Double Game Week 35 & Blank Game Week 36 – What do we really need to cover?
Hello again and thanks for taking the time to read another one of my articles. This time I have chosen to look into the permutations for the upcoming double GW35 & blank GW36. Now, I must stress that these fixtures have not yet been confirmed, but they have been predicted by the incredible Ben Crellin and this is a man that I trust when it comes to getting these things right!
If you aren’t already following Ben and you have not seen the below spreadsheet before then I strongly suggest that you do so.
There will inevitably be 2 sides to tackling these upcoming fixtures. There will be those lucky enough to still be holding their Free Hit and those that used it earlier in the season, to either great or little success. For those with the Free Hit, there are certainly some tantalising fixtures to be targeting in game week 36, without needing to worry about the blanks or holding onto those assets you are gambling on for any longer than the single week. This will also continue to allow you to load up on those doubling, without worrying about then having 6-8 blanks the following week. I currently own 4 who blank in GW36 and without the Free Hit chip I am very reluctant to bring in any more, which means continuing to avoid the likes of Bruno & Greenwood and hiding behind the sofa when they play!
So, starting with DGW 35, there are a possible 8 teams with a double. These being Aston Villa, Crystal Palace, Everton, Southampton, Arsenal, Chelsea, Leicester & Manchester United. However, the final 4 in that list would then blank in 36 so for those without the Free Hit chip, that is certainly worth considering at this stage.
Another point to consider is the fact that Arsenal, Chelsea & Manchester United are also still fighting in both the Europa League & the Champions League and therefore could be prone to rotation during this period. Given they then blank in 36, I would personally be very tentative in bringing any more in at this stage whether you have the free hit or not. It would be incredibly frustrating to bring in someone like Mason Greenwood for him to then be rested against Aston Villa, play against a tougher Leicester side and then blank in 36. Just something to consider when planning moves with these fixtures in mind.Embed from Getty Images
Looking at the fixtures for DGW 35, I feel that it may not be as profitable as many DGW’s have been in the past. Between the European teams and the difficult fixtures, there may well be a number of players who have a single that could significantly outscore those with doubles. However, lets take a look at the doubles individually to understand whether they are worth targeting or not…
So many of us will be holding at least one Villa asset, with that player likely coming from either Martinez, Targett or Watkins. Given Villa’s inability to keep a clean sheet against West Brom and coming away with a point after a very late equaliser, I personally don’t see a haul coming from any of them during the double. Everton could provide the best opportunity for a clean sheet, but I can’t see anything other than Martinez save points during this period.
Manchester United will be a tough test both offensively and defensively, particularly as they continue to attempt to finish best of the rest in the league whilst also featuring in the Semi Finals of the Europa League. All in all, I wouldn’t be directly targeting Villa for the double but if you do own any of them then it is probably worth the hold in the hope that we get at least one clean sheet out of it.
Now you may think I am mad but I genuinely believe that Palace have the best double available. The downside being that the fixtures either side of the double aren’t exactly great. Palace currently have 38 points and are effectively safe for another season, so targeting them could go one of two ways. We could see a free-flowing palace team without pressure on their shoulders, looking to hit both Sheffield United & Southampton and enjoy playing their football.
The other side of the coin would be that Palace are on the beach! If you are looking for a real differential for the double and one that could pay off and see you rise up the ranks then Zaha & Eze could be brilliant options. Both very attacking and their link up play led to their goal against Leicester, albeit in a 2-1 defeat. We could see both involved in any Palace goals in these games and therefore if you have the available transfers, I believe they are worth a punt at this stage of the season.
I am actually quite interested in Everton assets for the double, particularly given the fixtures are relatively kind before and after the double too. Yes, Calvert Lewin has been disappointing lately and hasn’t looked himself since coming back from injury. But, if Everton find form in the run up to the double then I expect his ownership, along with others, will rise.
Those with the free hit may fancy at the very minimum the double up on Everton. This could be doubling up on a mix of DCL, Richarlison & Sigurdsson or the inclusion of Digne as a defensive asset. Following Evertons win against Arsenal, they are well and truly in the race for the Europa League spots and I therefore expect Ancelotti to have them competing right until the end of the season. Personally, without the free hit, I may look to take a punt on Digne as I move on other defensive assets whose fixtures turn for the worse.
