Fixture Focus: The blanks, tough opponents and games in hand of Leicester
The form of James Maddison has seen his ownership quadruple since Gameweek 13 but his 1.27 million managers now face a classic form vs fixtures dilemma.
Whilst Leicester’s next four league games are difficult – including a trip to Liverpool and a blank in Gameweek 27 – they emerge with a promising set of opponent starting with Leeds in Gameweek 28, alongside four games in hand that pit them against Norwich (H) and Burnley (a).
Certainly from a defensive viewpoint, Leicester should be avoided. Their surprise clean sheet against Liverpool was only their second from 17 attempts and was quickly followed by a calamitous late 3-2 defeat to Tottenham.
Over the season so far, no side has conceded more shots inside the box and Leicester rank third-worst for total shots conceded and expected goals conceded (xGC).
Further up the pitch, Jamie Vardy is expected to be sidelined until early March with a hamstring injury, giving Patson Daka the spotlight whilst Kelechi Iheanacho was away on international duty. Daka has done his bit – netting in his last three matches – and costs £7.1m.
Youri Tielemans has spot kick duties in his absence and has five goals from 16 matches. Before a knee injury ended his 2020/21 campaign, Harvey Barnes grabbed six goals and three assists from his final 12 matches. Remembering this, FPL managers heavily backed Barnes heading into Gameweek 1 but he was a letdown – not scoring until Gameweek 11.
However, after dropping £0.5m in price, Barnes has four attacking returns from his last four appearances and offers huge differential potential.
And then we come back to Maddison. His eight matches since Gameweek 13 have brought five goals, five assists, four double-digit hauls and 66 points – an average of 8.25 points per game. Only a few players have amassed more shots in this period – heavyweights Harry Kane, Cristiano Ronaldo, Mohamed Salah and Diogo Jota.
Owners of Maddison may want to stick with him through the blank Gameweek, especially as the fellow absence of Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal players may nudge many towards a Free Hit that weekend.