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01 May 2019 by Marc Jobling

FPL Gameweek 37 – Projections

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For all the talk of a Night King, Mohamed Salah (£13.3m) proved he is the Friday Night King after his performance against Huddersfield. Captaincies, defensive double-ups and triple captaincies dominated the Battle of Anfield, with FPL team performances heavily-dictated by Liverpool’s 5-0 thrashing during Gameweek 36’s opening game. Because, whilst Sadio Mane (£10.2m), Trent Alexander-Arnold (£5.7m) and Andrew Robertson (£6.8m) all brought in double-figure scores, it was Salah who reigned supreme with 19 points. Before Saturday had even begun, a collection of managers already had 84 points from the popular trio of Salah, Mane and Robertson.

It was a brutal start, soon followed by Tottenham’s home defeat to West Ham and hauls for Callum Wilson (£6.8m), Jamie Vardy (£9.0m) and Diogo Jota (£6.3m). Fulham shockingly racked up their third consecutive win and clean sheet by defeating Cardiff 1-0, putting the Bluebirds on the verge of relegation. Then Man City reclaimed their throne on top of the Premier League by scraping past Burnley 1-0. Sergio Aguero’s (£11.9m) shot crept 29mm over the line and keeps City in control of their destiny with two games left. Summer is coming.

OPTIMUM SQUAD

The optimum squad had a fantastic week, gaining access to the 100 Club thanks to Captain Salah and Anfield team mates Robertson and Alexander-Arnold. An entertaining 3-3 at St Mary’s provided a goal from Southampton’s James Ward-Prowse (£5.1m) and two goals from Bournemouth’s Wilson, although elsewhere there were blanks for Aleksandar Mitrovic (£6.3m), Raheem Sterling (£11.6m) and the Spurs back-line. Following last week’s statistic that Leroy Sane (£9.3m) had played just 38.45% of Man City’s last 1,740 minutes, this figure rose to 40% due to his 63 minutes at Turf Moor. No involvement in the goal, though.

There are no Liverpool players this week, with a tricky trip to Newcastle sandwiched between two Champions League semi-finals with Barcelona. Controversially, the algorithm has backed David de Gea (£5.7m) in goal, despite a series of high-profile errors continuing with Chelsea’s equaliser on Sunday. He has gone nine games without a clean sheet but, on the other hand, is about to face lowest-scorers Huddersfield.

That Chelsea goal came from Marcos Alonso (£6.2m), trolling the 1.5 million former owners who had finally giving up hope he’d ever get on a scoresheet. With 13 goals from the previous two seasons, the left-back had been playing like a winger and, after scoring once and assisting five times during the first four weeks of this season, normal service looked set to continue. Yet Sunday was his first goal since August. Such is football’s tendency to bring joy in bundles, perhaps hosting Watford will bring another Alonso strike.

Arsenal face Brighton as they try to arrest a run of three straight defeats and resurrect their chances of Champions League qualification. Until Pascal Gross (£6.7m) equalised against Newcastle, the Seagulls hadn’t scored in six games and that’s why Laurent Koscielny (£5.4m) gets into the optimum team. The game may be an afterthought thanks to the Europa League games with Valencia but Chris Hughton’s side shouldn’t pose too much of a threat.

Brighton’s survival is virtually secured, mostly due to Cardiff’s ineptitude. Worse still, Neil Warnock’s men are about to face a Crystal Palace side who have a knack of mathematically relegating teams. Huddersfield were the latest victims, in March, and FPL fanboy Patrick van Aanholt (£5.5m) seems to relish inflicting such misery. Not only does the left-back have a great goal scoring record, the team’s 12 clean sheets have been bettered by only five others.

Apart from Man United and Palace, the other stand-out fixture is Wolves at home to Fulham. Or at least it should be. Since relegation was confirmed with a 4-1 defeat to Watford, the Cottagers have looked invincible and suddenly know how to keep clean sheets. Jonny (£4.3m) has been overshadowed at Wolves by fellow wing-back Matt Doherty (£5.3m) but two Double Gameweek 35 assists led to a 17-point return. The algorithm has decided to captain Diogo Jota, who scored and assisted at Watford on Saturday. Listed as a midfielder but playing as a striker, Jota is in red-hot form and sees Fulham as a great chance to continue it.

Sterling got his seventh straight start at Burnley and played all 90 minutes. Without a game in midweek, it has been a rare spell of rest for Pep Guardiola’s side and they’ll need it ahead of a tough meeting with Leicester, who won the reverse fixture 2-1. The Foxes are fearless and possess Vardy, who has 11 goals from 11 games. Assuming Guardiola doesn’t start Riyad Mahrez (£8.2m) against his former club, Sterling looks a good source for goals in this must-win game.

Completing the midfield is Eden Hazard (£10.9m), who could be about to play his final home game at Stamford Bridge. Overlooked for the PFA Team of the Year despite his 16 goals and 13 assists, Chelsea’s hopes of a top four finish lie solely at the feet of Hazard, who hasn’t let constant speculation over a Real Madrid transfer affect his form.

It’s a 4-3-3 formation for the algorithm team, with Raul Jimenez (£6.9m), Wilfried Zaha (£6.9m) and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£10.8m) chosen up front. As mentioned, all three teams have strong fixtures, with Wolves looking to secure seventh place and possible European football for next season. Jimenez netted his 13th goal at Watford but they have only picked up five points from their seven games against the bottom four.

Zaha has scored nine times for Palace but, equally as important, wins a lot of penalties for Luka Milivojevic (£6.4m) to convert. He was on loan at Cardiff during their last Premier League spell and will hope to mark his return by winning another penalty. Aubameyang is only two behind Salah in the chase for the 2018-19 Golden Boot despite only starting 28 of 36 league games.

THE REST – GOALKEEPERS/DEFENDERS

It’s a rare week where many clean sheets are predicted, with all five reserve goalkeepers expected to score over six points. There may be some uncertainty over Bernd Leno’s (£4.9m) appearance; with Premier League stalwart Petr Cech (£4.7m) about to retire, he may be handed one final Emirates game. Doherty has a reputation as an attacking defender but the recent strike versus Arsenal was his first league goal since early December, with team mate Willy Boly (£4.7m) also on four for the season. Scott Dann (£4.4m) used to score an impressive amount but, due to a lack of game time, has none this season. Now back in the Crystal Palace line-up, Dann could be a fantastic differential pick.

THE REST – MIDFIELDERS/FORWARDS

It has been a brilliant season for Everton pair Richarlison (£6.4m) and Gylfi Sigurdsson (£7.4m), the game’s 13th and sixth highest-scoring midfielders. Despite his 13 goals from midfield, Sigurdsson has never had more than 10% ownership, perhaps overshadowed by the early season form which helped managers commit to the cheaper Richarlison. Man United have slight concerns over Marcus Rashford’s (£7.3m) shoulder and Romelu Lukaku’s (£10.7m) hamstring, although perhaps the bigger concern is the amount of times both he and Gonzalo Higuain (£9.0m) were caught offside during Sunday’s clash at Old Trafford. All three make the standby list.

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