FPL Fixtures Analysis Gameweek 35
Welcome to FPL Fixtures Analysis Gameweek 35. I should begin this article by saying that several of the points I make below should have a giant asterisk next to them. Based on how the dates for GW34’s matches were lined out, I’m writing this prior to the conclusion of that week. None of the games from Tuesday, April 25 – Thursday, April 27 have been played at this point, so bear in mind that certain elements of the article may change depending on results or injuries. I’m starting this piece this week with City as my top pick, but if “The Glass Man” Aguero or KDB come up lame on Thursday, you’ll just have to decide how much that changes their power rankings in your own mind.
That being said, with so many more DGW teams coming up on the horizon, you may look at this list and completely discount the teams I’ve chosen anyway. After all, I trashed Middlesbrough last week in the Fixtures article, but many people still went out and bought Negredo anyway. It really will be a free-for-all sprint to end the year, and you’re going to see extremely varied approaches to team building in the next several weeks based on people chasing 180 minute players. And maybe those Negredo owners have a point on some level – with DGW teams, it’s not always about being smart, sometimes you just need to be lucky. Just don’t mind the rest of us pointing and laughing when it doesn’t work out. Lucky or not, it’s still funny.
The Tracker in full…
Top 3 Best Bets
#1) Manchester City – MID (A), CRY (H), LEI (H), WBA (H)
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[/three_fifth]If you’re going to have a DGW in your schedule, the conditions don’t really get better than this. So what if they don’t have Sunderland in their path? They’ll still end up with Middlesbrough, and that’s very nearly as good at this point (as those of you who put some MID in your teams for GW34 know, they’re a bit rubbish, eh?). And that Middlesbrough fixture is City’s only game on the road, so the chance for rotation in the lineup may be slightly less for City since they really won’t have to travel again until the very last week of the year. Maybe they don’t have the most condensed schedule in the world full of all sorts of potential minutes, but this is not a schedule you should overlook too quickly.
City have been a strange club all year; they feel like they’ve been in a transition period for a lot longer than they actually have. At the risk of offending some, City have never felt truly elite this campaign. But despite that, they’ve been more than capable, and their spot in the Top 4 never really felt at risk. Their window to challenge for the league title has all but closed, but they’ll still be motivated to ensure they mathematically lock up their Champions League spot for next year as soon as possible.
As for their scheduled opponents, Middlesbrough know they’re going down at this point, even if the supporters are clamoring about still having a miracle shot at staying up. Palace have proven themselves capable against smaller teams, but they should struggle here in this spot. Leicester haven’t bounced back into winning ways yet after Shakespeare’s hot start, and this probably isn’t the fixture they’re looking at to regain momentum. And as for West Brom, just don’t let their defenders shoot, and you’ve taken away all of their offence. There’s a very real chance that City could snag all 12 points from this run, and even if they stumble, they’re practically guaranteed 9-10 points at the least.
#2) Arsenal – TOT (A), MUN (H), SOT (A), STK (A), SUN (H)
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[/three_fifth]I should reiterate at this point that I’m writing this article prior to Arsenal playing their match against Leicester in GW34 – so by the time that match is concluded, things could change for this team’s outlook considerably depending on certain results.
But the truth is this, with or without those results going their way, Arsenal are in trouble. They have a coach who is now on his way to being reviled (again). They have a superstar who is increasingly disgruntled. And they have a complete lack of any kind of true class in their forward position. And I guess that’s par for the course with Arsenal for any season over the last several years. But in years past, they were seemingly able to overcome these things and still make the Champions League and put in their annual underwhelming bid to be continental winners. This year…they face a very real possibility of not qualifying for the Big Show at all. And qualifying for the tournament this year is now going to be a two-part process: they’ll need to be nearly perfect in their games whilst needing either Liverpool or Man City to start dropping points.
