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20 Feb 2019 by Marc Jobling

FPL Blank Gameweek 27 – Projections

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Refreshed from a two-week break for FA Cup and European matches, FPL begins its ascent towards the most hectic, thought-out time of the season – the spell of blank gameweeks and double gameweeks. Monday night’s FA Cup draw made things a bit clearer, with five blanks confirmed for week 31 and one for week 33.

The last round of Premier League matches brought convincing wins and clean sheets for Liverpool, Man United and Man City. Paul Pogba (£8.8m) scored and assisted at Fulham, totalling 16 points, whilst Andrew Robertson (£6.8m) brought in nine points, plus eight for Mohamed Salah (£13.6m) and Sadio Mane (£9.6m). Yet it was the champions who produced the most devastating scores. They tore Chelsea apart in a 6-0 rout, with Sergio Aguero (£11.5m) bagging a second hat-trick in seven days and yet still being outscored by Raheem Sterling’s (£11.3m) 18 points. Depending on your Aguero ownership, managers have either had a fantastic two gameweeks or a catastrophic couple.

OPTIMUM SQUAD

Apart from Sterling, all of these starred in the optimum squad. It was another good week for the team, with 80 points well above the global average of 57. Perhaps there was a regret over choosing Salah as captain when Aguero and Pogba scored so highly, but the surprise resting of Marcus Rashford (£7.8m) was the only real problem. Despite Brighton losing 3-1 at home to Burnley, Shane Duffy (£4.6m) scored a consolation, taking him to five for the season.

Gameweek 27 is highlighted by Liverpool’s trip to Man United. Only eight games are taking place, as the Carabao Cup final brings blanks for Man City, Chelsea, Everton and Brighton. That’s why the whole backline comes from Newcastle v Huddersfield, with the home side providing Martin Dubravka (£5.0m) in goal and defenders Jamaal Lascelles (£4.6m) and DeAndre Yedlin (£4.5m). The Magpies have developed a nasty habit of being on the verge of good results before conceding late on – two wins have turned into draws, with four late defeats. Throwing those points away could cost them in the fight for survival.

Unfortunately for Dubravka, the last two league games have gone this way and his errors have been responsible for both Son Heung-min’s (£9.0m) winner and Willy Boly’s (£4.6m) equaliser – although the latter goal had at least three injustices. His year on Tyneside has yielded 11 clean sheets though, with Rafa Benitez’s side proving to be a solid, reliable defensive outlet that rarely concede more than twice in a game. Lascelles and Yedlin are the two least likely to rotate, with the latter bombing forward to overlap.

Zanka’s (£4.4m) projected score of 3.87 is actually less than those of Kieran Trippier (£6.2m) and Ricardo Pereira (£5.3m) but, due to budgetary restrictions, the Huddersfield man makes the line-up. A low score is expected at St James’ Park, as the league’s two lowest-scoring sides meet. In midfield, Ryan Fraser (£6.1m) is picked over Pogba, Christian Eriksen (£9.3m) and Michail Antonio (£6.8m) for the same reason. He remains a very good pick, despite being on a run of five games without a goal or assist. Bournemouth faces Wolves at home.

It’s not a surprise to see the algorithm choose Salah, regardless of the opposition. He’s actually never scored against Man United, a side with four clean sheets from six league games. Still, a ‘midfielder’ with 17 goals from 26 games is hard to go without. Son takes over this week’s captaincy, hoping to continue the wonderful form that hasn’t been hampered by his brief Asian Cup duty. As well as scoring against Dortmund in last Tuesday’s Champions League tie, Son has eight goals from eight league matches. He’s averaged 10.0 points per game in that time.

At West Ham, Felipe Anderson (£7.2m) has been quiet of late but is still the game’s eighth highest points-scoring midfielder. With blanks this week for Richarlison, Sterling, Gylfi Sigurdsson (£7.3m) and Leroy Sane (£9.5m), it’s promising that Anderson not only has a game but it’s against Fulham. His poor form won’t stop him being a popular acquisition for the blanks/doubles period, as West Ham play in Gameweeks 31 and 33.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£11.1m) has been frustrating of late. Amidst a run of games versus Cardiff (H), Huddersfield (a), Southampton (H) and Bournemouth (H), the Gabonese striker missed the Yorkshire trip due to illness and owners watched in horror as the similarly-priced Aguero bagged two hat-tricks. At the time, it looked foolish to bring in rotation-risk Aguero just because of Double Gameweek 25, considering the tough games and upcoming blank. Arsenal’s fixtures were glorious. Yet sometimes the logical move is the wrong move and perhaps it was worth using two transfers to switch from Aubameyang to Aguero and back to Aubameyang.

He’s also been outscored of late by cheaper teammate Alexandre Lacazette (£9.5m). Four goals in six games have coincided with a solid run of starts under Unai Emery. With Lacazette suspended for Arsenal’s Europa League tie with BATE, he might be the safer pick when facing Southampton three days later. Completing the forward line is Watford’s Troy Deeney (£5.9m). He’s another player who hasn’t produced in five games but will travel to Cardiff hoping to end the Bluebirds’ great form.

THE REST – GOALKEEPERS/DEFENDERS

The only projected clean sheet belongs to Newcastle, so four of the five reserve goalkeepers are there for save points as they face sides from the top six. Sergio Rico (£4.4m) plays for the league’s leakiest defence and has conceded 15 times in the past six games. Back-up defence is dominated by forward-thinking full-backs, with Trippier prone to the occasional free kick and Pereira sometimes played as a winger. Matt Doherty (£5.4m) has been one of the stars of the season, with six goals in all competitions and assisting just last week in the FA Cup. He took a knock in the same game but is seemingly ok to play on Saturday.

THE REST – MIDFIELDERS/FORWARDS

Pogba’s sensational form just won’t stop. He’s only blanked in one league game since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s arrival for Gameweek 18. Eight league goals and six assists were followed by one of each during Monday’s cup win at Chelsea. Eriksen also got one of each during the league win over Leicester a fortnight ago. Mauricio Sarri had a great start at Stamford Bridge but has seemingly lost the fans and, if reports are to be believed, is on the verge of being sacked. Even if his summer decision to play N’Golo Kante (£5.0m) in a box-to-box role has attracted criticism, it’s been steadily productive for FPL bosses. He has three goals and four assists.

His former Leicester team mate Jamie Vardy (£8.8m) is about to start a fantastic run of fixtures, although he has burnt many managers before. Not just in FPL, with a reported fallout with Claude Puel resulting in a benching for the defeat at Spurs. However, he may just be worth the risk considering they have home games with Crystal Palace, Brighton and Fulham in their next four.

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