FPL Review | Gameweeks 25 & 26

By Sachin Dholakia

Gameweeks 25 and 26 saw a return to winning ways for the Hornets as a 0-0 stalemate at Stoke was followed up by an outstanding 4-1 win against Premier League holders Chelsea at Vicarage Road.

New signing Gerard Deulofeu (13 points) was the star man, picking up a goal and assist in an explosive home debut. Only priced at £6.0, the Spaniard will almost certainly see his stock increase over the week as managers quickly transfer him in.

Roberto Pereyra (10) also contributed with a goal and assist from the bench while Abdoulaye Doucouré (12) continued his fine Fantasy form with 2 assists. Daryl Janmaat (8) scored an excellent goal after linking up with Pereyra and captain Troy Deeney (6) gave the Golden Boys the lead with a first-half penalty.

It was the defenders, however, who claimed the points at the bet365 Stadium on Wednesday night. Goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis (10) was the pick of the bunch, claiming all 3 bonus points after making some excellent saves. Adrian Mariappa (6) and Sebastian Prödl (6) also impressed, and will look to keep their places in the team following consecutive starts.

Elsewhere in the league, Swansea’s Sam Clucas and Everton’s Theo Walcott (15 points) were the high scorers in Gameweek 25 as they both scored twice against Arsenal and Leicester respectively. 

It was a week for low-ownership players to shine, as Emre Can (14) picked up a goal and assist in a 3-0 win at Huddersfield, while Bournemouth’s Nathan Ake (14) scored against former club Chelsea as Bournemouth scored three at Stamford Bridge. Other Bournemouth players Junior Stanislas and Callum Wilson also impressed with 12 points apiece.

In a quieter Gameweek 26, Arsenal were the dominant source for Fantasy points as they put five past Everton at the Emirates Stadium. Aaron Ramsey (20)  grabbed a hat-trick, helped out by Henrikh Mkhitaryan (13) who provided three assists on his home debut.

Mo Salah (15) demonstrated again why he was the Fantasy go-to player this season with a brace in an enthralling 2-2 draw against Tottenham, while Pascal Groß (13) returned to form with a goal and an assist in a 3-1 home win against West Ham.

The January transfer window has provided an opportunity to shake up your Fantasy squad, and players including Theo Walcott, Gerard Deulofeu, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang have returned Fantasy points for their new clubs. Keep an eye out over the next week for any more potential acquisitions.

Rish Nadarajah held firm at the top of the Watford global league with a total of 1642 points. Daniel Crichton was the highest points scorer in the top 10 courtesy of captain Salah. Congratulations if you made the top 10 this week!

Tip of the week

With the Champions League returning this month as well as the League Cup final to be played, watch out for any players who could be rested. The games come thick and fast until the end of the season and Premier League managers will look to maximise using their large squads. Keep hold of players who are too important to drop or certain to start due to injury elsewhere, such as Tottenham’s Harry Kane and Manchester City’s Sergio Agüero.

Players To Watch

1) Raheem Sterling (Manchester City, £8.9) has already scored 14 goals in the Premier League this season, and will look to continue his fine form with a home game against Leicester. Will almost certainly start after a lengthy injury to Leroy Sane.  

2) Callum Wilson (Bournemouth, £5.9) has started the last eight games for the Cherries, scoring four goals in the process. Favourable fixtures ahead and is unlikely to be dropped from the starting XI.

3) Cuco Martina (Everton, £4.4) has cemented his place in the starting line-up for the Toffees. Will not play a top 6 side until Manchester City in six weeks’ time and remains excellent value for an attacking defender at £4.4.

Best of luck for Gameweek 27, FPL managers!

First Team 06/02/2018

Gracia | “An Unforgettable Night”

A beaming Javi Gracia described his first taste of life under the lights at Vicarage Road as "unforgettable" after Watford pulled off one of the great victories in its history.

The Hornets began a bitterly cold evening worrying about their survival prospects but they ended it dancing in the aisles and wondering where this thrashing of the champions ranks in their list of famous results. It's certainly right up there. It was quite the way for Gracia to launch his reign as Head Coach.

“It is an unforgettable night,” said Gracia which is quite some statement when you consider this is a coach who choreographed a win over Barcelona.

“It difficult to explain how I feel in this moment. I am very happy because we needed these three points. I am proud of my players and very happy for our fans. Today they enjoyed a great match, a great victory. We try to do the same next time.”

Gracia felt the victory was not only important in terms of the three points it yielded and what it does to Watford's position in the table, but also in giving the players belief, belief in themselves and belief in what he is trying to do.

“We need that for motivation and to believe in our possibilities, in our work,” he said. “It was important today.”

What Watford have needed of late is a spark, someone to light the touch paper and they found him in Gerard Deulofeu. The Spaniard was effervescent, winning the penalty for the first goal, breaking from inside his own half to score the third and energising the team and the crowd.

“I agree he is a very good player,” Gracia said. “I don't know in the future what will happen but at this moment I only focus on him play well for Watford. Maybe in the summer, he plays with the national team, who knows.”

Gracia is well known in Spain for bloodying the noses of big boys, beating Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and drawing with Real Madrid. Now he has announced his arrival in England, live on Sky Sports, by masterminding the routing of Chelsea, the champions and qualifiers for the last 16 of the Champions League. And all this with just 17 fit senior players.

“I am enjoying a lot this moment but I know tomorrow I try to prepare the best way for the next match,” he said. “I don't know about the future, but, in the past, in my career, I have had good moments but this is important for me.

“We draw against Stoke and now beat a big club like Chelsea. It is a good beginning. It is only three points but they have a great value in this moment. I am very happy. We needed these points.”

Gracia has shown he's not afraid of making the big calls and taking off Richarlison, Watford's most exciting player this season, for the second successive game. Although the move paid dividends, with his replacement Roberto Pereyra rattling in the fourth, the Head Coach revealed he did it to avoid his side being reduced to ten men, too.

“The referee spoke with him after he was booked,” said Gracia, “so I take difficult the difficult decision to change as he was playing very well.”