How did I fare in GW21?
My GW21 team somehow managed to churn out 63 points this week against all odds. Despite an appalling start to the gameweek, I was relieved to endure only a small red arrow from 2,421 to 2,452 in the overall rankings.
For Pep to rotate both Cancelo and Stones against Sheffield United came as a bit of a shock, but I guess at some point it was to be expected. I’m fairly confidence they’ll both start against Burnley, as they’ve been in great form for Manchester City all season, and Guardiola will likely want to build up their match fitness ahead of the clash against Liverpool next weekend.
Captaincy was very tricky to nail this week, and I honestly had no concrete idea who I was going to pick until the deadline. I sided with Gundogan because of his form and spot-kick potential against a team I expected City to dominate. It didn’t work out, but at least I wasn’t alone in the decision.
It was very much a boom or bust week for me in terms of points, with Salah, Bamford, Martinez and Dallas securing 75% of my overall score.
- The turbulent journey I’ve had with Reece James so far this year continued to hurt, as Tuchel benched him against Burnley. When I brought in James to prepare for the double gameweek, he was a secure starter in Lampard’s team, and suddenly picked up an injury and missed out after the deadline. I’ve stayed patient with him (perhaps foolishly) awaiting a return, and now that he’s back to full fitness, it seems he is not in the new manager’s plans! He looked dangerous when he came on, but at the moment it looks like Hudson-Odoi’s spot to lose, so I’ll likely give it one more week before admitting defeat and selling him.
- My fortune in GW21 seemed to turn during Southampton vs. Aston Villa, with Martinez somehow keeping a clean sheet despite two controversial decisions against Southampton.
- In hindsight, captaining Gundogan was probably a mistake. His underlying statistics in front of goal were higher than both Salah and Son heading into the gameweek, but I’ve learned it’s best to trust the consistent performers. Although I couldn’t have predicted this, Gundogan played far deeper with Jesus in the team, which is something to look out for moving forwards.
- Whilst many were tempted to transfer out Leeds assets this week, I trusted the likes of Bamford and Dallas to deliver, which they did emphatically. In my opinion, Bamford is still one of the best budget forwards in the game and Dallas’ versatility gives him plenty of minutes in midfield.
- I could have been tempted to sell Vardy for a hit this week, but with Calvert-Lewin and Antonio both blanking, it proved a shrewd choice. Deciding what to do with him this week is going to be a challenge though, as I’m very thin for players coming off the bench!
Bench Boost in GW26 – is it possible?
I’d like to precede this section by stating that if I cannot achieve a Bench Boost in GW26, I am more than happy to Wildcard.
However, based on a few calculations and predictions, it seems perfectly viable (at this stage!) to plan towards using the Bench Boost in GW26 without using the Wildcard. This would allow you to use it afterwards, and thus prepare for blank GW29 and the rest of the season.
If you haven’t already, go follow @BenCrellin on Twitter: he is excellent at predicting and surmising double gameweeks in advance, which is vital to planning ahead in FPL.
As the FA Cup quarter-finals are due to be played during GW29, it means a number of teams will blank, and likely have their fixture rearranged for GW26, as there is a free midweek slot without FA Cup, Champions League or Europa League commitments.
It is almost guaranteed that both Manchester City and Spurs will play twice in GW26, because they each already have two fixtures to rearrange, and there is very little space in the calendar because of their involvement in other competitions.
Likewise, Aston Villa, Everton, Southampton and Fulham have two fixtures each to rearrange. These games could be scheduled during a Champions League and Europa League midweek, but it is still likely one of their fixtures are scheduled in GW26.
Therefore, even before the results of the FA Cup 5th round are confirmed, we can realistically surmise that Manchester City, Spurs, Everton, Aston Villa, Southampton and Fulham will each play twice in GW26.
Listed below are the GW29 fixtures and what might happen to each game based on the FA Cup 5th round results:
Will these teams blank in GW29 and double in GW26?
Man City vs. Wolves
Almost certainly. This will happen if Man City beat Swansea OR Wolves beat Southampton in the FA Cup.
Liverpool vs. Chelsea
Almost certainly. This will happen if Chelsea beat Barnsley in the FA Cup.
Spurs vs. Southampton
Probably. This will happen if Spurs beat Everton OR Southampton beat Wolves in the FA Cup.
Burnley vs. Leicester
Probably. This will happen if Burnley beat Bournemouth OR Leicester beat Brighton in the FA Cup.
Sheffield United vs. Aston Villa
Probably. This will happen if Sheffield United beat Bristol City in the FA Cup.
