The final midweek FPL deadline of the season arrives this Tuesday evening, with a full complement of ten Premier League fixtures – something that will become less frequent from GW31 onwards (more on that later) – taking place.
Tuesday 30th January
Swansea vs Arsenal (19:45)
West Ham vs Crystal Palace (19:45)
Huddersfield vs Liverpool (20:00)
Wednesday 31st January
Chelsea vs Bournemouth (19:45)
Everton vs Leicester (19:45)
Newcastle vs Burnley (19:45)
Southampton vs Brighton (19:45)
Man City vs West Brom (20:00)
Spurs vs Man Utd (20:00)
Stoke vs Watford (20:00)
Swansea’s resurgence under Carlos Carvalhal reached its zenith in last Monday’s unexpected and somewhat fortunate 1-0 win over Liverpool, who had ended Manchester City’s unbeaten league run just eight days earlier.
Though they possess the worst home record in the Premier League this season – in the process scoring only seven times in their 12 games at the Liberty Stadium – they will be quietly confident of following up that home victory with another against Arsenal, who have only three away league wins from 12 in the EPL (a warm hello to our readers stateside) this season.
Despite blanking in South Wales last week, Liverpool have scored more away goals than any other side in the Premier League this season (29) and face a Huddersfield team without a home league win since early December.
West Brom, with the second worst away record in the Premier League this season, are the latest victims-in-waiting for a merciless Manchester City side with 34 points from a possible 36 at the Etihad in 2017-18. Scoring at a rate of 3.5 goals a game at home in the league this campaign, City put three past Albion in the reverse fixture in October – all without Sergio Aguero (£11.8m).
We championed the Argentine’s case ahead of Gameweek 23 and the in-form striker duly delivered his fourth double-digit haul of the season in City’s butchering of Newcastle just over a week ago. Over 150,000 managers have added Aguero to their squads since his perfect hat-trick and City’s number 10 will almost certainly rise in price to a season-high of £11.9m before Tuesday evening’s deadline – make sure to check in regularly with FPL Statistics to give yourself the best chance of saving that oh-so-crucial extra 100 grand.
With his cost so prohibitive, the easiest route to crowbar Aguero into our sides is – for the 47% of managers who own Tottenham’s number nine, at least – a direct swap with Harry Kane (£13.0m). It has been reported that the Kane-to-Aguero move is the second most popular transfer in FPL this week, despite Kane’s run of nine goals in six league games (Aguero has “only” six in that same period).
The chief reason for the popularity of this move is of course not form, but fixtures.
While City face home matches against WBA and Leicester in the next three gameweeks, Spurs have successive games against three of the ‘Big Six’ – namely Manchester United (h), Liverpool (a) and Arsenal (h).
Is it time to follow the masses and jettison that most undroppable of assets? Not necessarily...
While fantasy managers were enjoying some leisurely downtime over FA Cup weekend, the resident Einsteins at The Stats Zone were fine-tuning the complex algorithms needed to bring you an exciting new FPL feature: player projections.
The in-house eggheads have done the legwork so you don’t have to, number-crunching the figures to forecast expected returns over the coming gameweeks. And for those FPL bosses dead set on exchanging Kane for Aguero, the results make for pen-chewing reading.
Despite the off-putting fixture difficulty rating for Tottenham over the next three gameweeks, Kane is nevertheless expected to haul big and indeed outscore all other strikers, including Aguero, during this period. And with good cause – this is a fixture-proof player who returned 16 points in Spurs’ previous league meeting with Liverpool earlier this season. Arsenal’s dismal away record this campaign is further cause for optimism ahead of the North London derby at Wembley on February 10th – especially given Kane’s penchant for scoring against the Gunners.
While Aguero could indeed run riot on Wednesday against a West Brom side missing several key players, City then face a tricky trip to Turf Moor and, by the time Leicester arrive in Manchester in Gameweek 27, Aguero’s game time could be seriously at risk from a returning Gabriel Jesus.
Elsewhere, Roberto Firmino (£9.2m) and Jamie Vardy (£8.5m) are projected to post around 19 points over the next three gameweeks. The forgotten man in FPL, Romelu Lukaku (£11.3m), has fixtures against Huddersfield and Newcastle to look forward to after Manchester United’s trip to Wembley and is predicted to score over 16 points over the next three gameweeks.
*Note that Sane is now expected to miss at least a month of action.
