Fantasy Premier League Tips Gameweek 34
Welcome to Fantasy Premier League Tips Gameweek 34. Init messaged me at the weekend to double check I was still ok to write this week’s article. To which I replied ‘of course’. I then gave it some thought and wished I’d said I was busy. This must be the dullest double game-week in living memory. Somebody wake me up when it’s over! While the double may be boring the league itself has suddenly got a lot more interesting with the gap between Chelsea and Spurs now down to four points. This is great news for us fantasy managers as it looks like the battle between the two sides will go to the wire meaning we don’t need to worry about rotation or their respective players switching off. This week rather than follow my usual format of tipping particular players I’ve decided to look at a number of topics. Why? I don’t know really. Here’s hoping it’s of some help to you…
Double Game-week 34
As double game-weeks go they don’t come much drabber than DGW34 but you don’t really need me to tell you that. However it is a double game-week and once again it is surely an opportunity for those of us who plan ahead to make up some ground or pull further away from those who simply play week to week. How you treat this particular double probably comes down to one particular factor and that is whether or not you have a wildcard. Those that have shown some self-restraint since January 1st are in a position where they can possibly throw caution to the wind while those who are without a wildcard may need to take a more measured approach. Basically those with a wild card can attack it Kevin Keegan style while those without may need to take an Arsene Wenger approach. Why? A combination of the form & fixtures of the three team involved makes it difficult to feel comfortable loading up on players from these teams, at least if you have your wildcard you can tidy your squad up and build for DGW37.
So what are the issues with the three teams? With United it’s the dreaded rotation. Jose has said that he is now going to prioritise winning the Europa League as he feels that this is their best route into next season’s Champions League. Their two fixtures aren’t great either. First of all they travel to face a Burnley side who have won 10 & drawn two of their 16 home fixtures, conceding just 14 goals. Their 2nd fixture is of course the Manchester derby. With Palace it’s their fixtures. Away to Liverpool and home to Spurs. While they’re undoubtedly the type of team who could frustrate and take something from Liverpool they’re highly unlikely to get anything from Spurs. And what of Boro? Well they’re just crap! However their two fixtures are rather tempting (Bournemouth away and Sunderland at home) and despite being rubbish they do have the joint 6th best defence in the league, so a clean sheet is not out of the question.
Ok, so let’s take a look at the viable options from each of the three teams.
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[/three_fifth]With United boasting the league’s 2nd best defence it would appear that owning at least one from their rear guard is advisable for the double. With ownership rates of 33% and 16% David de Gea and Antonio Valencia are clearly the most popular. However de Gea was left out of the Sunderland and Anderlecht games as Mourinho felt he wasn’t in the right place, he did however return for the Chelsea game. Valencia sat out the Everton and Sunderland games apparently due to fatigue. Whatever about de Gea I’m not sure I’d feel comfortable drafting Valencia in at this stage particularly as Jose has a number of options at right back. Instead I would suggest turning your attentions towards Eric Bailly who has started seven of the last eight games. In these seven games United have kept five clean sheets and Bailly himself has picked up six bonus points. It’s also worth noting that Jose is currently short of options at centre back which decreases the chances of Bailly being rotated.
Moving into midfield and it really is a minefield. It’s near impossible to predict which midfielders Mourinho will choose to deploy against both Burnley and City and therefore I believe that the United midfield is best avoided. Should you feel compelled to pick one of them up ahead of the double Ander Herrera is on current form probably your best bet. With just a goal and five assists to his credit over the course of the season he’s hardly prolific but the goal and two of the assists have come in the last two games. He’s probably the most likely to start both games and is priced at just £6.3m.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Prior to Sunday’s game against Chelsea Ibra had started every league game when available. So why was Ibra benched? In the build up to the game the Swede admitted to being tired during the Anderlecht game on Thursday night something which Mourinho backed up after announcing his team. However after the game Mourinho indicated he had copied the tactics they had used against Chelsea in their recent FA Cup game. Surely it’s inconceivable to consider going into the double without Ibra but Sunday’s game against Chelsea proved that United are capable of getting a result without the Swede. But with 17 goals and seven assists over the course of the season are you brave enough not to pick him?! You could of course take a punt on young Rashford who has started four of the last five and has scored in the last two. However you do feel that if you’re going to buy a United forward it needs to be Ibra.
Whatever you do don’t make any United transfers until after they’ve played Anderlecht on Thursday night.