Crystal Palace vs. Man United
Probably. This will happen if Man United beat West Ham in the FA Cup.
West Brom vs. Everton
Possibly not. This will only happen if Everton beat Spurs in the FA Cup.
Brighton vs. Newcastle
Possibly not. This will only happen if Brighton beat Leicester in the FA Cup.
West Ham vs. Arsenal
Possibly not. This will only happen if West Ham beat Man United in the FA Cup.
Fulham vs. Leeds
Definitely not. Both teams are already out of the FA Cup. (Leeds will only have a double gameweek if the Premier League decide to reschedule their game against Southampton in GW26.)
It’s dangerous to assume every favourite will go through, but it is feasible that the following teams play twice in GW26:
Very likely: Man City, Spurs, Everton, Southampton, Aston Villa, Fulham
Probable: Wolves, Liverpool, Chelsea, Burnley, Leicester, Sheffield United, Crystal Palace, Manchester United
Therefore, as many FPL managers own players from the following teams, I think it is viable to plan towards a GW26 Bench Boost by using transfers, rather than a Wildcard.
How does this affect my team?
Based on this information, I am hoping the following players have a double gameweek in GW26:
Very likely: Cancelo (MCI), Stones (MCI), Gundogan (MCI), Son (TOT), Watkins (AVL), Martinez (AVL)
Probable: Salah (LIV), Vardy (LEI), Fernandes (MUN)
*I have not included Reece James, as he is not currently a regular starter for Chelsea.
According to this list, 9 of my 15 players are likely to play twice in GW26. If I could manage to transfer in 3 or 4 more players with a double gameweek before the GW26 deadline, I could field 12 or 13 double gameweek players and use the Bench Boost chip.
What are my plans for GW22?
Deciding what to do with Jamie Vardy is proving a major headache this week.
According to Rodgers, Vardy is ruled out for the Fulham game but is progressing well since the hernia operation. His presence in attack has been sorely missed, but Leicester may decide not to rush him back against Wolves next weekend, considering they play Liverpool in their next outing.
However, as I explained in my article last week, there are very few enticing forwards to replace him with at the moment. As I now have 5 playing midfielders, I would need to bench Soucek for Vardy’s replacement, which is risky considering his reputation for burning FPL managers that bench him! My thoughts surrounding Jamie Vardy are as follows:
1. Transfer Vardy for Calvert-Lewin. Although he is not in a rich vein of form, Calvert-Lewin plays Leeds this week which offers a far better upside to Soucek, and Everton are guaranteed a double gameweek or two between now and GW26.
2. Transfer Vardy for Antonio. The West Ham striker looks in fine form and plays Fulham and Sheffield United after Aston Villa this week, which could lead to explosive returns. However, Antonio is unlikely to have a double gameweek in GW26, and even if he does it’ll be against Man City and Arsenal.
3. Keep Vardy for one more week and play Soucek. This would give me two transfers to react to Vardy’s injury status and gain more information on other issues, such as Reece James’ status under Tuchel and Harry Kane’s injury. However, the downside here is it would leave me short on the bench for GW21, supposing a couple of my players miss out.
At the moment, I’m leaning towards either bringing in Calvert-Lewin or banking the transfer. The nature of Leeds’ playing style allows opponents create plenty of chances in the final third, which could gift Calvert-Lewin the chance he needs to get back on the scoresheet.
The only other transfer I can see myself making before the deadline is Reece James out, and bring in a player who is likely to provide excellent cover on the bench or even start ahead of Stuart Dallas. As I mentioned earlier, I think it's best to keep James for one more week in case he comes into Tuchel's thoughts, but I may decide it's not worth the risk with an unreliable bench.
As for captaincy, my armband is currently on Mo Salah and will remain there unless I receive hints of a possible benching. Mane and Firmino have been recent victims of Klopp-rotation, but considering the Egyptian was rested against Burnley not too long ago, I’m fairly confident Klopp plays him again.
Bruno Fernandes and Joao Cancelo are also tempting possibilities. Despite his lack of returns recently, Bruno has demonstrated his double-digit haul potential this season, and Cancelo is likely to start after missing out against Sheffield United.
Team Reveal so far: Martinez (WHU), Dallas (EVE), Stones (BUR), Cancelo (BUR), Soucek (AVL), Gundogan (BUR), Son (CHE), Fernandes (SOU), Salah © (BHA), Bamford (EVE), Watkins (WHU)
Bench: Coufal (AVL), James (TOT), Vardy *Injured* (FUL)
Good luck everyone!