FPL Double Gameweek 35 – Projections

It’s hard to know where to begin with Gameweek 34, really. A period headlined by FPL trolls, worldies and Shane Duffy (£4.8m), who was heavily-captained by experts and the week’s many Wildcard users. The lunacy of captaining a Brighton defender was explained by this season’s five goals and the fact that Brighton had the league’s sixth best home defence.

Their re-arranged match with Cardiff gave both sides a double gameweek and many, including our optimum squad, used this to stock up on Mat Ryan (£4.4m) or Lewis Dunk (£4.4m) too. Cue a horrific 5-0 home loss to Bournemouth and Tuesday’s miserable 2-0 defeat to Cardiff which puts Chris Hughton’s side in serious relegation danger. Over the two games, Duffy, Ryan and Dunk each amassed one point as Ryan Fraser (£6.3m) and Callum Wilson (£6.6m) waited until now to finally return to scoring duties.

Paul Pogba (£8.9m) was the same, responding to his paltry 12 points from six games, and the subsequent loss of 700,000 owners, by scoring two penalties against West Ham. At the other end, Felipe Anderson (£6.9m) had lost 550,000 owners in just three gameweeks but chose Saturday to score his first goal since Christmas. Arsenal’s first away clean sheet of the season came without Sead Kolasinac (£5.0m), beating Watford 1-0 thanks to the early sending off of Wildcard-favourite Troy Deeney (£5.9m). Son Heung-min (£8.8m) was benched but at least rescued an assist out of his late cameo – those four points outscoring all captaincy favourites except Raheem Sterling (£11.5m), who netted twice at Crystal Palace. However, there’s no time for recovery as Gameweek 35 is even bigger, with eight teams playing twice.

OPTIMUM SQUAD

Gameweek 34 was one of those odd weeks where the overall average score was higher than the top 10,000’s and top 1,000’s. Most of the ‘trendy’ players flopped, whilst the discarded ones who still lurked in inactive teams provided flashbacks of what they were. The Brighton trio of Ryan, Glenn Murray (£6.4m) and Captain Duffy brought in six points, with Victor Camarasa (£4.5m) the true double gameweek star with seven of his own. Trent Alexander-Arnold (£5.5m) and Sadio Mane (£10.1m) brought some sense of normality with their eight and nine points, as Davinson Sanchez (£5.8m) also delivered a clean sheet. The optimum squad scored 50.

David De Gea (£5.7m) is in goal, hoping to recover from letting Lionel Messi’s second squeeze through him on Tuesday. Man United’s double is a trip to Everton followed by the Manchester derby, which offers plenty of potential save points when playing behind a defence of Phil Jones (£5.1m) and Chris Smalling (£5.6m). A few weeks ago, the Arsenal clean sheet tally was amongst the league’s fewest – defence isn’t exactly their strong point. Yet Monday night’s resilience has made it three from four games, ahead of meetings with Crystal Palace and Wolves. Kolasinac was rotated with one eye on the Europa League, so a safer option is club captain Laurent Koscielny (£5.4m).

As with last week, Gameweek 35’s team is heavily-reliant on those who play twice. Only Alexander-Arnold and David Luiz (£5.9m) are limited to one match, although Liverpool’s trip to Cardiff may not look as kind now that the Bluebirds are fighting for their lives. They were the only side to score at Anfield in the 12 games between March and mid-December, yet the Reds’ clean sheet against Chelsea was their 18th of the season. Luiz is at home to Burnley and Chelsea hope to claim their tenth home shutout of the season.

