FPL Gameweek 29 – The Fixtures

Fixtures are about to stray from the linear, as we approach the period of blank and double gameweeks. The midweek round of matches was generally low-scoring, with many let down by Mohamed Salah’s (£13.5m) fourth failure in five games. Owners of his team-mates weren’t as upset, as Sadio Mane (13, £9.7m), Virgil Van Dijk (20, £6.5m), Trent Alexander-Arnold (18, £5.3m) and Andrew Robertson (13, £6.8m) all produced double-digit returns. Elsewhere, Sergio Aguero’s (£11.7m) penalty secured a tight 1-0 Man City victory, whilst Man United and Arsenal recorded comfortable victories.

The most transferred-out player was Marcus Rashford (£7.7m), yet the injury suffered against Liverpool was overhyped and he still managed to make a cameo on Wednesday. Plus it was a disappointing time for popular cheap strikers such as Solomon Rondon (£5.9m), Ashley Barnes (£5.7m) and Raul Jimenez (£6.9m), neither of whom scored. Gameweek 29 is bookended by two fine derbies, with the Merseyside clash ending proceedings and the North London derby starting them. Therefore, this week’s deadline is Saturday, 11:30am.

GW29 FIXTURES

Saturday 2nd March

Tottenham v Arsenal (12:30)

Bournemouth v Man City (15:00)

Brighton v Huddersfield (15:00)

Burnley v Crystal Palace (15:00)

Man Utd v Southampton (15:00)

Wolves v Cardiff (15:00)

West Ham v Newcastle (17:30)

Sunday 3rd March

Watford v Leicester (12:00)

Fulham v Chelsea (14:05)

Everton v Liverpool (16:15)

BRENDAN BEGINS

Opinions may be split on Brendan Rodgers’ decision to leave treble-chasing Celtic for mid-table-at-best Leicester but he certainly inherits a talented squad, with many highly-promising youngsters. Perhaps this inexperience explains why Leicester have been so infuriating this season – that and the lacklustre Claude Puel. Home defeats to Cardiff, Southampton and Crystal Palace are intertwined with impressive results against Liverpool, Chelsea and Man City. If Rodgers can iron out such inconsistency – starting with Tuesday’s 2-1 win over Brighton – then some Leicester players will prominently feature on FPL radars. Jamie Vardy (£8.8m) bagged the winner, assisted by James Maddison (£6.6m).

The Foxes have started an encouraging set of fixtures too, avoiding all top-six sides for a further seven matches. First up is Watford (a), before Fulham (H), Burnley (a), Bournemouth (H), Huddersfield (a) and Newcastle (H). Crucially, we already know Leicester will play in Gameweeks 31 and 33, when many teams won’t, so those planning accordingly will also be considering the likes of Harvey Barnes (£5.5m) and Ricardo Pereira (£5.4m), despite the latter being unlikely to secure clean sheets.

BLUNT HAMMERS

West Ham also have the typical inconsistencies of a mid-table side. Of course they beat Fulham last weekend and recently drew with Liverpool, but they also collapsed away to Bournemouth (2-0), Burnley (2-0) and Wolves (3-0). They have a nice run of four games, although facing Newcastle on Saturday may be tricky, as Rafa Benitez’s side are well-drilled, solid defensively and have the momentum of two consecutive wins. But this is followed by a trip to Cardiff and a fantastic hosting of Huddersfield during the bleak Gameweek 31.

Everton (H) are next, before they face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in Gameweek 33. It’s a tricky game but at least they’ll be playing that week, unlike many others. Felipe Anderson (£7.2m) is the go-to midfield asset, with his eight goals making him the Hammers' top-scorer. Michail Antonio (£6.8m) has been given a run in the team and responded with two goals from two home games. In goal, Lukasz Fabianski (£4.7m) is arguably FPL’s best value goalkeeper, coming in as fourth highest-scorer but at a much lower price than Ederson (£5.6m) and Alisson (£6.0m). He’s kept one clean sheet in 11 games but has brought in at least one save point for 12 matches in a row.

What isn’t known is how Manuel Pellegrini will choose between his strikers. In the past six games, a West Ham striker has played over 70 minutes on only three occasions, as Marko Arnautovic (£6.8m) and Javier Hernandez (£6.1m) fight to lead the line. Injuries and illnesses have intervened, which is why neither played on Wednesday as Andy Carroll (£5.4m) stepped in to play all 90.

PEP SHOW

Raheem Sterling (£11.3m) was the latest victim of Man City’s squad size, with the England star benched for Wednesday’s meeting with West Ham. That’s now twice in three league games where Sterling has been restricted to cameo appearances, as Pep Guardiola tries to pacify the likes of Riyad Mahrez (£8.2m) and Leroy Sane (£9.5m). The latter has only played 114 minutes from the past four games while Aguero – seen as undroppable as City chase down Liverpool – is being prepared for a rest.

Post-match, Guardiola said: “We cannot live, for example, with just Sergio. The last 10-15 minutes he was exhausted. We need Gabriel Jesus (£9.9m) as quick as possible to come back.” Kun played all 120 minutes of Sunday’s Carabao Cup final, before 84 in midweek. So which player is worth the risk? The very same question was being asked before City’s double Gameweek 25, until Aguero scored a hat-trick. It’s tempting to go without them for a few weeks, considering they have at least one blank coming soon. However, it’s dangerous to go without such a potent attacking force for the two games beforehand – Bournemouth (a) and Watford (H).

Their cup final opponents Chelsea bounced back with a 2-0 win over Tottenham and have a nice run of five games and no blanks. Fulham (a), Wolves (H), Everton (a), Cardiff (a) and West Ham (H) are up next, suggesting it could be time to return to Eden Hazard (£10.8m) and Marcos Alonso (£6.4m), or perhaps go for new man Gonzalo Higuain (£9.5m). Brighton, too, have a great set of fixtures to arrest their slump into the relegation battle. Glenn Murray (£6.3m), Pascal Gross (£6.7m) and Shane Duffy (£4.7m) are solid, cheaper options when they face Huddersfield (H), Crystal Palace (a), Southampton (H) and Bournemouth (H) before Gameweek 34. They do have an upcoming blank, though.

STICKY TOFFEE PUDDINGS

Apart from Gylfi Sigurdsson (£7.2m), who scored twice on Tuesday, owners of Everton players have been wanting to give up on them for quite a while. Richarlison (£6.6m) hasn’t scored over eight points in a match since 5th December, whilst Lucas Digne (£5.3m) is infamous for his volatile points totals. Between Gameweeks 18 and 24, the left-back had three negative scores alongside a 12 and a 17. The next four home games for Marco Silva’s side are Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Man United, with tricky trips to Newcastle and West Ham sandwiched between, so it’s a good time to abandon ship.

Arsenal assets are also set to be ditched. The frustrations caused by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£11.0m) have been excruciating, with the cheaper Alexandre Lacazette (£9.5m) providing better returns. Henrikh Mkhitaryan (£6.7m) has scored 30 points in the past week but is regularly rotated, as reflected by his low 5% ownership. Only Sead Kolasinac (£5.1m) is consistently bringing in points, with his seventh assist of the season occurring against Bournemouth. The wing-back seems to assist every two or three games, which would be great if Arsenal also kept clean sheets. Unfortunately, they’re about to face Tottenham and Man United before blanking in 31. Perhaps they should be avoided until their double gameweek is announced.