FPL Tips and Fixtures Analysis Gameweek 38
Welcome to FPL Tips and Fixtures Analysis Gameweek 38. Ladies and gentleman, we’ve arrived at the end of this year’s journey. Some would say that the end has come too soon, whilst others are looking at their pitiful DGW scores for this current round…and they’re thinking the end can’t get here soon enough. I fall somewhere in the middle of those two sentiments; one part of me would love to see football every weekend, and the other part of me is just ready for some cold beer and baseball on a lazy Saturday. What else is a man supposed to do on Saturday? Watch MLS?
Oh yeah, I’ve signed myself up for that, haven’t I?
As for the matter at hand, this being the final gameweek of the FPL season, I feel that I’ve drawn the short straw in trying to craft any kind of article that makes any sense for you all. With just a few exceptions, the league is wrapped up for most teams. And when that happens, the motivations for playing would seemingly all disappear, correct? At least I thought as much until I looked at the results from last year’s final weekend, and it was a scoring bonanza. That last weekend from 15/16 had an average of 3.5 goals per game, and only two teams failed to score. So maybe it isn’t so dire. The league positions might be locked in, but maybe that’s all the incentive the players will need to go out and play a pressure-free game. Or maybe I’ve jinxed it. We’ll see soon enough.
The Tracker in full…
Top 3 Best Bets (Fixtures)
In lieu of anything more inspired on my part, I’m going to point out the obvious – there are really three games on the schedule for the final weekend that can’t be ignored. I can’t tell you now whether the favoured teams will trot out the B squad or not, but on paper these games should be gimmies.
As has been the case with Chelsea all year, they’re a good buy from front to back. Diego Costa already has his 20 goals on the year, but he’s still 4 goals off the pace for the Golden Boot race. That being said, he’ll probably be keen on ensuring that he finishes as one of the top five scorers in the league, if not trying to secure top three for himself. His motivation is obvious in that sense. Eden Hazard, for all the praise we’ve given him this year, hasn’t been that dynamic from a statistical standpoint. He’s in a tie for 9th or 10th in the league for goal scoring, and he’s way off the pace in the leading assister category – so he might be a good omission from your team in favour of securing an extra defender. Or, he’ll realize that the world is watching that final game in anticipation of the trophy ceremony, and he’ll kick it up a notch. Hard to tell with that one, but Costa is probably higher on my list at the moment. And as always, any starter from across the backline of Chelsea is a good buy. Really can’t go wrong there.
Unless Arsenal somehow drop points to Sunderland later this week, Liverpool will approach this game with an ‘all hands on deck’ mentality. And in that case, you have to stick with what works if you’re buying into this team for the final round. With Firmino still a question mark, and Mane sidelined, Coutinho has to be on the top of your shopping list for this round. But, if you’re in a money crunch, Georginio Wijnaldum might be worth a shout; his assists (8) were bolstered by him nabbing a pair in his last game. In an ordinary week, I wouldn’t be tempted by the Liverpool defence. But against Middlesbrough, everything changes. Liverpool, statistically speaking, are always going to give up a little better than a goal per game on average – but when the opposition can’t score goals? You might do something like slip Dejan Lovren into your formation and see if he can’t nab a surprise goal to go along with his probable clean sheet.
Again, I’m writing this article before the closure of GW37, so the one thing that’s still in play for this week is that fact that Harry Kane still has the ability to close the gap on the Golden Boot award. Kane currently sits on 22 goals with a game in hand, Lukaku has 24 goals. So Kane, above anybody else, deserves inclusion in your team if you choose the Spurs’ options. The rest will sort of pick itself, no? I’m sure if you already have Eriksen or Alli, you’ll probably stick with them as opposed to burning a transfer. But in defence, maybe the savvy move would be to swap those Spurs players out for the finale. Now I may be making this ending to the Hull run in the Premier League a bit more storybook than it actually is, but you get a sense that Hull playing at home will score that one last goal for the fans to take away. I don’t think Hull have the goods to win the match, but I think they’re good for that one goal to kill your clean sheets from Spurs players.
Tips and Player Picks
Outside of the three main games that we should all be focused on, there are a couple of other bits of narrative that could shape how the last round of league play goes. Now I’ve just mentioned him, but Romelu Lukaku might well serve your squad one last time – and he’ll certainly be on my team, though more for Everton fanboy reasons. But Lukaku is still the leading goal scorer in the league, and “Blankaku”, as you’ve started to call him, will undoubtedly want that Golden Boot on his resume as he negotiates his next phase of life with a bigger club. And that’s all horrible for Everton in general, but his motivation is clear as day, so you may as well make use of it one last time for your fantasy squad. Everton are facing Arsenal away in that spot, but Arsenal will have some tired legs given their extreme fixture congestion, and that may work to Everton’s favor. Or maybe it will work only to Lukaku’s favor – but he’s still a great option this week.
Another team to keep an eye on would be Leicester – if only for the simple reason that there’s a pride element in finishing in the top half of the table, especially if you’re the defending champions with the type of year that they’ve just had. Currently (again, before their GW37 matches are done), Leicester are in 11th place on 43 points – and three teams just ahead of them are all gridlocked on 45 points. With a bit of help, and a win, Leicester will be able to look at this season as a success, all things considered. They did lose their beloved coach, but their new coach somehow did the impossible and united the interests of fans and players almost immediately. They had a truly great Champions League run given their limitations, and they could cap that off with the a 9th or 10th place showing in the league. I mean, at the end of the day, that’s not bad for that team. Vardy and Mahrez are the default picks everybody goes to when selecting Leicester, but you could easily go with Marc Albrighton or Wilfred Ndidi on the cheap this round as they’ve been productive lately. Not only does this team have enough options to choose from, but they’re one of the few that still have a clear motivation moving forward.
Finally, with the Top 4 still being undecided, there’s still going to be a lot of thought given to what Arsenal and Man City are going to do in the final week. I wish I had a crystal ball to tell you what they’ll be playing for this weekend, but today is Monday, and their final games have yet to be played for GW37. I will say this though, City probably have the easier schedule closing out their year with Watford away – and their whole offence has looked quite a bit ‘more free(?)’ since Aguero has been sidelined. I’m not sure if that’s the right word or not, but it seems like the team has been allowed to score from multiple angles these past few weeks, and you can buy into that attack now for much cheaper than you could before.
As for Arsenal, I think that the most Arsenal-y thing that Wenger could do this coming weekend is trot out Olivier Giroud once more. Sure, he’s trying to say all the right things when it comes to Sanchez, but his affinity towards his French striker is steadfast. And as long as Giroud is on the type of form he’s on right now (3 goals over the last two games), you may try to snag a few cheap points that way too. There are worse things you could do with your money (like keeping Gabbiadini in your team for as long as I have).
All told, there are going to be some duds out there this week. You have to know that a certain percentage of players are already planning vacations and setting time aside where they won’t have to train or be beholden to the club’s PR arrangements. And those players are probably represented on your team in some fashion – but they’re laying in the ground like little landmines for now. But if you’re lucky enough, and you take as many players in the good situations above as possible, things might not be so bad.
And that’s it, folks. It’s been a real pleasure writing this article series for you all this year. We’ve had some good times and some bad times (I’m sure you remember me thinking West Ham were going to turn it around any minute now…), but I’ve loved writing it all for you either way. Hopefully, they’ll let me come back next season and do this all over again. Cheers.