Away from the attack, it’s the usual heavy hitters who are unsurprisingly set to score heavily over the next three gameweeks. Chelsea’s run of none-too-testing fixtures continues unabated (until Gameweek 28 that is, when it abates), meaning the holy triumvirate of Marcos Alonso (£7.3m), Eden Hazard (£10.6m) and Cesar Azpilicueta (£7.0m) can all expect to return 20+ points over this mini-phase.
However, the season’s undoubted FPL success story, Mohamed Salah (£10.2m), is projected to beat all of the above over the next three gameweeks – his 3m+ owners ought to be readying their armbands to further boost his anticipated gains of 28.78.
Whilst low-risk differentials are few and far between at this stage of the season, FPL managers may want to consider Antonio Valencia (£6.7m). Though cheaper routes into Manchester United’s watertight defence exist in the shape of David de Gea (£5.9m) and Phil Jones (£5.7m), Valencia’s threat going forward means he can easily augment clean sheets with attacking returns – as he did in United’s 3-0 win over Stoke in Gameweek 23, racking up 15 points in his first game back from injury. Valencia is only owned by 9.0% of all FPL managers, a figure some way down on other premium defenders in the game (Azpilicueta and Alonso’s ownerships are 23.0% and 26.5% respectively). Our projections for the next three matches suggest the Ecuadorian right-back will chalk up at least 20 points over this period.
Anyone attempting to claw back deficits in their private leagues or trying to raise their overall rank may also want to consider Anthony Martial (£8.0m). The Frenchman has quietly racked up 108 points this season and is now United’s leading midfield points-scorer, having bagged goals in each of his side’s last three league games. Martial has amazingly completed only one league game all season (the Manchester derby at Old Trafford) and the arrival of Alexis Sanchez (£11.7m) from Arsenal may dent his pitch-time further, but even bench duty is no obstacle to the former Monaco man – four of Martial’s nine league goals this season have come as a substitute. Indeed only the peerless Mohamed Salah has a better FPL points-per-90 minutes ratio than Martial this season:
Despite this, he is only owned by just over 3% of FPL managers, so his projected score of around 20 points over the next three Premier League fixtures is worth consideration for ballsy template-busters.
The transfer window closes just over an hour after the culmination of Wednesday evening’s games, so FPL managers may well have a raft of fresh names to factor into their thoughts by the time Gameweek 26 rolls around next Saturday.
There may of course be several new faces on show in midweek. Southampton’s record signing Guido Carrillo (£6.5m) arrives from Monaco with a modest scoring record of four goals in 15 league games this season – though it should be noted that 13 of those appearances have come as a substitute.
One January acquisition who we won’t be seeing for a week or two is Brighton’s Jurgen Locadia (£6.0m). With nine goals and two assists in 15 league appearances for PSV this season, Locadia represents a significant threat to Glenn Murray (£5.7m)’s security of starts and could well challenge the likes of Callum Wilson (£5.8m) as the go-to budget striking option for the remainder of the season. Locadia is currently sidelined with a hamstring injury but is expected to be in the frame for selection early next month.
Alexis Sanchez, Henrikh Mkhitaryan (£7.6m), Aaron Lennon (£5.4m) and Kenedy (£4.7m) may meanwhile all be donning their new clubs’ colours in the league for the first time.
Lukasz Fabianski (£4.6m)’s eight-point haul in Swansea’s 1-0 win over Liverpool last week catapulted the Polish shotstopper to the top of the points-per-million rankings ahead of David de Gea. Fabianski also leads the ‘saves made’ table by quite some margin – with 93 shots saved, he is 12 clear of his nearest rival Jordan Pickford (£4.9m) despite his side propping up the rest of the Premier League.
Finally, some unexpectedly good news emerged in midweek for FPL managers fearing blanks in Gameweek 28. With Arsenal and Manchester City progressing to the final of the Carabao Cup, one of the two games at risk of postponement - Manchester United v Chelsea - will definitely go ahead as planned on Sunday February 25th. The positive news continued with the declaration that Arsenal and City’s league meeting in Gameweek 28 will instead be shifted to the Thursday of that week, meaning a full quota of ten fixtures looks set to take place – the caveat being that if Manchester City require an FA Cup fifth round replay, this will no longer be the case.
GW31 looks set to be the first gameweek of the season to be hit hard by rescheduling, as it clashes with the quarter-finals of the FA Cup. The wonderful Ben Crellin is the man with all of the latest blank/double gameweek projections to hand.
The very best of luck to you and your team once again this gameweek.