FANTASY FOOTBALL EXPERT: Jesse Lingard is a steal after netting brace on West Ham debut… while Callum Hudson-Odoi is the differential to go for with Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea side gathering momentum
- It may just be one game but Jesse Lingard could be a shrewd bit of business
- He is under £6m and at that price point he represents real value for money
- Son Heung-min is a popular captaincy option given West Brom’s leaky defence
- Luke Shaw is in the form of his life at United and is a useful differential option
- Sportsmail looks at all the big talking points ahead of the weekend’s matches
Where to start?
A 9-0 slapdown of Southampton, Brighton knocking off Tottenham and Liverpool, Arsenal being reduced to nine men at Wolves, Dominic Calvert-Lewin ending his league goal drought, Jesse Lingard making an instant impact at West Ham, or maybe Jose Mourinho snapping at reporters in typical Mourinho fashion.
It was another fascinating round of games where a lack of Manchester United assets felt particularly costly – kudos to Anthony Martial owners.
Jose Mourinho was less than impressed as he lost back-to-back home games for the first time
There was better news at Elland Road as Dominic Calvert-Lewin (left) ended his goal drought
But no time to bask in a strong showing as games are coming thick and fast and Saturday’s deadline is fast approaching for changes.
Liverpool’s visit from Manchester City is unquestionably the game of the weekend for fans – less so for FPL bosses with so much stock in both sides. Elsewhere, expect West Ham to feast at Fulham to propel themselves into the top four.
As always, in this column I’ll be breaking down what we learned from the latest round of games, how best to utilise the free transfer for our squads and the differentials that can make the biggest difference week-to-week.
Biggest takeaways from GW21 and GW22
To put it bluntly, it’s been a rough week to be a Southampton fan.
Those who swear allegiance to Ralph Hasenhuttl’s Saints saw them turned over at home to Aston Villa before the main course of a 9-0 hammering at Manchester United capped off a miserable few days.
The Villa game there was genuine grievance not to take a point when Danny Ings was deemed offside at the end. There are people taking algebra classes still trying to work that one out.
But the turnover at United was unforgivable. Embarrassing. And a message to the manager who triple captained Jan Bednarek – hang in there.
That brave soul was nursing a -21 points return in GW22 after the Saints defender scored an own goal, conceded nine goals and also got sent off before the night was done. It may well go down in history as one of the worst captaincy selections ever in FPL.
Southampton collapsed at Old Trafford and were embarrassed in another 9-0 turnover
Ralph Hasenhuttl recovered after the same score vs Leicester and needs another response
Hasenhuttl’s side simply have to respond. They did after that 9-0 defeat to Leicester earlier in his tenure and so Newcastle fans beware this week, the Saints will likely march on stronger than before.
While there was no 9-0 hammering, disappointment extended to Anfield with Liverpool’s title hopes taking another knock at home courtesy of Steven Alzate and Brighton.
A 3-1 win away at West Ham in GW21 appeared to see Liverpool get their mojo back against an in-form side in the Hammers. If anything, it proved to be a false dawn.
Now it’s Manchester City next. Champions-in-waiting, dare I say, Manchester City next.
Six straight league clean sheets tell part of the story but City just look a side that are gathering steam now and if rivals continue to stutter it may not be long before they are out of sight.
Mohamed Salah owners were left exasperated by his blank against Brighton and while few will hand him the armband again vs City he is due a big game against a title rival or objectives may well need to be refocused to the top four and FPL to be refocused on freeing up finances for other players.
Mohamed Salah’s blank at home to Brighton was damaging for millions of FPL managers
Arsenal imploded at Wolves as Bernd Leno (left) was shown a red for deliberate handball
Elsewhere it was a week to forget for Arsenal. GW21 saw a drab 0-0 with Manchester United before they then proceeded to shoot themselves in the foot by losing with nine men at Wolves.
David Luiz – to the surprise of very few – was first to be shown a red and then Bernd Leno’s moment of madness when he punched the ball outside his penalty area capped off a miserable FPL run for owners of Gunners assets.
Oh, and Jose Mourinho is far from happy right now. That too.
A quick nod to last column’s differentials, as well. James Justin scored a stunner at Fulham, finishing with 15 points in GW22 while Raphinha went from one assist in GW21 to a goal in GW22, impressing in both. Ilkay Gundogan laid Raheem Sterling’s goal on a plate at Burnley to see all three produce strong returns. More of this please, lads.
Best use of free transfer this week
Jesse Lingard (West Ham) – £5.9m
Welcome back to the party, Jesse Lingard.
It was easy to forget that Lingard was still gathering dust behind the scenes at Manchester United but his critics were cutting up a large slice of humble pie when he lit up Villa Park on Wednesday night with a brace in West Ham’s 3-1 win.
Were it not for poor planning on my part – I selected David Martin as my cheap bench goalkeeper when the season began meaning I have maxed out my West Ham spots – I would be unquestionably adding Lingard to the squad this week.
