FPL NOTES: TRENT + ROBERTSON RETURN, RASHFORD ABSENT
There is relief amongst Fantasy Premier League (FPL) managers that Liverpool, Manchester United and Wolverhampton Wanderers all avoided FA Cup replays from their Sunday clashes.
All remaining top-flight sides have appeared, making this the final round-up of key FPL notes from the fourth round. Also included is Bournemouth’s 5-0 win over Swansea City on Thursday night.
ALEXANDER-ARNOLD + ROBERTSON ARE BACK
At Anfield, the big news came from Liverpool’s full-back combination both returning from injury after varying spells sidelined – Trent Alexander-Arnold (£8.5m) and Andrew Robertson (£6.4m).
Of more interest to FPL managers will be the former, as his cameo occurred less than three weeks from the time assistant manager Pep Lijnders said “he will be out for a few weeks, so let’s see after that.” Over 825,000 sold him but – crucially – more owners kept him in the hope that he’d make a swift recovery.
They’ve been proved right, although we’re unsure whether Alexander-Arnold will start Wednesday’s meeting with Chelsea, with such a quick turnaround.
As for Robertson, he’s been out since October with a shoulder problem. Expect his minutes to be managed more carefully.
“Very important that we could give them minutes. So, Trent and Dom [Szoboszlai] were not too long out – but I think they would say too long anyway – but Robbo was really out for a long time. Each minute they can get now is really important and today it helps as well to share the intensity again.” – Jurgen Klopp
Midfielder Dominik Szoboszlai (£7.1m) sat out Gameweek 21 due to a hamstring issue but was another returnee here.
MORE DARWIN + JOTA GOALS
Their team-mates Diogo Jota (£7.9m) and Darwin Nunez (£7.4m) both netted in the 5-2 victory over Norwich City, which certainly won’t quell their FPL popularity after last week’s braces at Bournemouth.
For the usually misfiring Darwin, his latest three Premier League matches have all brought at least one attacking return. Meanwhile, Jota totals seven goals and five assists from just 754 league minutes, netting 14 during his last 24 outings. Three of these have lasted under 10 minutes.
That’s why over 375,000 transfers have been used on the duo heading into Gameweek 22, with the added knowledge that their places are more secure whilst Mohamed Salah (£13.1m) is hurt. Then again, committing to Liverpool too much will bring pain once Blank Gameweek 26 comes around.
FURTHER INTERNAL ISSUES WITH RASHFORD
Elsewhere, Man United eventually saw off League Two side Newport County after being pegged back to 2-2. But just as things started to improve for Marcus Rashford (£8.4m) with consecutive league goals, he reported himself as ill only for stories to emerge that he was in a Belfast nightclub the night before.
“It is an internal matter. As I said, we will deal with it. I will deal with it.” – Erik ten Hag
United then released a statement on Monday night, saying: “Marcus has taken responsibility for his actions. This has been dealt with as an internal disciplinary matter, which is now closed.”
In November, Rashford was punished for celebrating his birthday on another night out, this time just hours after a dismal 3-0 derby defeat to Manchester City. A month later, poor form led to him being reduced to substitute duties four times in a row.
Such repeated disciplinary issues should boost the FPL prospects of Alejandro Garnacho (£4.8m). The bargain midfielder has started Man United’s last 11 league matches, ranking third overall since Gameweek 13 for penalty area touches (68) and goal attempts (28).
NETO COULD HELP WITH BLANKS
On the subject of derbies, the Black Country encounter between West Bromwich Albion and Wolverhampton Wanderers was marred by crowd trouble which suspended the action for 38 minutes.
It was triggered by the visitors’ second goal, netted by Matheus Cunha (£5.8m). The cheap FPL forward is adapting well, with four goals and three assists from his last nine league matches.
Both he and creative midfielder Pedro Neto (£5.6m) – another scorer at the Hawthorns – have attractive fixtures during Blank Gameweeks 26 and 29, although the latter could join the list of called-off matches depending on the FA Cup fifth round.
Neto was on a brilliant streak of assists until his October hamstring injury, providing an attacking return in eight straight matches from Gameweek 3. Even now, his eight assists have only been bettered by one player – Ollie Watkins (£8.9m).
A GOOD EVENING FOR SOLANKE
Finally, those starting to contemplate a Dominic Solanke (£7.1m) sale saw him return to the scoresheet in Bournemouth’s Thursday thrashing.
Blanking against Liverpool and Spurs isn’t particularly concerning, scoring eight goals from seven beforehand. A goal and assist versus the Championship side precedes a nice-looking fixture run.
Back from AFCON elimination, low-priced Antoine Semenyo (£4.5m) was an unused substitute.