For all the weeks and months of meticulous planning poured into this bumper Gameweek 34, there are still copious selection dilemmas facing FPL managers ahead of Saturday morning’s deadline. Any premature notion that the emergence of a template team would strangle the life out of this gameweek has been put to rest with the return to fitness of a certain goal-pilfering premium striker, the upturn in form of some big-name midfielders from the red half of Manchester, and irksome rotation issues that have unexpectedly emerged over the last few weeks.
Here are the Stats Zone’s projections for this 14-match gameweek:
As was to perhaps be expected, all our projected top 15 performers face two fixtures in Gameweek 34. There is a neat spread of prominent clubs too, with Chelsea, Manchester United and Tottenham each represented by four players apiece, while assets from Burnley and Leicester also feature.
Christian Eriksen (£9.4m) leads the charge, with the Danish playmaker forecast to return 14.57 points across Spurs’ two games against Manchester City and Brighton. He and his fellow midfielders Dele Alli (£9.0m) and Son Heung-min (£8.4m) have plundered a combined total of 107 points over the last four gameweeks, a remarkable haul that perhaps explains why Harry Kane (£12.9m) trails behind his three teammates in our projections table. Back-to-back hat-tricks in December highlight just how explosive Kane can be on any given day, but it is now ten gameweeks since the two-time Golden Boot winner registered a double-digit haul in FPL. That being said, the ferocity of his claim to the goal he was initially stripped of in Saturday’s 2-1 win at Stoke shows just how frantic he is to defend his top goalscorer crown.
Those opting to overlook him in GW34 do so knowing that they risk missing out on a season-defining haul, should that insatiable hunger translate into a glut of goals.
Buoyed by five straight league wins and denying their cross-city rivals an early title win last weekend, Manchester United are tipped to continue their superb form against West Bromwich Albion and Bournemouth this coming week. United have the best home defensive record in the Premier League and David de Gea (£5.9m) and Antonio Valencia (£6.9m) will at the very least expect to profit from the visit of an insipid Baggies side on Sunday, before the Red Devils visit the south coast on Wednesday. Romelu Lukaku (£11.6m) has scored against both of United’s GW34 opponents already this season, while Paul Pogba (£7.8m) is flavour of the month again following his brace in the Manchester derby last weekend – the Premier League’s most expensive player is FPL’s most bought midfielder so far this week.
Without any form whatsoever are a below-par Chelsea team, meaning Marcos Alonso (£7.2m), Eden Hazard (£10.6m), Alvaro Morata (£10.4m) and Cesar Azpilicueta (£6.9m) are expensive risks despite their healthy projections for Gameweek 34. Like Manchester United and Tottenham, the Blues have an FA Cup semi-final to prepare for next weekend, so rotation is to be assumed in one or perhaps both of these three clubs’ GW34 fixtures.
Without any domestic or European cups to play for, changes will presumably be at a minimum for Leicester City, who face Burnley and Southampton over the next seven days. Riyad Mahrez (£9.0m) and Jamie Vardy (£8.9m) are very different FPL beasts – while 16-goal Vardy has served up a steady trickle of points this season (his only double-digit haul arriving back in Gameweek 1), Mahrez can be an explosive proposition. The Algerian midfielder has ten goals and 11 assists already this campaign, racking up double-figure returns on no less than five occasions.
With two home games to come in Gameweek 34, Nick Pope’s (£5.0m) inclusion in our ‘projections squad’ is in no small part attributed to Burnley’s defensive record at Turf Moor; the Clarets have shipped only 12 goals in 15 home league games this season.
A position-by-position breakdown of Gameweek 34’s projected returns highlights other assets worth considering this week:
It’s a case of fixtures over form for Leicester’s defensive prospects, as the side with only one clean sheet in their last eight games face somewhat unobjectionable matches against Burnley and especially Southampton. Ben Chilwell (£4.4m) and Wes Morgan (£4.4m) are cheaper routes into that slightly porous Leicester backline, with Harry Maguire (£5.6m) and Kasper Schmeichel (£5.1m) struggling to justify their heftier price tags.
Security of starts is an advantage many of the goalkeepers above have over the defences in front of them. FA Cup semi-final or otherwise, Hugo Lloris (£5.4m) and Thibaut Courtois (£5.3m) will surely see 180 minutes of league action before then; something that can’t necessarily be said for any of Tottenham’s full-backs or Chelsea defenders such as Andreas Christensen (£5.3m), Antonio Rudiger (£5.8m) and Victor Moses (£6.5m).
The Burnley trio of Stephen Ward (£4.7m), James Tarkowski (£4.6m) and Matthew Lowton (£4.4m) will also almost certainly be afforded the maximum minutes on offer this gameweek.
Even the lack of a double gameweek doesn’t stop us from our weekly mention of Mohamed Salah (£10.5m). With Bournemouth the visitors to Anfield on Saturday, it is not beyond the realms of possibility that Salah and teammates Roberto Firmino (£9.5m) and Sadio Mane (£9.5m) could outscore many of the players with two fixtures in Gameweek 34.
Missing out on an overall top 15 spot by a whisker, Alexis Sanchez (£11.5m) could well prove be the star of GW34. Racking up 24 points in his last two games, Sanchez has the fixtures and the form to be a huge differential captain this gameweek – in fact, only 3.5% of FPL managers own the Chilean midfielder.
His teammates Ashley Young (£4.8m), Juan Mata (£6.8m), Jesse Lingard (£6.0m) and Marcus Rashford (£7.4m) are other potential differentials, and considerably cheaper ones at that.
Tussling for that third budget striker spot in many FPL managers’ squads are the likes of Chris Wood (£6.3m), Josh King (£7.0m), Charlie Austin (£5.8m), Glen Murray (£6.0m) and Ashley Barnes (£5.4m). With four goals and an assist in his last four games, Burnley’s Wood gets our nod – and that of others in the FPL community.
The Stats Zone’s GW34 coverage continues over the coming days with the regular line-ups feature.