Lengthy run-outs for Mane and Salah, Zaha injury, Covid latest

We round up the key Fantasy Premier League (FPL) talking points of the day in FPL Daily, a series that services weekdays where there is no press conference round-up or Premier League match.

We’re extending our scope back a little further to the events of Tuesday night here, as there were multiple Premier League players in action for their countries for the final time this season.

SALAH AND MANE GO THE DISTANCE

Liverpool teammates Mohamed Salah (£13.3m) Sadio Mane (£11.7m) faced off for the second time in five days (and the third instance in two months) as Senegal and Egypt battled for a place in this winter’s World Cup.

Senegal once more came out on top, as they did in the AFCON final in February, but the tie went down to the wire as a penalty shootout was again required to separate the two nations.

Salah and Mane both lasted 120 minutes, less than four days before Liverpool take on Watford in the Saturday lunchtime kick-off.

That perhaps slightly increases the risk of minute-management of some variety in Gameweek 31 but then again, teammates Luiz Diaz (£8.1m) Diogo Jota (£8.3m) also got run-outs for their respective countries on the same evening – the former not finishing Colombia’s match against Venezuela until the early hours of Wednesday morning.

ZAHA INJURY CONCERN

Already sweating on the fitness of Michael Olise (£5.4m) after the young winger pulled out of the France under-21 squad with foot inflammation, Crystal Palace have another new injury concern in the form of Wilfried Zaha (£6.9m).

Zaha picked up a hamstring strain during Ivory Coast’s friendly match against France on Friday so was unable to face England last night.

“After the first game, he felt something painful behind the hamstring. Because we flew [to England] the following day after the game against France, when we arrived, as he [Zaha] is from here, it was quite easy for us to get an X-ray – and he had a grade one/two on the hamstring.

“He was sad, me as well, because, for me, he should have played this game. For him, it was a dream to play England. This is football, and I have to understand as well that players have a busy schedule, and we can’t take any risks.

“With hamstrings, if it is bad, then it’s six weeks or maybe two months – we could not take any risks.” – Ivory Coast head coach Patrice Beaumelle

Any absence for Zaha and Olise on Monday would boost Arsenal’s prospects of a clean sheet, you’d think, as the pair have either scored or assisted seven of Palace’s 12 goals between them this calendar year.

LACAZETTE HAT-TRICK

Alexandre Lacazette (£8.4m) has been on a good run of FPL form from Gameweek 16 onwards but most of his points have arrived from assists. In fact, no Premier League player has ‘underachieved’ more/been more wasteful than the Frenchman over this period: his actual goals tally is three (two of which were penalties), while his expected goals (xG) count is 7.89.

Lacazette at least goes into Gameweek 31 with a confidence-boosting treble to his name, as he bagged three of Arsenal’s four goals in a behind-closed-doors friendly against Brentford ‘B’ on Thursday. “He’s found his level” will be the understandable reaction from some wags, of course.

Incidentally, there was no Aaron Ramsdale (£5.1m) or Takehiro Tomiyasu (£4.6m) involved in this match. Both players remain concerns for the trip to Palace, then.

JAMES BACK IN TRAINING

Something you may have missed from Monday is the return to training of Rece James (£6.2m).

The defender and fellow injury victim Callum Hudson-Odoi (£5.3m) were among the non-internationals back in training at Chelsea’s Cobham training base.

James has not featured since the first half of Gameweek 28, when he racked up an 18-point haul against Burnley.

COVID LATEST

Covid-19 has already had a massive say on the FPL landscape this season and, after a bit of a quiet period, the virus has reared its head again in recent weeks, with the likes of Bukayo Saka (£6.7m), Rafinha (£6.5m), Gabriel Martinelli (£5.3m) Lucas Digne (£5.1m) affected.

Cases in the UK in general have mostly been on the rise throughout March, while the latest figures released from the Premier League are worth noting.

Its most recent update revealed that 22 positive tests were returned from 1,388 players and club staff from March 21-27. The previous week saw 21 positives returned – but from 2,655 tests, almost twice as many.

The shortage of tests in the week just gone is presumably to do with the international break, so it’ll be worth monitoring the numbers this week to see just where the land lies for the run-in.

Isolation periods for players aren’t as long as they were but, as we’ve seen with the aforementioned players, coronavirus can still cause absences on any given matchday.

Strong-ish benches may be still needed, then, to allow for surprise no-shows in the final eight Gameweeks.

  • 3 Jan-9 Jan 12,973 tests; 72 positive
  • 10 Jan-16 Jan 13,625 tests; 33 positive
  • 17 Jan-23 Jan 6,221 tests; 16 positive
  • 24 Jan-30 Jan 1,947 tests; 11 positive
  • 31 Jan-6 Feb 6,685 tests; 22 positive
  • 7 Feb-13 Feb 6,299 tests; 14 positive
  • 14 Feb-20 Feb 2,958 tests; nine positive
  • 21 Feb-27 Feb 3,016 tests; 13 positive
  • 28 Feb-6 Mar 3,147 tests; eight positive
  • 7 Mar-13 Mar 2,998 tests; 23 positive
  • 14 Mar-20 Mar 2,655 tests; 21 positive
  • 21 Mar-27 Mar 1,388 tests; 22 positive

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