Honestly as a Saints fan right now, I cannot recommend buying anyone! The football has been poor since the turn of the year, with us being bottom for points scored since January 1st… yes, we are even below Sheffield United. Hassenhuttl doesn’t appear to have a plan B and with injuries to Ings and rotation inevitable now that our league safety looks pretty secure, I don’t see the appeal of any asset. For the double, Liverpool could very well turn us over if they can find their shooting boots so you would be reliant on returns against Palace. However, if you do fancy a punt (particularly on a free hit) then perhaps Adams or Ward Prowse could be worth the gamble if you needed to spread the funds somewhat. Other than that, I honestly would not go near them.
Arsenal would be of interest to me but that will be dependant on how they perform in the Europa League semi-final. There is only 3 days rest between playing their 2nd leg and then West Brom on the Sunday. After Leno’s latest calamity, we cannot guarantee that Ryan doesn’t get any more minutes in the league this season. As for the defensive line, Luiz & Tierney appear to be returning and therefore the options for Arteta are improving at the back again.
This could well mean the likes of Holding start to be rotated during this busy period. As for the attackers, the injury to Lacazette needs to be monitored but even so, if a player plays in that 2nd leg then I wouldn’t be sure that they aren’t rested against West Brom. You would therefore be reliant on a return away to Chelsea and that would be a tough ask and not exactly what you would want from a doubling asset. With the possible blank in 36, I would be reluctant to move to Arsenal personally for the double, with the high probability that we may only get 1 game from our asset.
Again, Chelsea are another of those that have a very busy period of football over the next few weeks. Fulham is followed by the 2nd leg of the UCL which hangs in the balance at 1-1. Therefore, I fully expect a rotated squad in game week 34 against Fulham. Following the 2nd leg, the two fixtures for Chelsea are Man City & Arsenal. Given the quality of the opposition and league positions, I can then see Chelsea going strong into these two games given the need to qualify for the UCL next season, providing they of course do not win it this season.
Mason Mount could be a very useful differential in this run in as I expect he will continue to be a mainstay within Tuchel’s lineup. The front 3 is quite unpredictable to call in my opinion. Pulisic, Werner, Havertz, Ziyech, Abraham & Giroud could all feature at some point so I would be reluctant to gamble on any. However, defensively I believe the likes of Azpilicueta, Rudiger & Silva should all feature regularly and given Chelsea’s defensive record under Tuchel (apart from that defeat to West Brom) they could well keep a clean sheet against Fulham as well as potentially Arsenal or even a heavily rotated Man City squad who again are challenging in the UCL. Given the potential blank in 36, I would be reluctant to load up but the names suggested ‘should’ be good for a start in both of the double games.
Leicester are one of the form teams at present, with plenty of us already on at least 2 of their assets. The next 2 fixtures are incredibly targetable in terms of both attacking and defensive returns before the Foxes fixtures turn. They are however still well in with a chance of UCL qualification and therefore I wouldn’t be too quick on moving assets on, particularly if Chelsea get to the UCL final as they may well be resting players by the time they play them.
Of course, there is one immediate name we are drawn to and that is Iheanacho. 9 goals since make a reappearance in game week 24 and he looks likely to continue on that hot streak. Vardy is obviously an alternative, but why would you pay more for him at the moment when Iheanacho is outperforming, unless you fancy the gamble of the forward double up on a free hit!
As for choices further back, Maddison has returned from injury and although he has yet to properly get going, the next 2 fixtures could be very profitable for him as he looks to open up defences and get in between the lines. At the back, Castagne is the standout option for me. He looks nailed and has a goal and assist in his last 2 games, continuing to get forward with attacking intent. Fofana, Evans & Soyuncu are all also viable if you wanted the double up as I certainly feel Leicester could be good for the clean sheets, at least against Southampton & Newcastle. Yes, Leicester could blank in 36 with the probably schedule above, but 36 may provide the ideal opportunity to jump off of our assets anyway.
Again, another of those teams who have a tight schedule with the Europa League semi-finals between game weeks. Bruno Fernandes is of course highly owned in the game and I am certainly fearful given I am one of the few that don’t own him. That has of course been to my benefit recently as his returns have diminished, but surely it is only a matter of time before he hauls again? Rashford also appeals, although the management of his ongoing injury is of concern.
