Remember gameweek 14? You probably don’t, but Manchester United beat Watford 4-2 at Vicarage Road back then with Jesse Lingard notching the fourth.
Lingard has not looked back since, scoring seven in his nine appearances since. Most have been excellent finishes, usually powered in from range, and fantasy managers are finally beginning to sit up and take notice. The 25-year-old is this week’s most transferred-in player.
Can he keep scoring spectacularly from outside the box? At £6.3m, it is not too late to grab yourself a bargain and Lingard could hardly have a better fixture this week, with managerless Stoke City travelling to Old Trafford.
Marcos Alonso’s current form and Chelsea’s fixture list suggest it’s time to put all our reservations about his price to one side and invest in the game’s most expensive defender.
Alonso may cost £7.3m, but we are talking about a wing-back who practically plays as a goal poacher, one who regularly picks up clean sheet points and takes free-kicks too. If he was a midfielder, he would be essential.
Chelsea may have an EFL Cup final to worry about in late February but until then, their schedule is relatively clear. Leicester City visit Stamford Bridge this weekend and Alonso has previous against the Foxes, bagging a brace at the King Power last season.
A leftfield choice and a player who was nowhere to be seen this time last month, but Jordon Ibe could be a decent budget option for those looking to save money in one of their five midfield slots.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s injury troubles mean many managers have had to reassess their ‘fifth midfielder’ and Ibe, priced at just £4.8m, made good on his run of starts for Bournemouth by returning with an assist against Brighton and Hove Albion last time out.
This weekend, Eddie Howe’s side entertain Arsenal, whose injury-hit defence has suffered against the likes of Liverpool and Chelsea recently. Bournemouth have the ability to turn on the attacking flair at home and Ibe may be worth a punt.
Fantasy Premier League 2016/17 Team of the Year
Kevin de Bruyne
Club: Manchester City
A West Bromwich Albion defender is no fantasy manager’s idea of a long-term investment right now but this weekend at least, Alan Pardew’s side stand a decent chance of registering a clean sheet.
Brighton visit the Hawthorns on Saturday and no top-flight team has scored fewer goals on the road. Chris Hughton’s side can keep it tight too though, so probably best not to stick a fiver on 2.5 goals or more in this one.
Defences should be on top. We slightly favour the home side and the set-piece threat that Ahmed Hegazi offers. The Egyptian does not have a goal to his name since the opening weekend of the season, mind.
An old favourite of ours.
Richarlison’s form began to tail off in December until back-to-back assists against Leicester City and Swansea over Christmas tempted the majority of his large ownership to hold and earned the Brazilian a reprieve.
If we are to keep the faith, we need some sort of return on Saturday against Southampton, who were in miserable form last time we left them. Watford themselves are not in great shape either but should test a shaky Saints defence.
Our interminable search for new and options up front will not end this week. Despite letting us down in the double gameweek, we return to Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Kane as gameweek 23’s best hope of big points.
Sergio Aguero is one to keep an eye on but a difficult trip to Liverpool is followed by five games in the space of 14 days. The Argentine will not be assured of minutes either if Alexis Sanchez makes his way to the Etihad, as we expect he will.
Kane, meanwhile, has a brace in his last two appearances against Everton. Two more this weekend will make him Tottenham’s highest-scoring Premier League player of all-time, and we all know how much he loves a record.
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