Greetings and welcome back after what feels like forever since the previous Fantasy Football Unplanned. So little football has happened but the FPL landscape for the remainder of the season has been shaped by the promise of double game weeks as the season draws to a close. More on that later. You may recall that the previous game week had just 4 games, but thanks to Mo Salah scoring 4 times (plus an assist) the world and his dog scored well, with my 82 comfortably beating the average of 46. However, that only moved me up to 268,361st as most live teams had Salah as skipper, leaving only the dead teams and the risk takers licking their wounds. We’re back to a full fixture list this week, so where are the points to be found?
We’ve got a big clash on Sunday with Chelsea hosting Tottenham. The reality is starting to dawn that one of the top 5 is going to miss out on a Champions League spot and at this moment in time Chelsea look the most vulnerable. That means they really need to win on Sunday, so they’ll be glad Tottenham still look likely to be without Harry Kane. Kane’s injury has been well timed in many ways, the striker hasn’t actually missed a Premier League game yet due to the FA Cup and International break whilst managers have actually been able to breathe a sigh of relief at selling him to relieve their budget, but those plans may have to be reconsidered if the England man is back ahead of schedule which is the speculation in local press. Anyway, Chelsea’s need to win means their attacking outlets might be worth keeping hold of but it’s a tricky fixture to predict, especially with Chelsea’s form in 2018.
The weekend starts with Liverpool’s trip to Crystal Palace. This has both teams to score written all over it in my opinion, especially now Zaha is back for Palace. Salah’s escapades reached new heighs with his mighty haul in week 31, he’ll be a favourite for the armband here too but it violates my “never captain in the early game” policy. I might have to wave that here though, as he’ll be up against Van Aanholt who is basically a winger playing at full back. Attention then turns to Old Trafford, where Man Utd will host Swansea. You’d expect Man Utd to win comfortably as they did in the reverse fixture, but they don’t seem to have a big win in them at present. Swansea though are without their star man Jordan Ayew through suspension. The final stop on Saturday is Goodison Park for Everton vs Man City. We await news on Sergio Aguero’s injury ahead of what is a big week for Pep, with Liverpool in the Champions League on Wednesday followed by the Manchester derby next weekend. With that in mind, you wouldn’t expect Aguero to be risked here with greater tests ahead. Who really knows with Pep though, rotation is not what we need at this vital time of the season.
Sunday starts with Arsenal against Stoke, where once again we question if Arsenal are really a dilemma anymore. Wenger has shown a preference towards the Europa League recently, perhaps unsurprising given they are very unlikely to chase down the top 4 now. As we’ve mentioned previously, Aubameyang is guaranteed to play their league games if fit as he’s cup tied in Europe, everybody else is a risk.
I really think Marko Arnautovic will stick it to Mark Hughes this week. He had a field day for West Ham against Hughes’ Stoke earlier in the season and now has the chance to do it again against Southampton, where Sparky now manages. Just one to keep an eye on.
It’s always tricky at this time of year because you look at the fixtures and think Watford have two decent home games this week and next but what are they really playing for? Likewise West Brom, yes they have two home games but they are staring relegation in the face. Brighton probably still require a couple of extra points to be safe and they have home games with Leicester this week followed by Huddersfield next, so if there’s ever a time to get Glenn Murray and Pascal Gross, it’s now. However, there is planning to be done…
Time to get complicated again. We’ve managed to negotiate the disaster that was week 31, attention now turns to week 34 where 8 teams will play twice, including Tottenham, Man Utd and Chelsea. However, 7 of those 8 don’t have a fixture in week 35, which is decimated by FA Cup semi-final weekend. That will mean that week 37 sees another handful of teams playing twice, although that is yet to be confirmed officially. My plan to deal with this is to use my free hit in Week 34 to maximise the number of players I have playing twice, and use the weeks inbetween to buy players who have pleasant weeks 32, 33 and 35. This makes Arsenal (well, Auba) very appealing, but also Man City if you can put up with the risk of rotation and finally Watford who play at home in all three of those weeks. It’s a fiendish plan.
Salah? Why not.
Romelu Lukaku isn’t a bad bet against Swansea but as mentioned in the preview, Man Utd don’t rack up many big wins at the moment, so whilst he might get one he might not get many more. You’d fancy Aubameyang against Stoke but it depends who he is teamed up with. Ozil and Mkhitaryan is all well and good, but if it’s Iwobi and Welbeck all bets are off.
My team is Liverpool heavy from the previous week but they have a nice set of fixtures ahead and no blanks so I’m sticking with it. Aguero is still in my team but I’ll most likely transfer him out for Auba once I’ve heard the press conferences.
De Gea, Van Dijk, Dummett, Ogbonna, Salah, Sterling, Stanislas, Lingard, Aubameyang, Firmino, Vardy. Subs: Elliot, Mee, Van La Parra, Wimmer.
I’m just glad Premier League football is back, I’ve missed worrying about things like this. Good luck and may all your arrows be green, have a great Easter.