FPL Preview – Week 36

Image: Dele Alli of Tottenham; photo courtesy of espnfc.com

By Stuart Thomson

With the end of the Premier League season looming, we’re at the stage where every result and decision matters. In FPL, that is—in the Premier League there is already a bunch of teams with nothing left to play for that are just looking forward to their summer holidays. With this in mind, I’m going to skip a few of the fixtures this week and focus on the ones that look more interesting.

Aside from these teams playing out the season, we’ve also had some big milestones. Sunderland will now officially be relegated—as if nobody saw that coming—and Spurs will finish above their rivals Arsenal for the first time since 1995 after winning the North London derby 2-0. Meanwhile, the race for the title between Chelsea and Tottenham continues.

West Ham vs Tottenham

West Ham welcome Spurs for a Friday night kick-off as Spurs look to keep up the pressure on Chelsea. In the reverse fixture this season, Spurs beat West Ham 3-2 and their momentum should lead to goals here. Last week’s 2-0 victory over Arsenal saw Dele Alli (£9.2m), Eriksen (£8.9m) and Kane (£11.7m) all bagging a goal or assist. Seriously, these guys are picking themselves for FPL teams now. On the downward slope, Son (£7.2m) has failed to register any additional points in the last 2 games and is looking less secure for playing time.

Man City vs Crystal Palace

After picking up a groin injury in last week’s 2-2 draw with Middlesbrough—really? City can’t even beat doomed-for-relegation Middlesbrough?—Aguero may be doubtful for this weekend’s visit of Crystal Palace. Both Aguero and Gabriel Jesus scored in last week’s game proving there is room for both to play together, but Aguero’s injury does raise concerns for this weekend and the following double gameweek. If you don’t already have Aguero (£12.8m) and are thinking about getting one of the strikers in, I would take the cut-price Jesus, available at £8.7m.

Bournemouth vs Stoke

What a difference a few weeks make. Having won their last 2 matches against relegation rivals, Bournemouth have propelled themselves up the table to 10th and safe from relegation. Stoke on the other hand have picked up a point from their last 2 games including a defeat to struggling Swansea. After Stoke’s stars Shaqiri (£6m) and Arnautovic (£7.1m) enjoyed double figure hauls 3 weeks ago, they’ve since blanked in consecutive games and look like gambles going forward. One constant through this period though is the form of Bournemouth’s Josh King (£6.2m), scoring in his last 2 matches and 4 of the last 5.

With both teams effectively safe here, there’s not too much to play for so things could go either way, but form says Bournemouth should take it and King provides the best attacking option.

Swansea vs Everton

It’s crunch time for Swansea who sit 3rd bottom and heading for the drop. Sigurdsson (£7.4m) has managed to find a bit of form again though scoring and picking up 3 bonus points for a 10 point haul against Man Utd. He’s peaking at the right time but it could well be too late for Swansea. Regardless, look for him to continue to try and lead his team to safety.

Liverpool vs Southampton

For all the attacking prowess of Coutinho and Firmino, Emre Can (£4.7m) was the one picking up the plaudits last week with his goal in the 1-0 win over Watford. With game time pretty much secure, Can is about as good an option as you can get for his price. I’ll be looking for Coutinho (£8.6m) and/or Firmino (£8.7m) to bounce back this week. In Coutinho’s defense, he was withdrawn after only 12 minutes last week with a dead leg. This shouldn’t hamper him for this week and he’ll be back in what could be an open game with Southampton.

Now to Southampton and Gabbiadini who blanked against lowly Hull last week. I’m not mad that I captained him and he only played 58 minutes and didn’t produce against one of the worst defenses in the league. Okay, maybe I’m a little mad and my expectations of him have dropped…but he does have a double gameweek here. If he can play more than 60 minutes and register something of note in at least one of these games then he might just redeem himself. But as for a captain option again? Well, we’re just not quite there yet Gabbi.

At the opposite end of the pitch, Saints defenders provided good returns last week with their clean sheet. While both fixtures this week will make it difficult to repeat this…it’s a double gameweek, so, you know…just go with it.

Arsenal vs Man Utd

Arsenal’s first of two matches this week sees them welcome Man Utd to the Emirates. Jose Mourinho and Arsene Wenger have had a long running rivalry with Wenger’s Arsenal failing to get the upper hand in any of the 12 league matches against Mourinho (11 games in charge of Chelsea, 1 at Man Utd).

This isn’t a game where I’d really fancy many Arsenal or Utd players but—with Arsenal’s double gameweek—it’s hard to resist the explosive potential of Sanchez (£11.5). He has only netted 2 of his 19 goals this season against top 7 clubs, so I don’t expect a massive return in this game. He has also blanked in 2 successive games, so the double gameweek doesn’t necessarily ensure success. Still, if you don’t have him and he goes off on one…it’s gonna hurt.

Chelsea vs Middlesbrough

On paper, this is a delightful fixture for Chelsea against 2nd bottom Middlesbrough. Boro did hold Man City to a draw last week while Chelsea strolled to a 3-0 victory over Everton. In that victory, FPL points were spread with Pedro (£6.8m) and Cahill (£6.6m) picking up double-digit points. Top-priced midfield option for Chelsea Hazard (£10.5m) only managed an assist and didn’t dominate for FPL, but he’s scored points in 7 of his last 8—totally worth the outlay if you can afford him. If not, Pedro’s returns in the last 2 weeks could make him a decent budget option if he can keep up his form.

Southampton vs Arsenal

Okay so neither team is in the best form at the moment, but the additional fixture for both is a bonus this week. With that in mind—and the fact that both also have a double next week—it could be worth loading up on players from either side. Not that either team has another easy fixture this week, but there is increased potential to produce fantasy returns.

As previously mentioned, Gabbiadini has already burned me last week, so I won’t be looking at him as a captain option. Despite Sanchez’s poor form with 1 goal in the last 6 games, he’ll likely be strongly backed as captain this week with FPL managers fondly reminiscing over his monster double gameweek haul a year ago. Surprisingly, his Arsenal teammate Ozil (£9.4m) has been the more productive player of late, with 2 goals and 2 assists in his last 6 games. With his 50/50 success rate over this period, he looks more likely to be able to produce in at least one of this week’s fixtures, but I’m sure everyone’s been disappointed in Ozil before and may be reluctant to suffer that again. That said, at £2m cheaper than Sanchez, the disappointment won’t sting quite so much as it would with Sanchez.

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