Saturday 10th March
Man Utd vs Liverpool (12:30)
Everton vs Brighton (15:00)
Huddersfield vs Swansea (15:00)
Newcastle vs Southampton (15:00)
West Brom vs Leicester (15:00)
West Ham vs Burnley (15:00)
Chelsea vs Crystal Palace (17:30)
Sunday 11th March
Arsenal vs Watford (13:30)
Bournemouth vs Spurs (16:00)
Monday 12th March
Stoke vs Man City (20:00)
Gameweek 30’s matches are the reverse fixtures of Gameweek 8, a weekend in which Liverpool and Manchester United drew 0-0, Crystal Palace won their first game (and scored their first goals) of the season and Manchester City put seven past Stoke.
While we can safely discount repeat performances from Nacer Chadli, Tom Cleverley and poor old Joe Hart, GW8’s Dream Team throws up some familiar names for consideration ahead of this weekend’s fixtures. Raheem Sterling (£8.7m) top scored with 15 points, while teammate Gabriel Jesus (£9.9m) also hit double figures in City’s annihilation of Stoke at the Etihad. Both Jesus and Sterling are working their way back to fitness for Pep Guardiola’s side, but could well feature at the bet365 Stadium on Monday night; City’s line-up in their Round of 16, second leg tie against Basel on Wednesday evening may offer us some clues in that regard.
Christian Eriksen (£9.4m) and Kieran Trippier (£5.3m) scored heavily for Spurs in their 1-0 win over Bournemouth, though many of GW8’s other success stories – Tammy Abraham, Manolo Gabbiadini, Joe Gomez and Per Mertesacker – are bench-warmers for their clubs now. Five months is a long, long time in FPL.
Chelsea face a straightforward-looking home game against injury-hit Crystal Palace this weekend, but Eden Hazard (£10.6m) owners/captainers beware - only 37.7% of the Belgian’s 146 points have come at Stamford Bridge this season.
The opposite is true of several key Manchester City assets. Raheem Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne (£10.4m), Leroy Sane (£8.5m) and Sergio Aguero (£11.9m) have all registered more than 60% of their points at the Etihad this season. City are at Stoke this weekend and, though their away record is above reproach, they have scored 19 goals fewer on their travels than on their own patch this season.
Son Heung-min’s (£8.1m) price has risen this week following his brace in Tottenham’s 2-0 win over Huddersfield last weekend. It should be noted though that almost 80% of his 139 points this season have come at Wembley. Naturally, Spurs’ next three Premier League games will all be away from home.
Only nine gameweeks remain in the Premier League this season, though none will be alike. The blanks and doubles come thick and fast from Gameweek 31 onwards, while rotation – that bane of the FPL manager – will rear its ugly head as the season draws to a close, with the title race all but done and sides instead prioritising progress in the FA Cup, Champions League and Europa League. Certainly, we have seen such thinking in action already in the last few days - Aaron Ramsey’s absence from Arsenal’s squad for their trip to Brighton now attributed to Arsene Wenger’s pre-planning for the Gunners’ trip to Milan.
Well over 50% of all active FPL managers still have their second wildcards available, but chips used or not, these blanks and doubles will be at the forefront of all our thoughts from now until May. Perhaps what is being overlooked amidst all the carnage of fixtures postponements and rescheduling, is our old friend fixture difficulty. All Premier League sides have nine games remaining and, whether these matches fall in double gameweeks or otherwise, ‘FDR’ must surely remain a key consideration.
Arsenal’s forthcoming fixture list is the most appealing, with a trip to Old Trafford in GW36 the only real stern test remaining for the north London side (at least where FDR is concerned). Of course, Arsenal’s middling performances of late – they are a lowly 12th in the Premier League form table – and their aforementioned Thursday night distractions may offset this.
One Gunner who is rotation-prone is Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£10.4m). Cup-tied in the Europa League because of his participation in the Champions League with Borussia Dortmund, Aubameyang will surely – barring injury and suspension – play every remaining league game for Arsenal this season. Owned by only 4.4% of managers, the Gabonese forward proved his worth at the Amex on Sunday by netting a consolation – and with it a perplexing three bonus points – in Arsenal’s 2-1 defeat at Brighton.
Liverpool’s remaining games are similarly kind, not withstanding away trips to Manchester United and Chelsea. FPL managers loading up on the likes of Mohamed Salah (£10.6m), Roberto Firmino (£9.4m), Sadio Mane (£9.4m) and Virgil van Dijk (£5.6m) ahead of Liverpool’s GW31 fixture will do so in the safe knowledge that their fixtures after Watford’s visit to Anfield are just as appetising.
Of the sides without European or FA Cup commitments, Burnley and Bournemouth assets are worth consideration from now until the season’s end. Having endured a wretched, winless start to 2018, the Clarets finally secured three points in a 2-1 victory over Everton at the weekend. Games against West Ham, West Brom, Watford, Stoke, Brighton and Bournemouth offer at the very least the prospect of defensive returns for the stingy Burnley backline – budget buys Ben Mee (£4.9m), Stephen Ward (£4.7m) and Nick Pope (£4.9m) could well prosper for Sean Dyche’s men, who have the best defensive record outside of the top six. Pope indeed remains the best-value player in FPL, though Tom Heaton’s imminent return to fitness is a significant caveat.
Like Liverpool, Bournemouth have a guaranteed game in the now-decimated Gameweek 31 schedule and half-decent fixtures after this. Scorer of 16 league goals in 2016-17, Josh King (£7.0m) has not quite hit the heights of last season this time around. However, King was on target – and on penalty duties – in Bournemouth’s 1-1 draw at Leicester at the weekend and is currently only owned by 1.4% of FPL managers. A template midfielder this time last year, King is a massive differential entering the denouement of 2017-18. Charlie Daniels (£4.7m) and Callum Wilson (£5.9m) may have flopped in recent weeks, but they remain deserving of interest for Gameweeks 31-33 at the very least.
Stoke, Brighton, West Ham and Newcastle are up against it from now until Gameweek 38, but the tricky fixture list does at the very least offer up the prospect of potential save points for their respective ‘keepers. Stoke’s Jack Butland (£5.0m) has now made more saves than any other Premier League shotstopper this season and will likely be kept busy in games against Man City, Arsenal, Liverpool and Spurs over the coming months.
We've got more Gameweek 30 content on the way over the next few days, but make sure to visit The Stats Zone again next week for a special preview of the much-anticipated/discussed/dreaded Gameweek 31...