Greenwood’s ownership has increased as of late but I am personally reluctant to go there. I honestly see his minutes being managed in this period and rotated between himself and Cavani. With the BGW36 in mind, I don’t think I want to own a Greenwood who could potentially only play once during the double and then blank afterwards. If United however faulter in the Europa League, the final 2 fixtures look promising for them!
As for United’s back line, Luke Shaw continues to bag BPS when United keep a clean sheet. His crossing output has improved this season and his chance creation is certainly on the up. For that reason, I would not discourage anyone from owning him from now until the end of the season. He firmly has his eyes on the plane for the European Championships and therefore I expect his FPL points to remain consistent too.
In terms of my preference of teams to target for the double, I would say Palace, Everton, Leicester & Man United have the best set of fixtures. However, as I have said I would be concerned with the management of minutes across the 2 games. All in all, for those with the Free Hit, I actually think I would prefer to target the blank game week rather than the double. Plenty of us will have assets from the clubs mentioned above but may be taking a hit or two to field 11 in BGW36. I am going to briefly touch on the teams I believe we should be targeting for BGW36, particularly for those on a Free Hit.
To save you having to scroll back up, I am re loading Ben Crellin’s spreadsheet for ease of viewing as I look the potential targets for the Blank game week.
With Arsenal, Chelsea, Leicester & Man United potentially blanking, as noted before a lot of us may well have up to 7-8 players that may not feature in BGW36. This is the reason that I personally feel those with a Free Hit could have a significant advantage, even with the double being the week before. Personally, there are plenty of options for high scoring games in this game week and therefore a possible high ceiling of FPL points too. I am going to briefly analyse the top 4 games that I believe we should be targeting.
Tottenham vs Wolves
Given Wolves’ awful defensive display against Burnley, Tottenham and the likes of Kane, Son & Bale could all profit in 36. Wolves have also lost that attacking spark and now with the loss of Neto for the season, it looks even more difficult for Wolves to break down defences. Because of this, the likes of Lloris & Reguillon could be very handy defensive options for Spurs in this game.
Newcastle vs Man City
I think the selection of players for this game will be highly dependant on those who started against Chelsea on Saturday 8th May. 4 days on they play Newcastle before then travelling to Brighton on the 15th May. If say Phil Foden starts and plays 90 minutes against Chelsea, we could very likely see him miss out against Newcastle, particularly if the league is already tied up and City have made it to the UCL final. However, if he is rested against Chelsea then Foden could be an incredible option. Mahrez & Dias appear to be amongst the few that regularly feature in games in such close proximity and therefore both could be great options.Embed from Getty Images
Another gamble but strangely a differential would be KDB. Many of us moved away due to his injury and have not returned. I would also be reluctant to hold long term is City are in the UCL Final as I expect he will be amongst many who see reduced minutes. However, if there is a sniff of him starting against Newcastle then he should be one of the first names in our teams.
West Brom vs Liverpool
Now we all know that Liverpool are somewhat suffering from a lack of confidence in front of goal as of late, and have fallen to pressure late on in games too. But, they will desperately be trying to get back in the top 4 and this is a game that they will need to win and should be winning too! Honestly, I believe Salah is still the standout captaincy option for this week and I expect his EO to be high. Jota & Mane have both looked out of sorts lately but Liverpool will need them to start firing soon and could be worth a gamble.
Defensively, TAA should be the go to if funds are not an issue and on a Free Hit, they shouldn’t be. Robertson could also be a very tasty option and perhaps you may even fancy the double up of the two? However, if you are struggling then Kabak appears to have cemented his spot in that backline for the rest of the season.
Everton vs Sheffield United
Very much a similar proposition to the double game week, in which I feel Everton could be worth a gamble this week. All those noted previously could be targeted for our squads and if they currently feature in our line-ups, I would be very reluctant to lose them at present.
That brings an end to the article. I hope that the above has been of some benefit and at least provides some food for thought with regards to managing the double and blank game weeks. As I say, I certainly feel it will be advantage to those with a Free Hit if you can get your team selection spot on! Good luck for the upcoming run of games and you will no doubt hear from me soon
Clean Sheet Wipeout – Host of the ‘Season Keepers’ Podcast.