Welcome to AM's Players To Watch for Gameweek 23 of the 2019/2020 Premier League season. As long-time readers of my columns will know, the advice in seasons' gone by had revolved around games that would allow you to make unlimited transfers each gameweek, selecting an entirely new 11 players if you so wished. Unfortunately Yahoo Fantasy Premier League is a glorious but distant memory, as is Togga's Perfect XI game which inspired my previous Rotoworld column.
Nowadays I’m mixing things up by generalising the player recommendations given each week. So, whether you're playing Official FPL, FPL/Fantrax Draft, Fantrax Salary Cap, Sky Sports, The Sun, The Telegraph or any number of other the fantasy games available to fans each season, I'll be offering my top picks for the week ahead, mixing "must-haves" with hunch picks and players flying under the radar. Hopefully this will offer something for everyone, whether you're considering captain options, looking to make a transfer or picking up a free agent in draft.
We did pretty well last week, with the column recommendations returning a bounty of fantasy points. There were assists for David Silva, Jamie Vardy and Willian, a clean sheet for John Lundstram and two goals + three bonus points for Marcus Rashford. My own FPL side performed okay too for a total of 62 points, enough to secure another week inside the overall top 200k. On to Gameweek 23 ...
Saturday 18 January 2020
Watford v Spurs
Arsenal v Sheffield Utd
Brighton v Aston Villa
Man City v Crystal Palace
Norwich v Bournemouth
Southampton v Wolves
West Ham v Everton
Newcastle v Chelsea
Sunday 19 January 2020
Burnley v Leicester
Liverpool v Man Utd
Gameweek 23 brings us another regulation 11:30am GMT Saturday FPL deadline as resurgent Watford host Tottenham in the early kick off. As always our main focus will be on players from the teams that look set for comfortable wins, with goals or potential clean sheet points on the cards. Manchester City seem back to their best so they're the pick of the bunch at home to Crystal Palace and I like the look of Leicester at Burnley and Liverpool hosting Manchester United. I also fancy Norwich and Brighton to pick up vital home wins against Bournemouth and Aston Villa respectively. The remaining fixtures should all be tightly contested affairs but we'll look to pick out a player to act as a decent differential. With that in mind, here are the guys to keep in your thoughts ahead of the deadline ...
Ismaila Sarr (MF - Watford v Tottenham) - It's been quite the turnaround for Watford under Nigel Pearson with four wins in five lifting the side from rock-bottom up to 17th in the blink of an eye. The return to form of captain and talisman Troy Deeney has been vital but it's been the driving pace of Ismaila Sarr which has really caught the eye, with the exciting winger's ability to quickly turn defence in to attack helping to lift the pressure off the Hornet's rear-guard and create more goalscoring opportunities. Sarr has five attacking returns himself in his last five games, comes up against a Spurs side with just one clean sheet in 13 matches under José Mourinho, and is just 1% owned in FPL.
Lewis Dunk (DF - Brighton v Aston Villa) - Lewis Dunk is quietly having a fine season for Brighton and not just due to his rock-solid displays in the heart of defence which has helped the Seagulls to six Premier League clean sheets. The 28-year old has proved a consistent threat in the opposition's box, helping himself to two goals and three assists and picking up FPL bonus points on no fewer than seven occasions already. A home clash with Aston Villa presents a big opportunity for Graham Potter's men to put daylight between themselves and the relegation zone and I have an strong hunch that Dunk will play a key role at both ends of the pitch once again.
Roberto Firmino (FW - Liverpool v Manchester United) - The injury to Marcus Rashford last night has fantasy manager's searching for alternative striking options in the 9million price bracket and Roberto Firmino could prove the perfect fit. The Brazilian has looked back to his best over the past month, has a nice home match-up against brittle Manchester United this weekend and follows that up with a double-gameweek in GW24 as Liverpool face winnable games at Wolves and West Ham. It seems like a the perfect time to bring Firmino in to ride that wave of fixtures in the hope that he gets his fair share of the huge number of chances created by his talented teammates.
Todd Cantwell (MF - Norwich v Bournemouth) - This column has often discussed John Lundstram's already legendary FPL bargain status, but Todd Cantwell could make the argument that he's not too far behind. The 21-year old attacking midfielder managed just a single goal in Norwich's promotion campaign and came in to the season priced at 4.5million but has helped himself to six goals and two assists in the Premier League this season, returning double digit fantasy scores on four occasions. Cantwell is still (somehow) priced below 5million, so given he faces struggling Bournemouth in Gameweek 23 he should be in your squad, and probably in your starting XI this weekend.
Vice-Captain: Jamie Vardy (FW - Leicester @ Burnley) - Four gameweeks without a goal for Jamie Vardy feels like a proper goal drought, but then you remember he missed two matches through injury and picked up an assist in Gameweek 22, and things suddenly don't look too bad at all. Vardy remains the Premier League's top goalscorer by a clear three strikes and fantasy managers should feel confident in his ability to get himself back amongst it against a Burnley side on a run of four league defeats in a row. However, it's just the vice-captaincy for me this week.
Captain: Kevin De Bruyne (MF - Manchester City v Crystal Palace) - A further two assists for Kevin De Bruyne in Gameweek 22 took him to a phenomenal 16 in FPL this season, six more than his nearest rival Trent Alexander-Arnold. The Manchester City man has scored seven goals, has the most midfield bonus points and more FPL points than any other player in the game, which in my opinion makes him the best captaincy option for the weekend ahead as Crystal Palace visit the Etihad to face Pep Guardiola's in form charges.
That's it for Gameweek 23's Players to Watch. Check out the Rotoworld Features page to access a host of fantastic content to get you ready for the weekend. If you have any questions about a specific player or your own fantasy team then feel free to post them in the comments below or hit me on Twitter (@nikarg) and I will get back to you.
Thanks for reading - good luck to all managers this weekend.