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[/three_fifth]Let’s just ignore their fixtures for a moment. Their recent form is pretty positive, five wins and a draw in their last eight, scoring 12 and conceding just seven in that period. Unfortunately I can’t ignore those fixtures any longer! On current form Spurs are the best team in the league, they’ve won seven of their last eight games scoring 22 times and conceding just six. Liverpool’s numbers aren’t as impressive but they’ve won five and drawn two of their last eight, scoring 15 and conceding 10. Palace’s recent upturn in fortunes has been built on their defence. The problem is I can’t see them keeping a clean sheet in either game particularly as Mamadou Sakho will miss the Liverpool game as part of his loan conditions. Those looking to free up some cash could consider Martin Kelly who is priced at just £4.2m and has started the last three games.
It’s in the middle of the park where Palace throw up a number of options in the shape of Andros Townsend, Wilfried Zaha and Yohan Cabaye. Both Townsend & Zaha have two goals and three assists in their last six games while Cabaye has two goals and three assists in his last seven. Let’s take a quick look at some of their underlying stats. Townsend & Zaha have both had 30 touches in the opposition penalty area over the last six games. Cabaye has had just 12 but this is to be expected as he plays deeper. Zaha has had 15 attempts with three on target, Townsend 11 attempts with four on target and Cabaye six attempts with two on target. As you can see there’s not much separating the three although Townsend probably shades it and it’s also worth noting that he’s picked up maximum bonus points three times in his last six games.
Up top Christian Benteke shouldn’t be ignored. He has three goals and an assist in his last four games and now has 12 goals for the season. His underlying stats for his last four games when compared to the entire season have seen a marked improvement and he goes into DGW34 as a striker in form. He’s unlikely to get much change out of the Spurs centre backs but he’ll give the Liverpool boys a torrid time.
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[/three_fifth]Boro’s recent form doesn’t make for good reading…they’ve drawn three and lost five of their last eight games scoring just four times and conceding 12. Over the course of the season they’ve scored just 23, the lowest total in the league. They do however boast the 6th best defence in the league having conceded just 39. Many would have had Victor Valdes pencilled in for this week but with the Spaniard missing the Arsenal game with a rib injury it may be prudent to hold off making such a transfer until Friday when hopefully Steve Agnew will provide us with an update. Your best bet from their defence is certainly Ben Gibson who has started every game this season. It will hardly come as a surprise that he doesn’t offer a huge attacking threat but he has picked up 13 bonus points over the course of the season. At £5.0m he could be considered a little pricey in which case you might want to consider George Friend. Friend climbed off the bench in the 16th minute on Monday replacing the stricken Fabio, to make his first appearance since GW27. The view amongst Boro fans is that Friend will force his way back into the starting XI and at £4.2m he could be a great option.
It’s impossible to get remotely excited by the Boro midfield! They’re on a par with being at a teenage disco surrounded by mingers! However, Marten de Roon deserves a cursory glance simply because he’s priced at £4.4m. He has three goals and an assist to his name over the course of the season so there is an outside chance of some attacking returns from his two games. I won’t try and dazzle you with his underlying stats…
Alvaro Negredo is on fire. He’s scored two in his last three games to bring his tally for the season to eight. He’s actually had seven efforts on target over the last six game-weeks which may not sound like a lot but the only strikers to better it are Lukaku, Aguero, Benteke & Janssen. Given the fact that Bournemouth & Sunderland have conceded a total of 30 goals between them in their last eight games Negredo deserves some consideration.
Only 3 Spurs Allowed!
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[/three_fifth]Here’s an idea for a chip, the ability to pick four players from one particular club for three consecutive game-weeks? Sound good? I’d wager many fantasy managers would like such a chip right now as they struggle to decide on the best three Spurs players to pick. To be honest if such a chip existed we’d probably want to pick five Spurs players. Their form is that good at the moment. They’ve scored 22 goals in their last eight games. In these eight games Harry Kane has six goals and two assists, Dele Alli has five goals and three assists, Son has five goals and an assist while Christian Eriksen has two goals and four assists. Given the form of these four it’s safe to assume that ideally we all want three of the four.
The average points per game over the season also indicate that you’ll want three of these four. Kane leads the way with 6.9ppg, Alli has 6.3ppg, Eriksen has 5.9ppg and Son has 5.1ppg. The next best IS Danny Rose with 4.7ppg and Kyle Walker with 4.6ppg. Now obviously Rose & Walker are cheaper than the four attackers and there is surely an argument to be made they offer better value for money but that’s an argument for another day. Right now, it’s all about scoring points and three of the four attackers is in my opinion the best ways to go.
