This week’s FA Cup football has swung a wrecking ball into the carefully laid plans of many managers before gameweek 24, with injuries to Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Lucas Digne and James Justin, plus doubts over the fitness of Michail Antonio, Ruben Dias and Nick Pope to name just a few.
The reason the potential absentees could have such an impact is that it is a double gameweek for Manchester City, Everton, Burnley and Fulham, with Calvert-Lewin an especially strong candidate for the captain’s armband going into the Toffees’ home fixtures against against the Cottagers and City.
You may still want to take your chances and hang on to him, as Statman Dave suggested he would in this week’s Fantasy 606 podcast, but if you decide not to then his team-mate Richarlison is a straight swap and likely to start both matches. However, the Brazilian has not hit the heights yet this season, with 58 points from 17 appearances and no attacking returns in his past seven games.
So what are the other options up to? And remember, this would also apply to replacing West Ham’s Antonio or Callum Wilson, who is definitely out for Newcastle.
Could Jesus be your striker solution?
If you want a double gameweek player then then you could go for Gabriel Jesus, who is not guaranteed to start both matches for Manchester City, or a Burnley or Fulham striker, with the Clarets having the more favourable-looking games. Saying that, I prefer the Burnley defence in gameweek 24.
I would also warn against getting too hung up on the double gameweek and, instead, look at the single gameweek players who have a favourable fixture, or someone you want in your squad for the longer term. Tottenham’s Harry Kane would certainly qualify for the latter category and there is the possibility of a juicy double gameweek 26 on the way for the England captain.
Southampton’s Danny Ings could be another good option up front, with a home fixture against Wolves this week followed by a double in gameweek 25 at home to Chelsea and away to Leeds. And if you have not got Leeds striker Patrick Bamford already then he is an obvious choice because they also have a double in gameweek 25.
I am quite tempted by Edinson Cavani as well at just £7.9m and 4.7% ownership – he is Manchester United’s best centre-forward and they take their excellent away record to face a West Brom defence that has conceded 54 goals already this season.
Will Guardiola’s ‘rotation’ derail your season?
Manchester City assets are interesting this week. The league leaders have a home game against Tottenham, who beat them 2-0 earlier in the season, and a trip to Goodison Park to face Everton.
Will your star men get to play both games and, if you doubt that, should you then shy away from making Raheem Sterling or Ilkay Gundogan your captain? If you think they will only play one game then I would suggest Manchester United’s Bruno Fernandes, playing away at West Brom, is a better captaincy option.
The squad rotation will come more into play with European football returning next week, so it has never been more important to have a strong bench. We have seen lots of points go begging for managers in recent weeks, having to make impossible calls between West Ham’s Tomas Soucek and Harvey Barnes or James Justin and Aaron Cresswell, and leaving big scores on the bench.
At the moment, I’ve got Tyrick Mitchell, who is in and out of the Crystal Palace team, Rhian Brewster, who has completed 90 minutes just twice for Sheffield United, and Jed Steer as my reserve goalkeeper, who does not make the real Aston Villa bench any more. They were all cheap signings, which has enabled me to spend big elsewhere but it is no good if they are not playing games.
I am thinking Burnley’s Ben Mee in for Mitchell with the Burnley double gameweek ahead, Alphonse Areola as a back-up goalkeeper, particularly as Fulham are one of the few teams to be guaranteed a fixture in a sparse gameweek 29, and Villa’s Ollie Watkins could be a great option to replace Brewster. He is also in Chris Sutton’s team so that selection will annoy him – which makes it all the better.
The gameweek 24 deadline is at 11:00 GMT on Saturday and the latest Fantasy 606 podcast is available on the BBC Sounds app. You can email the show on firstname.lastname@example.org
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