On paper, they should look to be the most motivated team in the league. They have at least a game in hand over several of their rivals, and they have a relatively clean bill of health. Yet even with those advantages at this stage in the game, nothing is certain for this team. Since the beginning of the new year, Arsenal have played in 13 league games, and they’ve managed to win just 6 of those games outright (and a sub 50% win percentage for that stretch of time is already a horrible stat). The real problem for Arsenal is the fact that the six teams they beat were Middlesbrough, West Ham, Hull City, Burnley, Swansea and Palace. They beat the teams they outspent on salaries, and yet they came up woefully short against any kind of equal competition.
So let’s just say that the Tottenham and Man United fixtures here to kick off this schedule will be rough for Arsenal if they don’t kick their form up a notch. But past that, they should have enough about them to secure results against the lesser teams in this run. No matter how you cut it, Arsenal are a risky pick these days, but there’s enough in this schedule to make them a good buy for minutes and potential scoring. But with back to back DGWs, they could suffer a bit of rotation, so keep an eye on that.
#3) Chelsea – EVE (A), MID (H), WBA (A), WAT (H)
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[/three_fifth]Spurs fans are just waiting for Chelsea to stumble, to just give them any bit of an opening to close the gap for the league lead. But with this kind of schedule lined up, that’s not looking likely. A case could be made that Chelsea aren’t, at this very moment, the best overall team in the league anymore. But that really doesn’t matter, does it? They were so dominant for so long that they could almost mail it in now and still come out with the title.
Even if Everton somehow pull off a victory to kick off this run (and the homer in me certainly hopes they do), the rest of this schedule is an absolute cakewalk. I don’t think anybody here could make a case for Middlesbrough, West Brom nor Watford having the goods to beat Chelsea in any fashion. That’s not to say that crazy results don’t happen – but nobody is predicting anything too wild from this run in that sense. And let’s be honest, Everton are already acting like Lukaku has left them for a younger, hotter team – so I’m not really holding my breath that they’ll accomplish anything against the league leaders either.
Chelsea should have a run of 13-15 points to close out the year, there’s no two ways around it. The only question that fantasy owners will have to ask themselves is whether they want offence or defence from this team, because both sides of the ball will be viable plays to take into the end of the season.
3 Teams To Avoid
West Brom – LEI (H), BUR (A), CHE (H), MCI (A)
There are players in the WBA side that are owned at too high of a rate to make any sense (McAuley alone is still nearly 30% owned). The secret in how to shutdown this team is now pretty common knowledge in the league, and owning the attacking defenders hasn’t made sense for several weeks now. But I get it, old habits die hard. West Brom are on a 3-game skid, and it’s hard to see where their next victory is going to come from. The only redeeming factor that people are seeing here is that DGW in round 37. But honestly, do you think that WBA playing a double against Chelsea and City is going to be the play that makes your round? Doubtful.
Watford – LIV (H), LEI (A), EVE (A), CHE (A)
Outside of Capoue, nobody really owns any Watford players in any significant quantity. But they belong here in this list just in case somebody was thinking that they’d be a sneaky little play with a double of their own to end the year. But from what I’m seeing, they’re not worth the time with this schedule. Maybe Watford could push one through against Liverpool (they seem to like to concede at least one goal per match to keep it interesting). But the rest of this schedule is all on the road, and their double in round 37 isn’t going to do anybody any favors. Pass on this team.
Man United – SWA (H), ARS (A), TOT (A), SOT (A)
Maybe this isn’t a team that should be ‘avoided’, per se, but you should be cautious with this team until we really have a full understanding of how they’re going to play without Ibra going forward. It could be that they’ll be better, actually (throw the young kids up front and let them run and add some pace to the attack). Or it could be disastrous. It’s just too hard to tell for now. What we do know is that they’ll have 3 fixtures on the road in this series. Granted, there are several teams that don’t have the benefit of any DGWs that should probably be omitted before you take United out of your squads, but losing your leading scorer and playing thrice on the road is going to be difficult. Just keep that in the back of your mind as you go about selecting your transfers.