GW38: Final decisions

How did I fare in GW37?


The penultimate gameweek of the season was anticlimactic at best, taking me from 130th to 175th in the overall rankings. Fortunately, the red arrow was lessened thanks to last gasp returns from both Antonio and Lingard, who helped my team reach 47 points all out at the final whistle.


No player in my squad earned double digit returns this week, so a red arrow was to be expected – thankfully, I am still only 10 points away from the top 100 places.


Bad luck

- I feel the biggest disappointment this week was Salah blanking. After both Kane and Fernandes failed to deliver in their respective fixtures, it seemed well poised for Salah to punish those who bet against him. Although he squandered all of his chances, I still feel I made the right decision with the armband this week.

Good luck

- I had pretty much given up on my gameweek on Wednesday night, resigned to a sub-200 rank finish and a mountain to climb in GW38. Lingard assisting Antonio was about the only thing that could save me at that stage, so I’m chalking this down to a healthy slice of good fortune.


Bad judgement

- I’ve been saying this for weeks now, but I’ve prioritised attacking transfers since the triple gameweek and now I’m left rather short at the back. Luke Shaw is unlikely to play this weekend because of United’s Europa League final shortly after, so I am relying on a Rob Holding clean sheet to make up ground. Selling Luke Shaw earlier would have been the sensible move, but it’s easier to say in hindsight; I wasn’t expecting United to capitulate defensively and fail to return a single clean sheet since GW33.


Good judgement

- Banking a transfer last week was arguably the correct decision, as it now gives me maximum flexibility heading into the final day. With Shaw and Fernandes’ rotation risk, Jota’s injury and Calvert-Lewin’s tough fixture against Manchester City, I have plenty to sort out, but I’ve put myself in the best position to manage the issues.



How should you approach the final day of the season?

In terms of strategy, GW38 is arguably the hardest week for FPL managers.


The first decision you need to make is whether you are going to consolidate or chase rank, and this will largely depend on how far away you are from your target rank or mini-league rival.


Firstly, if it’s rank you’re chasing, consider the likelihood of closing the gap. If you are any more than 20 points behind where you would like to be (in terms of top 100k, top 10k or top 1k for example), you need to decide how much you are prepared to risk.


Consider it this way: if you are currently ranked at 15k and you take a few punts to break into the top 10k, you could just as easily finish below 20k, as the highly owned players could punish you for fighting against the grain.


In most cases, I would recommend approaching the gameweek exactly the same way you have all season, but maybe taking one risk in isolation, such as captaining a differential or recruiting one player with low ownership.


Incidentally, a differential captain does not mean Dwight McNeil or Joe Willock. Whilst they are potential outside options heading into GW38, they are not worthy of the armband – better to stick the captaincy on a proven asset such as Sadio Mane and hope they can outscore Salah in a one game shootout.


As for chasing a mini-league rival, it’s slightly easier than chasing rank as you only need to outscore that one opponent rather than everyone else in between. Whilst I would be extremely wary taking hits, it could be worth scouting their team ahead of the deadline.


If you are 15-20 points behind you rival, you may consider recruiting a player they don’t own or captaining a player they are unlikely to. Suppose they captain Salah and he blanks, but you captained Mane and he scores a brace, you’re likely to leapfrog your opponent if the rest of your teams cancel each other out.


That being said, if you are less than 10 points behind, I wouldn’t change your strategy too much. All it takes is for a couple of your players to outscore your opponent and you’ll pip them at the post.


If you are looking for a differential captain, I would recommend the following options:


Sadio Mane is my top differential choice this week. He’s been out of form for a while but is still capable of exploding on any given day. Now that Trent is back to his best, he’ll continue to receive lots of service at the back post and Crystal Palace tend to have defensive problems on the right-hand side.

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Trent Alexander-Arnold could be a viable captaincy option. All it takes is a clean sheet and assist in a low scoring game and he’ll likely get three bonus points to outscore Salah. The risk with this move is a Liverpool clean sheet is far from certain, so perhaps captaining him is a step too far.


Patrick Bamford has a great fixture against relegated West Brom and scored in his last game. Leeds fans will bring the noise at Elland Road after years outside the top flight and this feel-good factor could galvanise the team to put on a show. I’m expecting a high scoring game and Bamford is likely to be amongst the goals.


As for recruits to bring in just as differential options, I’d consider the players from the following shortlist:

*Teams are in order of preference – personally, I would just avoid both Manchester clubs this week because of the risk of rotation*

Liverpool:

Sadio Mane

Andrew Robertson

Roberto Firmino


Leeds:

Jack Harrison

Luke Ayling

Ezgjan Alioski


Burnley:

Chris Wood

Dwight McNeil


Newcastle:

Joe Willock

Arsenal:

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Bukayo Saka



What are my transfer and captaincy plans ahead of GW38?

This is it. The final decision.


As I’m only 10 points behind the top 100, I don’t think I’m going to captain a differential. Salah is still the most likely to haul against Palace in my opinion, so I’ll probably just stick the armband on the Egyptian.


I have two free transfers available this week and I won’t use them until the very end. It is possible we get some line-up news shortly before the deadline, as all of the teams are playing at once. If I hear that Bruno Fernandes is starting against Wolves or Jota is fit for Crystal Palace, it could majorly sway my decision making.


Option 1:


OUT: Jota and Fernandes


IN: Mane and Raphinha/McNeil


Option 2:

OUT: Jota and Shaw


IN: Willock and Robertson


Option 3:

OUT: Jota and Calvert-Lewin


IN: Willock and Firmino


As it stands, I am currently most tempted by option 1, as I feel Mane is the best differential ahead of GW38.


Likely team for GW38: Sanchez (ARS); Alexander-Arnold (CRY), Holding (BHA), Dallas (WBA); Salah © (CRY), Mane (CRY), Harrison (WBA), Raphinha (WBA), Lingard (SOU); Antonio (SOU), Kane (LEI)


Good luck everyone!

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