But which three? Now the best way to do this would be to analyse their stats when the four of them are on the pitch at the same time. Unfortunately I don’t have the time for that so instead I’ll look at their averages over the course of the season. As I’ve already noted Kane has the best points average over the course of the season. It will hardly come as a surprise to see that in terms of shots on target Kane once again leads the way with an average of 1.7 per game, Eriksen has 1.3 per game, Alli 1.1 per game and Son 0.9. Surprisingly when it comes to touches in the opposition penalty area Son leads the way with 5.2 per game, followed by Kane with 4.8, Alli with 3.8 and Eriksen with 3. Unsurprisingly Eriksen leads the way when it comes to creating chances, he creates a chance every 30.3 minutes, followed by Son with a chance every 48.4 minutes, Kane every 57.1 minutes and Alli every 62.6 minutes.
Now I realise we’re not comparing like with like as Kane is an out & out striker while the other three are primarily midfielders although Son has played up top over the course of the season. Let’s ignore that fact and just focus on the stats and we’ll see that Kane is clearly out in front although you’re unlikely to need stats to tell you that. Personally, I consider Kane to be essential for the remainder of the season. There’s little to separate the other three with Eriksen’s stats probably just that little bit better. However, I’d have Alli slightly ahead of Eriksen simply because of his greater goal threat. While Spurs have seamlessly returned to a back 4 there is always the chance they will revert to a back 3 and if this happens Son is likely to be the one to miss out and it’s because of this I’d have Eriksen ahead of the Korean.
So, there you have it, it’s Kane, Alli, Eriksen & Son in that order for me.
And what of Chelsea?
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[/three_fifth]Be honest, most of you had already awarded the league to Chelsea. I certainly had. However Sunday’s defeat at the hands of United has thrown the cat amongst the pigeons and they now lead Spurs by just four points with both clubs having six games remaining. After back to back defeats to Arsenal & Liverpool in game-weeks 5&6 they won 19 of their next 22 games. They’ve now lost two of their last four. It’s not time for them to panic yet but the momentum is clearly with Spurs.
But what of their fantasy prospects? Over the course of the season they’ve conceded just 27 goals which gives them the 3rd best defence in the league and only Spurs have kept more clean sheets. However they haven’t kept a clean sheet in their last 10 games. Let’s quickly compare some averages over the course of the season as opposed to their last four games. Over the season they’ve given up 4.2 shots in the box per game a figure that rises to 5.75 per game in their last four games. On average they’ve lost 8.2 challenges per games over the season a figure that rises to 9.75 per game in. They’ve made .375 errors per game over the season a figure that rises to .5 over the last four games. As you can see their stats have clearly worsened and while they’re not horrendous there is cause for concern.
While their stats don’t necessarily make for good reading some of their remaining fixtures do. They finish the season with games against Middlesbrough, West Brom, Watford & Sunderland. In my opinion if you currently own any Chelsea defenders you hold onto them. If you don’t I’d wait until the Middlesbrough game in GW36 to bring them in. Looking at their individual stats over the past four game-weeks Marocs Alonso continues to lead the way and this is despite him missing the United game. He’s had four shots on target two of which were from inside the area, David Luiz has had three on target with Cahill & Azpi having just one each.
Looking at their attack and the stats over the season as compared to the last four are pretty much the same. Over the entire season they’ve lost possession on average 11.6 times per game a figure that increases to 14 per game in the last 4. Over the season they’ve averaged 31.5 touches in the opposition area a figure that has actually increased to 34.25 in their last four. They’ve averaged 5 shots on target over the season and also the last four. While the stats may be similar they’re simply not scoring the goals, they average just over 2 goals per game over the season but just 1.5 per game in their last four.
You have three options to choose from, Eden Hazard, Diego Costa and Pedro. To be honest given the recent form of the trio Eden Hazard is the one you want. Sunday’s blank against United was his first blank since GW25. Costa has just two assists in his last six and Pedro has blanked in his last five. The underlying stats also back this up. Over the last four games Hazard has had 34 touches in the opposition area leading to five attempts on goal, Costa 36 touches resulting in three attempts, Pedro 15 touches leading to three attempts. Hazard has created 12 chances over the last four games, Pedro eight and Costa none. You really do expect more from Costa! Now many will argue that Pedro is an alternative to Hazard as he’s £3.5m cheaper but that’s not much use if he’s not scoring points. Get Hazard.
Alexis. Yes or No?
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[/three_fifth]Oh Arsene, what have you done to our Alexis? For reasons unbeknown to anyone other than our learned French friend he has banished Sanchez to the left wing. Granted he started Monday night’s game at Middlesbrough in support of Olivier Giroud but as the game wore on he was shifted to a position on the left wing. Monday night’s game saw Arsenal switch to a 3-4-2-1 formation and while it yielded a 2-1 win it was on the whole a lacklustre performance. His underlying stats have dropped off a cliff over the last four game-weeks. Over the season he averages 3.35 goal attempts per game leading to an average of 1.3 shots on target per games compared to an average of 2.5 goal attempts per game over the last four games which have led to an average of .75 shots on target per game over the last four. It’s also worth noting that his shot accuracy and shot conversion have both worsened over the last four games.
