Regardless of how magnificently or disastrously you fared in Gameweek 26, spare a thought for Dele Alli. At least you don’t have his problems this week (ahem).
With just Manchester United keeping a clean sheet in GW26, there was defensive misery aplenty, even for owners of excluded United defender Phil Jones. When the FPL Dream Team back five consists of Jonas Lossl, Danilo, Chris Smalling, Federico Fernandez and Daryl Janmaat, you know something’s gone horribly wrong.
By Monday’s end, FPL bosses were most likely grateful simply to have had a back line that all played, especially following Marcos Alonso’s shock omission from Chelsea’s hammering at Watford.
But while some fell, others thrived, particularly those who captained Mohamed Salah. His 15-point haul against Spurs further cemented his fixture-proof status and value as the go-to captain pick. Given his 57% ownership, and unreasonable consistency with just one attacking blank in eight, there’s marginal gains to be had captaining anyone else while the Egyptian’s form persists.
There was also superlative scoring from Aaron Ramsey and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, and thus plenty of differentials to be discussed ahead of GW27.
Before we dissect GW27, there’s a GW28-shaped elephant in the room which needs addressing. A two-week gap separates the next two gameweeks, and as our FPL Holly points out, holding onto a free transfer could be sage.
FPL takes a two week break immediately after GW27. By GW28 we should have a clearer idea of the fixtures for BGW31.
Try to hold a free transfer this week if you are able to… pic.twitter.com/39rWTdTrbR
— FPL Holly (@FFCommunity_) February 4, 2018
If you’re thinking a little further down the line, note that GW31 is shaping up to a Blank Gameweek for a portion of teams, which will be confirmed one way or another following the FA Cup 5th Round results on the weekend of Saturday 16 February. Any acquisitions this week will likely bear an impact upon your BGW planning.
We could get more BGW/DGW fixtures but there'll probably be more normal Gameweeks after GW25 than last year.
Last season we got:
(8.5 BGW/DGW fixtures)
This season might just be:
(8.9 proj. BGW/DGW fixtures)
— Ben Crellin (@BenCrellin) February 6, 2018
Of course, planning for GW31 will probably depend on whether you still possess your Free Hit chip. On the face of it, Free Hit is optimal for a BGW, enabling vast differential coverage without sacrificing team value or taking severe point hits in the weeks prior. But if you don’t still own the chip, monitoring the FA Cup results is worthwhile. Knowing who will and won’t play in GW31 will be pivotal to plan properly and limit your hits.
Manchester United are among the teams who could face FA Cup preoccupation during GW31, which owners of some United assets may not be too disgruntled about following a particularly stressful Saturday afternoon in GW26. Jones we know missed out through illness, Pogba and Martial were benched, and having heavily touted Alexis Sanchez as my captaincy pick, the Chilean’s 5-point haul against Huddersfield was rather disappointing – not only did Sanchez miss the penalty preceding his goal, he gave the ball away as if his £500,000-a-week contract necessitated it, and fittingly missed out on bonus points.
Alexis Sanchez has lost possession of the ball more times against Huddersfield (32) than any other Man United player has in a single Premier League game this season.
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) February 3, 2018
Suffice to say, this week I’m cooling on the Sanchez hurrah, especially as there were other January movers who stole the GW26 headlines.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan made a mockery of Jose Mourinho’s snub by collecting three assists in Arsenal’s 5-1 massacre of Everton, while Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang debuted with a (probably offside) goal. The duo returned a staggering 59 goals and 31 assists between them at Borussia Dortmund in 2015-16, and both look exciting options for the season’s crescendo, especially in light of Arsenal’s tantalising fixtures between GWs 29-35.
However, Arsenal’s upcoming two fixtures are worth considering before punting on either of the double act. Spurs (A) await the Gunners in GW27, and if Wigan take Man City to a replay in their FA Cup fifth round tie, which would defer City’s GW28 showdown with Arsenal to later in the season, the Gunners could either face two challenging fixtures in a row or Spurs then a blank.
While Aubameyang shone in GW26, it was a different story for most other strikers. In the premium bracket, Harry Kane just about atoned for his missed penalty by scoring a subsequent penalty to salvage a four-pointer, but Roberto Firmino and Sergio Aguero, the second- and third-most owned strikers, both blanked.
Kane v Salah
Ranked 1st (17.3%) and 3rd (13.1%) among #FPL captains
— Fantasy Premier League (@OfficialFPL) February 4, 2018
Meanwhile, in the budget bracket, Callum Wilson and Jordan Ayew failed to justify the faith that made them the second- and third-most transferred in players for GW26. However, the gleeful 7,901 who owned Dream Team hero Lys Mousset likely partied through Saturday night, providing any of those accounts are active (which they’re almost certainly not).
GW26 Top 10 transferred-in:
— Fantasy Premier League (@OfficialFPL) February 3, 2018
In Wilson and Ayew’s cases, the discount duo are both worth persisting with. Both are nailed-down starters with great fixture runs in teams looking upwards. And considering the ongoing investigation into Firmino’s FA Cup clash with Mason Holgate back in January, Wilson and Ayew could make for suitable replacements should a ban happen to befall the Brazilian.
Firmino’s fate should reportedly be confirmed by the FA this week, and two other names stand out as striker candidates.
Romelu Lukaku’s perennially frustrating form may be too exhausting for some, but the Belgian’s delivered attacking returns in three of his last four and showed promising link-up with Sanchez against Huddersfield. A con with Lukaku, however, is Man United’s fixtures, with Chelsea and Liverpool travelling to Old Trafford in United’s next four.
An alternative is Jamie Vardy. Having scored in his last three, albeit two from the penalty spot, Leicester don’t yet appear to be affected by Riyad Mahrez’s self-enforced absence, and while Man City (A) is an unenviable GW27 fixture for Vardy and co, Leicester have failed to score in just one of their last eight leagues. Moreover, the Foxes have attractive home games looming against Stoke and Bournemouth.
With Alonso, Aymeric Laporte, John Stones, Phil Jones and Ben Chilwell among the notable GW26 absences, I’m sure I wasn’t alone in fondly reminiscing about the All Out Attack chip on Tuesday morning. And there’s additional potential for defensive misery this week.
On paper, Man City should beat Leicester, but having kept just one clean sheet in five, backing a win to nil seems optimistic. Chelsea, meanwhile, have shipped seven goals to mid-table teams in two games. And doubt still remains as to the fitness of Alonso and Jones, the top and fifth-highest owned defenders in the game.
One man to provide back line cheer, however, is Patrice Evra. The Frenchman signed a short-term deal with West Ham on Wednesday and has generously been priced at just £4.5m. Of course, there’s the caveat that the Hammers have been abysmal defensively for a number of weeks, their last clean sheet coming in GW18, but with Arthur Masuaku still serving a ban, Evra is in line to slot into a more attacking position.
— Premier League (@premierleague) February 7, 2018
Go for Gerard
While his name will likely induce jitters among prior owners yet to recover from his frustrating FPL past, Gerard Deulofeu’s devastating performance against Chelsea, in which he collected a goal and an assist, was certainly eye-catching.
Javi Gracia, as all Watford managers seem to do, has made an instant impression at Vicarage Road, and if Deulofeu is afforded the first-team run he was consistently denied at Everton, £6m will look pretty good for one of the most attacking midfielders in the league.
Follow Jack for more FPL insight… Follow @JWoodfield365
More FPL Gameweek 27 Tips
Wondering who to pick as as your Gameweek 27 Captain?
Holly discusses the best options in her weekly GW27 Captain tips article.
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