Greetings and welcome to your weekly FPL preview. This game doesn’t get any easier, but we’re approaching a critical time of the season with blanks and double game weeks on the horizon. More on that later. Last week wasn’t vintage for points scoring, with Man City netting just once and Chelsea suffering a 4-1 defeat. My score of 45 narrowly beat the average of 43 and saw a drop in the overall rankings to 202,000. It’s not great news, but I take a strange sense of pride from being 202,000th. The three zeros make it. Anyway, to this week – a North London Derby is afoot.
As mentioned, the weekend will kick off with Tottenham against Arsenal. Spurs will be looking to avenge the 2-0 defeat they suffered at the Emirates earlier in the season, but it’s a very different Arsenal now. We saw how it could be for Arsenal with their new look front line, Mkhitaryan picking up a hat trick of assists though Aaron Ramsey was the surprise hat-trick hero. Ramsey has always been a good FPL pick if he can stay fit and is valued at a very reasonable £7.0m, however with Spurs away followed by Man City next time it might be worth holding on to that thought for a few weeks. Spurs of course keep on keeping on, with Harry Kane holding a good record against Arsenal and now doubt ready to lead the line again here. Dele Alli continues to struggle for form, whilst it remains to be seen how Lucas Moura fits in to the equation. Toby Alderweireld finally returned from injury during Spurs’ FA Cup game against Newport on Wednesday.
Saturday tea time will see Man City host Leicester, though as of this writing Riyad Mahrez remains missing. I can’t see how he can possibly play in this game so I’ll assume he won’t, though from an FPL perspective it’s all about Man City anyway. A rare off day last week against Burnley, Pep’s men will be confident of getting back to winning ways with a home game against a Leicester team that is not particularly known for keeping it tight. A curveball, as ever, is that there’s a Champions League game on Tuesday away at Basel and I’m hoping Pep doesn’t worry too much about that until this game is won. Aguero has no direct competition for his place with Jesus injured, and with Sane also out it seems less likely that Sterling would operate as a makeshift striker. We should be ok for another few weeks…
Sunday will see Man Utd travel to Newcastle. Man Utd defenders are a must due to Newcastle’s profligacy, although we await news on new arrival Islam Slimani. Kenedy has undoubtedly helped Newcastle’s causes and has two assists in two games, and at just £4.7m he could be a useful bargain. Man Utd though of course are the main FPL attraction here but there is a fight for places in the positions behind Romelu Lukaku. Alexis Sanchez has one sewn up but Lingard, Martial, Rashford and Mata continue to fight for the others. There’s also the option of playing Pogba further forward. One to keep an eye on. Liverpool are away to Southampton later on Sunday, where no doubt all eyes will turn to Mo Salah again. It seems he more or less always scores, now I’ve said that of course he won’t but he’s been the standout FPL attacker this year, so if you have him, hold him. Not literally.
Crisis club Chelsea host WBA on Monday night. The big plus for Chelsea is that Bakayoko will be suspended and let’s face it, they will probably beat WBA. As usual Hazard is the main man but I’d expect a couple of changes after back to back defeats. Giroud will presumably start, which is bad news for Pedro or Willian.
It’s hard to ignore Swansea’s recent form, Carlos Carvalhal has really galvanized a struggling team and their upcoming fixtures look useful for more points. I’ve picked out Nathan Dyer as my pick, valued at just £4.4m in midfield but playing practically up front he seems too good to be true. Jordan Ayew is also a brilliant choice for the third, cheaper striker position, though he faces competition from Tammy Abraham. Perhaps he’ll play both and ruin my Nathan Dyer plan? Elsewhere, Burnley finally have a decent run of games having had a tough run recently whilst Watford are at West Ham this week but then have back to back home games as Javi Gracia looks to build on that Chelsea win.
As the FA Cup reaches the business end, it’s time to start considering it’s effect on the Premier League. Fifth Round weekend is next weekend, where there are no Premier League fixtures, so we need to start looking at the Quarter Finals. They are scheduled for Week 31, and as it stands, there will just be 3 games that weekend. Liverpool vs Watford and Stoke vs Everton are guaranteed to go ahead, with at least one of Huddersfield vs Crystal Palace or West Ham vs Man Utd joining them depending on the outcome of the Huddersfield/Man Utd FA Cup 5th Round. It’s all very complicated and I’ll not go into any more detail just now other than to say consider bringing in players from the teams who are guaranteed a fixture. There aren’t enough matches to consider using your free hit, as bear in mind if there are only 3 games that means there’s potential for a double game week with 14 teams playing twice. That’s free-hit city.
It’s worth noting that the EFL Cup final between Arsenal and Man City would normally mean double gameweeks for the two finalists, but as luck would have it they are playing each other that weekend anway and the game is being played on the Thursday, still part of gameweek 28.
For me it’s between Aguero and Salah this week. Salah because he always score and Aguero because Man City will probably win handsomely. Hazard at home to WBA is worth a shout too but it depends how much you really believe Chelsea are in meltdown. The choice is yours.
My team continues to disappoint. I’ve decided to bring in Nathan Dyer for Tom Carroll, at just £0.1m he actually plays in an attacking position and Swansea’s next 5 or so fixtures are decent. So why not? Rudiger was a poor choice of transfer last week but I’m gambling on Conte finally putting Gary Cahill out of his misery. I don’t think he will though, so Dummett better be ready.
De Gea, Rudiger, Ogbonna, Mee, Salah (c), Sterling, Dyer, Lingard, Aguero, Kane, Vardy. Subs: Elliot, Dummett, Atsu, Wimmer
Nathan Dyer in FPL…what year is it? My only concern (other than ability) is the return of Andre Ayew. He’s had an injury but is back in training.
I’ve done a lot of prattling this week so all that is left for me to say is good luck and whatever you do, may all your arrows be green. Toodles for now.