The algorithm has chosen a 3-5-2 formation, doubling-up on Tottenham’s midfield. Whilst Son was expected to haul against Huddersfield, his starting place and spotlight was stolen by Lucas Moura (£6.8m). The Brazilian scored a hat-trick and 21 FPL points for his 5.1% ownership, taking him to ten league goals despite playing just 1,701 minutes – the equivalent of 19 matches. Both are tipped to do well in Gameweek 35, although their selection is more for the hosting of Brighton rather than the trip to Man City. Spurs will be looking to repeat Wednesday night’s stunning Champions League drama – where Son snatched back the spotlight – but Pep Guardiola’s side will be seeking revenge. If both start, they’ll be against the aforementioned Seagulls defence that have just conceded seven to Bournemouth and Cardiff.

Gerard Deulofeu (£5.6m) missed the Arsenal defeat but his place looks more secure with Troy Deeney’s ban. For six of the seven games where Deeney hasn’t started, Javi Gracia has opted for a Deulofeu and Isaac Success (£4.5m) partnership. The seventh occasion used Success and Andre Gray (£5.9m). However, this was the former’s only start in 16 games and Gray himself has only played over 45 minutes twice since October’s 4-0 defeat to Bournemouth. So the man whose two goals have taken Watford to the FA Cup Final should start against Huddersfield and Southampton, assuming he recovers from his semi-final ankle injury.

Losing that match was a blow to Wolves, having gone 2-0 up at Wembley. With no distractions, Nuno Espirito Santo’s side can now focus on finishing seventh in the league, which may secure Europa League football next season. Raul Jimenez (£6.9m) is one of this week’s front-runners for captaincy, facing Brighton and Arsenal as the only team to have both matches at home.

There’s nobody to rotate the Mexican striker with, so the prospect of facing this current Brighton defence is enticing, as is extending his impressive record of four goals and five assists in the ten games versus top-six opposition. Diogo Jota (£6.2m) is also popular, with January’s 4-3 win over Leicester spurring him into five goals and four assists.

Now their quadruple dreams are over, it’d be foolish to back against Man City as they unleash their fury and pain on the Premier League. For those who have the money, which can be raised further by the surprise addition of two 4m midfielders to the game, choosing both Sterling and Sergio Aguero (£11.7m) is recommended. Of course, their two games are the toughest of them all but tough games didn’t stop Aguero scoring hat-tricks against Arsenal and Chelsea this season.

The reigning champions have to beat both Spurs and Man United if they want to win the league and need to play their strongest side available, knowing there are no Champions League distractions from now on. Sterling missed an easy chance early on at Selhurst Park but went on to register 14 points whilst Aguero blanked. Both scored on Wednesday though, with the England international denied a hat-trick by the dramatic decision of VAR in stoppage time. They are hurt and dangerous.

THE REST – GOALKEEPERS/DEFENDERS

Liverpool are represented further by Alisson (£5.9m), Andrew Robertson (£6.8m) and Virgil Van Dijk (£6.6m), who set up Salah’s wonder goal against Chelsea before scoring in Porto on Wednesday. Wildcard users were annoyed to see the cheap Artur Boruc (£4.1m) return in goal for Bournemouth, after being dropped for two games. His clean sheet at Brighton is good preparation for hosting Fulham, with Watford’s Ben Foster (£4.6m) backed against Huddersfield and Southampton. Antonio Rudiger (£5.9m) limped off after 39 minutes at Anfield but assistant Gianfranco Zola has calmed fears that the knee injury will end the centre-back’s season. “When he came off limping, we were worried”, he admitted. “Apparently it's not that bad. He'll be back sooner than you expect."

THE REST – MIDFIELDERS/FORWARDS

Leroy Sane (£9.3m) was once again restricted to a bench role against Spurs but has played the last two league games, raising hopes that he’ll start one of City’s two matches. Arsenal are just as difficult to predict, with Alexandre Lacazette (£9.4m) taking his turn on the bench at Watford. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£10.9m) was back in the starting 11 for only the third time in eight games, scoring the only goal. If Unai Emery gives any indication over team selection, Arsenal assets should be highly-sought for the Crystal Palace and Wolves games. As for Henrikh Mkhitaryan (£6.7m), let’s just say Arsenal fans weren’t happy with his Monday night performance…