EFL Cup Semifinals Pose Fantasy Football Dilemma for Managers
As the EFL Cup semi-finals' second leg approaches, Fantasy Premier League (FPL) managers are bracing for potential disruptions to their line-ups. Chelsea aims to overturn a 1-0 deficit against Middlesbrough, while Liverpool carries a 2-1 lead to face Fulham. If both clubs reach the final on Sunday, 25 February, overlapping with Gameweek 26, a Blank Gameweek ensues, affecting key players in midfield and defense.
Liverpool's Gameweek 26 opponents, Luton Town, have low ownership, but Chelsea, set to face Tottenham Hotspur, could jeopardize popular players on both teams. A Chelsea vs. Liverpool final would impact top-scoring FPL midfielders Mohamed Salah, Son Heung-min, and Cole Palmer, along with defenders Trent Alexander-Arnold and Pedro Porro.
With over 21% ownership in many squads, the repercussions of a Chelsea vs. Liverpool final on FPL are significant. Alternatively, a Fulham vs. Middlesbrough final would shift Fulham's fixture against Manchester United out of Gameweek 26.
The potential Blank Gameweek 26 complicates decisions about bringing back Salah and Son after their return from international tournaments. With just one match each in Gameweek 25-26 for the duo, managers face reduced appeal, especially considering Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne and Phil Foden, who have three matches to capitalize on during their Double Gameweek 25.
Patience becomes paramount as managers await the conclusion of the EFL Cup matches before revising their plans. Salah's progress in the Africa Cup of Nations further adds uncertainty, dependent on Egypt's performance. Should Egypt exit the group stage, Salah could be available for selection in Gameweek 22 against Chelsea. FPL managers navigate this complex scenario, strategizing around fixture changes, player availability, and tournament outcomes.