Well, what a struggle of a week that was. Defences were definitely on top, with 11 sides collecting clean sheets across 11 matches. As I give my defence a very small proportion of my budget, this was a bad week. My score of 44 was much less than the average of 56 and resulted in me plummeting to 290,592nd. Sigh. Let’s see what we’ve got in store this week.
The Premier League has kindly split into Relegation Saturday and Champions League Sunday/Monday. The main attraction this weekend is the North London Derby between Spurs and Arsenal, but with Arsenal rediscovering a bit of form, this might not be the one-sided affair you would have expected a few weeks ago. I’d probably say keep your Spurs attacking players if you have them, but you wouldn’t throw the captaincy at Kane/Alli/Son/Eriksen. Arsenal meanwhile seem to be chopping and changing between 3-4-3 and 4-2-3-1, which basically means Sanchez and Ozil are guaranteed to play and everybody else is a risk.
The other big game on Sunday is Everton against Chelsea. Chelsea haven’t keep a clean sheet in eons whilst Everton are a handful at home. Lukaku (£10.5m) has been imperious at home and you’d fancy him to score here, whilst Hazard looks like he could score in any game on the planet at the moment. Man Utd are at home to Swansea, which you’d normally say was a points opportunity but will Mourinho have an eye on the Europa League tie this coming Thursday? I’ve given up trying to predict things in this Ibrahimovic-less world. The blue side of Manchester visit Middlesbrough, who are surely doomed but gave themselves some hope on Wednesday night. I like Aguero’s odds here but the return to fitness of Gabriel Jesus unsettles me a little bit. Will he come back in to give Aguero a rest? Monday night sees Liverpool travel to Watford. Without Lallana, Henderson and Mane, Liverpool have lost some of their spark but Coutinho (£8.5m) is still doing his bit to carry the fight.
Your bargain shopping is on Saturday this week, where the sides predominantly at the bottom of the table are in action. Southampton looked decent going forwards in their defeat at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday, and with nothing to play for you have to feel they’ll be in a similarly free mentality against a Hull side who will be going for the win. For that reason, I think Gabbiadini (£6.4m) is a cheap option up front. An alternative is the more pricey Benteke (£7.3m) who proved his worth at Anfield last weekend, whilst Zaha (£6m) and Townsend (£5.8m) are midfield options as Palace host Burnley. West Brom and Leicester will probably go hell for leather at each other in a midlands derby, but with nothing on the line except pride, it’s hard to bank on either side. Sunderland can be relegated this weekend if they don’t beat Bournemouth at home, and although it’s a winnable game, it would be very brave to pick a Sunderland player at this stage.
There are no teams with two games this week, but Arsenal and Southampton have double game weeks next week if you want to get ahead of the curve on that one. Aside from that, it’s all quiet.
With Chelsea, Spurs and Arsenal facing tough fixtures and Man Utd rotating like the Earth, the captain options are diminishing fast. I’m going with Aguero, hoping that Pep resists the temptation to replace him with Gabriel Jesus as he did back in February. I also think Hazard is a safe bet regardless of who he faces, and he is likely to be up against the inexperienced Mason Holgate. It should be an open game either way. My final choice is, as always, a left-field choice, and I’m going for Christian Benteke for Crystal Palace against Burnley.
It’s been a tumultuous few weeks and with this week seeing many of the big FPL names going head to head, it might be better viewing for neutrals than it is for fantasy managers. Either way, I wish you luck and may all your arrows be green, mine haven’t been for some time.