All the talk in FPL circles over the last week or so has been of double gameweeks and chip strategies, after the Premier League – finally – confirmed when the first batch of outstanding fixtures will be rescheduled for. Gameweeks 34 and, almost certainly, 37, will be the ‘doubles’ this season, with players from Chelsea, Spurs, Manchester United, Leicester and Brighton (and to a lesser extent, Southampton) suddenly en vogue following the announcement that these six clubs will enjoy two double gameweeks between now and May.
Though they have a double gameweek themselves in GW37, it has been surprising to note that Manchester City assets have been in short demand amongst those FPL managers either wildcarding already or doing so imminently. Of the ten most transferred-in players this week, only one – David Silva (£8.1m) – plays for City.
City after all have plundered more collective FPL points this season than any other club, well over 100 more than their nearest rivals. Their cumulative midfield haul (948) in particular dwarfs that of all other Premier League sides, even a Mohamed Salah-inspired Liverpool team.
Rotation and motivation seem to be the primary reasons for avoiding an overload of City assets, not just because of their inevitable early title win but also due to their looming UEFA Champions League double-header against Liverpool, the first leg of which takes place next week.
Are we jettisoning City players too early though? The projections for Gameweek 32 certainly suggest so.
David Silva leads a seven-strong City contingent in our projected top 15 points-scorers of Gameweek 32, with fellow midfielders Raheem Sterling (£8.6m), Kevin De Bruyne (£10.4m) and Leroy Sane (£8.6m) also backed to deliver against an Everton side without a victory over a top six team all season. Goalkeeper Ederson (£5.6m) and defenders Nicolas Otamendi (£6.4m) – on target for Argentina in midweek – and Kyle Walker (£6.6m) are meanwhile tipped to record their fourth successive clean sheet in the league.
Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah (£10.7m) and Sadio Mane (£9.5m) are expected to continue their rich vein of form at struggling Crystal Palace on Saturday. The Reds are without a double gameweek at all this season, but an appealing fixture list and scintillating form in front of goal – a division-high total of 25 goals in ten league games in 2018 – means, like City, their players still warrant consideration regardless. Salah in particular is surely a season-keeper barring injury or suspension – though over 1,800 brave/foolish souls have nevertheless deemed it shrewd to offload him this gameweek. The runaway Premier League top scorer needs only 30 more points to beat Luis Suarez’s FPL total in 2013-14.
Wildcard staples such as Riyad Mahrez (£8.9m), Romelu Lukaku (£11.4m), Son Heung-min (£8.3m) and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£10.6m) – four of the five most bought players so far this gameweek – are projected to reward their new owners with imminent returns, while Newcastle United’s on-loan midfielder Kenedy (£4.7m) is predicted to follow up his 16-point haul in his previous outing when Huddersfield head to Tyneside this weekend. On set piece duties for the Magpies, the Brazilian winger has attempted 14 shots and created six chances in his half-dozen starts for Rafael Benitez’s side and looks a snip at his current purchase price.
With nine of the 15 players listed above registered as midfielders in FPL, who are the likely winners this gameweek in defence, in attack and between the sticks?
There are some very real clean sheet opportunities on offer this weekend, with Burnley, Arsenal and Manchester United having particularly tempting fixtures against struggling West Brom, Stoke and Swansea respectively. No ‘keeper has registered more clean sheets this season than the 15 recorded by David de Gea (£5.9m), while Nick Pope (£4.9m) has garnered more bonus points (18) than any other shotstopper in 2017-18.
An away fixture at Chelsea may not be the likeliest source of a clean sheet this weekend, but Tottenham’s defensive record in 2018 is by far the division’s best. Spurs have only shipped five goals in their ten league fixtures contested this year, so the likes of Ben Davies (£5.9m), Kieran Trippier (£5.2m) and Jan Vertonghen (£6.0m) warrant their elevated projections this week.
Only Marcos Alonso (£7.2m), Nacho Monreal (£5.5m) and Nicolas Otamendi have scored more league goals from defence this season than Jamaal Lascelles (£4.7m). The Newcastle centre-half’s prospects of a shut-out this weekend also look promising, with visitors Huddersfield having only scored two goals – both against rock-bottom West Brom – in their last five away league games.
With Sergio Aguero still working his way back to fitness, Gabriel Jesus (£10.0m) could benefit from the Argentinean’s absence at Goodison Park this weekend. Jesus himself has recently returned from a lengthy lay-off, but delivered an assist in his first start of 2018 in Gameweek 30 and scored in Brazil’s 1-0 win over Germany on Tuesday.
Also making an immediate impression on his emergence from the physio room was Burnley’s Chris Wood (£6.2m). The former Leeds striker has three goals in two substitute appearances for the Clarets since regaining fitness and could very well start up front alongside Ashley Barnes in Burnley’s trip to the Hawthorns on Saturday.