He’s back. Just when so many of us had come to terms with – and made plans for – life without him as the season entered its denouement, Harry Kane (£12.7m) has returned to cause widespread scratching of chins amongst the FPL community. Here's our look at this weekend's projections.
For those managers who have wildcarded already, funds will have been redistributed throughout the rest of their squads. Perhaps provisions had been made to bring Tottenham’s talisman back into their teams at some point in the future, but surely no-one will have reckoned on Kane returning to first-team action just three weeks after seriously injuring his right ankle in Spurs’ 4-1 win at Bournemouth.
Even for FPL bosses with wildcard and free hit chips still to use, Kane’s Easter resurrection generates more problems than solutions. Who makes way for the game’s most expensive player?
Decisions will have to be made quickly, as our projections have him making an immediate return to goal-scoring form this Saturday.
Kane leads a north London frontline one-two, with Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£10.8m) also forecast to score at least eight points this weekend. Kane’s record of eight goals in his last four appearances against his next opponents Stoke City will unnerve non-owners, as will Tottenham’s current run of form; Spurs are unbeaten in the league since mid-December and haven’t failed to score in a Premier League game since their 2-0 reverse at the Emirates in Gameweek 12. Mauricio Pochettino’s men also dispatched the Potters 5-1 in the reverse fixture earlier in the season.
Aubameyang meanwhile is among Fantasy Premier League’s form players, with five goals and one assist in his six starts for the Gunners since signing in January. The visitors to Arsenal this weekend are a wretched Southampton team coming off the back of two consecutive 3-0 away defeats and whose only league win since November was against a Championship-bound West Brom side.
Kane’s teammates Dele Alli (£8.9m), Son Heung-min (£8.3m), Ben Davies (£5.9m) and Christian Eriksen (£9.4m) are also tipped to run riot against a Stoke side with the division’s worst defensive record.
A possible groin strain picked up in Liverpool’s 3-0 Champions League win over Manchester City in midweek costs Mohamed Salah (£10.7m) his usual place on the projections podium, but our algorithm suggests Sadio Mane (£9.5m) will take up the reins when the Reds make the short trip across Stanley Park on Saturday lunchtime.
On the subject of derbies, David Silva (£8.1m), Raheem Sterling (£8.7m), Kevin De Bruyne (£10.4m) and Leroy Sane (£8.6m) are tipped to make light of Manchester United’s attempts to stall City’s coronation as 2017-18 Premier League champions. As tactically obstinate as Jose Mourinho’s side may prove, and as shaken by their European humiliation at the hands of Liverpool they may be, City on their own turf are a different beast. Pep Guardiola’s team racked up nine goals in two home fixtures against Tottenham and Liverpool earlier in the season, with City averaging 3.4 goals a game at the Etihad in this current league campaign.
As usual, it’s midfielders who dominate the overall projections table (only four of the 15 players above play in different positions), so our focus now switches to the best of the rest in attack, in defence and between the posts.
Burnley haven’t conceded more than one goal in a match since Liverpool came to town in Gameweek 22, but for owners of Nick Pope (£5.0m) et al the Clarets have frustratingly failed to turn their defensive solidity into more than one clean sheet during this period. With Tom Heaton’s return to full match fitness imminent, Pope will be desperate to impress on Sean Dyche that he deserves to retain his spot between the sticks.
Twitchy owners of Marcos Alonso (£7.2m) may want to retain his services a little while longer – West Ham are the visitors to Stamford Bridge this weekend. Alonso’s strong suit is undoubtedly in offence and he is likely to be granted his customary freedom to attack against a Hammers side that have shipped 11 goals in their last three away games.
Arsenal’s chances of a third consecutive clean sheet this weekend are hugely promising, with relegation-threatened Southampton the visitors to the Emirates. But, given that the game takes place less than 72 hours after the Gunners take on CSKA Moscow in the Europa League, which of their regular backline will take to the field on Sunday? Shkodran Mustafi (£5.4m) has started the last 12 league games on the spin, suggesting the German centre-half is a safer bet for a starting spot than colleagues Laurent Koscielny (£6.0m) and Nacho Monreal (£5.6m).
The scintillating form of Chris Wood (£6.3m) – four goals in three games – and the defensive fragility of this weekend’s opponents Watfordm who have conceded more home goals than any other Premier League side, suggests the former Leeds striker is a good bet for more attacking returns when Burnley head to Vicarage Road on Saturday.
Though he hasn’t posted a double-digit score since Gameweek 1, Jamie Vardy (£8.9m) has proved to be a reliable source of points of late. The England forward has six goals in his last eight league games, and has to be in FPL managers’ thoughts with Leicester scheduled to play two double gameweeks between now and mid-May.
Stay tuned to The Stats Zone’s pages for our regular line-ups piece on Friday.