. From the match against Arsenal, it seems he also retains penalty kick responsibilities as well, with his goal against the Gunner his first penalty of the season.

This week Burnley faces an embattled Leicester whose form has deteriorated yet again. Although Riyad Mahrez is back, it’s their defense that faces the same issues and they do not look like improving anytime soon. They played against Derby in the FA Cup on Saturday and were lucky to salvage a replay with a 2-2 scoreline.

Gray is currently owned by 5.5% of managers worldwide, a figure that just might increase once the midweek matches are done (they face Watford next). Oh, he should have Joey Barton behind him this week. Good times.

Other worthy mentions: Dusan Tadic, Christian Benteke

Fantasy Football Malaysia Updates:

Top Malaysian team is still The Champs managed by Putera Fiez, although he’s dropped to 15th, 83 points behind overall leader Hebknut. Following him is on 23rd is Muevelo, owned by Melvyn Shane in the 22nd spot, while Technical Solo is third for Malaysians in the 42nd spot.

Good luck folks!

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Azmin Mohd Khalib