A little while back, the Fixture Analysis veered away from the usual format to help navigate people through the early Double Gameweeks which occur during the season. This double, or in some cases blank, weeks appear when the later rounds of the domestic cup competitions kick in. With that in mind, here’s a quick guide to what’s going on at the moment, because a look at the fixtures tab on the website may well confuse a few people.
As of the weekend, we head into gameweek 34. Between Saturday and Thursday, Monday is the only day without any football, but it’s West Brom, rather than any of the four FA Cup semi finalists who aren’t in action at all – a blank week for them. The way this set of games has been rearranged means that Crystal Palace, Middlesbrough and Manchester United are the teams featuring twice.
Bournemouth vs Middlesbrough
Burnley vs Manchester United
Liverpool vs Crystal Palace
Middlesbrough vs Sunderland
Crystal Palace vs Tottenham
Manchester City vs Manchester United
Usually, this would make Zlatan Ibrahimovic an automatic choice for the armband, but away games at Burnley and Pep Guardiola’s city rivals make these tough looking, and we also have to consider the Swede being rested at the weekend against Chelsea. Instead, I’ll suggest the left-field choice of Alvaro Negredo, of free-scoring Boro! Hear me out… He has two goals in his last three games and this week travels to Bournemouth and takes on Sunderland at home – teams hardly known for their ability to keep clean sheets. Surely he’s good for another here?
Gameweek 35 is a normal looking week, with no blanks or doubles and just a straightforward ten matches across the course of three days. Harry Kane (H. Arsenal), Ibrahimovic (H. Swansea) and Manolo Gabbiadini (H. Hull City) look the smart plays here, although Romelu Lukaku (H. Chelsea) might look to impress his past (and future?) employers Chelsea.
There is Friday night action to kick off gameweek 36, with Spurs travelling to London rivals West Ham. There’s a normal looking program of games across Saturday, Sunday and Monday too, but the league have snuck in Arsenal’s trip to Southampton on the Wednesday night to conclude the gameweek action.
Liverpool vs Southampton
Arsenal vs Manchester United
Southampton vs Arsenal
I have to admit, I’d veer on the side of caution on just jumping to captain a Saints or Gunners player this week, just because they’re playing twice. Arsenal’s other game is against Man United, whilst Southampton’s is a trip to Anfield to face Liverpool. Neither of these are particularly kind and elsewhere there are some favourable games for other teams. For example, Man City host Palace, Chelsea are home to Middlesbrough and Everton have a trip to Swansea. By all means, ride the Sanchez donkey, but don’t be stunned if two games only returned around ten points. There might just be more sensible options out there.
Frankly, gameweek 37 is mental, and this is probably the one that you need to be planning for already in all honesty. Arsenal, Chelsea, Leicester, Manchester City, Manchester United, Southampton, Sunderland, Tottenham, Watford and West Brom (eesh) are the teams in action twice this week, with games played between Friday and the following Thursday.
Everton vs Watford
West Brom vs Chelsea
Manchester City vs Leicester
Middlesbrough vs Southampton
Sunderland vs Swansea
Stoke vs Arsenal
Tottenham vs Manchester United
Chelsea vs Watford
Arsenal vs Sunderland
Manchester City vs West Brom
Southampton vs Manchester United
Leicester vs Tottenham
The reason for this of course, is that every club needs to have played 37 times by the time the final Sunday of the campaign rolls around, and if football everyday is how we achieve that, then so be it! From a fantasy perspective it’s tough to navigate, but things worth noting are that Man City have two kinder looking home games (Leicester and West Brom), Chelsea visit the Baggies before hosting Watford and Arsenal play Stoke and Sunderland. Spurs, in what could be their last game at White Hart Lane, face Man United before a trip to the King Power Stadium – where the champions are far better than they are on the road. It’s well worth going on to the FPL site, getting a notepad and drafting some notes for this gameweek. It’s a key one and if you’re in the running in a tight league, things could all hinge on gameweek 37.
The final Sunday of the season is of course gameweek 38, and it’s a complete stroll in the park compared to the previous round of action. Ten matches, every team in action, 3pm kick offs up and down the country – it’s very retro in that respect but I love the traditionality that’s maintained by the final day of games each year. In the interests of fair competition I know they have to be, but it still makes me happy that this is still a thing. Also, from an FPL perspective, this is easier to manage. My only reservations here are that some sides with nothing to play for (this year looking like West Brom, Southampton, Stoke, etc) might be in holiday mode already. Occasionally, managers use the final game of the year to play that young right back the fans have been calling for all season, or giving minutes to the third choice goalie who has sat patiently in the stands for the last nine months. It’s something to watch out for, but a quick look at the fixtures shows that the likes of Chelsea, Liverpool and United all have nice looking match ups.
If you still have your wildcard/bench boosts chip available, this is the time to use them. With so many teams playing twice, you could effectively rip apart your whole lineup, focus solely on those who are set to play both games and then call in your bench boost. This would potentially give you up to 15 players playing twice – in any normal situation you’d wait three weeks to get ’30 games worth’ of players playing in your team.
Admittedly there’s a lot to take in and think about here, and if you’re in midtable holiday mode like those aforementioned sides you may already have your flip flops on and be thinking about which Brighton and Hove Albion players you want in your FPL side next year.
However, if you’re not and you’ve got something to play for in your league, the onus is on you to take this article, look at the fixture list, and plan your final five weeks the best you can. Good luck!
Written by Joe McPhee (@JPMc99)