Apologies for the radio silence last week. I couldn’t do a write up due to an emergency.
My game week was also pretty stressful. I am in an intense Head to Head League where I am fighting for the final playoff spot with one of my friends. This was make or break for my season, and boy am I relieved that I won it. I got 103 points, plus hopefully another two points when the bonus points are confirmed. Disappointingly, I triple-captained Kane when I didn’t need to use that chip, but c’est la vie.
Moving on to game week 35, we have another blank game week with only twelve teams playing. Man City, Liverpool and Arsenal are the only big teams with games, so we should all be looking to have at least seven players from those three teams.
The obvious problem here is rotation. City have won the league and Pep has said he wants to give some action to the younger players. Liverpool are in the Champions League semi-finals and Arsenal are in the Europa League semi-finals. Both Klopp and Wenger have been rotating their teams recently, Wenger more so, which makes it tough to find nailed-on starting players.
If you still have your free hit chip left you will probably be looking to play it in this game week. However, I have two notes of caution.
Firstly, the use of the free hit means you cannot make any transfers this game week. If you have Marcos Alonso, for example, who is banned for the next two games, you won’t be able to get him out of your squad until game week 36.
Secondly, if you are like me and are confident you lost your Classic league, are not fussed with overall rank and are in a tight head to head with playoffs, you may want to hold on to your free hit chip. My plan is to use my free hit chip in game week 38, as I hope to be in the final of my playoffs on that day.
If you don’t have your free hit chip, you need to look at long term planning and I would target Man City players. Most of us don’t have more than one right now. I know I just said they’re rotation risks, but they have a great double game week in 37 and their attackers can often outscore others for the same price tag with only one game. Plus, they play Swansea, West Ham, Huddersfield, Brighton and Southampton – it should be a goal fest. Four point hits are okay this week if you’re transferring someone out who won’t play.
Your best chance at a clean sheet is Ederson (£5.6m), with Karius (£4.9m) coming a distant second. The good thing about these two is that they are not that prone to rotation, so you might consider two City attackers and the goalkeeper, or two Liverpool attackers and the goalkeeper. Ederson is much more likely to get a clean, so he’s my favourite for this week.
Arsenal, Stoke, Everton, Burnley, Palace, Watford and Newcastle (in that order) are unlikely to keep a clean sheet, but are the next best bets.
Cech (£5.3m) is too expensive in this regard, and he’s been very gaffe-prone this season, so I’d avoid him. If you want to take a punt on a goalkeeper here I would go for Dubravka (£4.3m). Pope (£5.0m) is worth holding on to, but Heaton is quickly recovering from injury so there might be some rotation soon.
I shouldn’t really have to say this, but avoid Foster (£4.3m), Fabiankski (£4.7m) and Hart (£4.2m). They will not keep clean sheets against Liverpool, Man City and Arsenal respectively, regardless of rotation.
As I said above, Manchester City and Liverpool are your best bets for clean sheets.
Van Dijk (£5.7m) and Klavan (£4.1m) look nailed-on due to something of an injury crisis to the centre-backs at Liverpool. Their wingbacks seem to be at constant threat of rotation, so I would avoid them.
For City, Walker (£6.6m) is always the stand out option, as he’s good going forward. If you get forward for City there’s always a chance you’ll accidentally get an assist or a goal, and Walker has six assists for the season. Otamendi (£6.3m) is also a good shout, but he has looked terrible in recent games defensively. Kompany (£5.8m) might be trotted out by Pep – as one of the longest standing servants of the club, he might wish to celebrate their league win in front of the home fans.
I would avoid all Arsenal defenders. They are unreliable, expensive and prone to rotation.
The rest fit into three categories.
Firstly, possible chance of a clean sheet this week and okay as a long term hold.
Starting with Everton, Baines (£5.6m) and Coleman (£6.4m) are the best. Baines could be on set pieces and penalties, and is a better long term hold at his price point. Keane (£5.3m) and Williams (£5.2m) are okay, but they have a lower ceiling.
For Burnley, you can pick anyone. Ward (£4.8m) is their highest defensive scorer for the season. Long (£4.0m) is the cheapest but he’ll likely be out when Mee (£4.9m) gets back from injury, so he’s no good for the long term. I’m not concerned about his own goal, but there will be no double game week for Burnley in 37.