So what do we do with him? Should you own him and are currently trying to raise funds for the purchase of a certain Swede there is an argument to be made for ditching him and then buying him back ahead of his doubles. This particular tactic is made a lot easier should you have a wildcard. If you don’t currently own him I probably wouldn’t consider him until his doubles as Arsenal face Spurs next week. One thing is for certain and that is if you don’t own him for his doubles make sure you’ve got a big sofa! Despite his and Arsenal’s poor performances of late ignoring him for those doubles will be quite a risk. Arsenal will not have given up hope of securing 4th spot and if there’s one thing that Arsenal are good at it’s finishing 4th!
They may be single but don’t forget about them!
As soon as DGW34 comes to its conclusions our attentions will inevitably turn to setting up our teams for DGW37. However, we shouldn’t ignore the teams who do not have a double over the remainder of the season. Hands up who ditched Spurs players ahead of DGW37 last season and watched on in horror as Kane & Alli ran amok?
Let’s take a quick look at each of those eight teams;
Bournemouth: Their recent form has been rather mixed with two wins and three draws from their last eight, scoring 10 and conceding 14. It should be noted that four of these eight games were against United, Liverpool, Chelsea & Spurs. Their remaining five fixtures are relatively straightforward meaning Josh King remains a great option. It’s unlikely that anyone will consider 3-5-2 over the remaining weeks but if you do you may want to consider Benik Afobe as your 3rd striker. Available at just £5.5m he’s scored two and created three in his last six games.
Burnley: Just one win and three draws in their last six with just six goals scored and 11 conceded does not make for great reading. Aside from this week’s home fixture against United they also face West Brom and West Ham at home and it’s these two fixtures could very well yield clean sheets. If you have Heaton or one of his defensive colleagues I’d certainly hold onto them but I’m not sure I’d invest in a Burnley player at this stage of the season.
Everton: Five wins, a draw and 20 goals scored in their last eight games is enough to suggest that you ignore the Toffees at your peril. With a home fixture against Watford in GW37 Everton have the potential to spoil this double a la Spurs last season. Romelu Lukaku sits atop the scoring charts and he’ll be keen to ensure he finishes the season there. Granted he scores the majority of his goals at home and he’s only got two games at home one of which is against Chelsea. On the flip side of that two of Everton’s away games are against West Ham & Swansea. Essentially what I’m trying to say is that it will take a brave manager to sell the Belgian.
Hull: Despite three wins and a draw Hull still sit just two points above the drop zone. Their remaining fixtures aren’t the worst but from a fantasy point of view there are better options to be found.
Liverpool: Their early season flair has become quite rare these days but they have still won five and drawn two of their last eight, scoring 15 times. Just as with the rest of the season you can ignore their defence and forwards. If you own either Coutinho or Firmino I’d hold them until the end of the season. If you don’t own either of them I certainly wouldn’t rule out purchasing one of them. Coutinho has three goals and an assist in his last four while Firmino has three goals and four assists in his last six. In the continued absence of Mane & Lallana the Brazilians will be central to everything Liverpool do.
Stoke: Last weekend’s 3-1 win over Hull stopped a rot that had seen them lose their previous four games. Don’t let that win fool you, these boyos have had their towels on the deck chairs for the past few weeks. With 39pts they’re 11 above the relegation zone, so they’re safe. Their remaining fixtures aren’t the worst but they face a number of teams who have something to play for. I’d avoid The Potters. Just a note for the 9.4% of managers who own Lee Grant. Jack Butland returned to the bench last weekend and will surely see some gametime over the coming weeks.
Swansea: In the words of An Emotional Fish…’This party’s over I’m going home’…Given Swansea’s performances of late you’d think they were safe and on the beach. Instead they’re 3rd from bottom. Just one point from their last six games is enough to suggest they’ll be playing their football in the Championship next season. Should you own any Swans at present I’d ditch them and yes that includes Siggy.
West Ham: To listen to some Hammers you’d think they’d invented football, instead they’re merely an average football team without a meaningful trophy since 1981! Their current form also suggests they’re mediocre with just one win and two draws in their last eight. They’ve a number of tough fixtures remaining and are therefore best avoided.
Thanks for reading Fantasy Premier League Tips Gameweek 34. This article was written by Kop Warrior
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