Double Gameweek 26: Team Reveal

How did I fare in GW25?

After the Leeds masterclass on Monday, with Bamford, Dallas and Raphinha all scoring against Southampton, I managed to score a second successive green arrow, climbing from 3,429 to 2,673 in the overall rankings.

Other than my Leeds trio, Pope, Cancelo, Fernandes and Vardy helped contribute to the 84 points total I received, with clean sheet, assist and goal returns across the board.

As captain, Bamford scored fewer points than Raphinha and Dallas, but I have no regrets in terms of my decision; with disallowed goals and big chances missed, Bamford could have easily hauled in both games.

Bad luck:

- Cancelo missed a sitter in the game against Arsenal, which would have likely contributed an extra 9 points to my total (6 points for the goal and all 3 bonus points).

- How Luke Shaw didn’t come away with an assist against Newcastle was astonishing – again the left back created a plethora of big chances, and to make matters worse, Newcastle wiped out the clean sheet with an xG (expected goals) of just 0.34.

Good luck:

- Pope keeping a clean sheet against West Brom was absolutely ludicrous, considering the Baggies dominated the game with only 10 men and missed some glorious chances in front of goal.

Bad judgement:

- In hindsight, opting to bench Stones was a poor decision, as a Manchester City clean sheet is almost a given these days, regardless of the opposition. It’s hard to be too frustrated with myself, as I’d have played him over Luke Shaw (against Newcastle) instead, and he was very unlucky not to come away with more than the 2-point blank.

Good judgement:

- Keeping an extra transfer in the bank proved a shrewd move, with the double GW26 fixtures announced immediately after the GW25 deadline. I now have maximum flexibility to attack the double and should be in a good position to play the Bench Boost chip.

- Holding Vardy worked in my favour this week, as Kane blanked against West Ham, and Vardy returned an assist against Villa. I envisioned Spurs struggling somewhat against in-form West Ham, which proved the case, but I'm hoping for higher scores this week against Burnley and Fulham!

Looking ahead to blank GW29

Whilst it’s tempting to throw caution to the win and attack double GW26, which is apparently the biggest double gameweek in the history of FPL, it’s important to keep in mind the upcoming blank in GW29.

Only eight teams will play in GW29:

Fulham vs. Leeds

Brighton vs. Newcastle

West Ham vs. Arsenal

Aston Villa vs. Spurs

On the surface, many FPL managers may be tempted to deploy their Free Hit chip in GW29 to cover the blank gameweek. However, I feel the benefits of free hitting in GW29 are minimal – and it’s made me feel slightly better about using mine earlier in the season.

Realistically, the best assets to own in GW29 will be Harry Kane, Heung-Min Son, Patrick Bamford, Raphinha, Lewis Dunk, Jack Grealish (if fit), Ollie Watkins, Tomas Soucek, Michail Antonio, Bukayo Saka and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Apart from Fulham vs. Leeds, I see most of these games ending in low-score results, which limits the upside in one-week differential chasing – which is arguably the best strategy when using the Free Hit chip.

To argue the case further against the Free Hit, most FPL managers will already own Aston Villa, Spurs and Leeds’ assets, and therefore field between 8 and 10 players anyway in GW29.

If I still had my Free Hit left, I’d be far more tempted to play the chip in GW33. Manchester City, Spurs, Southampton and Fulham are set to blank because of the League Cup final, so moving off the popular City and Spurs assets for one week could be extremely fruitful. Instead you could opt for some other exciting picks: Liverpool host Newcastle (Salah, Mane, Alexander-Arnold); Leicester play Crystal Palace (Vardy, Barnes, Pereira); and Manchester United face Leeds (Fernandes, Rashford, Shaw).

Unless you’re set on playing the Free Hit in GW29, you’ll want to keep hold of your Leeds players in my opinion, even though they play just once in this upcoming double gameweek.

Arguably, the most desirable teams to target are Spurs, Aston Villa and Fulham, as each of them play twice in GW26 and then once in GW29. Bear in mind however, Fulham face Liverpool and Manchester City in their next two fixtures after the double and would most likely need benching between GW27 and the blank.

Although it’s far from confirmed, there’s also been speculation that Aston Villa and Everton might have a double gameweek in GW28. Personally, I have little faith in this becoming a reality, but it would make Villa assets all the more desirable, considering Smith rarely rotates his side.

Looking at my team, I’m fairly confident I’ll be able to field 9 or 10 good players in GW29, before wildcarding out of the team in GW30 or, most probably, GW31.

What are my transfer and captaincy plans for double GW26?

With two free transfers in the pocket, and a team relatively well set for the double gameweek, I’m eager to play the Bench Boost chip this week and focus on my starting 11 for the rest of the season.

Before any transfers, I have 11 double gameweekers and 4 players with only one game: Coufal; Dallas; Raphinha; and Bamford.

As Coufal only plays Manchester City, he is certainly on the chopping block. West Ham will have limited possession against City, and I can’t see them keeping a clean sheet. Swapping him for a double gameweek player this week makes the most sense, as I'm able to maximise my Bench Boost chip.

As for Bamford, Raphinha and Dallas, I’m content with keeping and using them for my Bench Boost. Despite only having the one game against Aston Villa, Leeds play an expansive, attacking brand of football and could hurt Villa, who are without Jack Grealish and Matty Cash through injury.

The second free transfer will almost certainly be used to move Jamie Vardy to Harry Kane, barring any late injury news.

Dictated by my captaincy plans, the transfer will allow me to stick the armband on Tottenham’s No. 10, who faces Burnley and Fulham in the double gameweek.

Kane historically performs well against low-table sides; he hasn’t blanked yet this season against the current bottom six. Although Burnley and Fulham have performed well defensively over the last few gameweeks, I trust Harry Kane in these matchups, as the deep block allows him to shoot frequently and play higher up the field.

Furthermore, Kane received a full rest during Spurs’ Europa League outing in midweek; unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Jamie Vardy, who played the full 90 minutes against Slavia Prague yesterday. A fully fit, well-rested Kane is certain to play close to 180 minutes across the two games.

After taking out Vardy for Kane, I’m left with £0.1m in the bank, which limits me in terms of options for Coufal replacements.

However, I’m pretty set on bringing in Ezri Konsa (£4.6m) this week, as the Villa defender plays Leeds and Sheffield United in GW26 and also features in GW29. Unlike Ahmed Elmohamady, who is deputising for Matty Cash at the moment, Konsa is a mainstay in Villa’s backline and is also a threat from set pieces – something Leeds and Sheffield United have struggled defending so far this season.

For full disclosure, I am well aware of the risks with this transfer! Without Cash and Grealish, Aston Villa may struggle to dominate games and keep clean sheets, but I’m opting for the team with the most and best fixtures between now and GW29 – and crossing my fingers!

Probable Starting 11 (4-4-2): Martinez (LEE, SHU), Stones (WHU, WOL), Shaw (CHE, CRY), Cancelo (WHU, WOL), *Konsa (LEE, SHU), Gundogan (WHU, WOL), Son (BUR, FUL), Fernandes (CHE, CRY), Salah (SHU, CHE), Watkins (LEE, SHU), *Kane © (BUR, FUL)

BENCH BOOST: Pope (TOT, LEI), Bamford (AVL), Raphinha (AVL), Dallas (AVL)

*Probable transfers in

Good luck everyone!

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