FPL Roundup: Back in Favor
FPL Roundup: Back in Favor

This article is part of our FPL Roundup series.

Compared to last weekend, when six teams scored at least three goals, the attacking exploits of Gameweek 25 of the Premiership proved relatively tame, as only Southampton achieved that feat this time around. In doing so, however, the Saints' success shined the spotlight on a new striker fantasy owners should have in their sights, Manolo Gabbiadini.

After scoring in each of his final three appearances for Napoli, Gabbiadini needed just 12 minutes to find the roof of the net in his Southampton home debut, a 3-1 loss to West Ham that saw him attempt six shots. Such activity earned the Italian another start Saturday at Sunderland, where he again started the Saints off well, scoring twice before halftime. While his first goal came thanks to a fortuitous bounce off his upper body, Gabbiadini made no mistake with his second, completing a tidy turn inside the penalty box with his preferred left foot before beating the goalkeeper one-on-one with his right. With five shot attempts on the day, including three on goal, he once again proved a potent presence atop Southampton's setup.

In merely 163 minutes of Premier League action, Gabbiadini now already trails only Charlie Austin (six) and Jay Rodriguez (four) for Southampton's goal-scoring lead, paying instant dividends on his reported £14 million January transfer. Although having two of his next three league fixtures against Manchester United and Tottenham should test his talents far more than they've been thus far, Gabbiadini's strong record suggests he's up for the task. To that point, despite turning 25 back in November, Giabbiadini has proven to be a pretty reliable goalscorer, which, in a tactic-centric league like Serie A, is no small feat for young players. Admittedly, the presence of Gonzalo Higuain restricted Giabbiadini's playing time at Napoli after he arrived at the club in January 2015, and Dries Mertens' breakout hurt his role this season, but his 120-minutes-per-league-goal ratio there still evidences clear efficiency.

For an anemic attack that mustered only 23 goals in 23 games prior to his debut, Gabbiadini has already injected some life into a Southampton squad that depended on Graziano Pelle to score more than 20 percent of its league goals over the past two seasons. With Pelle sold to China last summer, Austin, Rodriguez and Shane Long have each tried to their hands in Southampton's central role, but it may be another Italian who returns the Saints to their scoring ways, making Gabbiadini an intriguing player to track over the final third of this season.


Another player who should start receiving more close attention from fantasy owners in the coming weeks is Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho. After being credited in the Premiership's official fantasy game with five goals and six assists through his team's first 11 outings, the Brazilian hasn't directly contributed toward a single goal since. That barren stretch dates back to Nov. 6, and though nearly two months of that can be attributed to his absence while nursing an ankle injury, Coutinho has still gone seven league appearances without a goal or assist.

Although Roberto Firmino, Adam Lallana and Sadio Mane have profited from his dry spell, with the latter hitting the ground running even after his return from international duty, the story of Coutinho's and Liverpool's seasons could ultimately be written in the coming weeks. With matches against Leicester (A), Arsenal (H), Burnley (H), Manchester City (A) and Everton (H) on the horizon, the Reds are faced with a mixture of fixtures versus both beatable opponents and rivals they're jockeying with for final positioning. After that, it's all seemingly smooth sailing.

Considering how dreadful Leicester has been lately, as well as the fact that Coutinho started the season by scoring twice at Arsenal, he has a great chance to get back among the goals in the near future. Additionally, given that Liverpool has won all six league games in which he's recorded at least one goal or assist this season, Coutinho's form seems to directly translate into team success. As a result, if his slump continues over the important upcoming slate, the attacker runs the risk of being labeled a player that only began and ended the season well, potentially leaving a void that coincided with his team's failures during the meat of the campaign.


Don't look now, but could curmudgeon Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho be initiating the unfreezing process of Anthony Martial?

Following just 711 minutes of Premier League action this season, Martial was handed a rare start Saturday against Watford, and he made a strong case for further involvement with a goal and an assist in his team's 2-0 victory. Considering Mourinho has been quick to dismiss Martial, it's unfortunately no surprise the Frenchman was withdrawn after 81 minutes, but his Man-of-the-Match-caliber performance should at least make Mourinho's decision-making more difficult.

Like Henrikh Mkhitaryan before him, Martial has frustratingly found Mourinho unimpressed by his past success and steep transfer fee, which reportedly caused the youngster to consider moving elsewhere in January, but Saturday's performance could be the start of a mending process similar to Mkhitaryan's. With five goals and four assists in his last 10 total appearances for the Red Devils, even Mourinho cannot deny Martial's impact, which contrasts with the respective records of Wayne Rooney (two goals, two assists), Jesse Lingard (no goals, one assist) and Marcus Rashford (two goals, one assist) over their last 10 outings.

Furthermore, considering his side still sits in sixth place, Mourinho may have no choice but to give Martial more minutes, which, considering his season-low fantasy price (£9.2m) and generous midfield position designation, could make Martial a worthwhile buy-low commodity.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nick Pitner
Nick Pitner writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire. He supports Arsenal FC, the Green Bay Packers, and the New York Knicks, while specializing in those respective sports in his coverage for the site.
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