Jesse Lingard enjoyed an electric West Ham debut as he scored twice in win at Villa Park
Lingard is currently an affordable asset with very promising fixtures in the next two rounds
A trip across London to play Fulham this weekend represents a game where West Ham will generate plenty of chances against a defence that has failed to convince in recent games, shipping four goals in their last two matches.
Lingard, playing just off Michail Antonio, has freedom to roam, a real nightmare for those tasked with marking him up man-to-man.
It really was a perfect start for Lingard and a start which suggested a spot in England’s squad for the Euros is not out of the question.
A 91 per cent pass accuracy from 65 touches and 34 passes in Villa’s half was a game high. Lingard’s stock – and price – is only going to rise and this is a case of getting on the FPL train before it leaves the station.
Saturday February 6
Aston Villa v Arsenal
Burnley v Brighton
Newcastle v Southampton
Fulham v West Ham
Man United v Everton
Sunday February 7
Tottenham v West Brom
Wolves v Leicester
Liverpool v Man City
Sheffield United v Chelsea
Monday February 8
Leeds v Crystal Palace
Three differentials that caught my eye
Leandro Trossard (Brighton) – £5.7m [Selected by 0.6%]
Well, who saw this coming? Brighton knocking off Tottenham and Liverpool in back-to-back games.
First Mourinho, then Klopp, fell to Graham Potter and Leandro Trossard was a key reason behind the Seagulls’ success.
He was the man picked in Fantasy5 by a a football fan in India and placing faith in Trossard saw him £5,000 richer after his goal against Totttenham.
The fan even cheekily took out an advert in Mourinho’s local newspaper to thank the manager – with a ‘cut out and keep’ trophy.
As well as his goal against Spurs it was his assist at Anfield that impressed ahead of a trip to Burnley.
Turf Moor can be unforgiving but Brighton could not be in better form and Trossard has the look in his eyes of a man on a mission.
With less than one per cent ownership he is prime differential material and fits into that sub-£6m price point which makes him an ideal fifth midfielder if funds are spent heavily on the likes of Bruno Fernandes, Salah and such.
Luke Shaw (Manchester United) – £4.9m [Selected by 4.4%]
While his GW22 points return did not reflect how well he was playing, Shaw was a class apart in United’s 9-0 mauling of Southampton so much so his FPL deserves to rise.
Two assists in the first half – one for Aaron Wan-Bissaka and one for Edinson Cavani – was sublime and Shaw is playing so, so well right now with a run of games under his belt.
Back-to-back returns for Leandro Trossard has seen him spearhead Brighton’s recent revival
Luke Shaw (left) and Callum Hudson-Odoi (right) both represent strong differential options
There remain valid question marks about him defensively at times but offensively this is some of the best football United fans have seen from Shaw and from an FPL standpoint it is generating significant returns.
With expensive defensive assets like Kurt Zouma so far getting the cold shoulder at Chelsea under new boss Thomas Tuchel, Shaw represents real value under the £5m value – a price he won’t be at for long if he continues at his current trajectory.
Everton, West Brom and Newcastle represent three games where United will expect nothing less than 10 points from 12 and with such a favouritism of attacking down the left, Shaw is the perfect asset for those looking to cash in on United’s success.
Callum Hudson Odoi (Chelsea) – £5.7m [Selected by 0.8%]
Tuchel is off and running with Chelsea and one of the most noticeable elements of his tenure so far is the form of Callum Hudson-Odoi.
His assist against Burnley was, both player and manager will hope, just the start and while there were no attacking returns in a nip-and-tuck 1-0 win against Tottenham this represents a much more enjoyable match-up for the England youngster.
Sheffield United have shipped 35 goals, the fifth worst in the top flight, and Hudson-Odoi could well have his way with the space vacated by the wing-backs.
Another to be selected by less than one per cent, don’t expect that to last if Tuchel continues to hand him starts.
Chelsea are improving and with a number of expensive assets underperforming, Hudson-Odoi could represent a steal in the coming weeks.
Michail Antonio (West Ham) – £6.6m
Bruno Fernandes will be a popular pick at home against Everton but I am all in on West Ham right now and expect them to turnover Fulham with a couple of goals.
Owned by more than 20 per cent of FPL bosses, Antonio is not exactly a sleeper pick in attack but with Son Heung-min another likely captaincy pick with Tottenham hosting West Brom, going bold with Antonio could pay off handsomely.
He has not scored since Gameweek 19 but fear not. Two assists away to Villa highlighted he is at the thick of everything for the Hammers and that bodes well going into a game where they will be afforded multiple chances.
Michail Antonio represents an out-of-the-box captaincy option with West Ham away at Fulham
Much like Lingard, Antonio has one of the most favourable match-ups this week and next and his gradual price rises are testament to his increasing popularity among bosses.
Unbeaten in their last four league games, David Moyes’ side are a tough nut to crack and while Tomas Soucek is flavour of the month – maybe even season – Antonio has reliably delivered since his return.
Behind in a few of my leagues, it feels the time to roll the dice to get ahead and Antonio feels the perfect candidate to do just that.
Team of the Week (3-5-2)
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