Saturday 3rd March
Burnley vs Everton (12:30)
Leicester vs Bournemouth (15:00)
Southampton vs Stoke (15:00)
Spurs vs Huddersfield (15:00)
Swansea vs West Ham (15:00)
Watford vs West Brom (15:00)
Liverpool vs Newcastle (17:30)
Sunday 4th March
Brighton vs Arsenal (13:30)
Man City vs Chelsea (16:00)
Monday 5th March
Crystal Palace vs Man Utd (20:00)
This weekend’s round of games are the reverse fixtures of Gameweek 7, a set of matches in which defences prospered; eight clean sheets were recorded and four defenders found the back of the net.
Gameweek 29 presents a particularly problematic captaincy conundrum, given the attractive home fixtures for both Tottenham and Liverpool. GW7’s data suggests Spurs are the horse to back, having previously handed Huddersfield a 4-0 beating on their own turf. While Mohamed Salah was (£10.5m) blanking in Liverpool’s 1-1 draw with Newcastle, Harry Kane (£12.9m) rewarded his owners with two goals and a 13-point haul. Tottenham’s wing-backs also flourished that day, with Ben Davies (£5.8m) and Kieran Trippier (£5.3m) scoring 30 points between them.
Arsenal’s defensive duo of Nacho Monreal (£5.7m) and Hector Bellerin (£6.0m) bolstered their clean sheet points with attacking returns in the Gunners’ 2-0 defeat of Brighton, while the Watford pair of Richarlison (£6.1m) and Abdoulaye Doucoure (£5.5m) also hit double figures in their side’s 2-2 draw at the Hawthorns.
Kevin De Bruyne (£10.4m) highlighted his fixture-proof credentials with an 11-point haul in Manchester City’s 1-0 win at Chelsea.
The age of the ‘differential’ is upon us. With just ten gameweeks to go, time is short for FPL managers looking to claw back deficits in their private leagues or give their stagnant overall rank a shot in the arm.
There is a maverick in us all that yearns to throw caution to the wind and triple captain Davy Propper, but for every Rajiv van La Parra GW28 punt there are hundreds of instantly regrettable gambles and subsequent OR slides. The ‘differential’ needn’t be quite so much of a risk though; there are copious out-of-favour assets who have performed well throughout the season and who, be it because of tough fixtures, short-term form or inflated price, have an ownership of less than 10%.
A case in point, Eden Hazard (£10.7m) and Riyad Mahrez (£8.7m) are only owned by 7.9% and 8.4% of FPL managers respectively despite being amongst FPL’s ten highest points scorers of the season to date. Hazard has averaged over 8.4 points per game in his last seven league fixtures and though he and Chelsea face a daunting trip to Manchester City on Sunday, he has already delivered attacking returns in away games at Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool this season.
Although Mahrez blanked in Leicester’s 1-1 draw with Stoke, no midfielder had more shots (six) than the Algerian playmaker at the weekend and the Foxes now have appealing fixtures against Bournemouth and West Brom before their GW31 blank.
A plum home fixture against West Brom this weekend and indeed a guaranteed game in GW31 may rekindle interest in the misfiring Richarlison (£6.1m), whose ownership has understandably dipped below the 10% mark for the first time since GW9.
The highest-scoring FPL player owned by less than 1% of all managers is Tottenham’s Davinson Sanchez (£6.0m). An appetising home game against Huddersfield this weekend and fitness doubts over Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld strengthens Davinson’s case for consideration, as does his four bonus points over the last two games. A caveat to this of course is the fact that Spurs will now blank in Gameweek 31 following their progression to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup.
Speaking of GW31, many managers will be left with a shortfall between the sticks as the bulk of the game’s most popular goalkeepers (David de Gea, Thibault Courtois, Nick Pope, Lukasz Fabianski, Hugo Lloris etc) will be without a fixture. Pray silence please, for Jonas Lossl (£4.6m). Though the ever-present Huddersfield shotstopper has a tricky-looking game this weekend at Wembley, the Terriers then face back-to-back home matches against Swansea and Crystal Palace – the latter of which falls in Gameweek 31. Lossl is currently owned by just over 7% of all FPL managers.
While deliberation abounds over whether to take multiple point hits, free hit or just plain disregard Gameweek 31, the consensus appears to be that three Liverpool players is an absolute must for their GW31 fixture at home to Watford. Before then of course they take on Newcastle United at Anfield and many FPL managers would happily triple up on Liverpool assets for this Saturday’s fixture alone. While many will be perming three from Salah, Roberto Firmino (£9.3m), Sadio Mane (£9.4m), Virgil van Dijk (£5.6m) and Andrew Robertson (£4.8m), two other budget Reds players merit a mention.
Emre Can (£4.9m) and Loris Karius (£4.8m) top FPL’s ‘Value (form)’ table above, which is calculated by dividing a player’s form over their last four league fixtures against their current cost. Can (with two goals, two assists and six bonus points) and Karius (with two clean sheets and a penalty save) lead the way from Brighton’s Glenn Murray (£5.7m).
Having scored in three consecutive Premier League games for the first time, Xherdan Shaqiri (£6.2m) unsurprisingly features prominently in this table. Though Stoke are the division’s worst travellers, their opponents this weekend, Southampton, have flattered to deceive on home soil. Shaqiri also has a Gameweek 31 fixture untouched by the conflicting FA Cup quarter-final schedule.
Those FPL managers willing to overlook fixture difficulty this weekend in favour of a probable starter in GW31 may also want to consider Luka Milivojevic (£4.9m), Crystal Palace’s spot-kick extraordinaire, and Huddersfield’s in-form striker, Steve Mounie (£5.7m).
Finally, a cautionary note for managers planning on early transfers to beat price rises: this may be one gameweek in which a Saturday morning transfer is advisable. While Arsenal’s Thursday night meeting against Man City has so far escaped the weather, further snow flurries and Arctic blasts are forecast across England and Wales for the remainder of the week – putting this weekend’s fixtures at risk. We may yet have more double gameweeks on our hands later in the season...