At Palace, I would take Tomkins (£4.3m), who has 3 goals this season at that price tag. No double game week for them either, but they have very nice fixtures.
At Newcastle, I like Yedlin (£4.4m), who is in a good run of form, or Lascelles (£4.8m). They do have a double in 37, but play Spurs and Chelsea in their last two games of their season.
Secondly, we have possible chance of a clean sheet this week but bad long term holds.
Bauer (£4.5m) at Stoke is good for a one week punt. At Watford, Kiko Fermenia (£4.3m) is playing out of position, but – regardless of being subbed on 57 minutes this week – he is the best of a bad bunch at Watford. Finally, Cresswell (£4.9m) at West Ham is a good shout for an assist, but no good in the long term haul and not even likely to get a clean this week.
The third category is just those to avoid, and that is Swansea and West Brom players.
We’re starting with Liverpool and Man City again, where you need to be wary of rotation.
Mane (£9.5m) and Salah (£10.5m) are the best. You know I love Salah, but I am a bit nervous about him being rested or playing fewer minutes ahead of the Champions League game. Mane is less good, and I’m also worried about his rotation.
For City, De Bruyne (£10.3m) is just a genius on the ball. He has played loads this season but I think he will play at home in front of the fans because of the title win. Sterling (£8.7m) was recently rested in the Champions League so I can see him playing. Sane (£8.5m) has been a bit hit and miss recently, but he should have scored last week against Spurs. Finally, I think Gündoğan(£5.3m) will play with Fernandinho suspended. All of these are good long term holds. Gündoğan is so cheap you can’t be too unhappy if he gets rotated, and the rest are just class.
Outside of City and Liverpool, Zaha (£6.9m) looks good against a somewhat leaky Watford. Arnautovic (£7.0m) isn’t a bad punt for one week, even against Arsenal. He does have a poor run of fixtures coming, however, so he’s not worth getting in for the long term.
For cheaper players, I like Iwobi (£5.1m) at Arsenal for a short term punt. He should get at least 70 minutes because of the Europa League cutting down others’ minutes. Pererya (£5.8m) is also good for a short term punt because Palace’s defence isn’t super strong, and he is shooting a lot at the moment. Gudmundsson (£5.0m) seems to be in form and has four assists in the last six games. Shaqiri (£6.2m) is Stoke’s best player and is always a threat, so a game against Burnley looks good for him. Finally, at Newcastle I like Ritchie (£5.4m), who is on set pieces for them, or Kennedy (£4.8m) who has looked exciting since he came in.
There’s not much to look at elsewhere this week.
Automatically, Jesus (£10.0m) is in with Agüero injured. He is nailed on to start. Aubameyang (£10.7m) is safe for a start because he can’t play in the Europa League. Both of these players are good long term holds with double game weeks in 37, but Jesus’s fixtures are so tasty that he’s my preference.
I am steering clear of Firmino (£9.4m) because he is Liverpool’s only option in the Champions League, so an injury for him could end their incredible run. Against West Brom, Liverpool should be able to play Ings (£5.4m) or Solanke (£4.6m), but these two are obviously not good for the long term.
Other cheap options I like include Perez (£5.3m) against Everton. Perez has two twelve point hauls in the last two game weeks, so I am gonna hop on this hype train. He isn’t a terrible hold until the end of the season either. Elsewhere, Wood (£6.3m) or Barnes (£5.4m) for Burnley against Stoke are in good form, and have nine goals between them in the last six games.
Aubameyang and Jesus are the stand out captaincy picks, because we’re confident they will start and play a full 90 minutes. Salah is still a good pick, but I worry about his minutes. Finally, I like Zaha if you are looking for a differential.
Jesus is my captain this week, Aubameyang is my vice-captain.
We’re going for a 3-5-2 this week:
Klavan, Coleman, Long (Yedlin, Tomkins)
Mane, Zaha, Sterling, Salah, Sane
Jesus, Aubameyang (Perez)
Finally, in case you’re interested, here are the clean sheet percentages for each Premier League team:
Man City 63.63%
West Brom 16.6%
West Ham 14.28%