By Neil Leverett
- Premier League leaders Liverpool host Manchester United at Anfield in Gameweek 23
- Rejuvenated Watford look for their fifth league win in six at home to Spurs, as Arsenal host steely Sheffield United
- Manchester City entertain Palace, Chelsea travel to Tyneside, as Norwich and AFC Bournemouth meet in massive clash at Carrow Road
PREMIER LEAGUE, UK – As old foes Liverpool and Manchester United clash this weekend, who do you need in your Fantasy Premier League squads for Gameweek 23?
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Whether you agree with the decision or not, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s dismissal against Crystal Palace last weekend means Arsenal face three games without captain hitman, and as the Gunners play host to a Sheffield United side above them in the standings, we are backing Alexandre Lacazette for Gameweek 23.
Aubameyang was beginning to hint at a run of goal-scoring form having netted in three of the last four outings, but in his absence the onus now falls at the feet of Lacazette, who is yet to score a Premier League goal under new boss Mikel Arteta.
The Blades then may not be the ideal opponent for the hosts, however on the road Chris Wilder’s side have lost consecutive games away from home to both Liverpool and Manchester United by two goals to nil.
Though Arsenal are not quite in the ball-park in terms of calibre right now, the Frenchman will be afforded the ball in far more frequency without his tag-team strike partner, but in adversity this weekend could be time for Lacazette to shine.
Despite the continuing rise of teammate Trent Alexander-Arnold, Liverpool fellow dynamic full-back Andrew Robertson has rather been left in the shadows. However as the Reds host Manchester United on Sunday in a clash of old Premier League foes, the Scot could be set to eclipse his rather more illustrious English right-back.
A cheaper alternative to Alexander-Arnold by 0.5, Robertson remains somewhat of a differential and has proved in the past when he does grab and assist – like he did against the Blades two games ago – the left-back often takes the full quota of maximum bonus points.
Despite a 24-point-haul against Leicester City in Gameweek 19, Robertson has the better stats going forward since then and faced with the capable but still raw Aaron Wan-Bissaka on the left wing, the former Hull City flyer will fancy getting in behind the Red Devils’ back line.
Liverpool remarkably have not conceded a league goal in 540 Premier League minutes of gametime, and with Robertson’s incisive and cutting runs through the heart of opposition defences, the Scot is in good shape to reward his owners in Gameweek 23.
Though it would be easy to plump for Sergio Aguero after his rousing hat-trick against Aston Villa last time out, arguably the man in better form is Riyad Mahrez, and with Crystal Palace facing the Cityzens in menacing form, the Algerian’s wizardry may make the telling difference this weekend.
Aguero in any event was deployed in rare front two by Pep Guardiola, and in the past the Spanish tactician has defied the trends of many a fantasy manager, opting to bench and in-form front man – over in this case the likely form of Gabriel Jesus.
Mahrez meanwhile after a difficult bedding-in season last term in Manchester is beginning to recapture his best form that we saw for the Foxes in their title winning season, the winger has three goals and as many assists in the last five league games.
Showing his scintillating best at Villa Park last Sunday, Mahrez was eclipsed only by a rampant Aguero, but with the Eagles rolling into town for Gameweek 23, the Algerian’s form is forcing Guardiola to play him week-in-week out. As a player more than ever flushed with the confidence of his steward, Mahrez’s potential makes for real consideration this weekend.
There are honeymoon periods and there are periods of sheer revitalisation and in the case of Watford, the case appears to be the latter, As the Hornets pay their first game out of the bottom three this term, the Hornets will look to continue their bounce under Nigel Pearson against Spurs in Gameweek 23, and Gerard Deulofeu ticks our box this weekend.
Four out of five league wins since Pearson’s arrival in the Vicarage Road dugout has completely transformed Watford at both ends of the pitch. With a more resolute defence, their atttack has also been given a shot in the arm and whilst Troy Deeney is back in the goals, the contribution of both Ismaila Sarr and more particularly Deulofeu sees Watford a more difficult side to keep out.
Spurs meanwhile found life without Harry Kane to be difficult, but will likely continue to play both Son Heung-min and Lucas Moura in attack, a 3-5-2 system is likely to again play into the host’s hands.
Whilst both Deeney and Deulofeu took turns in notching braces in the past few weeks, the Spaniard’s speed is set to cause problems for a Tottenham defence that have yet to keep a clean sheet under Jose Mourinho.
Until now, Deulofeu has impacts in Fantasy Premier League in erratic piques and troughs, but with a rejuvenated Watford side to play in, the former Barcelona man fits like a glove with the Hornets, and can take advantage of Spurs’ problems in defence here.
For Gameweek 23’s final pick, we are going for a player in Miguel Almiron, who may have struggled to adapt to the Premier League at first, but having finally had a taste for goals could be about to hit a peak in form.
Chelsea are the visitors to St. James’ Park to face Newcastle United this weekend, and the Magpies recent history against the Blues on Tyneside makes for good reading, with league four victories out of the last six in front of the Gallowgate.
Since his move from MLS side Atlanta United, the Paraguayan attacker has shown glimpses of promise and an electric turn of pace, but with little or no end product. Until now.
Having scored in each of the last three game in all competitions, Almiron netted in both FA Cup games against Rochdale, and in more impressive fashion at Molineux against Wolves last time out.
With confidence on his side and Steve Bruce showing he can get the best out of Newcastle, Almiron will form the fulcrum of the host’s attack in Gameweek, and despite a still lowly ownership, Chelsea may find the South American hard to handle.
Premier League Gameweek 23 begins on Saturday lunchtime as Watford host Tottenham Hotspur, kick-off 12:30 UK time.
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