I think I hate this game. I didn’t even do that badly but I could have done better. My score of 55 beat the average of 46 but it still wasn’t enough to save me from the red arrow of doom as I plunged to 231,580th. Anyway, we’re into a new week and it’s already laced with issues. Let’s just say a hasty re-write has taken place since 10 pm on Thursday. Join me in the minefield of week 34.
*Double Gameweek Klaxon* Yes, it’s the first of three double game weeks, but it’s a fairly tame one. Ibrahimovic owners were licking their lips before he limped off against Anderlecht. Even if it isn’t as serious as it looks, you have to think that there’s no chance of him playing both games this week, or indeed either. As his teammates played 120 minutes in that win over Anderlecht, it’s fair to say there’ll be rotation aplenty for the trip to Burnley, especially with the Manchester derby coming on Thursday. Also at the double are Crystal Palace, who have an unappealing trip to Liverpool and a home game with in-form Spurs. Zaha and Benteke have proven to be very good options in recent weeks, with Zaha a very decent budget option. Away games are in many ways better for Zaha due to his threat on the counter. Middlesbrough are the final team with two games but, I’m struggling to say something positive. Negredo, I guess, is the man to get if you insist on it.
Elsewhere all the usual suspects are in action, with varying degrees of points opportunities. We’ve already mentioned Liverpool against Crystal Palace, where Coutinho and Firmino will be confident of a positive return, but another spanner in the works this week is the FA Cup semi-finals. With those matches taking place on Saturday & Sunday, the league games occur in midweek which means that injuries and suspensions could be picked up after the FPL deadline. Manchester City will host the Manchester derby on Thursday, with FPL managers hoping Aguero comes through Sunday’s FA Cup game unscathed. Likewise, the aforementioned Palace vs Tottenham game will come after Tottenham and Chelsea slug it out on Saturday. It’s the first week in a while I’m not delighted to have three Spurs players but they should still win. Chelsea have the much nicer looking visit of Southampton, with Hazard a great option as captain if you’re not plumping for a two-gamer. Arsenal host Leicester, also in midweek, with Sanchez the obvious pick, effective in any formation Wenger dreams up. Top scorer Romelu Lukaku is at West Ham, who he has an unbelievable record against.
It’s do or die time for some clubs at the bottom, with the bottom four all facing pivotal fixtures. Swansea are at home to Stoke, as Siggy continues his efforts to try and keep Swansea up all on his own. His points have dried up in recent weeks though, with many (me included) getting ready to jettison him for somebody with more games to play. Hull host Watford in another crucial looking match, Oumar Niasse has proven a decent source of points which is probably the most unlikely FPL sentence of the season. Sunderland go to Middlesbrough, where you have to say a defeat for either team should signal the end. Middlesbrough, of course, have two games, starting with a trip to Bournemouth on Saturday, but I can’t tell you to back any Boro player after Negredo-gate a few weeks ago.
There’s no outstanding option for the teams playing twice. Ibrahimovic’s injury opens the door for Rashford and Martial on rotation, but I have Aguero, Lukaku and Kane and I don’t want to shift any of them for the sake of one double game week. At this time of the season, I like to hang my hat on teams who need to win, which makes Hazard as good a shout as any ahead of their home game with Southampton. Of course, anybody playing in the FA Cup semi-final carries a small degree of risk, so the risk-free option would be Coutinho or Firmino, or Lukaku if you’re going balls out the bath. I’m basically just naming players now, can you tell I’m unsettled?
It promises to be a pretty hectic week, with matches from Saturday to Thursday (with a brief respite on Monday). There’s also an element of the unknown about it, so there’s bound to be some rotation and even things we thought we knew, like Wenger’s formation, are no longer certainties. No matter what you do, I wish you good luck and may all your arrows be green.