How did I fare in GW33?
After a stream of green arrows, I finally lost rank in GW33, dropping from 64 to 67 in the overall rankings.
Despite a captain return from Salah in Saturday's early kick-off, I had a frustrating week on only 54 points, watching the likes of Jota, Alexander-Arnold and Vardy squander excellent chances to earn FPL returns.
I am actually exiting GW33 slightly relieved. At one stage, my FPL team looked bleak but I managed to come through a poor set of performances unscathed, ready to make a final charge towards GW38.
After Salah returned in the opening five minutes, I was hoping for a fierce haul from my captain, but Liverpool's potency in front of goal was dreadful and they ultimately deserved to miss out on all three points in the end. Yet again, it was unfortunate to see Liverpool concede so late on, as it left Alexander-Arnold on a weak 2-point score.
What's more, Brighton conceded a cheap goal to Sheffield United, wiping out Sanchez's clean sheet and Vardy struggled to find the back of the net against Crystal Palace despite a plethora of golden opportunities.
Fortunately, most highly-owned defences conceded this week, with Wolves losing heavily to Burnley, Arsenal gifting a goal to Everton and Aston Villa leaking two to West Brom. This helped keep the Top 10k average to a minimum, and ultimately saved me from a heavy red arrow.
My clearest mistake this week was opting to play both Fofana and Vydra over Rudiger, who scored 8 points in Chelsea's win over West Ham. In hindsight, this was a poor decision, as Chelsea are capable of locking the door in any game. Although West Ham's recent scoring spree flattered to deceive, I couldn't help but blame myself after the resilient Chelsea display.
After a poor week, it's tricky to find many solid decisions I made! However, although the outcome failed me, I still stand by the decision to bring in Jamie Vardy for Harry Kane last week. Vardy was incredibly active throughout the game, had several opportunities for both goals and assists, and on any other day could have hauled.
What am I planning to do in GW35 and GW36 if the double and blank gameweeks happen?
The Premier League are yet to announce any new fixture scheduling, so FPL managers have been left in a rather pensive and speculative state ahead of GW34.
I noticed last week that, if double GW35 and blank GW36 go ahead as Ben Crellin has predicted, I may struggle to field a full starting 11 in GW36.
As Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Leicester all double in GW35 and blank in GW36, I will be without Fofana, Holding, Rudiger, Shaw, Fernandes, Vardy and Iheanacho in GW36.
This would ultimately leave me with only seven players that week - without a Free Hit or Wildcard available.
Obviously, these blanks and doubles are all conjecture at this stage, but it is forcing me to evaluate the best use of my transfers. My strategy at the moment is to prioritise players who will definitely play in GW36, so that I have a healthy, even spread of players across the two weeks.
POTENTIAL Double and Blank Gameweeks:
What are my plans for GW34?
With another Friday deadline looming, I'm feeling somewhat rushed in my decision making process.
Ryan Mason's press conference tomorrow will help secure my thinking: if Kane is fully fit and raring to go, I will look to bring him back in, as I believe a healthy Harry Kane is the best captaincy option this week against Sheffield United.
However, if there is any form of doubt in Mason's comments, I may be tempted to ride through the storm without Kane for one week and reassess if or when we learn more about upcoming double gameweeks. Kane looked sluggish against Manchester City and Mason may feel uneasy starting his talisman if it risks long-term injury.
If I bring Kane in this week, I will use my two free transfers to restructure the team, upgrading Vydra to Kane and sacrificing Fernandes in the midfield. Whilst I like to look of Fernandes' potential double in GW35, he faces a challenging fixture against Liverpool this week and I'm starting to question whether his minutes will be managed towards the end of the season.
Of course, removing Fernandes could backfire heavily but, without concrete news of double gameweeks, it could also be a risk worth taking. Although, after Fernandes' rampant display in the Europa League against Roma, it's going to be hard to say farewell!
As Vydra would leave the team as my eighth choice attacker, I'd happily bring in a budget midfielder in place of Fernandes, so long as they already start regular minutes and would likely play in GW36.
Option 1: IN: Kane (TOT); Roberts (LEE) or Lemina/Lookman (FUL)
OUT: Vydra (BUR); Fernandes (MUN)
Option 2: IN: Kane (TOT); Harrison (LEE); Holgate (EVE) for a hit
OUT: Vydra (BUR); Fernandes (MUN); Fofana (LEI)
Finally, if I decide to brave GW34 without Harry Kane, I'd consider making a defender transfer to prepare for an upcoming double gameweek. As Everton are certain to play an extra fixture between now and the end of the season, I'm tempted to do one the following:
Option 3: IN: Holgate (EVE)
OUT: Fofana (LEI)
Option 4: IN: Digne (EVE)
OUT: Fofana (LEI)
Whilst perhaps a puzzling move at first glance, Option 3 makes sense to me. Holgate has started for Everton in every Premier League game since GW22, and the Toffees have managed to keep clean sheets recently, shutting out both Brighton and Arsenal in their last three fixtures. Although he's a differential pick, Holgate could return a fair helping of points with an extra fixture between now and the end of the season, particularly as Everton's fixtures look good in general.
Of course, I would rather have Digne in my FPL team, but a move from Fofana to Digne could add plenty of complications later on, as I'd have too much money locked in defence. If I don't look to bring him in this week, I'll inevitably want Kane in GW36 when Vardy's fixtures turn sour, and I may struggle to make the upgrade unless I have money in the bank or unless I am prepared to make significant sacrifices.
As it stands, I'm hoping the picture becomes clearer tomorrow after the press conferences, team news and injury updates. If I hold off Kane, I'll captain Iheanacho. He's been in phenomenal form in front of goal, and Southampton have struggled to find their rhythm in recent weeks.
Good luck everyone!